How concentration works in your brain | The morning ritual | A cold shower | Being in contact with the morning sun | A short solid workout | Take stimulating nootropics to make you more alert | NoordCode Upgraded Coffee | Eat the frog | Take away
Do you ever find yourself having to read the same sentence five times? Or that you cannot find your words? Are you listening to someone, but not hearing what they are saying? This confused behaviour has a name and it is called "brain fog".
You can also recognise concentration problems by being constantly distracted by e-mails, phone calls or social media. Multitasking, the constant switching of tasks, is also an indication of a lack of concentration. Before we go into how to solve 'brain fog' and concentration problems, you'll want to understand where it comes from, i.e. how concentration works in your brain.
How concentration works in your brain
The model we are explaining here very clearly maps out the biological background of concentration. It classifies the brain on the basis of evolutionary function:
- Reptile brain: regulates subconscious processes, such as heart rhythm, breathing and digestion. Crucial to survival!
- Labrador brain: regulates reproduction and everything that goes with it. It regulates behaviour such as eating, drinking, sleeping and sex.
- Human brain: this part is responsible for thoughts, reasoning, self-control, nuance. In other words: everything that distinguishes us from the ape (and other animals).
To function properly, the brain depends on a constant supply of oxygen and fuel through the blood. The reptile and labrador brain always get the oxygen and fuel first because they are essential for short-term survival. Anything left over goes to the human brain. An energy shortage in the human brain is the direct cause of not feeling sharp.
In an ideal situation, there is still enough energy for the brain. The reptilian and labrador brain do not notice this, but the functions of the human brain are greatly enhanced as a result. You can suddenly answer questions directly, without thinking for a long time. You work quickly and systematically. Wouldn't it be nice to experience this every day?
Good sleep, exercise, exposure to daylight, eating unprocessed foods, limiting fast carbohydrates and fasting are all essential for the supply of energy to the human brain, and therefore for your concentration. Improved concentration therefore starts with applying these basic principles.
Would you like to take your concentration to a higher level and be sharp in the morning? This is where stimulants come in handy. We have incorporated various stimulants into a morning ritual for you, which you can apply on the days you work, or perhaps you choose to do it every day.
The morning ritual
A cold shower
You can probably imagine the stimulating effect of a splash of cold water on your face after a deep sleep. A full cold shower after getting up is the same idea, but much more effective for your mental performance. A cold shower wakes up your body and puts it in a higher state of alertness, just like coffee does.
Cold showering is also healthy for the brain. Among other things, it increases serotonin. Serotonin is a substance in the brain that is partly responsible for "feeling good". This is also the reason why the pharmaceutical industry bases the production of anti-depressants on the effect of serotonin. [*]
Due to a boost in endorphins (the happiness hormone), you also experience a reduction in pain and stress after regular exposure to cold. [*]
If a full cold shower is too much for you, you can also alternate between cold and hot. This is easier to maintain and has the same effect. Do try to finish with a cold shower.
Being in contact with the morning sun
Sunshine and bright light affect your cortisol production. Cortisol is your awakening hormone and essential for alertness and productivity. There are several ways you can fill in this part of your morning ritual:
- Go for a walk when the sun comes up.
- Expose yourself to outside light as much as possible in the first half of the day. Even if it is only behind the window. [*]
- Go outside or open the window and look carefully in the direction of the morning sun. This exercise is called 'sun gazing'. If you do this when the sun is just rising, it is safe for the eyes.
A short solid workout
A short, strong workout in the morning has many benefits for improved concentration. Here are some of them:
- A morning workout boosts alertness and productivity by increasing cortisol levels. [*] Since cortisol naturally peaks in the morning, your body is more prepared to move at this time.
- A 2019 study shows that a morning workout improves focus and decision-making. [*]
- Exercising in the morning makes you sleep better in the evening and therefore more alert the next day. [*]
- Regulate your blood sugar levels, so you experience less of an energy dip in the afternoon and are less distracted by the urge to snack. [*]
- Training takes a lot of willpower. If you finish that first, you won't have to think about it the rest of the day and can focus on other important things.
Take stimulating nootropics in the morning to make you more alert
The cortisol that wakes you up in the morning makes you alert, focused and energetic. This mental effect can be used to your advantage and enhanced with the stimulants caffeine and tyrosine in the Strong Morning supplement. Like cortisol, these two stimulating nootropics make you more alert and focused. [*], [*] Tyrosine even has a positive effect on decision-making in stressful situations. [*]
For best effect, take Strong Morning, and caffeinated drinks a few hours after getting up. Before then, cortisol alone is sufficient for optimal alertness. The morning, when your cortisol peaks, is also the time of day for mentally intensive tasks. More on that later.
NoordCode Upgraded Coffee
Upgraded Coffee, also known as Bulletproof Coffee, is coffee with ghee and C8 MCT oil mixed in. Not only the fats, but also the fact that the coffee used for this recipe is tested for mould and toxins, makes Upgraded Coffee unique. The recipe was originally formulated by Bulletproof founder and biohacker Dave Asprey, and has since been on the menu of many a coffee shop, given its enormous popularity.
Here are some reasons why: the grass-fed ghee in the recipe is rich in fat-soluble vitamins. Grass-fed ghee also contains the right fatty acids, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), butyric acid and omega-3, which are nutritious for the brain, among others. [*], [*], [*]
Another ingredient in the recipe is MCT oil. MCT oil is quickly absorbed. It skips a number of steps in the digestive process, giving you energy faster. MCT oil is also an easy way to increase ketones. [*] Ketones serve as fuel for the brain. They give you focus and constant energy. It has even been scientifically proven that MCT oil can remedy the previously mentioned 'brain fog'. [*]
Last but not least, MCT oil makes you feel fuller faster, so you have less of a craving for food. [*] With NoordCode Upgraded Coffee, you can work through to lunch without thinking about food.
This is the recipe for a cup of coffee:
1 cup NoordCode Pure Coffee (tested for moulds and mycotoxins)
1 tsp. - 2 tbsp. Pure C8 MCT-olie
1-2 tsp. grassfed Pure Ghee
- Brew 1 cup of coffee with NoordCode coffee beans or NoordCode ground coffee.
- Add coffee, C8 MCT oil and ghee to a blender.
- Blend for 20-30 seconds until it resembles a creamy latte. Enjoy!
Feel free to adjust the amount of butter, ghee and MCT oil to your taste preference. If MCT oil is new to you, start with 1 teaspoon and build up to the full serving size over a few days.
Eat the frog
Eat the frog' is the iconic title of Brian Tracy's book about procrastination. The 'Eat the frog' method is to complete the most important things on your schedule for the day first. This is often also the task that you keep putting off. By completing the task immediately, you reduce the willpower required to procrastinate.
Research on Circadian Rhythms backs this up. It has been shown that cognitive performance and problem-solving ability peak during the first half of the day. [*] Therefore, complete your mentally demanding tasks in the first half of the day.
Improved concentration starts with sufficient energy for the human brain. Essential for this is a good night's sleep, eating unprocessed foods, limiting fast carbohydrates, exposure to daylight and fasting.
To take your concentration to the next level, start the day with an energising morning routine. Start with a cold shower. Build in a moment of contact with the morning sun. This can be a walk, or working in front of the window. Do a short brisk workout, use stimulating nootropics, such as Strong Morning, to feel more alert. Experiment with NoordCode Upgraded Coffee for better focus and energy. Finally, finish the most important task, the one you're up against, first thing in the day.
The Strong Morning supplement is part of a complete ritual of four supplements that cater to your circadian rhythm. The other supplements in the box, called Circadian Boost, are Power Day, Evening Star and Optimal Sleep. Power Day helps you reduce stress and fatigue during the day. Evening Star replenishes your energy on a cellular level, so you can start the day energetically the next day. Optimal Sleep is an advanced sleep supplement, to be taken two hours before bedtime for a good night's sleep.