Today, our guest blogger Kerry continues her discussion from last week about sleep deprivation and the mental challenges that come with studying for the CPA Exam while working full-time.


Studying for the CPA Exam last week was a bit more challenging for me compared to other weeks - (see my previous blog for explanation). All the mornings that I had to get up early the previous week finally caught up with me in the form of completely sleeping through my alarm on Monday morning.  So, I had to play sleep catch-up a little bit all week.  Waking up late is frustrating because during the work week, I try to spend the early morning hours before work going through all the Roger CPA Review lectures and watching Roger work through some of the problems.  Granted, sometimes I'm not firing on all cylinders early in the morning, so studying for the CPA Exam becomes more of learning through exposure than really applying my brain power.

On Tuesday morning, I woke up an hour before I had to jump in the shower and go to work, so I could only complete the first two lecture videos in a topic module. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to finish the rest of the lectures later that evening when I returned home from work.  Even though I was behind in my studies, I couldn't bring myself to get up at 4:30 AM the next morning, so instead I compromised with myself and set my alarm to go off about an hour and a half earlier than my usual wake-up time.  Thankfully, the remaining lectures I needed to review weren't very long so I was able to complete the lectures with about 30 minutes left before I needed to start getting ready for work. I started to wonder what I could do with the extra time I had to myself.  There are just so many free-time options like going to the gym, making a nice breakfast or taking a bubble bath.  Oh wait! I know! I could go back to sleep!

Choosing sleep for 30 minutes was my best option and during my short nap something interesting happened. In college I remember reading an article that stated cramming for exams is more effective when you nap briefly between subject matters.  The article stated something about dozing off for 15 minutes or so helps the brain assimilate information into memory. I never tried this while studying for the CPA Exam, but I do remember when I was studying for REG that I used to dream about it later.

I didn't have a long time to go back to sleep and sometimes after my brain has started working, it's difficult to shut it off. I can't say that I fell back into a deep sleep but maybe that wasn't such a bad thing. As it turns out, I was in a partially dreaming/partially aware state of sleep. This state of mind allowed me to direct my thoughts on the CPA Exam, so I was able to review the lectures I had just listened to earlier. I was half asleep but aware enough that I was making connections, committing concepts to memory and gaining more clarity from the previously reviewed lectures.

Unbelievably, when my alarm went off, I was able to recall all the thoughts that had been floating around in my head while I was "resting."  It was kind of like the difference between knowing I had a dream and being able to recall it when I awoke.   Maybe there is something to this cram then nap method of learning!  This learning through "osmosis"  is probably the closest thing to a CPA Exam study miracle that I can get!

I still like getting up before work to study, but I may need to put a new spin on it and do a little Monday through Friday studying instead of the 3 day-a-week study plan that's in the 12-month study planner. But that's the beauty of this course, you have the flexibility to find out what works for you and do it your way. Even through a sleep/dream state!

- Kerry M.