It’s the night before your IELTS test.
You are having those pre-test nerves. You have studied hard for the test and two days ago you really believed you were ready. But now you are not so sure.
What to do?
One last night of cramming before the test? You could manage that — just go to sleep after the test is over and catch up with your lost energy then.
Or would it be better to get a great eight-hour session of sleep in? Recharge your batteries completely and make your brain razor-sharp for the test the next day.
The best thing is to sleep. Sleep will make you near superhuman compared to cramming.
In the following guide, I want to show you why you should avoid all-night cramming — and why you need to sleep.
Plus an 8-point plan on how to get the perfect night’s sleep.
Read on and find out how!
Why Cramming is a Waste of Time
What is Cramming?
Cramming is the practice of staying up late the night before a big test. The student may stay up all night with no sleep at all, head bent over into a book or going over all their revision notes.
Students have been doing this for many, many years.
This is the one thing that many students — not just English students — fall for.
They believe that if they stay up all night cramming, then that will serve them well the next day. They enter the test room and their mind has tricked them into believing that all that late-night cramming is going to now reward them.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Cramming does not work. It is a waste of time, and NO students should ever do it.
In fact, cramming does more harm than any good. It is far better to create a regular study plan that you can do every day. But few students to that!
Why you should not indulge in cramming.
Increases Stress Levels
It increases your stress levels. This is not what you want the day of any important test or exam!
You have not had sufficient sleep and so your brain goes into stress mode and that affects how you think and your body. Because of this, you are not operating anywhere near your usual levels of performance. You could be operating at 60% of your regular capacity.
Lack of sleep increases anxiety. And once that creeps into your mind, it will affect all of your thinking. This is the last thing you need on the day of the IELTS test.
Lack of Sleep
Where have you read anywhere that says a lack of sleep is a good thing? You need eight hours for your mind and body to be at peak performance.
Poor Long-Term Memory
Cramming may be a reasonable method for short-term memory. But for long-term memory, a regular studying habit is much more effective.
Lower Test Scores
Research has shown us that cramming only really produces low test scores. Yet students still do it. Why?
Why You Should Sleep The Night Before The IELTS Test
So then when we look at the benefits of a good night’s sleep, we can see that they provide all the things you need the day of the test.
Better test scores
Better critical thinking skills
We can see that just by sleeping, we can gain all the above benefits. And by cramming, we get the complete opposite.
This is why you need to sleep.
Put the books down, go to bed and get eight hours of healthy sleep.
Sleep is the Best Thing to Do Before the IELTS Test
Sleep is essential. Without sleep, we die.
And before the IELTS test, you need to have a good night’s rest to ensure that you are focused, with full energy and critical thinking ability.
You should aim to get eight hours. That is the average number of hours that most human beings need.
But how to do it? How to ensure that you are getting really beneficial night’s sleep? One that is deep and providing you with enough rest?
Let’s take a look.
How To Get To Sleep The Night Before The IELTS Test
1. Lower your Room Temperature
When you go to sleep, your body temperature changes. Your core temperature — any area in and near your stomach — drops, but the temperature of your hands and feet increases.
Set the temperature of your room too high and you may have trouble falling asleep.
The ideal temperature is between 15° to 23° C (60° to 75° F).
This is the average — so experiment to find the ideal room temperature that is best for you.
Also, if you have a hot bath that can also help to speed up the reduction in your body temperature.
2. Create a Regular Sleeping Schedule
If you have an erratic schedule, then this can make it very difficult to get to sleep when you really need to.
The human body has a regular system of sleeping — the circadian rhythm. We sometimes call this our ‘body clock’ — essentially that is exactly what it is.
This clock helps us to be awake when we need to and to fall asleep when we need rest.
If you have a regular schedule of sleeping, then your body adapts to this, and it becomes easier for us to fall asleep at the same time every night. Then we can wake up at the same time every morning.
Everyone is different, so experiment with different times of going to bed.
But you should aim to get eight hours.
And avoid just staying up into the early hours staring at the internet!
3. Avoid Daytime Naps
This is a very common habit of students!
They attend a lecture in the morning, have lunch with their classmates, maybe — maybe — do a little work in the library, then take a nap.
This will affect your night-time sleeping habits. Napping causes insomnia and if you take a nap for two hours in the daytime, it will affect your sleeping cycle in a big way.
Avoid naps if you can.
4. Exercise Daily
A much better thing to do instead of taking a nap is to exercise. It will recharge your batteries and make you feel more alert.
Plus, regular exercise will help you sleep well and give you better quality shut-eye at night.
Exercise in the morning is the best time. It can give you a major boost for the whole day, and by late evening your body is winding down and ready to sleep.
5. Turn Off All Electronics
Staring at your smartphone is like staring at a lightbulb.
How can that possibly be helpful in trying to get to sleep?
Turn off all your electronic devices at least one hour before going to bed. That means no smartphone, no computer, no TV, no screens at all.
Social media and chatting online can wait until the morning.
6. No Stimulants
If you have trouble getting to sleep, check what stimulants you are consuming.
These include coffee, tea, chocolate, cigarettes, soda drinks and energy drinks.
Try drinking herbal tea instead — this can help you sleep better.
7. Eat the Right Food
There are certain types of food that you can eat to help you sleep better.
Such as lettuce, almonds, walnuts, bananas, whole-grain cereal, milk and brown rice.
All of these foods are known to aid sleep.
Then there are certain things you can drink to help you sleep, such as skimmed milk, chamomile tea and passion fruit tea.
8. Use Breathing Techniques
One known breathing technique is the 4-7-8 method.
This is a well-known breathing exercise that helps to reduce anxiety. It promotes calmness and the ability to sleep well.
This is how to do it:
- Exhale and empty your lungs of air
- Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4 seconds
- Hold your breath for a count of 7 seconds
- Exhale forcefully through your mouth, and make a loud whoosh sound for 8 seconds
- Repeat about four times
Other things you can try to encourage a good night’s sleep include meditation, yoga, journaling and listening to relaxing music.
Try any combination of the above methods. You will find a system that works for you. Then maintain that every day.
Hopefully, I have persuaded you of the need to sleep when studying for the IELTS test.
And I also hope that I have convinced you that cramming is a bad idea — it really is a waste of your time.
If you try some of the methods and exercises I outlined above to help you sleep, you should be far more productive and your performance in the IELTS test will be much better.
Please let me know what you think in the comments below!