When is the Best Time to Study? Day or Night?

Best Time to Study - Day or Night

While studying is usually never fun, it’s a necessary part of high school. Plus your college admission can depend on it. (Speaking of college admissions, be sure to check out our updates guides to the best SAT prep books and the best ACT prep books.)

Unfortunately, it can also be hard to accomplish when you’ve got balance extracurriculars, a social life, and family obligations.

Regardless of what your schedule may look like, you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of that study session.

With that in mind, it’s time to tackle that age-old question: what is the best time to study for your exam? Day or night?

Is It Important to Study During a Certain Time?

The best time to study can vary from person to person—there’s no set time that everyone peaks at. It all depends on your internal clock and daily routine. Teenagers also typically require more sleep than adults, so it’s unlikely that you’d feel ready for a pop quiz at dawn.

Still, even with the regulated schedule that high school and college puts many students on, everyone’s brains operate a little differently. Some students may claim that they work best in the mornings, while others feel energized during the middle of the night.

With that in mind, we want to dive into the details of the different hours you can study, what is thought to be the most effective, and why.

Studying During the Day

The daytime is generally accepted to be the best time to study, especially since many students end up starting their days early on. If you can get up and have a good breakfast after a restful night of sleep, you will be ready and capable of concentration.

During the day, you can also take advantage of natural lighting. It is much easier on your eyes and works your pituitary gland, which will make you more awake and alert. In turn, that is going to make studying much easier than it would be at night with artificial lighting.

Another huge benefit of studying during the day is the fact that you will have many more resources at your fingertips. Not only are coffee shops and libraries open, but other students and teachers will be more available at some point during the day. You can always reach out for help in the afternoon, but it’s unlikely that you’ll get a lot of assistance in the middle of the night.

Studying at Night

Now, after everything we listed about studying during the day, you’re likely wondering if there is even a point to studying at night. And yes, there are perks to studying in the evening, as long as you stick to a schedule. Some evidence even suggests that studying right before bed may help you absorb the information better.

Not to mention, if you have classes and work during the day and need to find time to study, evenings might be your only option. Nighttime studying often fits better into the average student’s schedule, especially if you’re spending most of your day in class.

You will also face far fewer distractions at night, as long as you stick to a quiet environment. Trying to study with friends might make studying feel more appealing, but it can also be distracting too.

However, keeping a routine is truly the most important part of studying. Harvard Business Review found that many of the most successful people had one thing in common: a daily (or nightly) routine.

So, whether you’ve got to push your study session to the evening or even review your notes before you sleep, just make it a regular part of your nighttime schedule. You also want to ensure that you don’t try to jam-pack all your studies into one night. To get the benefits of studying, you need to make sure you are also getting adequate rest.

Burning yourself out a few nights a week will only make you more tired. It will be hard to concentrate, challenging to stick to a routine, and it’ll only hurt your studies in the long run.

The Science Between Optimal Study Hours

If we consider the science behind studying, you will notice that the best time to study is during the day. Specifically, the best time for learning is between 10 in the morning and two in the afternoon. In the evening, it is best to study between four and 10 in the evening. In contrast, the worst time for studying is between four and seven am.

However, the best time to study could also be determined by your internal clock, as studied in chronobiology. Chronobiology takes a closer look at our circadian rhythms and how our internal clocks control our daily lives. Since everyone’s internal clock is just a little different, your perfect studying time may be different than someone else’s.

How Do You Choose Your Best Time to Study?

If you’re still trying to figure out the best studying time for you, remember that daytime studying comes with these benefits:

  • You feel more refreshed
  • You can take advantage of natural light
  • It’s easy to study in public places
  • Other people are usually awake if you need help

But, if you’re a night owl, you’ll generally get these perks:

  • Studying before bed may be helpful
  • Easier to fit in after social activities or obligations
  • Fewer distractions
  • You may have a clearer head

Of course, your study time isn’t always in your control. Even if your “best” studying time seems to be at night, a busy schedule could mean you’ve got to review notes between classes.

Keep in mind that consistency is more crucial than the time of day you study. You may not be an early bird, but if you get used to studying in the mornings, it may feel natural.

And, for those night studiers, be sure that your study session doesn’t get in the way of a good night’s rest. Regardless of when you pull out the books, be sure to set aside time for studying a few times a week.

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Michelle Tsou

Contributor at ExamCave. Michelle graduated with a BA in English from Portland State University. She hopes to one day run her own test-prep organization.