Sleep and health

Posted by Charlotte Miller on

Is your memory not what it used to be? We all know that eating well is important for optimal brain function, and we now know that a balanced diet - rich in plant foods - can also reduce symptoms of depression.  

So what if you’re already eating well, but not feeling sharp and on top of your mental game? Rather than reaching for the vitamins, you might be interested to know that one of the best boosters of brain power and mood is something you can do in your sleep.

That’s right – sleep! And here’s the lowdown from the experts @sleephealthfoundation : 

Research shows that four out of 10 Australians get insufficient sleep either daily or several days a week. Lack of shut-eye is known to affect mood, energy levels, productivity, weight and the likelihood that you may develop serious health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and even hypertension.

“It’s very common to hear people pass off their forgetfulness and their fogginess as the result of getting old,” says Sleep Health Foundation Chair, Professor Dorothy Bruck. “What many fail to recognise is that sleep – or lack of it – is playing a pivotal role in memory and mood. Age is a factor too, but improve your sleep and you’ll be surprised at the brain boost that follows.”

Multiple studies have confirmed that sleep helps learning and memory in two distinct ways. Firstly, sleep helps to prepare our brain for learning new things. When we are well rested we can pay better attention to new information that we come across in our daily experiences. Secondly, sleep helps make new information ‘stick’ by making the neural connections stronger. Guidelines recommend adults get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Sleep quality can be increased with a quiet room, a relaxed mind and a comfortable bed. It’s also advised to avoid caffeine after 2pm, start winding down an hour before bed and keep technology out of the bedroom. According to the experts, 18 degrees is the optimal ambient temperature for quality sleep.

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