I’m a firm believer in getting enough sleep at night for optimal functioning, so I never remember using this method to pull an all-nighter. What I did use it for was day-time study sessions. This method won’t work for everyone in nursing school as some people can’t sleep well at night if they nap during the day – and a good night’s sleep is vital for nursing school students and nurses alike – but for those who can take short naps, feel refreshed, and still sleep well at night, here’s the method:
For study times when I needed to learn and retain a lot of nursing school information in a matter of one day, I would use what I call “the study sleep method”. I would study for about 45-50 minutes, then sleep for about 10-15 minutes. I would repeat this 1 hour process again and again for the length of my scheduled study time.
Why does this work? Sleep improves memory retention, helps with mental alertness, and increases concentration. You can maximize your study time by retaining what you are learning if you regularly give your mind a break to nap during your study times. During this “brain break”, your brain gets refreshed so it is ready to focus and take in more new information.
Three important keys if you decide to try out this study method:
- Use a timer for both the study portion (45-50 minutes) and sleep portion (10-15 minutes) of each study hour. Timers free your brain to learn (or rest!) rather than track the time. They also allow better ability to focus since you know the time for study is limited and that you will soon get a break again.
- Set a goal for each 45-50 minutes of study time. What will you learn during this time period? Make sure this goal is specific (e.g. pages 1-4 of my study notes for my med/surg exam) and reasonable for you to accomplish.
- Get a full night’s sleep after a day of study. The average adult needs 7-8 hours of sleep at night. This longer period of sleep is essential as it maximizes day-time study by providing different stages of sleep (deep sleep and REM sleep) than a 10-15 minute nap could ever do. During longer periods of sleep, information studied all day becomes processed, solidified, and “filed” away in your memory bank for later recall, and your body becomes recharged for another day of learning.