Tom is a regular 20-year old college sophomore. He is doing well in classes; he stays up late studying some nights and hangs out with friends the other nights. However, Tom has realized that he doesn’t have as much energy as he used to. He also says that he can’t understand how despite how late he stays up he can’t remember the material for the test. If Tom sounds like you or someone you know then here are a few words of advice from science to help you overcome the side effects of college and make the most out of your time there.
1. Get more sleep.
Don’t role your eyes at me; you know it’s true. According to a survey, 70 percent of college students said they get less hours of sleep than what is recommended (7-8 hours every night). Now, sleep is important for us college students for three main reasons.
First, sleep is important for memory consolidation (making sure your memories form). Not only has sleep been proven to enhance memory consolidation, but current research also indicates that sleep is important in forming long-term memories. Therefore, getting little sleep means you’re not allowing your body enough time to turn the things you learned that day into long-term memories (which will come in handy for the test).
Secondly, amount of sleep has been associated with GPA and academic performance. Research shows that students who slept 9 hours or more had higher GPAs than students who slept 6 hours or less. This makes sense when you think about the first reason; since you are not consolidating memories, you won’t remember as much.
Lastly, you’re more likely to get sick if you don’t get enough sleep. I know that sounds far-fetched, but it’s true. Insufficient sleep has been associated with increase risk of obesity, heart stroke, diabetes, stroke, and high blood pressure. On the other hand, enough sleep is important for maintaining hormone levels in the body, supporting growth and development, having more energy during the day, and for proper brain functions. Simply put, insufficient sleep has been shown to change the way your immune system and other body systems naturally work. This leads to the problems mentioned above.
2. Find a Work-Life Balance.
College is a roller coaster; with five classes a week, extracurricular activities, friends, homework, studying and hanging out life can get a bit complicated. However, being able to create a good balance between work (academics) and life (social life) is very important for college students.
A healthy work-life balance can reduce stress. Most times, college students have way too much on their hands. The problem comes when we think we can somehow juggle all these things at once. That’s when stress comes in; we realize we can’t do so much in so little time. Having a good work-life balance can either prevent or reduce this stress.
According to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, friendships enrich our lives and improve our health. Having someone to rely on, to hang out with, to trust and to just talk with is essential for anyone; especially for today’s college students. Healthy friendships increase sense of purpose, increase happiness, reduce stress and help to cope with difficult times.
3. Go to the gym a bit.
Yes, I know the gym is a bizarre and mysterious place for most of us. However, besides the obvious muscular benefit of the gym, college students can benefit from a regular visit to the gym.
Regular exercise increases energy throughout the day. If done in moderation, working out often can actually “give you” more energy. A few scientists actually recommending working out before studying when your brain is more active.
Exercise makes you feel better and less stressed. Maybe not immediately after, when you are too sore to walk, but give it a few minutes and you’ll start feeling the change. During exercise your body release hormones, such as dopamine, that causes a rewarding feeling in the brain that leads to a better mood and more relaxed state.
Finally, exercise can help you sleep better. It was found that after exercising for 150 minutes (almost two hours) a week people slept significantly better and felt more alert. This ties up perfectly most of the information in this article.
In conclusion, science advises getting more sleep, finding a work-life balance, and going to the gym. It’s hard, yes, but the rewards of following the advice is worth it.