5 Simple Tips for Improving Your Quality of Sleep
May20

5 Simple Tips for Improving Your Quality of Sleep

Life can be pretty hectic sometimes, and it can be difficult enough to actually get a decent amount of sleep each night. With work, school, a significant other, kids, or other obligations, it’s not uncommon for us to feel like we’re being pulled in ten different directions at once. So if you’re already struggling to fit sleep into your schedule at all, it’s especially important that you understand how the sleep you are able to get is helping you wake up well rested each morning. Here are 5 easy tips for improving your quality of sleep, helping you fall asleep more easily and wake up feeling restored and rejuvenated. Check Your Sleep Position You most likely have a sleep position that you’ve maintained for the majority of your life. Maybe you can’t even imagine switching it up. Better posture and less back pain is said to come with side sleeping, but what’s best for your brain? While we sleep, our body clears the glymphatic pathway of toxins more so than while we’re awake. Side sleeping appears to help the functioning of this pathway. Ultimately, sleeping on your side helps filter out damaging proteins that can build up around the spinal and brain cord. Listen to Classical Music Listening to classical music at any time can help lower your blood pressure and relieve stress, so think about how great it can be for a good night’s sleep. As a baby, your parents or other family members might have sang lullabies to help you doze off. Things are no different now! The instruments used in classical music like the harp, piano, and orchestras are incredibly soothing and have been proven to reduce sleep problems. Look Away from Electronics The last thing you want to do before settling in for a relaxed slumber is to really excite your brain with the bright light from a phone screen. Try to settle in with a book instead to help relax your mind. Exercise Early Exercising is great for falling asleep and sleeping really soundly if it’s done at the right time. While exercising, the stimulation of the body tells the brain to secrete certain hormones that keep the body alert. This works out really well while you’re exercising, but it’s also the reason you should try to finish exercising at least three hours before bedtime. Establish a Pre-Sleep Routine Create a really relaxing bedtime ritual for yourself. Give yourself a little extra time each night to do the things that help you unwind. Do you love to take hot baths? Right before bed at night is the perfect time to take them. The quick...

Read More
Lead Exposure and Brain Health
Apr11

Lead Exposure and Brain Health

If your home was built prior to 1978, there’s a high possibility that lead could be present throughout your home. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), lead is a naturally occurring element found in small amounts in the earth’s crust and can be found in the air, the soil, the water, and even in our homes. While lead has been beneficial and used in paint, plumbing materials, and other household items, it can be toxic to humans and animals. The dangerous effects of lead have been known for centuries, reportedly dating back to Roman times.   Although lead has been widely used for centuries, the dangers associated with lead exposure has gained more attention since unsafe levels of lead has been found in the drinking water of Flint, Michigan. Lead Exposure: Who’s at Greatest Risk?   While exposure to lead can lead to a variety of health problems in humans and animals, but lead can have the most detrimental effects to children or pregnant women. The EPA suggests that children are more likely to be exposed to lead because they are prone to putting objects (that may contain lead) in their mouth. An adult’s exposure to lead is more likely if he or she breathes in lead dust when renovating or repair homes containing lead or when participating in a hobby where lead may be used such as stained glass or pottery. Both humans and animals can be exposed to lead through drinking water (as seen in the recent crisis in Flint, Michigan) and food. Symptoms of Lead Poisoning   When an individual has been exposed to lead, it may be months or even years before he or she shows symptoms of lead poisoning. According to the Mayo Health Clinic, many lead poisoning symptoms are not present until the level accumulated lead is high. While an individual, who has been exposed to lead, may exhibit a variety of symptoms, here are some common signs and symptoms to look for:   Infants and Children: Unborn babies, newborns, and children may have developmental delays, slowed growth, and damage to the developing brain.   Children: If exposed to lead, may have weight loss, fatigue, irritability, vomiting, constipation, or hearing loss.   Adults: While infants and children are more susceptible to the negative effects of lead exposure, adults may suffer from neurological issues, high blood pressure, mood disorders, and abnormal or reduced sperm count.   Extremely high levels of lead may even lead to death for infants, children, and adults. Reducing Exposure   Whether you’ve been diagnosed with lead levels in your system or want to limit your exposure, it’s...

Read More
Suffering From SAD? Get Through the Season
Mar31

Suffering From SAD? Get Through the Season

There are many things to love and hate about every season, particularly if you live in a part of the country where you truly experience all four seasons, but winter can tough on millions of Americans. Whether it’s the cold temperatures, the shorter daylight hours, or a combination of both, the season can leave a lot of people feeling bummed out. How do you know if you are suffering from post-holiday blues, cabin fever, or something more serious like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? What is Seasonal Affective Disorder? Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, is a type of depression that’s related to the changes in the seasons and for most individuals it begins and ends at the same time each year. While SAD typically starts in October and ends in April, some individuals feel the symptoms in spring and summer. A lot of people assume that low energy, moodiness, and trouble getting out of bed just goes hand in hand with winter, however if you feel the same symptoms around the same time of year, for consecutive years, you may struggle with SAD. The farther you live from the equator, the greater the chance of feeling some level of winter depression. This is due to the lack of sunlight which causes your brain to work overtime to produce melatonin (the hormone responsible for regulating sleep patterns and your body clock). SAD Can Be Serious Although SAD is a seasonal disorder, it should be viewed as seriously as major depression (since SAD is a subtype of major depression). The Mayo Health Clinic warns that if you feel any of the following symptoms, you should contact a doctor: Feeling depressed most days and for the majority of the day Feelings of hopeless, worthless, or frequent thoughts of death or suicide Low energy or little interest in activities you typically enjoy Changes in appetite or weight gain/loss Having little motivation, extreme moodiness, or difficult following through with daily activities Additionally, if you turn to alcohol or drugs to help you “get through the season”, you should make an appointment with your doctor. Treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder Even though SAD is a seasonal disorder and symptoms will improve with the arrival of spring, there’s no need to suffer through the winter months. There are three main treatment options that doctors recommend: Light Therapy: With light therapy, or phototherapy, the patient sits near a special light therapy box and exposed to bright light (which mimics outdoor light). Light therapy seems to an effective treatment for SAD because it may change the brain chemicals linked to mood. Talk Therapy: Talk therapy, or psychotherapy, may be...

Read More
Mind Diet : Brain Health
Feb29

Mind Diet : Brain Health

At the start of every new year, we are bombarded with “new” diets that are designed to be life changing. Want to lose weight, look younger, feel younger, or manage your health issues? You are sure to find at least one diet specifically created to eliminate whatever ails you. One diet that has been receiving big accolades is the MIND diet, which promotes brain health and decreases an individual’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. What is the MIND Diet?   The MIND diet is a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets; MIND is an acronym for Mediterranean-DASH diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. According to Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, the MIND diet lowered the risk of Alzheimer’s by as much as 53% for participants who followed the diet rigorously, although participants who only followed the diet moderately lowered their risk by about 35%.   As individual diets, the Mediterranean and DASH have been successful in reducing the risk of cardiovascular conditions like heart attack and stroke. Knowing the success of these two diets alone, it would make sense that they would be mind healthy diets as well, especially since there is a connection between heart and brain health. For example, memory loss can be an early warning sign of heart failure.   The MIND diet is composed of 10 “brain-healthy food groups”:   Leafy Green Vegetables, such as Spinach Other Vegetables, such as Carrots, Broccoli, Peppers Nuts, such as Walnuts Berries, particularly Blueberries Beans, such as Black beans or Chickpeas Whole Grains (Switch white rice for brown) Fish, such as Salmon Poultry (Not Fried) Olive Oil Red Wine, in moderation   The foods that pose a “threat” to your brain health include red meats, butter or margarine, cheese, pastries, sweets, and fried/fast food. While these foods should be avoided whenever possible, some experts say that less than one serving (of any 3 “threat” foods) per week may be safe for your brain and keep you on track with the MIND diet.   Not only does this diet allow brain healthy “dieters” to enjoy some of their favorite indulgences, like red wine, but it is also praised for being one of the easiest diets to follow and stick to, but doesn’t make people feel like they are sacrificing too much. Do More Than Eat Well   Although making a commitment to healthy eating can make a significant difference in your overall health, it’s important to find a fitness regimen that works well for you, whether it’s yoga or running. Additionally, adequate sleep and stress management are also key to maintaining...

Read More
Mind Games
Jan30

Mind Games

Your mind plays trick on you, mind games. The human brain was slowly developed over many millenia in situations that were very different from anything modern people experience. This leads our brains to do funny things, leaving us confused and frustrated.   Modern neuroscientists and psychologists are doing great experimental work into the functioning of the brain. They’ve put forth some funny and very interesting ideas about what and why our brains do what they do. Your Brain Sees What It Wants to See Web designers have known this one for a while now. The brain bases its perceptions on previous perceptions. In web design, user experience experts like Jakob Nielsen advise that site builders base their pages on pages that look like the ones people are used to seeing.   This is because your brain likes to be a little lazy. The more new things it sees, the more your brain has to work. By making your vision line up with things it has already seen, your brain saves itself stress and hard work.   Magicians and other tricksters also understand this stuff. Magic tricks fool your brain into seeing things it expects to see; this helps bring the illusion that audiences get such a kick out of.   Your Brain Saves Energy By Automating Its Responses This one can get dangerous. Much as the brain tries to save itself effort by seeing that it wants to see, your brain also likes to save itself energy by automating its efforts. Here’s how it works. When you learn new tasks, your brain spends a lot of effort doing them. The more you get used to the task, the less energy your brain needs to spend.   This can be a very good thing. It’s why you don’t need to relearn to drive your car every time you hit the highway. You’ve done it before, so you don’t need to panic. It just sort of happens. Nicholas Carr has written extensively of the way that relying on machines can ruin your mental automation. This prevents experts like airline pilots from adapting to new situations, leading to some scary results.   This can also be a bad thing. When you get too used to familiar tasks, you get lazy. Your brain doesn’t want to experience new things, so it uses its old patterns. This is where we get the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”      Your Brain’s Flexibility Changes Throughout Your Life Brains change as your age. When you exercise your brain, you build up its flexibility. Neuroscientists calls this flexibility neuroplasticity.  Neuroplasticity is very high...

Read More
Google Circle
Join my Circle on Google+

Plugin by Social Author Bio