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Is Learning in the Morning Better?

As educators, we are all very focused on what we need to teach, but we give little consideration to “when” is best for learning. For adult learners there are real benefits to learning in the morning versus other times of the day.  

Brain Image

If we refer to chronobiology, the science of “good timing”.

The brain is in acquisition mode and most open to learning between 10 am to 2 pm and from 4 pm to 10 pm.

The brain is least effective at learning between 4 am and 7 am.

So many say morning is the best time to learn. Our brains are sharpest in the morning after a good night’s sleep (typically 8-9 hours) and breakfast, even if you had a bad night’s sleep the morning is still better than later in the day for learning.

The morning offers natural light which is good for our eyes and keeps us alert which is conducive to learning.

The morning generally gives the learner a better recollection ability, especially if the information has to be recalled from the day before, hence the recommendation to “sleep on it and think about it in the morning”. Sleeping after studying is also said to consolidate information and improve recall.

But some learners have more energy in the evening or at night where they feel there is an improvement in concentration and creativity and research shows this is primarily because there are fewer distractions, and definitely much more peace and quiet.

So, what we do know is that there is a hidden pattern to our days, and we are better off putting certain kinds of activities and learning into certain times of the day.

That is, all times of the day are not created equal.

If we understand this underlying pattern, we can begin to reorganise our days so that they are more in sync with when science says we are able to do best at certain times of the day, and this has huge implications for education and learning.

Chronotype is our propensity to either wake up early or wake up late, to stay up late, or to go to sleep early. 


You sometimes hear the terms “larks” and “owls.” 


Some people are larks, they rise early, feel energetic in the morning, and then fade out by evening.


But people typically between the ages of about 14 and 24 are “owls.” 

That is a period where, because of puberty, and changing bodies the hours of wakefulness shift forward a couple of hours. 

So, people go to sleep later in the evening and wake up later in the morning.


Just like each learner has a unique learning style, different learners may learn better at different times of the day.


Research shows it is important for the learner to think about when they are most alert and plan their learning to suit. 

Different qualities of memories and alertness seem to be better at different times of the day for different people.


Our adult learners are typically outside the between 14 and 24 “owl” age bracket and research shows learning doesn't appear to be less effective in the afternoons,  so our courses are 8.30 am to 1 pm when learners are more alert and better at learning.


Chronobiology: The Science of Time,

Can You Learn Anything While You Sleep? Live Science, , by Bahar Gholipour (March 8, 2019)

The Morning Advantage: Unveiling the Benefits of Learning Early

Ever wondered why some swear by the morning study sessions? Let's dive into the science and benefits behind why learning in the morning can be more advantageous than in the afternoon or evening.

  1. Circadian Rhythms and Brain Function: Our brains have natural circadian rhythms, with cognitive functions peaking in the morning. Learning during this time aligns with our body's internal clock, enhancing focus and memory retention.
  2. Optimal Alertness and Productivity: Mornings are when our alertness and productivity levels are at their peak. Capitalizing on this time ensures that you're absorbing information when your mind is most receptive, leading to more effective learning.

  3. Less Distractions and Quieter Environment: Early hours often offer a quieter and less distracting environment. This solitude allows for deep concentration, making it easier to comprehend complex subjects without interruptions.

  4. Enhanced Mood and Positive Mindset: Starting the day with learning activities can positively impact your mood. It sets a proactive tone, fostering a positive mindset that can influence your overall well-being throughout the day.

  5. Consistent Routine and Time Management: Learning in the morning establishes a consistent routine. By tackling educational tasks early, you free up the rest of the day for other activities, preventing procrastination and enhancing time management skills.

  6. Quality Sleep and Memory Consolidation: Quality sleep is crucial for memory consolidation. When you learn in the morning, there's more time for your brain to process and solidify the information during subsequent sleep cycles, contributing to better recall.


Choosing the morning for your learning endeavours isn't just a matter of preference; it aligns with the natural rhythms of our bodies and brains. From improved focus to better memory retention, the benefits of morning learning extend far beyond the classroom, setting the stage for a more productive and fulfilling day. So, rise and shine – your brain is ready for the morning lesson!

For this reason, Software Solutions timetabled courses are in the morning and not in the afternoon.

Owl Image
Lark Image

Cathi Barker

Microsoft Master Instructor

Microsoft Innovative Educator

Educator in the private and public sector for nearly 40 years

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