How to Study When You’re Tired (2024)

We’ve all been there. You’re trying to study but your eyelids are drooping and your brain feels fuzzy. You feel like you’ve had a long year not just a long day. This post will give you 7 ways to study when you’re tired.

Tips to wake yourself up, work out when you feel most awake, recognise when you’re exhausted and get more done even with lots of breaks.

Feeling tired doesn’t have to signal the end of productivity. You can still study when you’re tired and do great work.


How to Build Unshakeable Studying Confidence in Just 5 Days

So you can graduate with the grades you want – and feel more motivated, positive and focused along the way.


1. Tired or exhausted? Critical or non-critical study?

First, which situation are you in right now?

1. You want to study but the world won’t end if you don’t tonight.

2. You really really have to study i.e. an essay is due in the next few days

Next, you need to work out whether you’re feeling tired and a bit sleepy, or whether you are exhausted and at risk of burnout.

If your studying isn’t critical and you’re falling asleep in your books, your time is not being used wisely. There’s no point reading the same paragraph over and over. So make a decision. Either step away from your desk and try and wake yourself up, or rest now so you can come back to studying refreshed later or tomorrow. Getting a good night’s sleep, or just having an evening relaxing, can almost turn you into a new person. Just make sure you’re not using feeling tired as an excuse not to study!

So, what if your studying is critical? If you’ve got an essay due and you HAVE to study – read on for tips on how to study when tired. But if you’re feeling exhausted and have barely slept trying to complete the essay, perhaps it’s time to ask for an extension? Your university may have different policies on extensions but, if you’re really struggling, talk to your tutor. If an extra day or two would allow you to sleep and then finish the essay to a higher standard, it’s worth asking.

2. Change your study time to fit your energy rhythm

You can probably tell me straight away whether you’re an early riser or a night owl.

Are you the most productive in the morning or do you get a second wind in the evening? Would you rather stay up late to finish your essay or go to bed and wake up early to work on it?

I am DEFINITELY a night owl. My brain doesn’t seem to function for the first few hours of the morning. I can feel sleepy all day but as soon as I get home I perk up and could work late into the evening.

If you’re regularly tired while studying – look at adapting your study schedule to fit your own energy rhythm.

Could you go to bed earlier so you can fit in an hour or two of studying first thing? Could you get to work early (and beat the traffic) and study at your desk for an hour before you start? If you get tired late in the evening could you study for half an hour as soon as you get in from work? Can you switch your tasks up? Do household chores + cooking when you’re more tired.

The key here is to try and study during your most productive hours. With work and family responsibilities it may be hard to rearrange your schedule a lot. While all my tips might not work for you, some of them will if you let them. So try and find any areas you can be flexible in to make the most of your most energised hours.

3. Do the easy things

When we’re tired, our brain finds it more difficult to complete tasks with a high cognitive load – i.e. that use a lot of brain power. That’s why you struggle to understand a concept when you’re sleep deprived and why your mind goes blank when you’re trying to write an essay on not much sleep.

If you’re too tired to take notes or write your essay, what tasks can you do with a lower cognitive load that will still move you forward?

You could spend some time doing household chores or errands that will free up more time for studying tomorrow.

Or, try setting up the document for your next essay or email your tutor with some questions about the topic or approach.

You could file your notes, tidy your desk or work out your priorities for the week. Are there any videos you can watch or online activities to completes? Check out my post for some ideas on lighter tasks you can complete to help you study when you’re tired.

4. Wake yourself up

If you’re falling asleep but you really need to continue studying, here’s some ways to wake yourself up:

· Have a shower

· Drink a pint of water

· Have a cup of tea/coffee

· Get some fresh air

· Do 5 minutes of house work

· Put some loud music on and dance it out or sing loudly

5. Study with lots of breaks

If you’re really struggling but you’ve got to get some work done, then study but with plenty of breaks in between.

I normally suggest the Pomodoro technique of working with complete focus for 25 minutes and then taking a 5 minute break. But if you’re tired or not feeling well, change this ratio up.

Try studying for 30 minutes then having a break for 15. Or study for 60 minutes then take a 30 minute break. It may not seem like you’ll get much done with that many breaks but this is much better than not doing anything today because you don’t feel great.

Use your breaks to get some fresh air, cook some great food, call a friend, have a bath or watch your favourite show.

And, if you make sure you study with no distractions, you’ll be surprised what you can achieve in these short sprints. Check out this post for lots of ways to overcome procrastination and increase productivity. You need a clear desk, all your materials ready and minimal distractions.

6. Are you getting enough sleep?

While you can try and push through your all nighters, sometimes you need to tackle the underlying problem.

This is something I’m still working on. Because I’m a night owl, I often go to bed late because I don’t feel tired. But after a few days I’m exhausted. There will be times before an essay is due or before an exam where late nights are necessary – especially if you’re working. During these times sleep definitely becomes the easiest way to make more hours in the day. But we all know getting a good amount of sleep can make us feel great and perform better.

If you're not getting enough sleep, one answer could be the foods you are eating.

We all like to study with snacks, but there are some smart choices you can make during those before-bed study sessions.Click here to read a blog post by Health Ambition which shares nine foods that studies have shown improve your sleep and help you nod off quicker. There's some top tips for night time eating in there too.

Also, I’m currently reading Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson. His book highlights many tips you can use to sleep smarter, even if you can’t sleep longer. So try out some of these tips.

Make your room darker

Even a tiny amount of artificial light can disrupt your sleep patterns so invest in black out curtains and don’t keep electronics in your room with flashing lights.

No backlit screens 60 minutes before bed

Now this is the most difficult as a lot of us use our laptops, tablets and smart phones to study (and televisions to relax). But it’s worth trying, even if you can just manage 30 minutes at first. Or there’s some workarounds which could help. There are apps for your devices to reduce and block the blue light which disrupts sleep patterns. I use the free computer app ‘f.lux’.

Cut the caffeine

Definitely in the evening and some people swear by not having any after early/mid afternoon. The half life of caffeine is 5-6 hours so half the amount is still in your system after 6 hours. Try setting a caffeine curfew and see if it makes a difference.

Try not to interrupt the standard sleep cycle

Our normal sleep cycles last about 1.5 hours. Do you ever wake up before your alarm and feel quite awake? You go back to sleep then when your alarm goes off 30 minutes later you feel tired and so groggy. Try to set your alarm to work with your sleep cycle. So try for 7.5 hours or if you’re tired try and fit in 9 hours. I’m trying to break out of my relationship with the snooze button because it’s just making me feel worse!

Try to get some natural light during the day

Try and go for a walk at lunchtime or step outside mid-morning for a quick break. Natural daylight helps ensure the right hormones are released throughout the day which could help you sleep later.

7. Are you doing too much?

If you constantly feel tired and rushed off your feet – perhaps you need to look at your schedule and see what can change.

It’s normal to feel like you want it all: studying, work, family, a social life, fitness, healthy eating, hobbies…etc. But you should not feel guilty if you can’t maintain them all at once. While I’m a believer you can make time for the important things in life, there are only 24 hours a day and a 1/3 of them you should be asleep.

To avoid burnout, it’s important to work out your priorities so you can spend your time on those. Look at your calendar and see what you could remove so you will feel less tired.

However exciting a new hobby is, it may not be the time for something new. Could you reel your social life in a little? Rather than going for nights out or day trips with friends could you switch some of those for quick dinners or catch ups over coffee? Could you find a fitness regime that takes less time e.g. 30 minute interval sessions rather than hour long runs or classes? Have an honest look at your schedule and work out what you could remove (even temporarily) to allow you to focus more on what’s important to you.

It’s so difficult studying with other commitments and there will always be times when you feel tired. But these tips can help you work out whether you’re exhausted, need to wake up, or whether you need to make some changes.


How to Build Unshakeable Studying Confidence in Just 5 Days

So you can graduate with the grades you want – and feel more motivated, positive and focused along the way.


You may also like...

Imposter Syndrome: How to Stop Feeling Like an Imposter in Your Studies

Do you struggle with imposter syndrome sometimes in your studies? Do you ever feel like a bit of a fraud that isn’t good enough to be studying this subject at this level? Imposter syndrome can strike students in different ways. When you get a low grade it can make you believe that this is your

Read More

Imposter Syndrome: How to Stop Feeling Like an Imposter in Your Studies

Student Diaries – Study Skills, Consistency and Career Progression

It’s time for another interview episode with inspiring student, Lisa-Jane, who shares more about her university journey, how she integrates her studying into her busy family and work life, and how she’s achieving career progression despite only being part way through her degree. In this episode, Lisa-Jane shares about her journey to returning to study

Read More

Student Diaries – Study Skills, Consistency and Career Progression

How to Make Study Goal Setting and Habit Forming Easy

You could continue to beat yourself up about not being able to achieve your goals and stick to new habits…OR you could learn how to make study goal setting and habit forming easy. Whether you’re checking out this episode in the new year, the start of a new academic year, or a random Wednesday in

Read More

How to Make Study Goal Setting and Habit Forming Easy

How to Study When You’re Tired (2024)


How to Study When You’re Tired? ›

The answer is yes, and no. Obviously, a late-night cramming session will is better than not studying at all, but a UCLA study proved that students performed worse on their exams if depriving themselves of sleep when they analyzed the association between time studied the night beforehand and subsequent performance.

Is it worth studying when tired? ›

The answer is yes, and no. Obviously, a late-night cramming session will is better than not studying at all, but a UCLA study proved that students performed worse on their exams if depriving themselves of sleep when they analyzed the association between time studied the night beforehand and subsequent performance.

How do I stop being tired of studying? ›

How to Avoid Sleepiness While Studying (13 Ways to Stay Awake and Focused)
  1. Get out of your comfort zone. ...
  2. Watch your posture. ...
  3. Create a study strategy. ...
  4. Stay hydrated. ...
  5. Eat the right foods. ...
  6. Use active learning methods. ...
  7. Switch tasks periodically. ...
  8. Move your body.
Aug 31, 2022

How can I focus 100% on studying? ›

7 tips for staying organised and focused while studying
  1. Make a plan. ...
  2. Create a relaxed study environment. ...
  3. Take regular breaks. ...
  4. Don't get distracted by social media. ...
  5. Drink plenty of water and eat well. ...
  6. Reward yourself. ...
  7. Don't do all-nighters, you will regret it!

Is it hard to memorize when tired? ›

If you haven't slept, your ability to learn new things could drop by up to 40%. “You can't pull an all-nighter and still learn effectively,” Walker says. Lack of sleep affects a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which is key for making new memories.

Is it better to stay up studying or sleep? ›

Students who sleep better enjoy better grades, better recall, better mood, and better health. Many students opt to cram instead of sleep, thinking the extra time studying will benefit them on their exams. The research says the opposite, however.

Is it better to study late or sleep? ›

Scores of studies conclude that students really do better when they sleep. Sleeping poorly (or not at all) leads to worse test results and poorer ability to learn new things. In fact, an all nighter hurts your ability to think, reason, and understand to the same degree as if you were taking your test drunk.

Why am I so unmotivated and tired to study? ›

You could be feeling the effects of difficulties in your family or the world at large. Maybe you're having a hard time focusing or feel like your goals are too far away. It's normal to feel unmotivated sometimes, and you'll deal with that feeling off and on throughout your whole life.

Why am I so lazy to study? ›

Sometimes it is totally understandable. People might not be feeling well, ambience might not be adjustable, distractions might creep in or anything could happen which makes us slip into laziness. But, it goes on to be a serious issue, if people are consistent about it.

How do you study when you are too tired to concentrate fully? ›

Study with lots of breaks

I normally suggest the Pomodoro technique of working with complete focus for 25 minutes and then taking a 5 minute break. But if you're tired or not feeling well, change this ratio up. Try studying for 30 minutes then having a break for 15. Or study for 60 minutes then take a 30 minute break.

Why am I unable to focus on my studies? ›

Why can't I concentrate and focus? Loss of focus can happen for many reasons. They include mental and physical health problems, stress, the use of some medications, and a lack of sleep or and inadequate diet.

Why am I not able to concentrate while studying? ›

Trouble concentrating can relate to things going on around you. Common causes include interruptions from co-workers, distractions from your roommates or family members, or social media notifications. But it's also possible for concentration difficulties to relate to underlying mental or physical health conditions.

How can I energize myself to study? ›

Follow these tips and don't leave yourself running on empty!
  1. Eat breakfast. After a 12 or 14 hour fast, your body needs food in order to function at its best. ...
  2. Re-fuel every 3-4 hours. ...
  3. Plan balanced snacks. ...
  4. Don't depend on caffeine. ...
  5. Water! ...
  6. Avoid mindless munching. ...
  7. Take an activity break.

How do I study with no motivation? ›

10 ways to motivate yourself to study
  1. Acknowledge your resistance and difficult feelings with motivation. ...
  2. Do not run away. ...
  3. Do not blame yourself for procrastinating now and then. ...
  4. Try to understand your studying style better. ...
  5. Don't question your abilities. ...
  6. Visualise yourself starting. ...
  7. Focus on the task at hand.
Nov 13, 2015

What is the best time to study? ›

Best time to study according to science

According to science, there are two windows of time the brain is most receptive to new material: 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, and 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm.

How long is a power nap? ›

“A power nap is a nap that's short — less than 30 minutes long,” says Safia Khan, MD, a specialist in sleep disorders and an assistant professor in the department of family and community medicine and the department of neurology at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

Is it OK to stay in bed all day once in a while? ›

While making a habit of spending the day in bed or on the couch is not good for anyone, using it as a well-placed conscious tool for your emotional and mental well-being is absolutely ok. As a matter of fact, it's an investment in your health.

How much sleep do college students get? ›

On average, most college students get 6 - 6.9 hours of sleep per night, and the college years are notoriously sleep-deprived due to an overload of activities. Recent research on college students and sleep indicates that insufficient sleep impacts our health, our moods, our GPA and our safety.

Should I stay up late or wake up early to study? ›

So, is it better to stay up late or wake up early to study? Both are okay as long as you don't reduce the amount of sleep you get. Not everyone is productive in the morning, and not everyone is effective at night. Do what works best for you, but try to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep.

How many hours before bed should you stop studying? ›

You can prevent this by switching off blue-light devices and closing your textbooks at least two hours before bedtime.

Is it better to wake up early or stay up late? ›

Multiple studies suggest that a later sleep time. View Source is associated with many health issues. But simply waking up early might not solve the problem. People who tend to stay up late can accumulate a sleep debt if they force themselves to wake up early without developing an earlier bedtime.

What is study burnout? ›

Study burnout results from emotional and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress of all or any of these factors. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands.

What are the symptoms of over studying? ›

Overstudying can cause long term physical symptoms similar to what many people experience as burnout, including poor sleep, head aches, stomach aches, and digestive issues.

What's the best study method? ›

One of the most impactful learning strategies is “distributed practice”—spacing out your studying over several short periods of time over several days and weeks (Newport, 2007). The most effective practice is to work a short time on each class every day.

What are the 3 R's of memorization? ›

3 'R's: Remember It, Recall It, Retain It.

How long is 10x for 1 hour? ›

How long is 10x speed for 1 hour? total seconds within a hour is 3,600, the description says "10× faster". simply multiply 3,600 • 10 and the result will be 36,000.

How to memorize 100 pages in a day? ›

How To Study 100 Pages In One Day?
  1. Remove All Distractions To Stay Focused On Your Goal. ...
  2. Avoid Multitasking: Dedicate One Thing At A Time. ...
  3. Take Breaks Regularly. ...
  4. Reward Yourself For Recognizing Your Achievements And Motivating Yourself.
Jul 14, 2022

Why can't I focus ADHD? ›

The primary symptoms of ADHD are inattention and lack of focus. The reason for this may lie in your brain chemistry. Research suggests that people with ADHD have lower levels of dopamine and norepinephrine — neurotransmitters in the brain associated with attention and focus.

How do you get instant focus? ›

There's no one answer for how to improve focus, but the following tips can help.
  1. Eliminate distractions. ...
  2. Reduce multitasking. ...
  3. Practice mindfulness and meditation. ...
  4. Get more sleep. ...
  5. Choose to focus on the moment. ...
  6. Take a short break. ...
  7. Connect with nature. ...
  8. Train your brain.

Why do I forget what I study? ›

The human brain occupies a fascinating evolutionary in-between of remembering and forgetting. In many cases, we keep only the gist of our the expense of holding onto specific details. In fact, forgetting can be attributed to the presence of interfering memories and the fading of memories.

Why can't I study without getting distracted? ›

Remove unnecessary items from your study space that are not needed for studying. Use noise cancelling headphones or listen to white noise to reduce auditory distractions or try using earplugs. Remove electronic distractions. Turn your phone on silent and put it where you cannot see the screen.

How can I study when my brain is tired? ›

Give these study methods a try:
  1. Make flash cards for key concepts. Keep them nearby so you can whip them out when you have some time to kill.
  2. Start early. ...
  3. Study in a group. ...
  4. Break up your study periods. ...
  5. Make study periods longer and more focused. ...
  6. Explain material to someone else.
Sep 30, 2019

Why am I so unmotivated to do anything? ›

A lack of motivation is often caused because you don't honestly believe in yourself and your abilities. When you're filled with self-doubts, it's difficult to start a task or project because you've already decided it won't turn out well and you want to avoid that eventual failure. You believe what you tell yourself.

What time of day is your brain sharpest? ›

That said, science has indicated that learning is most effective between 10 am to 2 pm and from 4 pm to 10 pm, when the brain is in an acquisition mode. On the other hand, the least effective learning time is between 4 am and 7 am.

What is the best and worst time to study? ›

According to scientists, the best time to study is between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm and between 4:00 pm and 10:00 night. The worst time to study is between 4:00 am to 7:00 am, so if you're balancing other duties while studying, it could be best to study later at night rather than earlier in the day.

Do people study better at night or in the morning? ›

It all depends on your lifestyle. Younger people with a routine that sees them more active at night will find that studying at night comes more naturally to them. If you're an adult and re-entering study after a long time away, you might find that daytime is better suited to your established routine.

How long does it take to study 100 hours? ›

Putting in those 100 hours isn't exactly a cakewalk, but it's completely doable. At 1 hour a day, you could learn a new skill in three months. At 5 hours a day, it would only take you three weeks. Devote your weekends to learning a new field, and it would take you ten weeks.

How can I completely study? ›

How To Study Effectively
  1. Get organized. Carry a homework planner at all times. ...
  2. Pay attention in class. ...
  3. Steer clear of distractions. ...
  4. Make sure notes are complete. ...
  5. Ask questions if you don't understand. ...
  6. Make a study schedule/plan. ...
  7. Review notes from class every evening. ...
  8. Talk to teachers.
Apr 19, 2017

How can I study a lot in 30 minutes? ›

Here are a few of the tips I discovered to help maintain focus when you would rather be doing something else.
  1. Set Time Limits. Try working for 30-45 minutes straight, and then take a 10-15 minute break. ...
  2. Drink Water. ...
  3. Tackle the Little Stuff First. ...
  4. Stay Organized. ...
  5. Take Breaks. ...
  6. Remove Distractions. ...
  7. Use Rewards. ...
  8. Listen to Music.
Mar 27, 2019

How many hours can a human brain study? ›


The human brain is able to focus up to two hours, after which it needs a 20-30 minute break. The average American spends about 9 hours a day at work. According to the NeuroLeadership Institute, work focus equals about 6 hours a week.

Is studying 1 2 hours a day enough? ›

Studying for 3 to 4 hours a day is the best number as it is realistic without being too small to actually get the work done. It has also been shown that this period of time allows your brain to work at full capacity without burning it out.

How can I study for hours with ADHD? ›

Don't wait until you 'feel like' doing something
  1. Set a deadline. This will help you manage your time and get things done on time.
  2. Do one thing at a time. ...
  3. Study during short periods of focused time. ...
  4. Set small, achievable, and realistic goals. ...
  5. Break up larger projects. ...
  6. Use lists. ...
  7. Take breaks. ...
  8. Reward yourself.
Nov 14, 2022

What is the rule of 1,000 hours? ›

A year of service in a retirement plan is defined as any 12-month period in which an employee works 1,000 or more hours. That's where the magical 1,000-hour number comes from. SOURCE: 2000 U.S. Master Human Resources Guide, Copyright CCH Incorporated, 1999.

How do you study when you don't want to? ›

10 ways to motivate yourself to study
  1. Acknowledge your resistance and difficult feelings with motivation. ...
  2. Do not run away. ...
  3. Do not blame yourself for procrastinating now and then. ...
  4. Try to understand your studying style better. ...
  5. Don't question your abilities. ...
  6. Visualise yourself starting. ...
  7. Focus on the task at hand.
Nov 13, 2015

What is the rule of 100 18 minutes a day? ›

The rule of 100 states that if you spend 100 hours. in a year, which is 18 minutes a day, all of us, in any discipline, karate, violin, piano, whatever, if you spend 18 minutes a day, which is 100 hours a year, you'll be better than 95% of the world. in that discipline. It's just the consistency.

How do I push myself to study? ›

Strategies for Motivation
  1. Recall your purpose. Reminding yourself of why you're studying can be an excellent way to restore your motivation. ...
  2. Take the first step. ...
  3. Break tasks into manageable chunks. ...
  4. Keep to a study schedule. ...
  5. Join a study group. ...
  6. Create a study space.
Jan 28, 2022

What is the most easiest way to study? ›

10 tips on how to study effectively
  • Get organised.
  • Don't skip class!
  • Take notes.
  • Talk to your teacher & ask questions.
  • Space out your studying.
  • Create a study plan – & stick to it.
  • Don't just re-read but study.
  • Set up a quiet study space.

What is the most efficient way to study? ›

Part 5 – How to Study More Efficiently
  1. Take Regular Breaks. Study sessions will be more productive if you allow yourself to take planned breaks. ...
  2. Take Notes in Class. ...
  3. Exercise First. ...
  4. Review and Revise Your Notes at Home. ...
  5. Start with Your Toughest Assignments. ...
  6. Focus on Key Vocabulary. ...
  7. Join a Study Group.
Nov 6, 2022

How long should you study in one sitting? ›

It is much more realistic to stay focused for 40-60 minutes. Try to do 3-4 focused study sessions per day, 5 days per week. 30-45 minutes: Study actively and with focus in a distraction limited environment. Below are active study strategies to utilize.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Patricia Veum II

Last Updated:

Views: 5433

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (64 voted)

Reviews: 87% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Patricia Veum II

Birthday: 1994-12-16

Address: 2064 Little Summit, Goldieton, MS 97651-0862

Phone: +6873952696715

Job: Principal Officer

Hobby: Rafting, Cabaret, Candle making, Jigsaw puzzles, Inline skating, Magic, Graffiti

Introduction: My name is Patricia Veum II, I am a vast, combative, smiling, famous, inexpensive, zealous, sparkling person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.