Finals season is upon us, and that means desperately trying to remember the entire semester in a short few weeks. From spending more time at the library than your own room to consuming more coffee than water, cramming for multiple exams definitely takes its toll on your mental and physical well-being and will have you questioning if you’ll ever even see sunlight again. Before you let finals destroy your soul, take note of these health tips to enhance your productivity, because Adderall and Monster drinks are not the answers to all of your problems.
1. Master the art of napping.
Napping is vital to surviving days when you spend more time awake than asleep. However, there’s more to it than just setting your alarm and hitting the hay. You should attempt to cap the time limit at 30 minutes because any longer could send you into deep sleep and you could wake up feeling more tired than you were before. However, if you really need it, shoot for 90 minutes, when you’ll be in REM sleep. The time of day you decide to nap is also key and you should try not to nap after 4 PM. Your body will be more tired between 1 PM and 4 PM, when it is working to digest your lunch, leaving you more tired than any other time of day.
2. Avoid foods that will make you sleepy.
Certain foods, even if they’re healthy, can have a relaxing effect and are best avoided throughout day-long study sessions. Foods like oatmeal, string cheese, whole grain bread, and bananas will be great to eat before bed but aren’t the best for your energy levels throughout the day.
3. Don’t depend on caffeine and reach for energy-boosting foods instead.
The ultimate brain food, salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids and will positively effect not only your long-term health but energy, too. Other items on the list are quinoa, eggs, chia seeds, oranges, apples, and spinach. Don’t forget to reach for blueberries as well as besides from providing energy, if eaten long-term, can help improve your memory so you can retain information easily. If you feel yourself dozing off, reach for gum, which can help boost your blood flow and help you recall certain information.
4. Opt for smaller meals throughout the day.
Eating large meals leaves your brain competing with your digestive system and ultimately has you feeling tired. Meanwhile, if you go for smaller lunches and dinner, with various snacks in between, you’ll have more focus and feel less tempted to take a nap.
5. Take breaks to get up and move.
Staying in the same position all day won’t just leave you stiff but can have damaging effects in the long-run. Taking a 10-minute walk or remembering to stretch can boost energy levels and give you a break from memorizing equations and formulas. If you’re a multitasker, prop your textbook up on the treadmill to break up the monotony of studying and accomplish two things at once.
6. Say no to all-nighters.
While we’ve all done them at some point, studying all night when you should be sleeping won’t improve long-term retention. Your brain won’t be efficiently working at 3 AM in the morning and you should opt for studying in increments instead. In the weeks leading up to the exam, study subjects for 10-15 minutes a day for more effective retention.
7. Study in bright environments.
Ever hear people talking about putting away the iPhone before bed as the light can disrupt your sleep? It’s the same concept here. Studying by a bright lamp, even if it’s 1 AM, will convince your body and circadian rhythm into thinking it’s still daytime and leave you more productive.
Finals season is a stressful time and despite the pressure you might have to boost your GPA, your health should never have to be sacrificed. Eating clean and getting enough rest are key and before you know it, it’ll be holiday break. Happy studying!