A frightening number of us are pretty rubbish at drinking enough water. And if there’s one time when you really need to get hydration right, it’s when you’re trying to reinforce everything you’ve learned about Hamlet or Anita and Me over the last two years at the same time as memorising your notes on global food supply and the geopolitics of food.
If your teen’s complaining of feeling tired and lethargic during a revision session, it could be a sign that they’re simply not drinking enough. Our bodies need this to work properly, so one thing you can do to help them be more effective at revising is make sure their glass is topped up… with the right fluids.
Back in 2009, we asked 500 13-17 year olds what they drink when revising. One third chose fizzy drinks and more than a quarter said they went for caffeine-laden energy drinks. And according to a survey of more than 1,000 children who sat key stage two tests last year, 30 children had high-sugar drinks for breakfast on the morning of their exams.
Research suggests that up to half of teenagers drink energy drinks. Scientists are warning of a number of potential risks of drinking them but there’s no doubt that their marketing is powerful: many young people think they’re a great way to help them cram for long periods. In fact, they can have high amounts of caffeine and are full of sugar and empty calories – the last thing they need for a monster study session. That’s why energy drinks are labelled as unsuitable for children and in some countries, for example Sweden, where sales to children under 15 are banned.
We don’t think energy drinks should be sold to children. National school food standards state that only healthier drinks should be provided in schools, and that free, fresh water should be available for children right through the day. Children need to be able to get to this easily – schools have water fountains or coolers and cups in the dining room or around the school, or water jugs on tables in the dining room. At home, stick a jug of water next to them or get them their own water bottle so they can sip throughout the day.
Keep at it, encourage them to drink water regularly, and eat foods that provide energy, vitamins and minerals to fuel their revision sessions, the end is in sight.
Claire’s our senior nutritionist. Email Claire.