Before an important exam, what do you do? Most would say that they would spend hours, if not days, studying in order to memorize and learn information that will be asked in the exam.
However, taking care of yourself, both physically and mentally, is equally important if you want to perform at your best. Whether you are a high school student during finals week or an adult going through a health coach training course, here are the benefits of having healthy habits to your grades.
Feeding Your Brain
Food plays an important role in maintaining the processes and functions within your body, including your brain. There are certain foods that, according to research, can improve mental tasks such as memory and concentration.
Eating fatty fish, for example, can make you smarter. Fishes like salmon and herring have high omega-3 fatty acid content which plays a role in sharpening memory and protecting the brain from decline, especially in old age. In one study, eating fatty fish has been linked to increased gray matter in the brain. The gray matter in your brain contains the nerve cells which are responsible for memory, decision-making, and emotion.
Nuts contain several nutrients that keep the brain healthy. Vitamin E, in particular, protects cell membranes from free radical damage and, therefore, prevents mental decline. In previous research, individuals who ate nuts regularly for years had sharper memory.
If you want to boost your cognitive performance, you should also make blueberries, broccoli, chocolate, eggs, oranges, pumpkin seeds, turmeric, and coffee a regular part of your diet.
Exercising Your Body and Mind
You need to exercise regularly to keep your body strong and ward off illnesses. However, did you know that your brain gains benefits from engaging in physical activities, too?
Many studies found that the parts of the brain which are associated with thinking and memory are greater among those who exercise regularly compared to those who do not. The hippocampus, in particular, which is involved in verbal learning and memory, received a boost among those who do aerobic exercises frequently.
So, while studying is, mostly, a sedentary activity, you should incorporate exercise in your everyday routine to help you understand and retain your lessons. Running, bicycling, swimming, and other moderate-intensity workouts will stimulate the parts of your brain that you use when you study.
Sleeping to Recharge
Staying up before an exam to review is hardly beneficial. If you really want to perform better, you need to get eight hours of quality sleep every night.
Sleep deprivation can impair your executive functions. It makes you unable to pay attention to the task at hand, it makes you react more slowly to the environment around you, and it makes you forgetful.
That is because, when you sleep, the connections between your brain cells are strengthened. The information you learn is transferred from short-term to long-term memory. Recalling, therefore, becomes easier later on. Experts also suggest that sleeping after studying can make you learn new information.
Moreover, during sleep, you come up with new ideas. You need sleep to feed your creativity and improve your problem-solving skills, according to the Sleep Foundation.
How much sleep do you need every night? Teens aged 14 to 17 need 8 to 10 hours of sleep. Adults, on the other hand, should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep.
Taking care of your health should always be a priority, even when you are studying for an exam. Keeping bad habits will negatively affect your academic performance.