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Six quick ways to get smarter faster

While some of these techniques on their own will make your brain work harder and more efficiently, compiling all of them into one big habit will make you feel, think, and do much more effectively.

These are some of the easiest hacks you could do for your body and mind.

1: Read for thirty minutes a night

reading by a train

Reading by a train is stylish.

Scientists from Carnegie Mellon found that the volume of white matter in the area of the brain that governs the use of language was increased following a six-month daily reading program. If you read something, anything (well, anything higher-level), you could see brain power increase half a year! That’s easy right?

Take it to the next level

Read with a dictionary.

Whenever you are reading and you come across a word you don’t recognize or can’t explicitly define, what do you do? You should immediately grab a dictionary and look it up!

Why? Well, research involving the acquisition and effects of vocabulary shows evidence that vocabulary is a variable that can predict gray matter density. In other words, the more words you learn and have a grasp on, the stronger your vocabulary knowledge, which in turn keeps your brain nimble and active.

There are those that even believe that higher level vocabulary can predict better professional success.

2: Get more sleep

sleeping man with sleeping dog

It helps to have a nap buddy.

Beside the obvious need for sleep to function and be alert, the benefits of sleeping more (and more consistently) are huge. When you don’t get enough sleep you sound and feel stupid. Sleep deprived test subjects have difficulties thinking of imaginative words or ideas, and they have slurred speech, repetitive vocabulary (they should read more!), and speak in a monotone voice.

Getting enough sleep keeps your mind fresh, improves your memory, reduces stress, and even lowers the risk of depression. It’s a no-brainer that you should try your best to sleep as long as possible!

Take it to the next level

Get at least eight hours of sleep.

When a person is taught a new skill, his or her performance does not improve until he or she receives at least eight hours of sleep – so basically if you lack proper sleep, your progress at work, at school, or in your daily tasks and hobbies is stunted.

If you don’t have time to sleep eight hours at once, consider napping. One study found that pilots who napped had a 34% boost in performance and a 54% boost in alertness that lasted for 2-3 hrs when compared to long haul pilots who did not nap.

You can’t be a good programmer, gamer, or hacker if you can’t perform and stay alert!

3: Talk for at least 10 minutes a day

people talking at cafe in 1970

Just a couple of people talking. In a cafe. In 1970.

A U.S. research team found that talking to another person for 10 minutes a day improves memory and test scores. On top of that, chatting was found to be as effective as traditional mental exercise when it comes to boosting memory and intellectual performance.

So keep talking on your phone. Mum is not the word. Use your gift of gab… so on and so forth.

Take it to the next level

Talk in a group discussion or support groups.

Even if you don’t have the need to go to a more emotional support group, just simply talking to other people that have the same problem as you is extremely beneficial to your psychological stability.

You can join group discussions for things ranging from programming, video games, sports, movies, book clubs, and many more. They can make you feel happier, relieve pent up emotion, or even help you solve weird problems.

4: Exercise more

women yoga exercise in tights

Yoga. More please!

Including tight buns, exercise can have a plethora of additional benefits ranging from social interaction, memory boost, brain activity via rhythmic or structured movements, and increased blood flow.

All this extra oxygen and mental exertion will only deepen your mental power and capabilities by means of clear thinking and endorphins. Your skills in recollection and recognition also see a gain.

Take it to the next level

Run for thirty minutes.

A University of Illinois team found those who ran on a treadmill for 30 minutes fared better on a memory test compared to those who chose to sit or lift weights. The aerobic exercise seems to improve your mental capacity and retention.

5: Eat more fruits and vegetables

vegetables are good for you

Vegetables are good for you.

If you don’t eat carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, or spinach, start now. A study at the Harvard Medical School shows that eating vegetables with beta carotene over a 15 year period may help prevent cognitive decline, which means you won’t become a crazy old hobbit. Make sure to mix and match though, because too many carrots can give you an orange hue.

Popeye couldn’t be more right with his spinach eatin’ (well maybe not – beta carotene may increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers). So stop smoking too!

Fruit is good for you on so many levels – it has vitamins, carbohydrates, natural sugar, and it can lower the risk of memory problems. And you need your memory to stay with you for as long as possible.

Take it to the next level

Make a fruit smoothie for breakfast.

Besides making you feel full (which will improve your diet) and aiding in the consumption of a daily serving of fruit, smoothies provide many health benefits.

Fruit smoothies pack more fruit into your system, increasing blood flow and energy naturally, therefore making you think quicker and react faster. And they taste fruity … mmm delicious.

6: Play video games

Team Fortress 2 spies and snipers motivational poster

Play online. Just make sure you are benefiting your team!

Studies show that simply playing an action game can have beneficial effects on your attention, speed, accuracy, vision and multitasking. Try telling that to your teachers when you get caught playing on your cell-phone in the back of your next lecture.

As a matter of fact (well uhh.. study), action video game players have better hand-eye coordination as well as an improved resistance to distraction. While some are easily disturbed by noise, light, movement, or other annoyances, those who play more stimulating games tend to have a better chance blocking things out.

Keep playing Halo, Call of Duty, and Team Fortress 2 to keep your mind nimble.

Take it to the next level

Play an online FPS (first-person-shooter) or RTS (real-time strategy).

Since a lot of gamers excel at the method of “learning by doing” while playing video games, they can thrive in an online game where depth of strategy and attention require them to be at their best. Imagine what happens when you do other things that require a sub-set of unique rules. Gamers usually pick up on things first.

One piece of research shows that those who played the higher intensity games, mainly first person shooters like Call of Duty or Unreal Tournament solved logic problems 25 percent faster than the volunteers who played the slower paced games. It’s basically like saying shooting people with high-powered weapons is a good warm-up for problem solving!

What does it mean? Play one more round (and drink a smoothie too)!