Our brains work better during some seasons than others. Plus, the best times of day for peak thinking.
Fall back into your best state of mind.
Autumn is when our brains are working their best, leading to higher productivity compared to cooler months when we may tend to feel sluggish, according to new research from Sunnybrook Health Science Center and the University of Toronto.
Researchers tested the thinking and concentration of 3,353 participants throughout Canada, France and the US over the course of one year. They found that in the late summer and early fall, participants concentrated better and had improved memory, focus and thinking skills, which lead to greater productivity.
What’s more, the chances of developing mild dementia were higher in the winter and spring compared to summer and autumn, the researchers — who did neuropsychological exams on study participants – found. They also discovered that Alzheimer’s-related proteins in the brain were more prevalent in the colder months.
“There was a robust association between season and cognition,” the study noted.
While researchers didn’t speculate why exactly we work better in warmer months, previous research has shown that the levels of certain chemicals released by the brain such as a serotonin vary with the seasons, as do some brain proteins involved in learning.
A separate Belgian study from 2016 found that the brain works differently to perform the same cognitive tasks depending on the season. Researchers measured brain function during four seasons of the year. At each session, participants spent four-and-a-half days in a lab shielded from weather conditions and sunlight. After that, their brains were scanned while they did a cognitive task that required focus, and another memory-based task. Their test scores were the same throughout, however, they were more focused in the fall and less focused in winter.
Time of day also has an impact on our productivity: Research suggests that we’re at our peak productivity in the late morning when body temperatures start to rise — and alertness, concentration and memory increases gradually after waking up. After that, most people become distracted from noon until 4 p.m., according to research by Pennsylvania State University . Focus also starts to wane after eating a meal so our bodies tend to get tired around 2 p.m., the study found.
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