We all have experienced the late night studying until 3 am, and picking up something fast to eat to get more studying time in. College will have you feeling guilty for just breathing instead of studying, but it does not mean you should neglect your health. Although studying for hours can help you feel more prepared, it might be better for your grade and your mental and physical health to change some things around this time. Here are our Top 10 Tips for Staying Healthy while Studying:
- Snack, but put those Oreos back!
As the night goes on and the clock turns to 1 am, when you go to your pantry to snack, skip the Oreos. It is best to snack on healthy foods, or “brain foods” to keep you going and energized. Ditch those fries and eat peanut butter or beef jerky to help improve studying skills. As cliche as it sounds, eating chocolate and candy when stressed might just make you more irritable and craving more of those unhealthy foods.
- Study and burn calories
We all know that studying on your bed or couch is not really studying but a good way to take a nap. While studying at a desk is the best and most common way, there might be a better way to study. Standing up is a guaranteed way to help you stay awake while studying, studies show. Try getting on the treadmill and walking while studying and knock two birds out with one stone.
- All nighters are not the best
Thinking about pulling an all-nighter? Think again. With each hour that passes and you should be asleep your brain efficiency decreases. This means you’re practically studying and watching your favorite TV show on Netflix. All nighters are better for short term memory when you need it for long-term retention. Short-term memory lasts only for 30 seconds in the brain and then becomes forgotten, and when you pull all-nighters you activate the short term memory only, so it’s best to just get some sleep.
- Water is your best friend
Drink water, and lots of it! Water is highly beneficial for numerous reasons: maintaining bodily fluids, helping control calorie intake (most people are actually dehydrated and not hungry), glowing skin, regular bowel functions, and kidney function. Drinking water and studying has its benefits, research shows that water helps your brain work faster, and concentration is improved.
- Gym. Study. Sleep. Repeat.
Studies show that working out in the morning before getting your day started helps you feel more productive and stay alert while studying. Morning exercise has also been proven to improve focus and mental abilities- much like a cup of coffee. Early mornings in the gym are usually empty and if you want free reign of the machines, try going at 6 am.
- Take a break
Know your limits, and how much you can really endure. When you get to the point when you are just re-reading the same sentence 15 times, it is best to just step back and take a break. Look around, walk outside, anything that gives you a quick break without thinking. Sometimes even switching topics and coming back to it later can give you that extra kick you need to keep studying.
- Coffee can go a long way
If you plan on a long day of studying, it is best to drink your coffee in moderation. Instead of ordering a venti coffee from Starbucks and chugging it in the 30 minutes, try drinking your coffee in moderation. Just like when you eat too much candy and get a sugar crash, it is similar with coffee. Chugging that coffee in the morning will help your caffeine levels soar in the moment, but you will inevitably crash a few hours later. It is also healthier to do it this way, try drinking your coffee in slow, deliberate sips.
- Study in bright light
We all know that studying at night in the dark will never get you past one sentence! When studying in bright light, you can trick your mind and circadian rhythm into thinking that it is still daytime. Studying in poor lighting leads to cortisol levels dropping and feelings of irritability and stress.
- Chew gum
Chewing on something makes it impossible to fall asleep, which also makes you much more alert. So if you feel yourself nodding off mid-sentence, chewing gum will help you stay awake. Studies show that chewing gum while studying will help to later recall certain words, and give you an advantage. Studies also show that the chewing that you are doing gets the blood flowing exactly where it helps to improve memory.
- Warmer is actually better
Studying in a warm environment actually leads people to be more productive and generally happier. It also helps to improve mental performance and overall alertness, whereas studying in cold environments can actually lead to depression. Warm environments can diminish feelings of loneliness, and studies actually show the disease SAD follows the pattern of the winter blues when people are subjected to cold temperatures.