Ideal Daily Routine for Students

Hey  Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

For many students, back to school season is a great opportunity to form healthier and more productive habits.

Here are just a few tips to help you have a more productive day: (Of course, most of these tips can be helpful to anyone whether or not you are a student)

Breakfast is Key

I know that this is nothing new and you have all probably heard this tip many times before. We all know the importance of breakfast but in my experience with those around me, many students go to class with either an empty stomach or they just have some toast.

Breakfast really is very important because if you think about, assuming you haven’t eaten anything since last night, you are truly breaking your fast in the morning. Scientific research shows that people who skipped breakfast were less productive.

The ideal breakfast will contain both protein and carbohydrates. Good sources of protein include eggs, cottage cheese and nuts. Whole grains and fruits are a great source of carbohydrates.

Exercise:

Of course, we all know the benefits of exercise however, most of us exercise after class. I know that most of us can barely get out of bed in the morning before class. However, research shows that 15 minutes of exercise can actually help the student retain more knowledge for five to six hours. This is why experts recommend doing a physical activity such as walking, jogging, climbing the stairs, etc. before going to class.

Hydration:

Hydration is something that is emphasized during the summer time. However, it is important for our health and well-being to stay hydrated throughout the year. The results of a recent study showed that dehydration negatively impacts our cognition and performance. People who are dehydrated don’t do as well and they don’t think as well.

Drinking water is only one of the things that we should be doing to stay hydrated. Current research emphasizes eating our way to hydration by eating fruits and veggies with a high water content. In order to stay properly hydrated its best to avoid excessive caffeine and although sports drinks can be hydrating they should be consumed in moderation.

Before the Test:

If you have a sweet tooth you might enjoy this tip. Researchers recommend that students have a small square of chocolate preferably dark chocolate, Research has shown that the caffeine in the chocolate can help students focus better on the test. It sounds too good to be true but there is even some data that shows that students that ate the chocolate had slightly higher test scores.

Relax a Little:

Taking some downtime to relax is very important. I know that it sounds counterintuitive but take some time each day to do something that you love or just anything that you enjoy. Taking a 20 minute break will help you remember better and the knowledge will really sink in.

I hope that you enjoyed these tips and please remember that most of these tips can be applied to anybody’s life.

With Love,

Yasmin

Six Tips for Better Sleep

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

In my experience, one unhealthy habit that people like to boast about is their lack of sleep, or their ability to get by with very little sleep.

Perhaps this is most common amongst university students who like to “pull all-nighters” in order to study for exams or complete projects and assignments. And its not just students that are getting less sleep.

A report by Gallup showed that Americans are sleeping one hour less per night than they did in the 1950’s.

The average adult human needs between seven to nine hours of sleep each night to survive and thrive. In her book The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time Ariana Huffington argues that sleep is not a luxury rather it is a necessity.

She cites scientific evidence of how sleep is a time for intense neurological activity in which the brain renews and repairs itself.

A lack of sleep is linked with severe health problems such as diabetes, heart attack, stroke, cancer, obesity, and Alzheimers disease.

According to sleep expert Daniel Gartenberg, humans need sleep to save energy, to help their cells recover, and to help them process and understand their envirnment. Since sleep is so vital to our overall health and well-being, here are a few tips to help you get a better night of sleep.

Ban Screens Before Bedtime:

The very first tip is the one that I struggle with the most and that is to stop using my phone or laptop before bed. It turns out that I am not alone because a 2015 survey showed that 71 percent of Americans sleep with or next to their smartphones. The problem with this habit is that our electronic devices (such as phones and laptops) emitt blue light which can keep us awake at night.

As you know, melatonin is a brain hormone that helps us fall asleep but blue light suppresses our melatonin levels. The effects of blue light do not immediately go away once you stop using your device. It is best to stop using your electronic devices up to an hour or so before bedtime.

If you’re like me and you’re often tempted to check your phone before bedtime, my suggestion would be to completely remove your phone (and other electronic devices) from your bedroom before you go to sleep.

Sleep Consistency:

If possible, try to wake up and go to sleep during the same time each and every day including weekends. This way, your body establishes a routine and its easier to fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning. It might be tempting to skim on sleep during the week and then sleep in during the weekends. While the extra few hours of sleep during the weekend may feel good, research has shown that you cannot make up sleep debt because its hard to make up for the REM (Rapid Eye Movement)sleep that you have missed. Also, REM sleep is a vital stage of sleep due to its restorative properties.

Take A Nap:

The reality is that in this day and age it is difficult to get an adequate amount of sleep each and every night. Taking a quick 30 minute nap during the day can help you feel rejuevenated. Even if you do get enough sleep at night, a nap can help you reenergize your brain. Its best to take your nap anytime before 3 pm so that you don’t confuse your circadian rythm and you don’t disrupt your nightime sleep.

Bonus tip: If you are someone who drinks coffee, consider drinking a cup before your nap and the caffeine will work as a natural alarm clock because it will kick-in, in 30 minutes and wake you up from your nap.

Temperature:

The room temperature can definitely impact the quantity and quality of our sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 65 degrees as the ideal room temperature for sleep. They also argue that anything above 75 degrees our below 54 degrees can disrupt our sleep. Of course, this is just a general estimate and the climate that we are from also influences our temperature preferences.

Food:

Personally, I often feel sleepy after I eat pasta and I know that a lot of people feel sleepy after eating Turkey.

However, when it comes to food and sleep its more about what kind of foods you should avoid rather than what foods to eat. Although different foods may work for different people, they ‘re aren’t many foods that experts believe can really help us fall asleep.

However, there are foods that should be avoided before bedtime:

Foods High in Sugar: If you consume a lot of sugar before bed, your blood sugar levels will become very high and your body has to release hormones to decrease your blood sugar and this process may temporarily disturb your sleep.

Caffeine: We all have a different caffeine sensitivity but a 2013 study showed that people who drank coffee 6 hours before bed lost about an hour of sleep at night. So, its best to stop drinking caffeine way before bedtime.

Late Dinners: Since it can take between two to three hours for our body to digest a meal, it is best to avoid eating a large meal right before bed. This is especially true for those who suffer from acid reflux disease.

Spicy Foods: For some people, spicy foods can cause bloating and heartburn.

High Fat Foods: Its best to avoid high fat foods as much as possible because research has linked high fat foods with excessive sleepiness during the daytime.

Alcohol: At first, alcohol can help you fall asleep faster but it can disrupt the quality of your sleep.

Exercise:

We all know how beneficial exercise is for our overall health and well-being. Now, research has shown that regular exercise can improve the quantity and quality of our sleep. One study from Oregon State University found that 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week can act as a great non-pharmaceutical way of improving our sleep. The only caveat is that it takes time to reap the sleep benefits of exercise. A study from Northwestern University showed that exercise added 45 minutes of extra sleep but it took four months to see results.

Overall, sleep is something that most of us love and all of us need. I really hope that you find some of these tips helpful in getting better sleep!

With Love,

Yasmin

Top 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before College

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

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Now that I’ve graduated from college there are definitely a few things that I wish I knew before I entered college and along the way there were definitely a few things that I have learned about the college experience and I would like to share these with you.

Apply Everywhere

If you are a high school student and you know for sure that you want to go straight to a four-year university then I would really suggest that you try to apply to as many universities as you can. Many of the public universities offer high school students a free application.

It is really important to have an open mind and don’t set your heart on just one particular college because this can potentially set you up for disappointment.

On the other hand, don’t be afraid to apply to a college that you think you would never get into because nowadays college admissions are becoming much more holistic meaning that they look at you as a whole person and not just based on your grades.

Community College

I personally started off at a community college and then I transferred to a four-year university. Here in the United States community colleges are local two-year higher education institutions where students can study and take classes that are of equivalent value to the classes that are offered in the first two years of a larger university.

Community colleges are a great budget friendly option because they are significantly cheaper than four-year universities. Community college is also great option for those that could not or chose not to take the SAT/ACT or those that just performed poorly on those tests.

Community college students are held by the same standards of excellence as university students.

Consider your Financial Aid Options

I was very fortunate to graduate university without any student loans and it was all thanks to the generous financial aid package that I received. It is completely up to you whether you choose to attend a public or private university however, in my experience public universities have much more generous financial aid packages.

In most cases you have to apply for financial aid from the government before you even start attending the university so make sure to look at the deadlines and apply as soon as possible.

If you’re in the U.S. each state has its own deadline for applying for state financial aid so make sure that you look that up as well. Here is a great resource for you to check out your own state’s deadlines State benefits are often even more generous so make sure you apply for both federal (FAFSA) and state financial aid.

If you have to take out a student loan I would definitely recommend Federal Loans because they are provided by the government and they charge lower interest rates than private loans and the monthly amount that you pay back after you graduate is based on how much money you actually make.

If you are interested in private companies one possible option is Earnest which offers great rates on personal loans, and helps you save money by using their platform for student loan refinancing. Earnest’s mission is to offer lower interest rates than traditional banks on personal loans and save you time and money when paying your student loans.

Meet with an academic counselor:

As a college student, you will likely put a good amount of effort into each class that you take and the last thing you want to happen is to find out that a class that you took and studied for will not count towards your degree! To avoid this problem and many other similar problems, you should really meet with an academic counselor.

Academic counselors are a free resource that are there to help you choose the correct classes and they can help answer a wide range of questions that you might have. In many cases they can create an academic plan specifically designed for you.

Take Advantage of Free Resources

Aside from academic counselors’ colleges and universities offer a wide range of other completely free resources for their students. Some of these free resources may include tutoring centers, math center, writing center, multicultural center, psychological counseling, financial aid office, student support services and a career center.

The important thing to remember is that there are a lot of people willing to help you during your time at university but they are not going to come ask you if you need help you need to go to them and they will help you with the rest.

Check out the Library

One free resource that all universities have is the library. The library is a great place to sit back and study and/or complete your assignments. The quiet atmosphere of the library truly makes it an ideal place for students. Most libraries have computers where you can get work done and for a nominal fee you can print papers. Many libraries have a course reserve where professors often place a copy of their course’s required textbook.

Attend Class:

I know that this is definitely a no-brainer but during my time in college I was surprised at how many people would simply skip class. First of all, I feel like not attending class, without a good reason is like throwing away the money that you spent on tuition. Also, just attending class and being present can really make the difference in helping you earn the grade that you deserve.

Additional tip: Attend office hours. The idea of meeting one to one with a professor may seem daunting but remember that professors are human beings and most of them actually want to help you succeed. One of my professors always encouraged us to meet her in office hours and she said that perhaps she can explain a topic differently than she would in class and this can help you better understand the topic.

Work Hard but don’t sweat about your grade:

Personally, whenever I took a more challenging course I would always worry that I would fail the course. However, the reality is that with hard work any college course can be passed. The only thing that you should do is to work hard and do your part as the student. Professors are often more lenient  than they may appear. At the end of the course they may give everyone a slight bump. Many courses are graded on the curve and usually this helps the hard-working students.

Be Social:

College is not just for academics but it is also a time to make friends and expand your network. My personal advice is to really take advantage of the first few weeks. During this time, everyone tends to be more social and it’s a great time to meet new people.

Many universities have hundreds of student clubs and organizations. Try to join at least one club and this can be a great opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and potentially make life-long friends.

Take a nap:

Ideally, everyone including college students, should get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. However, I know that as a college student this can be difficult number to achieve. As students, we have too many things on our plate and in order to fulfill all of our responsibilities sleep is often sacrificed. However, if you’re feeling tired during the day it is highly recommended that you take a 30-minute nap. A nap can rejuvenate your body and recharge your brain.

These were just a few tips and things that I personally wish that I knew during my time in college and I hope that it will be helpful to you!

Also, feel free to share some of your own tips for college success in the comments below or feel free to Tweet me @YasminRaoufi

With Love,

Yasmin