Health Corner: Why catching your Zzz’s is important

By Sara Scheler

April 17, 2013

I doubt I am the only one who freaks out when I look at my April calendar. The last few weeks of the semester are by far the busiest and most stressful. Thankfully, there are some easy, healthy things you can do to keep your energy levels up during “crunch time.”

A regular sleep schedule is very important. If you stay up late and try to compensate by sleeping in or napping, you will likely have trouble staying awake the next day. By going to sleep at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning, your body will adjust to this rhythm and you will probably find that you have a consistent amount of energy throughout the day. If you have to stay up late or get up early, take a short nap in the afternoon to make up for lost sleep. By doing so, this will help you stay on your sleep schedule.

Diet is also important in maintaining energy. Sugar is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and can cause spikes in energy and eventually, a crash. Limit your consumption of sweets, soda and energy drinks, especially later in the day. Instead of having dessert, try eating fruit, which has fiber that helps slow down the sugar spike. In addition, be careful not to over-eat. When you consume a large meal, your stomach uses a lot of energy to digest it and you often feel tired. It takes your brain about 20 minutes to realize you are full, so eat three moderately sized meals with a few small snacks in between.

Exercise is another way to keep your energy up. Regular exercise releases chemicals that stimulate feelings of well-being, which can keep you motivated. Take a walk outside or visit the fitness center. Even a short, 20-30 minute workout gives your mind and body a welcome break from sitting in class.

Chill out and take some time to relax by doing something you enjoy. Setting aside a few hours each day to spend time with friends, go for a walk, or read a book gives your brain a break and then you can go back to studying with renewed energy.

Energy drinks and all-nighters may seem like a quick fix in order to survive the last few weeks of school, but setting a consistent sleep schedule, eating well and exercising are all more beneficial in the long run.