Sleep Your Way to a Healthy Brain
Can sleep improve your brain health?
Our brains are the miracle powerhouses of our bodies. This extremely complex organ controls all our bodily functions so, for obvious reasons, we should do everything in our power to keep our brains functioning healthfully.
When you think about being independent and able to travel far and long into your retirement years, the subject of brain health is not something to be ignored. We must focus on brain optimization now, while we can, in order to help prevent memory and cognitive issues down the road. But don’t be discouraged by this daunting task.
One simple way to keep your brain healthy is to get enough sleep. In today’s busy world, too often we stay up late to finish work, finish housework, or to finally relax and unwind before going to sleep. But then the vicious cycle starts again too early in the morning when we awaken to get ready for work, to feed the kids or pets, or to get a jump-start on that work deadline that’s hovering over our head.
Scientific Proof Your Brain Needs More Sleep
Our brains are dependent on sleep for full optimization. Photo by A Health Blog on Foter.com / CC BY-SA
Without sleep your brain cannot function properly.
Your reflexes are slower, you’ll have difficulty focusing on tasks, and you’ll have difficulty learning new things. Sleep is also extremely important to your brain’s neurons and their ability to communicate with each other.
As we know from news reports, cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of adults and Type 2 diabetes along with obesity have reached epidemic proportions. So, it makes common sense to do anything possible to avoid these catastrophic health issues.
5 Ways to Improve Your Sleep and Your Brain Function
You are in complete control of how much sleep you get each night and the quality of that sleep. Here are some tips for making the most of this important quiet time:
1. Unplug from electronics one hour before bed. The blue light that reflects off the mobile phone or television screen reduces the amount of melatonin produced in the brain, which is necessary for a good night’s sleep.
2. Meditate. Coupled with unplugging from technology, meditation is a peaceful way to calm down after a long, stressful day.
3. Set an earlier bedtime. Instead of falling asleep on the couch watching your favorite television show, set the DVR and go to bed earlier. Adults need a solid 7-9 hours of sleep each night for optimal performance the next day.
4. Increase your light exposure during daytime hours. Your circadian rhythm is the biological time clock that tells the body it’s daytime or nighttime. Increasing your light exposure not only increases your daytime energy but it prepares your body for a good night’s sleep. Get outside when the sun is out, sit by a window, or change your light bulbs from Soft White to Daytime White to add brightness to your day.
5. Turn your bedroom into a peaceful oasis. To improve your sleep quality, eliminate clutter (aka laundry piles), add some room darkening shades or curtains, and charge your electronics elsewhere. Clutter causes stress in our brains, which is the last thing you want when it’s time for sleeping.
Improving your sleep habits will naturally improve your brain function. A healthy, well-rested brain also plays a role in making healthy eating choices and having the energy to exercise. Feeling more awake in the morning also sets a positive tone for the work day.
Aging and brain health
If we expect to age gracefully, maintain our Independence and enjoy a lifetime of travel, we must improve our brain optimization while we have the time. By starting today to sleep your way to a healthy brain you are taking measures to aid in the prevention of memory loss, to become and maintain debt freedom, and to ensure your overall health is on good order.
What about you?
What is your biggest sleep issue? Or, what steps do you find help to improve your ability to fall asleep more easily and to stay asleep longer? Personally, my biggest sleep issue is the inability to go to sleep without the TV on. It’s the dialogue which gives my brain something to focus on, otherwise my brain runs rampant with thoughts that prevent me from falling asleep. But I know the light from the TV is not healthy for my brain and disrupts my ability to achieve restorative sleep. I’m working on that 😉
I would love to hear your thoughts on sleep and brain health. Let me know in the comments what you struggle with or what you find helpful for good brain health.
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