What Does Sudoku Do for Your Brain?

Sudoku can be known as a ‘number puzzle’, that requires practical thinking skills. Due to the way that it develops mathematical thinking in us, it can improve our mental skills in coming up with a solution for a problem. Its capacity to help you retain knowledge and improve your memory is backed up by evidence. While sudoku can’t completely cure us of brain complications like Alzheimer’s it certainly can help in lessening the impact of such conditions. Other lifestyles and activities to stimulate the brain include refraining from alcohol and tobacco, regular exercise, and visualization activities.

Our brain is a complex organ and it regulates our responses to stimulation.

For this purpose, our brain needs to be constantly engaged or even challenged to grow and function well.

And no, engaging our brain isn’t so much of a complex task to do. It’s quite simple.

Even a game of sudoku or a challenging crossword is enough to stimulate our brain cells. So, being curious about other effects that games like sudoku can have on our brain is understandable.

What is Sudoku and how do you play it? Can your brain and mental health improve through sudoku? Are the benefits of sudoku on your brain exaggerated or are they real?

What other activities can help stimulate your brain? Can certain lifestyles and habits develop your brain activity?

What is Sudoku and how do you play it?

A young woman is holding a Sudoku  book that she's about to do

In simple terms, sudoku is a logic-based puzzle that many of us enjoy playing.

Its challenging nature and easy accessibility have made it quite popular among people of all ages.

It consists of a puzzle, in which certain missing numbers are to be filled into a 9 by 9 square grid that is divided into 3 by 3 squares in each row and column.

While there isn’t any arithmetic type math involved in Sudoku, mathematical thinking in deductive skills and reasoning is essential in solving these complex algorithms that can shift from easy to challenging levels.

So, it’s fair to have questions about the impact that Sudoku may or may not have on the brain, as it involves a whole lot of thinking.

Can your brain and mental health improve through Sudoku?

A young woman is playing Sudoku on her tablet as a daily brain exercise

Now that we have a basic idea of what Sudoku is and the range of skills needed to play this game, it’s about time we address the impact of being constantly engaged in sudoku problem solving on the brain and mental health.

  1. Active brain – As we have understood by now, Sudoku helps you exercise your brain. Due to this, you can expect an improvement in your cognitive functions. It stimulates your brain in a way that develops your problem-solving skills and develops the functioning speed of your brain. A 2019 study has proven that people over 50 can better their brain function when engaged in games like sudoku. 
  2. Memory improvement – Once you get the hang of the game, you’ll remember different strategies that you used to win. In that sense, you can develop a certain sharpness and knack for identifying different patterns in the game. This is the foundation of how you can develop your memory skills.
  3. Ability to retain knowledge – Although this is simply a puzzle, you can master your ability to retain knowledge through it. A 2019 experiment conducted showed how 19,100 participants who took part in word and number puzzles reflected much ease in performing unrelated series of tests that gauge reasoning and memory. 
  4. Keeping mental stress at bay – This doesn’t mean that we should entirely depend on sudoku or similar games to relieve anxiety. However, by regularly engaging in this game, you surely can maintain your stress. Sudoku can act as the escape that you need away from a busy life, even if for a few minutes. The good news is you can enjoy the game while being productive in a way that expands your thinking capacity.
  5. Improving neuroplasticity – Neuroplasticity refers to the capability of your brain to create and organize synaptic connections. When you spend your attention and focus on your sudoku and try to find a solution from different angles, your neuroplasticity increases.
  6. Deductive and analytical skills – Sudoku is never guesswork. It needs your utmost attention to detail and skills in making logical decisions.

Can Sudoku help brain-related health conditions?

There have been various debates regarding the impact of puzzle-type games on brain conditions.

A woman is playing Sudoku on her smartphone

The following table considers various statements and whether they are backed up by evidence or simply myths.

StatementIs it a myth or not?
Sudoku can delay Alzheimer’sSpeaking from a medical perspective, there has been no evidence proving this statement. But, activities like Sudoku are known to slow down the process of memory loss as you age. Since this is the main symptom of Alzheimer’s, this statement isn’t entirely wrong, although it will not cure Alzheimer’s
Sudoku prevents dementiaIf you’re already suffering from dementia, playing sudoku-like games will not cure it. However, brain exercises are known to be ideal for relieving the damage that is done by dementia.
Sudoku can minimize overthinkingThis statement is entirely accurate as Sudoku is known for its effectiveness in developing your concentration and minimizing distractions.


What other activities can help you stimulate your brain?

1. Physical exercise

Research conducted by the Harvard Medical School shows that working out your muscles daily also helps your brain functioning.

The logic behind this is that blood vessels tend to increase the count of blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood into your brain area that’s in control of thought.  

2. Visualization activities

Visualizing in your mind to remember an image or to remember some kind of information can help you out in more ways than you think.

A 2018 study conducted by the US National Library of Medicine proves that this technique helps a lot in making appropriate decisions in the near future. 

3. Chess and checkers

Board games that require a lot of thinking before making a move play a similar role to what sudoku does.

A 2016 study reveals those activities like chess help improve memory, executive functioning, and the speed of information processing in our brain. 

4. Learning a new language

A 2019 study revealed that studying and developing one’s skills in two languages, known as bilingualism reinforces the connectivity of different areas in your brain.

This has been proved to even delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. 

5. Learning a musical instrument

Similar to learning a new language, studying how to play a new instrument also exercises your brain to improve your coordination.

What lifestyles can help stimulate your brain better?

Brain stimulation is important for all of us, whether we’re suffering from a brain-related illness or not.

There are certain habits that you can develop and certain habits that you can refrain from doing to help stimulate your brain.

Improving your diet can not only help out your physical health, but it can also improve your mental health since diets that emphasize vegetables, nuts, fruits, and plant-based proteins lower the chances of developing cognitive impairment and dementia.

If you’re more curious to try out such diets, the Mediterranean-style diet would be the best choice for you.

Did you know that having diabetes can increase your chances of developing dementia?

You can prevent this from happening by improving your blood sugar levels.

General healthy practices like staying lean and regular exercise can help you out.

Meanwhile, keeping an eye on your blood pressure levels and maintaining your cholesterol levels will also help you to stay away from the risk of dementia.

Saying no to alcohol and tobacco in any form is extremely important to maintain your mental health.

Apart from these, if you want to take it a step further, you can try switching to a low-dose aspirin when needed since low-dose aspirin reduces the risk of dementia.

FAQs

Can we stop our brain from aging through sudoku?

While we certainly can’t reverse the brain’s aging process, we can still help it stay healthy by engaging in brain-stimulating activities.

This can be done not just by playing sudoku but by experimenting with activities that need manual dexterity and mental effort, like drawing.

What other games can stimulate the brain apart from sudoku?

Board games such as chess and checkers, and puzzle-involved games like crosswords, complex jigsaw puzzles can help nurture your thinking process and concentration just like sudoku does.

What happens if you don’t stimulate your brain?

If you don’t challenge yourself in stimulating activities, your brain may start to deteriorate in extreme instances.

Brain stimulation is critical since it helps form new nerve cell connections and boost new cell generation.

Conclusion

By all means, Sudoku provides a lot of benefits to us emotionally and mentally.

Mental activity is crucial for our brain development at a younger age, and helping your child engage in fun, thoughtful games like this will help them reap the benefits of mental stimulation at a later age.

Rather than supporting a child’s interest in video games, helping your kids explore their imagination through activities like sudoku and chess will benefit their mental health in the future.