Students returning from winter break with memories of sleepless nights studying still fresh in their minds have the choice to either adopt a new routine or settle into their lifestyles from last semester. Without the watchful eyes of their parents, many students struggle to develop a routine focused on academics without pushing aside their sleep schedule, nutrition and exercise. Some attest that self-destructive routines during college are like vomit in a West Campus elevator on a Saturday night: unavoidable. However, others argue these experiences can be prevented by making smarter decisions, such as taking the stairs.
While the definition of a healthy or unhealthy lifestyle may vary by person, psychology professor Francisco Gonzalez-Lima said the foundation of a healthy routine is built upon three crucial aspects: sleep, nutrition and exercise.
“You have to budget when you are going to go to sleep, and that should be as much of a habit as possible,” Gonzalez-Lima said. “You have to be flexible in realizing your limits and make decisions ahead of time and stick to those decisions.”
While, in theory, prioritizing three simple activities is a simple path toward a healthier lifestyle, government freshman Alex Acosta said he struggles to prioritize his health in college, sometimes turning to meal replacement drinks over an actual meal during the day.
“Sleeping is my very last priority,” Acosta said. “I eat when I get hungry but if I don’t, I’ll push that back. Oof, these Forty Acres are my exercise.”
Acosta said while lack of prioritizing plays a significant role in his unhealthy routine, peer pressure also clocks in as a major contributor.
“If other students brag about ‘Oh, I did an all-nighter and I got an A on the test,’ it just gives you an incentive to stay up all night,” Acosta said. “I have to stay up because everyone else is staying up.”
Although it may be hard for college students to prioritize these aspects along with their other responsibilities, Gonzalez-Lima said prioritizing and setting a strict schedule, although difficult, is exactly what students must do to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
“If you don’t plan, you start improving and substituting one activity with another,” Gonzalez-Lima said. “This leads to a disorganized itinerary, and your body gets confused and you start having health issues.”
For chemistry sophomore Carolyn Henein, sacrificing her health is not on her checklist for being a successful college student. Instead, Henein focuses on a schedule which she said enables her to be a better student in and out of the classroom.
“I would say the first thing to prioritize would be your sleep schedule, because once you got your sleep times set, then you have your disposable time set,” Henein said. “Maybe then, you realize you have more time in the day.”
Henein said negative peer pressure does not affect her because of her healthy routine and the people she surrounds herself with.
“If someone told me ‘Oh my gosh, I was really productive today and I got a good amount of sleep,’ then that would positively influence me,” Henein said. “Not to mention, sleep is good for you. Better sleep and more consistent sleep is just going to make you more focused.”