Best Late Night Study Tips for College Students

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Last Updated on April 14, 2024 by Alexandra Markin

For some students, studying at night isn’t a choice: you may work full-time during the day or have a family with small children. Even if you’re a natural night owl, these late night study tips will show you how you can successfully study at night, every time.

Late Night Study Tips

Make a Study Plan

You can’t have a successful study session without proper preparation.

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

– Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father of the United States
  • Review your course syllabus. Write out what you need to cover that night, put the most important tasks at the top of your list and work from top down.
  • Check due dates and any course announcements that may affect your study plan.

Online students: if you need to study material hosted in your online learning platform, double check the platform will be accessible for late night study. These platforms (Moodle, Blackboard, etc.) sometimes have scheduled downtime for maintenance that run during late hours. The last thing you need is to plan on a late night study session and then realize you can’t login.

If you want a done-for-you template with an example of how I got high grades by creating a specific study plan for each of my courses, you can shop the course study planner here. Let this planner serve as the blueprint for making your studies easier!

Gather Materials and School Supplies

Before you sit down to study, gather all materials and supplies you need to execute your study plan.

  • Plug in any electronics (laptop, iPad, etc.)
  • Collect pens, highlighters, page flags and other school supplies
  • Lay out textbooks, note books and/or lined paper
  • Print or download required readings

Having everything you need before you start will prevent you from getting up and repeatedly breaking your focus every time you need something.

Eat Strategically

One of the most critical tips for late night study is to eat correctly.

Have a plan of what you’re going to eat before you sit down to study. This prevents you from wasting time rummaging around in your kitchen, overeating and picking unhealthy options. It also gives you something to look forward to during your study breaks.

I recommend eating small snacks as opposed to a full meal. Eating large portions will make you feel tired and sleepy.

Some of my favourite healthy and balanced late-night study snacks are:

  • Half a bagel or english muffin with nut butter and banana
  • Trail mix with dark chocolate
  • Half a portion of dinner, such as half a wrap, chicken and rice, etc.
  • Greek yogurt with fruit and granola
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Granola bar or homemade energy balls
One of my favourite late-night study snacks is half a bagel toasted with peanut butter and banana, dusted with cinnamon and drizzled with honey.

Foods that should be avoided as late-night study snacks:

  • Anything high in sugar like candy, chips or soda
  • Energy drinks, as they contain a high amount of caffeine and sugar
  • Foods rich in carbohydrates, such as pasta or bread in large amounts

As for drinking coffee during a late night study session, this suggestion will be different for each student as everyone has a different tolerance for caffeine. Some people will benefit from drinking coffee if it keeps them awake! I wish I was one of those students when I was getting my diploma. Unfortunately, coffee only tastes good to me and does nothing to keep me alert.

Drink Lots of Water

It’s important to keep well-hydrated. Have a large bottle of water at your desk and refill regularly.

Having to urinate frequently is actually a good thing when it comes to late night studying – it keeps you moving at regular intervals which helps you stay awake!

See also: How to Stay Healthy as an Online Student: 9 Tips for Success

Study in a Well-Lit Room

Studying under proper lighting makes all the difference. If the room you’re in doesn’t have overhead lighting, invest in a bright desk lamp to provide proper task lighting.

You can still light candles for ambience!

Create a Motivating Study Environment

If you’re studying at home, creating a cozy but motivating study ambience can help you study longer.

I found putting on a “study with me” YouTube video helped me study longer. One of my favourite accounts is MerveStudyCorner.

Participate in a Late Night Study Session on Campus

Main mall pathway at the University of British Columbia at night time
Main Mall walkway at night on our way to the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at The University of British Columbia (UBC).

A bit different from staying up all night locked in your room, some universities offer study spaces that are open late, often until midnight or 1:00am (or sometimes 24/7!)

A change of environment while surrounded by other students doing the same might be just what you need to shake up your study sessions and put in sufficient study time before your next exam.

Even though I’m an online student, I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing this at UBC during exam sessions. Anyone can study at public university spaces whether you’re a student there or not!

CAUTION: If you’re heading onto campus late at night, always bring a study buddy or two!

How to Study at Night – Next Steps

No matter if you’re an early bird or a night owl, these late night study tips will help you achieve your study goals during every course.

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