Our brains account for only 2% of our body’s mass, yet they use approximately a quarter of our entire energy supply. How does the brain receive and then expel the vital nutrients needed for all that energy? New research suggests that sleep has some amazing impacts on the brain. This Ted Talks video features Jeff Iliff, a neuroscientist, who explores the unique functions of the brain during sleep.
Category Archives: Fun Facts
It’s that time of year when everyone is breaking out thicker blankets and cuddling up for warmth. But warmth isn’t the only reason why cuddling feels so great!
It turns out that when someone is engaged in intimate physical contact, such as hugging, kissing, cuddling, or even sex, the brain naturally produces a “love hormone” called oxytocin.
Oxytocin promotes happiness and kind behaviors, such as friendliness, empathy, and supportiveness. When people don’t get enough physical bonding (especially as a child), the lack of oxytocin tends to make them behave despondently and feel depressed or alienated.
So remember, if you’re feeling down, grab a loved one (person or pet) and cuddle!
To learn more about how oxytocin may be used to treat depression, read this article from Prevention News by Siobhan O’Conner called Can Cuddling Cure Depression?
There are so many different methods for falling asleep, from counting sheep to meditating. If you are looking for a delicious alternative to those methods here are some great suggestions for tasty snacks that you can have before bed to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
1. Cheese and Crackers
Cheese is a protein-rich food that provides sleep-inducing tryptophan, while the carbohydrates in crackers assist the tryptophan in reaching your brain helping you fall asleep more quickly. Compare cheddar cheese to turkey and you will find that cheese contains more tryptophan than turkey!
These delicious and crunchy nuts contain magnesium, a muscle-relaxing mineral that plays a key role in regulating sleep. Eating a tablespoon of almond butter or a handful of almonds before bed may help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
Bananas are full of tryptophan, an amino acid that has been linked to sleep quality. They also offer a vast amount of magnesium and potassium that both help to relax muscles and ease pain such as a charley horse.
5. Cereal and Milk
Milk also contains tryptophan. The brain uses tryptophan to make serotonin and melatonin, hormones that promote relaxation and control sleep cycles. While the carbohydrates in cereal make the tryptophan more available to the brain.
7. Decaffeinated Green Tea
Chickpeas, the main ingredient in hummus, are not only rich in tryptophan, but also folate and vitamin B-6. Folate helps to regulate sleep patterns, (especially in older people) and vitamin B-6 helps to regulate your body clock. So spread that hummus on a slice of bread for your pre-bed treat!
9. Pumpkin Seeds
10. Lemon Balm Tea
So grab a snack and catch your zzz’s!
It is time to prepare for all the adorable little trick or treaters that will be coming out for Halloween. Usually the preparations take us to the local market for some bags of over-sugared candies that we parents usually end up eating. Well, this year you might want to try something a little more healthy so you won’t feel so guilty about sneaking a few here and there. There are many great candy companies out there that offer healthier alternatives to the standard Snickers, M&M’s and more. Here are some truly yummy organic and sugar-free options that kids will love.
Annie’s Organic Bunny Fruity Snacks
These fruit snacks may not be a traditional candy, but they are still sweet and delicious.
Unreal Candy Bars
Unreal candy bars offer a wide variety of candies that are modeled after conventional candy bars such as Snickers, Peanut M&M’s, Peanut Butter Cups and more.
Bug Bites Organic Milk Chocolate
Individual pieces of delicious milk chocolate that are perfect for passing out to all the kids in the neighborhood. Each square contains a fun and educational insect trading card.
Surf Sweets Organic Fruity Halloween Treats
These tasty, fruity snacks are made with organic juice and no artificial colors or flavors.
Yum Earth Organic Pops
Another great alternative to the standard lollipop are these organic and healthy pops in many different tasty flavors, from Pomegranate to Razzmatazz Berry.
Halloween Glee Gum Pops
These gum pops are 100% natural, with a hard candy exterior and a delicious gummy middle. These gum pops come in 3 different flavors: Sweet Strawberry, Crisp Green Apple, and Juicy Orange.
Whatever you chose to hand out to the kiddos, make sure it is an “eek”-o-friendly option!
Dreams are a very mysterious nightly phenomenon. We can only speculate on the purpose of dreams, but they are usually extraordinary in nature and a bit confusing to analyze. Why is it that most of the time we forget what we dreamt about as soon as we wake? Why are our accounts of dreams often unreliable or distorted?
The following video delves into theories about REM sleep and how important it is for forming and storing memories. It also discusses lucid dreams, sleepwalking, and a theory behind why we have so many negative feelings like anxiety and anger while dreaming.
Conventionally we think of yawning as a mechanism for getting oxygen to our brains when we’re running low. However, research and testing shows that the brain is not found to be lacking in oxygen prior to a yawn. So if your brain is not responding to low levels of oxygen during a yawn, what is the reason for this odd but natural action? And why do yawns seem to be contagious?
The following video sheds some light on the most recent theories and evidence.
Try to contain your yawning while watching it!
Many scientists have studied sleep and why it is that we devote so much of our time to sleeping. New evidence from a recent study by Maiken Nedergaaed and colleagues at the University of Rochester in New York has refreshed a long-held hypothesis that during sleep the brain cleans itself. The scientists studied mice to find that sleep allows fluids to easily run through the brain and clean out metabolic toxins, essentially cleaning the brain of garbage. Check out this video from D News about the study and it’s findings.
Make sure you get your sleep so you can dump the junk from your brain!