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March 2018

Becoming a Better Student Outside of Actually Studying

Tips on improving memory and your general ability to learn

Studying isn’t just about sitting down and learning; there are many other aspects to optimising your learning routine. We all have different ways in which we prefer to learn, however there are, for every student, universal best practices that can aid in study. We’ve spent a lot of time looking at direct study tips. Today we’ll look at some indirect ways to improving your language learning.

Sleep isn’t just lazy time

A recent study conducted by Duolingo discovered that language students who study before bed and review the next morning are more likely to remember what they’ve learned than those who study in the morning and review at night. This highlights the importance of sleep. 

Some of us see sleep as a burdensome activity that we all have to do at night. Many people even brag about how little sleep they actually need. Regardless of such beliefs, the National Sleep Foundation, an organisation dedicated to sleep research and advocacy, recommends seven to nine hours of sleep per night for adults.

Sleep isn’t just lazy time; during sleep, our brains process the information we acquire during the day. This process is fundamental for maintaining a sharp mind and, thus, having a sharp body. A lack of sleep can result in memory loss, not to mention a number of other physical impairments like issues with motor skills and lack of focus, as well as developing an increased risk for health problems such as hypertension, obesity, and diabetes.

How can we ensure a good night’s rest? It’s not as simple as just lying in bed. We often toss and turn at night, and many of us get up and move about. A good tip is to avoid drinking water directly before sleeping. This will reduce the need to use the toilet at night. Additionally, keeping the room dark, at a comfortable temperature, and at a suitable volume of noise can help tremendously. 

Move your body to move your mind

A study at the University of British Columbia found that regular aerobic exercise can increase the size of the brain's hippocampus. It's this area of the brain that's responsible for verbal memory and learning.

Exercise reduces inflammation, improves the health of brain cells, and facilitates blood vessel growth in the brain. Exercise also helps us sleep better, which, as we discovered in the previous section, is fundamental in maintaining the brain. Exercising regularly will make study easier and more effective.

You are what you eat

It should come as no surprise that diet merits a mention in this examination. As some cars cannot run on inferior gas, so too does the human body need good fuel to function optimally. An article in the Harvard Women's Health Watch states that you can "boost your memory by eating right".

Foods high in saturated and trans fats can raise unhealthy low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. When LDL builds up in the body, it damages arteries and thus harms the heart, which, in turn, has negative effects on the brain.

Skip the greasy, salty, and sugary foods and opt for more brain-friendly options, such as fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, and olive oil. Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol, and take probiotics to improve gut health. Take a look at your current diet to examine if you’re lacking in any food group or nutrient. And, as always, drink adequate amounts of water throughout the day.

Does staying healthy make you a better learner? What are your personal experiences? Let us know your experiences and tips on our Facebook Page, and be sure to “like” TELC English for more articles on language learning hacks and tips!