Tired Student

Photo courtesy of hackNY.org under Creative Commons. License.

  • Stressed out about your exams?
  • Do you struggle to stay focused or have problems recalling information?
  • Feeling exhausted, always looking for a quick energy fix?

As a parent are you:

  • Wondering what is best to feed them on exam days
  • Concerned your child is stressed, anxious and not sleeping?
  • Asking yourself how can I best support them right now?




Do these meals sound familiar to you or your children?

Breakfast: coffee and a bagel, or a muffin, or a bowl of muesli, Just Right, or Weet-bix, or may be Up and Go as you walk out the door? – Or worst, still nothing at all?

Morning snack: coffee, a muffin or cookies or chocolate

Lunch: a subway sandwich, or bag of chips, cookies or a soda

Afternoon snack: some sort of energy drink, chocolate or chips

Dinner: Pasta with pesto or tomato sauce

Late snack: chocolate and a cup of tea or if you’re studying into the night a few energy drinks to keep you going?

Choosing red bull, coke, coffee, no doze, and other stimulants to burn the midnight oil drains your brain and energy, suppresses your immune system and jacks up your central nerves system leaving you feeling tired but wired, anxious and stressed out. Not a recipe for top grades.

Research shows that continued release of cortisol (the body’s stress hormone) produced by the body to manage periods of stress and the intake of “stress foods” inhibits short-term memory recall, depletes energy levels and diminishes focus and concentration. All pretty important when it comes to exam time, wouldn’t you say?

The good news is that there are specific brain foods that boost your concentration, specific relaxation technics that calm your mind and relax the body and specific neuro-exercises that boost your focus and results.

And knowing exactly which foods are robbing you of your energy, focus, confidence and results could be the difference between a B grade and an A grade.

So here are some simple tips that can significantly boost your concentration and memory recall:

1) Stay Hydrated

How much water you should drink is dependent on your weight, simply multiply 0.033 by your body weight in kg and you have how many litres of water you need per day. Water is important since dehydration can cause a drop in blood pressure and blood sugar levels leading to a loss of focus, concentration and information recall.Take lots of water with you to sip during your exam.

2) Take ‘Study Naps’

A 2011 study showed that taking a nap (15-20 minutes) immediately following the learning or memorizing of new information helps the brain to consolidate memories according to their relative importance and the learner’s expectations for remembering.

3) Eat Breakfast

Studies have found that eating breakfast improves short-term memory and attention. Students who eat breakfast tend to perform significantly better than those who don’t. Of course the choice of breakfast is paramount! When you’re feeling stressed and anxious on the morning of an exam, eating breakfast can be the last thing you feel like doing. On mornings like these, a brain boosting smoothie is a great option, light and easy to consume, packed with essential amino acids to boost brain function, balanced with omega 3 and 6 to help regulate your blood sugars and filled with low GI carbohydrates for sustainable energy. I’ve  included a recipe for a brain boosting smoothie below. This simple and delicious breakfast below is just one example of many that can help your child reduce the stress, fatigue and loss of focus associated with missing breakfast.

Foods to avoid and stay AWAY from ~ these do you no favours any time and especially before and during exams or while you’re studying and wanting to click your brain into action.

  • Breakfast cereals
  • Coffee
  • Minties/ mentos / lollies /candy in general
  • Twisties/ chips / crisps / Doritos etc
  • Tim Tams and other cookies
  • Muffins, donuts and other confectionary
  • Chocolate – unless it’s dark and good quality
  • White bread, processed grains
  • Margarine and processed spreads
  • Energy drinks and sodas – you know the ones!
  • Flavored milk
  • Low fat options
  • 2 min noodles
  • Fruit juices

4) Study With Fresh Air

Bernell Baldwin’s research shows fresh air is chemically different than the recirculated indoor air that most people in urban environments breathe. High quality fresh air is actually electrified. The life-giving oxygen molecule is negatively charged or “negatively ionized.” This negatively charged oxygen gives rise to a number of benefits such as helping to keep our mood buoyant and positive. Indoor pollutants from recycled air conditioning systems to pollutants from cleaning materials, paints, carpets, synthetic material and fluorescent lights are shown to bring an abundance of unwanted positive ions with them. These positive ions seem to alter the brain’s levels of serotonin, an important mood-elevating chemical. Boost your studying by finding a quiet environment outside in your local park or by some water and breathe in the benefits of fresh air that has an abundance of negative ions. This can significantly improve your mood, mental focus and ability to manage exam related stressors.

5) Avoid Sugar

Probably one of the most significant things you can do and feel instant results from is significantly reducing or (better still) eliminating your sugar intake. Research indicates that a diet high in added sugar reduces the production of a brain chemical known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Without BDNF, our brains can’t form new memories and we can’t learn (or remember) much of anything. Not the best news come exam time. Reduced BDNF levels lead to depression and dulls the brain’s mechanism for telling you to stop eating. The evidence is vast and compelling, eliminate your intake of added sugars in your diet and not only will you improve your brain function, memory recall and better manage your anxiety you will also be avoiding other debilitating diseases like, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, dementia, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer, to name a few that are linked to the effects of an over consumption of sugar.

Brain Booster Smoothie

[dt_cell width=”1/2″]Ingredients:

  • The water and flesh of 1Thai drinking fresh coconut
  • 1 cup of mixed berries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 raw organic egg
  • 1 tbsp. soaked chia seeds
  • 1 tsp. of coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. of cinnamon
  • A few drops of pure vanilla extract or vanilla powder

[/dt_cell][dt_cell width=”1/2″]

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth. For a chilled effect, blend a couple of ice cubes through it. [/dt_cell]

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