As the semester commences, many of us are being, once again, introduced to the multitude of pub crawl invitations from our local student societies (damn you, Criminology) and student guild parties. Then there’re the friends who drag you out for a late night (or maybe you’re the dragger) when you know you’ve got 3 lectures you have to be at the next day…
These are the type of not-so-healthy habits that, while fun, can leave you feeling a little worse for wear, and wondering how you arrived at Monday morning, with no idea what courses your doing and what you learnt so far. (Other than how many beers is one too many.)
However, there are many other not-so-obvious uni habits that can take a hit to your health too (and therefore your grades) over this upcoming semester. To battle this, here are some tips to help avoid those mid-semester sickness blues and maintain your grades, all with a healthy social life!
1. Sleep, oh sleep. (How I miss you)….
I always say that one of the most important things I learnt in my first year of university was the importance of sleep. When worrying over upcoming exams or catching up on those missed study sessions, it is often seen as normal to stay up into the early hours of the morning. But while we all know “night before” studying can be not-so-great for our attention span the next day, that lack of sleep, and those piles of non-coherent late night notes the next day can actually cause long term effects to your overall health. Not only does a lack of sleep effect your mood (not-so-great when meeting new people), it can can also undo all your hard work by impacting your ability to remember any of the previous night’s minute exam revision.
More than that, if you’re consistently loosing sleep from those “nights out,” or last minute cramming sessions, it can significantly impact your ability to fend off that nasty flu that seems to always hang around your university campus – better start buying those back-up tissue boxes. On the positive side, all you need to do to avoid this is…sleep. Getting to sleep early and going to your next morning lecture without that “I can only survive this day with coffee” attitude will not only allow you to absorb more info (AKA less end of semester revision.), but you might be less grumpy from that restful night and make some new friends along the way.
2. Coffee: Good or bad?
Leading on from the traditional sleep deprived habits of most uni students, your morning coffee can take a larger impact on your health than you may have thought. While sometimes essential for those 8 am lectures, a cup of coffee first thing in the morning can end up making you even more tired throughout your university day. Wait…what???
Well let me explain: What that beautiful cup of coffee is really doing is providing an instant hit of caffeine while secretly dehydrating your body and therefore making you sluggish for the rest of the day after the caffeine wears off. Drinking something so dehydrating first thing in the morning, as you’re already dehydrated from that night’s sleep, can make it harder to concentrate and exacerbating that “sluggish” feeling after the first 30 minutes of class. Although it’s hard, instead of that cup of joe first thing in the morning, try grabbing an apple to start your day.
I know, I know, you’re likely asking, “what the heck is an apple going to do?” Well, at least from my experience, eating an apple before a morning lecture, or before your daily coffee fix, will not only re-hydrate your body after a long night’s sleep, but it will help to provide a long-lasting hit of energy to wake you up and allow you to absorb more information. Still need that hit of caffeine? Try drinking a glass of water before your morning coffee! By adding in this quick step, you avoid the dehydrating effects of the coffee, and still get all of its wake-me-up-immediately effects instead. Sounds like a win/win.
3. Hydration station!
The number one tip I can give for staying healthy at uni (and in life) is to stay hydrated. Long study sessions or coffee breaks with friends can leave your body dehydrated and eventually lead to headaches and leave you even more vulnerable to catching those colds and flus.
Despite what you may think, being consistently dehydrated is way easier than many people realise. To stay on top of your workload and get the most out of attending your classes, drink some water. Not only will you feel better equipped to tackle that ever increasing work-load as the semester continues, but it can increase your energy and can help you solve problems though a viewpoint you might have missed originally.