Ilene Ruhoy, M.D., Ph.D., has some exceptionally unique credentials: She’s a board-certified neurologist, but she also includes acupuncture, neurofeedback, and herbal and nutritional guidelines in her practice. In short, she is an integrative physician, in every sense of the word. She’s also a brain cancer survivor.
As a patient herself, Ruhoy knows what it’s like to face debilitating fear, especially when she looked at her own brain scans and knew exactly what they meant. Still, her attitude is incredibly upbeat: She tells me on this episode of the mindbodygreen podcast why a life of obstacles is a life worth living, as well as why we should actually be thankful for our pain.
Because she specializes in neurological care, we talked about the best ways to optimize brain health. Her one major piece of advice? Stick to a ritual, in every aspect of life you can.
“Our brain is a circadian organ. So it thrives on that circadian rhythm,” she tells me. Here, three ways we can practice ritual in our lives (and the importance of each!), according to Ruhoy. Keep your alarm clocks at the ready.
1. Maintain a bedtime.
“I’m always preaching sleep hygiene: Going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning,” Ruhoy says.
While you might not think the most important aspect of sleep hygiene would be strict bedtime, Ruhoy believes our brains thrive on a steady sleep schedule.
Even the process of getting ready for bed is crucial for maintaining a healthy sleep routine. She notes, “Getting in preparation for sleep is super important because that tells the body that it’s almost time for sleep.” We know our schedules can become hectic with impromptu events and dinner plans that may run on the longer side, but keeping your bedtime as stable as possible might be the No. 1 life hack for a healthy brain.
After all, sleep is incredibly important for brain health, as our brains tend to “recharge” while we catch up on our Z’s.