The Tired Mind

by Carol Sabel Blodgett
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Lack of sleep makes us stupid. Well, not really, but it makes us slow, disorientated, disconnected, and not nearly as sharp as we need to be in this world we live in. It makes us moody, easily irritated, and impairs our decision making.

In short, we do best if we rest.

We live in a busy society that sees us working fulltime and then some, going to school, taking our family to basketball practice, or tennis practice, or dance, maybe Grandma’s— you name it. That leaves less time to slow down and keep that brain firing on all cylinders.

It’s the easiest thing in the world to neglect ourselves, but it’s foolish. Rest isn’t laziness. It isn’t hiding from life around us, it isn’t avoiding family and friends. It’s necessary if we want to keep on living this life. Everything else takes a break and takes a step back. Everything in nature rests when needed, everything but us.

Basically, we need to shut down for our allotted time and recharge. Being tired all the time means we’re putting other things above our own health and well-being and honestly, nothing should be more important than that. How do you live when you’ve destroyed the place you inhabit? You don’t. Call it surviving, call it just getting by but what it really is, is putting ourselves last.

We’re better drivers when rested. Our mind can react more quickly to traffic and we’re less likely to get into accidents if we’ve rejuvenated for a respectable amount of time. When operating a vehicle that weighs a ton or two, at least, it’s really beneficial to have our wits about us. Drinking and driving are dangerous, deadly, but falling asleep at the wheel or having bad reaction times is no safer. You’re out of control in a car or truck and other people are all around you. You wouldn’t be okay with it if it was someone else, expect that much from yourself as well.

Eight hours of sleep is the standard, one-third of the day, but these days people feel that the longer they sleep the less they get done and while that is true, why does it matter? Isn’t it more important to be the best versions of ourselves rather than some strung-out, exhausted, heap of a human being? Isn’t the quality of our work better than the sheer quantity? Of course.

If you can’t get eight hours a night, a power nap could make all the difference. Set your alarm and sleep in your car on your lunch break, or at your desk, or wherever your employer finds acceptable. Shutting down, even for a brief period of time during the day, could make it easier to get through the rest of the day. Sure, you have to get back up and finish, but letting your mind and body rest for twenty, thirty, forty-five minutes can be the thing that sees your tasks done and your day successful.

Lack of sleep affects learning and memory. If you’re a student, elementary or college or anywhere in between, it’s in your best interest to go to bed on time and get up refreshed. An early bedtime can mean the difference between being the head of the class and the bottom of the pile. Tired people don’t learn as well as rested people do. It’s just a fact of life. Being in a fog of exhaustion is sure to help you forget everything your instructor was trying to convey. As a student, you’re there to learn so do everything possible to soak up every drop. Studying while tired is usually a waste of time. Nothing sticks but the frustration.

Mental lapses are not cool, but the tired brain has them. To accommodate for being exhausted the brain will skip right over things that you might find to be important. Things like job interviews, doctor appointments, and parent/teacher conferences aren’t events people like to miss, but it’s easy to see why it’d happen. Everything begins and ends with our minds and while sleep isn’t the only thing to help us out with memory, it ranks up there.

Foods can really help with sharpness. For example, beets help increase blood flow to the brain which helps us out in every other way possible. Beets are also responsible for increased attention span and help with clearer thought. Salmon is also a great help with clear thinking, with pushing the fog and distraction away. High in Omega-3 fatty acids salmon helps tremendously with concentration and focus. If you aren’t necessarily a fish fan, Omega-3s are available in supplement form in your local pharmacy. Finding what’s right for you doesn’t have to be that hard. A pharmacist can usually answer your questions or advise you to see your doctor. It’s a good place to start.

A good night’s sleep isn’t always possible, I think we can all agree on that but when you can catch up on your downtime, do it. Combined with just a few dietary additions you’ll notice a marked improvement in several areas of your life. I’m a skeptic at heart but these small changes have helped me greatly. I’m always looking for new ways to improve my life and memory strength is something that is vital to a long life. I plan to stick around for as long as is humanly possible and to do that, I have to keep old age at bay. Living a long time is a privilege and while most of us abuse ourselves in youth, we need to change those behaviors as we progress through this life. It requires new things from us, new habits, new friends sometimes, and definitely a new outlook.

Do the math and see that you are certainly worth a little extra care. Find the time in your day to relax just a little more and see the changes that will come. There’s nothing wrong with looking good, feeling good, and being at the top of your game, and you’re the only one who can get you there.

Carol Sabel Blodgett
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