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The Effects of Alcohol On Sleep
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The Effects of Alcohol On Sleep

Alcohol is a depressant. That is, a substance that reduces stimulation and mental / physical activity. In theory, a depressant like alcohol would usually help a person get to sleep and/or sleep more soundly. However, excessive alcohol actually thwarts your ability to get a good night's sleep. We take a closer look at the effects of alcohol on sleep, and the reasons why alcohol can ruin a good night's sleep.

How Alcohol Effects Sleep

1. Alcohol is a diuretic.

Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it increases the excretion of fluids from your body via sweat and - more typically - urination. This effect makes it more likely you will have to have to get up multiple times during the night to go to the toilet. Of course, this hurts your chances of deep, truly restful sleep. The diuretic effects of alcohol also leads to a second sleep disruptor... thirst. Your body needs water to replace the lost fluids, and this need for water can cause interrupted sleep as your body tries to tell you it is running low on it's most important nutrient.  

2.  Alcohol Increases Snoring

Drinking excessive alcohol may not just be bad for your sleep. It may also be a bad thing for the person you share the bed with. Snoring is typically caused by the partial blocking of airways, which leads to vibration as we breath in and out. This vibration is what causes the snoring sound. Alcohol can act to relax the muscles around the airways, which can stop air flowing in and out of our lungs as freely as it needs. This will increase the chances you will snore, and snore loudly.  

3. Alcohol = Sugar. Sugar = Bad.

Most alcohols (and common mixers) contain sugar. This has the obvious problems of causing a spike in blood sugar levels if you drink just before bedtime. This spike disrupts sleep, among other things. Excessive sugar also depletes the body of magnesium, a mineral that is critical for muscle function and relaxation. If your magnesium levels are low, you may notice you feel restless, anxious and have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep.  

4. Alcohol Needs to be Processed By Your Body

Your kidneys and liver process alcohol. Depending on how many drinks you have had and when you stopped drinking, your  kidneys and liver continue working away at metabolising and processing that alcohol for many hours after you nod off to sleep. This means your organs are working away at a time when they should be reducing activity so they can rest and recover for the next day. This, in turn, causes a number of problems for sleep. When we metabolise a food/drink (including alcohol), an 'exothermic' reaction occurs. That is, metabolism gives off heat and raises our body temperature. This can make temperature regulation more difficult and - combined  with the sweating and dehydration effect caused by alcohol - results in an overheated, uncomfortable night's sleep. Furthermore, when we metabolise a food/drink, energy is produced. Does energy production sound like something that is a good idea of a night time when you are trying to sleep?  

Final Tip

We have covered the main negative effects of alcohol on sleep, but excessive alcohol consumption in general can have a number of negative effects on your  health and mental wellbeing. If you like a drink, we recommend sticking to the Australian Federal guidelines for alcohol consumption to ensure it doesn't adversely affect your health. These guidelines can be found at http://www.alcohol.gov.au/. ------ This article was provided by our online partner Health365. For more information on getting a good night's sleep, visit www.health365.com.au.
6 Reasons You Can't Concentrate
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6 Reasons You Can't Concentrate

There are a variety of reasons why you might be struggling to concentrate during the day  at work. You may be dehydrated. You may not be getting enough sleep, enough key nutrients or may be hypoglycaemic. Heck, maybe your job is just boring. We take a look at 6 common reasons you might be struggling to concentrate.

1. Alcohol

Even if you don't actually feel hung over, those few drinks you had last night may be part of the reason you cannot concentrate. Alcohol can impair your ability to get a good night's sleep, and fatigue can make it difficult to concentrate. Additionally, even minor hangovers can impair proper brain function. Long term alcohol abuse can have a serious detrimental effect on your overall brain function. TIP: Limit your daily alcohol intake to comply with Australian alcohol intake guidelines.  

2. Vitamin B Deficiency

B Vitamins help your body convert food into energy. They also help you metabolise fats and proteins. All of this means adequate intake of B Vitamins means greater ability to get the most out of your food, and more fuel for mental focus.  TIP: Seafoods, red meats and eggs are all good sources of B-Vitamins, but for those who really want to make sure they have enough B vitamins, a good Vitamin B Complex supplement may be beneficial.  

3. Stress

Stress, up to a point, can help concentration - it provides additional motivation and urgency to finish a task. However, excessive stress can have the opposite effect. Having too many competing priorities disrupts your concentration and can also lead to forgetfulness. TIP: Use relaxation methods and a healthy, active lifestyle to reduce the mental effects of stressful situations at home or work.  

4. Multi-Tasking

Checking your emails every 5 minutes? Taking phone calls every half hour? Checking Instagram every other opportunity? Multitasking is a fine art, but it can actually hurt your ability to concentrate on larger, more complicated tasks. If you are continually skipping from one small, mindless activity to the next, your brain starts to work in ways to accommodate that behaviour. This leads to an inability to focus on larger, more complicated tasks. TIP: check email once in the morning, once at lunch and once of an afternoon. Same goes with your phone. Leave social media for after office hours. When you have to focus on complicated tasks, remove the risk of interruptions / ask your co-workers not to disturb you.  

5. Boredom / Lack of Challenge

Novel tasks stimulate the brain. Boring, mundane tasks can actually do the opposite in the short term. There are numerous studies that show that having a variety of tasks to perform throughout the day leads to higher productivity, greater worker satisfaction and higher productivity when compared with doing the same, repetitive tasks each day. TIP: try to find a way to make boring tasks less mundane by adding a time limit or performance measure. Alternatively, you may need to explore other career options.  

6. Low Omega-3 levels

Low omega-3 levels have been linked to a variety of mental, learning and cognitive difficulties in a range of people. One particular type of omega-3 called 'DHA' (docosahexaenoic acid) has been shown to be of benefit in helping people affected by autism and ADHD to improve mental performance. Some research also shows low omega-3 levels have also been linked to difficulties in reading, numeracy, concentration and memory. Increasing DHA levels in these studies lead to a small increase in cognitive performance. TIP: try to eat slamon, tuna or mackerel 3 times a week to get enough omega-3 DHA. Alternatively, you may benefit from trying a supplement rich in DHA to help boost overall brain function.  

Final Note

We have listed some common reasons that you may be having trouble concentrating. There are numerous other reasons why you might not be able to concentrate at work. Whilst we all inevitably find ourselves feeling a bit disengaged from our jobs at times, if your work is being adversely effected, you should see your healthcare professional for a more in-depth diagnosis. ------ This article was provided by our online partner, Health365. For more information on learning, memory and cognitive function, visit www.health365.com.au.
Restless Leg Syndrome
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Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is very common and is a major cause of ..
High Strength Ginkgo Biloba
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High Strength Ginkgo Biloba

Our High Strength Ginkgo Biloba may help to support the body’s blood circulation, and has been known to assist with the level of oxygen sent to the brain to help healthy brain function and mental alertness. Nature's Way High Strength Ginkgo Biloba contains 2000mg and may help to support: - blood flow - cold hands and feet - mild tinnitis - healthy memory / cognitive function
Try Golden Calamari Oil
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Try Golden Calamari Oil

It contains more Omega-3 DHA than other supplements. DHA supports brain and sleep.
5 Surprising Benefits of Omega-3
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5 Surprising Benefits of Omega-3

We all know omega-3s are good for your health. We also know the benefits of omega-3 range from protecting your heart, brain and eyes to supporting joint health and reducing inflammation. The definitive list of omega-3 benefits would certainly be a long one - there are tens of thousands of academic studies of the benefits of omega-3 intake. We take a look at some surprising, lesser known benefits of omega-3.  

1. Omega-3 may help sleep

Recent research from Oxford University has produced a number of fascinating insights into the importance of a particular type of omega-3 and children's learning. In these studies, children with low levels of 'DHA' (a specific type of omega-3) scored significantly worse on tests for memory, behaviour, concentration, reading and numeracy than children who had sufficient DHA levels. Furthermore, the researchers consequently noted that increasing DHA levels in the children with low DHA by using a DHA supplement helped them improve their performance and bridge the gap to their peers. Increasing DHA levels increased learning outcomes. What does this have to do with sleep? The Oxford team have recently expanded on their study. Their most recent results show that low DHA levels also can lead to poor sleep in children.  Giving a DHA  supplement to the children in the study with low DHA levels improved the quality of their sleep.  

2. Omega-3 may support male fertility

A 2010 study published in The Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the relationship  between omega-3 fatty acid concentrations in fertile and infertile men. Fertile men tended to have higher omega-3 levels than infertile men. Further research is required to consolidate and expand on these findings. However, the results from the study do echo the findings of several animal studies in rats and guppies - both animal studies showed a link between fertility and omega-3 levels.  

3. Omega-3s may protect ageing brains

From the University of Maryland's overview of omega-3 research: "A number of studies show that reduced intake of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with increased risk of age related cognitive decline. Scientists believe the omega-3 fatty acid DHA is protective against age related cognitive decline."  

4. Omega-3s may support stronger bones.

Calcium, magnesium and vitamin D may not be the only nutrients for supporting strong bones. Several studies have looked at the relationship between omega-3 intake and bone density. Whilst further research is required, there is preliminary evidence to suggest there may be a link between omega-3 levels and maintaining bone density over time.  

5. Omega-3 may help menstrual pain

Preliminary research and anecdotal evidence suggests women who take fish oil during menstruation may experience a decline in menstrual pain.
How To Stop Snoring
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How To Stop Snoring

Snoring might be embarrassing for you, but it can be torturous for your partner / house mates / family. Try these tips to stop snoring, and if your snoring persists, see a doctor.

Tips to Stop Snoring

 

1. No Booze Before Bed

An easy way to stop snoring is to limit your daily alcohol intake. Alcohol causes the palate (roof of the mouth) to swell. It can also cause the muscles around the airways to temporarily relax and sag while you sleep. Both these effects can cause narrowing of the airways, which causes increased vibration as you breath in and out. That vibration is what causes snoring. If you decide to have a drink of an evening, have your last drink well before bed time.  

2. Stop Smoking

Smoking causes inflammation and swelling throughout the body. Cigarette smoke also contains toxins that agitate the membranes in your throat. Both of these side-effects of smoking can cause snoring. Not only will quitting smoking make you better in bed (i.e. help you stop snoring), it might just make you more pleasant to kiss too.  

3. Roll On Over

One common way to  stop snoring is to prevent the snorer from sleeping on their back. Sleeping on your back can put pressure on, or bend, airways, which can cause obstruction. Sleeping on their side or stomach is less likely to narrow or obstruct airways, so can often help snorers stop snoring. If the snorer is unable to stay sleeping on their side or stomach throughout the night without rolling onto their back, grab an old t-shirt with a pocket on the chest. The snorer should wear t-shirt backwards to bed, with a tennis ball in the pocket. Every time the snorer rolls onto their back whilst sleeping, they will have that tennis ball sticking into their back. This will be so uncomfortable they will turn themselves back onto their side or stomach.  

4. Fluff Your Pillow

Having a fluffier or higher pillow may open up a snorer's airways, meaning less snoring.  

5. Drop a few kilo's

As we have already covered, snoring is almost always caused by vibrations from restricted / semi blocked airways as we breath in and out. If you are overweight, fatty tissue can build up around the throat, chin, mouth and chest. This can make semi-blocked airways  (and, in turn, snoring) more likely. Losing some weight may help mitigate this effect.  

6. Go Get a Gadget

If the above tips do not work, there are a range of devices to help address snoring:
  • Try a 'gum guard'. These devices - similar in style to a sporting mouth guard - hold the jaw muscles in a way that helps open up the throat and airway. Your doctor can help you choose which one suits you best.
  • If your snore comes from vibrations in your nose rather than your throat, you can get nose clips and nose strips that hold your nostrils open while you sleep. Your doctor or pharmacist can help you choose the right clip.
  • Finally, if gum guards and nose clips do not  do the trick, there are a number of other more advanced devices available which can help you not only stop snoring, but get a much better night's sleep. Persistent snoring is often associated sleep apnea. There are some impressively high-tech solutions out there... Australian company ResMed are worldwide leaders in sleep apnea device design and manufacturing and have a range that is suitable for most applications. Further, the CSIRO recently developed a technique to use 3D scanning of the mouth and a 3D printer to create custom mouth pieces. Again, your doctor can assist you with making the right choice and making sense of all of the options available to you.
 

7. Go Under the Knife

As a final resort, surgery may be necessary to stop your snoring. This should be treated as a final (and drastic) option. Your doctor is the best person to talk to should all of the above options fail and you decide to consider surgery. ------ This article was provided by our online health partner Health365. To learn more about getting a good night's sleep, visit www.health365.com.au.
Sleep and Weight Loss
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Sleep and Weight Loss

A growing body of research shows there is a distinct relationship ..
Triple Strength Fish Oil
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Triple Strength Fish Oil

Nature’s Way Triple Strength Fish Oil is three times stronger than a regular 1000mg Fish Oil capsule. Try Nature's Way Triple Strength Fish Oil to help support: - Heart health and cholesterol maintenance - Brain and eye health - Memory and healthy cognitive function -  Mild inflammation of arthritis - Supporting your baby's healthy development during pregnancy and breastfeeding