Exam Diet and Sleeping Advice

Why Sleep and Healthy Eating is Essential for Exams

Written by Adrian Marnewick

Is your child writing exams soon? Before they hit the books, you may want to consider nutrition as an essential necessity.

Before you look at the actual schoolwork your child needs to study for the upcoming exams, you should look at your daily lifestyle which will benefit, or negatively influence, your child’s study time.

Exams make parents and their children super stressed, and I think we can all agree that during any exam period you can be sure things are prone to get a little crazy.

Exam stress is not helpful and coupled with lack of sleep and tons of junk food, your child is bound to feel unproductive. Even if your child is not completing exams yet, these tips will still help them with concentration and benefit them in the future when they need to begin studying.

If you think back to your study days you may have found yourself staring at a book until the early hours of the morning, only to have a massive “memory fail” the next day in your test. Why? Because you are exhausted.

Unfortunately there are many children and students who will study right through the night before their exam. This lack of sleep will actually cause their body more stress, because when you are tired your body releases more cortisol. This is a stress hormone, so you are literally physically harming your body by not getting enough sleep.

As we sleep, our brain processes the work that was studied. This is such a crucial part of the memory formation process and will prove to be essential to your child’s success with their exams.

So if you are trying to learn something new, you will actually perform better after sleeping. Getting enough sleep also helps to keep you alert and happy. The same is true for adults. Just think how you feel when you haven’t slept well the night before. Your child is no different.

A Stanford study discovered that sleep deprivation caused decreased leptin (less fullness) and higher ghrelin levels (more hunger), leading to the consumption of higher calorie foods. So the next time you get the munchies, you might just be tired!

Bringing me to my second point: it is also so important to eat healthily, especially during exam time.

While it can be tempting to pop ready-made, fast food into the oven and continue studying, nine times out of ten it will leave your child feeling heavy, bloated and tired.

This is because ready-made fast foods generally have zero nutrients and are not designed to fuel your child’s brain. Instead, try to encourage your child to eat more regular, smaller meals throughout the day that are filled with whole grains, fruits, healthy fats, vegetables and lean meats and proteins so that your child always has energy and doesn’t have the feeling of being hungry.

If you are away from your kids during the day and your work late, doing some meal prep at the beginning of the week may help with this. For your child’s sake, don’t be lazy. Be prepared!

Remember: get your child to sleep well and eat well. Doing this will maximise their chance at exam domination.

Another way to help your child with the upcoming exams is by enrolling to WorksheetCloud to download CAPS-based exam preparation worksheets in English, Afrikaans, Mathematics, Natural Science, Social Science and Life Skills.

The Author - Adrian Marnewick

Adrian is the Product Director and Co-founder of Learning Lab Apps, the company that develops WorksheetCloud. He is an activist for technology in education, but also a firm believer in the effectiveness of good, old fashioned, hands-on teaching.

WorksheetCloud is the most exciting way to study for exams and tests!

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  1. Gena van der Watt

    I do agree children should not eat fast or processed food. However the traditional way of eating “healthy”, High Carb Low Fat diet is actually high in sugar. Sugar causes our insulin levels to rise, which is not healthy. It is better to have your children on a Low Carb High Fat diet. It is a myth that fat is bad for you. Please read more about what prof Tim Noakes is saying on this diet or as we better know it – banting.



    • Kayleen Olivier

      Hi Deshnee

      Thanks for your message.

      Sleep quantity needs vary based on age and the individual. Common “rules” about how many hours of sleep an infant or a 2-year-old need might not be helpful when it comes to your own child. These numbers are simply averages reported for large groups of kids of particular ages.

      There’s no magical number of hours all kids need in a certain age group. Two-year-old Lilly might sleep for 12 hours, while 2-year-old Marcus is just as alert the next day after sleeping for only 9 hours.

      Still, sleep is very important to kids’ well-being. The link between a lack of sleep and a child’s behavior isn’t always obvious. When adults are tired, they can be grumpy or lack energy, but kids can become hyper, disagreeable, and have extreme changes in behavior.

      Here are some approximate numbers based on age:

      Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range is 14-17 hours each day
      Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range is 12-15 hours
      Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range is 11-14 hours
      Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range is 10-13 hours
      School age children (6-13): Sleep range is 9-11 hours
      Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range is 8-10 hours
      Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours
      Adults (26-64): Sleep range is 7-9 hours
      Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours

      I hope this helps. Please let us know if you have any other questions and we’ll be happy to assist.

      Kayleen 🙂


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