If you find yourself sleep-deprived and hunched over your desk barely able to keep your eyes open, the worst thing you can do is obsesses over the fact that you feel groggy. According to this study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory, and Cognition, our perception of how well we sleep influences our ability to concentrate almost as much as the actual quality of our sleep does. So if you convince yourself that you can power through the day with or without a nap, chances are, you will get your tasks done a lot more efficiently.
That being said, feeling tired—regardless of how well you slept—can certainly slow you down. So how do you improve brain power when you don't have the luxury of taking the day off to catch up on sleep? To accompany that healthy dose of mind over matter, we came up with several science-backed tips that enhance cognitive function despite sleep-deprivation. Plus, we broke them down according to how much time you have to refocus and reboot. Learn how to improve brain power for instant results with the nine health hacks below.
If You Have 5 Minutes
The Blink of an Eye: If you don't feel tired, but you notice your eyes glazing over, that's a sign that you aren't blinking enough. In a study of cognitive function from Washington University in St. Louis, researchers discovered that blinking can help reset your focus, especially if you're staring at a screen or at fine print all day. Blinking at least 10 to 20 times a minute is essential to getting through a tedious task so you don't get sidetracked by your own thoughts. Yes, it's that simple.
Herbal Hydration: Staying hydrated is absolutely essential to getting your body's normal energy levels and focus back on track. To expedite the process, add in chlorophyll for improved brain power and adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha, licorice, and ginseng to support your normal equilibrium and fight fatigue.
Peppermint Pep in Your Step: The smell of peppermint is associated with increased cognitive performance on various tasks. Not only can a whiff of peppermint make you feel more alert and concentrated, but it can also enhance your processing speed. Try rubbing a bit of peppermint essential oil on your temples or your neck.
If You Have 15 Minutes
Let the Games Begin: Playing a quick round of Tetris has been linked with awakening your senses and can also sharpen your brain. This old school computer game dates all the way back to 1984 and it engages spatial reasoning, as well as working memory and processing speeds.
Soak Up the Sun: Never underestimate the energizing power of a little vitamin D. If you haven't been exposed to sunlight yet today, or you haven't been spending enough time outside, this could be contributing to why you feel tired. All it takes is 10 to 15 minutes a day. You could even get outside while walking and playing Tetris all at once.
Walk It Out: Going for a short walk around the block, or even in the emergency exit stairs in your office building can be a good way to improve memory retention and attention span. It has something to do with increased oxygen flow.
If You Have 30 Minutes
Turn a Page: If you have enough time to read a few pages of a book you find entertaining or catch up on some articles from your favorite publication, this could give you the stimulation you need to approach your to-do list with a more inspired, curious, and invigorated attitude. This is because reading something you find exciting increases brain connectivity.
Quiet Your Mind: Numerous studies have revealed that habitual meditation can give your brain power a serious boost. If you have enough time, find a quiet space in your area and practice meditating with an app like Headspace. While it won't be a quick fix like peppermint essential oil, this habit can help you hone you self-discipline skills so you can better control your mind from wandering.
Head to the Water Cooler: When you're tired, those boring documents on your desk are going to lull you right to sleep if you don't refocus first. Socializing is a great way to do so, especially if you haven't had much social interaction lately. Sometimes collaborating, unwinding, and getting out of your own head can give you the kick of energy you need. Invite a co-worker for coffee or grab lunch with a friend.
How do you fight fatigue and regain the concentration you need for an efficient day? Share your own health hacks in the comment section below.