Exercise, sleep and study – you need to get the balance right

By Apr.30, 2018

Daley O’Neal is back with some more advice about living well for learning.

Last week I blogged about the relationship between exercise and staying well for your studies, something that is particularly important as we approach exams and assessment deadlines. Exercise and the resulting release of endorphins helps you to manage the feelings of stress and anxiety associated with the pressure of studying. The problem is that when you are studying hard you may not be getting enough sleep. The temptation to work into the night and get up early can lead to significantly reduced sleep levels. Drinking that extra energy drink, or your 5th cup of coffee only provides temporary relief from exhaustion.

Why is a lack of sleep a problem?

  1. If you are tired you may not exercise to your full potential, which means you won’t exert as much energy and therefore will burn a lower amount of calories and release fewer of those all important endorphins during your workout.
  2. If tiredness sets in, you are going to require more energy dense foods, which is going to affect your diet. Consuming more energy dense foods, in order to compensate for your lack of sleep, to help supply your body and your brain with the nutrients its needs, is going to effect the energy balance, which is vital to maintaining a healthy weight.
  3. A lack of sleep can also have a negative impact cognitively, especially relating to your ability to retain information. Obviously, this is vital during the exam period.
  4. Getting the right amount of sleep will help determine your energy levels throughout the following day, not only in relation to the effectiveness and efficiency of your workouts, but it also affects your ability to perform your day to day tasks effectively.
  5.  A lack of sleep (especially on a consistent basis) will subsequently effect ability to perform workouts to your maximum level, and effect the amount of calories you burn and endorphins you release within the session.

What can I do to help myself?

  • Make sure you are getting enough sleep. During the lead up to exams, getting your required amount of sleep (see NHS Guidelines) is vital to provide you with the platform to not only perform within an academic setting, but to look after own wellbeing in general.
  • If you are feeling tired entering the gym consistently, as a result of a lack of sleep – take a rest day. Ensure that your sleep patterns are right, and that you are getting the recommended amount which is 8 hours.
  • Avoid energy drinks and foods that are high in refined sugar such as chocolate. Opt for water and diluted juice and if you need a sugar hit go for fruit instead of chocolate.
  • Take regular breaks. A walk, an hour in the gym or going to your favourite exercise class will re-energise you and leave you feeling ready to tackle your studies again.
  • Get plenty of fresh air and day light. Your body and mind will thank you.

In summary, ensure to prioritise your own well-being through this exam period and beyond as we head into the summer, where many of you will either be having a well-earned break or continuing to work hard (especially those Jan and March starters!).

Keep these helpful tips in mind, and have the Live Well for Learning section of Skills for Learning bookmarked as your place to go for info about living well at the University of Salford!

Leave a comment