One of the biggest boosts you can give your brain is a good night’s sleep. Adequate sleep is vital to proper brain function. Without it — our judgment, reaction time, memory and other brain functions may be impaired. According to Dr. Mark Mahowald, a professor of neurology at the University of Minnesota Medical School, one night of lost sleep has the same impact in simulated driving tests as illegally high blood-alcohol levels.
Turn in early to give yourself 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night (this is considered average, though some people may need as few as 5 or as many as 10 hours.) For many, falling asleep is a challenge. Anxiety, stress, pain, interpersonal conflicts and medication all impact one’s ability to get a good night’s sleep. Luckily, sleep is a learned behaviour and you can change it.
7 Suggestions to Improve Your Sleep
- Cut down on caffeine – Even if you don’t stop it completely, reducing makes a difference.
- Get more exercise – Walk daily, you will notice a difference immediately.
- Listen to a soothing CD before bed. Or try white noise to create a background.
- Take a warm bath before bed.
- Maintain a regular schedule. Going to bed and getting up around the same time help you develop a rhythm that can make falling asleep easier.
- Spruce up your sleeping area. A comfortable mattress, comfortable bedding and blackout curtains can make a world of difference.
- Use the bed for sleep, not channel or Internet surfing.
Make sure you bookmark our blog & check back often for more health & lifestyle tips! Also, remember to keep challenging your brain by training with Fit Brains!
We are often so busy we feel there is no time to add meditation to our schedule. But 10-15 minutes of daily meditation actually gives you more time by calming your mind and increasing your focus.
Your brain can adapt to a chaotic world, but it will function more efficiently over a longer period if you provide moments of inward reflection and rest. Mediation offers an easy way to achieve this. Taking a few minutes to meditate can also help you overcome stress and become more positive, happy and peaceful. Below are tips for beginners to learn how to breathe right and relax the muscles for meditation.
- Sit with your eyes partially closed and turn your attention to your breathing.
- Breathe naturally, preferably through your nostrils, without trying to control your breath.
- Try to become aware of the sensation of your breath as it enters and leaves your nostrils. The sensation of your breath is your object of meditation so concentrate on this and nothing else.
- At first, your mind will be very busy; you might even feel that the meditation is making your mind busier. In reality you are
just becoming more aware of how busy your mind actually is.
- Resist the temptation to follow different thoughts as they arise; remain focused on the sensation of the breath.
- If your mind wanders and is following your thoughts, immediately return it to your breathing.
- Repeat this as many times as necessary until your mind clears.
Muscle Relaxation 101
- Squeeze your right hand into a fist as hard as you can.
- Hold the fist and pay attention to how uncomfortable the tension is in your fist.
- Now, slowly release your fingers extending them one by one.
- Notice how the tension leaves your fingers.
- Now try this with other parts of your body where you might feel stress.
- Tense your shoulders, neck, forehead, stomach, and then slowly release.
- At the end of the exercise you may notice that energy in the form of stress has left you and you feel better.
We hope this post has taught you how to easily incorporate a few minutes of meditation into your daily lives! Make sure to check out the Fit Brains portfolio of apps when you are done relaxing and you’re ready to work out your brain!
A great snack that helps rejuvenate the brain after draining amounts of studying, work, chores, etc.! Check out the Fit Brains‘ collection of recipes, we will add new brain healthy recipes every couple of days so visit often!
Purple Monster Smoothie
What you Need:
- 2 frozen bananas, chopped
- 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
- 1 cup orange juice (or soy milk)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Putting it all Together:
- Place bananas, blueberries and juice in a blender and puree.
- Use honey and vanilla to taste and voila!
Sometimes, the influx of work and daily to-dos are stressful for many of us. Our brains will likely become exhausted on more than a few occasions so we need to remember how to relax the mind!
Here are 6 tips from the Fit Brains team to help you clear & calm the brain during those stressful days!
- Yoga / meditation – Practicing yoga or meditation will help relax the body, mind, and soul. Sign up for a trial yoga class, many community centers will offer the 1st class for free. You can also try meditating at home by sitting in a comfortable position, closing your eyes, clearing your mind, and thinking about one specific but stress-free thing for 10-30 minutes.
- Keep hydrated – Drink lots of water to keep your body hydrated and clean. Toxins can build up in the body if it is dehydrated, which will often clog up the mind.
- Listen to music – Listening to music you enjoy triggers natural endorphins in your brain, so take a break and listen to some soothing music that you love.
- Shut off your brain – Do something mindless and/or repetitive. Activities like easy chores or light exercises are good because they don’t require a lot of thinking. Good examples are swimming, folding laundry, going for a walk, doing the dishes.
- Eat right – Cut back on stimulating foods such as coffee, energy drinks, sodas, and candy. Also try to avoid processed & artificial foods. You are what you eat so you need to eat healthy to have a healthy mind!
- Treat yourself – Do something you love and know will lower your stress level. We have all been living in our bodies long enough to know the things we like to do that will help us relax. Sometimes all we need is a break! Take a nap, get a massage, melt away in a bubble bath…do whatever you need to do to recharge yourself!
While brain breaks are great once in a while, don’t forget to keep your mind active on a regular basis to maintain its optimal performance! The Fit Brains Trainer app is great for exercising the mind without any burden of stress. If you have kids, they can stimulate their brain skills with our new Fit Brains for Kids app as well!