By M.F. and N.H., two fourth-year nursing students who wish to remain anonymous

As future health professionals, one of our roles is to promote health within the population, as well as prevent illness and injury. But as uOttawa students, we also can relate to the experiences of university life. After completing a very busy four years of education and following a super hectic schedule, we thoroughly understand the challenge of balancing student responsibilities and a personal life. This has led us to be more aware of the good and bad habits that many students develop during their studies. With this in mind, here are five bad study habits to avoid, according to our experiences and general knowledge.

1. Cramming during an all-nighter

When midterms and exams roll around, lack of time seems to be a common theme. During the term, student responsibilities, tasks and social activities often take priority, which leaves some students with just a few hours to study before an exam. These condensed hours can lead students to pull all-nighters which, over time, can have a negative effect on their sleep patterns. Students need rest before an exam because sleep helps the brain process and retain information learned during the day. During sleep, this information gets classified and stored, which becomes very important when a student really needs to recall details. Long study sessions without sleep are counterproductive because the brain can only retain the general aspects of the information. On the other hand, several small study sessions allow students to retain more details about the subject being studied.

2. Consuming energy drinks

Students tend to consume energy drinks to stimulate their brain, increase energy and improve concentration, but continuous stimulation of the brain in such a way increases the risk of dependence. Moreover, energy drinks contain many harmful chemicals that can harm students’ health, and can lead to increased anxiety, insomnia, headaches and even cardiac arrest.

3. Surviving on junk food

You are what you eat, but lack of time, poor motivation or lack of knowledge can lead to poor eating habits. Fast food contains many empty calories and high levels of fat, sugar and salt. The body needs good sources of energy to support its daily function. An individual who does not consume the right nutrients will tire more quickly, which will directly affect their ability to concentrate and study effectively.

4. Underestimating distractions

Most students underestimate how much their immediate surroundings affect their ability to study. Distractions have a negative influence on study time and quality of learning. It is important to eliminate all forms of distraction, including mobile devices, television and computers, when trying to focus on studying. Students should make every effort to study in a quiet environment that minimizes distractions.

5. Managing time poorly

Time management is an essential skill for any university student, hence the importance of creating a weekly schedule to balance time devoted to study, rest, physical activities, social and family events, etc. Some students use a table or agenda to structure their time over the week. Good time management reduces stress, which can promote better learning during the term.

This article was first published on the Health Service’s web site.