Supercharge Your Exam Period – Cognition Boosting Essentials For Your Best Results
Sleep, study, stress, repeat.
Sound familiar to you?
Thousands of teens and adults are coming up to end of year exams at high school or university and the pressure is on.
This time of year can be intensely stressful and tiring for those individuals hoping to blitz their exams, but don’t give up hope just yet…
The right support can leave you feeling refreshed, focused and calm as you prepare for your upcoming exam period.
Improving Memory and Focus
Certain herbal combinations can help to improve memory recall support mental performance, particularly during times of stress.
Bacopa (brahmi) is an Ayurvedic herb traditionally used to soothe the nervous system and enhance learning, memory recall and general cognition.
Scientific research confirms the benefits of Bacopa, as supplementation has been found to significantly improve the speed of visual information processing, learning rate and memory consolidation, compared to a placebo, with the greatest benefits evident after 12 weeks.
Bacopa is often used in combination with green tea extracts. Green tea is a source of L-theanine, an amino acid used to enhance concentration, focus and mental performance by increasing alpha brain wave frequency.
Nutritionally, you can’t go past the benefits of omega 3 essential fatty acids. Fish oil is a rich source of omega 3s and supplementation has been found to improve reaction time in attention tasks and support healthy mood.
Deficiencies in omega 3 DHA and EPA fats are common in conditions of attention deficit and cognitive impairment and supplementation may be most beneficial in these circumstances.
N-Acetyl-Carnitine (NAC) is a less well known nutrient which has been shown to be beneficial in supporting concentration and healthy cognitive function. NAC is used by cells to produce energy, helping to alleviate mental and physical fatigue while also protecting brain cells from oxidative damage.
Calming Your Nerves – Adrenal Support
Coming up to exams, stress can feel overwhelming but you don’t need to let it get on top of you.
Your adrenal glands are responsible for pumping out the stress hormones that keep your body functioning during times of increased physical or mental demand. The problem is, when stressful periods are prolonged the adrenals start to fatigue and we start to become tired and run down.
It’s no wonder so many students get sick or experience extreme fatigued following exams!
Keep your energy reserves strong and avoid ‘running on empty’ during exams by support your adrenal health with tonic and adaptogenic herbs such as Withania, Rhodiola, Rehmannia, Siberean Ginseng and Licorice.
These herbs will also help to keep your nervous system functioning in a balanced way, to avoid low moods and a loss of motivation as well as hyperactivity states like anxiety and feeling too wired to properly concentrate or sleep.
For people feeling ‘wired and tired’ we recommend trying the Rehmannia Complex for Nervous Exhaustion. This is a balancing and restoring formula to help relieve nervous exhaustion and anxiety.
Herbal and Nutritional Support for Adrenal Health can be used to support people experiencing physical and mental fatigue due to ongoing stress, particularly when low mood or mild depression is also evident.
A potent magnesium formula is also essential for calming frazzled nerves. Our favourite formulas are the Magnesium Alkalising Combination for Stress or UltraMuscleze Night for students having trouble sleeping.
Boosting Your Energy Levels
High stress levels cause rapid depletion of important vitamins and minerals as your cells and adrenal glands chew through fuel for mental and physical energy.
Supplementing with a high-quality multivitamin and mineral supplement is a no-brainer for surviving your exam period.
We recommend choosing an energy boosting formula specifically designed for times of higher nutritional requirement such as a High Potency B Complex.
Diet wise, avoid blood sugar drops and a ‘foggy head’ by eating small, regular meals rich in protein and essential fatty acids.
Food ideas include veggie sticks with nut butter or bean dips like hummus, cans of tuna with fresh avocado, spinach and tomato, veggie omelettes, protein-fruit smoothies, homemade trail mix with raw nuts, seeds and dark chocolate, colourful salads with some protein from lean meat or beans, etc.
Cut down on stimulants like coffee, sports drinks and sugary foods. These will give you a false sense of energy in the short term but contribute to fatigue in the long term as well as disrupting sleeping patterns.
Ensure you maintain healthy sleeping patterns – decide on a regular bed time and stick to it. Keep mobile phones and laptops out of the bedroom and limit TV use.
Final Study Tips
Take some time each day to relax – mindfulness meditation is an extremely effective technique to manage stress and improve brain function and focus, so start practicing for at least 10 minutes once or twice daily.
Not sure how to meditate? Find out here.
Do your study in short blocks with breaks in between – for example study for 25 minutes and then take a 5-10 minute break before repeating this cycle.
Better still, get outside in the fresh air or do some gentle exercise in that time to help keep you feeling fresh and focused.
Hydrate with some Scholar’s Blend tea – a herbal mix to help keep you focussed and attentive while studying.
Good luck to all the students out there!
Luchtman, D.W. et al, Cognitive enhancement by omega-3 fatty acids from child-hood to old age: Findings from animal and clinical studies, Neuropharmacology, 2012
Nathan, P.J. et al. The Chronic effects of an extract of Bacopa monniera on cognitive function in healthy humans, Psychopharmacology, 2001
Owen, L. et al. Metabolic agents that enhance ATP can improve cognitive functioning: a review of the evidence for glucose, oxygen, pyruvate, creatine, and L-carnitine, Nutrients, 2011