The ideal study time: what does science say?

Publicatiedatum 21 november 2023
Wijzigingsdatum 21 november 2023

Every student has his or her own preference when it comes to the best time to study. Some swear by night sessions, while others as early risers are sharpest in the morning. But what does science say about this? Well, there has been extensive research on the perfect study time, including the discovery of a so-called IQ peak and a standard study rhythm that has proven to be effective for many. Read on quickly to discover your optimal study time.

Morning people versus evening people

There are morning people and evening people; about one in three students belong to the latter group. Evening people are most productive in the evening and prefer sleeping in to going to bed early. Morning people, on the other hand, have no trouble getting up early and can start their studies in the morning without any problems. So, whether you are a morning person or an evening person definitely affects the best time to study.

However, both groups have advantages. Morning people generally start their studies better rested, while evening people benefit from higher productivity in the evening hours, when the brain stores information best. Dreams are a good example of this, as they are often based on recent experiences before bedtime. Studying before bed can therefore make sense. 

The sleep rhythm of college students

It is no surprise that most students are evening people, given research on sleep habits during college days. Sleep rhythms shift, in part due to early lectures, exam weeks and social activities. After the age of 20, the biological clock slowly begins to creep back, so adults and the elderly often become morning people. So, the fact that students don't always get up early has to do with an adjusted biological clock rather than laziness.

The scientifically ideal study time

Scientific research suggests that the optimal time to study is between 11:00 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. in the evening. This is understandable, since the morning hours are needed to get started, while from 11:00 a.m. you are sufficiently awake for a productive start. After 9:30 p.m., most students' concentration decreases rapidly, so it is advisable to stop around that time. According to the study, there is no point in getting up extremely early or studying late into the night because fatigue negatively affects brain function and can cause frustration.

Does the perfect study time exist?

It seems that the best time to study starts at the end of the morning and ends in mid-evening, but actually there is no absolutely perfect time. It is all subjective and depends mostly on factors such as sleep, study time and healthy eating. In your search for the best time to study, it is crucial to find a good balance between these factors. In doing so, it is valuable to consider your sleep pattern, a healthy diet and sufficient study time each day. A well-thought-out study schedule can help with this.

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