1) Drink plenty of water! Your brain--made up with 73% water--can can dehydrated, just like the rest of your body. Nighttime is when much of your water is lost, so replenish it.
2) Exercise. Exercising releases hormones and brain chemicals that make you feel good. As well, it makes more brain cells at a faster rate in the Hippocampus, which plays a strong role in memory and emotions. Most importantly, if you want to keep your brain functioning well in your later years--exercise!
3) Manage your stress. Everyday stress if fine and normal, as the hormone cortisol helps release metabolism so more energy can deal with your problem. The main problem is chronic stress, which makes this cortisol suppress the immune system, making you susceptible to all kinds of illnesses.
4) Enjoy the sun. The UV light from the sun makes vitamin D, which makes an important brain chemical called serotonin. Essentially it keeps you in a good mood. Get out in even cloudy days, as there's still plenty of UV in the sky.
5) Drink caffeine. Believe it or not, caffeine is correlated to a number of health benefits, including reducing some types of cancers, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, cardiovascular disease and stroke. Before you think this is a miracle drug, remember these are all correlational studies. Still, if you're drinking a few cups of java, you can now probably drink without having any feelings of guilt.
What does this mean for our students? I think that having access to a water bottle or drinking fountain is important. As well, DPA (daily physical activity), especially outside, will help with exercise, memory and being in a good mood. To help manage stress, each day should have a balance of more challenging work, easier work, some "play time," quiet time, and fun activities. Too much focus on simply academic work could lead to greater stress. Also, differentiating the activities will help those students who do feel stress, and allow for all to achieve success. As for caffeine, let's wait until they're much older to worry to get into that habit.
(Source: Sort Your Brain Out; Lewis and Webster; MediLexicon International Ltd, Bexhill-on-Sea, UK)
Daniel H. Lee
This blog will be dedicated to sharing in three areas: happenings in my classroom and school; analysis and distillation of other educators' wealth of knowledge in various texts; insights from other disciplines and areas of expertise that relate and connect with educational practices.