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How Bad Is Alcohol When You’re Trying to Revise?

6th November 2015 Chris Clark News and Events, Study

Students drinking alcohol

The majority of students enjoy the odd tipple every now and again. Often they only drink on special occasions such as birthdays, date nights or Fridays, but what about during revision and exam periods? Now, we’re not here to preach and try to pry that bottle of beer out of your hands, but instead look at the actual effects that alcohol can have on your revision…

The effect of alcohol on your memory

Obviously, when you’re revising, the whole idea is that you remember the information when exams roll around. However, there’s plenty of research which shows that alcohol has a detrimental effect on your memory.

Alcohol significantly inhibits the hippocampus, the part of the brain that encodes memories, which means if you drink too much, your ability to remember becomes affected. Not great news for exams.

However, a lot of memory problems come from long-term drinking. What about short-term? Well there’s some research that suggests a little light drinking can actually improve memory recall. Much of the research is a little fuzzy, however, so we definitely wouldn’t recommend using alcohol as a revision aid.

Alcohol also reduces your attention span, meaning you’re more likely to be distracted easily, taking the focus away from your revision.

Student asleep

Alcohol makes you sleepy

The last thing you want if you’re hard at work is to drift off to sleep, but that could be a very real problem if you have a drink. As most people who drink are probably aware, alcohol can help you relax and nod off, meaning you could lose out on essential revision time, particularly if you’re cramming for an exam the following day.

However, research shows that drinking has detrimental effects on the actual quality of your sleep. This means that you’re not getting the good quality sleep you need to function properly, which can impact the next day’s revision or, even worse, the exam itself.

Other undesirable effects of alcohol

Here are some other undesirable effects of alcohol that might hinder your chances of revising:

  • You become more self-confident or daring. Self-confidence isn’t always a bad thing but don’t kid yourself into thinking you’re going to ace that exam on minimal revision.
  • You’ll have trouble with fine motor movements such as writing or typing.
  • Your judgement will become impaired – you may not think questions or problems through properly and just put the first thing that springs to mind.
  • Your vision may become blurry.

These are just a few of the effects of having only a relatively small amount of alcohol. If you have too much then there are many more effects that could have an even more negative effect on your revision.

Man with a hangover

The hangover

Again, everyone who drinks knows this feeling very well. Have too much to drink can often result in you having a hangover, which can range from having a headache and feeling tired to being sick and feeling feverish. Obviously if you have a hangover then your willingness to revise and capacity to retain the information is drastically reduced.

Taking some down time

Like we said at the start, we don’t want you to completely give up alcohol, even during revision time. In fact, it could be an important part of your revision timetable, specifically during your down time from revising. It’s important to take time for yourself, even when exams are looming, so you need to make a little time to relax. Having a drink during this time can help you to wind down as long as it’s in moderation and it doesn’t impact on future revision sessions or exams.

As with most things in life, moderation is the key.

Chris Clark

Chris Clark

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