Sugary snacks and caffeine fuel study success for British adults

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Home Learning College has conducted research into the nation's study habits as part of a wider campaign to understand the components of success for mature students.

Over a quarter of adults require regular doses of sugar and caffeine to enhance their brain power while learning

Over a quarter of adults require regular doses of sugar and caffeine to enhance their brain power while learning, according to research into the nation’s study habits conducted by Home Learning College. A total of 27 per cent admit needing artificial stimulants to get their grey matter working effectively. A further 23 per cent find it easier to study when listening to music, while 7 per cent work best with the TV on in the background.

The survey is part of a wider campaign by Home Learning College to understand the components of success for adult learners. The most common requirement when studying – mentioned by over half of respondents - is peace and quiet, followed by the ability to sit comfortably.

While a calm environment was deemed most important by students of all ages, this need rose dramatically with age, from just under 24 to 72 per cent of the over 55s. Natural daylight is deemed essential by 35 per cent, and a further 33 per cent benefit from a flow of fresh air.

The research also revealed clear differences in the way men and women approach the act of learning. Over a third of female respondents reported the need to sit down at a tidy desk when studying, compared to just a quarter of males. Sugar is also significantly more popular as a study aid among women than men, with twice as many females mentioning it as an essential ingredient.

At a regional level, caffeine is deemed most vital to study success in East Anglia, with a quarter of the region’s adults selecting it as a crucial learning tool. In comparison, only 13% of those in the North East mentioned tea, coffee and cola drinks as fundamental to the cognitive process. However, 11% of the region’s residents leave the TV on during study – the highest figure for any region. The Scots show the greatest preference for listening to music, while the Northern Irish are the most likely to aid brain power with sugary snacks.

UK’s top 10 study aids:
1    Peace and quiet    56%
2    Being able to sit comfortably    41%
3    Natural daylight    35%
4    Fresh air    33%
5    Having a tidy desk    31%
6    Listening to music    23%
7    Caffeine    19%
8    Being able to look out of the window    18%
9    Sugary snacks    8%
10    Watching TV    7%

Alex Griffiths is an educational psychologist with over 30 years’ experience in helping adults and children to learn more effectively, and is CEO of the Educational Guidance Service. He believes the key to successful study lies in finding a routine that works for each individual, as he explains: “A quite location place and natural light undoubtedly enhances study, and clearly reduces potential distractions. Many find that music aids concentration, especially classical music, and mild stimulants can be beneficial – although late night coffee drinking can create poor sleeping habits for some which may inhibit good study over time. Experiment! Try different techniques, each for three or four days and objectively decide your most effective strategies.”

“As anyone who has studied as an adult will testify, we develop increasingly specific learning habits as we age,” says Dave Snow, Academic Director at Home Learning College. “The key to achieving study success in later life lies in understanding what makes your brain tick and creating the right environment for your individual needs.

“One of the benefits to continuing your education by distance learning is that you can study in the location of your choosing, at the time you want. You can play music, watch TV or eat and drink to your heart’s content – luxuries that aren’t available to classroom-based students.”

For more information on Home Learning College’s range of professionally accredited distance learning courses visit

About Home Learning College
Home Learning College is the largest vocational distance learning provider in the UK, and is accredited by the National Union of Students (NUS), allowing its 55,000 students to enjoy the discounts and services available with the NUS Extra Card.

All Home Learning College courses lead to professional CV-enhancing, employer recognised qualifications, including AAT, Sage, CompTIA, Microsoft, ICB and CIW. Subjects covered include book-keeping, accounting, IT and computing, web design and many more.

Home Learning College students benefit from a dedicated in-house tutoring service and the Virtual Learning Community - an online learning environment which facilitates the delivery of course material and peer networking.

For more information on all courses visit Home Learning College, follow us on Twitter @home_learning or check out student testimonials and other video content on our YouTube channel:

Tor Goldfield
Home Learning College Communications Manager
Tel: 020 8676 6258
Mobile: 07843 335606
Email: tor.goldfield(at)homelearningcollege(dot)com


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Tor Goldfield