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Why Your Brain Needs a Mental Break

From the Show: Naturally Savvy
Summary: Just as you need a physical break once in a while, it's also Important to give your brain a mental break.
Air Date: 7/23/14
Duration: 10
Host: Andrea Donsky, RHN and Lisa Davis, MPH
Guest Bio: Mark Underwood, PhD
Mark Underwood is a neuroscience researcher, expert on the topic of brain aging, and teaches ways to improve cognitive function. Underwood is the President and co-founder of Wisconsin-based bio-tech company, Quincy Bioscience, an Inc. 500 recognized fastest-growing companies, which focuses on the discovery, development and commercialization of novel technologies to support cognitive function and other age-related health challenges such as memory.

With his gift of making scientific complexities of the brain simple to understand, Mark has informed and entertained listeners across the spectrum on the nation's top talk radio shows, from Mancow to the Hugh Hewitt show. He has also been taped as an expert in the field of neuroscience for the Wall Street Journal,This Morning, WGN Chicago, CBS and CNN Radio, and more.

Mr. Underwood has presented his research at international Alzheimer's conferences and has published research in prestigious peer-reviewed journals. Underwood is the author of The Brain Health Guide, which highlights research at Quincy Bioscience and offers practical tips for healthy brain function in aging.
  • Book Title: The Brain Health Guide
  • Guest Twitter Account: @jellyfishguy
Why Your Brain Needs a Mental Break
If you're like many people these days, you're always on the go.

But it's not just your body that's moving about; your brain is also constantly "moving."

Just as you need a physical break once in a while, it's also Important to give your brain a mental break.

Your brain needs rest and relaxation, and not just a week of vacation twice a year. You should be giving your brain a break on a daily basis. This can be as simple as taking a nap or closing your eyes and sitting in a comfortable chair and just enjoying the silence.

Why isn't it a good thing for your brain to be running in a million different directions?

Too much brain "exercise" will fatigue your brain and tire it out to a point where you have less focus and much more fogginess.

What are some ways you can calm your frazzled brain?

Prayer and meditation are both great options for finding focus and peace. But you can also do simple things like stepping out of the office for even 10 minutes to get some fresh air. If you're a stay-at-home mom, take a break from that pile of laundry. It will still be waiting for you when you return!

Another way to improve your brain is with restful sleep. Getting a good night's rest is crucial for optimal brain function. People who don't get good sleep can have 10 times worse memory. You need at least eight hours a night.

This need goes far beyond overcoming daily sleepiness. Even if you eventually wake yourself up as the day goes on with a cup of coffee or exercise, you'll never get that lost sleep (and those lost brain cells) back. Missing two nights of eight hours of sleep cannot be made up by one night of 16 hours of sleep. It's time to break the cycle.

But what if you can't shut your brain off when it's time to go to bed? Try techniques such as making sure your bedroom is completely dark, at a cool temperature and  void of light and noise. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillow, and avoid consuming both alcohol and food near bedtime as they are sleep disruptors.

If you sleep well, you're going to think well. Memory issues are very expensive not only for yourself, but for the nation as a whole.

Perhaps the best way to improve your brain health is by connecting with new people and places and staying socially stimulated. Social interaction is the best thing you can do to stimulate your brain to work better. As you grow older, and become more isolated, your brain function will suffer. Visits with friends, family dinners and holiday get-togethers forge strong emotional bonds, which makes the brain stronger.

Exercise can also boost brain healthy by stimulating brain cell growth. Cardiovascular exercise and resistance training can actually increase the amount of cells in the memory centers of the brain.

The important thing to remember is to not wait until your brain falls apart on you. Prevention is key.

Mark Underwood is a neuroscience researcher and expert on the topic of brain aging. He teaches ways to improve cognitive function, and in this segment, Underwood joins Andrea and Lisa to share helpful tips for improving your memory and overall brain health.
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