The Three Foundations of A Better Brain: Sleep, Nutrition, Exercise
Here’s something everyone should internalize if you don’t know this already:
It doesn’t matter how many brain ‘hacks’ you try. It doesn’t matter how much information you consume on this topic, or how much time you spend listening to podcasts and reading blog posts. It doesn’t matter how much money you spend on biohacks, apps, and devices to help you focus, supplements, drugs, books, online courses.
If you want to improve your brain, none of this matters UNLESS you work on the three foundations of a healthy brain.
None of it.
I’ve tried dozens of biohacks, supplements, high-tech headsets, meditation retreats. I’ve been to maybe hundreds of doctors at this point. I’ve had test upon test done on my brain and body. All of these things are helpful incrementally. But they can’t have a real impact unless you address the main foundations. And you know them all already, they’re nothing mysterious.
Getting them right isn’t always straightforward, but improving them a noticeable amount can be easier than you think. Either way, this is the holy trinity of brain improvement.
Here are some quick, essential details. This isn’t pro-level information, but these are solid basics:
It took me a lot to improve my sleep, and I’ve written up some detailed tips on sleep improvement. But at minimum you need to know the 3 things below.
- You need quantity and quality.
- You may sleep poorly, and not know it. Measuring it helps.
- Light, sound, and movement in your bedroom hurt your sleep.
Nutrition can also be a rabbit hole of information, especially when different authorities disagree on what to eat or not eat, and there are a dozen popular diets out there with bold claims of all sorts.
3 things that I’ve found to be fairly consistent among different literature I’ve read are:
- Processed food and tons of sugar are bad for your brain.
- Omega-3s and healthy fats are good for your brain.
- Colorful, in-season vegetables are good for your brain.
I’ve had good overall results (with both my brain and overall health) when keeping to these three dietary rules regularly – especially the first one.
Movement / Exercise Foundations
Exercise is arguably the most special of the three foundations, since not only does it directly affect brain function, but it also helps you sleep better, which in turn is vital for good brain function.
- Move your body a few times daily, even if it’s just walking.
- Daily cardio is even better.
It’s important to note that if you exercise relatively little, you don’t need to make the jump right to doing intense workouts. Movement of any kind is far better than none. Start with that, and do it more regularly before you worry about increasing intensity.
No matter how many apps you try to help you focus, or biohacks you try to make you smarter, keep coming back to these three things. Create a daily routine for each, even if it’s a simple one. Then build up from there.
With these basics alone you can see results in your overall health and well-being, and in turn, they can indirectly affect your ability to focus.
What’s your current daily routine for each of these things? Tell me in the comments.
- Medication Alternatives for ADHD: Improving Your Brain
The more I research, the more evidence I find that you can have a real…
- My "Brain Hacks and Upgrades" Presentation
Last summer I was super excited to give a talk at QCon New York, a…
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
- Mind Over Matter: How I Overcame My Learning Disability to Build a Successful Tech Career
- Working Out My Brain With Mozart
- What ADHD Feels Like
- It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work – Book Review for ADHD Programmers
- Changing Your Brain is Tough (But Possible)
- All The Pretty Pictures: Fight Brain Boredom with Rotating Desktop Wallpapers
- Intelligence Tests (and Other Brain Tests) and What They Taught Me
- Evernote for ADHD People
- Vipassana Meditation and ADHD (or, How I Felt After 10 Days of Silence)
- The Alexander Technique, Back Pain and ADHD