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These days, even young people are feeling the effects of memory loss that so often come with getting older. That’s why so many millennials are more focused now than ever before on their brain health and cognitive function

For millennials—usually anyone in their mid-20s to early-40s—there’s more attention paid now than ever before on not only protecting brain function into old age, but also boosting brain power right now. In today’s fast-paced world, sharp and active minds are imperative to keeping up on the fast track.

Here’s a closer look at why so many millennials are searching for effective ways to protect their brains, and what young people can do to make sure their brains stay sharp and focused today and for years to come.

Why Millennials are Looking to Optimize Brain Performance

Perhaps more than any previous generation, millennials are specifically focused on keeping their brains sharp, healthy, and functioning properly. What’s more, they are now actively looking for ways to not only protect their brains, but also improve them. That’s what “brain optimization” is all about.

For a better idea of why millennials are so focused on optimizing brain power, it helps to better understand why brain power is so important for people in their mid-20s to early-40s.

A Competitive Job Market is Putting a Premium on Brain Power

Today, millennials account for fully one third of the entire U.S. workforce—the largest generation represented in the national labor market. This, with the younger generation now coming up right behind them, makes the millennial workforce one of the most competitive in decades.

As a result of this competition, it is now more important than ever for millennials to be able to learn on the job. The pressure to take on and master new skills is high, and the opportunities for failure are low—meaning it is crucial for millennials to be at the top of their game mentally from the very first day.

That’s where optimizing brain performance can make a big impact: the more quickly and efficiently you can learn new skills on the job, the more likely you’ll be able to satisfy employers’ needs and keep your position.

Failure to keep up mentally could seriously jeopardize a millennial’s chances at keeping their jobs, let alone finding room to grow and advance their careers,

Better Cognitive Function May Lead to Better Job Opportunities

In a competitive and crowded job market, millennials are more conscious than ever that “sharper mind” can often equate to “better job prospects.”

Although keeping a difficult job can require high levels of brainpower, finding a new job adds even greater importance to cognitive function. The crowded job marketplace extends beyond the office and into the hiring pool, and only those candidates who can prove their mental capabilities will have access to the very best job opportunities.

Cognitive ability is sometimes quoted as one of the most important factors in making a hiring decision, which is why more and more employers are deploying cognitive assessments to potential hires during the interview process.

It’s not just about “passing” the cognitive assessment, it’s about proving you’re the best option for a particular position. That’s where optimizing brain performance can make a huge difference, and why so many job-seeking millennials focus on boosting their brainpower to stand out from the crowd.

Why Millennials are More Focused than Ever on Brain Health, Preventing Memory Loss, & Cognitive Decline

Even with the challenges of keeping their brains sharp and competitive in a changing world, millennials have another (maybe even more pressing) reason to think about protecting their brains: the fear of memory loss.

There are two crucial reasons millennials are focused on preventing cognitive decline, and both are closely related to their own firsthand experiences.

More Millennials are Acting as Alzheimer’s Caregivers

If there’s one experience sure to impact a person’s thinking around cognitive function, it’s seeing a family member or loved one struggle with cognitive decline or Alzheimer’s.

For millennials, this is especially true, now that more and more young people ages 25 to 40 are actually stepping in as Alzheimer’s caregivers. This firsthand experience—seeing a parent or grandparent struggling with memory loss or cognitive decline—paints a clear and tangible picture for those involved and can profoundly impact millennials’ vision of themselves at that same age.

With these experiences in mind, more millennials are thinking not just about brain optimization, but also long-term protection. It’s also a good thing because steps to protect brain health taken early can make a significant impact when it comes to protecting against cognitive decline in the long term.

Rates of Dementia May Be Increasing for Millennials

While those personal experiences with family members and loved ones battling cognitive decline can be powerful motivators for brain protection, and even more immediate cause for concern is the rising prevalence of dementia and memory loss among millennials themselves.

According to a 2017 study by Blue Cross Blue Shield, the diagnosis rates of dementia in people ages 30 to 64 increased by a full 200% in just a few short years. Even more shocking is that the youngest cohort in the study—people between the ages of 30 and 44—saw the greatest increase in early-onset dementia and Alzheimer’s diagnoses, even compared to older generations.

For millennials worried about protecting their cognitive function, the writing on the wall is clear: memory problems and cognitive decline are becoming more common, affecting people at younger ages than ever before.

That’s why so many younger people are so motivated to take steps to protect their brain health today, so they can stand an even better chance of preserving their cognitive abilities in the years to come.

How Can Millennials Protect Their Memory & Brain Health?

Fortunately for millennials (and anyone else focused on protecting their long-term brain health), there’s hope. With just a few healthy lifestyle choices, each of us can make sure we are giving our brains the best possible protection from the effects of aging and memory loss.

Get the Right Nutrients for Brain Function

Nutrition plays a critical role in overall brain health, and by getting the right nutrients to your brain you can help give your brain the protection it needs from cognitive decline or diseases like Alzheimer’s.

For starters, there are a few basic dietary steps millennials can take to both give their brains a boost and help prevent cognitive decline.

  • Cutting out toxins or foods that trigger inflammation—both of which may play a role in cognitive decline—can go a long way toward helping to slow down the loss of cognitive function.
  • By avoiding foods with preservatives, artificial colorings, or contaminants like heavy metals, millennials help protect their brains from toxins that may be harmful to brain function and may weaken the brain’s ability to form lasting memories.
  • Supplementing your diet with herbal supplements and natural nutrients may offer significant benefits toward not only protecting from cognitive decline but also helping to boost brain power and improve working memory.

Stick to Healthy Sleep Patterns Now, and In the Future

Like a good diet, healthy sleep patterns are widely recognized as one of the most valuable steps a person can take to preserve their memory and protect their overall brain function.

Sleep plays a crucial role in helping your brain form memories, and getting the right level of sleep each night is an important step toward keeping your brain active and healthy. This is a great habit for people of all ages, but for millennials, the benefits of good sleep are especially important.

It’s well-known that younger people generally require more sleep each night than older people—but for millennials with busy lifestyles and hectic family lives, even getting enough sleep each night can feel like a challenge. That’s why it’s especially important to work on building good sleep habits early in life and to stick to those as long as possible. The better your sleep when you’re younger, the higher your chances of keeping those good habits as you get older.

For millennials struggling with getting enough sleep each night, there are a few easy ways to help set yourself up for a good night’s sleep:

  • Give yourself enough time to sleep. That means going to bed with enough time before you need to wake up that you can get a solid 8-10 hours in each night.
  • Don’t eat right before bed. A full stomach could make it hard to fall asleep and could lead to less restful sleep. Plan on eating at least a few hours before you call it a night.
  • Limit screen time right before you go to bed. It can be tempting to scroll through social media late at night, but the stimulation and heavy dose of blue light could make it harder for your brain to “switch off” when it is time for bed.

Exercise Your Body, And You’ll Strengthen Your Mind Too

Although it might seem tough to get motivated to work out on a regular schedule, regular exercise is actually one of the best things you can do for your brain (as well as the rest of your body).

Aside from the mood-boosting benefits of regular workouts, healthy exercise habits can also help boost blood flow to your brain. This may offer significant benefits to your brain’s processing power and could provide serious benefits to your mood and overall health.

Plus, healthy blood flow from exercise offers significant anti-inflammatory benefits, and this could be key to preventing cognitive decline as you get older.

Plus, regular exercise is a terrific way to burn off energy and get a good night’s sleep. That way, you can compound the benefits to your brain with a healthy sleep-and-exercise routine.

Exercise doesn’t have to be hard or too intense; here are a few basic activities to work into your schedule to help protect your brain health:

  • Take a walk! Walking is a great way to get your blood flowing and get your muscles active. Plus, it’s a great way to see the world and keep that brain stimulated.
  • Try yoga. Yoga may be able to help relieve tension and get the blood pumping to muscles you didn’t even know you had. Plus, it’s a simple way to work out in a small space, which may be perfect for millennials.
  • Do some stretching. Even if it’s not the most challenging workout, good stretching exercises can help get the blood pumping. Plus, it can be a restful way to center your brain and reduce stress after a long day.

Take Time to De-Stress

Stress is one of the biggest factors contributing to cognitive decline among millennials, and the fast pace of life for younger generations only exacerbates those feelings of tension on a daily basis.

That’s why it might be a good idea for stressed-out millennials to find ways to calm, center, and balance their minds on a regular basis. Whether it’s relaxing with a good book or some music at the end of the day, or simply meditating in a quiet space for a while, these brief moments of clarity can go a long way toward helping you de-stress and keep your brain healthy.

Calling All Millennials: It’s Time To Think Seriously About Brain Health

If you’re a millennial thinking about protecting your brain power, there may be no better time to take real steps to protect your brain health than right now.

By taking just a few simple lifestyle steps, young people have the real power to not only boost their cognitive functioning today but also to protect themselves from cognitive decline as they get older. The earlier you start, the better your chances of making an impact.

For those millennials focused on protecting their brain health, there are plenty of great brain boosters out there to make the process even easier. Get started today and see just how much of an impact you can make on your brainpower—and you may just find yourself thinking more clearly today, tomorrow, and for years to come.