Posted in Communication, Motivation, Personal Development, Positive Thinking, Potential, Self Improvement

Brain Fog – Why Is Sleep So Important? What To Do To Support Good Sleep.

Photo by Samara Doole on Unsplash

Brain Fog. It feels weird. Do you know what I mean? You feel like you are having an out of body experience. You feel like you are dreaming or maybe sleepwalking. You sit there, and you cannot function.

There are times when we push ourselves a little too hard and wear ourselves out. You know it, you can feel it but, you keep pushing. That’s okay for a day, maybe two but any longer than that and your body starts to react. It is sending you a message. Slow down, rest, relax, get some sleep. If you do not listen, your body will continue to send you more messages. One of them is brain fog.

Good quality sleep is necessary for your mental health, physical health, safety and overall quality of life. Being deprived of good quality sleep will affect how we get along with others. I get grouchy when I am tired, does anyone else feel that way? Our reaction time slows down, and it is difficult to understand and to learn. Being sleep deprived can lead to chronic illnesses such as heart disease.

I forced myself to take a nap this week, not once but twice. I fought it, I did not want to take the time, but I have learned to tell the signs, and I finally gave in. I had been extra busy the past two weeks and was pushing myself to keep going. Once I had accomplished what I was focusing on, my body started sending me messages — time to rest.

So what can be do to make sure we are getting enough sleep?

  • Try to maintain a scheduled bedtime. Remember when we were kids? There was a reason for going to bed at the same time and also for getting up on schedule. You want it to be a habit. You have a natural sleep-wake clock within you called your circadian rhythm. Your brain controls your circadian rhythm, which works best when you maintain a set sleep-wake schedule.
  • Exercise is so vital for our overall well being. Walking, running, bicycling, swimming, lifting weights. All of these activities are good for us, mentally and physically and it helps us sleep.

According to John Hopkins Medicine and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, exercise helps us get good quality sleep.

“We have solid evidence that exercise does, in fact, help you fall asleep more quickly and improves sleep quality,” says Charlene Gamaldo, M.D. , medical director of Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep 

Researchers don’t completely understand how physical activity improves sleep. “We may never be able to pinpoint the mechanism that explains how the two are related,” she says. 

However, we do know that moderate aerobic exercise increases the amount of slow wave sleep you get. Slow wave sleep refers to deep sleep, where the brain and body have a chance to rejuvenate. Exercise can also help to stabilize your mood and decompress the mind, “a cognitive process that is important for naturally transitioning to sleep,” says Gamaldo.

  • Cut back on stimulants such as caffeine. The effects of caffeine can last up to 8 hours. Caffeine can be found in coffee, tea and, oh no, chocolate. Not being a smoker, I did not realize that nicotine is also a stimulant. We all know smoking is bad for us, but if you do smoke, avoid it for a few hours before you go to bed.
  • Slow down your activity at least an hour before bedtime. Do not exercise strenuously before bed. Doing slow, gentle Yoga stretches have been shown to help promote good sleep because it releases tension held in your body and enables you to relax. Four relaxing Yoga poses to try can be found here: https://www.elitedaily.com/wellness/yoga-help-you-sleep/1812434
  • Step away from Social Media by turning off your computer and any apparatus with bright light. Do some reading before bed instead of watching the TV. Listen to soft music . Do some meditation.
  • Avoid eating large meals close to your bed time. You should not eat a full meal within 3 hours of your scheduled sleep time. Also, avoid any food that is spicy or acidic, which may cause heartburn. It is not beneficial to go to bed hungry, so having a light snack is okay. Try eating yogurt or a banana before bed or maybe a small bowl of cereal with some berries. Bananas contain serotonin and berries contain melatonin which helps support sleep. Drinking tart cherry juice which is also high in melatonin is also something to try.
  • Make your bedroom a restful haven. Soft, comfy sheets and blankets, and a great pillow will make you comfortable. Your bedroom should be quiet and dark, with only very dim lighting if needed. It should also be on the cooler side, between 60 to 65 degrees. Studies have shown that colder temperatures help stimulate sleep, and we will cycle naturally through sleep stages. A cooler sleeping environment will also support our natural melatonin levels.

If you do all of these practices and still cannot sleep or show signs of sleep deprivation, talk to your doctor about your concerns. There could be an underlying heath problem.

“… sleep deprivation is an illegal torture method outlawed by the Geneva Convention and international courts, but most of us do it to ourselves.” 

― Ryan Hurd, Dream Like a Boss: Sleep Better, Dream More, and Wake Up to What Matters Most

As always, thank you for reading my blog. Have a good night’s sleep.