You have a ton of submissions to rush through and exams to study for in a week. Looking at the mountain of work, you feel the need to burn the midnight oil. However, unlike what you expected of being productive and completing everything you need to accomplish, you realise that you are not able to fully focus on your task at hand. Your mind is all over the place, causing you to be overwhelmed. This is a sign that your brain is exhausted from being overloaded with information.
Therefore, instead of pulling an all-nighter, try giving your brain breaks to improve productivity! Research has shown that your brain is not actually fully at rest during breaks — it continues to consolidate learning and processing information long after you’ve left your study desk. So don’t worry, taking breaks does not mean that you are not learning or that your brain stops retaining information.
At EduPivot, we believe that for students to study productively and efficiently, they will need ample amounts of rest to rejuvenate their mind and body. Here are some benefits of letting your mind rest and how you should do it:
Improves Cognitive Performance
Taking a break does not necessarily mean that you have to stop whatever you are doing and take a nap. Instead, you can simply switch your tasks to something completely different from studying during a break to allow your brain to refocus. For example, take a short 10 minutes walk at the park, meditate in a quiet room or put on some music to dance! Such activities activate a different part of the brain and allow your brain time to process information from the previous study session better.
Furthermore, consider using the Pomodoro study method of having 25 minutes of uninterrupted work time followed by a short 5-minute break. By changing the focus from something complex to something simple, it gives the brain room to recuperate, which can improve the brain’s cognitive performance
Consolidates Your Learning
You have been taking breaks between your study sessions. However, do you sometimes feel that it is difficult to get back to your revision and that you have forgotten almost half of what you have revised before you took a break? If yes, your break time might be too long.
Here, imagine this: you are taking a one hour break from studying. Within that hour, you texted your friends, watched some YouTube videos and played some video games. Once an hour has passed and you are prepared to go back to your revision, you realise that your mind is still on the texts you last sent your friends or the video you just watched. You tried really hard to remember what you studied beforehand but you just can’t seem to remember… As a result, it is inevitable that you have to go through the same content you went through before your break, causing you to feel dejected.
Therefore, try taking short but frequent breaks instead. Taking frequent breaks instead of one long break helps in consolidating learning better. Start by planning your day and breaking it down into smaller sections to incorporate the Pomodoro study method. For example, go through the first half of a topic for 25 minutes before taking a 5-minute break. Doing so helps you to consolidate your learning better as it gives you sharper focus and concentration.
Keeps Your Brain Fresh!
If you plan on burning the midnight oil without giving your brain any chance to process the information you just absorbed, chances are it will end up being counterproductive. Instead, give your brain a breather. Put your work down and go for a walk. Take a nap. Breaks are important in helping your brain feel refreshed, which can help to improve your mood and motivation!
Additionally, instead of having to burn the midnight oil, start your revision earlier. It is not advisable to sacrifice several hours of sleep as it will tire your brain out further. Burning midnight oil will more likely work against you, causing you to have problems retaining information and staying alert the next day, hampering your learning. Instead, set an alarm for bedtime everyday. Start your revision earlier in the day and try to end it before the bedtime you have set. Along with the short breaks taken during revision, a good night’s sleep will allow your brain to feel more refreshed and alert!
There is a mountain of assignments you need to complete by the end of the day. You have to revise for the test in two days as well. With the limited time you have, it is no doubt that you will feel overwhelmed and stressed out. However, do remember to take breaks in between your heavy study workload! Study has shown that taking breaks can improve your mood and increase your ability to concentrate. When your brain is not given a chance to rest and refresh itself, you will not be able to perform efficiently. There is also a higher chance of experiencing burnout and health problems that come with prolonged stress.
As a result, when you are feeling stressed from studying, stop whatever you are doing and take a break. Simply have a short nap, have some of your favourite snacks or read a few pages of a book. When you take breaks, your brain would be more rejuvenated, allowing you to solve problems more effectively.
Improves Your Health
Besides rejuvenating your mind, allowing your brain to take breaks improves your health as well. Taking an ample amount of rest and sleeping have been shown to have positive impacts on our health. One of which is a healthier heart. Our blood pressure goes down when we are resting or sleeping, allowing our heart and blood vessels to get some rest. When you are burning the midnight oil, you are not allowing your heart to get enough rest. This could possibly lead to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. As a result, have some time off of your revision and allow your brain to take breaks so that your health can be equally healthy!
Our brains are just like any machine, they need time to rest. Try not to overwork your brain by overloading it with information — it will only do more harm than good. Allow your brain to take breaks for more efficient learning!
Want to learn more tips on how to better take care of yourself? Do feel free to reach out to us and let us help you!