Brain Wash, our new book, does a deep dive into how we can actually restructure our brains to make better long-term decisions, as opposed to catering to our immediate gratification. What we’ve identified are the tools that we can use to help us reconnect to the part of the brain that lets us make decisions that have lasting influence on our health and happiness.
There’s a painful paradox in the modern world: superficially, we seem to be more connected than ever, and yet, in some of the most important ways, the exact opposite is true. In fact, we are increasingly lonely, separated from nature, and struggling to connect with ourselves.
Here’s the thing: we know we need more healthy connection in our lives. Our bonds with those we care about, the natural environment and our own sense of self must be reclaimed for good mental and physical health. Brain Wash describes a variety of ways to start bringing these types of connection back into our lives. In addition to those techniques, here are 4 powerful methods for reclaiming meaningful connection in your life. Continue reading
There seems to be and ever-rising level of concern these days regarding the potentially damaging effects of our increasing internet usage. While it is compelling to let anecdotes enter into the conversation, it’s always more meaningful to look at what the scientific literature is telling us. Continue reading
As I write you this post, we sit less than two months away from the release of my newest book, Brain Wash: Detox Your Mind for Clearer Thinking, Deeper Relationships, and Lasting Happiness, which I co-wrote with my son, Austin Perlmutter, MD. As we’ve been having more conversations about this book with friends, family, and this community, both Austin and I have come to appreciate that Brain Wash is a little bit different.
Take, for instance, Grain Brain Whole Life Plan. This book provided extremely important information and lifestyle recommendations intended to help you live a longer and healthier life. These recommendations covered a wide array of categories, including exercise, diet, and stress reduction. But like so many books that are available these days, as well as online programs and health-related television shows, it’s one thing to receive this terrific information, but even the very best of information, like what we hope we portrayed in the Grain Brain Whole Life Plan, is useless unless decisions are made to implement the recommendations. Continue reading
Most people have a sense that there is something intrinsically healthy about getting out into nature. Truthfully, there is certainly a lot of science that backs up that contention. Well-conducted scientific research demonstrates that there are significant immune-boosting benefits of nature exposure, alongside a lowering of blood pressure, improvement in mood, more rapid recovery from surgery, better sleep, and reduction of stress.
It is the stress consideration that seems to be getting a lot of attention as of late, perhaps as our world and day-to-day lives become more and more stressful. Related to this, researchers have been trying to develop ways of measuring stress, and in particular, its reduction as a result of nature exposure. In addition, there’s been quite a bit of new research trying to determine if there is any benefit to having a nature experience, particularly in an urban environment. Continue reading
Look around and ask yourself, could things be better? We believe the answer is a resounding yes. And this is our ultimate goal in bringing out our new book, Brain Wash.
Brain Wash is a functional roadmap for understanding how so much of what characterizes our modern world influences our brains and, most importantly, our decision-making. From our modern diets to our lack of restorative sleep to our virtual addiction to our digital experiences, the trappings of modern times actually conspire to keep us unfulfilled, impulsive, and self-centered. Brain Wash begins by bringing these powerful influences into stark reality. We present a framework for appreciating the negative impact of these exposures, and then provide a set of practical interventions for reclaiming our brains and improving our physical and mental health. Continue reading
Last February, my wife and I were attending a health-related symposium and noted that many of the speakers were wearing an OURA ring. We learned that the OURA ring was one of the latest entries in the field of wearable technology. What was most intriguing for us was how many of our friends described the insights they were gaining in terms of the length and quality of their sleep. So we decided to buy a couple of these and learn, firsthand, what all the excitement was about. Our level of understanding of not only our day-to-day activities, but, perhaps more importantly, the characteristics of our sleep experience, was not only revealing but powerfully empowering.
When it comes to understanding the importance of sleep, we’re only scratching the surface. But given the recent science on this subject, it’s become quite clear that sleep is simply essential for optimal brain health. From flushing out metabolic waste to preserving memory and improving our emotional regulation, getting better sleep may be the quickest way to make major strides in your cognitive function and your ability to make better decisions. In Brain Wash, we outlined key strategies to help make restorative brain-healthy sleep part of your daily routine. In addition to those fundamental steps, here are three more ways to optimize for great sleep:
- Make sleep a priority. This may seem basic, but as a nation, we’ve largely relegated sleep to a second-class activity—something we do only if everything else is taken care of. But recent research on sleep shows us that this plan is incredibly counterproductive. Our decisions after a good night’s sleep are much better than after sleep deprivation. We’re less likely to overeat and snap at others, and we’re more likely to remember important facts and generally function at a higher level, not to mention all the long-term benefits to our health that seem to come from getting adequate sleep. With all this said, we must carefully weigh any perceived benefit of a few extra hours awake with the real consequences of missed sleep. Once we value our slumber for all its known benefits, we can start giving it the credit it deserves. Make your bedtime a bit more concrete, and your brain will thank you later.
- Make some physical changes. Sometimes, despite putting ourselves in the best mental space possible for sleep, we find our attempts at slumber ruined by the quality of our sleep environment. Our brains are incredibly sensitive to light at night, and blue light especially. With this in mind, making the bedroom as dark as possible should be your objective. Consider investing in blackout curtains if streetlights penetrate your sleep sanctuary. Unplug any LEDs or other bright lights. If loud sounds at night are an issue for you, consider investing in a white noise machine.
- Take a hot shower or a bath. As the body cycles through its circadian rhythm, temperatures rise during the day and fall at night. One way to get your body into the right state for sleep is to help cool it off before bed. A hot shower will feel great, and afterward, your body will cool off. Ideally, try to shower or take a bath around 90 minutes before bed, as this will give your body sufficient time to cool off afterward, getting your system ready for a great night’s sleep!
And if you want to learn more about the science of sleep, browse our focus page on the subject!
Among the many recommendations that seem like good ideas, we’ve often heard that getting out in nature is a healthy practice. But our mission is not to simply recapitulate what may represent common beliefs, but rather to explore these practices in terms of their scientific support.
As it turns out, there is a lot of science happening right now that is looking specifically at the health benefits ascribed to nature exposure. Much of the literature is being generated by researchers in Japan, where nature exposure is referred to as Shinrin-yoku, a term created by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries in 1982, and defined as making contact with and taking in the atmosphere of the forest, or “forest bathing.” Continue reading