It's grind time!
While studying for your end year exams can be stressful and put strain on not only your mind but also your body you can make this time a lot easier by doing a few simple things.
Achieving is important but taking care of yourself is just as important. We tend to eat foods that aren’t time consuming to prepare(mostly take-out), we drink loads of coffee and caffeinated drinks to keep awake for those all nighters and we also loooove to snack during study time and while snacking is good it proves to not be so great when we are snacking on sugary treats. All these things we do to get through studying may seem to help in the moment but actually are pulling you back in more ways than one.
When you don’t get enough rest odds are you’re going to wake up feeling sluggish, the reason for this is because your brain cells are feeling sluggish too! A lack of proper sleep and rest, can impair our ability to function normally and impairs your cognitive abilities!
8 hours of sleep is optimal, we need proper sleep so that we can recharge our batteries and function properly. There is no point in not sleeping properly to cram for an exam because odds are you aren’t going to be able to absorb the information you need properly. Its counter intuitive to deprive yourself of sleep.
These are the physical effects of sleep deprivation:
Not drinking enough water can impair cognitive function. It's summer now so any activity done in this heat without being properly hydrated will affect your concentration levels.
80% of your brain is made up of water and for this reason water is an essential nutrient for your brain. When we do not drink enough water a lot of negative results can occur such as poor concentration, poor memory, brain fog, headaches and fatigue.
Benefits of drinking water include:
- Improved Concentration – Our brains are the first to feel the effects of dehydration and it shows by a loss of concentration. Staying properly hydrated enables the brain to stay alert so we can keep our attention and focus.
- Balanced Moods – Studies have identified a link between dehydration and mood disturbances. Drinking water increases the brain’s temperature and gets rid of toxins and dead cells. It also keeps cells active and balances chemical processes in the brain, helping to regulate stress and anxiety.
- Better Sleep – Water increases blood flow to the brain, which increases oxygenation and calms the brain, helping us to get a more restful night’s sleep.
- Sustained Memory Function – When our brains are dehydrated, it becomes harder for us to memorize things, infer information, draw conclusions and create long-term memories. Since it takes only mild dehydration to cause adverse effects on short-term memory, it’s important to drink enough water daily to maintain memory function.
- Prevention and Relief of Headaches – Dehydration has been found to trigger headaches and migraines in some individuals. Several studies have shown that drinking water can prevent or relieve certain types of headaches in those who are dehydrated.
By drinking water and staying hydrated, you’re providing your brain with what it needs to continually perform at its best. Not only will you feel better physically, but you’ll be mentally strong and ready to tackle the day ahead.
Food and nutrition
We tend to eat the wrong foods when studying. High energy drinks, take out meals, chips and sugary treats to keep energy levels at a high. This not only has a negative effect on your overall health but also impairs your ability to function properly for best results and performance!
Here are some foods that may help during study time
Omega 3 found in oily fish is essential to keeping a functioning brain working well.
Just one egg contains vital nutrients and will leave you feeling fuller than a bowl of sugary cereal that is bound to impair your concentration. One egg contains 6g of protein, Vit B12, and less than 100 calories.
Dark leafy greens
Kale, spinach, chard, broccoli , this list is long! Dark leafy greens are a vital source of nutrients for the lead up to exams. They are packed with vitamin K which helps build pathways in the brain and are also filled with natural occurring nitrates and antioxidants.
Dark greens also contain healthy amounts of Vit B6 and B12 which are associated with alertness and improved memory.
Healthy peanut butter
Many people think that it is unhealthy food but in acual fact it contains a large amount of healthy fats and protein per serving. As a brain food it can keep you full for a long time.
Caffeine in short term can give you that immediate boost just before an exam but don’t out your body through the stomach-turning energy drinks.
Coffee is a better alternative to the energy drinks but should be drunk with caution. Too much coffee could leave you in a position where you are unable to concentrate and where you are feeling to jittery to even hold your pen. Dependency on coffee can also lead to feeling more fatigued in the long run.
Green tea is a great alternative to high caffeine options. It provides antioxidants and can boost your concentration.
We often feel that we need sugar boosts to stay alert and focused but eating processed sugary foods will lead to a peak in energy and then a hard drop which will in turn only push you to eat more sugary things. Vicious cycle if you ask me!!
Fresh fruits should be your go-to when you want a sugar boost. Darker colored fruits like blueberries are found to be very high in antioxidants
So grab and apple, melon or banana when you feel a sugar craving.
Fit in exercise a few times a week
Fitness isn’t only good for your physical body but also plays a large role in maintaining a healthy brain. Exercising strengthens connections between brain cells. Even a 15 min jump on a small trampoline will be of benefit. We sit for hours at a time when studying and just taking a walk or stretching will get the blood flowing in your body again which will also help get more oxygen to your brain.
Move around, it really helps!
Get those creative juices flowing! Buy a colouring book, it sounds silly but research has shown that colouring in has a similar effects on the brain as meditation. Makes you calmer and helps manage stress.
If you enjoy to cook, make something new and exotic.
If you enjoy the outdoors, try a new sport.
Trying new things and getting your creative juices flowing can really help the brains overall functioning.
Supplements that may assist during this time:
Study Tone- a formula aimed at providing brain energy and the ability to focus attention and improve memory (brain fag), poor concentration and for those experiencing exam funk.
The comprehensive list of ingredients will assist with the above
N-Acetyl L-Carnitine and the DMAE are 2 of the main ingredients, both used to power the brain and aid in concentration.
DMAE is believed to increase production of acetylcholine (a type of chemical that helps nerve cells to transmit signals). Since acetylcholine plays a key role in many brain functions like learning and memory, proponents claim that taking DMAE in supplement form may boost brain health by raising acetylcholine levels.
N.A.C is an anti-aging nootropic, or smart drug, meaning, it helps your brain perform better. The acetyl group on it lets it pass your blood-brain barrier and reach your brain and nerves, where it can improve your mood, learning, and memory.
OMEGA 3- Good fats or omega 3 fatty acids as they are known, are essential fatty acids. They are called essential as the body is not able to make it on its own. Research has shown that low levels of omega-3 fatty acids may contribute to difficulty concentrating, learning and behaving!
Rhodiola- One of the most important chemicals in the brain is serotonin that plays a major role in mental function as a 'chemical messenger', helping nerve function and keeping our mood elevated. During stress, serotonin levels drop resulting in altered mood. Studies suggest that Rhodiola may improve the body's ability to produce serotonin and also reduce symptoms of sleep disturbances, low energy and day time sleepiness.
Mindset- Mindset is a natural brain food formula. It has a multitude of uses which include helping concentration, stress and ADHD.
Mindset is a natural neurotransmitter precursor. This proprietary formula contains only natural ingredients that nourish the brain and restore its depleted neurotransmitters. Considered to be one of the best natural stress management formulas, it is also approved by the Hyperactivity and Attention Deficit Disorder Support group for use on children with these problems.
So drink enough water, get enough rest and take care of yourself, there is no point in achieving without a health, happy body and mind, remember that your body drives you so take care of it and it will take care of you!