Tips & Tricks blog


by | Jan 21, 2020 | A-Level, GCSE | 1 comment

Do you find that you just can’t help falling asleep while revising? Whether you’re working on your GCSEs, A-levels, or your degree, this is a problem that many of us face. 

Let’s face it – revising CAN be dull, but there are a bunch of methods that you can practice to make sure that you stay alert, interested, and motivated when studying. Have you thought about opening a window, sitting at a desk, or choosing the right kind of light?

It’s not just about cramming in the caffeine. Sure, that can work, but too much caffeine is BAD for your blood pressure.

So, how DO you stay awake while you revise?

In this article, we’re going to explore how you can stop falling asleep when studying. The dos, the don’ts, and the tips for when you begin to feel tired and can’t concentrate. 


Let’s go.  

1. Use White Light, Not Warm Light While Studying

You might have noticed that your mobile phone or tablet has a Night Mode (on iPhone it’s called Night Shift). 

When your phone is on Night Mode, the display filters out the blue light because it stimulates brain activity. You don’t want to stimulate your brain at night because it stops you from sleeping.

But you do want to stimulate your brain while revising. 

White light contains lots of blue light (although you can’t see it), making it the choice for studying because it will keep you awake. 

Sure, we all love a candle or an ambient LED but save that for the post-study chill-out. 

2. Avoid Revising During The Night

The night-time is probably the quietest time of the day, and some people find that working nocturnally stimulates creativity. 


If you’re revising at 3 am and have to attend class first thing in the morning, neither your revision time or your class time are going to be effective. 

Going to bed at a regular, reasonable time is essential to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm – the way our body regulates sleeping, eating, and activity. 

Start revising early, and finish early. 

That way, you’ll have time to unwind before you settle in for the night and are less likely to find yourself distracted during your study time. 

3. Breathe In Some Fresh Air

Your bedroom might be cosy, but allowing some fresh air inside can help you to remain alert while you revise.

If you start to feel drowsy, open a window, and keep the temperature at a slightly uncomfortable 17-18 Degrees. 

Keeping the temperature down keeps you on your toes. 

4. Take A Power Nap

Sometimes you can’t avoid the drowsiness – so don’t fight it. 

A brief nap can be super-refreshing and can increase your concentration. Some say that a power nap could be up to 30 minutes, but I find that a 10-minute nap whenever I need one is just enough to wake me up for the rest of the day. 

Set a 10-minute timer on your watch or phone, lay down, and close your eyes. 

It might feel difficult to drift off at first, but by the time your timer buzzes, you’ll realise you’ve had a refreshing break. Ready to crack on. 

5. Do Some Exercise To Stimulate Your Concentration

Revision is a bit of a “bums on seats” situation, isn’t it? You sit there till it’s done. But too much inactivity promotes drowsiness.

You should always schedule breaks into your revision timetable, and it’s useful to do something energetic during those breaks. 

There are loads of short workout videos on YouTube or try something a little different, like yoga. Yoga gets you moving while stimulating your energy and keeping you calm and focused. 

6. Revise With Your Friends (but stay focused!)

Revising with friends can be a great way to test your knowledge, keeping things interesting while you study.

But you have to remain disciplined in your approach to working. 

Make sure you don’t just spend the time chatting and singing into your hairbrush. 

Studying with a friend can help by:

  • Teaching each other – sometimes the best way to learn is by explaining something 
  • Testing each other – go through your notes and come up with some questions. Then get your friend to answer the questions. You could do this as a written quiz or as a verbal exercise.
  • Keeping each other motivated

7. Chew gum (but avoid constant snacking)

It might surprise you to discover, but chewing gum improves your focus and concentration. 

It’s even believed that alternating the flavour of your gum keeps you focused. Intense flavours, such as spearmint, are considered concentration stimulants. 

Choose sugar-free gum, and it helps to keep your teeth clean. Win-win.

8. Keep Hydrated (along with caffeinated)

Research has found that drinking just 300ml of water can increase your concentration and attention span by as much as 25%. Keeping hydrated is vital for life, but it’s also essential for studying. 

Caffeinated drinks can help keep you alert, but you’re probably better sticking with tea and coffee rather than grabbing a can of super-charged fizz. 

A 500ml can of Monster Original, for example, contains 160mg of caffeine. You’d have to drink four Espressos to get an equivalent amount of caffeine. 

Four Espressos is too much for anyone and will definitely disturb your natural sleep pattern. 

But it gets worse:

A can of Monster Original contains thirteen teaspoons of sugar (that’s 55g to be precise). The NHS recommends that a healthy person should have no more than 30g of sugar a day. 

So, stick with coffee – and be moderate. Two or three cups a day is generally considered OK as long as you don’t have a heart condition or other health problem. 

9. Sit In A Chair (Not On Your Bed)

Your bed was designed to help you sleep – and that’s absolutely what you DON’T want while you’re studying. 

Get a chair or seat with a backrest, with a table or desk for your books. Sitting upright keeps you awake. 

Lying down, on the other hand, promotes a comfy night’s sleep.

10. Don’t Revise After A Heavy Meal

Sunday lunch might be your favourite meal of the week – blimey, I love it. It’s the one day a week we all enjoy a little over-eating. 


Overeating triggers the snooze like nothing else. 

We all feel tired after a big meal because our bodies redirect our energy towards our digestive system. This makes us feel like having a pleasant doze; not great for revision. 

11. Read Your Notes Out Loud

It might feel a bit odd, but reading your notes out loud really does reduce the possibility of falling asleep while you study. 

Do your best impression of your teacher, and get noisy for alert study. 

12. Vary Your Revision Timetable

Very few of us can do eight solid hours of anything (even if it’s fun). So expecting yourself to stay focused for eight hours of maths or statistics is expecting a bit too much of yourself. 

Prioritise the subjects and topics you find difficult, and intersperse those with subjects that you find easier. That way, you keep a little variety to your revision structure. 

Try the Pomodoro Technique. It’s a method of work and reward that will help you remain focused all the way through your revision time.

So there you have it

Staying awake while revising is the only way to get things done. And it’s easy to slip into a routine that encourages a little peaceful slumber. 

Open a window, sit at a desk, drink water, and vary your timetable. Work with a friend, chew gum, and do a bit of exercise (spit the gum out first, obvs). These are all effective methods that will help you stay awake when revising. 

What do you do?

What methods do you use to keep alert while revising? Add some comments in the box below and share the love. Let everyone know your tips for staying awake during revision. 

Good luck, everyone. 



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