Finals week, the week that students dread every semester from the time the syllabus is handed out. The week you live inside your textbooks and your viciously scrambled notes/handouts. While there isn’t much you can do about what your schedule during that week, there are a few things that you can do to help prepare yourself for this very stressful period of time when most people’s veins are full of coffee, red bull, 5 hour energy, and whatever else they need to keep their system running until that last test is handed in.

As a college student, if you haven’t pulled an all-nighter yet you are incredibly prepared, taking some easy classes, or you have no social life. Sleep deprivation is something that most college students will eventually encounter, and you will have to figure out a way to deal with it one way or another. Here are tips and suggestions for those who may not be getting their full 8 hours of sleep.

1. Sleep well 2 nights before a big exam. Studies have shown that getting decent sleep the night before an exam is not nearly as crucial as getting a good night’s sleep 2 nights before the exam. For example, if your test is on a Wednesday, make sure you sleep well on Monday night. Believe me, this is one of the best tips I’ve ever used and it helps tremendously.

2. Take study breaks. Cramming is not ideal when it comes to studying, especially for finals, but there are some times where you just don’t have a choice. If you have to cram the night before a final make sure to take study breaks to get your mind off of the subject matter.  Whether it is grabbing some food, playing the new Modern Warfare 3, or going for a jog make sure to take breaks. By studying the subject matter in blocks you more likely to retain the information and be able to understand a larger volume of information than you would think you could.

3. Manage your time based on your schedule. If you’ve got your tests spread out over the week, take time to recognize which tests are the most important. This way you know which nights you will need to stay up late to focus in on that chapter that you didn’t understand. Try to plan a block of extended time that you can head to the library and study.

4. Eat healthy and consistently. The last thing you want to do when staying awake long nights is eat candy and skip meals. Try to keep and maintain a healthy diet, as your body probably needs it the most with all of the stress, anxiety, and sleep deprivation. For snacks, you should consider yogurt, whole grain cereal, trail mix, or an apple.

5. Only use energy drinks/sodas/coffee when necessary. As a rule of thumb, I will not drink anything caffeinated after 5pm, and I will not drink more than 2 energy drinks a day. Try to stick with foods and drinks that have a natural energy boost in them so that your body is not out of whack when you are ready to finally get some sleep. Eat an apple instead of drinking coffee, or head over to Jamba Juice or Smoothie King and grab a shake.

6. Foods/drinks to help enhance sleep. When you are finally ready to go to bed, there are some foods/drinks that will naturally help you get in the mood to rest well and be ready to take on any exam. I know it may sound a little strange, but try eating breakfast foods right before you head to bed. Grab a banana, drink a large glass of milk, eggs, oatmeal, hummus and bread, turkey, etc. These foods contain certain amino acids that help produce melatonin, and also ones that have tryptophan in them. These are very helpful when trying to get some rest.

7. Exercise regularly.  Since you are depriving yourself of sleep there are some repercussions that will affect the way you go about your day. By exercising, you will help your body stay well-oiled and fully functional. The last thing you want is to get sick during your finals.

Study on!



I’m reading Economics: Principles, Problems, and Policies