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What Do Your Sleep Patterns Say About You?

What Do Your Sleep Patterns Say About You?

Tell me what time you wake up and I will reveal what type of person you are! No, I am not a fortune teller but there is now evidence to show your sleep patterns reveal a lot about your lifestyle and personality. How much sleep you manage to get is essential to your physical and mental health, according to all the sleep experts out there. It can affect your mood, weight control and productivity at work. It seems there is a genetic element in determining how much sleep we need. This is the conclusion reached by Dr. Ying-Hui Fu of the Department of Neurology at the University of California. Although everybody has different sleep needs and patterns, the following facts are worth bearing in mind:

  • About 25% of Americans feel they are not getting enough sleep half of the time.
  • A quarter of teens are only getting 6.5 hours sleep a night when they should be getting nine hours.
  • Forty-one million Americans are getting less than six hours sleep every night.

Here are five different types of sleep patterns. Which one do you fit into?

1. Are you a morning person?

If you like waking and getting up early, you are more likely to shine in the morning and get lots of things done. Your bedtimes are regular and do not vary wildly on the weekends. You like to have a decent breakfast which sets you up for the day. Evenings are less productive for you and you may feel like going to bed very early.

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2. Are you a napper?

Some people love a nap in the afternoon. Italian and Spanish timetables have taken this into account, since time immemorial. It is also due to climatic reasons. However, things are changing and there is a proposed labor reform in Spain to shorten the working day by eliminating the siesta! Even if you do not want or need a full siesta of an hour or so, a nap may benefit you.

If you work for an enlightened company, they now provide nap rooms for you to have a snooze, because experts say this can increase productivity, reduce stress and fatigue and lessen the risk of heart disease. Watch the video to learn more.

3. Are you an evening person?

If you are in this category, you may like to burn the midnight oil and party, study or work into the early hours because that is when you feel much more energetic. You prefer to work out in the evenings and you almost always need an alarm clock to wake you up. You do not go in for hearty breakfasts and you are pretty relaxed in regard to mealtimes.

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If you are not sure whether you are a morning or evening person, why not take the quiz here?

4. Do you sleep most during the weekend?

Many people struggle through the week on about 4-6 hours a sleep a night because of work pressure, long commutes and late nights. To make up your sleep deficit, you may sleep very late on the weekends or spend an afternoon in bed. The good news is this can partially help you to recover. The bad news is this is not a valid long-term strategy and does not always work to get you back to normal. This irregular type of sleep pattern can negatively impact:

  • Your immune system
  • Mood swings
  • Attention span and focus
  • Increase food cravings which will lead to obesity

This was the result of some research carried out by the Penn State University College of Medicine.

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5. Do you find it difficult to wake up?

There could be many reasons for this. It may be you are going to bed too late or you have a disturbed sleep pattern, caused by barking dogs or a snoring partner. There may be issues with insomnia, restless legs or sleep apnea. Your problem now is you have a very short time to get up, dressed and out of the house. This can be very stressful.

If you are fed up with loud alarm clocks, try a dawn simulator or a clock fitted with aromatherapy beads which can range from coffee to lavender. Some sadistic inventors have come up with a flying clock which takes off from the bedside table once it rings. Then, you have to chase it round the room and catch it before it stops bleeping. Not my ideal alarm clock!

Whatever type of sleep pattern you match, there is still the problem in getting up as painlessly as possible. Here are suggestions to make it less traumatic. If you are one of those rare types who can jump out of bed, ready to go, then skip this bit!

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  • Buy an alarm clock with a pleasant sound or with one of the new features mentioned above.
  • Forget the snooze button – the sleep quality is rubbish.
  • Set the alarm to go off at the latest practical moment.
  • Try stretching exercises before actually getting up.
  • Exercise if you feel like it – it works for some people in giving them an energy boost.

How do you deal with getting the right amount of sleep and also with getting up? Let us know in the comments below.

Featured photo credit: Lose your sleep/Scott McLeod via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Freelance writer

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12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

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:

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.

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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.

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.

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

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!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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