Learning aids to help improve study skills, mental focus and enhance concentration.
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What is a Study Aid?
A study aid is a general term for any tool or technique that helps your brain absorb information and store it for later reference, such as during a test or exam. Study aids can be anything from note cards and study techniques to nutritional supplements and vitamins that support academic focus and concentration.
What Causes Study Difficulties?
If you’re having difficulty studying, causes can be both mental and physical. Cognitive function can be impacted by stress, lack of sleep, environment and poor nutrition.
Just like a plant needs food and water to grow, the brain needs cellular nutrition for optimal brain function. So where does this cellular nutrition come from? In healthy people, a nutrient-rich diet and exercise should allow the brain to function properly. In the modern world, though, food isn’t always as healthy as it should be. This can affect your ability to focus.
If the brain doesn’t get enough vitamins and minerals, memory and learning can suffer. This is especially evident in economically disadvantaged countries. Studies have shown poor nutrition directly correlates to poor education, short attention span and lower learning skills.
How the brain functions
The brain is made up of three parts: the forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain. It is the forebrain that controls memory and how we file away information we’ve learned. Initially, things we learn are processed in the cortex. If the brain senses the information is important enough to remember permanently, the data proceeds inward to the hippocampus and amygdala for long-term storage and retrieval. Study aids can improve academic performance by helping the brain remember information more easily.
Help for Studying
Prescription or over-the-counter products marketed as study aids claim to help you improve mental focus and enhance concentration while studying. Be careful. To help a student concentrate and stay awake while studying, these pills can contain large amounts of caffeine, ephedrine or amphetamines.
These stimulants are unhealthy for the body and will usually result in extreme fatigue after the study period ends. Overuse of caffeine can also disrupt sleep patterns and make it harder to fall asleep later. Rather than giving you better focus while studying, these medications may contribute to more concentration problems in the end. Research any over-the-counter study aids very carefully before taking them and explore healthier options first.
Nutritional supplements for focus while studying
Nutritional supplements can safely improve concentration, focus and memory function, without the risks of stimulant-based study aids.
Why take natural “brain boosters?” Because the right balance of nutrients can support mental alertness, maintain brain function and nervous system health. Good nutrition can also support cognitive function such as mental processing and organization and help manage stress about workloads or due dates. High levels of the right nutrients can have a positive impact on students who are unable to focus or concentrate on studying. When your body is nourished properly, it helps increase alertness, improve focus and reduce stress.
Herball supplements like StudyPlus™ for Improving Study Performance are a natural way to support memory, mental focus, concentration, cognitive function and creativity. Other supplements known for their brain-boosting power are the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements, resveratrol, gingko biloba and creatine.
More Information on Studying
Tips for studying
Be mentally and physically prepared. As early as a week before the exam, it’s a good idea to:
- Get enough sleep. Late nights when you have trouble staying awake while studying can disrupt your body clock. Lack of sleep can affect memory and decrease your ability to stay alert and focused.
- Eat healthy. If you’re not eating well, you can’t perform well in school. Keep some healthy snacks with you while you’re studying to avoid the temptation of junk food.
- Exercise. Get enough exercise and make sure you keep your energy levels steady. When you get your blood flowing, you feel more energized and alert. Even small 5-minute breaks to stretch your body while studying can make a big difference.
Know when and where you study best. Whether you prefer to study alone or with a study group, plan your study session based on your learning style.
- Are you an early riser who can focus great at 9:00am, but can’t concentrate while studying past 9:00pm because you feel sleepy? Or do you study better when you stay up late and sleep in?
- Does working at a desk help you learn material more easily? Or does sitting in a comfortable chair improve your mental focus on the task at hand?
- Do you like to study where it’s absolutely quiet? Or does a coffee shop with background noise give you better focus while studying?
No two students learn exactly alike. Figure out how you learn best, so you can choose the best study aids for your learning style. The right study aids can help boost your brain function and maximize the hours you spend studying. Your brain will thank you!
- “What causes learning disabilities?” National Institutes of Health. Accessed September 25, 2019. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/learning/conditioninfo/causes
- “Study Skills.” AcademicTips.org. Accessed October 1, 2019. https://academictips.org/study-skills/10-steps-to-improving-your-study-skills/
- “Learning disorders: Know the signs, how to help.” Mayo Clinic. Accessed October 1, 2019. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/learning-disorders/art-20046105
- “The 10 Best Nootropic Supplements to Boost Brain Power.” Healthline. Accessed October 1, 2019. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-nootropic-brain-supplements
- Downs, Martin. “Natural Brain Boosters.” WebMD. Accessed October 1, 2019. https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/natural-brain-boosters#1
- “Mind and memory supplement scorecard.” Harvard Medical School. Accessed October 1, 2019. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/mind-and-memory-supplement-scorecard
- “Studying 101: Study Smarter Not Harder.” University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Accessed October 1, 2019. https://learningcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/studying-101-study-smarter-not-harder/