How to Sleep Amazingly Well – And Wake Up Refreshed

November 27th, 2007 Delgado Posted in Brain Hacks 3 Comments »

sleepy smurfNow that final exams are almost here – and term papers need to get turned in – it’s time to make sure you’re getting enough rest.

You see, proper rest is vital to keeping your brain functioning to its full potential. Quality sleep is also important so that you can stay energized and focused on your various assignments.

Stanford University published a great list of ways to help you sleep better. Here’s an excerpt:

Take a hot bath.
People with trouble falling asleep might benefit from taking hot baths about 90 minutes before bedtime, the researchers speculate. When they get out of the bath, body temperature will drop rapidly, and that might help them to fall asleep faster

Drink some warm milk.
If you’re stomach is empty, it can interfere with your sleep schedule.However, a heavy meal can also interfere with good sleep. Dairy products and turkey contain tryptophan, which acts as a natural sleep inducer. Try a warm glass of milk before bed.

Don’t take naps.
Try not to nap during the day. A nap will often it make it more difficult to go to bed at night.

If you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes, get out of bed and do something boring.
Staying in bed longer won’t help you fall asleep. If you’re having trouble sleeping, get out of bed until you feel tired. You need to teach your body that your bed is a place of sleeping – not worrying, brainstorming, or thinking about tomorrow.

Don’t expose yourself to bright lights.
Dim your lights prior to bed, and refrain from turning on bright lights if you wake up during the night to use the restroom. Bright lights signal to your brain that it’s day. Try to only use dim lights at night.

Check out the other ways to sleep better . . .

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The Cure for Writer’s Block -10 Ways to Jumpstart Your Brain

November 26th, 2007 Delgado Posted in Brain Hacks, English, Essay Help, Study Help, Writing 2 Comments »

writingAs an English Lit. major in college, I had to write dozens of essays a quarter.

And, unfortunately, I got hit with writer’s block on a regular basis.

I tried to combat it by spending more time researching in the library, but that just made my problem worse.

You see, even though research is important — it didn’t help me write my paper. In fact, I’ve found that research just helped me procrastinate more.

So how do I cure my bouts with writer’s block?

Here are 10 ways that have helped me write when I’m not in the mood:

1. Relax your mind.
The more you worry about not having ideas, the more you’ll freeze up your mind. You need to relax and think positively about your writing assignment. Realize that everyone goes through writer’s block, and the cure is to relax your mind.

2. Take a hot shower.
I don’t know what it is about a hot shower, but it really helps me refresh my body and mind. The hot shower helps me relax and focus on my writing assignments. It’s also a place where I brainstorm easily. Take a notepad and leave it next to your shower door for when the ideas start flowing.

3. Write freely.
Whenever I’m at a loss for words, I’ll just start writing. It doesn’t matter what you write, just write something. The very act of getting words on a page will help you build confidence, and help your mind to start pumping out your thoughts.

4. Write what you would say to your friend.
Sometimes it helps me to pretend that I’m explaining the subject to a friend. By imagining a conversation with a friend, it helps me write what I would say – and this is a great way to trick yourself into writing.

5. Don’t worry about punctuation or organization.
When you’re struggling with writer’s block, this is not the time to focus on punctuation or how you’re organizing your paper. You want to eliminate everything that stands between you and getting words on a page. So just write and don’t worry about anything else.

6. Take deep breaths.
There are many benefits to breathing deeply in meditation, and one of them is to help you refresh your mind. I personally like Dr. Weil’s deep breathing exercises when I’m feeling tired and uninspired:

  1. Inhale through your nose for four seconds
  2. Hold your breath for seven seconds
  3. Exhale through tightly pursed lips, creating “back pressure,” for eight seconds.
  4. Do this eight times, twice a day, everyday.

7. Move around.
Get your body moving and possibly even try writing in a new location. Just by moving around will get your blood pumping faster and will help you feel more energized.

8. Concentrate on a different section of your paper.
If you’re stuck writing your introduction, just skip it. Start writing another section. Don’t worry if you don’t have the best paragraph structure – just write and the words will start to flow. You can always edit later.

9. Listen to music.
Sometimes listening to classical music or jazz can help you start writing. It doesn’t work for everyone, but I’ve found that it can help me block out any surrounding noises and focus on my writing. Try music when you’re out of words.

10. Don’t worry about failing.
Look, a lot of people get writer’s block because they think they’re afraid of failure – or they think they can’t write a good paper. You have to get rid of that negativity and start writing. The more you write, the better your paper will be. You can always edit it later – and find a friend to proofread it to give you some suggestions.

So just start writing . . .

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Why You Should Talk to Yourself After Studying

November 20th, 2007 Delgado Posted in Books, Brain Hacks, Memorization, Reading 3 Comments »

reading.gifThe next time you finish studying, I’d like for you to give yourself a 5 minute lecture on what you just read.

Yeah, I know it sounds crazy, but just give it a try.

You see, one way to help new ideas cement in your mind is to recite them back to yourself.

If you simply read a textbook passively, you will probably remember less than a third of what you should within a few days. And you will probably remember a lot less two months later.

However, if you’re actively reading and reciting key concepts back to yourself it will help connect these ideas to your core memory.

And if you’re able to attach these new ideas to subjects you already know well, this will help the new ideas stick in your mind much longer – and much easier.

So talk to yourself after you’ve studied.

It’s a great way to test yourself on what you just read. And it will force your mind to remember more and more each time you study.

Recommended Reading

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Brain Teasers and Games to Stimulate Your Mind

November 15th, 2007 Delgado Posted in Brain Hacks Comments Off

brain-puzzle.gifIf you’re looking for a way to challenge your mind, here are some free brain games you can play:

All Star Logic Puzzles
A great assortment of logic puzzles to test your analytical skills.

Archimedes Mind and Visual Puzzles
Tons of math-based puzzles, tessellations, and geometric puzzles to keep your mind buzzing.

Brain Juice
Huge selection of various logic puzzles submitted by users.

Brain Teaser World
Puzzles, optical illusions, and magic tricks

Brain Ball
A collection of mind games that test your logic, spatial sense, memory and planning skills.

Brain Bashers
Brain teasers, puzzles, optical illusions, and logic games

BrainBoggled
Riddles, math riddles, logic quizzes, and brain teasers

Braingle
User-submitted brain teasers, puzzles, riddles, trivia, and games

Puzzability
Puzzles and mind bending riddles

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How to Improve Your Memory Power – 7 Effective Techniques

November 7th, 2007 Delgado Posted in Brain Hacks, Memorization, Study Help 8 Comments »

brainWhen I was an undergraduate student, I had to take 5 classes in a foreign language to complete my degree.

I took classes in Spanish, classical Latin, and ancient Greek to fulfill my requirement – and needless to say – I’m glad that’s over with.

I’ve literally spent hundreds of hours memorizing verb conjugations. And I’ve probably killed many trees with all the note cards I’ve used up.

The more I memorized, the easier it became – not because I was getting smarter – but simply because my brain was used to memorizing a lot of information every single day.

Pretty soon I was able to memorize stacks of vocabulary cards very quickly. It just took practice, and anyone can do it.

Here are some of the strategies I used to help me memorize my vocabulary terms and conjugation rules quickly:

Make Creative Associations
When I was memorizing a new word or grammar rule, I tried to develop a fun way to make it stick. The more outlandish the association, the better it would stick. For example, let’s say that I had to remember that word “domus” is Latin for home. I would simply imagine a huge dome hanging over moose. (The classical Latin pronunciation sounds like “Dome-oose.”) That association would help me remember the word easily. I know this sound simplistic, but it really works. I would sometimes draw out fun associations on the back of my vocabulary note cards to really make these bizarre associations remembered.

Break-up Your Study Time
Our brains tend to remember less the longer we study. That’s why it’s often easier for us to remember the beginning and end of a lecture than all the details in between. So I found that by studying in short one hour stints helped me remember more. Everyone is different, so find out what amount of study time is perfect for you. You might find that you can memorize more in three one-hour sessions than one four-hour session.

Use Your Mind and Body
Sitting at a desk staring at some grammar rules might work for some people, but I always learned quicker by actively doing something with the information. I would draw association pictures or read my book aloud to help make things more permanent in my mind. I also found that studying note cards while walking around campus was a way to keep myself energized and focused.

Repeat What You Need to Know
One way to help something stick in your mind is to recite it to yourself. Read it aloud to yourself – and then read it again. The key here is to saturate your mind with the content in every way possible. One fun way to do this is to imagine your vocabulary cards or textbook being read by someone you think is funny. Imagine your textbook being read by Jon Stewart. It will at least keep things a bit more interesting.

Reduce the Noise

Some people study well listening to music. It really depends on the subject matter. However, if you find yourself drifting off, or focusing on the words of the song, it’s probably best to dismiss the music for a while. If you enjoy music, listen to some classical music or some other music that helps you focus. You basically want to situate yourself in a place with the least amount of noise interference.

Stay Positive (if possible)
You’ll remember far more information about a subject if you try to find it interesting. If you think the topic is boring and useless, than you’re going to make memorization that much harder. Look for some sort of connection on how the subject you need to learn about fits in with your life.

Study When You’re Most Productive
Everyone has their best study time, and often it’s during the daytime. There’s just something about memorizing and studying when it’s daytime that can keep you more motivated and more focused. I find that I’m most productive during the early morning. I often go to a coffee shop around 6:30 a.m. and just drink coffee while I write and study. Find your best time to study and keep on that schedule. It will do wonders for your memory power.

Recommended Reading

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