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Sleep, exercise and diet are vital during finals week

Photo: CollegeDegrees 360 via Flickr

With finals week upon us, students are busy reading, writing and studying. But with their minds on academics, many students forget to take care of their body and mind throughout this chaotic and stressful time. Back in August, Health Talk spoke with Michael Howell, M.D., assistant professor with the Department of Neurology, about the importance of not pulling all-nighters.

Howell explained some of the negative consequences associated with not getting enough sleep can have on a student’s academic performance.

Now, Howell is back to offer students more rest-related tips just in time for finals week:

  1. Take naps during the day, then study. Naps are a great way to recharge your batteries and your brain. If you are falling asleep while trying to study, it’s best to take a nap and then study. It will help you remember more. Also, try to do the bulk of your studying during the day and review your material at night.
  2. Take breaks from studying to exercise. A 2010 study by researchers from Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan found that undergraduate students who vigorously exercised during the week had G.P.A.’s that were on average 0.4 points higher than those who didn’t regularly exercise. Even if it’s a quick jog or a game of basketball to break up the studying, it’s important to exercise. Exercise also helps to reduce stress.
  3. Maintain a healthy diet and limit the late-night snacking. An athlete wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) eat a bunch of junk food before a big game. The same can be said before a final test. Give your body and your brain the fuel it needs by eating enough fruits, vegetables and other foods loaded with vitamins, minerals and protein. If you are going to study later in the evening, nuts are a great snack that provides good nutrition and energy compared to candy or chips. Try to avoid large, heavy meals and don’t forget to eat breakfast!
  4. Find a balance between sleeping in and keeping a consistent wake-up schedule. Mental and physical fatigue is commonplace this time of year so it’s easy to want to sleep in. Do your best to maintain a regular sleep schedule as to not throw your body and mind completely out of whack.

Good luck students during finals week!

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