Published on May 31st, 2013 | by Camille Munro0
Meditation May Help Restore the Aging Brain
Scientists have known for decades that as our brain ages, we have less ability to store new information for long-term use. The journal Nature Neuroscience has written that the structural brain changes occurring naturally over time interfere with sleep quality, which in turn blunts the ability to store memories for the long term. It may be seem natural for us to get less sleep today then 30 years ago, but the brain is not going to change its natural aging tendency, and a lack of sleep is going to make matters worse.
Research has shown that the medial prefrontal cortex loses tissue volume with age, and this is the same region that helps sustain quality of sleep and emotional well-being. On average, older people have lost up to one-third of the area that affects memory storage.
To slow memory decline, we need to improve sleep in a way that is more natural then using nighttime sleeping medications that over time can lead to addiction and do little to restore the natural balance of a peaceful night’s sleep. The best way to restore the health of the prefrontal cortex is to establish a meditation practice.
Meditating for 15 to 20 minutes a day can enhance brain health, especially in the medial prefrontal cortex. Longtime meditators have scientifically shown an increase in the amount of grey matter of many areas of the brain. The meditation practitioner can establish a nighttime ritual that is a simple as increasing the intake of oxygen through the nostrils and focusing attention on their breath. The brain will pick up on this increased mindfulness and prepare for a more positive restful sleep.
We must give our body a chance to wind down in a way that can actually facilitate the brain’s need to get a deeper, more productive night’s rest. Turn down lights an hour before bedtime and turn off televisions, computers and smart phones that may be over stimulating the pineal gland. Relaxing music is a good substitute.
Restoring our ability to get a better night’s sleep will produce improved overall health and a better outlook on life, all from the simple practice of meditation.