PinealMelatonin Pop quiz! What does your pineal gland do? Most people know it as a little blob in your brain that makes melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that's made when it gets dark outside. Your eye has  really cool photoreceptor cells that sense light, so it can tell the brain (and pineal gland) that it's time to start making melatonin. Melatonin makes you sleepy and lowers your body's temperature. Have you ever taken a trip to a different time zone? Even a change of one hour can be annoying, right? It's because your body already has an established "sleep/wake cycle." That means you will still get sleepy at the same time, but the daylight (or darkness) outside will not agree with you! Your body is used to making melatonin at similar times every day, so even if you fly halfway across the globe (a 12 hour difference), you will have jetlag: aka a hard time staying awake during a bright, sunny day! There's more. Melatonin is also a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants keep cells from being damaged by free radicals. Read more about antioxidants and free radicals here!
Brain FocusA hundred years ago, it must have been easier to focus. Today is a different story- just walk down a city street and your attention can be pulled in 500 directions. Bright LCD billboards, advertisements in every store window, brand names and symbols on every car, t-shirt and pair of shoes all vie for your attention. Not to mention the smartphones that keep silence out of our lives with texts, phone calls, and emails following us literally everywhere we go. We can hardly have a complete conversation with someone face to face without a cell phone interrupting. Want a list of more common distractions? Recently, something in an article about meditation jumped out at me. It said that regular meditation, even for just 2 months, already helps the brain out. It actually makes the memory center of the brain - called the hippocampus - bigger! Chronic stress, on the other hand, actually makes the hippocampus smaller.   Tips to help you focus: Get enough sleep Exercise regularly Take breaks regularly Try meditating Try using airplane mode on your phone for a set amount of time Choose a place where you will not be interrupted Set priorities (what is really the most important?) and manage your time so that you can be 100% present in what you are doing. The most important things will plague your mind  all day, so take care of those first. Communicate to your friends and loved ones when you will be able to respond to their call or texts; you don't have to do it right away (unless it is a work phone and part of your job). Jot down nagging thoughts that won't leave your mind alone & deal with them later.   Have more ideas on how to focus? Please comment below! :)