Midsummer: How Tuning Into Your Own Body Clock Can Help Your Online Study

It's midsummer! Arden University's Student Support Manager explains how being in tune with your natural body clock can help you get the most out of studying online.

At midsummer in mid-June the UK has the longest days and the shortest nights - a great time to get some extra studying done!

Arden’s Student Support Manager explains how being in tune with your natural body clock can help you get the most out of studying - what ever time of day works best for you.

In the northern hemisphere, the longest day of the year – also called the Summer Solstice - takes place between June 20 and 22 each year. This year it was Saturday, June 20 - when the UK had 16 hours and 38 minutes of daylight.

From now until the winter solstice in mid December UK hours of daylight get slowly shorter and shorter!

Sian explains how knowing the best time of the day to study for your own body-clock can really help students on online or blended learning degree courses.

Sian writes: “People often describe themselves as being a ‘morning person’ or an ‘evening person’, it’s also sometimes known as being a ‘lark” or a ‘night owl’. Larks are most likely to be raring to go in the morning and owls do their best work at night!

"We also use the term ‘chronotype’ to describe a person's natural inclination with regard to the times of day when they prefer to sleep or when they are most alert or energetic. These chronotypes can affect many things including health and wellbeing. 

"A study done recently by Montaruli et al*. (2019) showed that there were significant differences in performance in exams depending on whether you were a ‘morning’ or an ‘evening’ person. So finding your rhythm of study could be really important in increasing your chances of success at higher education – particularly students on blended and online courses. 

"The joy of online or blended learning is the flexibility that this gives. There is an emphasis on self-directed learning, outside of formally timetabled sessions, and working out how best to do this for yourself can feel challenging, but the ability to work with your natural rhythm and develop that study pattern can really help. 

"Knowing and understanding your natural rhythms can help you and those around you to plan your distance learning effectively.

Lark or owl?

Sian explains: "If you know you are a morning person, how can you maximise that time. Maybe get up half an hour earlier than you normally would, and dedicate that time to study, with any work or other commitments taking place after that. 

"Alternatively, if you’re an ‘evening person’, you may find that you best prioritise study in the evenings when your creativity is at its peak. 

"Chances are though – like many of our Arden students - you may have other commitments to manage around your studies, so taking some time to think about when you are best at each activity might also be really helpful, especially if you would consider yourself neither a complete morning or evening person. You may find reading easier in the evening but producing written reports, data visualisations or creative content flows better in the morning.

"Being aware of factors that affect your natural rhythms is also important. You may be a night owl with young children who get up early, who mean that you have to be more like a lark. You may be a morning lark who works night shifts, meaning your sleep pattern isn’t optimal. When planning how to manage your studies around your commitments and then considering your rhythms, its crucial to be honest with yourself and what will work. 

Quality over quantity -  an important consideration. 

Sian says: "When can you get quality time to spend on your studies that suits your chronotype? Also, talking to your support network about your natural rhythms can be really helpful. Could your partner look after the children first thing in the morning so you can study, and you take the lead with them at night for example, or vice versa?

Take a risk and try some different things, relating to your type, you never know what you might learn about yourself!"

Montaruli, A., Castelli, L., Galasso, L., Mule., A., Bruno, E., & Esposito, F., 2019. Effect of chronotype on academic achievement in a sample of Italian University students. The Journal of Biological and Medical Rhythm Research 36(11) 1482-1495