Sleeping less than seven to eight hours can be linked to cognitive decline, memory loss, and possibly Alzheimer’s. During sleep the brain clears out toxins, repairs neurons that assist with alertness and cognition, processes stimuli that entered the brain throughout the day, and creates memories. There is also a video embedded in the article. Read article
“Research on naps, meditation, nature walks and the habits of exceptional artists and athletes reveals how mental breaks increase productivity, replenish attention, solidify memories and encourage creativity. Downtime is in fact essential to mental processes that affirm our identities, develop our understanding of human behavior and instill an internal code of ethics. Downtime is an opportunity for the brain to make sense of what it has recently learned, to surface fundamental unresolved tensions in our lives and to swivel its powers of reflection away from the external world toward itself.” The mind also has the power to solve tough problems while daydreaming. Periodic time off of work can consistently replenish one’s ability and willingness to work, which made workers more productive in the end. The article encourages “workers to get seven to eight hours of sleep every night, to use all their vacation days, take power naps and many small breaks during the day, practice meditation, and tackle the most challenging task first thing in the morning so they can give it their full attention.” Naps can sharpen concentration and improve task performance for individuals who are well rested or sleep deprived. Spending time outdoors (preferably not by skyscrapers or city streets) can be equally restorative as a nap and help manage mental fatigue. Meditation can improve mental health, strengthen memory, and ones ability to concentrate. “Meditation appears to increase the volume and density of the hippocampus, a seahorse-shaped area of the brain that is absolutely crucial for memory; it thickens regions of the frontal cortex that we rely on to rein in our emotions; and it stymies the typical wilting of brain areas responsible for sustaining attention as we get older.”
Relaxing protects your heart, reduces your risk of catching a cold, boosts your memory, lowers stroke risk, may help ward off depression, help one make better decisions, help keep you slim, eases acne, will help keep you “in the mood,” and could slow breast cancer. Chronic stress lasting over a month but under six months doubled a person’s chance of getting a cold. It appears stress decreases the body’s ability to fight inflammation. Stress can also impair the centers of the brain involved in memory and learning. The article also suggested that prolonged exposure to the stress hormone cortisol can reduce levels of serotonin and dopamine, which are linked to depression. Stress is also likely to exacerbate mood problems in individual’s with a history of depression and could trigger a relapse. Stress can change how one views risks and rewards and can cloud judgment when making a decision. Stressed individuals tend to focus on the positive and not take into proper consideration the cons of his or her decision. Cortisol, the stress hormone, increases appetite, and may even specifically encourage junk food cravings. Stress can make individuals crave comfort foods while also making it harder to resist those cravings. Stress increases the amount of oil produced by the skin and can decrease libido. Relaxing may aid in slowing the progression of breast cancer and may also speed recovery. Read Article
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