When’s the Best Time to Study?
If you consider yourself a productivity nut, you probably look for the best way to do everything. To work smarter, faster, and more efficiently.
That includes learning new information. So you may have asked yourself, “When’s the best time to study?”
While it’s not “one size fits all” answer, researchers have identified when our cognitive processes are at their peak. And that window of time can shift with age.
The Optimal Time For Learning
College students learn best between the hours of 11:30 am to 9:30 pm.
That’s the conclusion of a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. The results are also echoed in other research which has shown that younger adults and high school students benefit from later class times.
But this isn’t a hard and fast rule. While everyone’s circadian rhythm is slightly different, researchers say this time window showed the best results for the majority of people:
The survey we present here support that for college students, but they also show that when it comes to optimal performance, no one time fits all.
The scientists used two different methods to analyze when students cognitive performances were at their peak. An empirical model which involved surveying the students, and a more theoretical model grounded in neuroscience which helped them analyze results.
When’s the Best Time to Learn For Adults?
As far as for the rest of us, Mariah Evans from the study states that adults hit their brainpower peak a few hours earlier:
Neuroscientists have documented the time shift using biological data — on average, teens’ biologically ‘natural’ day begins about two hours later than is optimal for prime age adults.
This puts the peak learning window for adults around 9:30 in the morning to 7:30 in the evening. Again, this varies slightly due to people’s natural circadian rhythm. But it does give you a solid starting point.
Other Study Tips to Remember
When you have a choice, researchers say to structure opportunities for learning in the classroom or online when they’re most effective brain-wise. And this is counter to how some University’s run:
The basic thrust is that the best times of day for learning for college-age students are later than standard class hours begin.
And yes, life isn’t always convenient. If you work or have no other choice but to take early classes, you can still employ other strategies for effective learning. For example, if you time your naps you can form stronger memories for recently learned information.
So for those trying to be efficient with their study time, there you have it. Happy learning!