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All About Napping

All About Napping

You might think that you got all you need to know from those times you fell asleep in your high school calculus class, but there is a lot more to napping than meets the eye.

You may be most familiar with the Spanish siesta. A cultural habit in Spain, as well as Spanish influence on other Hispanic countries and the Philippines, the word “siesta” derives from the Latin phrase hora sexta or “sixth hour” (counting from dawn, this is around midday). The concept also has a strong presence in Southern Italy, where museums, churches and shops close midday for riposo. In Japan, employees are often encouraged to take naps during the work day, not only to increase performance but also because the need for a nap supposedly shows that an employee is working hard.

Sleep itself is a vital necessity for our bodies and minds. Not getting enough sleep can cause physical health problems such as high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythm, weight gain, vulnerability to colds and flu, and even increased risk for more serious illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. Risks for your brain include irritability, trouble focusing, poor reflexes, forgetfulness, and decreased coordination and balance. Continuous sleep deprivation is a problem and needs to be treated by lifestyle changes or a visit to a doctor, but naps can help temporarily remedy some of the side effects.

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Additionally, napping offers many benefits for those who more or less get a good amount of sleep but want a little boost during the day. Taking brief naps at a seasonable time during the day has proven to increase alertness, improve the ability to perform tasks, improve overall mood, increase creativity, and increase memory performance.

Think of it as a form of resetting your system. In fact, the idea that we are supposed to have one big sleep at night and stay awake until the following night is a relatively new one. Scientists now say we are actually hardwired to take naps or at least have more than one sleep per 24 hour cycle, and historians have found some evidence to back up this claim.

And while we’re talking about naps, here are some helpful tips to take a great one every day:

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– Nap at a regular time: Studies show the best time to nap is in the middle of the day, between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
– Don’t make it long: Set an alarm on your phone for an amount between 20 and 30 minutes. Any more than 30 minutes and you will likely wake up feeling groggy for up to an hour after your wake, possibly for the rest of the day.
– Make sure to block out the light: Make sure the room you nap in is as dark as you can make it, or wear a sleeping mask. Blocking out light helps you fall asleep faster and have a more restful nap. (You can even get blackout curtains for your room for optimal sleep/nap conditions.)
– Keep yourself cozy: You sleep better when you’re comfortably warm, so keep a blanket on hand wherever you take your naps to keep out the chill.

Still feeling guilty about the possibility of a regular nap schedule? Here are famous people who were pro-nappers:

– Winston Churchill
– Thomas Edison
– John F. Kennedy
– Eleanor Roosevelt
– Napoleon Bonaparte
– Salvador Dali
– Albert Einstein

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So go on, learn all about napping with this nifty infographic, then have yourself a nice siesta. Chances are, you need it.

nappinginfographic

    Fore more scientific studies and useful information on napping, check out any of these articles:

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    How Naps Affect Your Brain and Why You Should Have One Every Day

    5 Reasons Why You Should Take a Nap Every Day

    The Science Behind Power Naps, and Why They’re So Damn Good For You

    Naps Clear Brain’s Inbox, Improve Learning

    Featured photo credit: Napping/Patio Productions via patioproductions.com

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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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