Nootropics for Studying
If you are like many students, you may react to the heading above by thinking, "What the heck are nootropics, and why should I take time away from studying to learn about them?"
Both are good questions. The term nootropic is the name for a class of chemicals - some of which occur naturally - that provide cognitive benefits to the human brain. As a shorter and more useful definition, nootropics have been called "brain boosters" or "smart drugs." They enable those who take them to increase their brain power by altering the supply of neurochemicals, enzymes, or hormones in the brain.
On high school, college, university, and graduate school or technical universities around the world, nootropics are often referred to to as "brain vitamins for studying," "memory pills for students," "concentration pills for studying," or just as "smart pills."
Are nootropics for students worth looking into?
Yes. Whatever you call them, nootropics have a growing place in the world of education.
It is a competitive world, after all, one in which as a student you are called upon to not only do your best, but to make sure your personal best outperforms the best of other students who may be competing for the same limited number of scholarships or openings in prestigious graduate schools.
As you already know if you are a student, this competition can create stress and anxiety. Sadly, those mental states have been shown in clinical tests to be antithetical to learning. The more anxious you are, the less ability your brain has to acquire and retain new knowledge.
As a result, school is often a painful cycle - you study hard to do your best on your exams, but the exams themselves create stress and make you anxious, which keeps you from learning. It's enough to make you think, "There must be a better way to learn."
Nootropics for students
There IS a better way to learn. In this article, we provide a number of practical tips and suggestions that can make your brain more efficient at learning. We'll also provide information about the best nootropics for studying, and how you can use 100% natural supplements to increase your brain's ability to learn.
Study tips that work
Nootropic study pills for students can help to make your brain more focused and improve your concentration while studying. But before we get to them, here are a number of other proven tips that can make your "study time" more effective:
- Say no to cramming. Clinical studies tell us it's inefficient, and that it actually impairs long-term retention of new information. Cramming also causes anxiety, which lowers your ability to retain information. Instead, experts say that it's best to study in 20- to 50-minute intervals, taking breaks between them to refresh yourself.
- Say yes to exercise. Sure, you may think that sitting at your desk for hours is the best way to study, but science tells us that just 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise can improve your memory. Exercise also increases your energy levels, and reduces the effects of stress.
- Minimise distractions. Many students these days, having grown up with constant media bombardment, like to study while listening to music or even watching TV. Unfortunately, studies show they are less likely to retain information if they do.
- Alternate your study spots. Studies have shown that the simple step of changing the room you study in improves your ability to retain new information.
- Take regular breaks. Studying for hours on end is actually counterproductive. If you were training for a marathon, you wouldn't run 24 hours a day. Similarly, studies have shown that for long-term retention of knowledge, taking breaks really helps.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water, because it's essential for your brain to be able to work at its best.
- Meditate. Not only does meditation help you concentrate when you are studying, it helps to reduce pre-exam stress, and improves both mental and physical health. Numerous clinical studies have shown that meditation even changes the structure of your brain, increasing the size of brain areas associated with memory, compassion, regulation of emotions, empathy, and positive sense of self.
One study tip that DOESN'T work - don't pull an all-nighter!
Here's a tip that is going to sound completely non-intuitive, given the "Gotta stay up all night preparing for this exam" culture prevalent in many colleges and universities:
Healthy sleep patterns are essential for studying. Learning and memory are often described in terms of three functions:
- Acquisition is the process of introducing new information into the brain.
- Consolidation is the process by which a memory becomes stable.
- Recall is the ability to access the information after it has been stored.
When we are sleep deprived - say, after a long all-nighter or several of them in a row - our ability to focus becomes impaired, making it more difficult for the brain to acquire new information. Without adequate sleep, our neurons can no longer function to consolidate the new information properly, and we lose our ability to recall the information later.
Periods of REM sleep in particular are associated with keeping the brain healthy, because it stimulates the brain regions we use to learn things. Science has proved the importance of REM sleep for being able to learn and retain new information. Studies have shown, for example, that people who studied to learn a new skill and were then deprived of non-REM sleep (deep, dreamless sleep) were able to remember what they learned after they awoke. But people who were deprived of REM sleep could not. The new skill was just gone, as if it had never been learned.
So forget the "conventional wisdom" of staying up all night to study for that exam. Study as much as you can - using some of the tips provided above to study more effectively - and then go to bed and get a good 7 to 9 hours sleep. You'll do better on the exam.
Brain vitamins for studying - nutritional supplements that improve learning
Proper nutrition is as important for learning as is proper sleep and exercise. A 2014 study in the journal Neurology found that people with higher intake of foods high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids had bigger brains. So avoid the junk food machines and instead try to eat lots of healthy foods such as green leafy vegetables, avocados, beetroot, celery, coconut oil, egg yolks, blueberries, broccoli, salmon, turmeric, walnuts, and fruits, and be sure to get your minimum daily requirement of vitamin D, the nutrient many researchers feel is most important for brain health.
Ostensible "smart drugs" you probably should avoid
If you ask around, you'll probably find that many of your classmates are misusing some prescription drugs in the belief they'll help them study better or stay awake longer.
Adderall, for example, is widely found on campuses. Some surveys estimate that up to 43% of students use it without a prescription to stay awake studying. Unfortunately, common side effects of Adderall include anxiety, low sex drive, and sweating.
Ritalin, which is sometimes prescribed to treat attention deficit disorder, can have the exact opposite effect if taken in large doses, and actually impair thinking. Ritalin also has negative side effects, such as insomnia, stomach ache, headache and loss of appetite.
Fortunately, there are safer and more effective "study pills" you can use to help you study.
Take a natural nootropic with these ingredients to sharpen your mind
One of the defining characteristics of a nootropic, as stated by Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea, the man who coined the term, is that it "should possess few or no side effects, and be virtually non-toxic." This is clearly not true of misused prescription drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin, but it IS true of many natural nootropic supplement ingredients.
If you are looking for the best nootropics for students, we recommend our own Neuro Focus Plus formulation. Developed by experts specifically to boost brain power, focus, concentration and memory, Neuro Focus Plus can help to keep your brain healthy and alert so you can stay at your most productive all day, every day. Nootropic ingredients of Neuro Focus Plus include:
- Rhodiola Rosea, an adaptogenic herb that fights stress and is a powerful nootropic "brain booster" that improves your ability to concentrate and focus.
- L-Tyrosine, an important amino acid that increases mental clarity and attention.
- Green tea extract increases energy, focus, and mental function. Our concentrated extract provides 50mg of the active natural plant compound EGCG.
- Curcumin Focus®,our high-quality turmeric extract, boosts the active ingredient of curcumin to significantly boost attention and performance on memory tasks.
- Caffeine from Kola Nut (natural coffee extract) provides a richer, more nutrient-dense source of caffeine for those afternoons when you need an effective, short-term energy enhancer.
- L-Theanine is an amino acid found in tea leaves. When combined with caffeine, it gives you the benefits of increased focus for long periods of time.
- Zinc is found in leafy greens such as kale, and aids optimal cognitive function.
- D-Biotin, the naturally occurring, biologically active form of the B vitamin Biotin, helps to convert other nutrients into energy that can be used by the brain.
- Soya Lecithin is a key part in our nutrient delivery and absorption system.
- Blackberry extract works synergistically with Bioperine® to help your body increase absorption and utilise all the nutrients.
- Bioperine®, from an extract of black pepper, is another essential component of our trademarked delivery system, which aids absorption of key nutrients.
We recommend taking one to two 200mg capsules at midday to help you remain sharp, focused, and productive all day. If you have a big exam, you can take one capsule 30 minutes before it starts, to make sure your brain is at its sharpest.
Because as we stated above we are also in the business of helping to make sure you get the restful sleep you need, we don't recommend taking Neuro Focus Plus after 2 PM, because the caffeine it contains can interfere with your sleep at night.
Visit the Utmost Me focus blog for more helpful advice and tricks to help you concentrate more, focus clearly and reach your full potential.