Sleeping And Eating For Optimal Performance

“I love meat, I love them fried. Most especially when it’s a whole chicken and the laps are readily available. I don’t mind gizzards too, sliced and diced with lots of onions. Then, I finish it up with a cold bottle of juice and hug my pillow to my chest, I can be sure of a great night’s rest!” – I could remember the various expressions of shock I got when I told my friends my long-time wish. 

It kept me musing to myself if my love for food and sleep was abnormal. Dear reader, is it?

Studies have shown that short sleepers (< 7 hours of sleep) had a lower intake of food rich in fats, protein and fibre compared to their counterparts. As medical students, our sense of responsibility and fear of failure entails that we train ourselves to become short-sleepers. Then, does it mean my long-time wish will never come to pass? 

What are the things we need to take note of to ensure that our sleeping and eating are balanced and we turn out optimal performances in all we do?

1. Your food quality affects your sleep.

Since eating till you’re unable to get up is not advisable, medical students must learn to eat a well-balanced diet. 

To ensure maximal sleep quality, the amount of noodles, confectionery and intake of energy drinks must be reduced and instead, preference should be given to rice, vegetables, fish, moderate amount of meat and water. 

Eating patterns should also be monitored and poor habits such as skipping breakfast, stabbing lunch and ignoring dinner which causes a state of poor sleep quality should be avoided as much as possible.

2. Take naps regularly

Amidst your busy schedules, as a medical student and doctor-to-be, learn to take short naps at intervals. Don’t wait till you’re deadbeat and tired before scrambling to get to your bed. This is because sleep deprivation tends to increase the need for calories in the body and as a resort, many people turn to chocolates, biscuits and pet drinks which disrupts the balance of the body’s need for proper nutrition.

Sleep is an essential need for the body to maintain optimal performance so must not be overlooked.

3. Sleeping and eating well can improve concentration and productivity.

You may be a preclinical student who keeps struggling with Anatomy or a student in his Clinicals struggling with your postings. All you might need at this point could be a little treat to some well-cooked meals and a few hours of sleep.

This is because concentration, cognitive functions, executive functions and productivity can either be improved or hampered by the adequacy of sleep and food or their deprivation.

Research carried out in 2020 to draw a line between sleep deprivation and working memory proves that sleep deprivation may affect working memory by altering the functional connectivity between various brain network connections. And a short reminder that sleep deprivation as stated earlier could easily be caused by poor eating patterns.

This means that your distinctions in the College of Medicine are right on your plate and your bed. Let no one tell you otherwise.

Akinjobi Oluwagbemisola

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