Study: Caffeine and Cramming Don't Work

Spring is here, but don't remind college students.

Many are hibernating in libraries and coffee shops, armed with books, laptops, iPods and the ever-popular caffeine laden beverages.

Those ingredients may not add up to the best recipe for good grades.

Health experts warn more than a few cups a day can trigger anxiety, upset stomach and other ills.

Another study habit that often backfires: Cramming.

"When you cram the night before, you are doing real harm to yourself," explained work-life balance expert Jeff Davidson.

Davidson says cramming overloads the brain.

He recommends a seven day strategy, tackling the brunt of studying on day one, decreasing the load as exam date nears.
"The day before you can review your notes, for 30 to 40 minutes, you should be fine, you've lived this now its swimming inside you," Davidson said.

Another tip: Turn off the tunes.
"If you are listening to an I-Pod while you are reading, you run the risk once again of having the brain try to do two things at the same time that it is not comfortable doing," Davidson explained.

Still, soft background music or white noise is okay.

As for cell phones and other electronic distractions, a 50 minute study, 10 minute text-talk break approach works well.

Most importantly, don't forget a good night's sleep, exercise and a few healthy snacks when you can cram it in.

Don't have a week to prepare for the test?

Davidson says even if you have just a few days, you can still apply the diminishing study load strategy.

He says just narrow your focus and study a few areas of the subject you know least.

The study environment is also important.

While coffee shops may be a popular place to study, it may not be the best setting to absorb knowledge.

Instead try a well-lit room with few distractions.