Expert tips to support busy parents’ brain health
As most parents know, taking care of a baby or child is exhausting. While there’s certainly a lot of joy and fulfillment in parenthood, tending to a child’s many, many needs can be draining on many levels– physically, emotionally and intellectually. Not surprisingly, a 2019 survey conducted by The Harris Poll found that nearly half of parents of young children wish their brain was performing better at least once a day – significantly higher than those who don’t have kids.
Try out these tips to enjoy the often-exhausting role of parenting while helping to keep your brain performing at its best.
Maximize your shuteye
Lack of sleep is a major burden for brain health – and a major concern for parents. In fact, a recent study published in Sleep shows that not only are parents of babies exhausted, but that poor parental sleep continues into their children's elementary school years. When a good night’s rest comes at a premium, it’s important to make the most of it by following a sleep routine that works for you. Get lots of sun and outdoor light during the day, and ensure your bedroom is as dark as possible during sleep hours. Turn down the temperature or sleep with a fan in the room to cool down. Wear earplugs when you’re not the only one home to block out noises and calls for help when you aren’t “on duty” and give yourself the best chance to get the shuteye your brain needs.
Get moving – outside if possible!
Since physical activity is as important for the brain as it is for the body, incorporate movement into playtime whenever possible. Exercise has been shown to increase levels of brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), which helps support overall cognitive function, including memory and learning. Whether it’s a dance party, hide-and-seek, or enlisting your child to help with a household chore, get your heart rate up and try to break a slight sweat. And since numerous studies suggest the positive effects of nature on health , head outside as often as possible!
Supplement your diet
A healthy diet is important for your body and your brain. Avoid processed foods and enjoy sweets and treats in moderation. Supplements can also support brain performance, but look for those with research-backed ingredients. Neuriva is a brand of brain health supplements using clinically tested natural ingredients to help fuel five indicators of brain performance, including focus and concentration.
Take time for yourself
Socialization, mental stimulation and stress can impact brain health. As parents it can be hard to prioritize time for self-care. Schedule a night out with friends or a date night, take a barre class or sign up for an online course – whatever will keep you, and your brain, happy. Remember that you can’t pour from an empty cup – taking care of yourself is a critical part of parenting.
 David Richter, Michael D Krämer, Nicole K Y Tang, Hawley E Montgomery-Downs, Sakari Lemola, Long-term effects of pregnancy and childbirth on sleep satisfaction and duration of first-time and experienced mothers and fathers, Sleep, Volume 42, Issue 4, April 2019, zsz015, https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsz015
 Schmolesky MT, Webb DL, Hansen RA. The effects of aerobic exercise intensity and duration on levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in healthy men. J Sports Sci Med. 2013;12(3):502–511. Published 2013 Sep 1.
 Pearson, D. G., & Craig, T. (2014). The great outdoors? Exploring the mental health benefits of natural environments. Frontiers in psychology, 5, 1178. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01178