Smart Gifts for the Holidays, 2018


If you’re looking for smart holiday gifts that stand out in a crowd, here’s a short list of some unique gift ideas.

Four Sigmatic: Smart Mushroom Coffee (link)

Few things spice up Christmas Stockings like a box of mushroom coffee. I’ve been drinking Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, and Reishi Coffee for over a year now, and think its great. Ok, it might take a few cups to find the right taste for you, but with benefits like increased energy, focus, and ease of mind, the benefits are certainly worth it! Give it to the most adventurous family member and report back on how they liked it.

Vanmoof: Sleek Electric Bike (link)

Exercise stimulates the brain. I repeat, exercise stimulates the brain. In fact, 20 minutes of moderate to intense exercise increases a powerful chemical in the brain called BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor). BDNF actually creates new brain cells and allows “old” people to grow “younger” brains. I love biking, and this electric version will power you home in case you’re just too tired to pedal back from a long trek!


Hanayama: Dot Pocket Puzzle (link)

Keep your brain active with this beautiful japanese pocket puzzle. The brain is a “use it or lose it” organ, which means keep challenging yourself, and your friends, in order to keep it strong and healthy.

Espro: Ultralight Travel Coffee Press (link)

Coffee has enjoyed a rebirth in the last few years, and I have personally read so much on the benefits of coffee for the brain that I finally taught myself to drink it! Research seems quite clear that quality coffee has been shown to lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes, lower memory decline, improve antioxidant levels, and improve brain function. I drink 1-2 "Bulletproof” coffees a day, and hope someone will buy this beautiful Travel Coffee Press for me for Christmas.

Oura Ring: Say goodbye to Fitbit (link)

Sleep is the new superpower, and the secret to staying younger (see Growth Hormone and Deep Sleep), getting smarter (see memory and sleep), and to maximum performance (see sleep and performance). This amazing ring tracks sleep quality, along with heart rate, heart rate variability, body temperature and so much more. It is one of my favorite finds of 2018.

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Prospek: Computer Glasses (link)

Blue light has a wavelength of between 380 nm and 500 nm, making it one of the shortest, high-test-energy wavelengths of visible light. This wavelength taxes the retina, overstimulates the brain, and triggers our circadian clock to think it is daytime. The challenge is that cell phones, computer screens, and more indoor LED lights are filled with blue light. This is why I recommend wearing blue-filtering glasses when on the computer, around LED lighting, and especially once the sun begins to set. While there are many on the market, I currently use these. Read a cool study here.

Headstrong: A book about “Hacking” your brain (link)

Computer scientist turned “biohacker”, Dave Asprey, is bringing neuroscience to the masses as he integrates volumes of research into this easy to read manual on taking steps to “upgrade” your brain. I’ve gifted it to many friends and family, and return back to it regularly.

Calm: Sleep and Focus (link)

I bought this app to take advantage of the music which has been the most effective at helping me stay focused in my office when I need to drown out the interruptions from Analisa and Dr Radwanski. After spending time with the wonderful professionals at the Center for Connection in Pasadena, I’ve learned about the importance of helping my kids stay neurologically “down regulated”. So my girls have now started to listen to some of the guided relaxation tracks before bed, and seem to fall asleep faster. That is worth the yearly subscription fee alone.


Let me know which gifts you liked best!

-Dr Giancarlo Licata