Studyology: How comfy is too comfy to study?

Studying in comfort isn’t bad for your grades, but it’s not good for your body.

Robert Gifford performed a survey about 40 years ago on college students in a study entitled “Desk or the Bed?” This entire study revolved around the grade point averages of students who thought the bed was mightier than the desk, and vice versa. Gifford, with a background in environmental psychology, simply knocked on the doors of students on any given dorm room floor and asked them where they preferred to study.

His study though, found no difference in the two separate groups. It was about 50/50 in terms of which students studied at their desk or on their beds. 

“Of the 86 students with GPAs of 3.0 or better, 53 per cent worked at their desks — the rest, on their beds,” said the study. They concluded that “there is nothing in [this] data to support recommendations for studying in a straight-backed chair at a desk.” 

Mladen Golubic, the medical director for the Centre for Lifestyle Medicine at Cleveland Clinic's Wellness Institute, doesn’t have anything to say about studying in bed per se. However, he suggests slouching isn’t good for you.

“When you slump, you have reduced your capacity to inhale properly,” he said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Diaphragmatic breathing rather than just expanding the chest are very different things. Expanding the chest and not breathing deeply “could lead to feeling tired, exhausted and feeling sleepy,” which is detrimental to your study session overall.

So when you’re picking a studying position and space, put on some pyjamas and get comfy, but make sure to keep your back straight and breathing.