Sleep could be the single most important factor left to affect your LSAT score. (Stress may rival sleep as a key factor at this point see more on stress reduction) At this point there’s not much time left to study, but the amount of sleep you get leading up the the LSAT is very important.
This article takes a look at how to set up your LSAT sleep schedule with some diet, and other related factors to help you get your best LSAT sleep!
While some believe that they can train their bodies to require less sleep this belief is false. Specific sleep stages are required in order to facilitate the regeneration of neurons in your cerebral cortex. Other sleep stages seem to help in forming new memories and creating synaptic connection. A lack of proper sleep (sleep deprivation) has been tested with relation to the presence of activity in different sections of the cerebral cortex. Your cerebral cortex includes the temporal lobe which handles the processing of language, and there’s lots of language processing on the LSAT! When given verbal learning tests, the well rested brains the temporal lobe were very active on magnetic resonance imaging scans.. In the sleep deprived, however, there is little or no activity in this area.
Many more studies have been conducted on the effects of sleep on the brain, learning, verbal reasoning, logic and more. All of the news is bad for the sleep deprived. So make sure you are well rested before the LSAT!
Great, but what if you’re like me and often have trouble getting to sleep early especially when there’s a big exam the next day?
Start now! Set your sleep schedule now and stick to it.
Here’s a few steps to follow
- Figure out what time you need to get up on LSAT day, leave lots of time to arrive early (before 830am) and include drive time, parking etc., you might even want to do a practice run.
- Start getting up at this time now! And do it every day until the exam.
- Balance your diet – cut back on sugar and caffeine, especially late in the day. That being said, don’t make any radical changes. If you’re a 4 cup a day coffee drinker now is probably not the time to quit. You should also avoid alcohol and chocolate.
- Avoid large meals before bed – while they make you feel tired the sleep often won’t come, as your digestion will slow as you try to sleep and possibly keep you awake.
- Instead eat a small snack – ideal if it contains some carbohydrates and tryptophan, the stuff in turkey. The tryptophan helps produce seratonin, a neurotransmitter, which in turn helps you sleep, and the carbohydrates help get the tryptophan to your brain. It’s not guaranteed to work but it’s worth a shot. Here’s a list of tryptophan containing foods http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tryptophan#Dietary_sources
- Avoid liquids for an hour or two before bedtime.
- Exercise! – Start getting some exercise in the afternoon or early evening – this can help you sleep better.
- Take that last day or two off before the LSAT – don’t study, go see a movie, hang with friends (no alcohol!!!), work out etc. but don’t study. Take a break, relax the brain and bring your stress level down.
- A few days, at least, before the LSAT pack up everything you need for the exam, pencils, ID, your exam ticket, directions to the location etc. – in fact, do it now. This will prevent you from scurrying around at midnight before the test trying to find your ID only to find out at 4am that your little brother “borrowed” it to go to a bar. It happened to me!
Put all this together and you should be on track for a great sleep before the LSAT!