Sleeping little and/or badly, waking up already tired, leaving the house in a hurry (with or without children), traffic, stress, phone calls/problems first thing in the morning, accumulation of several jobs/functions, 8-12 hours of daily work (using including lunch time to resolve outstanding issues), get home exhausted, eat something, sleep, repeat. For many people, this is a regular weekly routine, whether by choice or, above all, out of professional necessity/obligation. It is not difficult to understand that the changes in our professional environment that have occurred in recent years and the fact that we are constantly online leave our brain overstimulated for much of the day.
How to withstand this pressure and not “explode”?
The amount of polyphenols in the diet, especially present in fruit and vegetables (red fruits, garlic, onion, coffee, green tea, broccoli, cabbage, pepper, tomato, cloves, saffron and other spices) helps in cognitive function and neuroplasticity. If some of them seem increasingly inaccessible in their cost, it is important to mention that there is no need for them to be biologicalsince there are many factors that condition the total amount of phytochemicals with antioxidant potential in these foods and it is not clear that those from organic farming have a greater amount of them.
There is often the notion that supplementing with a multivitamin can correct the nutritional deficiencies of a poor diet, but a recent study brought an interesting discovery. When a supplement rich in group B vitamins was given, ginkgo biloba and other substances, those who had the best results in improving attention and reducing mental fatigue were precisely those who already had the best basic nutrition, emphasizing the positive interaction between nutrients already present in the diet and supplementation.
Maintaining stable blood glucose levels throughout the day is essential for good intellectual performance, as states of both hypoglycemiaor large falls (which occurs after meals with excess carbohydrates/sugar) have a negative influence not only on the appetite as well as concentration. A useful tip is to always add a source of protein-fat (skimmed/protein yogurt, low-fat cheese, toasted soy beans, egg or fatty fruits) to moderate amounts of fruit/cereals/bread in between meals.
Caffeine is often seen as the “bad guy” and its consumption demonized, but in fact it is possibly the most effective substance in reducing mental fatigue, as long as it is well used. Drinking it in the last third of the day can in fact decrease not only the number of hours of sleep, but also the quality of it, and if possible the last coffee of the day (with caffeine, with decaf the conversation is different), should occur 8 am to 9 am before bedtimei.e. around 3 pm – 4 pm for those who go to bed at midnight.
If you are also one of those who like the famous square of dark chocolate with coffee, know that in addition to the sensory benefit (which in times of stress can even be the most important), it is also possible that positively interfere with cognitive function.
Much is said about the role that omega 3 could play in this process; however, the proof not so encouraging in adults as at earlier ages and there are actually other supplements that can be of greater help at this point. One of these is the non-essential amino acid tyrosine (2g at 150mg/kg), which seems to have positive effects on performance cognitive function, given that it is the precursor of the synthesis of adrenaline and noradrelin and thus manages to mitigate the impact of some physiological stressors, such as sleep deprivation, noise and extreme weather – hence its frequent use in military scenarios.
Mental fatigue may be partially related to a decrease in the concentration of phosphocreatine in the brain – hence creatine supplementation can have positive results at this level. Since the evidence is still limited, it seems to be promising either in the improvement of mental fatigueeither in memoryin addition to its positive effects already well consolidated on sports performance and muscle mass.
Many people are concerned about drinking too much or too little water in order to lose weight, but our state of hydration has a much greater connection with other conditions (kidney stones, urinary infections, constipation), including migraines and the performance cognitive. One work already from 2023 observed a positive association between a less than desirable hydration status and decline in cognitive function.
Training can create a greater resistance to this mental fatigue, which can, however, be contradicted by sedentary behavior the rest of the day (more than 8 hours sitting). For those who have no alternative to working sitting down, taking more frequent breaks and microwalks or going up/down stairs, he always helps in this process.
A music has a positive role in this topic, and can be useful for anyone who manages to work to the sound of it or listen to it in the car on the way home (may be better on some tense days than listening to another podcast technique that requires maintenance of concentration) and even some odors (citruses, smell of freshly cut grass, menthol, honey and flowers) can surprisingly help to reduce mental fatigue, by binding to some olfactory receptors responsible for reducing fatigue and by linking the olfactory bulb to the amygdala-hippocampus complex.
Also the use of smartphones may represent a dose-response relationship. If in moderation it can serve to “unwind” from work, in excess it can contribute to the aggravation of this mental fatigue It is worsen sleep qualityif done very close to bedtime.