Now there’s proof. All those “brain games” that allege to improve your cognitive skills don’t hold a candle to physical activity. Your friends who claim that programs and websites like Lumosity keep you sharp are probably experiencing as much improvement as people who are addicted to online solitaire or video games. At the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting held in November it was reported that “people may be making a mistake if they’re relying primarily on crossword puzzles and brain-training games for mental wellness.” It turns out that movement exercises the brain better than games, can alleviate depression without drugs and much more. “I think people underestimate how much the brain is involved in physical activity,” Robin Callister, a neuroscientist from Australia, said. Imagine that!
Another hot brain topic is the discovery that the brain cleans itself during sleep, literally flushing the pathways. It turns out sleeping is not optional, but is required to maintain health. No wonder lack of sleep makes your head feel like it’s full of cotton, it needs a cleanse. One way to get a better night’s sleep is to do some movement before retiring. If you’ve had no time to exercise or enjoy movement during the day, try a little Feldenkrais movement before bed. A few minutes of Awareness Through Movement can relax and prepare your brain for its evening bath.
Try this simple movement once you’re in bed. Lying on your back, slowly raise one shoulder a bit towards the ceiling and back down. Really small, really slow, several times. As you do that, pay attention to both the movement and your breath. Repeat that movement in your other shoulder. Then slowly slide your first shoulder up toward your ear and back down, again monitoring your breath. Repeat on the other shoulder. You can also do this on your side, just moving one shoulder. And if you are afraid of waking your partner, you can also just imagine you are doing this movement. Then, if you haven’t yet fallen asleep, just let the whole thing go and enjoy the softness of your shoulders and the quietness of your thoughts.
Then your system can get to work scrubbing your brain so you feel fresh and clean in the morning.