by Erica Garza
With endless digital distractions and jam-packed work and social schedules, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and end up in a brain fog. If you’re looking for ways to bounce back with the razor-sharp focus of a tightrope walker, there are some simple ways to do it.
From CBD and adaptogens to meditation and sufficient sleep, here’s how to increase energy and motivation and stay focused at work without having to audition for Cirque du Soleil.
1. Meditation for increased energy
Taking time to meditate has been linked to higher cognitive functioning. In a study led by the University of California at Santa Barbara, researchers found that students who did around an hour of “mindfulness training” for eight days subsequently did better on the GRE as well as tests of working memory and mind-wandering.
New to meditation? Using a meditation app is an easy way to start improving your memory and attention.
How to meditate like a pro
Here are some tips to help you meditate effortlessly:
- Make yourself a priority. Keep aside 20 minutes every day for meditation.
- Do some exercises before meditation. This ensures an effortless flow of meditation.
- Embrace a healthy dietary plan. Eat on time, drink plenty of water, and eat nutrient-rich food.
- Sleep for 6-8 hours every day. Meditation refreshes the mind and body. It cannot be substituted for sleep.
2. Aim to sleep 8.5 hours
If you spend most of your night counting sheep or worrying about your to-do list, you’re likely not getting enough sleep, which plays a crucial role in memory consolidation, a process in which short-term memories are transformed into long-lasting ones.
Daniel Gartenberg, a sleep scientist and adjunct professor in biobehavioral health at Penn State, told QZ that 8.5 hours of sleep is the new eight hours. “The standard in the literature is that healthy sleepers spend more than 90 percent of the time in bed asleep, so if you’re in bed for eight hours, a healthy sleeper might actually sleep for only about 7.2 hours.”
To ensure you’re getting your rest, practice good sleep hygiene like powering down screens before you get into bed, avoiding caffeine several hours before bed, and making sure your room is cool and dark. Supplements can also help aid healthier sleep.
FOCL Night combines premium hemp CBD with sleep-friendly botanicals like Ashwagandha and Valerian Root to help you sleep deeply all night long.
How much sleep do I really need?
Age is a big factor that determines sleep. National Sleep Foundation recommends healthy adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Babies, young children, and teens need more sleep for better growth and development.
People over 65 should get 7 to 8 hours per night. How much sleep you need depends on the quality of your sleep, and factors like pregnancy, aging, existing ailments and more.
Children who get a good quality of sleep experience better growth and better physical and mental health.
Adults getting less than seven hours of sleep a night regularly are associated with poor health issues namely weight gain, having a body mass index of 30 or higher, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular issues.
How much deep sleep is good per night?
There are four sleep stages. Deep sleep is the restorative sleep stage that is essential for getting up fresh and rejuvenated. Deep sleep is also called slow-wave sleep as electrical activity in the brain appears in long, slow waves.
Deep sleep happens within an hour of falling asleep. As the night progresses, we experience shorter bouts of deep sleep.
Some important benefits of deep sleep include:
- Your body releases growth hormone
- Build and repair muscles, bones, and tissue
- Immune system functioning
- Regulating glucose metabolism
- Replenish energy stores
- Cognitive function and memory
- Language learning
- Motor skills
- Brain development
Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Deep sleep should comprise 13% and 23% of that time. For seven hours of sleep each night, you spend about 55 to 97 minutes in deep sleep.
3. Eat a brain-boosting diet
The foods you eat also play a role in keeping your brain healthy and energized. Fatty fish like salmon and sardines are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are major building blocks in the brain.
Other brain-boosting foods that have been linked to improving memory and concentration are blueberries, dark chocolate, and beets.
What to eat to boost your brain
The brain needs immense quantities of productive fuel to channel the activities of the body. Omega-3 fatty acids help build and repair brain cells. Antioxidants combat cellular stress and inflammation. This reduces brain aging and neurodegenerative ailments like Alzheimer’s disease.
Some brain-boosting foods include:
- Oily fish- omega 3 fatty acids rich salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, sardines
- Dark Chocolate- Contains flavonoids, a type of antioxidant
- Nuts and seeds- Vitamin E rich sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts
- Berries- Antioxidants rich strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, Blackcurrants, mulberries
- Whole-grain foods including brown rice, barley, bulgur wheat, oatmeal, whole-grain bread, whole-grain pasta
Foods like avocado, peanuts, eggs, broccoli, kale, soy products, and coffee are also great for boosting brain health.
4. Remain a student (or gamer) for life
Keep your brain fit and healthy by consistently presenting it with challenges. Whether you choose to take a class or complete a crossword, exercising your cognitive skills trains your brain in the same way you train your body at the gym.
By taking on a lifelong student mindset, your brain will continue to make new connections, giving you the focus and stamina to power through even the most challenging days.
Benefits of gaming on mental health
Playing games can divert the mind from stress and agony to aid with trauma recovery. Video games may help alleviate pain and mental anxiety.
5. Take CBD & adaptogens
While hemp-derived CBD does not have psychoactive effects, meaning it won’t get you high, it does affect brain function in a number of ways. From decreasing anxiety to supporting mental clarity, CBD has been shown to help people focus.
When you combine CBD with powerful adaptogens and botanicals, your brain receives even more fuel to be at its best. But it may be tiring to take so many supplements or vitamins to boost energy.
Luckily, with a wellness stack like FOCL Day, you get the benefits of CBD and 100% plant-based adaptogens to increase focus and motivation in a single daily dose. Along with premium hemp CBD, the supplement stack contains Lion’s Mane mushroom, Rhodiola root, L-Theanine, vitamin B6, and Bacopa Monnieri — ingredients to amp up your brainpower.
How to improve focus and concentration naturally?
As we age, our attention span and concentration decrease. It could also be affected owing to lack of sleep, stress, cognitive disorders or head/brain injuries. Some lifestyle changes can be pivotal in improving focus and concentration:
Apart from the above, you can make some tweaks to your diet or take supplements for brain health. Take a short break to refresh and unwind, and return to work with renewed zeal and focus.
How do I improve focus and memory naturally?
When life gets busy, and old age turns in, people start suffering from poor concentration and loss of memory. Experts advocate meditation, mindfulness, and good sleep patterns for better brain health. Embrace some holistic changes in life for better focus and memory.
Try limiting your alcohol content and play some brain games to sharpen cognitive skills. Limit refined carbs in your diet, and get your vitamin D levels tested regularly. Exercise for mental and physical health.
Curcumin, found in turmeric root, has high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powers. Cocoa is another delicious way to improve your memory! And yes, limit your sugar intake to improve memory and better overall health.
Erica Garza is an author and essayist. Her work has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, The Telegraph and VICE. She lives in Los Angeles.