The One Factor You're Probably Ignoring When It Comes To Brain Health
And it impacts so much more than brain health, too.
When it comes to feeling our best in the long run, there are so many factors to consider, from heart health, to metabolic health, and of course, brain health. And in the case of keeping our brains healthy, one factor that's often left out of the equation is sleep.
On a recent episode of the mindbodygreen podcast, health scientist and neuroscience expert, Milene Brownlow, Ph.D., explains why you shouldn't skip out on sleep if you want to keep your brain healthy.
Why sleep is so essential to brain health:
Sleeping is the body's primary way to rest and recharge, and that translates to the brain, as well. "Sleep is conducive to detoxification of the brain," Brownlow explains, and our glymphatic system—the waste clearance mechanism for the brain—can kick into high gear as we rest.
In this way, sleep has a neuroprotective purpose, and it can protect us from some of the cognitive health changes often seen in older age. One 2015 study notes that sleep has been linked with improved memory recall and reduced mental fatigue, among other things. "When one sleeps, the brain reorganizes and recharges itself, and removes toxic waste byproducts which have accumulated throughout the day. This evidence demonstrates that sleeping can clear the brain and help maintain its normal functioning," the study authors write.
However, this study also indicates that a minimum of seven hours of sleep every night "seems to be necessary for proper cognitive and behavioral function." As mbg vice president of scientific affairs Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN noted in the podcast with Brownlow, over one-third of American adults aren't meeting this threshold.
If brain health isn't enough to convince you, research continues to show that the impacts of quality sleep are far-reaching. In fact, it wouldn't be a stretch to say getting consistent quality sleep touches virtually every aspect of our overall health, from mood, to energy levels, to metabolic health, heart health, hormone regulation, gene expression, and so much more.
So, no matter what aspect of health you're looking to improve, if you're not getting enough sleep every night, you can bet that's a good place to start.
And to that end, there are a handful of things you can do to get better sleep each night. For one thing, having a bedroom that's cool, quiet, and dark never hurts. It's also important to keep a consistent sleep schedule (AKA going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day), to keep your circadian rhythm regulated.
You can also try a quality, non-hormonal sleep supplement, such as mbg's sleep support+. The one-of-a-kind blend of magnesium bisglycinate, jujube, and PharmaGABA® makes a powerful formula with ingredients shown to help people fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and wake up energized and sharp.*
Whether you want to keep your brain healthy as you age, or simply have more energy during your day-to-day, getting quality sleep on a regular basis is essential. And the best part is, when you do get consistent, quality sleep, your brain isn't the only thing that will benefit.
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.