Human attention can be affected by the choices that a person makes, such as how much she chooses to sleep or what she chooses to eat. The number and types of tasks that a person attempts to engage in at a given moment can also affect her attention. Substances such as alcohol and drugs can negatively impact a person's attention span and ability to concentrate. Sometimes, however, problems with attention stem from a disorder.
Rest, or the lack of it, can affect human attention. When people are tired, it can be much more difficult for them to concentrate. Parents tend to think that children need a certain amount of sleep to be at their best. While this is true, the same applies to adults. At any age, cognitive abilities tend to be sharpest when individuals have had an adequate amount of rest.
An individual's diet can also affect his attention span and ability to concentrate. This is one of the reasons why breakfast is encouraged. As it is the first meal of the day and people generally have a number of tasks ahead of them that require their attention, eating breakfast is important. With regard to attention, it is is recommended that a person include some type of lean protein among her breakfast selections.
Multitasking is often considered a desirable trait, but it is one that can negatively affect human attention. When a person attempts to engage in more than one task, she must try to divide her attention between them. Depending on the tasks at hand, a person may be able to accomplish this without a problem. There are many instances, however, when a person simply does not have an adequate supply of attention to divide among all of the tasks she attempts, resulting in a problem. A prime example is when a mother attempting to interact with her children while driving and talking on a cellphone has an accident.
Alcohol, legal drugs, and illegal drugs can have a negative effect on human attention too. The manner and degree of the impact will depend on the type and amount of substances consumed. Some may dull a person's attention or shorten an individual's ability to concentrate. If use of substances evolves into addiction, cravings may have a severe impact on a person’s ability to concentrate on tasks other than obtaining the addictive substance.
Human attention can also be affected by disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Many individuals suffer from conditions such as this without realizing it. Additionally, it is common for medical professionals to have difficulty diagnosing these conditions or even to misdiagnose them. Symptoms may include the lack of ability to concentrate, being easily distracted, and having difficulty sitting still. Once such a condition is discovered, it may be managed with medication or with other sorts of therapy.