Could you be hurting your bar exam score without realizing it? Boost your study efficiency by identifying which of these bad habits could be affecting you before the bar exam. Then, correct them accordingly to maximize your scoring potential.
1. Using Your Phone Before Bed
According to a study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, approximately 95% of adults look at their cell phone, watch TV, or use another electronic device within one hour of going to bed. While these habits are commonly thought of as a relaxing late-night activities, they could leave you feeling more fatigued, irritable and restless when you wake up in the morning. Simply put, bright screens counteract the secretion of melatonin, the body’s natural sleeping hormone, whereas darkness promotes it. To wake up more energized and fall asleep faster, aim to stop using all electronic devices at least one hour before bed and participate in a relaxing activity such as taking a bath or reading a magazine in a dimly lit room instead.
2. Going to Bed Late
Do you find yourself waking up tired every morning? If so, perhaps going to bed late at night is the culprit. It’s easy to convince yourself to stay up a few extra hours to relax after a long day of studying. However, those hours may be costing you. Studies indicate that there are two key factors to a good night’s rest: the time that you sleep and the regularity of your sleeping habits. Your deepest regenerative sleep occurs between 10pm and 2am. Therefore, if you are not sleeping during this time, you are more likely to feel tired, stressed and irritable when you wake up. Research also shows that even a one-hour change in sleeping habits is enough to compromise the immune system and show increased signs of inflammation, diabetes, cancer risk, and stress. To feel your best while studying, strive to go to bed at an earlier time and maintain a consistent sleeping schedule before the bar exam.
3. Confusing Thirst with Hunger
Many law students depend on some sort of caffeine during the day to boost their energy while studying. Not only do drinks high in caffeine increase anxiety and irritability, but they also dehydrate the body at a much faster rate. Approximately two-thirds of Americans are dehydrated, indicating that about two-thirds of Americans could also be feeling more fatigued, slow and gloomy than normal. This issue is most likely caused by the fact that the body’s signal for water, thirst, is controlled by the same part of the brain as its receptors for hunger. As a result, the body is often deprived of the water it needs and provided with excess food calories instead, contributing to weight gain. To solve this problem, try drinking a glass of water before each meal. Not only does this method improve metabolism, but it will allow you to identify what it is that your body really needs. Additionally, try substituting at least one cup of coffee, or another caffeinated drink, for a glass of water each day. This will keep you hydrated and alert before the bar exam.
4. Neglecting Vitamin D (and thinking milk is enough to cut it!)
Vitamin D is unique in that it is able to promote better health for almost every type of cell and system in the body, from white blood cells to the entire muscular system. Other benefits of vitamin D include helping the body retain calcium, promoting higher energy levels and boosting serotonin, a chemical that regulates mood. Since approximately four in every 10 Americans are vitamin D deficient, it’s possible that you could be relying too heavily on dairy products to provide your body with an adequate vitamin D supply. Studies indicate that a more effective approach is to spend between 10 and 15 minutes in the sun each day without sunscreen, for lighter skin tones, and between 30 and 45 minutes for darker skin tones. For those who do not live in a warm, sunny climate, or prefer a quicker solution, vitamin D supplements are available at many grocery and health foods stores.
5. Skipping the Gym to Study
The advantages of exercise are well known (improves memory, boosts mood, promotes a better immune system, and supports better sleep), however, the disadvantages of skipping the gym to study may be even more substantial. Aside from the obvious issue of weight gain, a sedentary lifestyle actually ages the brain at a quicker rate because it receives less oxygen to grow and repair than exercise provides. A lack of exercise can also negatively impact how the body reacts in stressful situations as well as reduce the amount of new information that can be stored each day. Dedicate 30 minutes to one hour of your time to aerobic exercise at least three days a week. That time will undoubtedly prove to be more valuable than if it was spent studying, as it will ensure that your body and mind are as sharp as possible for the bar exam.