Have you noticed, that everyone have their preferred time of study in a day? You may find that you are able to concentrate to the fullest in the early morning, while your friend might prefer the stillness of the night. Since each of us are unique, we display unique traits and preferences.
Once upon a time it was believed early mornings were best suited for studying, but years of research have proved that there are many factors that contribute to the ‘optimal time’. A study done by Dunn and Dunn, segments people into three different types of learners: morning ‘people’, afternoon
‘larks’, and the night ‘owls’. According to this, students appear to be awake and most active right after lunch which is coincidentally when teachers are least awake. So, this would make it seem like there is no ‘optimal time’.
Another study by Jessica D. Payne, Psychologist and Associate Professor at Notre Dame suggests that studying before going to bed is the best time and allows you to retain more information. Reason being, it is stored in short-term memory and gets consolidated during sleep. This would work well with those who love to do last minute preparation before exams. On the other hand, for retention, REM sleep is required. Here your brain solidifies everything that you have learnt the previous day. So, waking up too early in the morning could hamper knowledge retention and whatever is learnt the previous day – can get diluted.
Besides the amount of sleep, there are other contributing factors that can determine your best time of the day to study, including the type of food you eat and your habits. There are techniques that will help you optimize your learning as well. Remember that you have an internal clock (circadian
rhythms) in your body that naturally, should be somewhat close the cycle of the sunrise and sunset. If you do not let your circadian rhythms work naturally, you will spoil the functioning of the rest of your body, which in turn can impair your ability to learn.
In conclusion: No matter what time of the day works for you, listen to your body, eat healthy, get a good night’s rest and find techniques that will help improve your concentration. It is crucial to give your body the proper amount of rest and food to ensure that you function at your best.