Rest for Your Brain: Five Effective Ways to Unwind


With contemporary life being so full of activity and stimuli, it is difficult to truly unplug and rest. But our brain need this to heal and rejuvenate itself. Slumberland is the one (almost) guaranteed area for our brain to relax. That is why getting adequate sleep is critical.

“What’s happening in the brain, in layman’s terms, is that our brain is getting a chance to not be consciously engaged in… task switching all day long,” Victoria Garfield, senior research fellow at the Medical Research Council Unit for Lifelong Health and Aging and professor at University College London.

“As a result, our cognitive function will improve.” And you’ll feel better the next day because our brain cells are resting, regenerating, and replenishing,” she explained.

Garfield has been researching sleep for almost a decade. “One of my primary interests for the last 10 years has been around understanding why we need to sleep properly, why sleep is so important for the brain and body, especially as we get older,” she added.

Decades of data support the notion that sleeping too little or too much is related with an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, having a heart attack, dementia, being diagnosed with sleep apnea, anxiety, and depression, she noted.

Garfield’s team has discovered that frequent daytime napping is linked to increased overall brain capacity. The study, which was published in the journal Sleep Health in June, examined data from more than 35,000 participants in the UK Biobank, including MRIs.

How much bigger is it? According to Garfield, around 15 cubic centimeters, which her team found to be equivalent to 2.5 to 6.5 years of aging. “Quite significant in terms of brain age.” “And we believe this is critical because lower total brain volume has been linked to certain diseases, earlier mortality, and higher stress levels,” she added.

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What can you do to make sure your brain is well-rested? Garfield has five tips.

Get enough sleep

With apologies to anyone who feel they can get by on 4 or 5 hours of sleep each night, Garfield believes you should be getting much more quality facetime with your pillow – preferably between 7 and 9 hours per night for adults, depending on your age.

“It’s not something that people think about very often, and they’re startled when I say, “Well, but if you don’t sleep well, it’s related to all these unpleasant things, essentially,” she explained.

“There’s a lot of emphasis on diet, having a healthy weight (and) exercising, trying not to get diabetes, and all of these things,” she explained. “People say, ‘Oh, yeah, but I can sleep 4 hours a night and I’m fine,’ not realizing that the cumulative effects over time are really bad for you.”

Maintain a regular sleep pattern

It might be tough to sleep and wake up at the same time seven days a week, according to Garfield. This is significant because it prepares you to acquire the necessary 7 to 9 hours of sleep. “A lot of us don’t do it.”

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Settle in for a short siesta

It’s not wrong to take a quick snooze. “A really obvious one from us would be to take a nap,” Garfield said. “Perhaps up to 30 minutes, because we know that is quite beneficial to the brain.” So we basically take a break and attempt to sleep for a short period of time.”

Although her team discovered a favorable effect on the brain from brief daytime naps, other research have revealed that napping is connected with negative effects, such as an increased risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Get some exercise

Sleeping and sleeping aren’t the only methods to rest your brain. Moving is also essential.

“There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that… going outside and taking a walk is really beneficial, especially if you can disconnect from devices and be in touch with nature,” Garfield said.

The exercise does not have to be a walk in the woods. The trick is to disconnect from work and other pursuits that need a lot of focus.

Do something a bit thoughtless.

“I believe that suggesting things like meditation and mindfulness are self-evident. But, in reality, a lot of people, including myself, find this really difficult,” Garfield remarked, stressing that she can’t just turn off her head.

She suggests various hobbies that take less mental effort, such as watching television (but not for work, as Garfield stressed) or even going grocery shopping. (However, don’t use gadgets within an hour of going to bed at night.

“It’s really important, once again, to emphasize that these things are really individual, and it depends on the person,” she added.


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Source: CNN

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