Don’t Get Too Tired (part 2)

In our previous post we considered how it is particularly important when studying for your EPPP to not allow yourself to get too tired. In this post we will continue to give practical suggestions to help you avoid becoming too tired.

Drink lots of water, preferably cold water. When you consume cold water, your body has to work to warm that water up to the temperature of the rest of the liquid in your body. To do this the body expends energy which, in turn, speeds up the metabolism, thus helping the person to be more energetic. Cold water is always better than energy drinks, which do more damage to your body than good. If you need to have caffeine, tea or coffee are the best beverages, but these should be drunk in addition to cold water and not instead of it.

But of course, the best way to ensure that you do not become too tired is to get plenty of sleep. Elsewhere we have shared about the benefits of sleep. (See EPPP Study Video – Sleep). Sleep is central to processing information. In particular, sleep is crucial in helping the brain move information from the short-term memory in the frontal cortex to the long-term memory in the hippocampus at the back of the brain.

Often when a person feels like they need a boost of caffeine, what they really need is a brief nap. This is especially true if it’s after 3:00 pm, when the body is designed to have a nap. As developmental molecular biologist and research consultant Dr. John Medina has observed,

Napping is normal. Ever feel tired in the afternoon? That’s because your brain really wants to take a nap. There’s a battle raging in your head between two armies. Each army is made of legions of brain cells and biochemicals –- one desperately trying to keep you awake, the other desperately trying to force you to sleep. Around 3 p.m., 12 hours after the midpoint of your sleep, all your brain wants to do is nap.

Taking a nap might make you more productive. In one study, a 26-minute nap improved NASA pilots’ performance by 34 percent.

Regular naps also help students who are studying online to avoid the type of techno-brain burnout that was mentioned at the end of our previous post. Researchers at Harvard University induced techno-brain burnout in test subjects and then found that a twenty to thirty-minute nap refreshed them and allowed increased accuracy in their work. Optimum refreshment and reinvigoration occurred for those whose naps lasted sixty minutes or more. (See ‘The restorative effect of naps on perceptual deterioration’.)

Given the importance of sleep, it goes without saying that you should avoid staying up late playing computer games, surfing the web or interacting with people over the internet.

If you have trouble sleeping, it could be because you are not having enough exercise during the day. Or it could be because you are having too many energy drinks during the day.

When you are having trouble sleeping, do an activity that will freshen your mind and promote well-being, such as doing something creative, meditating or doing yoga. (See ‘How to relieve stress and anxiety while studying for the EPPP.’) Do not go online (either with a computer or a phone) if you are having trouble sleeping, since this can keep your body tense and make it even harder to get back to sleep.

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