Why Does Studying Make Me Sleepy?

Studying hard can often leave us feeling drained and tired. Especially around exam time. We tend to go hell for leather on the study and in some cases have to cram certain subjects or topics. And the end result is exhaustion. But then there’s days or nights when we are just 30 minutes into a study session and we start yawning. All we want to do is put our head down on the book and take a few mins. And this leads to the question – “Why does studying make me sleepy?”

There are a few reasons why you may be feeling sleepy while you are studying and afterwards you feel completely wiped. Below we have listed a few of these reasons. But rest assured you are not the only one who feels sleepy while studying!

Why does studying make me sleepy?

Why does studying make me sleepy?

1) Your brain uses a lot of energy

The brain may be small but this small organ surprisingly uses a lot of energy. A study found that two-thirds of the energy the brain uses goes to the firing of cells, and the other third is brain maintenance. The fuel it uses is glucose.

Scientists believe that performing difficult mental tasks such as studying burns more glucose. As a result, there is less glucose in the blood for everything else. This leads to the feeling of exhaustion after a long day of studying.

As a result, it is vital you eat a well balanced and healthy diet so your brain and body have all the nutrients and minerals needed to perform at their best. Check out our post on “what is the best food for your brain?” to ensure your feeding them with everything they need to power through those difficult study sessions. 

2) You need Quality Sleep

One of the most important things we can do for both our long term health and for effective study sessions is to get a good nights sleep. This is perhaps one of the most vital things we can do to really help in our ability to succeed and power through the day.

Lack of sleep can really throw off so much in our everyday life. The SleepFoundation.org recommends that an adult should get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.

So, your first point of call is to ensure your sleep quality is good. Use a tracker on your fitness watch if you have one, or phone. These will give a rough guide of how much sleep you are getting. 

Establish a healthy sleep routine and a set of good sleep practices that you follow every night. For example, don’t leave your tv on at night, try to stick to the same sleep schedule, and minimize any distractions from your phone or lights etc. 

3) You need a Balanced diet

What you eat can also play a significant role in how you study and how you feel throughout the day. Your body needs nutrients and minerals to survive. If you are lacking any of these nutrients and mineral they can impact how we perform in our daily activities and leave us feeling sluggish and run down.

So as tempting as it may be to eat quick and easy meals while you’re busy with your studies, try to maintain a balanced and healthy diet. Check out our post on “32 foods to eat while studying” and see what foods you should be emphasising to boost your energy throughout the day and avoid being too tired to study. 

Eating a very large meal right before you go to study can leave you feeling tired and fatigued when you attempted to study. To avoid this, try eating smaller regular meals. This should keep your energy levels stable throughout the day so you avoid hitting a slump in the middle of your study session. 

Also what you eat is important. We already said eat a healthy balanced diet but certain things like whole grains instead of highly processed carbs will be much better. Whole grains will give you a steady, stable supply of energy. Whereas the processed carbs will give you an instant rush of energy, however, it will be soon followed by a rapid drop in energy. This will leave you feeling tired as you are trying to studying.

So be sure to check out both our posts “32 foods to eat while studying” and “what is the best food for your brain?” both of these contain simple tips and food ideas and combinations that you can apply instantly. 

4)You need to alter your subject choice

What you study, and when you study it, can also have an effect on how you feel while studying. Subjects and topics that are heavy, or require a lot of focus, can leave us feeling exhausted, even after only a few minutes. 

We all have that one subject that just requires so much effort on our part to comprehend. With these subjects, I find it’s best to study them early in the day. What I mean here is that you don’t want to study this when you are already tired or after spending a few hours previous studying another subject. 

Keep this subject for the morning, or as your first subject that you tackle the next day. With a fresh mind and more energy, you’re less likely to become tired or mentally fatigued so quickly.

Instead, focus on a subject that you know goes in that little bit easier. A subject where you can give a read through the notes easily. These are the subjects I leave to last. It also allows me to go to bed feeling good because I feel like I have accomplished something. 

5) You need to adjust your study time

One thing that can impact tiredness when you are studying is breaks. Taking regular breaks after a period of study can really help fight off feeling sleepy. Therefore, when studying, schedule some short breaks. For example, study for 20 or 30 minutes then take a 15-minute break. During this break take a quick walk or go do something else like talk to a friend.

Your brain will inevitably get fatigued when studying. Therefore to combat this it is important that you give it the appropriate rest it needs. Use this time to have a snack that will feed your brain for the next study session. 

6) You need to make your study sessions fun

What really helps me when I am trying to learn something is to walk around. Sometimes I will even pretend that I am teaching someone else what I am learning. 

This is good as it changes up the way you are learning the topic and keeps it mentally stimulating. You can also actually try to teach a friend what you are learning. It’s a great way a learning technique too.

You can likewise organise study sessions with some friends. Again this changes up how you study and he’s to keep you engaged during the study period. 

7) Your study environment needs improvement

Where you study can impact how you feel while studying. Try to avoid dark rooms or studying while lying on your bed. When you are lying down your body will naturally begin to relax which will make you feel sleepy.

Likewise, a dark room can also make you sleepy since your body naturally associates dark with sleep. Therefore, keep your study room well lit and where you can let in as much natural light as possible. 

8) You need to change your music playlist

If you listen to music while studying this could actually be making you feel sleepy. As we said above, your brain uses quite a lot of energy while doing mental tasks. If the music your listening to has lyrics in it your brain is also processing this while you are trying to study.

This is increasing the workload of your brain and therefore depleting it off energy which in turn is likely to leave you feeling sleepy quite fast. If you can try to switch off the music or change it to music without lyrics. There’s also plenty of study music on youtube that you can try that you may find quite helpful. 

When I was studying I always preferred music rather than complete silence, unless I was in a library. Using some of those study playlists on youtube really helped me relax into a study session but not so much that I went to sleep! You can give them a try here and see do they work for you.

9) You’ve hit Burnout

Feeling sleepy when you’re trying to study could be a sign that you are burnt out. It’s super important that you don’t neglect other areas of your life when studying. While learning and doing well in your course is important so too is your general health and well being.

This is why it’s so important to make sure that you schedule in so much needed downtime. Take time off from studying and your course to just do those things that you enjoy and relax. Schedule some time for your family and friends. Do things that are completely unrelated to studying, watch some movies, speak with friends you haven’t spoken to in a while. Spend some time with your kids and partner. 

I cannot stress this enough but it’s crucial that you take some time for yourself to relax and unwind. This will impact your ability to study so much. And it’s so simple to do. Studying and course work will decline if you neglect to take some time off. When you can step away regularly you will come back in a much better mind frame and be well-rested for the next week of study and learning. 

10) Your not looking after your mental health

These last few points all tie into each other. Taking time away from your studies no matter how long or short is so important. Having a healthy balance between your studies, work and family life is key. 

This will impact your mental health and help you avoid burnout. When you get this balance is wrong you will notice the effects on your mental health. Your mind will more easily go to the negative rather than the positive.

The more negatively you think the harder things will be. Now I don’t mean that you have to be “happy” the whole time but constantly focusing on the worst possible outcome in relation to exams is draining and will prevent you from progressing. This all will leave for more tired than unusual and prevent you from studying as efficiently as possible. 

11) Studying may be making you feel sleepy because you are sick

When you are run down or sick it can take its toll on your body. This will leave you feeling more tired and fatigued than usual. When your sick it’s important that you get plenty of rest and eat a healthy balanced diet so that you can get better soon. 

Feeling tired constantly can be a sign of depression. So it’s important to check if the feeling sleepy only applies to studying or does it impact other areas of your life too. If you feel that you are showing other symptoms of depression, it’s very important that you speak with a mental health professional. 


As you can see there are many reasons as to why does studying make me sleepy? Make sure that you take the above 11 points into account the next time that you go to study and see how your studying improves