Improving Brain Function with Sleep and Nutrition
From our own experience, we know how sleep is intrinsically linked to how we feel. A good night's sleep and we're ready to go, the cogs turn seamlessly, facts are at our fingertips. A bad night's sleep and remembering things is like wading through treacle, our memory feels like it's on go-slow.
Sleep is involved in keeping our brains healthy by supporting the production new brain cells. For years we didn't know that we could make new brain cells or connections, but science now tells us differently. We also now know that quality sleep helps to reduce the risk of dementia by giving the brain the time needed to flush out the sticky proteins (beta amyloid) linked to dementia and Alzheimer's disease. And that's just the start of it!
Our Top Tips to Improve Sleep
A dark room is essential to the release of sleep inducing Melatonin from the brain. Install black out blinds if necessary or thick curtains
Screen Free Zone at least 90 minutes before bed - electronic devices emit the same wavelength of light as the morning sun (see Point 1)
Eat plenty of Tryptophan rich foods which will build Melatonin (see Point 1) - turkey, chicken, banana, cottage cheese
Mattress and Bedding - are they fit for purpose? You need comfort and support
Temperature - the ideal temperature to fall asleep is just 17°C.
Sunlight in the Morning - go outside with your cuppa to reset your body clock and set you up for a good night's sleep
Bedtime bath - relax in a magnesium flake bath twice a week
Ditch the alcohol and caffeine for at least 2 weeks - alcohol may help you fall asleep but it won't help you to stay asleep whilst caffeine is a stimulant so avoid after 12 noon
Eating for Brain Health
It's not all about sleep. Your brain is 2% of your body weight but takes a whopping 20% of your energy intake to function. So every 5th mouthful of food is for your grey matter.
Eat 3 hours before bed - the enzyme that mops up insulin (which is released after your meal), is also needed to break down that sticky protein (beta amyloid) that can form damaging plaques in your brain. It needs to deal with insulin first so give it the time it needs to do that before it starts acting on the beta amyloid whilst you sleep
Increase your veg and fruit intake - nutrients from these foods zap damaging free radicals in your brain and the fibre content will feed your gut bacteria which we know modulates your mood and memory
Lower you cholesterol, naturally. Cholesterol doesn't damage the brain but you may be on Statins for high cholesterol. Statins block cholesterol formation and it's needed in your cell membranes to ensure they stay flexible. It's this flexibility that allows your nutrients and oxygen into your brain cells and waste to flood out. Keys ways to reduce cholesterol naturally are:
Substitute saturated and trans fats for healthier mono and polyunsaturated fats (avocado, olives, olive oil, nuts and seeds etc)
Eat more fibre which binds to cholesterol and is then excreted in bowel movements
Exercise at least 3 times per week for 20 minutes to increase HDL levels (good cholesterol taxis) which help to take LDL (bad cholesterol taxis) to the liver for excretion. Exercise also helps to produce brains cells, so it's a win win! Talk to your GP before embarking on an exercise regime if you haven't embarked on one before or if you have health issues.
That's a LOT of information - can we sum it up in 3 points?
Food & Drink
Consider your Lifestyle
Give it 2 weeks and we're sure you'll see a difference in your sleep patterns and in your mental function.
Contact us for a FREE 15 minute phone consultation or book in for a longer, private consultation at our clinic in Bath or via Skype. Just email Rayne Roberts for details.