New study demonstrates omega-3 fatty acids increase blood flow to regions of the brain associated with cognition

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According to a new study published last Thursday in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, by using neuroimaging, researchers were able to demonstrate increased blood flow in regions of the brain associated with memory and learning in individuals with higher omega-3 levels.

Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD) are a group of conditions that cause mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia. These conditions affect one’s ability to function socially, personally, and professionally. It’s important to recognize that Alzheimer’s disease begins long before symptoms start, just like many other conditions. There is evidence that simple prevention strategies can reduce the risk of ADRD by as much as 50%.

This new study included 166 individuals from a psychiatric clinic in which Omega-3 Index results were available. These patients were categorized into two groups: higher EPA and DHA concentrations (>50th percentile) and lower concentrations (<50th percentile). Quantitative brain single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) was performed on 128 regions of their brains and each individual completed computerized testing of their neurocognitive status.

SPECT can measure blood perfusion in the brain. In addition, performing various mentally stimulating cognitive tasks will show increased blood flow to specific brain regions. (Previous research has demonstrated that mentally stimulating activities reduce the risk of new-onset mild cognitive impairment even when performed later in life.) As a result, researchers identified significant relationships between the Omega-3 Index and regional perfusion on brain SPECT in areas that are involved with memory and neurocognitive testing.

This study demonstrated the positive relationships between omega-3 EPA and DHA status, brain perfusion, and cognition. This is significant because it shows a correlation between lower omega-3 fatty acid levels and reduced brain blood flow to regions important for learning, memory, depression and dementia.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Article Source: http://blog.designsforhealth.com/si-42214/new-study-demonstrates-omega-3-fatty-acids-increase-blood-flow-to-regions-of-the-brain-associated-with-cognition?

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Runners’ brains show greater connections

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A new study has found that runners’ brains, compared to non-runners, show greater connections. What does this mean exactly? The researchers found that runners had greater functional connectivity compared to those who lived more sedentary lives.

The researchers compared brain scans of cross country runners to scans of young adults who did not partake in regular physical activity. The runners showed overall greater functional connectivity in several different areas of the brain which could boost problem-solving, decision making, and switching attention between tasks.

The researchers suggest that these findings create groundwork for future studies to test whether or not frequent running or physical activity could improve cognitive function.

University of Arizona running expert David Raichlen explained, “One of the things that drove this collaboration was that there has been a recent proliferation of studies, over the last 15 years, that have shown that physical activity and exercise can have a beneficial impact on the brain, but most of that work has been in older adults. This question of what’s occurring in the brain at younger ages hasn’t really been explored in much depth, and it’s important. Not only are we interested in what’s going on in the brains of young adults, but we know that there are things that you do across your lifespan that can impact what happens as you age, so it’s important to understand what’s happening in the brain at these younger ages.”

Although there have been numerous studies on how certain activities can improve certain functions there is lack of evidence to show if repetitive physical activity that doesn’t require fine motor skills can improve brain function. “These activities that people consider repetitive actually involve many complex cognitive functions — like planning and decision-making — that may have effects on the brain,” added Raichlen.

It’s important to uncover what impacts the brains of young adults as this could help prevent cognitive diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in the future. If future studies reveal that running, and other exercise, can improve and prevent dementia then it could be a more widely recommended approach to prevent it.

Co-researcher Gene Alexander concluded, “One of the key questions that these results raise is whether what we’re seeing in young adults — in terms of the connectivity differences — imparts some benefit later in life. The areas of the brain where we saw more connectivity in runners are also the areas that are impacted as we age, so it really raises the question of whether being active as a young adult could be potentially beneficial and perhaps afford some resilience against the effects of aging and disease.”

Written By:Emily Lunardo  Article Source: http://www.belmarrahealth.com/runners-brains-show-greater-connections/

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Why the Blood-Brain Barrier Is So Critical (and How to Maintain It)

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You all know about intestinal permeability, or “leaky gut.” The job of the gut lining is to be selectively permeable, allowing helpful things passage into the body and preventing harmful things from getting in. Nutrients get through, toxins and pathogens do not. Leaky gut describes the failure of this vetting process. But what about “leaky brain”?

A similarly dynamic barrier lies between the brain and the rest of the body: the blood-brain barrier. Since the brain is the seat of all the conscious machinations and subconscious processes that comprise human existence, anything attempting entry receives severe scrutiny. We want to admit glucose, amino acids, fat-soluble nutrients, and ketones. We want to reject toxins, pathogens, and errant immune cells. Think of the blood-brain barrier like the cordon of guards keeping the drunken rabble from spilling over into the VIP room in a nightclub.

The blood-brain barrier (or BBB) can get leaky, just like the gut lining. This is bad.

A compromised BBB has been implicated in many neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and vascular dementia.

More generally, the BBB regulates passage of inflammatory cytokines into the brain, prevents fluctuations in serum composition from affecting brain levels, and protects against environmental toxins and infectious pathogens from reaching the brain. A leaky BBB means the floodgates are open for all manner of unpleasantries to enter the brain.

Some pathogens even wield chemical weaponry that blasts open the blood-brain barrier, giving them—and anything else in the vicinity—access to the brain. To prepare for that, you must support the integrity of your blood-brain barrier.

How?

Optimize your B vitamin intake

In adults with normal B vitamin levels, mild cognitive impairment, high homocysteine levels, and a leaky BBB, taking vitamins B12, B6, and B9 (folate) restored the integrity of the blood-brain barrier.

Review this post and make sure you’re getting the B vitamins you need. Primal folks tend to overlook them.

Nourish your gut

A leaky gut accompanies, and maybe causes, a leaky brain. Funny how that works, eh?

It’s a rodent study, but it’s quite illustrative: a fecal transplant from healthy mice with pristine BBB integrity to unhealthy mice with leaky BBB and pathogen-filled guts restored the integrity of the blood-brain barrier.

DIY fecal transplants are an extreme intervention. Until that becomes more feasible, simply eating more prebiotic fiber, experimenting with resistant starch, taking a quality probiotic, and eating fermented foods on a regular basis will get you most of the way there.

Eat plenty of magnesium

Okay, Sisson. Enough already with the magnesium. We get it! But magnesium can attenuate BBB permeability, even if you inject an agent explicitly designed to induce leaky blood-brain barriers.

This is yet another reason to eat enough magnesium-rich foods (like spinach, almonds, blackstrap molasses, winter squash), drink magnesium-rich mineral water (I love Gerolsteiner, but you can also just go down to the local Euro food market and check the labels for high-Mg waters), or take a good magnesium supplement (anything ending in “-ate” like magnesium glycinate or citrate).

Don’t eat a 40% cocoa butter diet

Rodents given a 40% saturated fat (from cocoa butter) diet experienced elevated BBB permeability.

Except wait: The remaining 60% of calories was split up between white sugar, wheat starch, casein, and dextrin (PDF). So this isn’t the type of 40% SFA diet you folks are eating.

Except wait again: Adding in either aged garlic extract, alpha lipoic acid (ALA), niacin, or nicotinamide completely abolished the increase in permeability.

It looks like a refined diet high in saturated fat and sugar/starch and absent any phytonutrient-rich plant foods like garlic or antioxidant supplements like ALA will cause elevated BBB permeability (in rodents). I’m not sure I’d recommend a 40% SFA diet either way, however. Balance is probably better.

Use phytonutrient-rich plants and spices

Recall the study from the last section where some garlic extract was enough to eliminate the bad BBB effects of a refined lab diet. That’s because aged garlic extract is particularly rich in phytonutrients with strong antioxidant effects. What about other fruits, vegetables, and spices with different phytonutrients—do those also help BBB function?

Curcumin (from turmeric) certainly helps. Astragalus root, used in many ancient medical traditions, can help. Sulforaphane, from cruciferous veggies like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage, shows promise.

Drink coffee and/or tea

As phytonutrient-rich plants, they technically belong in the previous section, but coffee and tea are so special that they deserve their own space. Both are sources of caffeine, a noted protector of BBB integrity.

Supplements can help

Supplement forms of the aforementioned nutrients are worth a look. Also:

Alpha-GPC (a type of choline that readily crosses the blood-brain barrier) has been shown to reduce BBB permeability in hypertensive rats.

Inositol (which you can get from foods like egg yolks but not in very large amounts) improves BBB integrity. Another option is to consume phytate-containing foods; if you’ve got the right gut bacteria, you can convert phytate into inositol.

Berberine, noted anti-diabetic compound, reduces BBB permeability and increases resistance to brain damage following head trauma.

Control your blood pressure

Both acute and chronic hypertension increase BBB permeability. This means you’ll have to control your sleep and stress. You’ll need to reduce insulin resistance. Eat dark chocolate (the horror). Figure out if you’re salt-sensitive (you may even have to increase salt intake if it’s too low). Get enough magnesium (yes, again) and potassium.

Sleep

Sleep really is everything. You can’t avoid it, and if you skimp on it, things fall apart. The blood-brain barrier is no exception: sleep restriction impairs BBB function and increases permeability.

If you can’t stick to the bedtime you know is ideal, a little (0.25-0.5mg) melatonin can help set your circadian rhythm. Plus, supplementary melatonin may also preserve BBB integrity.

Don’t drink too much alcohol

Alcohol is a tough one. While I just wrote a big post explaining the merits of wine consumption, ethanol is undoubtedly a poison in high doses, and I derived real benefits when I gave it up for a few months. One way alcohol exerts its negative effects is by inducing BBB dysfunction. This allows both the pleasant effects of alcohol (low-dose ethanol migrating across the BBB and directly interacting with neurons, triggering endorphins and interacting with GABA receptors) and the negative effects (high-dose ethanol migrating across the BBB to damage the neurons, leaving the door open long enough for immune cells to sneak in and cause all sorts of trouble).

Stimulate your vagal nerve

After a traumatic brain injury or stroke, the resultant increase in BBB permeability floods the brain with inflammatory cytokines, causes swelling and neuronal death, and worsens the prognosis. Stimulating the vagal nerve after such an injury decreases the BBB permeabilityand improves the prognosis.

One treatment for epilepsy is to wear vagal nerve stimulators which send light electronic pulses to the nerve, akin to a pacemaker for the brain. Easier options include humming, cold water exposure (even just splashing the face can help), singing, chanting, meditating, deep breathing, coughing, moving your bowels (or summoning the same abdominal pressure required for said movement; girding your core for a heavy squat or deadlift should also work along the same lines), and many more.

Perhaps an entire post on the vagal nerve is in order. It’s an interesting area that impacts more than just the BBB.

Stop eating so often

Ghrelin is the hunger hormone. When you haven’t eaten in a while, ghrelin tells you that it’s time to eat. It also increases blood-brain barrier stability after (again) a traumatic brain injury.

So, never eat? No. But make sure to feel actual hunger. It’s the best spice, and it confers a whole host of other benefits, including better blood-brain barrier function. Heck, try intermittent fasting for the ultimate boost to ghrelin.

You might notice that a lot of the studies I cite involve traumatic brain injuries to rodents. Dropping a weight on a rat’s head or triggering a stroke in a mouse are two of the most reliable ways to induce BBB permeability. Brain injuries are also quite common in humans, and the BBB permeability that results is a major therapeutic target, but we can’t study it so easily in people. While acute and chronic BBB permeability are different beasts, and mice are not men, they operate along the same rough pathway.

That’s about it for today, folks. I hope you feel encouraged and able to fortify your blood-brain barrier. Don’t wait for cognitive decline to set in. Get started now.

How do you improve the integrity of your blood-brain barrier? Have you even considered it prior to today?

Thanks for reading!

Written By: By Mark Sisson  Article Source: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/why-the-blood-brain-barrier-is-so-critical-and-how-to-maintain-it/

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Brain Benefits of L-Theanine

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There’s been a resurgence of interest in the anxiety-relieving powers of L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea.1

Discoveries over the past two years have uncovered exciting additional properties of this nutrient best known for inducing calming, tranquilizing effects while simultaneously improving alertness.

In this Research Update, we examine how L-theanine acts in the brain, and review compelling new studies on its actions that include potentially reduced risk of stroke and less brain damage if an ischemic stroke were to occur.

How L-Theanine Works in the Brain to Block Anxiety and Stress

 L-theanine relieves anxiety in large part because it bears a close resemblance to the brain-signaling chemical glutamate. L-theanine produces the opposite effect in the brain.

While glutamate is the brain’s most important excitatory neurotransmitter, L-theanine binds to the same brain cell receptors and blocks them to glutamate’s effects. This action produces inhibitory effects.1,2 That inhibition to brain overactivity has a calming, relaxing effect in which anxiety fades.3

In addition to blocking excitatory stimuli at glutamate receptors in the brain, L-theanine also stimulates production of the inhibitory, relaxing neurotransmitter GABA, adding to its calming, anti-anxiety effects.2

Unlike prescription anti-anxiety drugs, however, some of which mimic GABA’s effects, L-theanine produces its anti-anxiety effects without producing sleepiness or impairing motor behavior.4 In fact, L-theanine has been shown in human studies to moderately improve alertness and attention while exerting its anxiety-reducing effects.5

Of particular interest are studies showing that L-theanine supplementation prevents the abrupt rise in blood pressure that some people experience under stress.1 The reason this is so critical is that many people have normal blood pressure readings at rest that spike up to dangerously high levels when subjected to stressful situations.

These periods of surging blood pressure inflict massive arterial damage and are the main reason why at-home and at-office blood pressure testing are so important.

New Directions for L-Theanine

Scientists are now increasingly interested in applications for L-theanine far beyond its anti-anxiety properties. Excessive glutamate stimulation of brain cells (excitotoxicity) is a factor in development of long-term neurodegenerative disorders, stroke, and schizophrenia.6,7 Therefore, L-theanine’s glutamate-blocking capabilities make it promising for neuroprotection and prevention in these areas.

And while its deeper mechanisms are still under investigation, there is tantalizing evidence that L-theanine influences expression of genes in brain areas responsible for fear and aggression (amygdala) and memory (hippocampus), helping to balance the behavioral responses to stress, and potentially improve conditions such as mood disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance dependence.8

L-Theanine Protects Brain Cells and Promotes Cognitive Function

There’s a link between anxiety, reaction to stress, and the brain’s most fundamental function, maintaining cognition. Studies over the past two years suggest a potential role for L-theanine in supporting cognitive function and preventing its loss.

Stress has powerful negative effects on one’s ability to think clearly and make smart decisions. This is demonstrated physiologically by animal experiments showing that stress significantly reduces animals’ performance on standard tests of learning and memory, as well as by increased oxidative stress in the brain and elevated blood levels of stress-response hormones such as catecholamine and adrenaline. Treating animals with L-theanine before the stress is applied, however, results in reversal not only of cognitive impairment, but also of the elevation of stress hormones and oxidative damage.9

Studies such as these demonstrate that L-theanine can specifically reduce the molecular impacts of acute stress, and the resulting excitotoxicity, on brain cells.10,11 The issue with chronic glutamate-driven excitotoxicity is profound and long-lasting cognitive dysfunction, including neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s diseases, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).12

The protective effects of L-theanine have been shown in animal models for at least the first three of these disorders, suggesting that regular L-theanine supplementation might be important in fending off these tragic conditions by opposing the destructive effects of long-term glutamate excitotoxicity.13-16

In a rat model study for Huntington’s disease, researchers investigated the protective effects of L-theanine against 3-nitropropionic acid (3-NP). Rats exposed to 3-nitropropionic acid experienced significant reductions in body weight, oxidative defenses, and locomotor activity, as well as impaired mitochondrial enzyme activity. But when exposed to L-theanine, the behavioral, biochemical, and mitochondrial enzyme activities were significantly attenuated, leading authors to conclude that “L-theanine has neuroprotective activity against 3-nitropropionic acid induced neurotoxicity.”17

Exposure to toxic chemicals is another known risk factor for many of the neurodegenerative disorders, with the metal aluminum being a major culprit.18,19 Recent studies show that L-theanine is capable of preventing both the biochemical and structural damage to brain cells induced by aluminum, offering yet another means by which this nutrient can prevent or slow cognitive decline.20

Taste the Relaxation

The molecular similarity of L-theanine with glutamic acid can be experienced simply by tasting it. L-theanine provides the umami flavor that gives green tea its richness.31 One of the more common molecules that delivers umami taste is glutamic acid, and studies show that glutamate and L-theanine both stimulate the same receptors on our tongues, in a vivid demonstration of molecular mimicry.32,33

In the brain, of course, the similarity is only close enough for L-theanine to bind to brain glutamate receptors but without stimulating them, which is why L-theanine produces relaxing, as opposed to stimulating, effects.

L-Theanine Reduces Stroke Impact

A stroke is the result of a sudden blockage of blood (ischemia) to a part of the brain, resulting in massive chemical stresses, extreme excitotoxicity, and eventual death of brain cells.21 The latest studies show that L-theanine has properties that may both help to prevent strokes and to mitigate the damage caused when they do occur.

Lab studies show that L-theanine is capable of significantly improving nitric oxide production in endothelial (artery-lining) cells.22 This has the potential to lower stroke risk because nitric oxide is a signaling molecule that endothelial cells use to communicate information about blood flow and pressure to muscles in the artery walls, telling them to constrict or relax appropriately in response and distributing blood flow appropriately.

In another stroke-preventing mechanism, L-theanine has recently been shown to significantly reduce the expression of adhesion molecules to the endothelial wall by inhibiting tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a), thereby reducing the risk of an artery-blocking clot or obstruction that produces a stroke.23

L-theanine protects the body from the damage of blood reperfusing, or refilling that occurs after the abrupt loss of circulation during the stroke.24

This ischemia-reperfusion injury results in massive release of glutamate and produces deadly excitotoxicity.25

Animal studies show that administration of L-theanine up to 12 hours after a stroke is induced protects brain cells and reduces the size of the damaged brain areas. Even treatment as late as 24 hours after the stroke improves neurological status.24

L-Theanine May Play a Role in Ameliorating Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia, literally a “split mind” in which sufferers experience a cut-off from reality, is one of the most tragic and misunderstood disorders known. People with schizophrenia may experience positive symptomssuch as hallucinations, delusions, and paranoid thinking, as well as negative symptoms including loss of ability to experience pleasure, blunted emotions, and diminished speech capacity.26

Perhaps because schizophrenia may involve excitotoxic damage to brain cells, L-theanine has recently been the focus of human studies in patients with this disease.27

In one study of 40 patients with schizophrenia, subjects were given placebo or 400 mg L-theanine along with their regular medications for an eight-week trial. The supplemented patients demonstrated significant reductions in their anxiety and general symptoms of psychopathology.28

A 250 mg per day dose of L-theanine significantly improved, in a different study scores on positive symptoms, as well as in sleep quality.29 And the combination of L-theanine (400 mg per day) with the hormone pregnenolone (50 mg per day) was capable of reversing not only anxiety, but also negative symptoms.30

Summary

L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, reduces anxiety by blocking excitatory stimuli at glutamate receptors in the brain while stimulating production of the inhibitory, relaxing neurotransmitter GABA. But unlike prescription anti-anxiety drugs, L-theanine relieves stress without causing drowsiness or impairing motor behavior. In fact, studies show it improves alertness and attention. Researchers are now examining L-theanine’s applications beyond its anti-anxiety effects. Studies suggest a role for L-theanine in supporting cognitive function and preventing cognitive loss by protecting brain cells and preventing strokes and reducing the damaging effects if a stroke has occurred. Lastly, L-theanine is the subject of human studies in patients with schizophrenia.

Article Source:http://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2016/3/Brain-Benefits-of-L-Theanine/Page-01

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You are what you eat — How gut bacteria affect brain health

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New Rochelle, NY, January 21, 2015–The hundred trillion bacteria living in an adult human–mostly in the intestines, making up the gut microbiome–have a significant impact on behavior and brain health. The many ways gut bacteria can impact normal brain activity and development, affect sleep and stress responses, play a role in a variety of diseases, and be modified through diet for therapeutic use are described in a comprehensive Review article in Journal of Medicinal Food, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The paper is available free on the Journal of Medicinal Food website until February 21, 2015.

In “The Gut Microbiome and the Brain”, Leo Galland, Foundation for Integrated Medicine (New York, NY), presents the most up-to-date understanding of the relationship between the proteins produced by intestinal bacteria and the human central nervous system. The author explores the various mechanisms through which the microbiome can influence the brain: by stimulating and over-stimulating the immune system, producing neurotoxic agents, releasing hormones or neurotransmitters identical to those made by the human body, or through direct neuronal stimulation that sends signals to the brain.

“The microbiome has become a hot topic in many branches of medicine, from immune and inflammatory diseases, such as Crohn’s and IBD to cardiovascular diseases,” says Co-Editor-in-Chief Sampath Parthasarathy, MBA, PhD, Florida Hospital Chair in Cardiovascular Sciences, University of Central Florida, Orlando. “Scientists are not only aware of the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ microbes in the gut but are becoming increasingly aware of how they could alter the metabolism beyond gut.”

Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-01/mali-yaw012215.php

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Fitness Linked to Improved Cognitive Function

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Previous research has found that a high level of cardiorespiratory fitness in older adults is associated with better executive function of the brain. To try and understand how fitness promotes executive function, Art Kramer, Beckman Institute director and professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Illinois, and colleagues examined brain imaging and fitness level data from 128 adults between the ages of 59-80. Results showed that activation of two regions of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and the supplementary motor area (SMA) – important areas for higher level functions, such as conflict monitoring, multitasking, and dual-task processing – was associated with higher cardiorespiratory fitness. Executive function of the brain is known to decline with age; however the results of this study suggest that it is possible to enhance executive function by maintaining a high level of cardiorespiratory fitness. “This research adds to our growing understanding of the relationship among physical activity and cognitive and brain function – and suggests that we can improve our brain health by changing our lifestyle even as we age,” concluded Professor Kramer

Source: http://www.worldhealth.net/news/fitness-linked-improved-cognitive-function/

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Sleep improves memory, helps repair brain damage and removes brain toxins

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Sleep is an integral part of our health as it improves memory, helps repair damage and removes brain toxins. Remember the tale of the young princess who pricks her finger on a cursed spindle and falls into a deep sleep, which she can’t be woken from until she is kissed by her true love? Although the story involves fairy godmothers, witches and kingdoms, that princess was greatly improving her brain health while in her deep sleep.

And Sleeping Beauty did end up with her prince.

Sleep is an important aspect of overall health, especially in regards to brain health. When we sleep, our bodies and brains go through numerous different cycles, which all help us better perform the following day.

Stages of sleep: What happens when we sleep?

Phase 1: NREM sleep
The first phase of sleep is referred to as non-rapid eye movement (NREM). This is where we begin to fall asleep, so it starts off quite light. During the first four stages, the body begins to relax, blood pressure and temperature lower, and muscle and tissue repair begin.

Phase 2: REM sleep
The second phase of sleep – rapid eye movement (REM) – is our deepest sleep. This is when we begin to dream, our body and brain are provided energy, and our muscles are turned off. During sleep, as well, cortisol levels – the stress hormones – decrease, leaving us feeling relaxed and stress-free upon wakening. Both phases of sleep are important to supporting a healthy body.

One main function that improves during sleep is memory and, as research reveals, poor sleep can leave you with a poor memory. So the main secret to getting smarter and being sharp is sleep.

Sleep brain activity improves memory

Research on sleep brain activity and memory started as early as 1924. Researchers taught participants syllables and tested them later. Some participants were allowed to sleep while others stayed awake. Those who slept had better recollection of what they were previously taught. Throughout the years studies revealed similar results. But why does sleep improve our memory?

For starters, when we sleep, our brain goes through a recap of the day’s events. The areas of the brain that are responsible for making and storing memory – the hippocampus and the neocortex – communicate with one another. Through this exchange, events of the day are organized from short-term memory into long-term memory; this is referred to as consolidation. But memory isn’t the only benefit of sleep; we can become quite insightful through our hours of shut-eye as well.

The University of California administered tests to participants in the morning and again in the evening. The researchers provided three words, then asked participants to come up with a fourth word that links them all together. Some participants napped long enough to enter the REM phase, while the others rested. The REM groups had better success at completing the test and were more creative than the rested group. This goes to show that sleep can also improve insight and spark creativity.

Other benefits of sleep for the brain

As we know, sleep can restore many bodily functions, but it also plays a large role in the brain. Sleep brain activity not only includes improving memory but sleep brain repair occurs as well.

Brain neurons that we use during the day greatly benefit from sleep brain repair. With sleep deprivation, sleep brain repair cannot occur, which can lead to uncontrollable moods, emotions and even hallucinations.

Sleep brain activity also produces proteins, which are essential to repairing damage caused by stress and free radicals. Sleep brain repair then helps our bodies increase proteins, which go to work repairing cells and addressing other damage. Lastly, sleep brain repair also helps restore emotions, reasoning and problem-solving.

On the other hand, sleep brain activity works to remove toxins. Sleep brain toxins consist of waste from the brain that gets released through sleep. This system is called the glymphatic system, comprised of cerebrospinal fluid that runs along the brain, surrounding blood vessels. This system can remove brain toxins like beta-amyloid, which is most commonly found in people with Alzheimer’s.

Your brain shrinks as you sleep

To further assist in the release of sleep brain toxins, our brains also go through sleep brain shrink. When we experience sleep brain shrink, the removal of toxins becomes more effective. The removal of waste is necessary to prevent brain diseases as well as further helping our brain functions.

In fact, science reports that our brains can shrink up to 60 percent during sleep. With all this shrinking and growing you can see our brains use up a lot of energy.

Why sleep is essential for good health?

You may think you’re benefitting yourself by staying awake and getting more things done, but you’re only hindering your brain. As research shows, you will actually retain and learn much more by sleeping, and your ability to reason and be creative will dwindle without proper sleep. Even if you have a deadline to meet, your quality of work won’t be the same if you deprive yourself of sleep.

Reasons to sleep more

If given the chance, we’re sure you would want to sleep more but, for informational purposes, here are a few reasons to sleep more.

  • It improves health
  • It makes for a better sex life
  • You will experience less pain
  • It lowers your risk of injury
  • It improves mood
  • It helps control weight
  • It promotes clear thinking
  • It improves memory
  • Boosts immunity

The next time you learn something new or even just experience a great event, head straight to bed so your sleep brain activity can go to work, turning your experiences into precious memories you can call upon in the future

Source: http://www.belmarrahealth.com/sleep-improves-memory-helps-repair-brain-damage-and-removes-brain-toxins/

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