Sleep Fact 4 - The Key to Exam Success

With schools study leave in full swing, students revising for their GCSE and A level exams will be feeling the pressure to succeed.

Sleep and exam prep

As they battle through the most stressful month of the school year, The Sleep Council has some tips for surviving The Exam Weeks – with a good night’s sleep being one of the most important tools for doing well.


Said Jessica Alexander of The Sleep Council:"How students manage exam-time stress can have a huge impact on their ability to perform under pressure. 


"Exam time has always been stressful, but loss of sleep, increased caffeine consumption and unhealthy snacking are sure-fire ways to create a less than optimal exam-time performance.


“Lack of sleep can end up clouding judgement or increasing the number of mistakes made. Students need to get at least six to eight hours of sleep a night, particularly on the night before an exam.”


Here then, are The Sleep Council’s tips to surviving the dreaded summer exams: 

  • BE PREPARED:The best way to manage stress and anxiety around exam time is to be as prepared as possible. Draw up a rough ‘revision timetable’ of what you need to revise when to ensure every subject is covered – and stick to it!
  • SLEEP WELL:Most people need at least six to eight hours of sleep every night – so no pulling an all-nighter to cram for an exam! Lack of sleep results in poor coping strategies for managing stress and ‘fuzzy’ thinking. The best bet by far is to study often and in advance and build in a good rest before the big day. Sleeping on a comfortable, supportive bed can really help with a good night’s sleep.
  • GET PHYSICAL:Physical exertion provides an outlet for mental stress. Let off some steam by walking, running, getting involved in a sport etc. 
  • PRIORITISE: The sheer amount of revision to be done can sometimes seem overwhelming. Set priorities and work on the most urgent first. Break tasks down into manageable chunks and set goals that are reasonable.
  • PRACTICE A RELAXATION TECHNIQUE:Relaxation techniques can help to create a sense of calm and are simple to perform in the bedroom without any special equipment. Deep breathing with your eyes closed is a simple way to remedy stress. Focus on your breath as you deeply inhale and exhale.
  • CHANGE THE SCENERY:Persistence is key when it comes to studying, but a change of scenery can reduce stress levels.  Head outdoors to breathe in some fresh air and, if possible, take a walk to a picturesque place with trees, flowers or other comforting surroundings. Sprucing up your space is another way to change the scenery when you can't break away. Hang new pictures on the wall, or add some new cushions to the room.  
  • SOCIALISE – A LITTLE!:Getting together with friends is another healthy way to blow off steam and chat with others who know just how you feel. Sometimes just being around other people who understand is enough to feel better – at other times, talk about your stress and ask for help from family and friends
  • EAT WELL:Stress eating can seriously disrupt healthy eating habits. Keep healthy, easy-to-eat snacks around such as nuts or fresh fruit. 
  • POSTIVE SELF-TALK:Thoughts, feelings, and behaviour are connected so it’s important to monitor self-talk, focus on the present, set realistic goals, and remain appropriately optimistic. Source The Sleep Council