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5 Ways Not Getting Enough Sleep Hurts Your Health and Appearance

5 Ways Not Getting Enough Sleep Hurts Your Health and Appearance

Are you a night owl or an early bird? It does not really matter which one you are, provided that you get enough sleep. The recommended dose is about 7.5 hours a sleep but some people can thrive on less. It is also important that you have a regular sleep schedule which will benefit your health.

Scientists and researchers have done quite a lot of work on why staying up late is bad for your health, so if you are starting to stay up late on a regular basis, it might be a good idea to consider the following risks.

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1. You may damage your immune system

Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have been studying the effects of irregular sleeping patterns on our immune system. They carried out experiments which show that an overproduction of T cells caused by irregularities in the wake sleep cycle can put the immune system out of sync. That causes inflammation which is a perfectly normal reaction. But when this condition becomes chronic, this can lead to all sorts of diseases which range from diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis to many others. The basic message from Dr. Barry Sears’ book, called The Anti-Inflammation Zone: Reversing the Silent Epidemic That’s Destroying Our Health, is that total wellness is the absence of inflammation.

2. You may damage your brain cells for good

How many times as a student did you stay up really late to prepare for a test? You probably loaded up with caffeine and various types of stimulants to keep you awake. Scientists now have found that by depriving mice of sleep, the part of the brain responsible for staying alert and thinking was irrevocably damaged. Sleeping extra long hours later did not repair the damage either.

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In another experiment at MIT, the researchers found that sleep can actually help you to consolidate learning. By depriving your brain of this essential rest, you are actually reducing your brain’s ability to learn.

3. You may gain weight

If you are worried about your weight, staying up late is not really a good idea. First of all, you are awake for that much longer. Hunger rears its ugly head so you have to eat something.

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But a much more important factor is your metabolism. It slows down when you do not get enough sleep. One survey found that people who were getting by with just 6 hours a sleep a day were 30% more likely to become overweight than those who were getting the normal amount of 7 or 8 hours.

4. You may have more wrinkles

Staying up late and cutting back on sleep will not do your skin any good. The reason is a pretty simple one. One of the main hormones we produce when stressed out is cortisol. This has been called the ‘death hormone’ because it is linked to the decline of every cell in our body. In addition, the more we age, the more cortisol we produce. The skin is in the frontline as the collagen (which makes up about 90% of your skin) and keeps it firm, gets trounced by cortisol. The result is a lot more wrinkles, rather dull skin and more dark circles under the eyes.

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One solution is to get more shut eye because when we sleep, we produce the HGH (human growth hormone) which actually helps to counter the disastrous effects of the cortisol.

5. You are adding to your stress

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America has provided some fascinating research on how lack of sleep may alter your gene function. They have calculated that staying up late and getting less sleep has a deleterious effect on as many as 700 genes in the human body. This has a negative effect on your metabolism but more importantly on your reaction to stress. This ties in very well with other research which shows that reducing sleep may also alter hormonal levels which limit our coping mechanisms with difficult emotional experiences. All this builds up stress and anxiety.

As we have seen, staying up late is just not worth it. The best thing to guarantee a good night’s sleep is to avoid upsetting the wake sleep cycle by using an iPhone in bed. If you are worried about waking up to the sound of an awful alarm clock, forget it. All you have to do is buy a dawn simulator clock which will gently wake you with a simulated natural sunrise very quietly. Sleep well!

Featured photo credit: Sleeping/Pedro Robeiro Simoes via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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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!

More About Boosting Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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