Sleep and your brain: Do you need help?

The importance of sleep is well documented and understood.

However, the scale of sleep loss is so severe that World Health Organization (WHO) has now declared a sleep loss epidemic in first-world nations. Sleep Deprivation in both quantity and quality is known to be associated with an increased risk of Stroke, Heart Attack, Depression, Anxiety, & Cognitive Decline including Dementia.

Dr. Maiken Nedergaard and her colleagues at the University of Rochester Medical Center recently discovered a system that drains waste products from the brain. Cerebrospinal fluid, a clear liquid surrounding the brain and spinal cord, moves through the brain along a series of channels that surround blood vessels. The system is managed by the brain’s glial cells, and so the researchers called it the glymphatic system. (These systems are facilitated by CranioSacral Therapy and Lymphatic Drainage Technique, both provided at Apex) They believe that this process is one of the reasons sleep is so important to our overall health and wellness, this process cleans and restores the Cerebrospinal fluid which allows for the brain to do many functions of healing while you sleep.

This drainage/restorative process helps your brain:

  • Organize new information
  • Clears out harmful toxins
  • Solidifies your memories
  • Regulates your appetite
  • Keeps thought processes more efficient
  • Lead to more creative thinking

But what do you do if you struggle to fall asleep or staying asleep?

Here are some tips to help your brain naturally get the solid 7-9 hours of solid sleep that you need each night.

Let your eyes get 5-10 minutes of sunlight each morning. The same for the evening, 5-10 minutes of sunlight around dusk allows your visual senses to tell your brain what time of day it is and sends natural hormones in your body that “wake up” your brain in the morning and “gets your brain ready for rest” at night.

(For more information on this look into The Huberman Lab Podcast and listen to episode 2 on Mastering your sleep)

Put away electronics 30-60 minutes before bedtime and do something to relax your body like read a book, listen to meditation (Calm, headspace) or hypnosis apps (Reveri) that can help your body relax deeper.

Get a regular massage to help your body & Nervous System learn how to relax.

Get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day. Pay attention to how your body reacts after activity on whether the morning or evening workouts are better for you.

Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at a similar time each morning.

Avoid stimulants like Caffeine after 2:00 pm each day. This time will vary from person to person based on different needs, but if you are having troubles at night, try to get your coffee in earlier in the morning.

Avoid Alcohol and heavy meals before bedtime.

Keep your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark to facilitate proper melatonin release.

The moral of this story is: The better you sleep at night, the better your brain will function & the better you will feel.

Sleep well, my friends.

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