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Keeping Our Brains Healthy

Posted December 17, 2014 in Advice Column, Ankeny


I don’t know about you, but there are many nights I find myself tossing and turning, then waking up deprived of quality sleep.  The next day, I find myself tired, grumpy, and not able to focus like I should.  According to the Center for Disease Control, I’m among an estimated 50-70 million people who aren’t getting enough rest.

The causes are many – we are connected 24/7, stress, medications, frequent napping, and irregular sleep patterns can cause our sleep to be compromised.  Not only can sleep deprivation lead to memory issues, it can also contribute to chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, obesity, and cancer. 

As we age, the need for sleep does not diminish.  It is recommended that adults get between 7-8 hours of sleep.  So, what are some tips for making sure we get a sufficient number of zz’s? 

  • Routine – try to go to bed each night at the same time, and get up at the same time each morning – even on the weekends.
  • Limit napping – resist that urge to nap.  If you nap, set the alarm and limit yourself to a half hour.  Best to nap early in the afternoon. 
  • Relax – develop habits that allow you to unwind before climbing into bed.  A hot shower or bath, a cup of warm milk, or a cup of “Sleepy Time” Tea may help you unwind.  Spray your pillow with lavender, as studies have shown this promotes sleep. 
  • Caffeine – limit your caffeine intake, and make a habit not to have any after lunch.
  • Eat light – avoid heavy meals before bedtime.
  •  Check out – leave your worries, stressors and concerns on the nightstand, don’t take them to bed with you.  If you start to toss and turn, get out of bed and go to another room.  Try reading or relaxing for a half hour or so, then go back to bed. 

Just like other parts of your body, your brain tires, and needs sufficient and restful sleep to rejuvenate and operate properly. 

Next month we are going to discuss another important, but often overlooked, pillar of a healthy brain – socialization!

Information provided by
Shelly Charter, Valley View
Village, 2571 Guthrie Ave.,
Des Moines, 265-2571.

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