Dr. Avery. (Mercy One photo)

Iowa’s three public universities start the fall semester today and a northern Iowa physician suggests students concentrate on creating a common-sense daily routine.

Dr. Kristin Avery, of the MercyOne Clear Lake Pediatric and Adolescent Care Clinic, says students should make every effort to get a quality amount of sleep. “It’s hard when you go to college because no one is telling you when to go to bed or when to wake up,” Avery says. “Trying to come up with a consistent bedtime and wake-time is good, especially when kids will have class later and not necessarily at 8 a.m., but trying to get up at the same time every day is really important.”

Naps during the day are a no-no, according to Avery, who also says to avoid afternoon caffeine.  “As hard as it is, and I’m sure that no one wants to do that, but avoiding screen time before bedtime can be helpful,” she says. “Otherwise it just tells our brain to stay awake, so it’s good to avoid that as well.”

Avery says students should make a list of their favorite healthy, easy-to-make foods and snacks and get those at the dining hall or the grocery store. She adds it’s important to eat breakfast every day.  “Grab a granola bar or a piece of fruit, that can be very helpful. Healthy snacks include cheese, cheese sticks, peanut butter and apples, avocados, granola bars are better than chips or things like that,” Avery says. “Trying to stick more protein-rich things such as hard-boiled eggs or cheeses is a good idea.”

Avery says students need to make an effort to stay active instead of just going to class, returning to their room, and laying around. “You really have to look into what your campus offers and find what you enjoy,” she says. “Is there a rec center, or even just deciding to walk to class instead of taking the bus, joining some yoga classes and things like that. Finding what your friends are doing and just trying to implement a routine that way.”

High school students who are in sports have structure for their exercise, but if they go off to college and aren’t in sports, they will lose that structure, so she says it’s important to try new things and build a new, healthy routine right away.

(By Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City)