For university students, finding the right time to study can be a challenge. With a wide range of commitments, from lectures and seminars to social activities and part-time jobs, it can be difficult to find a time that is suitable for effective studying. However, research has shown that the time of day that you choose to study can have a significant impact on your ability to retain information and achieve academic success. While it’s essential to consider various factors such as your personal preferences, learning style, schedule, and the nature of the course content, knowing the best time of day to cram a study sesh may help you out! So if you’re asking when is the best time to study, find out about the optimal study time according to research!

The benefits of studying in the morning

best time to study in the morning

Some students are naturally more active in the morning (lucky things). There are many reasons why this is a good thing. Some theorise that our brains are more alert and focused in the morning,

Firstly, research has shown that our brains are most alert and focused in the morning, making it an ideal time to engage in activities that require concentration, such as studying. Some theorise this is due to our head and body being more level during sleep and therefore the brain receives more fluid during this time. Others noted that we can deal with more stressful things during the morning due to higher cortisol levels. This means that students are more likely cope with stressful studying with more brain activity in the morning.

Another advantage of studying in the morning is that it can improve time management skills. By dedicating time in the morning to study, students can set themselves up for a productive day ahead and avoid procrastination. Additionally, early morning study sessions can create a sense of accomplishment and motivation to continue being productive throughout the day.

Finally studying in the morning can free up time in the evening for other activities, such as hobbies or socialising, leading to a better work-life balance. This can also help reduce stress and improve overall well-being.

So, if you consider yourself to be such a person, then take advantage of the early hours of light to finish up essays or coursework. Studying, first thing during the day could provide to be an advantage because means that by the afternoon, you are likely to be free, therefore more likely to have time to relax, before facing a productive day on campus.

Or, is it better to study late at night?

night study when is the best time of day to study

On the other hand, other students might produce their best assignment late at night, or – as a result of their huge workload – might need to pull all-nighters. Studying at night has some advantages too. Nighttime can be a quieter and more peaceful time, with fewer distractions compared to the daytime. This can be especially true for students who live in busy or noisy environments or share their living spaces with others.

Another advantage is the productivity. Some people feel a bit sluggish in the day and have more energy at night. Studying at night, especially if you have a deadline or needs to catch up on work, can work well. With fewer distractions and fewer interruptions, it can be easier to get into a flow state and get work done.

It can also help you sleep. While it’s not the best way to unwind, if you’re worried about studying you might not be able to sleep until it’s done. That’s why it’s a good idea getting it out of the way to unburden your mental load!

Morning vs afternoon classes – when does research say is the best time to study?

are morning or night class better

A recent study by Chen Yeo et al. (2023) analysed the digital traces of university students to investigate the association between early morning classes, attendance, sleep, and academic achievement. The research found that students attending classes at 08:00 had lower attendance rates compared to those with later start times, with lecture attendance about ten percentage points lower. Moreover, the study found that students with early morning classes woke up an hour earlier than usual, resulting in an hour less sleep. Finally, the analysis of grades showed a negative correlation between morning classes per week and grade point average, indicating a concerning association between early morning classes and learning outcomes. Although the study found a relationship between morning classes and lower academic performance, a lot of this was to do with amount of sleep and attendance. So if you’re a student with early morning classes, prioritise sleep and make sure you’re not tempted to skip!

Chronobiology and learning YOUR best time to study

when is the best time to study for you

According to science, chronobiology surrounds ‘good timing’ on when to do things. This article breaks down when is the best time for our brains to be able to do certain things according to experts:

7am – 12pm – Make decisions

If you need to plan or make decisions, such as deciding on a topic for an assignment or scheduling things, do it in the morning. This is the best time to make decisions, with late night being the worst! This is common sense – we know how easy it is to make bad decisions at night. Ed Sheeran’s bad habits is just playing on repeat right now.

10am – 2pm – Learn something new

This is the best time to study something you’re unsure about or something totally new! The brain is in ‘acquisition mode’, so can be more efficient than all night study sessions.

11am – 3pm – brainstorming

If you’ve got to be creative or map out a project, either by yourself or with a group, do it in this time. Just before lunch until mid afternoon is a great time to be doing this. Apparently, both sides of the brain are fired up midday, which makes creativity and innovation easier.

While these are general advice for many, it’s a good idea to keep a log of how well you study and when to work alongside YOUR chronobiology.

Now you have the answer to when is the best time to study, find out which brain foods can help you along the way!