5 Bad Study Habits Guaranteed to Drag You Down

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You come home from school, rip open a fresh pack of Hostess creme pies, pop the tab off a Mountain Dew and slide onto the couch that by now is molded in the shape of your reclining body.  Then you flip on the television, turn on Facebook, check Clash of Clans and start playing your favorite party song of the year. It’s your super-effective pre-studying ritual! After you take the test tomorrow, you wonder why you felt a vacuous space in your head where your trig formulas should’ve been. Maybe it’s time to review and become more mindful of your bad study habits.

Bad Study Habit #1: Consuming Sugar

Sugar can be found in many foods such as sodas, juices, lattes, and cakes. It can also be found in snacks like peanut butter crackers as an added ingredient to make it sweeter and more palatable. Try to limit your sugar intake as much as possible, especially before studying. Not only is it bad for your waistline and your overall health (contributing to diabetes, obesity and other problems) but it also affects the brain. A UCLA Study found that a diet high in sugar impairs learning and memory. They tested rats and found that the lowered insulin level in the brain slowed down thinking processes in the inter-cell communication.

bad study habits sugar
Don’t be this guy, eating a twinkie just before studying.

Also, sugar can increase depression and anxiety, which can create more bad study habits. Another study on rats found that adolescent rats who had a high-fructose diet had a worsening of depression and anxiety-like symptoms. Symptoms of depression like being less energetic and having less interest in activities  can easily take away your motivation to study and your focus while studying. Anxiety can make it difficult to concentrate or make decisions, further impacting your studying and test prep. This ranks sugar as one of the bad study habits to stay away from. So, avoid it like it were the plague!

Bad Study Habit #2:  TV

Obviously, time spent watching TV is not time spent studying. But how bad is it really?  A study referenced here found that participants given a list of question answered fewer when shown television compared to the radio or just silence. Additionally, when exposed to the distractions sequentially, the group that performed the worst had been shown television first. This suggests that the distraction of TV lingers past the active consumption time. Another study referenced on that page exposed people to visual soap operas. They took longer to complete memorization assignments than those only exposed to audio or no sound or visual stimulus. Also, too much TV contributes to depression. A study on Scottish adults found that as hours of TV increased, so did depression and anxiety. We already know how depression and anxiety affect studying and lead to more bad study habits, so why put yourself at a disadvantage?

bad study habits TV
True in a sense.

Bad Study Habit #3: Technology

Don’t think that you can get away with replacing TV with distractions on your phone or computer. A study found that students who checked Facebook even once during a 15 minute study period were worse students than those who didn’t check it during that time. A study referenced here found that college students who used their phone the most were the most anxious when deprived of it. In another study referenced on the same page, participants had higher  anxiety completing puzzles when they got a missed call from test administrators. Also, another study referenced on that page found that even the presence of a phone decreased performance on most tasks. The way these electronic distractions grab our attention is the focus of a great video about what’s called the Attention Economy. Give it a watch and unplug yourself from the matrix.

Bad Study Habit #4: Dehydration

Sometimes, we can be so busy that we forget to do one of the simplest, most powerful body maintenance tricks: hydrate ourselves. In one study referenced here, dehydration was found to increase “total mood disturbance” measurably. And when we’re moody, we’re more likely to seek out electronic distractions and sweets to calm our brains down temporarily. This can have a cascading effect on wellness and productivity. Another study at that link found that people driving dehydrated performed just as poorly at a driving test as those at the legal limit for blood alcohol content. That’s right, folks: dried-out driving is just as bad as buzzed driving.

bad study habit dehydration
Drink water like you’re this dog

One last study at that link found out something interesting. The more dehydrated someone was, the worse they performed on memory tests. How much water to drink a day is dependent on your age, weight, and other factors, but according to this link men should drink at least 104 ounces of water a day and women at least 72 ounces. Be sure to check out that article for more good hydration information. One simple tip to stay hydrated is to always keep a reusable water bottle around. I like the CamelBak Chute .75L Water Bottle because of its no-spill features, hygienic materials, and clean design.

Bad Study Habit #5: Cramming

Finally, one of the worst things you can do for your studies is cramming. Often cramming comes as a result of poor time management and too many distractions. Here’s why cramming is one of the bad study habits to eliminate. According to a UCLA study, cramming for a test negated the positive effects of the extra studying because of the expense of missing sleep. Adults should aim for about 8 hours of sleep daily and adolescents need at least one hour more. Cramming is also a contributing factor in test prep failure because it emphasizes short-term sprints rather than long term retention. As explained in The Talent Code (a great book I highly recommend reading), the best way to increase skill is to practice consistently everyday, the opposite of cramming.

bad study habits cramming
The reality of cramming

Anyways, that’s our list of bad study habits. Did you like it? Did you find yourself relating to any of them? When I was in high school, I was definitely affected by electronic distractions. I would stay up for hours, chatting to my friends, not wanting to miss a single message. I procrastinated and created the Facebook posts I thought were the most clever and would get the most likes. If any of this sounds like you, or you have something to share, leave it in the comments. Share the article with your friends or anyone you think could benefit. Let’s become better students and get rid of bad study habits together!


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1 Comment
  1. Takeo says

    Essays like this are so important to brodneaing people’s horizons.

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