If you have a good amount of sleep every night, you wake up fresh and ready for the day, if you eat well and stay hydrated throughout the day I honestly congratulate you, keep up the fantastic work, you are doing amazing, but this post is probably not for you. This post is for the rest of us who get distracted enough by whatever we're doing (work, study, etc) that we need a gentle reminder to take better care of our bodies and our health.
Yes, I know we've all heard it a million times before to drink plenty of water, eat fresh fruit and vegetables and get enough rest. We've all heard it, we know the sayings by heart and yet, some forget, ignore, or just put all of it aside blaming it on the lack of time to prepare, a busy or hectic lifestyle, or maybe think that having a slice of cake made with fruit is good enough.
I'm guessing we've all been there when you had an important exam coming soon, you tried to study as much as you can just before it so sleep seemed to be optional, you didn't want to waste time cooking when you could be reading so you ended up having takeaway food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, or worse, you barely ate anything.
Unfortunately, thinking that you are some form of battery and you can recover later on happens to be counterproductive. Instead of being productive and making the most of your time, you end up tired, dehydrated and with an upset stomach. You need enough sleep so you can focus on the task in front of you and you need to have a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables so your body can cope not just with everyday life but with the extra stress during exam times. You might also need to remind yourself to drink some water in between the five coffees or energy drinks you just downed.
You might be thinking 'I'm not a student anymore, I don't go through all of that' but I'm sure at least some of you have found yourselves saying at least a few times by now 'I don't know if I drank any water today', 'I don't have time for breakfast' or 'I can't wait for the weekend so I can catch up on sleep'. Just because the situation changed, it doesn't mean that your habits have.
Picture this scenario: you went to bed late being stressed about something at work so you struggled to wake up in the morning. Because of this you skipped breakfast and went for a double espresso instead hoping it will help you wake up quicker (and I can't blame you). It gets to lunchtime, you think you're still behind with work so instead of having some nutritious food to boost your energy, you opt for a doughnut and another coffee. A few more hours pass and you might start feeling grumpier, hungrier and a bit more tired. If you have the brave idea of having an energy drink it will give you some energy for a few minutes and then perhaps some palpitations and a headache since you completely forgot to drink any water. Just to be clear, I'm not trying to make you feel guilty here, I'm just trying to point out a few things which you might not even realize you're doing, things which most likely have an impact on your mood and general wellbeing.
I am guilty of having one too many coffees most days and I am trying (and failing sometimes) to limit my caffeine intake. I have to remind myself to drink more water throughout the day, ideally preventing a dehydration headache from kicking in. I have skipped meals, thinking I'm too busy to take a break and ended up not feeling very well, lacking energy and failed to finish the task I so eagerly wanted to complete. I have slept half of the hours I would normally need and became less and less focused and productive as the day went by.
When you get enough rest and enough hours of quality sleep you wake up in a good mood, you have more energy and can take on today's challenges with a different attitude. When you eat good food and have enough water, basically when you give your body the fuel it wants and needs, you feel better and have enough strength to tackle whatever it is you have to do for the day. All of this is so important, and for some reason just so easy to ignore sometimes.
I'm not trying to say that having coffee and doughnuts or a slice of cake is a bad thing (that would be highly hypocritical of me since I literally post cake recipes and talk about coffee on this website), I'm just saying make sure you eat well generally. I'm not saying that you need to have a drastic routine and sleep an exact amount of hours every night, I'm just saying what your body is trying to say - have a nap if you need it and make sure you eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. I'm also not trying to convince you to drink an exact amount of glasses of water every day, I'm only trying to remind you to maybe have one, or some fruit juice in between those three coffees.
Sleep deprivation negatively impacts productivity and cognition, it's linked to depression and puts you at risk of developing severe medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. If you add to this the increased risk an unhealthy diet and/or the lack of hydration can bring to your general wellbeing, you might find yourself in a less-than-desirable situation.
As a little exercise, maybe stop to think for a second about what advice you would give to someone if they would be living your current lifestyle and see if there's anything that needs changing or adjusting.
Exercise is another highly important topic, but more on this matter in a different post since there's so much to say about it.
I'm not here to offer you professional advice on how much to eat, drink or sleep. I'm only here to remind you as I remind myself, as often as I can, that it's important to be nice to your body and give it what it needs so you can go ahead and do all the things you want to and accomplish all your goals.
For more info check the highlighted links below:
And to find out more about how important sleep is, check the NHS website.
I hope life is treating you well.