You may think you have all the resources you need to make the best of your test prep: the most up to date resources, a fantastic private instructor, and a supportive home. But you’re not getting the most out of your studying unless you remember one indispensable factor: Rest. There is an importance in rest, and benefits of study breaks.
There is still no consensus on exactly why we sleep, but most studies agree that it’s good for us. Sleep and rest are ways for our bodies to recharge and for our minds to process recently acquired information. Often students who study for high stress exams like the SAT or the GMAT try to get through as much material at a time as they can. This information gathering can lead to burnout and be less effective than one intensive session followed by a rest period.
Rest periods don’t have to be long: a German study found that just a six-minute nap can help you remember things you’ve recently learned. Various research indicates that sleeping gives your brain a chance to process and reorganize information, by making neural connections that solidify memory creation.
Resting doesn’t just help you learn new information and create memories, it prepares you for future tasks. One study found that test subjects who re-entered a maze after dreaming about it in a 90 minute nap performed better. Another study showed that subjects learned and performed certain motor tasks better when they took a nap.
The same concept applies to other aspects of your life, not just learning new skills or solving puzzles. Starting the day just half an hour later results in more alert and enthusiastic students. Not surprisingly, getting to sleep in an extra half an hour gave the students that extra boost they needed to get through the entire day without feeling the need to nod off in the middle of class.
Not getting enough rest can actually negate your efforts to study. Sleep deprivation overworks our minds and limits our ability to access stored knowledge. A shortened attention span and difficulty focusing are further factors that can hinder progress when studying.
So avoid burn-out, improve memory formation, and learn better: get some rest.