Your brain needs rest. Here are five ways to get some


ISLAMABAD: With modern life so jam-packed with activities and stimulation, it is hard to completely unplug and relax. But that’s something our brain needs to repair and restore itself.

The one (mostly) sure-fire place for our brain to go for some downtime is slumberland. That’s why it’s crucial to get enough sleep.

“What’s going on in the brain, in layman’s terms, is essentially our brain is getting a chance to not be consciously engaged in … task switching all day long,” Victoria Garfield, a senior research fellow at the Medical Research Council Unit for Lifelong Health and Aging and a professor at University College London, told CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr Sanjay Gupta.

“Our cognitive function is going to improve as a result. And you’ll feel better the next day because our brain cells are having a chance to rest and regenerate and replenish,” she said.

Decades of evidence supports the idea that sleeping too little or too much is associated with increased risk of conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, having a heart attack, dementia, getting a sleep apnea diagnosis, anxiety and depression, she added.

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

Get enough sleep

With apologies to the folks who believe they can get by with 4 or 5 hours of sleep per night, you really need to be putting in much more quality facetime with your pillow – ideally between 7 and 9 hours per night, for adults, depending on your age, said Garfield.

“It’s not something that people regularly think of, and they’re quite surprised when I say, “Well, but if you don’t sleep well, that’s linked to all these nasty things, essentially,” she said.

Set a consistent sleep schedule

Go to sleep and wake up at the same time seven days a week, which can be difficult, Garfield said. This is important because it sets you up to get those 7 to 9 needed hours of sleep. “A lot of us don’t do it.”

Settle in for a short siesta

There’s no shame in taking a short nap. “A really obvious one from us would be to take a nap,” Garfield said. “Maybe up to around 30 minutes, because we know that that is quite beneficial for the brain. So, we literally take a break and try to fall asleep for a small amount of time.”

Get some exercise

Sleep and napping aren’t the only ways to give your brain a break. Moving is also important.

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

The exercise doesn’t have to be a walk in nature. The key is to detach from work and other activities that demand a lot of attention.

Do something that’s a little mindless

“I think that for me recommending things like meditation and mindfulness – they’re very obvious. But actually, a lot of people find this really difficult, me included,” Garfield said, noting that she can’t just switch off her brain.

She recommends other activities that require less brain power: Watching television (but nothing work-related, Garfield emphasized) or even going grocery shopping. (Just don’t use electronics within an hour of going to bed at night.

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

You May Also Like