As the semester draws to a close, students find themselves staying awake a lot longer in hopes of finishing up their final paper(s) or studying for the last few tests of the semester.
But a lack of sleep can quickly catch up to you—even within a few nights—and can cause problems ranging from irritability to difficulty concentrating. Most importantly, sleep deprivation, combined with the stress of finals, can substantially disrupt your immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to illness.
Stress can have an impact on every aspect of your emotional and physical health, but the symptoms vary for everyone. Not only can built up stress cause forgetfulness and constant worrying, but it can also drastically lower your immune system’s capabilities, making it harder for the body to fight off infections or viruses. Stress often causes people to feel low on energy, yet it can also make it hard to get sleep due to racing thoughts and rapid heartbeat.
When you begin to feel that itch in your throat, or even if you plan to stay up late and study those last few pages of notes, vitamin C should become your best friend. Vitamin C is highly concentrated in immune cells and is quickly consumed when the immune system is fighting off infection. Vitamin C is known for boosting your immune system and even reducing the duration of the common cold. Just drinking a glass of orange juice or tomato juice can be the difference between getting sick and staying healthy.
Eating healthy during finals week is just as important as a daily dose of vitamin C because it provides nutrients that your body needs to boost your immune system and continue to fight off illness. Not only do healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables help to boost your immune system, but they also keep you full and focused during classes or long study sessions.
Keeping your hands clean is one of the most important and effective ways to prevent sickness, especially when living in a tight-knit dorm setting. Germs spread quickly all over campus, which is why washing your hands before going to lunch or after using the bathroom is not only important but also necessary. Students often find that between classes or before lunch they don’t have time to stop and wash their hands. Luckily, hand sanitizer can be found in many of campus buildings and in Glar.
Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, states “these products provide a convenient alternative when hand washing with plain soap and water is unavailable.” Hand sanitizer is very effective at killing germs on the surface of our hands; it prevents the spread of germs and keeps you, and others around you, healthy.
As you prepare for the end of the semester, remember to keep yourself and others from getting sick. Being sick during finals is not fun: drinking a glass of orange juice and remembering to eat fruits and vegetables may help boost your immune system and fight off any germs you come in contact with.
Washing your hands daily and using hand sanitizer when necessary helps prevent the spread of germs that may make students around you sick. If you find yourself getting too stressed or coming down with a virus, McDaniel’s Wellness Center is a great resource for getting your immune system back on track and finishing off the semester strong.