Defending Against Dementia

You only have one brain. And if you want to protect it, you might want to take a page out of your...

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Today’s Health Upgrade

  • Defending against dementia

  • 3 tactics for getting more done

  • The sleep disruptor

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Defending Against Dementia

Could the pursuit of knowledge be the key to preserving your brain? If so, your willingness to learn throughout your life could be one of the most effective ways to fight off cognitive decline and disease.

Research suggests that your mind isn’t much different than your muscles; if you want to keep getting better — or protect what you have — you must keep training and stimulating.  

Scientists found that continuous learning protects your brain, and when you stop, there’s a dangerous domino effect. When you no longer challenge your brain and learn new information, the lack of mental stimulation sets the stage for age-related cognitive decline, which can potentially lead to dementia. 

Need convincing? “Continuous learners” displayed up to a 40 percent lower risk of cognitive decline and dementia compared to those with low levels of mental engagement.

Without the mental gymnastics of continuous learning, your brain could undergo structural and functional changes, which leaves you vulnerable to disease.

The good news is there are endless ways to be a lifelong learner, including reading, new hobbies, or engaging in mentally stimulating activities, such as puzzles, learning a new language, or brain-training games. Commit to these challenges at least a few times weekly, and you’ll pump up your brain and strengthen its defense.

3 Tactics for Getting More Done

This probably will come as no surprise, but research suggests excessive stress and burnout can significantly impact your motivation and limit your productivity.

Because stress is inevitable, you need a plan that prevents the stress from snowballing and stagnating your success. 

We asked bestselling author Ramit Sethi to share his strategies for overcoming procrastination, anxiety, and laziness. Borrow his tips so that, in times of calm or chaos, you can keep getting things done and accomplishing your goals. 

  1. Commit To Your Calendar

Remember that if it’s not on your calendar, it doesn’t exist. Set up weekly, monthly, and quarterly “to-dos” for things like reviewing your money system, planning an annual negotiation, or even checking in on your relationship.

  1. Be Realistic About Who You Are

Don’t lie to yourself about what you can do or when you will most likely do it. So many of us start our day with a lie, such as, “I’m going to wake up early tomorrow.” (Said while watching TV at 11:30 p.m.) 

It’s time to be brutally honest. Look back at the last month and ask, “What did I say I was going to do? What did I really do?” We all have habits and tendencies. You can change those habits and create new routines, but doing so requires you to know where you will likely succeed — and fail. Lean into the higher likelihood of success, and avoid the traps where you’re more likely to fail. 

  1. Protect Your Time

If you don’t want to do it, say no. Ramit used to have an inbox full of things he wanted to say no to. To simplify life, he created a response he could when he wanted to be polite and stay focused. Here’s a “No Script” you can use to say no kindly:


Thanks for this invitation. I’m flattered! Unfortunately, my priorities are set for the year, and this just doesn’t fit in. Again, thanks for thinking of me.


Here’s an early week challenge for you: Send this script to 1 person today. You’ll be amazed at how it feels to clear your calendar.

Saying yes feels good and can open up possibilities. But getting things done means having the time and bandwidth to commit to what matters. When you say yes to everything, not only does it increase stress, it also decreases your available time. And that is a sure-fire combination for burnout. 

You might think you don’t need to make these changes, but you have everything to gain and little to lose. Remember, doers take action quickly, while procrastinators wait and see if they feel like getting around to it. Which one will you be today?

Can Fasting Mess With Your Sleep?

Intermittent fasting has become a popular strategy for weight loss and improved health. However, research suggests that time-restricted eating may hurt sleep quality.

The researchers found that intermittent fasting was linked to sleep disturbances, increased sleep onset latency (the time it takes to fall asleep), and decreased overall sleep efficiency. In research on people during Ramadan, fasting was associated with daytime sleepiness, more insomnia symptoms, and poorer sleep quality.

But it’s possible that fasting itself is not the issue; rather, it could be how fasting shifts when you eat most of your calories. Eating close to sleep has been shown to affect sleep quality.

If you’re not experiencing any sleep issues and enjoy intermittent fasting, then there’s no need to adjust anything! 

If you are practicing intermittent fasting and want to prioritize higher-quality sleep, push back your eating window to earlier in the day and create a consistent sleep-wake schedule. The closer you eat to when you sleep, the more likely it is to reduce the restorative nature of your rest. 

Here are two other tips that might help: Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day and try to get sunlight as early as possible. This combination will establish a consistent sleep routine, regulate your body's internal clock, and promote better sleep quality.

Publisher: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Editors-in-chief: Adam Bornstein and Daniel Ketchell