In this article, I want to take a look at a few ways to get the most from your mind. We all know that through exercise, you can train your body to handle greater physical stresses, but we often overlook the fact that the brain can also be trained. In this article I want to look at three ways that you can train your brain to be more productive.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could just pop a pill and be more productive? Well, nootropics are just that, they are chemical compounds designed to enhance specific mental functions. They go by all manner of sci-fi names, such as ‘cognitive enhancers’, ‘smart drugs’ or even limitless pills.
There are far too many different strains of nootropics to list them all here. However, each is designed to help with a specific mental function – certain types are supposed to help both memory formation and retention, others to help keep a calm and clear mental state.
Broadly speaking, there are two types of nootropics – either synthetic or natural. Synthetic nootropics are man-made in the laboratory, whereas natural nootropics are derived from herbs and plants. However, they essentially function in the same way: by supporting the production of certain neurotransmitters and inhibiting the production of others, all the while providing certain minerals and nutrients known to support brain function.
For example, a popular choice amongst people working in Silicon Valley is a combination of caffeine and L-Theanine. L-Theanine’s chemical structure is similar to that of glutamate, so it is supposed to help transmit nerve impulses within the brain. As such, people claim this combination of caffeine and L-Theanine improves focus and concentration. They claim you get all the benefits of caffeine, without the jitters or the irritability.
Some natural components of nootropics have been used for thousands of years, like caffeine and ginseng. As such, the long-term effects of these are very well documented. However, for many of the newer synthetic nootropics, there simply have not been that many long-term studies into both their efficacy and their effects.
From the cutting edge of science to the most basic of human needs – the next on our list of brain boosting tips is good old humble water! The point is that staying hydrated is absolutely key to keeping your brain functioning at its best. After all, your brain and your body are made up of mostly water.
Staying hydrated helps concentration, it helps regulate mood as well as preventing and treating headaches. Drinking plenty of water also helps increase blood flow and circulation, because as you become dehydrated your blood becomes more viscous. Keeping blood flowing easily helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to the brain more efficiently.
Of course, it is very easy to forget to drink plenty of water. If you are busy and always on the go, it is easy to miss the signs from your body that you should take a drink. There are simple ways to remedy this though:
- Always carry a water bottle with you. This way you always have water on hand to drink when you get a pause.
- Whenever you sit down to eat anything, pour yourself a large glass of water.
- Put a note on your desk or computer screen that says “DRINK MORE WATER!” to jog your memory. You could also add a note on your phone.
- There are apps available that will help you keep track of hydration, along with other biometrics.
Get A Good Night’s Sleep
Finally, a piece of advice that is far easier said than done, but try to get plenty of sleep. With today’s fast-paced, noisy, blue-lit world this can really tricky. However, your brain will thank you for it hugely. After all, we all know how hard it is to focus when you are tired! Making sure that you get a good eight hours of rest at night is a great way to ensure that you are at your most mentally productive the next day.
Not only does tiredness affect focus and concentration, but it also causes irritability and loss of control of mood. Also, memory takes a huge hit when you are tired as you struggle to recall things and you struggle to create new memories too.
As I said, we all know we need to sleep, but sometimes it can be very difficult. This is where training your brain really comes into play. Try and have a set bedtime during the week and stick to it, as this helps your body achieve a good routine. Similarly, avoid bright lights and screens before bedtime, because darkness is what signals to our brains that it is time to sleep, causing them to release the sleep hormone melatonin. I find the best way to cut down screen time before bed and reduce stress, is to set aside twenty minutes to quietly read a book in bed.