I think we all could agree a little more slumber in our lives would be a dream come true, pun intended. Sleep is grossly underrated. In the world of health we have an affinity to talk about exercise, work environment, and food at length but for some reason sleep is an often overlooked topic. Sleep should be as common a touching point as all of these other topics. We spend, or at least we should be spending 7 hours or more every single day sleeping. Anything else in our lives that consumes 7 hours of our day would be heavily
Every year, university and college students assemble the checklist of items that they need to take advantage of the opportunities and experiences that higher education offers. New textbooks? Check. New laptop? Got it. But it takes more than supplies to ensure you have a successful year in school, both academically and socially. And the university/college environment can present health challenges, both physical and mental, even if you’re young and active. We’ve reviewed the science for the top daily habits as well as the vitamins and nutrients best suited to supplement the brain and overall health of students. For anyone heading off to a post-secondary program this fall, think of this as your healthy habits ‘cheat sheet’.
Healthy Brain Hacks
Your brain is under a lot of pressure to perform every day, always taking on new information, processing thought and, when studying for exams, exercising memory. Making sure you get enough exercise, which has neuroprotective effects, and maintaining a healthy diet are important because, let’s face it, no one’s brain can thrive on a diet of instant noodles. In addition, there are some botanicals that science has confirmed can assist with maintaining your smarts.
The herb Bacopa monnieri has traditionally been used in Ayurveda for improving cognitive functions such as those needed for math and memory skills, for decreasing angst and for reducing mental fatigue. Clinical studies have confirmed that this brainy botanical improves the processing of visual information to help increase the rate of learning. It also lowers the rate of forgetfulness and enhances the ability to consolidate new information. All of this research points to Bacopa as an effective botanical for students looking to start school smart (and stay that way).
Stress Busters and Energy Boosters
School is a time of excitement and optimism. But, according to a study by Harvard Medical School, it’s also a time that leaves students at increased risk of stressful events and a range of accompanying mental health challenges. There are natural ingredients that can help your body to cope with these stresses, however.
Adaptogens are substances that activate whole-body defences and help prevent burnout and fatigue and boost energy stores. They reduce the impact of stress on the body, in part by targeting the adrenals. Ortho Adapt™, the best-selling, premium anti-stress formula, is an example of a multi-ingredient stress and energy formula, which also has a vegan option.
Vitamin B12 (aka cobalamin) deficiencies can be caused by poor diet, impaired microbiota, or malabsorption. If you’re eating too much takeout and not getting enough nutrients, especially animal products such as meat and eggs, you may not be getting enough vitamin B12. Even a mild deficiency can lead to exhaustion and other issues. If you’re vegan, a smoker, have Crohn’s or Celiac, or have specific genetic make-up, you may be more at risk. Methylcobalamin, Hydroxocobalamin and Adenosylcobalamin are three distinct cobalamin factors, each with their own unique benefits. Why not take them all together in one convenient lozenge?
Yes, we are talking about the bright orange herb that people cook with! Studies are showing that pure saffron extract is a neurotransmitter booster that supports healthy mood balance, helps manage stress, and relieves anxiety and even symptoms of depression. Scientists believe that the way it works is similar to certain prescription anti-depressants (but without side effects). You won’t get the same results from the saffron at the grocery store, however, so check out this standardized pure extract.
Yes, You Do Need to Sleep
With busy social and academic schedules, many students burn the candle at both ends, usually with the help of caffeinated sugary beverages. We know that lack of sleep is seriously detrimental to health no matter what your age. It’s particularly bad for young university students because, believe it or not, your brain isn’t finished developing. Certain natural ingredients can help prevent insomnia and restore restful sleep patterns after a long cramming session. GABA, the neurotransmitter produced naturally in the brain can help increase relaxation and reduce stress. 5-HTP is a serotonin precursor (the “happiness hormone”) which can help reduce feelings of worry. Other natural nutrients and herbs that can help kick-start your sleep cycle include melatonin, valerian root, passionflower extract and lemon balm. A comprehensive sleep formula like Ortho Sleep™ can help you to fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up feeling refreshed. And try disconnecting from your phone for a while before bed, it will help.
This fall, try adding a few of these herbs and nutrients to your Back to School list. You may just feel more energized, healthy, rested and happy. And maybe your mom won’t worry about you … quite so much.