Always checking social media and the latest vines, how is this affecting your brain?
One of the primary ways modern lifestyles could affect our brain function is by affecting our sleep. According to OFCOM, UK adults spend an average of eight hours and 41 minutes a day on media devices, compared to eight hours and 21 minutes that on average adults sleep.
Time to switch off!
Modern technology means we have information and stimulation available to us 24 hours a day, and we can easily become ‘hooked’ on this, with many of us even checking social media, looking at emails, watching online videos or catching up on a TV show when we’re lying in bed.
“We don’t allow our brain to switch off or be ‘quiet’, and this constant stimulation can have dire consequences for our sleep – not only how long we’re actually asleep but also our quality of sleep. What’s more, the blue light from our devices (smartphones, tablets etc.) actually suppresses melatonin, the hormone that makes us feel sleepy. Without enough quality sleep, our cognitive function (memory, reasoning, thinking etc.) can slow down – we may become more forgetful, or clumsier, or just less ‘on the ball’, explains leading Nutritionist Cassandra Barns.
Modern lifestyles may also affect our brain function simply by increasing our levels of stress hormones such as cortisol. “Having chronically high cortisol levels has been found to have a damaging effect on the brain, and even to kill off brain cells! Our cortisol levels can be high not only in situations of ‘crisis’ – e.g. when we have to meet that deadline in half an hour – but also in situations that we may not perceive as stressful, such as sitting in traffic on the way to work, or watching a worrying item on the news. Even that ‘stimulation overload’ of enjoyable things such as social media apps and TV can cause our cortisol levels to go up,” explains Cassandra.
Cassandra shares her top tips on how we can reduce the constant stimulation and ‘noise’ we have around us…
- Many people find meditation of some kind effective, but for those who don’t, just putting away your electronic devices and allowing your mind to be quiet for a time (an hour, or even just 15 minutes) can help
- In the hour or two before bed, turn off your devices (including the TV) or put them in another room – instead, read, listen to relaxing music, or just talk – this can help to encourage better sleep
- We may also benefit from additional nutrients to help our brain function better and cope with all this extra stress. Eating whole foods that are rich in B vitamins, omega-3 fats, zinc and antioxidants help to fuel and protect our brain
Brand, new supplement for your brain: Mastermind
Mastermind (www.reviveactive.com, £37.50) is a 100% natural supplement that provides various nutrients that can directly support brain function, which is essential for those of us who live a tech-savvy lifestyle.
“Mastermind contains DHA which is essential for our brains. Our brain is 60 per cent fat, and about 15 per cent of the fat in the grey matter of our brain is DHA. DHA is particularly important for brain development and is known to be essential for normal brain function. Human studies have shown that DHA supports learning and memory; and animal studies have found that low levels of DHA in the brain are associated with learning problems and memory deficits,” explains Cassandra Barns.
Mastermind also contains the following:
- Zinc which is needed for normal cognitive function (thinking, improving your memory and reasoning)
- Vitamin B12 which supports the function of the nervous system including building nerve cells in the brain
- Vitamin B5 supports normal mental performance