Blog : brain science

How Sleep Improves the Brain

How Sleep Improves the Brain

     Nothing compares to how refreshing and restoring a full night’s rest is.  Getting good sleep improves the brain and it truly feels as if you have been healed. It is like your brain has expanded its awareness and is regenerating its cells. As a matter of fact, this is exactly what is occurring as you sleep.

    As your breathing slows and your muscles relax, your brain begins to pour growth hormones into the body that help with muscle growth and tissue repair. Additionally, the neurons finally have their break and can rest and repair while you rest, making it so your mind works more quickly and accurately the next day.

     As your brain is resting, it is able to process all the information it has ingested that day, and chooses what to keep and what to fade out. This helps the brain categorize things and create new ideas based on the connections it makes during REM sleep to older memories.

    This helps your brain operate the next day, giving you more creative ideas the better you sleep the night before and leading you towards your “a-ha!” moment where you are discovering something exciting and new. If you didn’t get adequate sleep the night before, your brain won’t focus on coming up with anything new or creative, just rebooting or crawling into bed. 

    To avoid feeling like your brain has gone on vacation, make sure you are getting enough sleep so that your brain has a chance to process and repair. Everyone’s body is different, however, it’s important to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep a night.

    If you’re having trouble falling asleep at night, try setting up a bedtime routine that works for you. Enhance your bedroom by making it cozy with sleepy lavender scents, put on calming meditation music, and cuddle up to a soft, fuzzy blanket. Let your mind breathe and regenerate.

 

*Sign Up for our free 9 Essential Ingredients To Court Your Creativity PDF. Learn nine crucial skills you can implement RIGHT NOW to increase your creativity by stepping back into your right brain! Click here to sign up.

Alli is our office manager and writer who is passionate about connecting people through words. Alli studied English at Arizona State University, just recently moved to St. Pete and is enjoying paradise. Her interests include painting, history, and learning about other people.

Why I think essential oils are rad! Part I

Why I think essential oils are rad! Part I

I was an essential oil skeptic. I thought, “How in the world can smelling something pretty help me emotionally – let alone physically.” I went to one of those parties dead-set not to buy a thing. After trying them, I bought a set. Soon, I was staying up way too late to read about the science behind these mysterious oils. Now, I have a full-on collection.

With copious amounts of research, I began to understand what comprises an essential oil. Yes, they often smell good, but they are also so much more!

There are a few different ways to use essential oils, including aromatically, topically and internally*.

Additionally, they support multiple health domains – physical, emotional and spiritual.

Let’s begin, in the first article in a 3-part series, with their typical association, how they smell.

Aromatic/olfactory

Humans are ten thousand times more capable of smelling than tasting, and we experience scent long before it reaches our cognitive brains. In fact, scent is the only sense (of the five senses) that relays messages directly to the limbic system of the brain – the “emotional and memory center” – and bypasses the slower cortex.

This is why the brain establishes a strong emotional connection between certain smells and memories, and why scent can access the unconscious (what we typically term that which is less accessible by the cortex) and can conjure almost visceral imagery and associations.

Brain tidbit: Smell stimulates the olfactory bulb, which converts the information into a neural code. This code is then, in turn, relayed to the limbic system of the brain (emotional center), the hippocampus (short-term memory center), the hypothalamus (long-term memory), the pituitary gland (master gland) and other endocrine glands. These glands secrete hormones in response, which can restore hormonal balance depending on the initial code, aka the scent, inputted into the system. In short, essential oils have the capacity to alter chemical messages, relayed within the limbic system of the brain!

The Brand I Trust

Rarely do I promote a specific product. However, I going to make an exception here. I use and, can highly recommend, doTERRA for multiple reasons, but my top 3 are:

1) Quality (you can rest assured these oils are not adulterated – aka “cut” – to reduce costs),

2) Sustainable and ethical harvesting through their co-impact sourcing, and

3) A corporate culture of caring with numerous initiatives underway (doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation, a non-profit seeking to free the world of disease and poverty and “ultimately empower impoverished communities with the tools needed to become self-reliant”).

And, one more for good measure – their science is extremely impressive! And, you know I like that!

To learn more, feel free to contact me or click here.

Stay tuned for our next article that explores the science behind topical usage.

 

*Sign Up for our free 9 Essential Ingredients To Court Your Creativity PDF. Learn nine crucial skills you can implement RIGHT NOW to increase your creativity by stepping back into your right brain! Click here to sign up.

Dayna Wood Creative Life Coach

Dayna Wood, EdS, LMHC, NBCC, REAT

Dayna is the founder of Integrative Counsel, where she shows stressed-out professionals how to reignite their innate creative wisdom and spark new meaning and adventure in their lives through the power of brain science. She delights in combining out-of-the-box thinking with solid scientific research, so her clients get the best of both worlds. 

How Distracted Am I?

How Distracted Am I?

In modern Western society, we often find ourselves in a permanent state of unfulfilled desire. We are offered continuous distractions and stimulations that mimic reality, such as mass leisure, mass culture, and mass media.

Constant intrusions and interruptions – now the norm in our culture – drive up stress, deplete mental and emotional reserves and shrink our attention spans.

Instead of directing our energy towards personal growth and achieving complex goals, we instead focus on the activities above, which absorb mental energy without providing anything substantive in return. This behavior can leave you feeling even more depleted and disheartened.

Bottom-up attention, in which something or someone other than you dictates what you focus on, is part of our brain’s survival apparatus. It alerts us to potential danger in our surroundings; for example, when you hear a siren or a car backfire.

Bottom-up attention kept our ancestors alive. It instantly shifts our focus to a potential threat. This issue is when our attention is continuously hijacked by these types of alerts (such as the “ding” on your phone when you receive a message).

Can you relate to this? And are you wondering what the alternative could be?

“Top-down” attention is when you set the terms of engagement. In this scenario, you are in control of where you direct your attention, and you’re able to focus on a specific, chosen set of stimuli. This is also known as concentration!

The opposite of distraction is the ability to align your thoughts, intentions, and feelings towards the same goal. This produces an experience of harmony and flow. To do this, though, you must be able to concentrate and “order your consciousness”.

Each one of us has the power to decide whether mental order will come from the outside (bottom-up, with little control) or the inside (top-down, making conscious choices based on personal skill and knowledge).

A complex self is one that succeeds in the type of mental resilience that enables one to switch between bottom-up to top-down attention. This can be achieved with training.

We all have the ability, and in my opinion the responsibility, to create ourselves. We are a direct result of how we invest our mental energy. Understanding how to create ourselves is our most important skill!

That’s why it’s vital to ask yourself, How distracted am I?” With the ever-growing onslaught of disturbances, both digital and physical, it’s more important than ever to determine the answer to that question.

To assess your current level of distraction, download the infographic here!

 

*Sign Up for our free 9 Essential Ingredients To Court Your Creativity PDF. Learn nine crucial skills you can implement RIGHT NOW to increase your creativity by stepping back into your right brain! Click here to sign up.

Dayna-Wood-Blog-Post

Dayna Wood, EdS, REAT

Dayna is the founder of Integrative Counsel, where she shows stressed out professionals how to reignite their creativity and spark new meaning and adventure in their lives through the power of brain science.

The Secret Revealed in 350 Words

The Secret Revealed in 350 Words

The REAL Secret Revealed

The Secret, a film and best-selling book by Rhonda Byrne, is based on the Law of Attraction. One of the major tenets of The Secret is that positive thinking can create life-changing results, including increased happiness, wealth and improved health.

Now, I’m all for changing our thinking. By becoming more mindful of our thoughts and how they influence our lives, we can transform them from unhelpful, repetitive stories that don’t serve us into empowering beliefs that help us live our best lives.

That said, in this article I want to focus on the The Law of Attention rather than the Law of Attraction. Attention is a hot topic in a number of disciplines, such as cognitive psychology and neuroscience. It has also been discussed by philosophers for eons.

A broad definition of attention is “the behavioral and cognitive process of selectively concentrating on a discrete aspect of information…while ignoring other perceivable information”. As humans, we have an impressive, but still discrete, amount of brain processing power. Attention is how we allocate those limited resources.

Let’s pause and take that in for a moment, because this concept is incredibly important.

What we focus our attention on determines how we come to see and understand the world. In other words, the power of our attention determines what will, or will not, appear in our consciousness. Memories, thoughts and feelings are all influenced by this!

Our lives depend on the direction and nature of our attention, because what we see and who we are is a direct result of what we focus on. We are truly partners in this co-creative process.

We have a responsibility – an extremely important one – to tend to the garden of our own minds. And, we have the ability to pull up the weeds and plant flowers in their place. This isn’t necessarily easy work; it takes awareness and consistency (two things that most of us are inclined to avoid!).

So my question for you is, “How will you choose to use your attention?” This question can open the door to making the desired changes in your life by changing your mind – one synapse at a time!

 

*Sign Up for our free 9 Essential Ingredients To Court Your Creativity PDF. Learn nine crucial skills you can implement RIGHT NOW to increase your creativity by stepping back into your right brain! Click here to sign up.

Dayna-Wood-Blog-Post

Dayna Wood, EdS, REAT

Dayna is the founder of Integrative Counsel, where she shows stressed out professionals how to reignite their creativity and spark new meaning and adventure in their lives through the power of brain science.

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Sign Up for our free 9 Essential Ingredients To Court Your Creativity PDF. Learn nine crucial skills you can implement RIGHT NOW to increase your creativity by stepping back into your right brain!