Published September 2022 on YouTube

Focus Toolkit: Tools to Improve Your Focus & Concentration | Huberman Lab Podcast #88

1. Focus Toolkit

Boosting Focus:Andrew Huberman shares powerful tools to improve focus and concentration, including behavioral, nutrition-based, supplement-based, brain-machine interface-based, and prescription drug tools. He discusses several peer-reviewed studies that point to new, shorter protocols for increasing focus and concentration abilities, including a 13-minute daily meditation that significantly improved people's abilities in just eight weeks.
Meditation for Focus:Andrew shares insights on how meditation can improve focus and concentration. He provides a brief alternative to the protocol and details about the tools and protocols that can help improve cognitive abilities. Andrew also warns against performing focused-based meditation before bedtime as it can lead to difficulties in falling and staying asleep. Links to studies and other tools are provided in the show notes.

2. Momentous Supplements

Andrew announces the Huberman Lab Podcast's partnership with Momentous supplements, highlighting their quality and single ingredient supplements that allow for a personalized and systematic supplementation protocol. He also shares the website where listeners can find the supplements.

3. Thesis, LMNT, Eight Sleep

Customized Nootropics:Andrew discusses Thesis, a company that creates customized nootropics tailored to your specific needs and goals. He explains that these nootropics are not "smart drugs," but rather targeted to improve focus, creativity, and task switching. By taking a brief quiz on takethesis.com/huberman, you can receive a personalized nootropic starter kit and try various formulas to determine which ones work best for you.
Optimize Sleep:Andrew discusses the importance of sleep and how temperature plays a crucial role in falling and staying asleep. He introduces Eight Sleep, a smart mattress cover that can control the temperature of your sleeping environment precisely. Andrew shares his personal experience with Eight Sleep and offers a special Labor Day offer for listeners.

4. Focus Neurochemicals

Improving Focus:Andrew discusses how to improve focus and concentration using science-based protocols and the three neurochemicals necessary for focus: epinephrine, acetylcholine, and dopamine. He uses a metaphorical arrow to explain the relationship between the neurochemicals and how they work together to maintain focus.
Optimal Focus Duration:Andrew explains the three neurochemicals that allow you to focus precisely and for an optimal duration. He also mentions that there are longer episodes available on focus and acetylcholine on their website, hubermanlab.com.

5. Tools for Concentration

Andrew explains the importance of sleep in modulating focus and attention, and offers a sleep toolkit to optimize sleep. He emphasizes that there is no tool that can replace the benefits of quality sleep for cognitive and physical performance.

6. Binaural Beats

Andrew discusses the science behind 40 HZ binaural beats and how they can increase focus and concentration by integrating within deep brain centers and increasing levels of dopamine and acetylcholine. He recommends using them for five minutes prior to cognitive work or during distractible states, and also prior to weight workouts to focus on specific muscles.

7. Sound-Based Focus

Andrew discusses the benefits of using white noise, pink noise, and brown noise to improve focus and decrease transition time into concentration. He also mentions the option of using binaural beats and how these tools can amplify the activity of neurons in the prefrontal cortex.

8. Improving Focus

Andrew explains that mental work, focus, and concentration require a warm-up just like physical exercise. He emphasizes that focus is dynamic and gradually drops into any state, and that it is an ability that can be improved through neuroplasticity. Andrew also provides tips for improving focus, including optimizing sleep and using auditory sound-based tools.

9. Ultradian Cycles

Ultradian Cycles:Andrew explains the importance of ultradian cycles, which are 90-minute cycles that our brain and body operate within. He suggests setting a timer for 90 minutes and dropping into focused mental or physical work during that time, accepting occasional flickers of focus and going back to focusing.
Deliberate Defocus:Andrew explains the importance of deliberate defocus after bouts of focus in order to recharge the brain's metabolic energy. He suggests doing menial tasks or activities that don't require much concentration and avoiding the phone during this time. Deliberate decompression is key to being able to focus and perform during bouts of work or exercise.

10. Deep Work Paradox

Andrew discusses the paradox of deep work concentration, where the more you can concentrate, the fewer deep work concentration bouts you can perform each day. He recommends doing one 90-minute bout of focused concentrated work per day, and increasing it after four weeks if you're able to stay concentrated and work through the agitation.

11. AG1 (Athletic Greens)

Andrew discusses the benefits of Athletic Greens, a supplement that contains vitamins, minerals, probiotics, digestive enzymes, and adaptogens. He explains how it covers all of his nutritional bases and why he recommends it to others.

12. Virtusan App

Andrew introduces Virtusan, an app that provides science-based protocols for improving mental and physical health. The app includes specific journeys aimed at improving sleep, focus, nutrition, and exercise, all with direct video tutorials from Andrew and other researchers. Users can track their progress with each protocol and easily access the latest science in simple, straightforward protocols.

13. Nutrition and Fasting

Nutrition and Focus:Andrew discusses his stance on nutrition and how it relates to focus. He supports all dietary choices and emphasizes the importance of eating high quality, minimally processed foods. He also mentions the relationship between blood glucose levels and the ability to focus.
Fasting and Mental Clarity:Andrew discusses the relationship between fasting and mental clarity. Although neurons thrive on glucose, some people experience a heightened state of mental clarity when they are fasted. Andrew explains the science behind this and the potential benefits of intermittent fasting.
Fasting and Focus:Andrew discusses how fasting can improve focus and concentration by reducing parasympathetic activation and blood flow to the gut. He explains that having enough blood glucose, but not too much, can increase cognitive function. He shares that he personally does both fasting and eating before bouts of focused work.
Fasting and Focus:Andrew shares insights on how being fasted or fed can affect focus and concentration. He also discusses the benefits of ketosis and provides tips on how to optimize concentration and focus.

14. Foods for Focus

Andrew discusses the relationship between nutrition and focus, specifically how reducing simple sugar intake and highly processed foods can improve ADHD symptoms. He also mentions that foods with tyrosine can increase concentration and focus, but overeating can diminish those effects.

15. Caffeine and Focus

Caffeine and Focus:Andrew explains how caffeine can improve mental and physical performance through improvements in focus and concentration. He provides a general dosage range of 100-400 milligrams, but cautions those who suffer from anxiety or panic attacks to be cautious with their use. Andrew also recommends delaying caffeine intake to 90-120 minutes after waking and suggests yerba mate as a preferred method of ingestion.
Caffeine's Effects:Andrew explains how caffeine affects dopamine receptors, increasing motivation and drive. He also discusses how caffeine affects alertness through the release of adrenaline and its impact on the sympathetic nervous system. However, he warns against consuming caffeine too late in the day, as it can disrupt sleep quality.

16. Stress and Focus

Andrew explains how stress can improve focus and concentration by releasing adrenaline and epinephrine in the brain and body. He cites a study that shows how even low levels of stress can enhance cognitive performance.

17. Cold Exposure Benefits

Cold Exposure Benefits:Andrew explains the benefits of deliberate cold exposure for increasing epinephrine levels and dopamine levels in the brain and blood, which can greatly improve concentration and focus. Getting into a cold shower or a cold body of water for a brief period of time can increase adrenaline levels, which can help you focus on cognitive or physical work in a more specific way.
Cold Water Boost:Andrew explains how cold water exposure can reliably increase epinephrine levels, leading to improved focus and concentration. The method is cost-effective and can be done through cold showers, baths, or submerging in cold water for 1-5 minutes. The positive effects of epinephrine can last up to an hour or more.

18. Boosting Focus

Andrew suggests taking a three-minute cold shower or submerging yourself in cold water before doing work to boost focus and alertness. This, along with a cup of coffee and 40 HZ binaural beats, can lead to a productive 90-minute work session.

19. Improving Focus

Improving Focus:Andrew discusses a study that found a 13-minute daily meditation can improve focus and concentration, as well as mood and stress levels. The meditation involves focusing on nasal breathing and a specific location just behind the forehead while continually refocusing back to that location and breath.
Refocus Meditation:Andrew emphasizes the importance of refocusing in meditation to improve focus and concentration. By repeatedly returning to a state of focus from a state of non-focus, you can train the network within your brain and improve your ability to focus and remain focused. A relatively short meditation practice of about 13 minutes, in which you fully expect your focus and concentration to drift, but that you are continually refocusing, is the most effective way to teach yourself to focus and stay concentrated.

20. Improving Focus

Improving Focus:Andrew discusses the importance of sleep for mental and physical health and ways to improve focus, even when sleep-deprived. He introduces the concept of Non-Sleep Deep Rest (NSDR) or Yoga Nidra, a practice of deep relaxation that restores dopamine levels and leaves you feeling refreshed.
NSDR for Focus:Andrew explains how NSDR can be used to enhance focus and concentration, especially when sleep deprived. NSDR can replenish dopamine and potentially replace lost sleep, making it a useful tool for those who cannot control their sleep. Unlike focused meditation, NSDR involves defocusing to modulate brain and body states.

21. Hypnosis for Focus

Andrew discusses the benefits of hypnosis for improving focus and concentration. He recommends using the Reveri app, which offers specific hypnosis protocols for deep relaxation and focus. These tools are grounded in rigorous research and can significantly improve neural circuits for focus and concentration over time.

22. Optimal Meditation Times

Andrew discusses the optimal times of day to practice different types of meditation, including the Reveri hypnosis app which can help with falling back asleep in the middle of the night. The only caveat is to avoid doing the focus refocus meditation too close to bedtime.

23. Visual Focus and Cognitive Focus

Andrew explains how our cognitive focus follows our overt visual focus and how limiting our visual field can help enhance our cognitive focus. He also discusses a practice of visually focusing on one location for a given period of time to improve focus and refocusing abilities, which recruits certain elements of the prefrontal cortex and frontal eye fields.

24. Improve Focus

Andrew discusses the benefits of using covert focus and how it can improve concentration. He recommends starting with a low bar and gradually increasing the amount of time spent focusing on one location. This practice can be used as a means to get into a focused state before beginning mental or physical work.

25. Boosting Concentration

Andrew discusses the benefits of consuming omega-3 essential fatty acids for improving mood and cognitive function, particularly in the context of concentration and focus. He recommends ingesting one to three grams of EPA per day through supplements or food sources such as fatty fish and algae.

26. Tool: Creatine Monohydrate

Andrew discusses the benefits of creatine for brain function, particularly in improving cognitive performance and concentration. He recommends taking five grams of creatine monohydrate per day to tap into the creatine phosphate system within the brain and support prefrontal cortical networks.

27. Boosting Focus

Andrew explains how increasing acetylcholine transmission can improve focus and concentration, and recommends Alpha-GPC as a supplement to achieve this. He also discusses concerns about the supplement's potential link to stroke and suggests taking garlic capsules to offset any risks.

28. Boosting Focus

Andrew explains how to increase dopamine transmission in the brain and body by ingesting L-tyrosine, which can be derived from food sources or taken in capsule form. He shares his personal routine of taking L-tyrosine, Alpha-GPC, and coffee early in the day before a workout or concentrated mental work to boost focus.

29. Tools for Concentration

Andrew discusses his approach to using tools to improve his ability to concentrate and focus. He emphasizes the importance of not relying on any one tool and using supplements as a tool to teach oneself to focus and concentrate more deeply.

30. ADHD Medication Insights

Andrew explains the benefits of prescription pharmacology for ADHD and how it teaches neural circuits to engage and focus. He also discusses the ideal situation where the dosage of drugs can be reduced over time through behavioral tools.

31. Focus and Concentration

Andrew emphasizes the importance of using behavioral tools and nutrition to improve focus and concentration before turning to prescription drugs. He discourages the use of powerful prescription drugs that have not been prescribed to you and highlights the risks associated with them. For those suffering from severe mental health effects, prescription drugs may be necessary, but for the typical person, behavioral tools and nutrition should come first.

32. Tool: Phenylethylamine & Dopamine

Andrew discusses his supplement routine for increasing focus and concentration, including the use of phenylethylamine, a compound that increases dopamine transmission. He also shares his approach to combining supplements and caffeine for optimal results.

33. Brain-Boosting Compounds

Andrew discusses the various compounds that modulate dopamine, epinephrine, and acetylcholine systems to improve focus and concentration. He recommends examine.com, a website that provides links to studies and information on different supplements and their effects.

34. Tools for Focus

Andrew provides insights on different tools that can be used to improve concentration and focus. These tools include meditation, hypnosis, supplements, and optimizing sleep. He emphasizes the importance of finding what works best for you and also taking time to deliberately defocus to improve overall focus and concentration.

35. Supporting the Huberman Lab

Andrew shares ways to support the Huberman Lab Podcast, including subscribing and leaving reviews, checking out sponsors, and trying Momentous supplements. He also mentions the benefits of supplements for sleep, focus, and hormone augmentation.