Lesson 11: Nutrition and Sleep

When studying to become a Laureate, you’ll want your brain to perform exceptionally well for as long as possible. The performance of your mind depends mostly on how well your body is functioning. The brain is part of the body, so you need to keep your body in an optimum condition if you want your mind to perform optimally. You don’t need to be a doctor or a nutritionist to understand this. Think about this: can you study properly if you


  • are starving?

  • ate so much that you can barely breathe properly?

  • are sleep-deprived?

  • slept so much that you have a headache when you wake up?


Hence, apart from physical exercise, two more factors affect how well your body is doing. These are nutrition and sleep.


Nutrition

Nutrition plays a vital role in your ability to study efficiently and so, by extension, plays a crucial role in your chances of becoming a Laureate.


To become a Laureate, you need to eat properly.

Your brainpower is not fixed. Your brain is just like a muscle – the more it gets the nutrients it needs, the better it gets. Conversely, if you don’t give your muscles the nutrients they need, they’ll become weak. The same thing happens with your brain. Apart from the obvious advice of eating healthy, balanced meals and avoiding junk foods, here are some tips on how to further fuel your brain correctly:


Have a good breakfast.

Breakfast is often referred to as the “most important meal of the day” and for good reasons. If you skip breakfast, you might feel a bit sluggish in the morning. You might find it hard to concentrate. This is because you have not given your brain the energy it requires to start the day.


Skipping breakfast is like trying to start a car with an empty tank.

Every minute counts on the road to becoming a Laureate. So, you can’t afford to let your brain underperform in the morning. Consequently, I recommend you eat a nutritious breakfast every day. It does not have to be super healthy. As long as you are enjoying it and it is giving you the nutrients you need, you’ll be ready to start your day nicely.


Drink lots of water.


In case you didn’t know it, our brain is made mostly of water. So, drinking water will help it in many ways. These include improving concentration, helping to regulate our mood and emotions, helping us to memorise better, increasing the flow of blood and oxygen to our brain and reducing stress.


Eat at consistent times during the day.


Energy is a limited resource in your body, and your digestive system uses up a lot of it. After you’ve just eaten, your body will need to allocate more energy to your digestive system. This means that your body will have less energy to send to your brain, which implies that you won’t be able to study as efficiently as you should. This is why our minds perform better when our stomach is reasonable empty – our body can allocate more energy to the brain. Note that an empty stomach does not mean you are starving. Starvation occurs when you haven’t eaten for a very long time. So, consuming your meals and snacks at regular times ensure that your body knows when it should spend more energy on the digestive system. Outside of those “eating” times, your body will know to send more energy upwards to your brain so that you can study better.


If you don’t eat at consistent times or if you eat all the time, your stomach will need to overwork, thereby demanding more energy.

Therefore, eat on a schedule to optimise the level of energy allocated to your brain.


Consume a good dose of “Brain Foods” daily (but not too much).


Some foods have particularly beneficial effects on the brain. Examples are fatty fish (containing a lot of omega 3), dark chocolate, berries, nuts, whole grains, avocados, eggs and broccoli. You don’t have to eat all of them. Consume only the ones you enjoyed (P.S. I hate broccoli and I threw up once just because I thought about it!).


Sleep

The importance of sleep to brain function is well-known. Unfortunately, I see many students depriving themselves of it. A proper night’s sleep improves cognitive function as it restores our energy and helps the brain recharge for the next day.


Sleeping is like charging your phone’s battery. Just like you can’t use your phone for long on a low battery, you can’t study for long without enough sleep.

It’s obvious, right? If you don’t sleep at night, you’ll feel tired and sleepy during the day, and so, you won’t be able to study properly. Remember that every second you devote to studying counts. Your brain needs to be in its best shape for each of those seconds that you spend studying.


Here are some tips regarding sleep:


Aim for 6-9 hours of sleep per night.


Sleep requirements vary from student to student, but as a rule of thumb, 6-9 hours is reasonable. This will ensure that you get enough sleep and feel refreshed the next morning.


Sleep and wake up at consistent times.


Your body has an internal clock which tells it when to feel sleepy and when to wake up. If you don’t maintain a consistent sleep-wake schedule, you’ll mess up your biological clock as your body will not know precisely when it needs to switch on and off. This will adversely affect the quality of your sleep, thereby reducing your ability to focus and memorise things. Thus, you should:


Go to sleep and wake up at the same time, even on weekends.

Switch off screens.


To put it in simple words: the lights coming from our screens makes it harder for us to fall asleep. So, it can be beneficial to stop looking at screens at least half an hour before going to bed.



To become a Laureate, you need all the extra boosts you can get when it comes to your brainpower. This lesson hopefully convinced you that nutrition and sleep are crucial to sustaining the optimal level of brainpower you need to maximise your chances of achieving your goal. Therefore, the Key Takeaway is


Eat well and sleep well.



Do you have any questions or comments? Post them below!

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