What is a study break?

A study break is a short period when you take a brief rest from studying or cramming for your midterm exams. There are numerous breaks, but let’s discuss some basics first.

Some history of study breaks

Study breaks have been a part of college life since universities first opened their doors hundreds of years ago. Back then, students pulled all-nighters studying for exams and slammed books shut when the sun came up.

The common practice

Today, it’s not uncommon for students to head out to a happy hour or sleep in an extra hour on Saturday morning after pulling an all-nighter.

So, which is better- Staying up late on Friday night cramming information into your brain or putting down the books and taking a break with friends on Saturday night? The answer might surprise you.

Research on study breaks

A recent survey conducted by GfK found that one out of three people surveyed said they study smarter when they take a break. It also found that of those surveyed, 23 percent said they learn more efficiently when they take breaks between studying, and 19 percent stated they retain more information and score better on tests after taking a break.

According to U-M Information and Technology Studies Professor Susan Gubar and the University of California at Irvine’s Daniel Olmos, staying up late studying for exams can be detrimental to retaining information.

The best strategy is taking frequent short breaks rather than one or two long ones during an all-nighter studying for an exam, says Gubar. She recommends taking a quick walk around campus or getting coffee with friends, as those minor signs of normalcy help students stay focused while studying.

Gubar also cites studies that show taking a break refreshes concentration, leading to a better comprehension of the material. “When students rest their brains, they are gaining time back that they cannot regain if they do not take breaks,” she says.

So, forget about studying late into the night and instead get up early on Saturday morning for some reading before heading out with friends to catch a football game or check out your favorite band’s concert in Ann Arbor. Come Sunday night, you’ll feel refreshed and focused when you hit the books again. You might even get lucky enough to score tickets to one of U-M Athletics’ Midnight Madness events! And we know what happens at those. 

So how do you find the best study breaks in 2022?

It depends on many factors, including how much time you have to spare and how confident you feel about your knowledge of a particular subject.

Shorter study breaks

Some students prefer to take shorter breaks between periods of intense focus, while others like to take short breaks between each chapter they read.

Other factors include the number of subjects you need to study and even personal preference for food, drinks, and entertainment.

For example, some students may want to study for an hour and then take a nap, while others might prefer to snack or play a quick computer game before getting back to the books.

The key is to experiment with various methods until you find one that works best. Once you’ve found something that works, stick with it! You don’t want to keep changing the rules for yourself.

Longer study breaks

In addition to these brief study breaks that last less than an hour, you can also take longer breaks from studying that usually lasts a few hours or even a half-day. You must reserve these longer breaks for weekends, not during days leading up to exams, as it may even lead to your brain getting overloaded with information.

Instead, it would help if you used these longer breaks to obtain physical exercise, spend time with friends or family, get some sun and, of course, eat food that isn’t junk or fast food.

You can also consider taking a day off from studying altogether – provided you’re not cramming for a short-term exam. However, it would help if you did not take a break for one day during the week leading up to your midterm exams.

What’s the best way to determine how long or frequent my study breaks should be?

Ultimately, it comes down to your experience and experimenting with different methods. You want to find something that works best for you. For example, maybe you’re cramming for your midterm exam tomorrow, but you feel calm and ready to study today. Perhaps it is a good idea to read one chapter in the book, take a 10-minute break to stretch your legs, drink some water and then come back to study with greater focus.

Even though we highly recommend taking short breaks between studying, you must not get easily distracted by your phone or computer. For example, if it takes you 10 minutes to get back to where you left off in the book because of Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube distractions, maybe taking a 30-minute break is worthwhile.

On the other hand, if it takes you 30 minutes to refocus on your studying after a quick Facebook check, perhaps taking an hour-long break might be better. You need to find the best balance that works for you.

Whatever method you decide upon, set up some clear rules and boundaries for yourself before starting. Tell yourself that you’re only allowed to take study breaks between chapters or sections of your textbook or when you feel like doing so (for example, on weekends).

However, don’t forget to follow these rules consistently! If you tell yourself that you can take a 5-minute break each time on Tuesdays and Fridays, don’t cheat yourself by taking 10 minutes every week leading up to a big test.

How long should I study without a break?

Answer: 45 to 50 minutes on average. The rule is: Take a break after 45 to 50 minutes of concentrated studying.

Why do we need study breaks?

It helps prevent eye strain and fatigue to get back to your studies with a fresh mind. It isn’t just the eyes that need taking care of when we study for long periods: sitting in one place for too long can make the muscles in our lower backs, hips, and necks ache. Hence, it is good to get up from your desk every hour or so for a stretch.

While taking frequent breaks when studying is essential, this does not mean that you should spend it slacking off. Instead, plan and use it to relax the muscles you have just used while studying. It will allow them to recover from being rested and ready for hard work when they get back to studying. One way of doing this is by using a few of the following exercises during each break you take:

Exercises during study breaks

1) Neck Roll. 

Sit up straight with shoulders down and chest lifted. Gently drop your left ear toward your left shoulder until you feel the stretch in the side of the neck; hold it for several seconds. Then roll your head in small circles, gradually increasing in size until reaching over to touch your right shoulder on the last turn; hold again for several seconds before returning to starting position (rolling slowly).

2) Shoulder Raise. 

With your shoulders down and back, raise both arms to a 90-degree angle from the body; hold for several seconds, then lower slowly.

3) Arm Circle.

Keep your shoulders down and lift both hands to shoulder level. Your palms must be facing each other at a 90-degree angle as if holding a book between them. Then circle the wrists by rotating first from the thumbs to the little fingers, then from the pinky side of the hand around to underneath the palms twice more before returning to starting position (repeat 4 times).

4) Arm Swish.

Hold your arms out straight in front of you as if reaching for something above your head; brush left arm clockwise across body 2 times while bringing right counterclockwise over left elbow 2 times. Reverse this motion starting with the right arm brushing across the left elbow 2 times while crossing the right counterclockwise over the left arm 2 times (repeat 4 times).

5) Twist and Turn.

With your knees slightly bent, raise arms to a 60-degree angle from the body; twist at waist 45 degrees to the left until hands meet in front of the chest while turning head and eyes toward the left hand; hold for several seconds before returning to center and repeating on the opposite side. Repeat 3 more times on each side. [source]

Do not let yourself get too tired when you are home from school studying for a test or exam, because if you do, then what will happen? It would be easy for you to fall asleep and not get enough sleep the night before your test or exam.

The Verdict

So, what’s the verdict? Is study-after-study showing us that taking a quick break and getting out of your apartment (or dorm room) will make you more productive and effective at studying for midterms and finals? Or is it just something we say to justify blowing off our responsibilities during college so we can go party?

The Verdict: It depends on who you ask. If you’re talking about research into the actual cognitive processes involved in studying, then yes. Taking breaks between hours or even a day’s worth of studies can help most people retain data better than if they were to continue non-stop until they finish all their work. But not everyone is going to benefit as this new research shows https://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2011/01/study-break.

# Bonus tip on Study breaks in 2022#

If the academic pressure is too high and you are unable to take long breaks from your studies, you can get help with  your homework and assignments done from experts by paying a fee. You can use the time that you save doing those assignments to take a much needed study break!

  • Kumar Hemendra

    I am the editor in chief at MEB and ensure the content on our website is of high quality. With 16 years of experience in this field, I myself have written 500+ articles for several educational platforms, including MEB. I am an expert in essay writing and the US and UK education systems. I oversee the online tutoring and homework help businesses of MEB.

    I am a big fan of language, literature, art, and culture. I love reading and writing, and whenever I am not working, you may find me reading some piece of literature. I love animals and am an animal rights activist.