Focus Nootropics Supplements Guide
There are many elements in our exterior environment that compete for our attention. Some of these are beyond our control like advertisements, screens, and traffic while others are under our control like the notifications on our phone.
The sheer amount of stimulus in our environment strains our ability to focus and pay attention to one thing at a time. Since the ability to focus is one of the keys to optimal cognitive function, it is important to develop the ability to filter out distractions.
This guide is going to show you how focus works and what practices and nootropic supplements you can use to sharpen your ability to focus and pay attention to what matters.
How Focus Works in the Brain
The ways the brain focuses is an important subject for neuroscientists, particularly in modern times where conditions like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are increasingly becoming an important subject of debate.
A big question in the field concerns how the brain is able to discern what is important amid all the visual, auditory and physical distractions in our environment.
Researchers such as Robert Desimone at the McGovern Institute at MIT believe that when humans pay attention to a specific subject, neurons (cells responsible for receiving sensory input like an antenna receiver) start firing in synchrony.
Conversely, if something is not important to us, these neurons remain inactive or suppressed.
This brought him to the conclusion that the synchronization and activity of the neurons act like a dial, literally increasing the “volume” in the brain when we are paying attention to something we think is of value.
The Role of Brainwaves in Focus
Activity in the brain is measured using brainwaves. Neurons transmit the information through the body in chemical and electric forms. Brainwaves are the way that the electrical activity emanating from these neurons is measured.
- Gamma: High mental activity, sharp focus, increased insight, enhanced perception and expanded consciousness (From 38 to 42 Hz)
- Beta: Active processing, concentration, learning and "busy" thinking (From 12 to 38 Hz)
- Alpha: Relaxation, reflection and calm alertness (From 8 to 12 Hz)
- Theta: Dreaming, and states of "flow" (From 3 to 8 Hz)
- Delta: Deep, healing, dreamless sleep & loss of body awareness (Up to 3Hz)
Since humans are mostly in a beta state during the day, increased focus and awareness can be a challenge as these are typical in the gamma state.
While there are many modern medical techniques to alter brainwaves, age-old techniques like meditation along with healthy practices like exercise, nutrition and supplementation positively affect brainwave function.
Gamma: The Optimal Brain State for Increased Focus
Gamma brainwaves are considered to be the most energetic waves in the electromagnetic spectrum and the highest in frequency.
Not confined to humans, gamma waves are also produced by lightning during a storm. The frequency of these waves is very fast, and the amplitude (distanced moved) is very small or short.
Thought to originate in a deep part of the brain called the thalamus, gamma waves move from the back of the brain to the front and back again 40 times per second. This “sweeping” activity is associated with peak mental and physical performance.
Benefits of Gamma Brain States
Due to its all-encompassing monitoring nature, high levels of gamma activity are associated with various types of intelligence that include above-normal analytical, emotional and mental abilities.
Increased gamma activity is associated with peak performers in academics, elite athletes, top musicians and other high achievers in every field. The benefits of increased gamma frequencies include:
- Increased memory, the ability to recall events and remember numbers/names and other information
- Higher sense perception: better-tasting food, clearer vision, sharper hearing and an overall richer sensory experience and heightened reality perception
- Increased brain processing speed and the ability to store and retrieve the information
- Increased focus, the ability to process all sensory information faster with the ability to combine and process details of events into memories
How to Increase Gamma Waves for Increased Focus
While all brain states have their value, you may be wondering at this point how you can increase gamma wave activity in your brain.
The answer to that question is found in a technique that is free and has been around for thousands of years: meditation.
Why Meditation Increases Gamma Brain Waves
According to researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, meditation increases the synchronization of brain waves, also known as gamma synchrony.
Through their studies of Zen Buddhist monks, they have found that a long-term meditation practice produced gamma waves that were extremely high in amplitude with long-range gamma synchrony. This state is associated with robust brain function and the synthesis of activity that we call the mind.
Meditation Techniques to Increase Gamma Waves
There are many techniques to meditate, however one of the oldest and most practiced in the world is called Vipassana or awareness meditation.
The practice is simple: sit in a comfortable position, put on a timer, and breathe calmly while mentally scanning your body. Like many things in life, this can be easier said than done. For this reason, retreats and instructions are available all over the world and details can be found on the Dhamma website.
Nootropics Supplements to Increase Focus and Enhance Meditation
Nootropics supplements can work very well in rounding out a holistic health practice that includes superior nutrition, movement and rejuvenation practices (like meditation). The following are some supplements available in our store that can help with increasing focus as part of an overall practice focused on brain health:
Used by monks for thousands of years in Asia, L-theanine is a natural relaxing agent found in green tea. While the tea form on its own can bring some benefits, the supplemented ingredient in an isolated, concentrated form can bring results on its own or stacked with other cognitive enhancers.
Phosphatidylserine is a key component of the brain cell membrane, health and structure. Optimal structure is essential to maintaining a healthy brain with efficient neurotransmission, enhanced memory and sharp focus.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that is vital for many processes in the body related to muscle and nerve function, balanced blood sugar, blood pressure, tissue regeneration and neuroplasticity.
Click here to learn more about magnesium L-threonate.
Taken alone or in combination with other supplements as part of a nootropics stack, these supplements can add value to a holistic health practice aimed at improving brain health for optimal cognitive function.
For more information and product recommendations, please visit the focus section of our store.