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The Need For Sleep!

The Need For SleepDo you get enough sleep? Don’t underestimate the need for it! We need to sleep for a number of reasons, one of which is for our brain to file all the information that was experienced and gained during the day – in a simplistic sense. I’ve experienced first hand how sleep deprivation can be harmful in the short term – my ability to think, concentrate, construct sentences and remember things took a hit and I tended to think more negatively. This article explains the need for sleep and there are some useful tips for making sure you get enough sleep that follow.  [Read more…]

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10 Things To Stop Caring About To Be Happier

10 Things To Stop Caring About To Be HappierSometimes the words ‘I couldn’t care less’ may actually work in our favour. We live in a fast-paced and competitive world where most of us are stressed out of our minds because of things which when we look at them in the greater picture, really are quite menial. Cases of stress, anxiety and depression are on the up. Stop! It’s time to care less! Do you ever come across people who seem to not have a care in the world and they really seem quite content? There’s a reason for that – they don’t take themselves or things or life too seriously which makes them happier people. Here are 10 things to stop caring about to be happier: [Read more…]

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Sleep And Your Brain

Sleep And Your Brain If you struggle with focus and concentration, it may be worth assessing how much sleep you’re getting every night and gaining an understanding of how sleep and your brain health are heavily linked. There’s a bit of a worldwide debate going on about how much sleep we need each night and there doesn’t appear to be a general rule of thumb. Some people survive on four hours a night, others can’t function on less than 8 hours a night. One thing that is certain though, is that chronic sleep deprivation is harmful to your brain – in fact it can have the same effects on your brain as aging does – namely, the part of your brain responsible for your memory – your hippocampus – starts to shrink. Scary much? [Read more…]

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Is Stress Destroying Your Brain?

Stress ReliefApologies for the direct and high impact title, but is stress destroying your brain? If you’re struggling to focus, it may just be down to stress. Most of us know that stress is harmful to our bodies. Stress plays a vital part in our survival mechanism as human beings, but for sustained periods of time, it has been proven unequivocally that stress is harmful to our bodies. It leads to illness and disease and in extreme cases – well let’s not go there. Did you know that stress actually causes your brain to shrink? [Read more…]

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3 Simple Ways To Beat Stress

If you’re struggling to focus, it may just be that you’re stressed. You may not realise you’re stressed though, until you have identified with a few telltale signs which are outlined in this article. This excerpt called 3 Simple Ways To Beat Stress is from Yahoo Lifestyle and is well worth a read. Some telltale signs examined are an inability to stop shopping, making snap decisions, a loss of interest in sex, eating lunch at 3pm and being exhausted but not being able to sleep.

Exercise To Help Relieve Insomnia 3 Simple Ways To Beat Stress

1. “Don’t avoid fat,” counsels nutrition therapist Sue Zbornik. “Just choose the right type.” Essential fatty acids are important for brain function, especially mood regulation, so incorporate good fats into most meals. “It’s as simple as adding an avocado to your sandwich and flaxseed oil to your salad dressing,” says Zbornik.

2. “If you know you’re about to enter into a stressful time, start taking vitamins B and C,” suggests performance coach Bev Carter. Vitamin B offers protection from adrenaline overload and keeps you brimming with positive energy more consistently throughout the day.

3. “If you’ve been frantic all day, you can’t expect the body just to shut down and go to sleep,” says psychologist Melissa Podmore. “You really need to start slowly moving into the restful state a couple of hours before bed.” So turn off the TV, switch off your mobile and run a bath – the change in body temperature will also help trigger your sleep hormones, helping you to get the best rest possible.

Read the full article here

I was quite surprised to see that exercise wasn’t incorporated in these 3 simple ways to beat stress. If you read the whole article you’ll have seen that the author does talk about exercise in the 5th “Red Flag” regarding stress leading to an inability to sleep. Exercise is highly recommended to incorporate into your daily routine in some form or other. The benefits are enormous as it helps to burn off that relentless energy that can keep you awake and it of course releases the happy hormone, endorphin (as well as a million and one other benefits). As a previous insomniac, I can wholly relate to the importance of exercise if you are unable to sleep. But don’t go  for hours in the evening as that will get the adrenaline going which is exactly what you don’t want!

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How Sleep Can Lead To Creativity And Problem Solving

Did you know that Paul McCartney came up with the melody of Yesterday while he was in a dream? We all know how important sleep is for our brains to function properly, and indeed for the rest of our vital organs, but were you aware how sleep can lead to creativity and problem solving? According to this study at UCLA and UC San Diego, when we go into a state or REM, ideas and solutions can enter our minds, when we allow ourselves to drift out of focus, into the subconscious.  This is a fascination article from James Kinn for The Hornet.

How Sleep Can Lead To Creativity And Problem Solving

How Sleep Can Lead To Creativity

How Sleep Can Lead To Creativity

In a study conducted by investigators at UCLA and UC San Diego volunteers were asked to solve a puzzle known as the remote-association test (RAT). In a typical RAT question subjects were given three words and were asked to produce a fourth word that links to the three words that were previously given. The volunteers had to take the test twice between a forty-minute interval in which they were told to take a nap. The volunteers that hit REM while they slept improved by 40%, while the others who didn’t sleep watched as their scores dropped.

Deirdre Barrett a psychologist for Harvard University stated that, “In the sleep state, the brain thinks much more visually and intuitively.” The famous Beatle, Paul McCartney announced that he came up with the melody for “Yesterday” in a dream, and Elias Howe, the inventor of the sewing machine, is said to have invented the hole in the needle while she dreamt.

While we sleep the prefrontal cortex in our brain, which allows our brain to focus on one particular task, dials itself down as you fall asleep. This allows your thoughts to mix up at random. For example, when we are awake information travels from the left to the right side of our brain allowing the left brain to control and regulate what goes through the right. However, during REM there is no preferred direction, thus the creative right can overcome the literal left.

Click here to view the original source of the article

So before you go to bed, remember how sleep can lead to creativity and problem-solving.  Take a note pad to bed and think about those ideas for which you need inspiration and problems you need solving so you can make note of them as soon as you wake. Or similar to the case of Paul McCartney, possibly a guitar or piano?  I think tonight I shall sleep on my piano.

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10 Ways To Focus On Productivity At Work

As an employee, it’s often challenging to focus on one task at a time when there’s a constant flow of emails entering your inbox along with phone calls, people asking you questions etc.  Here are 10 ways to focus on productivity at work, from which I have excerpted three of my favourite.  They are written by Daniel Bortz for USNews.com and I highly recommend a read.

10 Ways To Focus On Productivity At Work

Set long-term goals. “Too many people get caught up in the day-to-day things that need to be done—the recent email that came in, the phone call that just came in—and then they really don’t get anything done that’s significant because they’re just fighting fires,” Wendleton says. Develop two big-picture things that you want to accomplish throughout the year and post them next to your computer as a reminder.

Don’t multitask. Focus is key. “These people who think that they can multitask are wrong,” Wendleton says. Focus on one thing, get it done, and move on. “The people who are able to focus and get something done well are the people who are most productive,” she says.

Multitasking will eat up 40 percent of your workday, Tabaka says. “Employers want people who can focus,” she says. Instead, block out time to do certain tasks. “You’re not putting things off—you’re scheduling things,” Tabaka says.

Power nap. A number of medical studies have shown that short napping in the early afternoon increases a person’s pr

oductivity, alertness, and sometimes even their mood. “A very short, regenerative nap can help you channel your energy and refocus,” Tabaka says. Just be sure not to sleep for more than 15 to 20 minutes. Otherwise, it could create problems with your boss.

Read the full, original, article here

From these 10 ways to focus on productivity at work, a favourite of mine was to take a power nap.  Now, whilst I love the idea of this, it’s not often that easy.  My choice used to be the toilet cubicles and a number my colleagues/friends would do the same.  We used to exchange ideas of how to create a pillow and more often than not, the toilet roll on its holder would be the preferred choice.

 

 

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How To Improve Your Focus And Creativity

If you would to learn how to improve your focus and creativity, then these words from co-author of Organize Your Brain, Organize Your Life: Train Your Brain To Get More Done In Less Time, Margaret Moore, should fill you with confidence.  This article was written by Celeste Perron For HealthGoesStrong.com and I have excerpted two of my favourite points.

How To Improve Your Focus And Creativity

Take brain breaks. One key to better focus is to take a “brain break” every 30-60 minutes. “After that amount of time your brain gets depleted and you need a break, especially as the day goes on,” says Moore. “So move around and do little tasks like making the bed, or go for a walk.” Surfing the web and watching funny YouTube videos doesn’t necessarily qualify as a brain break. “It’s important to get out of your chair and move your body,” she says, and adds, “sometimes taking break from what you’re doing can lead to your best creative insights, which is why we so often hit upon great ideas in the shower.”

Stay cognitively flexible. One risk we face as we age is mental rigidity, getting stuck in opinions and thought patterns that can block creativity and also hurt working memory. One trick Moore suggests for preventing that is intentionally exposing yourself to opposing points of view—say, watch MSNBC followed by Fox News, or read an editorial in the New York Times followed by one in the Wall Street Journal that voices the opposite opinion. “You don’t want to get too stuck in your ways of thinking, because being able to understand multiple points of view helps you stay more youthful and get the most of your brain.”

Click here to view the original source of the article

Of these methods on how to improve your focus and creativity, I could entirely relate to Margaret Moore’s suggestion to take brain breaks away from your computer.  She makes a point that you can often have your best ideas when you’re in the shower – this is so true.  It’s easy to reach a stalemate sat in front of your computer.  If you read the full article you’d have understood the importance of reducing stress, getting enough sleep, not multitasking and feeding your brain with the right types of food in improving your focus and creativity.  She also mentioned how exercise is essential as it helps your prefrontal cortex to grow as well as reduces stress.  As you may know by now (as a regular on this site), the hippocampus is largely responsible for memory and exercise is essential in maintaining a healthy hippocampus.

The point about remaining cognitively flexible was very interesting as was her reference to mental rigidity.  I can completely identify with that as I have parents! I’ll be having words.

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3 Ways To Improve Your Brain Power

Did you know that you can improve the plasticity of your brain with a few very simple exercises? (Plasticity in broad is about your brain’s ability to repair itself through the development of neurons.)  Here are 3 ways to improve your brain power that you can do in the comfort of your own home.

3 Ways To Improve Your Brain Power

Reduce Stress
Research suggests that chronic stress can actually shrink parts f the brain that are responsible for memory and can speed up aging of the brain. Reducing stress by learning how to unwind can improve your memory as well as improve your mood.

Get Some Sleep
It’s no big surprise that sleep is important. Now we know that it not only is essential for health and wellness, but for memory too. Studies have shown that people who stay up all night after learning a new task are less likely to recall it in the morning as those who sleep. While you probably don’t pull all-nighters anymore, loss of sleep can keep you from forming memories.

Do Something New
Get out of your mental rut. We tend to fall into patterns, daily routines that can stifle brain development. Why grow new brain cells an increase connections if you’re not doing any new activities? Expand your mind and challenge it to encourage neural growth.

Click here to view the original source of the article

You’ll notice that reducing stress is at the top of these 3 ways to improve your brain power.  Stress is a main subject on this site because it is so important to reduce stress not only for your brain, but for your general health as well.  It’s also imperative that you get enough sleep in order for your brain to function correctly.  In addition to the above, exercise is key in maintaining a healthy brain, and  really helps you to focus as well.

 

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Get Enough Sleep To Help You Focus

It is fairly clear that you need to get enough sleep to help you focus. There are a number of processes that the brain undergoes when in a state of sleep, and there are various stages of sleep. Without enough sleep, you are depriving your brain of a key requirement for it to function correctly. It therefore affects your ability to focus. This exceprt from the Irish Times is well worth a read.

Yet while it’s straightforward to think of slumber as downtime for the brain, it turns out there’s quite a bit going on in the land of nod.

“Being asleep is not just not being awake,” says Coogan. “Sleep is an active process, there are specific patterns of activity in the brain that are associated with sleep.”

We cycle through various stages of sleep, including phases of slow-wave sleep that appear to be restorative, and rapid-eye-movement or REM sleep.

“We dream mostly during REM sleep,” says Coogan. “Then we tend to go back into slow-wave sleep, and slow-wave sleep tends to be highly amnesic – so to remember a dream you have to wake up during or very soon after.”

So much for normal sleep. But what about when things go awry with sleeping patterns? Poor sleep is associated with conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease, says Coogan, who also points out a link between shortened sleep and the risk of diabetes. “If you are not getting enough sleep, that is predisposing you to developing type-two diabetes,” he says. Click here to visit the original source of this post

As you may have read in previous posts, sleep is a basic requirement for your memory. Make sure you get enough sleep to help you focus, and also to improve your memory. As a previous insomniac, I can totally relate to this post. What do you think?

 

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