(CNN) – What can you do to make sure your brain is well-rested?
Victoria Garfield, a senior research fellow at the Medical Research Council Unit for Lifelong Health and Aging and a professor at University College London, has five tips.
Get enough sleep
You really need quality facetime with your pillow – ideally between 7 and 9 hours per night, for adults, depending on your age.
“It’s not something that people regularly think of, and they’re quite surprised when I say, “Well, but if you don’t sleep well, that’s linked to all these nasty things, essentially,” Garfield says.
Set a consistent sleep schedule
Go to sleep and wake up at the same time seven days a week, which can be difficult, Garfield said. This is important because it sets you up to get those 7 to 9 needed hours of sleep. “A lot of us don’t do it.”
Settle in for a short siesta
“A really obvious one from us would be to take a nap,” Garfield said. “Maybe up to around 30 minutes, because we know that that is quite beneficial for the brain. So, we literally take a break and try to fall asleep for a small amount of time.”
Get some exercise
Sleep and napping aren’t the only ways to give your brain a break. Moving is also important.
The exercise doesn’t have to be a walk in nature. The key is to detach from work and other activities that demand a lot of attention.
Do something that’s a little mindless
“I think that for me recommending things like meditation and mindfulness – they’re very obvious. But actually, a lot of people find this really difficult, me included,” Garfield said, noting that she can’t just switch off her brain.
She recommends other activities that require less brain power: Watching television (but nothing work-related, Garfield emphasized) or even going grocery shopping. (Just don’t use electronics within an hour of going to bed at night …