BRAIN HEALTH | 12.17.2018 | BY SHILO ZELLER, BSc.
On average, we spend about ⅓ of our lives sleeping - meaning if you live to 75 years, 25 years will be spent asleep (or trying to sleep)! The reasons why we sleep have not always been well understood. However, recent studies have shown that it is necessary for memory consolidation and allows the brain to do some “housekeeping”. The cerebrospinal fluid (a clear, colorless fluid in our brains and spinal cords) can move more freely while we sleep which allows it to whisk away any unnecessary chemicals or toxins - including toxins linked to dementia.
One more good reason to sleep? It plays an important role in our decision-making abilities and our attention because it allows us to take a cognitive rest and start fresh each day. Sleep is key when it comes to our ability to learn new things - especially tasks that require motor coordination and a strong athletic performance.
Some tips for getting a good night’s sleep include:
Avoid caffeine in the late afternoon/early evening
Restrict napping from 4:00pm onwards
Take a warm bath before bed - the change in your body temperature encourages sleep!
Limit screen time in the hour before you are wanting to go to bed
Lastly, create a calming space that you can retreat to each night.
With the holidays around the corner, prioritizing sleep might be the perfect gift for yourself this holiday season. Your brain will thank you! Sweet dreams!