How to get rid of sleepiness while studying

May 10, 2021

Exam season can be intense. For many students, preparing for exams can be both physically and mentally draining. In this post, we share top tips on how to get rid of sleepiness while studying.

Why you are feeling sleepy during your study sessions

If you have noticed a pattern of feeling sleepy when studying it could be caused by one or more of the following, you:

  • Are not getting enough sleep at night
  • Have been pulling all-nighters to study
  • Feel disengaged with your study materials
  • Are experiencing academic burnout
  • Lacking the motivation to study
  • Are feeling anxious or stressed

Does any of the above resonate with you? Understanding what is causing you to feel tired whilst studying is a good starting point in resolving this problem.

How to get rid of sleepiness while studying

Here are some actionable tips to help you to overcome sleepiness when studying.

1: Take power naps during the day

Thomas Frank

Scientists at The Saarland University in Germany have found that taking a 45-60 minute nap power naps can boost your memory fivefold. Therefore, taking naps in between your study sessions can be beneficial.

If you begin to feel sleepy whilst studying, instead of fighting back sleep, stop and take a power nap. It’s worth setting a timer on your phone or setting an alarm clock to ensure that you don’t oversleep.

2: Improve your sleep hygiene

Getting high quality sleep every night is vital. It is especially important during exam season. It might be tempting to stay up late cramming in last minute revision. However, doing so could interfere with your sleep pattern.

If you don’t get good sleep at night, this could result in you feeling sleepy the next day whilst you are studying.

To maintain your sleep hygiene:

  • Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day
  • Stop studying at least one hour before going to bed
  • Use blackout blinds to ensure your bedroom is as dark as possible
  • Don’t drink coffee or energy drinks at least 6 hours before going to bed
Therapy in a Nutshell

3: Study smart, not hard

Many students make the mistake of spending hours on end reading through textbooks. However, this is not always the most effective way to study. Furthermore, reading study materials that aren’t particularly interesting can result in you experiencing sleepiness whilst studying. 

Study strategically. Start by setting yourself a goal. Perhaps you aspire to achieve a top grade. Or maybe you want to see an improvement in your grades. Having a goal to work towards can help you to feel energised and focused whilst you study. 

Next, work out exactly what you will be examined on. Read through the course specification carefully.  This will outline everything you need to know for your assessments. 

Incorporate past exam papers into your study routine. Taking past papers under exam conditions and using the mark scheme to mark your work will give you a good indication of your strengths and weaknesses. This will enable you to strategically allocate your time to focus on your weaknesses. 

Overworking yourself and studying inefficiently will lead to you feeling sleepy whilst studying. 

4: Try the Pomodoro technique

Studying for hours on end without taking a break can lead to academic burnout. This ca can result in tiredness and fatigue. 

The Pomodoro technique can prevent you from studying without taking a break. The Pomodoro technique is a time management method that was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. 

The technique involves using a timer to break down your study sessions into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes each. 

How to incorporate the Pomodoro technique into your study routine: 

  • Plan out what you need to revise
  • Set a timer for 25 minutes
  • During this time don’t divert your attention to anything else
  • Take a five-minute break after the 25 minutes 
  • After 4 study intervals of 25 minutes each, take a 30-minute break 
  • Use your break to take a power nap is needed. 
TheStrive Studies

5: Eat a healthy, balanced diet

If you are experiencing sleepiness while studying, you may want to take a look at you diet. 

What you eat will have an impact on your energy levels. 

Cut down your sugar intake

It can be very tempting to snack on sugary foods and drinks while studying. However, whilst this may give you a rush of energy, it is not sustainable and can lead to a crash in your blood sugar levels resulting in fatigue. Instead, snack on fruits and nuts. 

As well as cutting back on sugar, ensure that you are consuming a balanced diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals. 


6: Get physical exercise daily

Exercising will help you to maintain a healthy body and mind. It is really important to take good care of yourself, especially during exam season when your stress levels may be elevated. 

Exercise helps with oxygenating the blood, helping you to feel energised and can help you to study more efficiently. 

Study little and often. If you are using the Pomodoro technique, you can do some exercise during your 30 minute breaks. You could follow along with a work out video or you could go for a walk. 

Get yourself into a routine that ensures that you get exercise every day. 

7: Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated will help to improve your concentration levels. 

Keep a BPA free water bottle by your desk so that you don’t forget to stay hydrated during the day. During your study breaks, re-fill your bottle. 

8: Form a study group

Studying with others may help you to feel more alert and awake. If you notice that you feel sleepy when studying alone, this might be a solution. 

Studying with others will involve interacting with others which may be much more engaging than reviewing your notes and practising exam questions alone. 

You can either meet with your study group in person in a public library or a coworking space. Alternatively, you can set up study sessions online. 

If you do not have a study group, you can join a study group online. Alternatively, you can play a study with me video in the background whilst you study. Seeing someone actively studying can motivate you to stay awake and study along with them.


9: Set up a dedicated study area

It is a good idea to set up a dedicated study area. If you are studying in bed or on the sofa, you are bound to feel to comfortable and fall asleep. Likewise, if your study space is uncomfortable, you are likely to study much less.

Set up an ergonomic workspace for your studies.  This means you should have a sturdy desk, an adjustable chair and good desk lighting

10: Reduce your stress levels

Stress can lead to exhaustion or trouble sleeping. It is vital that you keep your stress levels low during your exam season. 

To keep your stress levels down: 

-Stay active. You may want to practice yoga regularly

-Maintain your social life. Connecting with other students as well as others who are not studying. 

-Invest time in your self-care. Plan time in the day for ‘you time’. Relax in between study intervals and make time to continue pushing your hobbies and interests. 

11: Listen to study music

Listening to study music can help you to stay focused during your study intervals. It can help with reducing stress and anxiety levels, improve your concentration and more. 

Quiet Quest – Study Music

How to get rid of sleepiness while studying summary 

When studying, it is a good idea to optimise your internal and external environment. I.e. internally, you will want to ensure that you are eating well, staying hydrated, reducing stress, sleeping well and getting exercise daily. This is going to help you to sustain good energy levels and help you to not feel tired when studying. 

Externally, you will want to make your environment conducive of work. Therefore, set up a dedicated study space that you associate with getting work done. Focus on your study strategy. Mix up your study sessions by implementing the pomodoro technique and scheduling some group study sessions. 

Applying these tips will help to reduce sleepiness while studying. We hope this post is useful! Before you go, be sure to check out The Student Book.  

Frequently Asked Questions relating to sleepiness while studying

Why do I get sleepy when I study?

Your tiredness while studying can be due to a lack of sleep. Have you been up studying late into the night? f you have this could be why you feel sleepy when studying. If you seemingly feel well-rested but become sleepy when you start studying, it could be due to your study technique. Aim to make your studying as interactive and engaging as possible.

How can I get rid of sleepiness fast?

If you’ve got a big exam coming up soon and need to get rid of your sleepiness fast, so that you can get some last-minute studying in, consider taking a 20-minute power nap, drink a tall glass of water, consume healthy snacks and take frequent breaks. You may also find splashing some cold water on your face effective.

What to do if you are too tired to study?

If you are too tired to study, there is no point forcing yourself to stay up late

Featured Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

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