Fuel Your Engine

Kaylie Lopez, Editor


Imagine someone is trying to win an IronMan race on 5 hours of sleep and an empty stomach. How well do you think they’ll do? Will they win or will their body give up? Well, while their endurance level is unknown, it is a fact they’ll be unable to perform at their highest. It sounds insane to try and perform a physically demanding race with no sleep or preparation. Why would someone put themselves through this right? This analogy relates to the lack of nutrition and sleep we give ourselves as teenagers. We expect to do good in school or at our sport but don’t give ourselves the proper rest we need to perform at our highest. 

As a student and athlete, every day I am guilty of this. My dream is to always have meals ready for me and make sure I get 8 hours of sleep every day. A perfect routine would be to eat dinner at 7, sleep by 10, and make sure I eat breakfast every day. On average I sleep 6 hours and rarely prepare breakfast for myself because I’m always running late. By the time I get home, I have homework to do and I eat dinner around 9. Even then I still casually waste my time on my phone, ignoring the fact that I have school the next day. As I’m sure you’re aware, the perfect schedule is not attainable, but I do try my best to give myself the fuel I deserve. While working hard is important, it is also vital to take time to rest after a long day of school and be able to do hobbies I love, such as painting. What about you, what is your routine when you get home? What do you run on? Do you know how important sleep and nutrition are?

Have you ever taken time to realize how you might be tired because you didn’t sleep enough or you might feel weak because you didn’t eat enough? I know you’ve been told this many times but your body runs on what you put in it. As a teenager, you are developing into an adult and you want to make sure you take the time to prioritize your health. Make it a goal to fill your body with the nutrients it deserves. A meal is supposed to consist of fruits, grains, vegetables, protein, and dairy. These are the recommendations from myplate.com,  which I’m sure you’ve seen sometimes during school. Don’t feel like you have to hit these portions every day though, just make sure you recharge yourself with food and water. I can assure you that eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner will help you stay energized throughout the day. Remember, you can’t reach your full potential if you don’t give yourself the fuel you need. 

Another widely known issue that we teens seem to have is not getting enough sleep. It is recommended to get 8 to 10 hours of sleep but sometimes that can seem unachievable when there’s a test we must study for or we don’t have enough time to finish homework. A huge factor is our phone. I am guilty of being on my phone before I go to sleep, and this robs me of an extra hour of sleep I could have gained. Sleep is important because it allows our body to rest after a long day. Being an athlete, student, or both requires you to get enough sleep to perform at your best. Staying up all night to study is not a great idea because your body is given no rest. It is important to remember that everyone is different. “You are not average – you are a unique person. That means that you might need more or less than the average hours of sleep for your age in order to function at your best. You’ll know if you’re not getting the sleep you need,” according to Dr. OH, who received her Ph.D. in Psychology, specializing in Cognitive Neuroscience, from Rice University. 

According to Olivia Allison (11th grade), she gets an average of 5 to 7 hours of sleep, and her night routine consists of her usual skincare routine, along with reading if she has time. 

“I don’t think I can really improve my sleeping habits because of all the homework assigned to me but I try my best to get enough sleep every day.” 

Natalie Medrano (11th grade) gets an average of 5 and a half hours of sleep. Her night routine consists of getting ready for bed, skincare, and she always makes sure she has a cup of water by her bed. 

“I can improve my sleep by sleeping earlier, and I really don’t have any excuse for sleeping late. I’m usually good at finishing my homework and I spend most of my time watching Netflix. I can’t work on homework past midnight.”

Some ways to improve your sleeping or eating habits are to find ways that help you perform at your best. That can be putting your phone away at 8 pm or prepping your meals the night before. You can also reflect on your habits today and see what is working for you and what is not. Maybe there needs to be an alarm that can be placed on your phone to remind you to eat. It sounds silly but most of the time we are so busy we forget we haven’t eaten.