Health

Mandy Kloppers

Neuroscientist Shares 5 Ways to Prevent Digital Dementia

dementia

Unable to recall your best friend’s phone number without looking at your phone? What about their birthday? Do you sometimes forget what you were thinking about as you’re thinking about it? Do you reach out to ChatGPT every time you need to express your thoughts and add some coherence into your email? If this sounds relatable you might be having a condition called ‘digital dementia’. 

 

While this is not a condition that can be clinically diagnosed, symptoms may mimic brain changes experienced in dementia and related disorders. As the theory goes, getting over-stimulated by digital screens can damage brain development, thus bringing on brain changes that are similar to early dementia. Being exposed to digital screens for more than 2-3 hours a day has been shown to harm the function as well as the structure of certain brain areas.  The symptoms of digital dementia include weakened concentration, memory problems, declining IQ and impaired emotional regulation.

  1. Exercise regularly

Physical exercise isn’t just for the body; it’s also a powerful tool for the brain. Studies have shown that regular exercise promotes neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to reorganise and form new neural connections. In addition, various studies have suggested that aerobic exercise can slow down brain impairment and decrease the risk of dementia, thus protecting your brain.

  1. Prioritise quality sleep

Your body may be fast asleep, but your brain goes into overdrive when you’re sleeping, establishing memories, clearing out toxins, and repairing neuronal connections. Lack of quality sleep has been linked to cognitive decline and memory problems.

Create a sleep-friendly environment by dimming lights, and creating a regular sleep schedule. Most importantly, make sure to strictly avoid digital screens before bedtime. Aim for at least 7 hours of quality sleep each night to recharge your brain.

  1. Engage in activities that promote mental stimulation

Challenge your brain with activities that go beyond routine tasks. You can try out dopamine-boosting activities such as reading and listening to music—but take it a step further and incorporate novel tasks that stimulate various cognitive domains. The goal is to keep your brain engaged and constantly learning.

Learn a new language, pick up a musical instrument, or try out painting. Sudoku and similar brain-stimulating puzzles have also been shown to improve memory in adults. It’s best, however, to avoid digital versions of these mind-stimulating activities and instead opt for real versions that require fine motor skills, as the decline in fine motor control often accompanies the degeneration of dopamine production as we age.

  1. Eat a Brain-Boosting Diet

Nutrition plays a crucial part in brain health. Nutrients such as vitamins, plant polyphenols, and polyunsaturated fatty acids (eg:omega-3) support neurogenesis—the growth of new brain cells. So, include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and fatty fish in your meals for better brain health. Variety and texture of food also play an important role in neurogenesis. One study showed that soft food impairs neurogenesis whilst hard food stimulates it.

Also consider a brain-boosting supplement with Lion’s mane mushroom which has been proven to promote brain health by stimulating neurotrophic factors such as nerve growth factor (NGF). Lion’s Mane Gummies from Novomins are infused with 2000mg high-strength Lion’s Mane as well as iodine for cognitive function and vitamins B6 and B12 for reduction of tiredness and fatigue.

  1. Practice Mindfulness Meditation

In a world of constant distractions, mindfulness is the reset button to your chronically overstimulated brain. Scientific research shows that mindfulness meditation can improve memoryconcentration and emotion processing. One of the best ways to build mindfulness meditation into your routine is to take up a 8-week course in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).

Credit: Valerie Stark-McQuillan, Neuroscientist and Formulator at Novomins

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