Game On! Why Your Child Should Play Video Games

“Get off that game! You’ll go blind!”

It’s a tale as old as time: parents are chasing their children off video games all over the world. As a parent, you want to be sure your child is getting the most beneficial experiences possible. New and conflicting information seems to appear often on whether or not video games are “good” for you. Among the World Health Organization (WHO)’s new draft of medical conditions on June 18, 2018, they included “gaming disorder” as a diagnosable illness. Meanwhile, psychologists, researchers, and game developers point to how games can instill therapeutic, recreational and educational values in its players. It’s understandable that you want your kids to engage in a positive activity that helps them socialize and grow, but who’s to say your child’s video game isn’t doing both?

So video games are good for me now?

I know what you are thinking, “How can playing a video game for hours on end be good for anyone, let alone a child?” Video games provide players with challenging and engaging tasks that require the player to think critically and adapt new strategies as they progress.

According to a journal article entitled The Benefits of Playing Video Games published by Isabela Granic, PhD of Radboud University Nijmegan in The Netherlands, playing video games can help improve problem-solving skills as well as have motivational benefits. Dr. Granic says that video games are an ideal training ground for acquiring an incremental theory of intelligence because they provide players concrete, immediate feedback regarding specific efforts players have made.

Incremental theory of intelligence is the belief that intelligence is “malleable, or something that can be cultivated over time and effort.” This form of intelligence is extremely important, as it teaches children to maintain a positive attitude in the face of failure. Dr. Granic also mentions that there may be a positive correlation between playing video games and dealing with failure and “real world” success in areas like continuing to push past a problem instead of giving up.

Now of course, other settings can also help children learn and reinforce these lessons while playing games or working in groups, playing video games all day can have negative effects. Video game play must be done in moderation, so how much time should someone spend playing?

The answer may surprise you

A recent study from University of Oxford experimental psychologist Andrew K. Przybylski, Phd. entitled Electronic Gaming and Psychosocial Adjustment was conducted using 2436 males and 2463 females, ages ranging from 10 to 15. What Dr. Przybylski was looking for was the effects of gameplay of a child psychosocial development. What he found may shape the way we think about children and video gameplay. Dr. Przybylski found that children who spend less than one-third of their day gaming—that’s no more than 3 hours a day—were shown to have higher levels of prosocial behavior and life satisfaction and lower levels of conduct problems, hyperactivity, peer problems and emotional symptoms. He also went on to say that “electronic play has salutary functions similar to traditional forms of play; they present opportunities for identity development as well as cognitive and social challenges.”

Now that we know more about the positive cognitive and behavioral effects video games have on kids, we see that maybe we shouldn’t be chasing them off these games. Video games played in moderation have been shown to increase cognitive function and be as beneficial as other forms of play. Video games also provide children with the opportunity to learn skills we may overlook, like critical thinking, strategy and spatial thinking. Some games promote physical activity in children with ADHD, as the risk for obesity is much greater. So the next time you see your child playing his or her favorite game, have a seat next to them and ask to play next because you’re never too old learn a new skill.

 

What do you think is a good amount of video game time for your family? Let us know in the comments!

Gifts from Dad: What Dad Passes Down To You

From the time we are born, we as humans have a special bond with our fathers. Typically, dads are known for teaching their sons how to throw a baseball or teaching their daughters how to change a flat tire, but fathers also pass on many other traits that literally make us who we are.

Genetically speaking, we bear more resemblance to our fathers than we do our mothers. Researchers at UNC School of Medicine studying gene expression, or the genes level of activity at creating RNA found that the genes being studied were parent-of-origin specific, with 60% of the genes activity level coming from the father’s side. Although we inherit the same amount of DNA from each parent, the father’s side has more influence on the features a child will develop.

Let’s take a closer look at what we can thank our fathers for this Father’s Day.

Sex

The most well known “gift” from dad, a child’s sex is highly dependent on the father’s sperm. The women’s egg carries the X chromosome that pairs with the chromosome from the sperm. If the sperm is carrying an X chromosome and links with the mother’s X chromosome, the baby will be a girl, while a Y chromosome brings a baby boy.

Eye Color

The color of your eyes is determined by dominant and recessive genes. Dominant genes will produce brown eye color, while recessive genes produce lighter colors like blue or green. If both of your parents have recessive genes, you have a chance to inherit blue or green eyes. however, if your father has brown eyes, you will likely inherit them as well.

Hair

On to more traits from dominant and recessive genes, hair texture is also influenced by our genes. The gene for full, thick hair is dominant while the gene for thinner or balding hair is recessive. So, if your father has a thick head of hair and your mother has thinner hair, you are likely to have flowy locks like your father.

Mental Health

Although the mother can pass on mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, ADHD or bipolar disorder to their children, older fathers are more likely to pass different kinds of genetic mutations to their children. Older men continue to produce new sperm, while mothers have all their eggs from the time they are born, therefore, fathers who have mental health conditions are more likely to pass them on.

Additionally, children that are diagnosed with ADHD are highly likely to have a parent or blood relative that also has it. Researchers need to conduct larger studies to identify the specific genes associated with ADHD, however, there is no genetic test to determine if someone has ADHD. It’s often helpful for the child to know someone like them to look up to and who can help with tools and tactics for success.

Teeth

According to a study published in the Journal of Physical Anthropology, children can inherit their tooth size, jaw size, and shape of their teeth from either parent. However, due to the fact that the father’s genes are more dominant than the mothers, you can thank your father for your pearly whites!

 

We have a lot to thank dads for this Father’s Day.  Our fathers have made us into the people we are today—with a lot of help from mom, of course! We thank fathers everywhere for their guidance, knowledge, and most importantly, their good genes.

 

What traits did you inherit from your dad? Leave a comment and let us know!

The Summer Slide: Tips for a Smarter Summer

Flash forward to cooler temperatures when you’re just now finishing up back to school shopping after a long vacation. Every parent hopes that their child can’t wait to start learning again, but when they look at you with a lost look in their eyes and they say they aren’t ready to go back, your stomach can’t help but drop a little. Despite all the fun and relaxation, it becomes clear that the infamous “summer slide” has struck again.

Summer learning loss, also called the “summer slide” or “summer setback,” refers to the loss of academic ability and cognitive function that takes place over the summer vacation period. Some students are able to catch back up quickly during the first few review weeks, but for others, the loss is too significant to brush off, resulting in a noticeable lag behind peers. A study led by Duke University researcher Harris Cooper concluded that most students will lose about 1 month of math progress while other studies have estimated this number is closer to 2.5 full months. Similarly, research shows that about 2 months of reading comprehension ability is lost over vacation. Due to the lack of summer enrichment opportunities available to low-socioeconomic status students, the loss is usually steeper, with the compounded effect of lackluster summers resulting in a full 3-year gap in reading levels compared to their wealthier peers by the beginning of high school!

 

So, how do we prevent the “summer slide?”

At first glance, this may seem like an easy question. Just like sports or an instrument, reading comprehension and math must be practiced if a student wants to improve or maintain the skills. The slide is like deciding to skip out on the gym for three months. You can’t expect to return and immediately pick up the same weights and train at the same intensity as before your break. Luckily, there are many routes to keep your brain active over summer and avoid significant learning regression. One way to ensure your child stays ahead is to participate in one or more types of summer enrichment opportunities, such as summer camps or tailored academic programs. However, with an average weekly cost of $288 per child, these programs remain out of reach for many families. So, the question holds, how does one prevent the “summer slide” without having to spend lots of money?

 

Practice makes perfect

The good news is your child doesn’t need an expensive summer enrichment program in order to prevent learning loss. Here are a few easy and cost-effective ways to curb the “summer slide”:

Set a goal. Talk to your child about how many books they should read over the summer and make a plan to get there. Research has shown that reading just six books over the summer can help combat the “summer slide” for reading comprehension. Try choosing some books that are a challenge, but allow your child to read things they will find interesting.

Read aloud. Don’t underestimate storytime! Children of all ages, even teenagers, can benefit from listening to books read aloud. Ask your children questions about the motivation of the characters and their favorite parts, or have them retell the story in their own words. In addition, parents can read literature that slightly exceeds their child’s reading level and in turn, improve their comprehension.

Stealth learning. The best way to prevent the “summer slide” is to never allow it to happen. Although this might not sound enjoyable, there are ways to incorporate education into fun activities through a process called stealth learning, or “hiding” education into activities that won’t look like schoolwork. For example, taking your child to the new sci-fi movie, and afterwards researching some aspects of space exploration or physics is a great way to allow them to have fun while also exercising their brain! Keeping reading and math a part of daily life over the summer will ensure your child won’t lose what they learned. Instead, they might even get ahead of their friends!

Use “no sun” hours in creative ways. When it gets too hot to be outside, consider using this time to exercise your child’s mind by building something out of recycled materials or Legos. Alternatively, cooking meals with your child can encourage them to think creatively about math and reading. It can also be as simple as printing out some math problems and seeing who can finish them fastest with a small reward for the top score. You can even use NeuroPlus to build upon the skills of focus, impulse control, and calmness, all of which can help your student in the classroom when they go back to school.

 

There is no secret method to preventing the “summer slide.” All it takes is a conscious effort to keep your child’s brain active. This summer, don’t let the spell of vacation take away from all the work your child has done over the past nine months. Go down to the local library or bookstore and stock up on reading material, because although the waterslide at the pool might be fun, the “summer slide” is not.

 

What are some other ideas you have for combating summer learning loss? How do you incorporate learning into your child’s daily routine?

Mom Knows Best

We rely a lot on moms, there’s no doubt about it. From breakfasts, lunches, and dinners to homework, bake sales, and sports, our moms have our backs through it all. But that’s not all they’re responsible for! Based on some recent research, we now know that moms have a role in shaping their children’s brains – because there wasn’t enough pressure already, right?! Take a look at how moms make an imprint on our grey matter and how they knew best all along!

Turns out, moms are right to push “How was your day?” conversation over the dinner table.

A recent MIT study states that having a conversation with young children can help overcome socioeconomic differences when it comes to children’s language development. A landmark study from 1995 found that children from lower economic families have a “30 million word deficit” compared to children from more well-off families, correlating to differences in vocabulary, language development, and reading comprehension. That’s a tough situation to turn around, but MIT cognitive scientists studied 4-6 year olds using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and found that, despite a parent’s income or education, the number of exchanges in a conversation predicted more activity in Broca’s area, the part of the brain most related to speech and language, and resulted in higher standardized scores on language assessments. It’s not just about having exposure to diversity of words, but about engaging in a conversation.

My mom always told me, it’s not necessarily what you say, but how you say things that’s important. She was right.

It turns out that baby talk used with young children has a greater function than just sounding sweet to their children. From previous research on the rhythm and pitch, we’ve come to understand that not only do babies prefer to hear baby talk but also they learn new words more easily from the exaggerated way of speaking. Researchers at Princeton wondered if the timbre of a voice – including breathiness, roughness, or nasality – had anything to do with that. They found that women in English and nine other languages change the way they speak to their babies, possibly as a way to indicate the distinction and importance of what they are about to say. Mom, own your baby talk with your infants! It’s serious business.

Making good choices is easier when Mom’s around.

As many of us know, learning from mom doesn’t stop when we’re infants. Often times we need more attention later on in preteen and teen years as we explore responsibilities and consequences of our actions. Developmental neuroscientists all agree that adolescents tend towards risky behavior, but there’s a new view on why. Previously, scientists believed this behavior was based on heightened activity in the ventral striatum, the reward system in our brain, was too strong to compete with the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain associated with decision making and control, but researchers at UNC have found evidence that it depends on who’s around. In a driving simulation with fMRI, teens that drove alone through a yellow stop light strictly had more activity in their reward center. When mom was in the passenger seat, teens that stopped at a yellow light had greater activity at their ventral striatum and prefrontal cortex. Those teens that sped through the yellow with mom didn’t experience any extra reward.

It’s easy to put a lot of pressure on moms to provide the best for their children, but it’s good to know that they were already leading us down the right path all along. Thanks to all the moms out there doing their best!

Any lessons you learned from your mom or a woman you care about that you’re thankful for? Leave a comment!

Customer Spotlight: Ariel and Icker

Despite the wild ride towards the end of the school year, Jennifer, educator and mom of two, took some time to chat with me about her family’s experience with NeuroPlus. Jennifer is an adoptive mom of two children: an 11 year old girl Ariel and 7 year old boy Icker. They’ve both struggled with attention issues and have been diagnosed with ADD, which led Jennifer to look for help.

Jennifer knew that she was willing to try anything to help her family. “Being an educator, I’ve always looked at research based solutions to try to help my children.” Jennifer started with sensory training and worked with occupational therapists, among other therapies. Eventually she started medication with her daughter.

Never satisfied, Jennifer continued to look for other solutions for her family when she discovered NeuroPlus online. “The research was great, and the reviews were great,” said Jennifer, “so I thought, ‘Well, we’ll give it a try,’ and it really seems to be helping!”

Both Ariel and Icker use NeuroPlus as a part of their daily schedule to make sure they get make time for it. After outdoor playtime to unplug from school, dinner, and homework, Jennifer allows her children some screen time as the family hangs out together. “They’re required to play 20 minutes of NeuroPlus before they can play their other games,” Jennifer explains.

Since training, Jennifer’s noticed a dramatic difference in life at home.

Young girl wearing NeuroPlus headset while training

Ariel is medicated on school days, but just in time for homework, that medication has worn off, making homework time a struggle for the family. Previously, the homework that was meant to take 15 to 25 minutes was taking hours. Since training with NeuroPlus, Jennifer shared, “Ariel is able to complete her homework in a reasonable amount of time to be successful.”

Meanwhile, Icker struggled with reading. Since his attention training began “He seems to be enjoying reading a little bit more and he’s getting better at it,” Jennifer said. “I think it’s all due to their training.”

Reflecting on her children’s experience so far, Jennifer observed, “My children are old enough that once their bodies actually start to focus, they know how that feels. It makes them more alert.” She continued, “The sad thing is that attention isn’t a skill that you can teach. I can’t tell my children, ‘This is how you focus.’ It was something the medicine was doing for them, but NeuroPlus has given them the opportunity to know what that feels like.”

Would you like to see similar results with your family?

Schedule time with an account specialist to learn more about NeuroPlus!

Embracing ADHD In Your Career

People with ADHD have a natural predisposition to impulsivity and hyperfocus, and society deems this lack of control over regulating attention a severe handicap. Headlines on ADHD highlight the negative aspects announcing how kids with ADHD are more likely to use illegal drugs and drivers with ADHD are more likely to get in a car accident. However, what if a person with ADHD could embrace their natural tendencies and use them to their advantage?  

Different professions require people to be good at different things. Being a surgeon requires a steady hand, whereas being an engineer requires a gift for mathematics. We can all develop skills, but people tend to be happiest and most successful at careers that accentuate qualities that come easily to them. For example, someone who is extremely shy probably wouldn’t enjoy being a stand-up comedian, but an extrovert could find the job incredibly rewarding.

Johan Wiklund, a professor of entrepreneurship, published a study about how ADHD can be advantageous to a career in entrepreneurship. Interviews were conducted on 14 participants who were entrepreneurs and also had an ADHD diagnosis. The study found that these entrepreneurs mostly credit their ADHD tendencies with positive effects on their career.

Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates are known as some of the greatest entrepreneurs of all time, and interestingly, the qualities of a successful entrepreneur are complementary to the natural tendencies of someone with ADHD. Wiklund shares that his diagnosis of ADHD as an adult lead him to want to shed light on the positive effects of the disorder. In his study he found that impulsivity helped entrepreneurs with ADHD decide to start their business and hyperfocus helped them chase their dream.   

While many entrepreneurs are criticized for waiting for the perfect conditions to start sharing their product or service with the world, jumping in and pivoting on ideas are often skills people with ADHD possess and excel at when paired with the right environment, becoming strengths instead of weaknesses.

Yet entrepreneurship isn’t the only good career fit for those with ADHD. There are many other options for those who seek novelty and fast paced activity at work. Extraordinary individuals range from successful athletes to television stars demonstrate that ADHD doesn’t inhibit success. Everyone, with or without ADHD, have natural gifts and when these traits are highlighted or reinforced with other skills, these qualities that make us different become advantageous.    

If you have ADHD or know someone with ADHD, it’s time to embrace the natural tendencies. Find a treatment or routine that works best for you, but don’t fight what you’re naturally good at. 

What do you think are some skills or careers that people with ADHD are better at than others? Let us know it the comments!

Top 5 Celebrities Who Have ADHD

Perception seems to be changing, but there is a misconception that still holds in parts of society that being diagnosed with ADHD, ADD or an attention disorder somehow makes a person lesser than the norm. It’s as though having attention issues means you can’t be a successful person, and that having attentional difficulties is a big blemish or “problem.” That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Yes, people with ADHD might need to find coping mechanisms or take advantage of some accommodations like extra time. Some choose to take medication or pursue other treatments. In the end, we know that only you can decide how successful you’re going to be by believing in yourself and working towards your goals. Here is a list of some of our favorite celebrities that rose to the height of success either because of or despite an attention disorder.

Every year, I thought, ‘This is the year I’m going to start paying attention and doing my homework.’”

Scott Kelly

Kelly a retired American astronaut and retired U.S. Navy Captain admits that he never thought becoming an astronaut was possible because as a kid in school he had a lot of trouble focusing. However, this didn’t stop him from becoming a veteran of four space flights. Being an astronaut is an undeniable accomplishment and and with all the demands of the role, he didn’t let focus issues get in the way of that achievement.  Photo: Robert Markowitz – NASA/Flickr

“Having ADHD, and taking medicine for it[. It] is nothing to be ashamed of[,] nothing that I’m afraid to let people know [about.]”

Simone Biles

Biles is an Olympic gymnast who competed in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. She won four gold medals and one bronze medal, complete with her own signature move. Biles was diagnosed with ADHD when she was 7 years old. She is very open about her diagnoses and even tweeted that she didn’t think ADHD is anything to be ashamed of. Her dedication and focus to her craft break through the myth of what a person with ADHD can achieve. Photo: Agência Brasil Fotografias/Flickr

“The minute I got diagnosed it was like someone put glasses on.”

Ty Pennington

Pennington is a television host, artist, and model. He is well known for hosting ABC’s reality TV show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. He didn’t receive his ADHD diagnosis until adulthood but says he wishes he would have been tested sooner because it put his whole life into perspective. Growing up, he had always struggled with focusing and he used art as a way to cope. Once he received the diagnosis, he understood why he had been struggling, but that clearly didn’t keep him from creating amazing work. He encourages others to get tested and research treatment options. Photo: Lloyd Gallman/Flickr 

“I feel a little bit of relief because, for so long, I’ve been fighting it and I’ve been so frustrated with this inability to focus.”

Lisa Ling

Ling is an American journalist and is currently the host of This is Life with Lisa Ling on CNN. She was forty when she received a diagnosis of ADD. She says that she has noticed that she has always had trouble focusing, specifically on things she wasn’t interested in and even recalls that in elementary school teachers would often tell her parents she had issues focusing. Even without a diagnosis, Ling persevered and became a successful journalist.  Photo: Greg Hernandez/Flickr

“I’m an Olympic Champion and I have ADHD.”

Michael Phelps

Phelps is an olympic swimmer and the most decorated Olympic athlete. He was diagnosed with ADHD as a child and admits to he used to be embarrassed of having to take Ritalin. He recalls teachers treating him differently because he had ADHD and even had one teacher tell him he would never succeed at anything. Boy, did he prove that teacher wrong, and is now one of the strongest advocates for kids with ADHD. Photo: Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil

What do you think of these celebrities with ADHD? Do you have any other celebrities with ADHD that you look up to? Let us know in the comment section below!

Take Your Pills… Or Your Friend’s, Or Your Neighbor’s

About two years ago, I was sitting in my school’s library, the sun had set a long time before and the library was basically empty because everyone had already called it a night. I was staring at my computer screen close to tears. It was one of those awful weeks where the stars had aligned just right, and I had two exams and three ten page papers due. I felt the impending doom and paralyzed by stress, I wasn’t getting very much done. One of my really good friends sensed my anxiety, turned to me and said, “I have an Adderall that you can have, if you want it.”

Netflix recently released the new documentary called Take Your Pills and it sheds light on the secret world of illegal consumption of ADHD and ADD medication. Adderall and other ADD/ADHD medication are intended for people with diagnosed mental differences looking for a way to improve their quality of life. The decision to include medication in daily regiment is often not taken lightly for most families, and is a helpful method for people looking for an attention aid. However, Take Your Pills exposes groups of people without these mental disorders who have found that they like the effects of the medication.The documentary exposes how the drugs are being used as performance enhancers in hypercompetitive environments.

At the beginning of the documentary, college students describe their experiences with Adderall. Ariana, a college sophomore diagnosed with ADHD, recalls her experience of going to college and her parents telling her that she needed to get a lockbox for her medication. She didn’t understand why other people would want to take her pills but soon discovered she had entered a world where everyone was taking Adderall, and not as a treatment for ADHD.

Dr. Wendy Brown, Political Theorist at UC Berkeley, describes the driving force behind the use of Adderall as a performance-enhancing drug. She says that in hypercompetitive environments, people are being tasked with concentrating and performing at their highest capacity for as long as they possibly can. In these competitive environments the question becomes how can you come out on top. As a student, how can you beat everyone else?

I’m a college senior, and it’s hard to describe how easy it is to understand why people turn to performance enhancing pills to make ends meet. In college, there is no such thing as a work-life balance. You’re told that your GPA determines where you can go after college and you compete with your peers to make ensure that your future is bright. This is the same mentality used in every competitive environment where people turn to Adderall. Whether it be as extreme as a career in investment banking, or simply trying to get a promotion over other incredibly intelligent and very worthy co-workers, Adderall is used by students and adults alike to gain a competitive edge over their competition.

In Take Your Pills, Delaney, a college junior, calls Adderall “Rx gold” and very openly admits that people will steal the drugs because everyone wants to be the perfect student. She says that everyone wants to be beautiful and skinny, have amazing grades, and go out with friends. She says Adderall ties it all together; it’s a pill that lets you do it all. But is that really the case? And as we know choices come with consequences, and in watching Take Your Pills, we must ask ourselves, what are we giving up by having it all?

That night in the library, as well as every other time I have been offered Adderall, I have turned down the offer. I have never taken Adderall or any other ADHD or ADD medication, but I definitely understand the appeal. Take Your Pills shows many examples of students, athletes and coders who take Adderall and excel. While watching the documentary, I began to wonder if I had been doing college completely wrong, imagining a life if I had been begging my doctor for a prescription, but then I remembered what I decided that night in the library, a long time ago.

Not only is it disrespectful to those people actually needing the medication who are working hard, but I thought that even if it meant sobbing in the library in the wee hours of the morning, I wanted to feel that everything that I accomplished was a direct result of my hard work. We live in a society where it seems like there’s a pill to make you better at everything, and I decided that I wanted to take a step back and just be proud of myself for who I am.

Have you watched the Netflix Documentary Take Your Pills? Do you think people without an ADHD or ADD diagnosis are taking Adderall and Ritalin as performance enhancers? Let us know in the comment section below!

Put Your Brain to Bed: 5 Tips for Better Sleep

After a long day at work, juggling what seems like one too many responsibilities, and chasing after children, you’ve finally made it to the end of your day. Now, you’re snuggled in your bed, cocooned in blankets, and closing your eyes waiting for the miracle of sleep to wash over you. Even though you’re about to get a much needed break, your brain is going to be hard at work playing catch-up.

During the night our brain cycles through different stages of sleep. These different stages of sleep help our brains process and store information that we encountered during the day. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that children get about 10 hours of sleep and adults get about 8 hours of sleep per night. This amount of sleep allows our brains an adequate amount of time to store memories and repair itself. If we don’t reach our recommended amount of sleep, then we put ourselves at risk for sleep deprivation.

While as a culture we might joke about not getting enough resting time, sleep deprivation can cause an array of health problems. A common symptom of mild sleep deprivation is the inability to focus. Harvard Medical School explains that a lack of sleep results in our brain cells, neurons, becoming overworked. Overworked neurons cannot function correctly and this results in lower levels of focus, attention, and an inability to access information stored in our brains.

To ensure that our brains are functioning at peak performance, it is important to get enough sleep as well as make sure that we are getting the best quality of sleep possible. Sleep hygiene describes the habits and practices a person performs before going to bed. Practicing good sleep hygiene will help you and your brain wake up in the morning feeling refreshed.   

5 Tips for a Better Night’s Rest

  1. Avoid Caffeine. Caffeine helps you feel awake by altering your brain chemistry and blocking receptors in the brain that make you feel tired. Drinking caffeine can help you get going in the morning, but it’s a good idea to avoid drinking caffeine in the afternoon and evening because it will inhibit your brain’s natural ability to fall asleep. 
  2. Only Use Your Bed to Sleep. Our brains are really good at making associations. If you only use your bed to sleep then whenever you are in your bed, your brain will know it needs to release chemicals that make you tired. However, if you do work in your bed, then your brain will associate your bed with increased brain activity and this can decrease quality of sleep. 
  3. Don’t Use Electronics Right Before Bed. Electronic devices such as cell phones, computers, and televisions emit blue light from their screens. Blue light interferes with the production of the brain chemical melatonin, which is the chemical responsible for helping us fall and stay asleep.  If you want to play our training games or check your email, finish half an hour before bedtime. 
  4. Bedtime Routine. Doing the same calming routine before bed every night helps signal to your brain that it’s time to settle down and get ready to go to sleep. Listening to calming music can help slow down brain activity and taking a warm bath can increase body temperature with naturally makes you feel more tired. 
  5. Have a Bedtime. Having a bedtime helps program our circadian rhythm. Our circadian rhythm is responsible for making us feel awake in the day time and sleepy during the night. Having a set bedtime allows our brain know what time of day we should start to feel tired and allows us to get a better night’s rest.

What tips do you use to give your brain a rest? Let us know in the comments!

Why It’s Important to Believe in Yourself

If you’re like the majority of people, then you probably weren’t born a child prodigy. Most of us had to learn skills through practice, repetition, and determination. We had to learn how to ride a bike by falling down, scraping our knees, and getting back up. We had to learn to cook by burning food and messing up recipes as simple as grilled cheese. Learning a new skill is hard work, but the good news is that eventually we get better at it.

Practicing helps us improve skills, but have you ever wondered what makes certain people better at a skill than others? Psychologists studied successful people and they found the answer, so we’ll let you in on the secret: grit.

Grit
Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, is the psychologist who coined the term grit. She’s held an array of jobs from consulting to teaching and eventually she began to wonder what made certain people more successful than others. She noticed during her time teaching in New York City public schools that it wasn’t her most intelligent students that were the most successful and she decided she was going to find the answer. She went back to school to become a research psychologist and began to investigate what made people successful.

Dr. Duckworth was fascinated by Dr. Carol Dweck, a professor at Stanford University, and her idea of growth mindset. Growth mindset is the idea that the brain can grow and adapt to learn and solve problems. Dr. Dweck’s research has found that children who understand growth mindset are more likely to persevere because they understand that their brain is adapting and although they may not start of being good at something, failure is simply part of the journey of improvement.

As a psychologist, Dr. Duckworth expanded on Dr. Dweck’s idea of growth mindset. Dr. Duckworth studied people ranging from West Point cadets to National Spelling Bee finalists, but unlike most research done in her field, Dr. Duckworth didn’t focus on intelligence. Instead, she kept an open mind and studied IQ in addition to other variables such as level of attractiveness, social intelligence, and grit. Dr. Duckworth found that in all the different groups of people that she studied, grit was overwhelmingly the best predictor of success. Grit can be defined as perseverance and the unwillingness to give up on a long-term goal. A gritty person is someone who won’t accept “no” as an answer.

How to be Successful
Change your mindset. Just because someone tells you that something is not possible, you can tell him or her that they are wrong. Listening to the stories of some of the most successful people, we often hear that at some point in their lives they’ve been told that what they wanted to do was impossible. Instead of accepting what others said, they replied with the attitude of “watch me.”

Michael Phelps, a gold medalist swimmer and the most decorated athlete in the history of the Olympics, was a child who struggled with ADHD. Like most people, and especially people diagnosed with a mental illness, he was put in a box and told by others what he could and couldn’t do. Phelps didn’t allow the people around him to define who he would become. Instead, he used other people’s doubts as motivation and ultimately became incredibly successful.

As research progresses, it is becoming increasingly clear that we should take advantage of the brain’s natural ability to adapt. Having grit and believing in growth mindset allows all people to be successful. Want to be successful? Then go forth, and be gritty.

Need more inspiration? Check out Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth’s TED talk:

 

Do you think changing your mindset can help you improve a skill? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.