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Hear & Now

A guide to managing brain health and cognitive health

Cambridge Brain Sciences recently shared an interesting and useful white paper with us called ‘Keeping Mentally Fit – a guide to managing brain health” and we wanted to share some of the key takeaways.

The white paper discusses the area of cognitive health and begins by explaining that cognition is not just a single number and cannot be measured as a single state. More similarly to physical health or blood pressure, cognitive health is a state which can vary day-by-day, person-by-person and even by various cognitive functions.

Cognitive health is something which is very susceptible to a number of external influences, some of which we have total control over and others we do not. Likewise, various cognitive functions are influenced by external factors in different ways. For example, a lack of sleep may have a significant impact on cognitive reasoning but may not impact memory as much.

What influences cognitive health?

Scientists have been measuring cognition for many decades and by doing so, they have been lead to many findings of what actually influences our cognitive health the most. Research is still ongoing, but lifestyle choices, mental health and physical health are very clearly some of the main contributors affecting cognitive health. More specifically, improved sleep, exercise, nutrition and stress have been scientifically proven to improve cognitive performance.

Sleep

It will come as no surprise that sleep has an impact on cognitive function, particularly if you’re not getting enough of it. Surprisingly, it has been shown that too much sleep can also have a negative impact on cognitive performance. Research has found that sleep’s impact on cognitive performance is more of a curved shape and that the optimum amount of sleep for cognitive performance is between 7 and 8 hours, or 7.6 hours to be precise.

Exercise

It may be less obvious that exercise and maintaining good physical health can have a direct impact on cognitive health. Many scientific studies have confirmed that people who exercise regularly experience an improvement in cognitive health, scoring higher in tests of executive function, memory and processing speed. This is particularly important in older people, where physical fitness can provide a protective layer against age-related cognitive decline.

Diet and Nutrition

Studies have now shown that being either underweight or overweight increases the risk of cognitive deficits such as dementia. As well as weight, nutrition is well documented to have a direct impact on brain health and particular foods have been identified as containing brain-boosting qualities. We have discussed this quite a lot in our Food for Brains series and provided many delicious recipes packed with brain-boosting ingredients.

Stress and Anxiety

Similarly to sleep, the impact of stress has more of a U shaped curve than you might imagine. Studies have shown that moderate levels of stress can actually have a positive influence on cognitive performance, whilst too much subjective stress can then begin to have a negative impact. The studies show that there is actually a healthy range of stress where the brain benefits the most and that certain types of tasks actually benefit from moderate levels of stress, such as emotional and intuitive tasks. However, high levels of unhealthy stress impair all tasks, and is highest when it is seen as uncontrollable, a hindrance rather than a challenge, or has a social component.

 

Cognitive wellbeing assessments

Similar to your physical fitness, there is no miracle cure or overnight fix to improving your cognitive health. Real change may mean working with health professionals such as Cubex, measuring your cognitive performance over time and working to introduce real lifestyle changes which are realistic and effective.

For this reason, in addition to exploring your hearing sensitivity, here at Cubex, we also assess the key cognitive skill sets that are relevant to hearing. We use a set of cognitive wellbeing assessments which are unique, allowing us to look at all aspects of mental health and cognitive load.

By combining a cognitive wellbeing assessment with a hearing assessment, we can develop treatments for patients which truly work to improve the relationship between the brain, mind and the ears and enhance your connectivity with the world around you.

Book a consultation & discovery session >

*Header image courtesy of Oticon.



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