Studying for the EPPP: Does your brain know the difference between studying in your pajamas and sleeping in them?

What do you wear when you study for the EPPP? Your choice of clothing could be linked to how well you focus as well as your ability to rest due to brain association. It’s the same reason studying in bed could lead to trouble sleeping.

 Your brain associates certain attire with our meaning or perception of that attire. For example, if you consistently go into relaxation mode after a day of work once you’ve put on your cozier pair of sweatpants, it might be harder for you to become motivated to do anything productive once you’ve got those sweatpants on. In this case your brain would be associating the cozy sweatpants with relaxing, making it hard to want to do anything other than relax. On the other hand, it could be harder for you to get some necessary rest after a day of work or study if you stay in the clothing you consider to be more professional and reserved for the times you’re being productive. Forbes Magazine explores this in the article Is Casual Dress Killing Your Productivity at Work?  

 “When we put on an item of clothing it is common for the wearer to adopt the characteristics associated with that garment. A lot of clothing has symbolic meaning for us, whether it’s ‘professional work attire’ or ‘relaxing weekend wear,’ so when we put it on we prime our brain to behave in ways consistent with that meaning.” 

The association between attire and what that attire represents could affect your focus and rest when you study for the EPPP. For instance, if you wear professional attire during your study block and during the portion of the day where you are not studying, your brain could have a harder time taking the rest it needs to store the information you put in it.

When we sleep or find other ways to rest that include little brain power, our brains have the time and space to organize and store all of the information we’ve introduced to it. Because rest is so important to cognitive functioning such as recall, retention, and our ability to focus later, we should rest with intention. Conversely, we should also work with intention as studying in the casual attire that you wear when it’s time to rest could affect how well you focus.

            “Research shows your alertness is affected by what you wear. [A] study found that people wearing a doctor’s lab coat displayed heightened attention. When the same people then wore an identical coat, but told [sic] it was a painters coat, they weren’t as attentive as when they wore (what they perceived to be) the doctor’s coat. The research found: The influence of clothes thus depends on wearing them and their symbolic meaning.”

Your brain creates a “symbolic meaning” for the casual attire you wear while resting in the ways that require little brain power such as sleeping or exercising. The creation of symbolic meaning is what brain association is. So, while it may not necessarily be devastating to study in casual attire, the brain’s association between your pajamas and sleeping may cause you to have a harder time focusing.

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