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10 Benefits of Sleep You’re Not Aware of

10 Benefits of Sleep You’re Not Aware of

I wish sleep was unnecessary. If I could forgo my shuteye andwork through the night, I would be unstoppable: imagine all the stuff that would get done! But this workaholic desire will never become a reality, because when I don’t get enough sleep, nasty consequences follow.I nodded offduring a drivehome from a musical festival last year (fortunately Isnapped awakemere seconds before a semi truck would have plowed straight through my car). And I’m too embarrassed to admit the number of movies, plays, and college classes I have dozed off during because I found myself in a dark room while being burdened by a substantial sleep debt(let’s just call it “expensive nap-time?”). As nice it would be to have an extra 6-8 hours per night, the benefits of sleep cannot be denied. If you’re looking for a good reason to improve your quality of sleep (or an excuse to take a nap after you finish this article), keep on reading.

1. Improve your brain power.

Just because you’re asleep doesn’t mean your brain isn’t busy behind the scenes. Have you ever felt panicked the night before an exam because you couldn’t recall any of the material you were cramming in, but then the next morning you woke up to discover a staggering difference in your ability to remember? If so, this happened because your brain strengthens your memories while you sleep. Whether you’re learning a new language, studying for a test, or exploring a new hobby, expect to perform better after a good night’s sleep.

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2. Enjoy more (and better) sex.

A study by the National Sleep Foundation discovered an alarming trend among Americans: one out of every four adults married to or living with a partner say they are often “so sleep-deprived that they are too tired to have sex.” Theexcuse “too tired to have sex” shouldn’t even exist, soplease improve your sleep (for the sake of your sex life!).

3. Lose weight while you sleep.

Several studiespoint in the direction of aconnection between a poor night’s sleep and weight gain. A recent study by the American Heart Associationfound that the sleep-deprived participants ate an average of 549 additional calories more than the control group (who slept an additional hour and twenty minutes).

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4.Increased safety on the road.

A lack of sleep could lead to danger. According to a study by the American Automobile Association, 1 out of 6 deadly traffic accidents are due to drowsy driving. If you can help it, please don’t get behind the wheel when you’re so sleepy you can barely hold your head up. The signs of drowsy driving include drifting into another lane, frequent blinking, and lapses of concentration (i.e. when you realize you’re 10-20 miles farther and you didn’t even notice the journey).

5. Stay calm and cool at work.

While you shouldn’t numb yourself to feeling emotions, that doesn’t mean you should have a shouting match with a co-worker or boss. Surely you’ve noticed that a horrible night of sleep has a way of making you feel horrible (imagine!). The worse you feel, the more likely you are to lose your cool when faced with stressful situations.

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6. Improve your athletic performance.

A study by the Stanford School of Medicinesuggests that sleep could help athletes improve their performance. The college basketball players began the study by making no changes to their sleep schedule for 2-4 weeks. They were then asked to aim for 10 hours of sleep for the following 5-7 weeks. The well-rested athletes improved their speed, their free throw accuracy by 9%, their 3-point field goal accuracy by 9.2%, and their in-game performance.

7. Get more done in less time.

The irony of being “too busy to sleep”: neglecting to give your body the rest it needs merely makes it more difficult to pay attention (meaning it will take you longer to complete the task at hand).

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8. Reduce stress.

Are you having a hard time sleeping because you’re stressed, or are you stressed because you’re having a hard time sleeping? Your quality of sleep and level of stress are so closely related that it can be hard to tell the difference, but the fact remains: a good night of shuteye will help you get rid of the nasty mental monsters living inside your thoughts. If you manage your stress, you can also look forward to improved heart health and blood pressure levels.

9. Boost immunity from sickness.

Want to avoid getting a cold or flu now that sweater weather is upon us? If so, get comfy under that blanket, because sleeping will help you stay healthy this fall and winter. A study by the Archives of Internal Medicinefound that individuals sleeping less than 7 hours per night were 3 times more likely to get a cold than those who slept 8 or more.

10. It justfeels good.

Your body needs sleep to survive (and anything you need to survive feels good when you need it).Think abouthow it feels when you get busy and have todelay a meal for several hours later than usual. Sure, your stomach gets grumpy and hungry, but isn’t that first bite delicious? Your body feels the same way about sleep when it needs rest. Be okay with the fact that you can’t work every hour of every day. Get a good night’s sleep (because it just feels good!).Read this article to check out 10 things that will help you sleep better. What benefits of sleep have you noticed in your life?

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Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on August 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and Black Tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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