Academic Productivity: The Importance Of Understanding Your Body’s Energy Cycle


Ijeoma Onuoha

As students in a highly competitive institution like the University of Ibadan, the need to perform extremely well in academics is paramount. To achieve better grades in their CAs and exams, students often have to read hard, even to the point of going for TDB (Till Day Break) or TNF (Till Night Falls) sessions. For some, these sessions work effectively, while for many others, it turns out to be draining and unproductive. This is because many students do not take cognizance of their bodies to understand when and how to read effectively. Humans, though having similar organs, are built differently, especially with respect to their various energy cycles. Thus, as students, understanding one’s body’s energy cycle is important for academic productivity.

What are Energy Cycles?

Energy cycles are the natural rhythms of energy in the human body which influence various bodily functions for productivity and well-being. They refer to the fluctuation of the rhythms of energy in the body, and how it rises and falls during the day. When it is high, it is referred to as the “up cycle” and when it is low, it is called the “low cycle.” According to Dreher (2000/2002), the up cycle is the peak period when our energy flows strongly and the down cycle is our lag time, when our energy diminishes. The former is a period when the energy in the body flows most strongly and we are able to be effectively productive in whatever we have to do, while the latter is the opposite, there is a burnout of energy in the body. These energy cycles are very important for the performance of everyday tasks by humans as well as their total well-being.

Understanding Your Body’s Energy Cycle

Understanding your body’s energy cycle is simply learning how your body works, that is, learning your body’s energy patterns. It is quite an easy task as one just needs to be very observant of their body. To understand your body’s energy cycle, you need to be consistently observant of how your body functions at different times of the day (e.g: hourly) and make a record of how energy waxes or wanes during this period. Consistently doing this for a stipulated time will help you get a grasp of your body’s energy cycle well and be able to utilise it effectively.

Maximising Your Energy Cycle for Academic Productivity

Understanding one’s energy levels and working in alignment with them is very important for academic productivity. It helps students to understand when their brains are receptive to information and get the best moments to read effectively and even when to rest. For some students, they are productive in the early hours of the morning, while others excel in the evenings or the middle of the night. Therefore, students have to keep track of how and when their energy shifts throughout the day and use it to plan routines, especially reading/academic routines.
Students should read as much as possible during the up cycle period, and work on some different activities (not necessarily ones with low priority, but those that do not require so much brain power) during your down cycle. By scheduling tasks accordingly, students can accomplish a lot; thus, optimising productivity and focus.

Also, maximising one’s energy cycle as a student encompasses the various ways we read. As earlier stated, individuals are built differently, thus, the way our brains assimilate is different. For some, they assimilate by cramming, while for others, it may be the spaced repetition technique or Feynman’s technique. Understanding this also helps students to perform adequately in their studies.

Furthermore, as students, working with our energy cycles can boost our health and creativity. When we try to hack this rhythm, by trying to push our bodies to work beyond their limit (using coffee, energy drinks, or pills), it can lead to physical and emotional imbalance such as depression, the inability to think clearly, and increased risk for immune system, cardiac, and metabolic problems. When students have health issues like this, it is impossible to be productive academically. If you do not listen to your body, your body will eventually not listen to you and break down.

In conclusion, paying attention to your natural energy cycle will help you consistently perform at your best academically and otherwise. Once you are able to figure out your energy cycle, maximise it as much as possible. Most importantly, do not forget to rest your body when you’re burnt out. Do not try to push your body beyond its capacity. Taking a break is not a sign of laziness or weakness, but the recognition of a human fundamental need.

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