In the 2011 thriller Limitless, Bradley Cooper’s character pops a ‘brain pill’ that instantly frees his writer’s block with spectacular results.
Even university professors in real-life are reportedly now throwing caution to the wind and looking for a mental edge with nootropics, aka smart drugs, or cognitive enhancers.
According to Cambridge University academic Hannah Critchlow one in five admitted using drugs that were typically those prescribed by doctors to patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
She says they did appear to help increase working memory – but added that their long-term effects were not yet clear.
You can see how the temptation arises for ‘study drugs’ such modafinil, particularly with the increased demands on us to justify our jobs.
The majority (59 per cent) of Australians waste more than an hour on average each working day due to lack of focus or concentration – that’s approximately six hours a week per employee gone and collectively, almost 23,000 years lost each month, – according to new research commissioned by natural medicine specialists Flordis.
The survey of 1,500 people of various ages uncovered that only a quarter of us believe we tap into the full potential of our minds at least once a day to remain 100% focused.
Dr Critchlow cautions against turning to dubious internet suppliers, as many of her Oxford colleagues and students are doing, for a solution.
It’s far safer to follow these great natural tips to get you more focused:
- Try to maintain regular sleep patterns as alternating between minimal zzzs and marathon sessions can impact on concentration and creativity levels.
- Add Marmite! Eating a spoonful a day can boost a vital neuronal chemical.
- Drink red wine in moderation can help protect neurons, and you don’t need to put down that third cuppa – three to five cups of coffee a day has been shown to reduce cognitive decline (by 65 per cent).
- Eat more fruits, nuts, and vegetables – they’re positively associated with cognitive ability.
- Get outdoors and see the sun! Vitamin D has been shown to help maintain a healthy mind as you age.
- Experience new cultures and interact with people of different age groups, or try volunteering. Doing this once a week can help decrease the risk of cognitive complaints.
- Physical exercise is important too. Participate in aerobic exercises, such as walking, at least three times a week.
- Step-up at work and try taking on leadership role or hit the books and return to study to stretch your thinking.
- Learning a new language can also help keep the mind sharp and efficient – and will come in handy when you go on your next holiday
- Doodle on a piece of paper. Research shows that drawing while you listen to an instruction improves memory as it keeps the brain stimulated.
- Listen to your favourite songs to activate areas in your brain that are responsible for memory. Research shows learning can be improved by absorbing information through both visual and auditory channels.
- Question everything – focus on the reasoning behind the information.
- Develop new skills and actively learn by writing (taking notes, highlighting), speaking (asking questions, explaining things to others) and creating your own meaning (making up your own reminders).
- Do your most important thinking and any learning between 11am to 9.30pm, and study over a steady period of time rather than in short bursts to help with retention
- Hone your focus! Complete tasks one at a time as opposed to multi-tasking.