By Emily Chapman of HackCollege
Finals are approaching, and for many students that means hours of studying supported only by coffee and occasional sugar-filled study breaks. Not surprisingly, this wrecks your health, lowers your concentration and makes you a dead person by the end of finals. Here are a few ways to avoid that inevitable crash-and-burn cycle so you can finish up testing and head home for important winter break activities, like chugging eggnog until your arteries cry.
Get a flu shot - As soon as you can (preferably before you start taking your exams), get a flu shot if you haven't already. Your student health center probably provides them for free or cheap. You may normally have the immune system of a horse, but long periods of study punctuated by lack of sleep and bad food can reduce your immunity--and you don't want to be vomiting any more than you have to on your Computer Science final.
Eat a vegetable (or a multi vitamin) - It turns out college students are alarmingly malnourished as a rule. Even if you tend to avoid vegetables during your normal meals, try to squeeze in a few here and there. During cold months this is particularly easy if you have a few cups of soup now and then. If you hate vegetables, put together a smoothie or buy some V8 splash. If you want to focus on one vitamin, vitamin D is particularly useful in fending off the flu and rickets (and man, you do not want to take a final with rickets). Wou can get it from a variety of dietary sources, from a daily dose of sun exposure or from a supplement. As you know if you've studied biology in college, your body needs vitamins and it's not a good idea to ask it to perform at above-average levels if you're running low on them.
Sleep - If your school is anything like mine, students brag about how little they sleep during finals week. Staying up all night to cram for your final the next morning does not actually make you a badass--it makes you dumb. It's not difficult to schedule all of your final assignments and studying beforehand. If you do that, it's much easier to plan out at least six hours of sleep each night (preferably eight). If you don't sleep enough because you're studying, you won't retain the information you're cramming anyway.
Avoid booze - There's probably someone on your hall who's taking advantage of finals week to party because there are no classes and they had all their finals the first day. Feel free to dislike that person, and do not copy them. Though we at HackCollege condone appropriate (cheap!) drinking, this is not the time or the place. Alcohol dehydrates you, prevents you from getting restful sleep, and generally removes your ability to concentrate. It's your reward at the end of the finals tunnel--not your motivation to get there.
Caffeine slingshot - If you find yourself nodding off and don't have the time to sleep for a full cycle, try this to keep you going: drink a cup of coffee, go to sleep for 15 minutes, and get back up. Do, however, keep in mind that this is a quick fix and not a sustainable solution for any length of time. You should really be focusing on getting regular sleep when you need it.
If you keep these tips in mind, you should keep yourself from collapsing before your exams are over and can move on to what really matters: hacking winter break.
Commenters: Do you have any lifesaving pieces of finals advice that we missed? Let us know below.
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