By Aoife Burke
For those of you starting first year, as I am, or even returning years, healthy eating and exercise might be the furthest thing from your minds. However, eating a healthy, balanced diet and getting regular exercise can help you study better in the long run and give you lots more energy. What’s also important is getting the recommended 8 hours sleep a night. Sure, nights in the pub are fun, but are the hangovers really worth it? Here is a step-by-step guide to living a healthy lifestyle while in college.
Google the food pyramid and print it out. Remember, fruits and veg need to be consumed in the highest quantity, as they are the most nutritious and healthy foods you can possibly eat. Recommended 5-7 servings a day. Next, 3-5 servings a day of wholemeal cereals, breads, potatoes, pasta and rice are essential. Next, 3 servings of milk, yogurt and cheese are important in order to keep your bones and teeth healthy. Above this, two servings of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and nuts are a must – unless you’re a vegetarian of course! In very small amounts, you should consume some fats and oils. Lastly, at the very top of the pyramid are items such as chocolate, sweets, crisps and fizzy drinks. These should not be consumed every day and preferably in limited amounts to reduce weight gain, bloating and tooth decay.
I don’t mean nodding off in the library or during early-morning lectures. If this happens, you might need to start going to bed earlier. Try not to drink coffee or cola late at night, as the caffeine will keep you awake. It isn’t recommended to eat heavy meals late at night either. Keep a regular sleep/wake cycle. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every morning and evening if possible. Avoid sleeping-in too often, and limit naps to 15 minutes in the early afternoon. If you find yourself getting drowsy, do something to wake yourself up, until it is time for bed. Expose yourself to light as the brain makes more melatonin (this makes you sleepy) when it’s dark. Open the curtains during the day, even if you’re having a duvet day. At night-time, you need to do the opposite. Avoid bright screens 1-2 hours before bed. Limit late-night tv, no matter how tempting Netflix is! If you have to get up during the night, have a small bedside lamp or flashlight to limit exposure to light.
Exercise during the day
It will allow you to feel more awake during the day and to sleep better at night. The exercise routine helping you to sleep at night might take a few months to kick in, so be patient with it. Exercise speeds up your metabolism, elevates body temperature and stimulates hormones such as cortisol. Try to finish intense workouts at least 3 hours before bedtime. Low-impact workouts, such as yoga or gentle stretching, can help promote sleep.
These are the main points. Its important to avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine before bed. Don’t drink too many fluids, you will need the bathroom often at night. Avoid sugary food and refined carbs before bed. Try fruit and yogurt instead. Finally, ensure that your new room is a quiet and restful enviornment. Sweet dreams!