After a few hours studying for midterms, you’re going to need some serious help staying awake and focusing. But you may not have time to scour the Google machine for advice on how to weather an all-nighter. Here are some of our favorite Internet study tips.
1. Try some relaxing yoga.
The Mayo Clinic says practicing yoga regularly may help calm chronic stress — as well as assuage depression and sleeping problems. But don’t just take their word for it. Try some out yourself with North by Northwestern’s own certified yoga instructor, Medill freshman Antonia Cereijido.
2. Defy what your mother says at the dinner table.
No, don’t start skipping the salad bar and heaping your plate with cookies and soft serve. Instead, forget about what mommy says when you slouch at the dinner table. In 2006, FoxNews.com published a report on a study suggesting that reclining one’s back at a 135 degree angle preserves the best spine shape and prevents back pain.
3. Give your tushie a little cushie.
Sitting on a cushion instead of your desk chair’s hard surface distributes the pressure of your weight. This allows for an “increased seat tolerance,” says Professor Jan Tecklin of Arcadia University in his book, Physical Therapy. With a softer seat, your concentration may prove to be longer and more effective.
4. Work your jaws.
When you find yourself reading the same sentence over and over again, pop a piece of gum in your mouth. According to a 2002 BBC News article, scientists have proven that the ability to recall remembered words improved by 35 percent in people who chewed gum. Chewing gum also triggers the production of insulin, which stimulates the hippocampus, which helps to process memory. So chew away. Plus, always having fresh, minty breath might also score you a second and third “study session” with that cute girl or guy.
5. Stimulating your senses with scents.
Can’t seem to quell the voice inside your head that’s screaming for more caffeine? Try inhaling the scent of coffee — same effects, but caffeine-free. CNN posted a 2005 Reuters article reporting that odors such as coffee, lemon, peppermint and cinnamon may help to improve concentration and relieve stress. Royal Automobile Club Foundation’s consulting psychologist Conrad King told Reuters, “The sense of smell circumnavigates the logical part of the brain.” Light fragrance oil or strategically place a cup of coffee beans in your room, and you’re good to go.
6. Drink! And memorize your roommate’s phone number.
Moderate alcohol consumption can improve memory, says the Discovery Channel. So can constant practice — so play memory games to keep your brain active. Start with your roommate’s phone number. Other than boosting your memory, you’ll be able to call him or her when you get locked out with no books in your hand.
Ever wondered why ambidextrous people are rumored to be smarter? The Kinesthetic Classroom: Teaching and Learning Through Movement by Traci Lengel and Mike Kuczala emphasizes that cross lateral physical activity increases concentration of the mind, given that you engage both hemispheres of your brain. All you need is a paper and two pens — draw a simple design with both hands at the same time, making sure that the designs are mirror imaged.
8. Get a shot of dopamine.
Discovery Health includes bananas on a list of potential aphrodisiacs — and they’re widely available on campus. (You’re allowed to bring one fruit out of the cafeteria. Do it.) The fruit has a high content of potassium and vitamin B, elements necessary in the production of sexual hormones, which isn’t just useful for getting busy! Such natural aphrodisiacs set off pleasure centers in the brain and increase blood flow — stimulating better concentration, says KGO-TV, San Francisco’s ABC affiliate. They’re also non-fat and vitamin-rich, a healthy form of energy boost.
Note to the wise: Discovery Health reminds readers, “There is no readily available research” to support claims of banana’s aphrodisiac properties. But it’s at least worth a try.
9. Tone your tush.
WebMD says University of Georgia researchers found exercise to be the best way to stay awake. Try to work out for at least 30 minutes each day. And if that’s too hard, you can resort to butt squeezes — a great way to move and sit down at the same time. Besides keeping you from dozing off, butt squeezes also set you on an optimistic path towards achieving your ideal hindquarters. One key thing: do remember to maintain a straight face, lest you start attracting attention (and judgmental stares) from people around you.
10. Mooch off your friends in Bienen
The “Mozart Effect” — the notion that listening to classical music makes you smarter — has been much disputed. In May, the Telegraph reported that Vienna University researches poured through 17 years of studies and could not find solid evidence supporting it. Plus, the effect is said only to apply to babies — so unless you’ve been jamming to Mozart since the womb, you may be out of luck.
At the very least, listening to classical music can sooth and relax one’s mind, posing as the perfect lyric-free soundtrack for cramming sessions. What you really don’t want to do is listen to Katy Perry or Bruno Mars. Deny it if you will, but there will always be that itching temptation to erupt into a passionate sing-along when the chorus arrives.