How do you fall asleep the night before a really really important exam?

Soapcat

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I usually sleep well before any exams but when I took my MCAT last year...I just could not fall asleep!! I panicked throughout the exam, thinking that the sleep deprevation probably ruined my judgements.

Somehow I did really well (high 30s):eek:

Although I am very happy how everything turned out this cycle, I am concerned about the possibility that the same thing could happen when I take the boards, which are much longer than MCAT.

How do you guys manage to get some sleep before really really important exams like MCAT and boards?
 

Frazier

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Try extra hard to think of an empty black space...

If that doesn't work -- try suffocating yourself [not literally of course]. But I find that pulling the covers over my head makes me yawn and get sleepy -- must be related to the CO2 buildup(?).

I've been doing it as needed since I was 4 and am A-okay thus far. :D
 

aDreamer

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I find that falling asleep in that situation is really a question of getting the stress down. Hence, right before my MCAT/other major exams, I make it a point to STOP cramming at a certain time (reasoning that "if I don't know it by now, it's just not gonna go into my brain at all at this point") and no matter what, I put on my pjs and glasses and put on a funny show (usually an ep of the Office) or movie and make myself watch.

Reminds you that there is life outside of this test and that you are still in fact capable of smiling. Directly after the end of the show/movie, I turn in for the night. Hope that helps!

:sleep:
 

Zona Pellucida

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I will probably be yelled at on here... but I often have trouble "shutting my mind off" prior to a big day (finals/MCAT/interview/etc) and I will sometimes take a benedryl or something to make me drowsy and it usually works wonders.
 

Toofison

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Relaxation techniques never worked for me, so I got an ambien prescription. Also, Nyquil Cough will put you to sleep in about 10 minutes, although it will take you about an hour to really wake up after you get up (Assuming you get 8 hours of sleep).
 

Drrrrrr. Celty

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I will probably be yelled at on here... but I often have trouble "shutting my mind off" prior to a big day (finals/MCAT/interview/etc) and I will sometimes take a benedryl or something to make me drowsy and it usually works wonders.
Hmm when I have nights like those I contemplate philosophy and things like that.
 
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ocean waves sound machine.. just don't drink any large quantities of water prior to bed :D
 

gymtanlaundry

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gymtanlaundry

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I will probably be yelled at on here... but I often have trouble "shutting my mind off" prior to a big day (finals/MCAT/interview/etc) and I will sometimes take a benedryl or something to make me drowsy and it usually works wonders.
that stuff makes my sleep really shallow and sh*tty for the first few hours, sometimes I even wake up a few times, then in the morning I get out of bed feeling deader than a zombie and like I haven't slept at all.
 

loveoforganic

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Relax and have fun doing physical stuff all day the day before.
 

Nuggles

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that stuff makes my sleep really shallow and sh*tty for the first few hours, sometimes I even wake up a few times, then in the morning I get out of bed feeling deader than a zombie and like I haven't slept at all.
Ambien. Not sure how I survived so long without it!
 

auburnO5

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Ambien. Not sure how I survived so long without it!
I'm going to my doc tomorrow and seriously thinking about asking him for a rx. I really suck at sleeping, and I feel like a zombie all day. Benadryl, advil pm, nyquil just don't cut it.
 

VTBuc

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Any guy who has already posted in this thread already is lying.
 

Zona Pellucida

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that stuff makes my sleep really shallow and sh*tty for the first few hours, sometimes I even wake up a few times, then in the morning I get out of bed feeling deader than a zombie and like I haven't slept at all.
Yeah I've heard of a lot of people complain about similar feelings. For me, once I fall asleep... I am passed out til the alarm clock goes off (or a few minutes before... I always seem to wake up like 2 mins before) so I never wake up throughout the night.

Also, I sleep with a loud box fan on high. Drowns out any noises and relaxes me.
 

Forsberg

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OP, I had the exact same problem before my MCAT. I wasn't panicking or anything, just could not clear my mind as if I was sort of excited for a fun event the next day (which btw should not include an event like the MCAT haha). But similar to you, I scored FAR higher than my average on practice tests (9 points higher). Love adrenaline rushes, but i did pass out immediately after the exam for like 6 hours.

The more you think about stuff like that, the bigger problem you're going to have in the future. Instead of panicking about how you won't be able to sleep before a big test, why dont you try and calm yourself down by thinking about how well you did even without sleep before the MCAT. That's sort of how I do it. Just think "well hell if I did really well once before on no sleep, maybe not getting any tonight isn't that big of a deal." Just that thought alone might be enough to calm you down to make you fall asleep.

Or when all else fails, have a beer or two. Game over.
 

Insulinshock

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alcohol.

I went out the night before my MCAT (not real late, obviously) and scored a 33, right what I was averaging.
 

pharaoh88

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What works well for me is telling myself it doesn't really matter how much I sleep. Instead, try to focus on relaxing. Once I stop "trying" to fall asleep, its usually not long before...:sleep:
 

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5HTP or 5mg Melatonin. Hot peppermint, passionflower tea.

Andrea
 

auburnO5

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Any guy who has already posted in this thread already is lying.

:laugh:

It took me about 30 minutes to figure out what you were talking about. Very true though.
 

psipsina

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General remedy: hot bath and a novel right before bed
If that fails --> meditation
If that fails --> anti-histamine
 
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I usually sleep well before any exams but when I took my MCAT last year...I just could not fall asleep!! I panicked throughout the exam, thinking that the sleep deprevation probably ruined my judgements.

Somehow I did really well (high 30s):eek:

Although I am very happy how everything turned out this cycle, I am concerned about the possibility that the same thing could happen when I take the boards, which are much longer than MCAT.

How do you guys manage to get some sleep before really really important exams like MCAT and boards?
Exact same thing happened to me for the MCAT. Still did well, luckily.
 

Squeal

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justdoit31

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I take a trazadone... usually I take it around 9pm so that I am asleep by 10pm and able to wake up fine in the morning. I haven't had to take it since I started medical school though.
 

Disinence2

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This is a serious issue for lots of people. It will come up again before step 1, step 2 and all the other huge tests ahead of you.

My tip.

Get up freakishly early the day of the test then go to bed early!
 
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I know this is terrible, but when i absolutely have to sleep early i'll take benadryl or something... Given the fact that i can't fall asleep until 3 am on any given day with nothing important the next day.
 

auburnO5

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I know this is terrible, but when i absolutely have to sleep early i'll take benadryl or something... Given the fact that i can't fall asleep until 3 am on any given day with nothing important the next day.
That's not terrible..
 
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That's not terrible..
I can't sleep early, even if i wake up everyday at 7 am.
I tried exercising in the evening, no difference.
But when its the weekend, and i have no commitment, half the time i fall asleep early. like around 11pm
 

auburnO5

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I can't sleep early, even if i wake up everyday at 7 am.
I tried exercising in the evening, no difference.
But when its the weekend, and i have no commitment, half the time i fall asleep early. like around 11pm
I'm the exact same way, I think it's all subconscious and stress related
 

UC pre med

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A glass of warm milk ususally hits the spot, and try to excercise before so that you are tired enough to go to sleep.
 

chman

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I suffered from insomnia for quite a while (still do sometimes). Because of this I have done a lot of research on the subject. So her ya go;

1) Wake up and go to sleep at the same times each day (even on weekends). Your body has a very accurate internal clock that gets disrupted easily.

2) Avoid fluids a couple of hours before bed, and even longer for caffeine.

3) Avoid any exercise after five PM or so, but you should definitely get some exercise in the morning or early afternoon. The more you do during the day the more tired you will be at night.

4) Only use your bed for sleep and that other thing people tend to do in beds. You want your mind to associate your bed with sleep, not being awake.

5) Take a hot bath or shower ~an hour and a half before bed. Your body cools down when your get ready for sleep and this will help. On the same token, keep your room cool and use more blankets as needed, instead of keeping your room warm with few blankets.

6) Stop all studying at least an hour before bed. You want your mind to be relaxed. You should also avoid tv and the computer right before bed. Instead read a book for twenty minutes or so.

7) Don't force yourself to sleep if your not tired. As I mentioned, you want your bed to be a place of sleep, not a place to toss an turn. Stay up until you feel sleep coming on.

8) Stretch before bed.

9) Contradictory to my advice about fluids, it is ok to have a small cup of herbal tea, which sometimes helps. Just avoid too much because you don't want to have to get up to go to the bathroom.

10) Soothing music, ideally on a device that shuts off automatically (and not with head phones as they can wrap around your neck while you are sleeping).


That's about it. These worked for me, and I was really bad. It was not uncommon for me to not sleep at all for a night, and was averaging 4-5 hours when I did sleep. Now I do about 7 a night.
 

NYR56

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I know this is terrible, but when i absolutely have to sleep early i'll take benadryl or something... Given the fact that i can't fall asleep until 3 am on any given day with nothing important the next day.
That's what I did for the MCAT. There was no way in hell I was going to try laying there falling asleep and risk screwing up my sleep for the one day I was preparing for.

I have issues falling asleep during the week but it's probably because I try going to bed at like 1 during the week but don't get to bed until like 4 or 5 on weekends. I love naps during the day too, which only makes the nights worse.
 
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Any guy who has already posted in this thread already is lying.
I was waiting to see who the first person to respond to this was...and the winner is geekchick!

I stay up as late as I need to to study for an exam in that I don't do the whole "bed at 12, wake up at 4am to study, sleep for an hour, and then dart to class" thing.

I stay up pretty late now so I fall asleep pretty easily. The drawback is that I'm chronically tired during the daytime. I do not recommend this lifestyle to anyone.
 
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I'm going to my doc tomorrow and seriously thinking about asking him for a rx. I really suck at sleeping, and I feel like a zombie all day. Benadryl, advil pm, nyquil just don't cut it.
Have you tried cannabis yet? Just a suggestion because Ambien and drugs like Ambien have some serious adverse effects. If you want a safe drug, cannabis is the way to go. However, it is illegal in most states, so if it's not medicinally legal where you live, then it might become more dangerous for you.
 

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say an important exam is on fri:

wed - try to stay awake for 18-20 hours or more
thurs - no prob falling asleep
fri - feel refreshed on exam day