Spring is a great time of the year as the winter season ends and new life emerges all around. For those of us who live in the winter belt it is quite refreshing to see the blue sky, the sunshine and absorb our vitamin D!
Spring is also a time for introspection and for beginning new behaviors to promote our own health. Brain health is such an important area and one that everyone can begin to focus with the new season. Perhaps with the advent of spring you can try the following to get started on your brain health lifestyle:
1. Walk daily at least 30 minutes or 10,000 steps (purchase a pedometer to help keep count).
2. Increase your intake of fish, fruits and vegetables.
3. Tell someone you are sorry or forgive another where there may be some conflict.
4. Engage in two tasks that are novel and complex.
5. Reduce your stress by giving yourself free time this spring season.
6. Try to do one group activity a week.
These are not too difficult and they will help to promote your general health and brain health for the 2009 year.
Sleep is a highly active time for brain development and brain function. There are four primary stages of sleep including Rapid Eye Movement (REM) when we dream and deep sleep or stage four sleep. It is thought that deep sleep and REM tend to decline with advanced age and these are perhaps the parts of sleep when consolidation of information takes place. As such sleep quantity and quality have a major role in what and how well we process and remember information.
REM sleep occupies about 25% of our total sleep and it is during REM that we dream. We tend to be paralyzed during this part of our sleep so we cannot act out our dreams. Without REM and deep sleep we can become lethargic, depressed, and make mistakes. Significant sleep disorders affect more than 35 million Americans and many more around the world. Sudden sleep is known as narcolepsy and can occur while driving which leads to a high number of fatal car accidents. Sleep Apnea, the first phase of narcolepsy, occurs because of a blockage of the airway and results in sudden gasps for air while sleeping. Apnea is most common in middle age, obese and hypertense males.
When considering lifestyle changes for brain health (e.g. brain fitness, brain games), one of the most important aspects of life is sleep. We tend to not get enough sleep and our brains run on fatigue much of the time. Napping is a lost art and we do not rest enough. As a result, our brains are over-stimulated, stressed, and tired. Consider this blog a permission slip to get a good night sleep and to take a nap sometime this week.