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April 14, 2022 4 min read
We all know that a good night’s sleep is important. Allowing your body and mind to rest is one of the best things you can do for overall health. Sleep affects virtually all the systems in your body, from your mood to your health to your cognitive function. In this article, we’ll explore the question, how does sleep affect cognitive function?
Both cognitive and mental health are impacted by sleep. Think about it: when you don’t get enough sleep, you are more irritable, less sharp, focused, and alert. But the truth is that getting enough sleep has the opposite effect – cognitive function like memory and the ability to learn actually improves. Sleep magazine suggests a “linear relationship” between sleep and cognitive function, whereby more sleep leads to better cognitive performance and less sleep will result in declining cognitive function.
If you’re in need of more shut-eye, you’ll want to explore natural options first. With a plethora of widely available herbs and powders on the market, natural solutions could have you snoozing away in no time! Some of our favorite natural plants to help you sleep include:
Lavender – Probably the best known of the bunch, lavender has been the focus of much research with its benefits, including its sedative properties, has been well-documented. Used as either a soothing tea or as an essential oil for aromatherapy at bedtime, lavender can help induce relaxation and enhance sleep quality.
Chamomile – If you’re a fan of bedtime tea, chamomile is your go-to. According to Insider, the chemical structure of chamomile has a sedative and relaxing effect because of a compound called apigenin, which makes you sleepy when it binds to receptors in the brain.*
Valerian root – If drifting off into la-la land is your biggest struggle, Valerian could be the solution. It is known to help you fall asleep faster, while simultaneously helping to promote deep sleep. This is because of the valerenic acid and the valerenol in the Valerian root, which can promote certain receptors in the central nervous system to regulate sleep.*
Ashwagandha- known as an adaptogen which is a classification of herbs and mushrooms that can help protect good health, Ashwagandha is a herb that contains a sleep-promoting compound called trimethylene glycol. Research suggests that Ashwagandha could help with both better-quality sleep and could help people fall asleep faster.*
Reishi mushrooms – Also considered an adaptogen, Reishi mushrooms are known to support a sense of calm in the body and the mind and may help calm feelings of anxiousness or restlessness. When consumed regularly, Reishi mushrooms can help maintain a healthy sleep cycle.*
When considering how sleep affects cognitive function, it is no question that a good night’s sleep is the very best way to improve cognitive performance -- and Reishi mushrooms are the emerging star of sleep support in the Western world. However, they have been revered for centuries in Asian cultures for their ability to regulate stress levels. As we know, anxiety and stress can have a huge impact on the quality of sleep and the ability to sleep. Supporting vital health systems that can be disturbed by stress is essential to balance the body and promote sleep. *Read about all of the benefits of Reishi mushrooms on sleep here.
Aside from helping to support a healthy sleep schedule, Reishi mushrooms can also benefit your overall health in other ways. First and foremost, as we know a healthy sleep schedule will improve cognitive performance and mood – and Reishi mushrooms are the ‘shroom for the job!
But Reishi mushrooms are also known to be an immune-supporting superstar as well. Containing compounds like peptidoglycans and polysaccharides, Reishi mushrooms can support immune function – with some studies even linking polysaccharides from mushrooms specifically to immune system regulation and anti-inflammatory activity in the body.*
Reishi mushrooms are also high in beta-glucans, which help support the body’s healthy response to disease and infection.* Take a deeper dive into the immune system benefits from Reishi mushroom here[CM1].
Reishi mushrooms are available in a few forms, but arguably the most convenient is as a mushroom powder. Not only is it more easily digested than eating the whole mushroom, but you can also include it in your diet by mixing the powder with a warm liquid of your choosing, adding it into your morning smoothie, or as an addition to your cooking. Check out this article for suggestions on incorporating Reishi mushroom powder in your cooking and baking.[CM2]
If you are incorporating Reishi mushroom in your diet for sleep support, consider mixing it into a warm oat or non-dairy beverage for a smooth, creamy, and soothing bedtime latte.
When choosing the right Reishi mushroom powder for you, consider your goals. Often, Reishi mushroom powder is enhanced with other ingredients to support specific benefits. For example, Rritual’s Reishi Relax elixir includes Ashwagandha (which you may remember from earlier as one of the best natural plants for sleep!) to create a blissful and soothing experience. You can shop our collection here.
If you are looking elsewhere, you will want to ensure any product you purchase is up to snuff! Look for products that are certified organic. You will want to make sure there is transparent labeling, with listed ingredient potencies, and that the powder contains mushroom mycelia (which is where you will find some important nutrients like those beta-glucans, amino acids, and digestive enzymes, among many others!) Check that your product contains no added sugar, sweeteners, caffeine, gluten, or soy to ensure you are getting a clean, pure, and vegan product.
Hopefully you found the information you needed to answer the question of how does sleep affect cognitive function?, but we encourage you to check out this helpful article on how to relax your mind before sleep for even more tips and tricks for ensuring that you get those zzzs to help your cognitive functioning stay up to snuff!
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any disease.
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