As midterm season rolls in, we spend long nights in the library, sleep fewer than the recommended eight hours, and respond to our overwhelming stress levels with procrastination and defeat. It may appear that the smartest thing to do is to drag your books to the library and not emerge for a week. This certainly seems better than other coping mechanisms, such as allowing your self to be psyched out by the pressure, and to not do nearly enough studying. But cooping yourself up in the library until three am isn't necessarily the smartest way to study either.
There are many important factors to consider when we think about health, such as eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep. College students, however, often overlook the importance of sleep. This is dangerous because sleep deficiency can actually effect the way you behave, your quality of work, how well you can learn, and even has an influence on the way you socialize. Sleep is vital to growth and development, and without enough of it, we cannot hope to be even close to the best versions of ourselves. Putting off sleeping to cram for a big exam may seem like the best, and only course of action, but without a sufficient amount of rest you won't actually be able to learn your material as well as you could with sleep.
When we have enough sleep, we are more motivated and prepared for our day, as well as more engaged with the materials we need to learn. Studying hard at the library is a good thing, but we must remember to leave at a reasonable time that allows us enough rest, and just pick up where we left off the next morning. When our ability to function and learn is at a higher level, we automatically study better anyways, because we are not distracted by our sleepiness and lack of motivation.
This is not to say that we should spend all our time sleeping, because those of us who are too stressed out by our upcoming exams to do anything but lay in bed and think about them also aren't utilizing time in the best way. There needs to be a balance, because when we are balanced and are taking care of all of our needs, stress levels begin to go down, allowing for more productivity. If you find your self paralyzed by stress, work towards your goals slowly, and make sure to appreciate yourself every time you finish a small chunk. Be kind to your self and be proud of what you can accomplish. Do not punish yourself for what you can't understand or for the work that you don't get to. We are all doing our best.
Encourage balance in your life, and remember to study smarter, not necessarily longer.