Tag Archives: Memory loss

Could a To-Do List Help You Get More Sleep?

sleep, anxiety, stress, list, to-do, alarmSleep is a precious commodity in your busy life. Between work, taking care of loved ones, and running errands, it is a wonder you find time to sleep at all. However, it is important to make time for sleep because of all of the health benefits adequate sleep can provide. A recent study suggests that making a to-do list may help ease your mind so you can capture more sleep.

Why Is Sleep Important?

When you sleep, your body helps to regulate many processes in the body. Blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and bodily fluids are just a few of the processes regulated during sleep. When you do not get enough sleep, you can increase your risk of high blood pressure and elevated blood glucose levels. In addition, research has found that those who consistently received less than six hours of sleep each night were more likely to have a higher body mass index than those who received at least eight hours of sleep each night. Therefore, long term lack of sleep can not only increase risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, but also increased obesity risk.

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

The National Sleep Foundation recommends at least seven hours of sleep each night for most adults.  Children two years of age or less require around 14 hours of sleep each day, including naps. Those between the ages of three and eighteen require around 10 hours of sleep each night. Children require more sleep to support their body’s growth and development.

Quality of sleep is just as important as quantity of sleep. Sleep quality may be low if you do not feel rested upon waking, wake up during the night, snore, or gasp for air during sleep. Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea may affect your body’s ability to get oxygen during sleep. This can impact safety during sleep and can make you feel fatigued upon waking.  If you experience interrupted sleep or wake up tired, you should see your healthcare provider for further assessment.  Pain, frequent urination, or breathing problems could prevent you from getting more sleep.

To-Do List and Sleep Research

A study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology looked at 57 Baylor University students and the effects of writing down unfinished tasks on sleep.  One group of students wrote down unfinished tasks, while the other group wrote down tasks previously completed.  All students were in a controlled environment and told to go to sleep at a set time. They were prohibited from staying up to look at phones or complete any other tasks.  Those who wrote down unfinished tasks were found to have improved sleep by use of an overnight polysomnography test.  Larger studies and observation of other age groups and individuals with sleep disorders such as insomnia will need to be done to confirm the effectiveness of such strategies.

Other Ways to Help Improve Sleep

Besides making to-do lists, here are some other ways to help you get more sleep and improve quality of sleep each night.

  • Stay on a sleep schedule each night to help your body’s clock regulate itself. It may take some time to adjust to an earlier bedtime or earlier wake time. However, over time your sleep patterns will enhance quality and quantity of sleep.
  • Exercise each day to help your body exert some energy.  Not only will exercise help improve your sleep, but it can also help manage your weight, which can in turn help you reduce risk of sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
  • Take time to relax before sleep by engaging in meditation, relaxation breathing, and reducing screen time. The light from the screens on phones, computers, and television can interrupt the sleep-wake cycle. Adding in essential oil diffusion such as with lavender can help induce relaxation. In addition, drinking herbal teas with chamomile can help induce sleep.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes, or heavy meals before bedtime since such things can cause interrupted sleep. Caffeine and alcohol can act as a diuretic, which may cause frequent urination that can interrupt sleep. On the other hand, the nicotine from cigarettes act as a stimulant and can in turn disrupt the sleep-wake cycle.  Finally, heavy meals less than two hours before bedtime can cause indigestion and increase risk of heartburn, which can interrupt sleep.
  • Ensure your sleep environment is conducive to sleep. Every ten years, you should replace your mattresses. Every few years or so, you should also replace your pillows  to prevent exposure to allergens such as dust mites. In addition, reduced exposure to light sources in the evening can help keep your body’s rhythms in check.  You can use blackout curtains to help reduce the amount of natural light in your bedroom.
  • Add a supplement to your bedtime regimen to help you get more sleep.  Somnova by Vita Sciences contains ingredients such as melatonin and L-theanine to help promote restful sleep.

If none of these strategies are helping, then be sure to visit your healthcare provider for more sleep guidance.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (March 2, 2017) “How Much Sleep Do I Need?”

Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School (December 18, 2007) “Sleep and Disease Risk”

National Sleep Foundation (accessed January 15, 2018) “Healthy Sleep Tips.”

National Sleep Foundation (accessed January 15, 2018) “How Much Sleep Do Babies and Kids Need?”

Science Daily (January 11, 2018) “Can Writing Your To-Do’s Help You To Doze? Study Suggests Jotting Down Tasks Can”


  • Did you like this? Please share.

    Could Hypertension Increase Dementia Risk in Women?

    Ifhypertension, blood pressure, brain, memory, dementia you have high blood pressure, heart disease may be the health concern most on your mind. However, high blood pressure can be a risk factor for more than just heart conditions.  A recent study has found that women in their 40’s with high blood pressure have an increased risk of dementia.

    What is high blood pressure?

    A systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg or higher and a diastolic blood pressure of 90 mm Hg or higher defines a diagnosis of high blood pressure, or hypertension.  Systolic blood pressure is a measure of the pressure when the heart contracts, while diastolic blood pressure is a measure of the pressure in between heart beats.

    Hypertension occurs when there is some sort of damage or blockage that causes a narrowing of the blood vessels.  This narrowing slows the flow of blood and oxygen to tissues and organs in the body. Over time, this delayed oxygen and blood flow can cause damage to cells in the body that can lead to disease. Therefore, high blood pressure can lead to increased risk of diabetes, kidney damage, stroke, and vision loss.

    Hypertension and Dementia

    A recent study in the journal Neurology looked at the medical records of about 5600 patients over 15 years to see who developed dementia.  Those women in their 40’s with hypertension had up to a 73-percent risk of developing dementia.  Although, the same was not true of women in their 30’s or of men in their 40’s.  However, further studies must be done to determine the reason for these results.

    Previous studies have found a link between high blood pressure and dementia, but it was not clear if hypertension before the age of 50 was a risk factor for the condition. However, it is clear that the brain is a metabolically active organ that requires oxygen to function properly. Without oxygen, brain cells starve and become damaged causing disease and dysfunction.  In order to get enough oxygen, blood flow to the brain must be healthy. Therefore, anything that prevents or delays blood flow, such as hypertension, could lead to cell damage in the brain as is seen in dementia.

    Hypertension Prevention

    To lower your risk of diseases such as dementia, take the following steps to prevent or control hypertension.

    • Eat a well-balanced diet of lean proteins, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocado, and plant-based oils.  Be sure to limit your intake of sugary and salty processed foods which can increase hypertension risk.
    • Stay active most days of the week.  Walking, jogging, biking, dancing, and swimming are some ways you can stay active to keep your heart healthy. Try to be active for 30 minutes a day for most days of the week to help manage your weight and blood pressure.
    • Limit alcohol intake to no more than one drink a day for women and no more than 2 drinks a day for men.  Over this limit, alcohol can raise blood pressure and can also make it difficult to manage a healthy weight.
    • Control weight since those who are overweight or obese have a higher risk for hypertension than those of a healthy weight.
    • Don’t smoke since smoking can deprive your body of oxygen since it constricts blood vessels. In turn, smoking can increase risk of hypertension and related health issues.
    • Take all prescribed medications to help manage hypertension so that damage to the body’s cells can be limited.
    • Add in heart-healthy vitamins and supplements to your routine such as Presura by Vita Sciences. Presura contains a combination of hawthorn berry, niacin, and garlic extract to help support healthy blood pressure levels. Be sure to contact your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen. It is important to make sure that any new supplements will not interact with your current prescribed medicines.

    -written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

    Sources:

    American Heart Association (October 2016) “Changes You Can Make to Manage Blood Pressure”

    American Heart Association (October 2016) “Understanding Blood Pressure Readings”

    Medline Plus (October 4, 2017) “High Blood Pressure in 40’s a Dementia Risk for Women?”

    National Institute on Aging (March 1, 2015) “High Blood Pressure” 


  • Did you like this? Please share.

    5 Causes of Memory Loss in Midlife

    Constantly forgetting important errands? Avert your midlife crisis by fixing some typical causes of memory loss that can happen to anybody under the age of 50. Stress, medication, and menopause are all examples of things that can lead to short-term memory loss, even if you’re not a candidate for age-related dementia.

    Causes of Memory Loss in Midlife

    Memory loss in midlife- it happens.

    The good news

    “I’m too young for this!” you think as you wrack your brain trying to remember the password for your ATM card… or your son’s birthdate…or your own age (without doing the math). It seems like you’re always getting sidetracked, confused, or lost in a fog. You’re constantly forgetting words that are just on the tip of your tongue.

    These are all typical symptoms of brain fatigue. Once you understand what’s causing it, the road to recovery is that much closer.

    Here’s the good news: Most likely, it’s not dementia. Even if you’re getting along in years, brain loss from Alzheimer’s disease or other degenerative illnesses are not a given, and don’t happen to all senior citizens.

    Often, other factors such as vitamin deficiency, exhaustion, health problems or even daily medications can cause an endless cycle of brain fog, tiredness, forgetfulness, dizziness, and irritability that can make it difficult to function.

    Causes of memory loss

    The sooner you address these problems, the sooner you can start feeling more focused, energized, and relaxed.

    Listed are some common causes of memory loss that can occur in middle age:

    1) Vitamin B12 deficiency

    Vitamin B12 is necessary for healthy brain functioning. It’s one of the most beneficial nutrients for supporting your nervous system, red blood cell production, and proper metabolism.

    Some of the earliest signs of vitamin B12 deficiency are all symptoms that occur in the brain:

    • Memory loss
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Fatigue
    • Dizziness
    • Confusion
    • Irritability
    • Distractedness
    • Paranoia

    If constant memory loss is interfering with your life, then one of the best things you can do for yourself is to dramatically increase your uptake of high-quality vitamin B12 supplements. Most people find that even one week’s worth of B12 supplementation results in an immediate improvement in such symptoms that occur with B12 deficiency- especially chronic fatigue and memory loss. With time, cognitive impairments linked with low vitamin B12 will gradually disappear.

    2) Stress

    When you’re stressed, your adrenal glands produce cortisol, the stress hormone. If you suffer from daily stress, then you’re making it round the clock. Too much cortisol in your blood supply is directly linked to memory problems, dizziness, and other signs of mental fatigue.

    Stress is a common cause of memory loss for people who suffer from chronic depression. Again, this can be linked to excess cortisol.

    Stress management, relaxation, exercise, and a healthy diet are all cited as effective ways to reduce stress and improve your memory.

    3) Alcohol

    Heavy drinkers may experience memory impairments and forgetfulness caused by Korsakoff’s syndrome. While under the influence, your brain simply isn’t “paying attention” to things that are happening around you. The more time spent drinking, the less memory you will have retained by midlife.

    4) Prescription medications

    Certain drugs and medical treatments can cause memory loss, brain fog, and confusion. If you’re currently taking a prescription drug that makes you feel forgetful or unfocused, then tell your doctor.

    5) Menopause

    Also known as “menofog,” memory loss during midlife is a common indicator of menopause. Hormone fluctuations, stress, mood changes and sleep problems can all make it difficult to concentrate, relax, or stick with your everyday routine. As a result, many women approaching their fifties wrongly think they’re going crazy or experiencing the first signs of dementia, when they’re really undergoing the beginnings of menopause.
    To find out if menopause may be causing memory problems, speak to a doctor who specializes in women’s health.

    What other causes of memory loss can you add to this discussion?

    Image by stockimages


  • Did you like this? Please share.

    Prevent Memory Loss- Check these 7 Medications!

    Memory loss doesn’t have to be a necessary part of getting older. Often, forgetfulness is triggered by certain medications that cause brain fog, fatigue, and mental confusion. To prevent memory loss, ask your doctor for healthier alternatives for the following drugs.

    Prevent Memory Loss- Check these 7 Medications!

    Prevent memory loss…

    If you’ve been noticing an increase in memory loss, then your first step is to schedule a check-up. Your doctor may want to screen for vitamin B12 deficiency, a common cause of frequent memory problems, tiredness, and depression.

    Other possible reasons for poor memory can include smoking, head trauma, stroke, sleep apnea, early-onset dementia, or just plain ‘ole stress.

    Or, memory loss can occur with commonly prescribed medications used to treat depression, anxiety, chronic pain, or even high cholesterol.

    Medications to keep in check…

    Here are some prescription drugs that doctors have linked with memory loss:

    1. Benzodiazepines for anxiety work by suppressing parts of the brain used to store memory. These should only be prescribed rarely, and not for long term. Ask your doctor for gentler treatments for anxiety, muscle spasms, or insomnia. Also, consider supplementing with safe natural ingredients that help to promote good cognition.
    2. Statins that lower cholesterol can also impair memory by reducing lipids that are needed for cellular communication in the brain’s network of nerve cells. To counteract the effect, doctors recommend taking high doses of vitamin B12, which encourages healthy nervous system functioning through the preservation of myelin.
    3. Certain anti-seizure drugs used to treat migraines, epilepsy or bipolar disorder can wreak havoc on the nervous system, leaving you feeling drained, disoriented, and forgetful. Certain anticonvulsants are better than others, so if you notice a change in your overall mood, then ask your doctor to recommend an alternative. Also, certain herbs, vitamins, and minerals have been found helpful when taken in tandem, such as butterbur, riboflavin, magnesium, and coenzyme Q10.
    4. Opioid analgesic painkillers prescribed for arthritis, migraines or fibromyalgia can interfere with both short-term and long-term memory. For chronic pain that requires frequent medication, inquire about non-narcotic painkillers. For joint pain and muscle soreness, rub daily with a pain relieving cream.
    5. Tricyclic antidepressants used to treat depression, anxiety, tinnitus, migraines, and chronic pain may cause severe memory loss in about 35% of patients, in addition to difficulty concentrating in more than half, according to recent studies. If you experience fatigue and memory problems, then your doctor may suggest lowering your dose or trying an alternative type of antidepressant, such as selective serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSRI/SNRIs).
    6. Antihistamines used for nausea, allergies and migraines can impair the part of your brain used for memory and learning. To prevent memory loss while using antihistamines, make sure you’re using one of the newer formulas.
    7. Hypertension drugs such as beta-blockers work by inhibiting chemical reactions in the brain, including those needed for good memory and healthy cognitive functioning. As a result, you may experience frequent brain fog and memory loss after using beta-blockers for a long period of time. If using hypertension medications to treat migraines or tinnitus, then ask about certain vitamins and minerals that support good blood flow to the brain.

    Can you think of any other medications people should avoid, in order to prevent memory loss? Please share your comments or questions below.

    Image by photostock


  • Did you like this? Please share.

    Improve your Memory, Naturally!

    Forgetfulness is annoying, and sometimes scary- especially when it happens daily. To improve your memory and sharpen your thinking skills, you sometimes have to nourish the brain with healthy nutrients, while also making certain lifestyle changes that benefit cognitive functioning. Here are some excellent natural-living tips that help to aid memory retention.

    Improve your Memory, Naturally!

    Alzheimer’s disease is often the first thing people worry about when they begin to notice themselves forgetting things often. The good news is that rarely is dementia the cause of memory loss in your 40’s, 50’s, or even your senior citizen years.

    Sometimes, an underlying condition can be the contributing factor to slips in memory. Vitamin B12 deficiency, for example, causes short-term memory loss, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and a host of other mental and physical ailments.

    Do this to improve your memory!

    Listed are some things to put on your to-do list for ultimate brain health.

    Check your vitamin B12 levels.

    Vitamin B12 is one of the most important nutrients for memory, stamina, mood, and the relaxation response. When vitamin B12 is very low, you many feel continuously depressed, preoccupied, confused and fidgety.

    To find out if you have vitamin B12 deficiency, ask your doctor for a blood screening to check vitamin B12 levels in the blood. You may need to up your vitamin B12 intake for several months or longer.

    Vitamin B12- Because you just need Energy

    Get plenty of sleep at night.

    Studies show that practicing good sleep hygiene is crucial for your brain and memory. Alternatively, not getting enough good quality, refreshing sleep each night is a common cause of memory loss, anxiety, depression, and “brain fog.”

    Check your thyroid!

    A sluggish thyroid can trigger insomnia and depression, both of which lead to frequent slips in memory. If you’re often fatigued and forgetful, then ask your doctor for a blood test to check your thyroid gland functioning.

    Visit a doctor.

    Talk to your doctor about specific problems that you’re having with your memory. Some symptoms to include are feeling spaced out, fatigued, forgetting numbers or codes, missing appointments, forgetting names or words, or having difficulty just organizing your day.

    Get regular exercise!

    Studies have shown that including low-impact exercise into your daily routine is a great way to sharpen your mood, improve your memory, sleep better at night, maintain a healthy weight, and boost general happiness. Try walking for half an hour each day, or take on a new sport, such as biking or tennis.

    Don’t do this- it will ruin your memory!

    If you’re having difficulty paying attention, or you’ve found that you constantly forget something that you just reminded yourself about a second ago, then you may have to make certain changes to your routine lifestyle. Listed are some things to avoid when improving your memory.

    Avoid certain drugs.

    Don’t stop taking any prescription medications without speaking to your doctor, but do recognize side effects, such as memory loss, that can occur with certain medications.

    Medications that can interfere with good memory and also cause confusion, poor concentration or other cognitive problems include:

    • Tranquilizers
    • Antidepressants
    • Blood pressure medications
    • Heartburn medications
    • Antihistamines

    Don’t stress.

    Make an effort to decrease the amount of stress in your life; not only does it make you unhappy, but it also makes it hard to focus on everyday tasks, as worries and anxieties take up too much mental space.  If you’re having trouble concentrating or remembering things because of stress, then talk to a friend…take a walk…read a book…or confront the stress head-on.

    Cognitain Brain Health Formula for Memory

    Get Cognitain for $38.95 $34.95

    Can you add any other great tips on how to improve your memory? Please share below!

    Image courtesy of Master isolated images


  • Did you like this? Please share.