May 2019 – Cognitive Health Update

Each month I will provide an update on my progress to bettering cognitive health. This includes challenging my brain in scored games, expanding my knowledge through books, reviewing the latest research articles and watching creative, idea-worthy talks.

Brain Games

I didn’t miss many brain workouts this month and my overall scores reflected that. After completing exercises in Lumosity, Elevate and Peak for 25 out of 30 days, all my scores improved. Not only did my scores improve, but I’ve noticed a clear improvement in my ability to process information. It’s really interesting because I was able to set personal records in a number of games that I thought I’d maxed out. It goes to show there’s always room for improvement if you’re willing to put in the work.

Brain Workouts: 25 out of 30 days
Lumosity LPI: 1783 (+11 since April)
Elevate Average: 4285 (+55 since April)
Peak Brain Score: 754 (+20 since April)

Study Shows Significant Benefit from Word Puzzles

A recent study was published by a university in London. The study was performed on 50 year old participants and concluded that, “People who engage in word puzzles have brain function equivalent to 10 years younger than their age, on tests assessing grammatical reasoning, and eight years younger than their age on tests measuring short term memory.” This is an incredible conclusion but falls inline with many other studies. The more you exercise your brain, the fitter, sharper and quicker it becomes. Your brain is very much like a muscle that needs exercise and can be built stronger.

If you’ve downloaded and use the brain game apps I’ve mentioned above, you’ll recognize that Peak has timed crossword puzzles within the app. Elevate also has a few similar word puzzle games. This is why I recommend using Lumosity, Elevate, and Peak in conjunction. Each app has different games that target different areas of the brain. If you want to be the most flexible, the sharpest and fittest, make sure there’s diversity in your brain training efforts.
People who engage in word puzzles have brain function equivalent to 10 years younger than their age, science shows

Screen Time

The amount of time you spend looking at a screen (phone, computer, TV) per day is crazy! And, it’s increasing year after year. The annual world happiness report came out recently and highlighted screen time as one of the main factors in decreasing happiness. Actually, their report has a chart listing 23 routine activities someone would do during a day alongside a rating for how each of those activities affect one’s happiness. Not surprisingly, all phone activities (social media, games, internet, texting, etc.) affected one’s happiness in a negative way. While learning this, I wondered how much time I was spending on my phone and if there were ways to cut back.

Shown, is a screenshot of my tracked screen time from my iPhone. This screen shot is from a good week of mine where I had minimal phone use. My main phone activities were my brain games, Facebook and Messages. With only 1 hour and 14 minutes of averaged screen time per day, this is very low compared to many people who spend 3-4 hours on their phone. And you’d be surprised by how many people actually have screen time values upwards of 8 hours! If you have an iPhone, go into your settings and search for Screen Time. See what your weekly average is and determine if there are ways you can improve. As research has shown, this is a great way to improve your happiness!
World Happiness Report 2019

Book of the Month

It’s books like this one that have inspired me to start this blog. The Magic of Thinking Big provides a lot of great insight into realizing the power each one of us have. It covers confidence a good amount. How to build and grow a belief in yourself. This is something I’ve struggled with for a while.

Why is the work I’m doing worth anymore than the work anyone else does? Why start a blog like this when anyone else could acquire the same information and write the same thing? This book provides a lot of examples and lessons learned to get out of this mindset. To breakout from your usual routines and to strive to become better and reach higher. It’s an informational and interesting book that I’d recommend to everyone.
You can get it on Amazon now for less than $8!

Sleep is Your Superpower

Doctor Matt Walker presented one of the greatest TED talks this month on sleep. He presented a number of great studies and facts to show how important it is for us to have eight hours of sleep per night. For example, men who sleep 5 hours a night, compared to men who sleep 8 hours per night, will see aging of 10 years in terms of testosterone levels. Another example is people who sleep 5 hours compared to 8 have an ability that’s 40% less effective to make new memories. And, if you think three hours of sleep difference is fairly significant, consider his example of a one hour sleep difference. When daylight savings occurs and we lose one hour a day, we see heart attacks, suicide rates and car accidents all increase around 25%. If you’re someone who doesn’t consider sleep a vital component to your health, this TED talk is a great reminder that it is!

Final Thoughts

I powered through my brain games for over 80% of the days this past month and achieved higher scores in all three apps. I read a recent study reinforcing my belief in the benefits of brain games. I reviewed my screen time use to keep myself in check, and make sure I’m not falling into living an unhappy virtual life. I read a great book that’s pushed me to expand upon the idea of what myHealthSciences can become. And, I’ve gained new insight into how important sleep can be to mental health and performance. It’s been a great month and I hope there’s at least one thing you can takeaway from this post to help improve your cognitive health!

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Disclosure: I frequently review or recommend products and services that I own and use. If you buy these products or services using the links on this site, I receive a small referral commission. This doesn’t impact my review or recommendation.

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