Your weekly brain-changing content in under 5 minutes:
For a change: some pro-alcohol news.
Pillow talk: how to sleep deeply.
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(MODERATE) BOTTOMS UP!
TL;DR: A little alcohol kickstarts your brain-cleaning process.
Alcohol is good for you
Before you go hitting the booze in the name of a clean brain, slow your roll.
It’s true: a 2018 study has proven that alcohol has benefits to brain health by promoting the removal of waste products.
A little more about brain cleaning
The glymphatic system is the brain’s cleaning process. It works by using cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) to powerwash brain tissue and remove waste.
What kind of waste?
Things considered rubbish, cranially speaking, include the proteins beta amyloid and tau, which are associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
In last year’s study, mice that hit the bottle hard were compared to a control group of teetotal mice over a sustained period of time.
What they found
The tipsy mice had high levels of a molecular marker for inflammation, especially in astrocyte cells, which are key regulators of the glymphatic system. These mice also demonstrated impairment of cognitive ability and motor skills (makes sense).
Mice with moderate alcohol exposure had less brain inflammation and a more efficient glymphatic system compared to the control group with no alcohol exposure. Both of these groups had identical cognitive and motor tests.
Cool! But, I'm not a mouse
Totally get it. The reason this info is relevant to you is because studies on mice often prove the case for human trials to explore the concept further. Mice are used because their brain tissue is the most similar to ours, so there’s a higher chance that what we learn from mice will apply to humans as well. There's only one way to find out...
So go on and enjoy a moderate 2.5 drinks per day in the name of brain health! And remember #drinkresponsibly.
FOR THE NERDY: Fancy a tipple? [source: neurosciencenews.com]
TL;DR: The way you speak to yourself matters.
First up: what is self-talk?
Hello Dan, you rule. Your cat loves you, you’re having a good hair day, and 100% of people who read this week's newsletter got 1 friend to join cos they think your weird sense of humour is on point too.
Oh sorry, just practicing some positive self-talk. The way you respond to thoughts, actions, and everything in your life is considered self-talk. When your self-talk is negative, it can have harmful consequences and even lead to situations classified as cognitive distortions.
Cognitive distortion is a thought pattern that gets exaggerated or is irrational, eventually contributing to the onset of depression or anxiety.
A (hypothetical) example: my business partner Joel just put his noise-cancelling headphones on across from me. Negative self-talk would say “I must be annoying Joel with all my algae facts today.” Perpetuation of this self-talk would take me on a downward spiral, creating a thought pattern that takes me further and further from reality.
Which is (to clarify) that Joel and I are all good (right, Joel?).
He still has his headphones on as I write this, but there’s also drilling across the street so, you know. Probably not personal.
How to break out of negative self talk
Like I just did in my hypothetical example, you’ve got to set the intention to never take sides against yourself. Then, put this to practice every time a thought occurs.
SCENARIO: The train is late and you might miss your meeting.
Don’t do this: “I’m an idiot. I should have taken an earlier train. The people I’m meeting are going to think I don’t have my shit together.” (PS sorry mum)
Do this: “The train’s punctuality is out of my control. It’s not a reflection of anything to do with me or the way I run my life. This happens to everyone.”
How to start
Start small. Choose one aspect of your life (e.g. taking feedback at work personally), then notice your reactive thoughts and reframe them.
Repeat, repeat, repeat, and then apply to more areas over time!
FOR THE NERDY: You've got this [source: Psychology Today]
DEEP SLEEP CLEANER
TL;DR: Deep non-REM sleep cleans your brain.
Remember the glymphatic system?
(Really hope you do ‘cause we talked about it 2min 18 sec ago 😉). A new study published by Science Advances indicates that the slow and steady brain activity associated with deep non-REM are optimal for the function of the glymphatic system (the brain’s unique process of getting rid of waste, in case you needed a reminder).
And remember mice?
Six groups of anaesthetised mice were studied in this research. While they were sleeping, the researchers tracked brain electrical activity, cardiovascular activity, and the flow of CSF through the brain. The mice that had a sleep pattern closely resembling deep non-REM were found to have the most active glymphatic systems.
So, deep sleep = better brain cleaning
This discovery (that deep sleep promotes the activity of the glymphatic system) matches up with the clinical observations that show an association between sleep deprivation and a heightened risk for Alzheimer’s.
Tips to get more deep sleep:
Power down bright lights/screen time at least an hour before bed. Removing this stimulation helps prime your body for its sleep cycle.
Be consistent: aim for the same hitting-the-sack time, even on weekends. (Although this doesn't mean you should fit your weekday patterns to match your Friday night 2am choice.)
Be cool: the temp of your bedroom matters. According to #science (and my Oura ring), the right median temperature for a body to rest at night is right around 19.5 C.
No big meals or workouts too close to bedtime. Gotta keep your digestive systems and cortisol levels in check!
De-stress. Do what you gotta do: meditation, stretching, or lifestyle shifts to remove stress.
This way for more sleep tips!
Speaking of sleep tips: the Oura Ring. I use mine to track my sleep patterns and make improvements. Want one? Get €50 off by using the code DAN50 here.
FOR THE NERDY: Sleep it off [source: neurosciencenews.com]