Fatigue from a lack of sleep is all too common on test day. Not only can test anxiety itself lead to insomnia or unsettled sleep, but last minute cramming can also be also a major contributor to a lack of sleep and test-day fatigue. It is a common scenario: You stay up all night studying for a test, afraid you will forget important information if you do not devote those precious last late-night hours to reviewing the material. Then, faced with the actual test, you are so tired that you cannot retrieve answers from your fatigued brain. The time you spent studying actually ends up making it more difficult for you to pass the test.
It is possible, however, to avoid this situation by making sure you have studied thoroughly in the months or weeks before your test and getting plenty of sleep the night before you have to take the test. Going into your test well rested and alert can go a long way toward ensuring you do your best and reducing your test anxiety.
Maintain Your Normal Schedule
As with diet and exercise, it is important to maintain your normal sleep schedule in the days leading up to test day. Your body and brain are used to a certain amount of rest, and if they do not get that rest, they will not perform at their best.
A slightly restless night right before a test is not unusual, and it will not disrupt your ability to concentrate as much as a week of insomnia and late study nights will. Be sure you are getting around eight hours of sleep every night, and schedule study time around equally important sleep time.
The Night Before the Test
If you expect to have trouble sleeping the night before the test, it might be a good idea to go to bed a bit earlier than usual. After a quick brush-up on major test points (not an all-night cramming session), do something relaxing. Take a long, hot bath, watch something entertaining on TV, or read a book for pleasure.
Avoid spending too much time with test review materials right before bedtime, as doing so could make you feel stressed again. Focusing on relaxing activities that will take your mind off the upcoming exam will help you sleep better and keep your test anxiety from affecting your ability to get enough rest.
If you have used a long-term study schedule, you should not need the night before to cram. You should already have a firm grasp of the test material, so use the night before the test to get the rest you need in order to face the test feeling your very best.