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How to (Literally) Clean Your Brain

Sleep And The Process Of Keeping Our Brains Healthy

Sleep And The Process Of Keeping Our Brains Healthy
  • Quality sleep is the one universal factor that can keep our brain healthy.
  • Sleep is so important that mammals die in about a week if they are completely deprived of sleep.
  • While we think our lights are out when we sleep, our brain is very much active and uses a lot of energy.

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How to (Literally) Clean Your Brain

How to (Literally) Clean Your Brain

https://medium.com/swlh/how-to-literally-clean-your-brain-834e905f1b0b

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Key Ideas

Sleep And The Process Of Keeping Our Brains Healthy

  • Quality sleep is the one universal factor that can keep our brain healthy.
  • Sleep is so important that mammals die in about a week if they are completely deprived of sleep.
  • While we think our lights are out when we sleep, our brain is very much active and uses a lot of energy.

Neurophysiology 101

  1. Neurons are the nervous system cells transmitting electromagnetic signals using action potentials and neurotransmitters.
  2. Glia is the non-neuronal system cell keeping the neurons healthy and working.
  3. Cerebrospinal Fluid or CSF is the fluid that our brain lives in.
  4. Arteries are the blood vessels that carry blood to an organ.
  5. Veins are the blood vessels carrying blood from the organ.

The Brain Is Like A City

Complex cycles and systems operate in the brain. The Glymphatic (or Glial Lymphatic) system, discovered recently, takes care of the brain waste much like a complex sewer system.

The system is only active when one is asleep, and it clears our brain of all neurotoxic substances that have collected during the day.

Sleep Is Not a Luxury Or An Option

It affects our learning, metabolism, hypertension, insulin sensitivity, and of course, mood.

Not getting enough sleep used to be something to boast of, but is now a sign of self-neglect and upcoming health issues.

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Sleep deprivation
Sleep deprivation

Willpower, memory, judgement, and attention all suffer when you are sleep deprived.

You drop things, crave junk food sugar, overeat, gain weight. You’re more irritable, negative, emotio...

Get through sleep deprivation:
  • Stabilize your blood sugar, by eating hearty food (protein and fat) more often.
  • Reduce refined carbs and increase fats and proteins.
  • B-complex vitamin supplements can give you an immediate boost in alertness and mental clarity.
  • Soak in an Epsom salt bath - might even help you get enough energy to exercise the next day.
  • Drink more water than you usually do to help compensate.
  • Exercise is the single best way to “take out the trash” in your body, and after staying up more hours than you should.
Climbing Everest
Climbing Everest

It’s almost impossible to imagine the immense physical and psychological challenge of climbing to the top of 29,029-foot Mount Everest.

Even at Base Camp, at 17,600 feet, there's about 50 pe...

Your brain while climbing Everest

As you climb, less oxygen in your blood means less oxygen in your brain.

At 15,000 feet, your cognitive performance, mood, and central nervous system functioning start to lessen. In severe cases, being at high altitude for long periods or without first acclimatizing, you are at a higher risk for swelling of the brain, (high-altitude cerebral edema - HACE.)

Your lungs while climbing Everest

If you ascend without proper acclimatization, at around 9,000 feet, your lungs may begin to swell because the blood vessels constrict. Symptoms include a persistent cough and labored breathing.

If the swelling in your lungs worsens, high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) can occur. Symptoms are a bluish discoloration of the skin, rapid breathing, and fever. The most effective treatment is to descend immediately.

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Keeping Your Brain Healthy
Keeping Your Brain Healthy
  • We can improve every aspect of our lives by keeping our most vital organ, our brain, healthy.
  • Exercise is not only good for your body but helps your brain by enhancing many brain s...
Tea and Brain Health

Drinking tea is good for the brain, helping regulate the age-related decline. It also strengthens the brain connections, the neural network inside the brain, making information processing more efficient.

Even coffee is said to be good to ward off the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Better Heart = Better Brain

Anything that is bad for the heart is bad for the brain, including smoking cigarettes, or having a sedentary lifestyle, or having diabetes.

Your blood sugar, body mass index, diet and blood pressure all contribute to the health of your heart, and your brain.

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Our sleep-wake pattern

Our molecular clock inside our cells aims to keep us in sync with the sun

When we disregard this circadian rhythm, we are at a greater risk for illnesses such as diabetes, heart...

The lifestyle imbalance

Thomas Edison said that sleep is "a bad habit." Like Edison, we seem to think of sleep as an adversary and try to fight it at every turn. The average American sleeps less than the recommended seven hours per night, mostly due to electric lights, television, computers, and smartphones. 

However, we are ignoring the intricate journey we're designed to take when we sleep.

Stage One Sleep

When we fall asleep, the nearly 86 billion neurons in our brain starts to fire evenly and rhythmically. Our sensory receptors become muffled at the same time.

The first stage of shallow sleep lasts for about 5 minutes.

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Reward Response

For many people eating a little sugar stimulates a craving for more. Sugar can lead to intense feelings of hunger.

Sugar has addiction-like effects in the reward center of the brain, cau...

Sugar Addiction

Sweet foods can be more addictive than cocaine, one study found.

Over time, greater amounts of the substance are required to reach the same level of reward.

Memory

Even a single occasion of increased glucose levels in the blood can harm your brain. It can impair your memory and attention.

High sugar consumption causes inflammation in the brain. But, it can be reversed by following a low-sugar, low-GI diet.

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The Science of Memory
  1. Encoding - the stage when the brain consciously acknowledges information based on our senses. When we attach meaning or factual knowledge to any of this sensory input, that'...
Lifestyle Changes That Can Improve Memory
  • Get a good night's sleep or take a power nap after learning something new, to help retain and retrieve memories better. Sleep deprivation and acquisition of too much information will not help you save those memories.
  • Get moving, to improve the flow of oxygen-rich blood in your brain and to trigger neuron growth and new connections in the brain - critical for memory.
  • Improve your diet. Fats from food can build up the brain, resulting to poor blood flow.
Mnemonics

Any system or device designed to aid memory:

  • patterns of letters or words (common mnemonics)
  • ideas (memory palace)
  • associations (chunking)

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Drink 8 Glasses of Water a Day

Everyone has a different requirement for water. Temperature, humidity, size, age, gender and activity have an influence on your fluid needs.

Instead, drink when you are thirsty.

Eggs Harm Your Heart

Eggs have a lot of cholesterol compared to other foods. Although cholesterol in the blood is strongly related to heart disease, eating cholesterol is weakly associated with raising the cholesterol levels in your blood.

Eggs have other heart-protecting properties and eating it probably won't harm your heart.

Cancer or Alzheimer’s From Antiperspirant
  • A chain email in the 1990s was responsible for the false belief that antiperspirant was raising the risk of breast cancer. 
  • When researchers found higher ratios of aluminum in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, aluminum in antiperspirant was suspect. But it seems aluminum in antiperspirant is hardly absorbed by your skin.

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Addicted to Consuming Information
Addicted to Consuming Information

The amount of content on the Internet is huge and it’s practically impossible for us to consume it all. But we struggle with it anyway.

This creates a situation where we are constantly diges...

Information Clutter

In the case of information, reading several articles and sources on the same topic can create a lot of clutter. Because it creates internal struggles and questions:

  • What sort of information is important?
  • This post said this is important while another post said it wasn’t important. What information is relevant here?
  • What information should I internalize and apply?
The LATCH principle

... for organizing information:

  • Location: put the most relevant stuff to be within reach.
  • Alphabet: for organizing lists of people and statistics, dictionaries, and official documents.
  • Time: used when providing step by step instructions or when things have to be in chronological order.
  • Category: organize information by similarity or relatedness.
  • Hierarchy: organizing information that is used collectively to compare things.

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Using 10% of our brains

The source of this figure isn't entirely clear.

People's capacity to develop any skill is a combination of practice and talent. A person can get quite good at almost any skill if they practic...

Left-brained or right-brained

People used to speak of being left or right-brain dominant (where the left brain is more logical and algorithmic, and the right brain more artistic and intuitive).

However, both hemispheres of your brain are involved in all of the complex work you do. The most effective thinkers are the ones who learn to rely on both their intuitive judgments as well as their reasoning.

Emotions and rational thinking

The theory goes that emotions reflect a more primitive form of thinking and that good thinking is only logical.

However, when faced with risky decisions, it is possible to talk yourself into almost anything. But, even a little anxiety in that situation can provide information too valuable to ignore.

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Our Brains are Upgradable

Our minds are not static, but dynamic. The Brain has the capability to modify itself, change its structure, and to alter its biochemistry, at any age.

We can renew, rewire, ...

Juggling

You can improve your grey matter by learning a new, complex skill like juggling.

The simple act of juggling has recently been linked with better brain function. A new study reveals that learning to juggle may cause certain areas of your brain to grow.

Learn Something New

Even if it is just for 10 minutes before going to bed, you should be learning new stuff every day, a new skill, a new word, a new kind of idea or philosophy. Expose your brain to new frontiers.

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