Postgrad Student Energy Solutions That AREN'T Coffee!

Faced with yet another all-nighter to reach a deadline that has creeped up on you out of nowhere, your instinct may to be to reach to the nearest mug and whatever basics brand of coffee your budget has afforded you this month. However, coffee is not always the best way to keep yourself awake for a long study session.

Some of us can recover almost immediately from too much caffeine, but for others overuse of the cafetiere can mean sleeplessness, insomnia and restlessness which will make the vital sleep you need to recover from a caffeine binge far less effective, leading to a wide range of health problems.

Luckily, there’s a whole range of ways to increase energy without endless espressos, and definitely without resorting to coffee’s evil relative, caffeine tablets. Most of these are eating or drinking-based, but before you head to the fridge consider the work environment you are in. Think about what you do when you want to go to sleep, and then do the opposite. Ensuring that your room is brightly lit, you are sitting up straight and far away from places that you associate with sleep can often be enough to get you through working those extra hours. Stop working in your bedroom under a tiny desk lamp and try working in the kitchen or dining room with the lights on a comfortable but definitely firm chair and you will be amazed at the difference already.

If you still find yourself head lolling on the table drifting in and out of consciousness, it is still not the time to reach for the Gold Blend. A little snack, a drink and some gum may be all you need. Avoid foods with processed carbohydrates like the plague (any energy they give you will be quickly cancelled out by an energy crash) and eat something with whole grains or some fruit, which will slowly release its energy throughout the long hours ahead of you.

As for drinking, something as simple as drinking water can give you an energy boost by rehydrating your body and allowing you to focus better on the task at hand. Green tea is also a crucial friend to the all-nighter-puller. As well as containing enough caffeine to create an energy boost without drastically reducing your ability to sleep, it also contains plenty of anti-oxidants that experiments have shown time and time again are basically microscopic superheroes.

Finally, we have chewing gum. It might seem unlikely, but the humble piece of gum can really make you feel more alert, as the chewing increases blood flow to the brain and stimulates the autonomic nervous system (which can boost alertness). This is especially true of mint gum, which further stimulates the nerves giving an even more pronounced spike in energy levels. Although these can be considered fairly instant energy solutions, the problems they are trying to solve may run far deeper than just one all-nighter. The typical student’s life of drinking heavily, eating bad food and watching Netflix until the early morning is probably the worst lifestyle of all for energy generation, perhaps explaining why we have a reputation for laziness. Even small changes like cooking for yourself , eating better , drinking more water or taking an hour’s screen break before bed can significantly increase your energy levels for times like this, as well as making you generally healthier. A good coffee is a great thing indeed, and should be enjoyed rather than desperately chugged down at 3am, so if nothing else swapping it out of your revision regimes will make the well done coffee you have after you’ve finished your work and had a good night’s sleep seem all the sweeter.

Useful Links Student wellbeing
Earn your masters degree in your sleep
Grown-up student lunches: the Bento Box
5 ways for postgrads to relax
Postgrad Study: The Final Stretch

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