Power Up Your Brain #3 of 6
Recover the most if you go to bed…
There are two important things sleep does to Power Up Your Brain. One, like other things your body does when you’re asleep, is it has a chance for healing and repair. This is the time your body pulls inflammation from your brain. Brain inflammation can cause issues with mood and memory.
The second thing sleep does is to allow all the things you learned that day to be stored as memories. I remember the first time in school I had to memorize a short story and read it in front of the class. I was extremely nervous, so I studied very hard the day before it was due.
I read it over and over, trying to get all the words in the perfect order. While it got somewhat better, I still kept messing up. I knew all the pieces, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t go from start to finish without missing something. So I went to bed frustrated and discouraged. I was so worried that I’d stumble and mess up in front of the class the next day.
Fortunately I got a great night’s sleep. When I woke up in the morning suddenly everything flowed great…from start to finish!
This happened because while I was sleeping, my brain was still working. It took everything I was practicing that day and put it together in a way that I could remember it the next day.
Think about the last time you were sleep deprived. How was your memory? How was your mood?
So if you need to cram for a test, make sure you at least do it the night before…not the day of.
If decreasing inflammation in your brain and making memories of what you did that day is what your brain does while you’re asleep…how can you get the best sleep to do all of this?
Here’s the biggest factor:
While any sleep is better than none, there are times when you get much more valuable sleep. Based on principles of Ayurveda medicine (ancient Indian medicine) your body naturally starts to slow down between 6-10:00pm every day. You’ve likely had a full day, the sun is setting, and your body is preparing to rest for the night.
When you go to bed during this time, you capture your body’s momentum and can move into a deep sleep. However, when you wait until past 10:00pm, you start to miss this momentum. You may even feel yourself getting a second wind and want to stay up later!
Falling asleep before 10:00pm allows the energy your body would normally use as a second wind to instead, “digest the day.” This means it has the energy to clear out brain inflammation and make sense of all the mental and emotional events that happened that day.
This means sleeping 8 hours is more productive if you sleep from 9:30pm to 5:30am, then if you sleep from midnight to 8:00am.
To really Power Up Your Brain, make sure you get plenty of sleep, and get to bed before 10:00pm!
If you need help getting to bed, click here for advice on falling asleep…including a handout on the Top 10 Exercises to do before bed to calm your brain.
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