We asked John Bramm, Managing Director and sleep expert at mattress brand Dormeo Octaspring, to reveal his top eight tips for boosting your brain power and impressing the boss...
1. Don't use the winter as an excuse not to exercise: Our physical state plays a big part in our ability to concentrate. When exercising regularly, your muscle strength and endurance will be boosted, giving you extra energy for heightened productivity in everyday life. A release of endorphins will also make you feel happier and improve your memory, which again leads to greater productivity - so make sure you continue to go to the gym or go for that jog.
2. Keep the temperature stable: When the central heating is on full blast, it can make you feel sleepier but also hinder your ability to get the best nights rest. Waking up too hot, too cold, or due to discomforts in general throughout the night can also leave you stressed and leave you tired the next day. It's worth investing in good quality bedding that has good ventilational properties and no pressure points. Next, check your central heating is at the right temperature. Many sleep experts agree that an ambient temperature of 19c – 21c is about right.
3. Make sure you're getting the right amount of sleep: Our emotional state is another important factor and being tired can lead to being miserable and having a lower stress tolerance. Many people also don't realise the toll a lack of sleep can have on their cognitive and mental health. Recent studies have shown that oversleeping in the morning does actually have a number of physical and psychological side effects too, such as headaches, back pain but also a foggy mind for the rest of the day. It is therefore important to try and get a good number of hours of sleep in the evening hours, by going to bed early. That old adage of 8 hours is true!
4. Breakfast: You shouldn't work before eating first. Previous studies have shown that although a high calorie breakfast can hinder concentration, a small breakfast containing fibre whole grains, dairy and fruit actually improves short-term memory and attention.
5. Time Out: Don't force yourself to concentrate. If you feel that your concentration levels are starting to flag, it may be time to give yourself a five minute break to let your mind wander, knowing that you will get back to the task in hand after a set time period. In order to switch off from the task, do something completely different such as get up and talk to a colleague, go for a quick walk or make yourself a cup of tea. When you sit back down you should feel ready to start working and motivated again.
6. Self-belief: Feeling confident in your abilities is a huge motivator. If you believe the work you're doing is of a good standard you will be proud of it. A lack of knowledge of the task at hand often leads to procrastination, which will see time fly by. Instead of worrying about a task, do research or ask for help.
7. Music: Research has found numerous benefits to listening to music whilst working such as a positive mood change, increased curiosity and enhanced perception. Some studies show that listening to music helps people concentrate because they aren't being distracted by other sounds and conversations around them. This doesn't work for everyone however, and in others productivity and work quality can diminish if listening to music. If you find you are easily distracted by your colleagues try listening to music and see if it works for you.
8. Eat smart foods and eat regularly: Some foods are scientifically proven foods to sharpen focus and concentration and increase attention span. These include fish, berries and caffeine. Concentration depends on the ability of messages to flow freely between brain cells and in order for this to happen the cells need plenty of oxygen. This oxygen comes from blood sugar, so you should ensure a steady calorie intake throughout the day and also eat the right foods. Nerve fibres within the brain need insulating to help messages flow. The fatty substance myelin, which can be found in fish and other omega-3 containing ingredients, keep myelin level maintained. Walnuts and seeds are great to snack on.
Take a look at the best foods to help you through a difficult day in the gallery below...
What do you think of these tips?
HORRIFYING FLESH-EATING DRUG KROKODIL FOUND IN USA?
MARK DARCY IS DEAD IN NEW BRIDGET JONES BOOK?
LEARN ABOUT LOVE & ITALIAN COOKING AT VILLA SAN MICHELE, FLORENCE