How hot is it? Well, it’s so hot I saw a dog chasing a cat the other day, and they were both walking. Well, bad jokes aside, I’m sure that having the hottest months of summer, and Ramadhan, falling at the same time certainly challenges most of us.
I actually had worked out during my previous summers in Oman, that it was best not to get dogmatic about ‘challenging’ the Sun and heat, to be more pragmatic about it, and simply not go outside much. Sounds simple doesn’t it, work through the day under the air-conditioner in my office or study, and take my exercise in the early mornings, as I’m an early riser, or after sundown. But, as I’ve said before, “Man plans and God laughs!”
This year I took ill, spending some days in hospital, and have subsequently been uncomfortable enough in an air-conditioned environment. To do anything under the sun however, even something as simple as the 100m outdoor walk to my HOD’s office, has challenged me more than any summer previously. My attitude has been to walk comfortably, quietly and without fuss so as not to perspire, but in this heat, even a short walk is uncomfortable.
I also feel an incredible amount of sympathy for all of the students who are doing exams over the Ramadhan period. In my experience this summer, even four good sized ACs are unable to cope with the current demands of the heat, and all of the students are complaining. And who could blame them, as they don’t even have their water bottles to sustain them, and keep them functioning effectively.
Research by Dr Chris Pawson of the University of East London, and Dr Mark Gardner of the University of Westminster, completed in 2012, proved conclusively that even in a temperate climate such as that offered by the United Kingdom, after taking the variations in student ability into account, by cross-referencing final exam results with coursework marks, “foundation level students who drank water could expect improvements of up to 10 per cent.”
The press release read, “First, drinking water aids a number of bodily functions, including cognitive function. Second, drinking water can reduce your test-anxiety. And third, students who consume eight ounces or more of water before an exam are 10 per cent more likely to receive a higher grade than those who do not. Because lack of water is proven to negatively affect cognitive ability, we can say with certainty that the consumption of water, and performance on an exam are directly related. Although we cannot completely rule out a third variable, it is unlikely the cause. This research has shown that drinking water before an exam does positively influence your score and can ultimately improve your grades making you a better student.”
Dr Pawson explained that while the physiological effects of simply consuming water will have on the cognitive functions of the brain, in that theoretically, information should flow more freely between the brain cells when they are properly hydrated.
Their study also concluded that drinking water may have calmed excitable or anxious students, while those who did not take water during the 447 student trial, appeared more easily distracted.
He explained that the research would continue, “To tease apart these explanations, but whatever the explanation, or reason, it’s clear that students should endeavour to stay hydrated with water during their exams.”
His research colleague, Dr Gardner told journalists, “We find the results really exciting in that they translate laboratory findings into practical settings like this. Supplementing water has many cost and availability benefits too, nationally and globally, for educational policy makers.”
I also recall earlier research that found that the human brain is actually the first body organ to seek to protect itself as the body goes into dehydration mode, but at the same time (fortunately) is the first organ to respond to the rehydration process.
Finally, it’s important to retain the importance of the word ‘cognition’ as the key. Rehydration will not make you more intelligent, but it will assist the cognitive processes of thought perception, notional experience and heighten the intuitive sensation, thereby making you a more effective ‘exam machine!’ Drink water, because it’s so hot out there I saw two trees fighting over a dog!
— By Ray Petersen