Time management and self-care are the top two skills that all college students possess.
The life of a college student varies. However, there is one constant that I’ve noticed during my time spent enrolled as a full-time student: when the end of the semester approaches, self-care gets put on the back burner. With final projects and exams looming, it can be difficult to effectively juggle all of our school responsibilities along with jobs, and still make time to get sufficient sleep and eat sound meals.
Neglecting oneself in the face of a jam packed schedule is not an issue exclusive to college students. Busy people everywhere complain about a lack of energy, all the while skipping breakfast, eating foods devoid of nutrition, and failing to maintain a regular sleep schedule.
It’s impossible to get a decent amount of sleep during finals #finalsweek
— Matthew Ballard (@m_ballard4) May 3, 2014
I know first hand that when I skip breakfast, it is hard for me to focus and function at an optimum level. On days where I’m tired and neglect to eat a meal before heading out of the front door? It’s not pretty. However, a well-rested Lex who has eaten a nutritionally sound breakfast is bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready to conquer the day with a smile and spring in her step.
So what exactly is it that happens inside of our recharged bodies when we eat breakfast that provides us with energy to attack the day with vigor? I’m so glad you asked and even more excited to explain (I know, I’m a nerd). Let’s start with sleep. Sadly, our bodies require rest. Totally inconvenient, but also totally gratifying. While asleep, our body has the opportunity to repair tissues, replace dead cells, and store energy for us to use when we’re awake. There are various stages of sleep and the deeper the sleep, the better quality the quality of rest. Think of your body like an iPhone battery–the more time it spends charging, the more power it has.
In the same way that a fully charged phone will last all day without dying, a person who regularly gets a good night’s rest will remain energized through the day. On the other hand, not getting enough sleep has a negative effect on brain function, making it difficult to focus and causing mood swings. Lack of sleep can also weaken the immune system, making the body more susceptible to viruses and infection. In general, people who don’t get enough sleep tend to consistently feel run down and it’s because they don’t allow their bodies time to rest.
I’ve got the cranks – crappy dinner last night, lost my stapler, left home too late to have breakfast, no coffee yet. — I am Patty (@PeitaTweets) May 1, 2014
If sleep is king, breakfast is queen bee. The word “breakfast” literally means to break the fast. After sleeping for seven or eight hours (“fasting”), our bodies are hungry!
The human body literally uses food as a source of energy, breaking it down, taking and using what it needs, and disposing of waste. So, not only is it important to eat breakfast, it’s important to eat a nutritionally sound breakfast so that our bodies can make the most of what we eat.
A well rounded breakfast includes complex carbs, protein, and bit of “good” fat. From the time that we begin chewing, our bodies are already breaking down the food and preparing it for digestion. In the mouth, saliva helps to start digesting carbs. Food moves through the digestive tract to the stomach where it’s mixed with digestive enzymes and churned into liquid, then passed into the small intestine. It’s in the small intestine where most of the nutrients from carbs, protein and fat are digested and processed into fuel that our bodies use to function.
How exactly do our bodies use food to create energy for us to function? That explanation is far more intricate than the material covered in an intro to anatomy class. But, to summarize, within a cell the mitochondria create ATP–adenosine triphosphate. When ATP is converted to ADP–adenosine diphosphate–energy is created.
Want a more thorough explanation that’s much more interesting and fun to watch? Great. Here’s a video for that.
The science behind how our bodies produce energy is intricate, but the overall concept is very easy to grasp. Stay rested, eat breakfast, and prosper.
Mader’s Understanding Human Anatomy & Physiology