Here are five things that will improve nearly everyone’s life (including mine).
Most people don’t get enough sleep. Health experts say that most people need an average of 8 hours of sleep. That’s an average so some people need less and some people need more. A Gallup survey from 2013 found that Americans got an average of 6.8 hours a night and that’s down an hour from 1942 when, apparently, people got enough sleep. Ongoing sleep deficiency is “linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke,” according to the NIH. It also causes obesity and may be linked to Alzheimer’s. Sleep deprivation also has an obvious (and huge) impact on emotional and mental well-being.
The Gallup survey found that 40% of Americans don’t get enough sleep. Anecdotally, I can tell you that most of my friends and 100% of my family members don’t get enough sleep.
I try to get enough but I often fail and last night I got no sleep. I have a problem with insomnia. I feel like I don’t really know how to fall asleep and occasionally I have a night like last night where I stay in bed but I never actually doze off.
So I’m tired and ineffective today. I don’t want to do anything.
So, as Samuel L. Jackson says, “Go the Fuck to Sleep.”
It turns out that we human’s need exercise to be healthy and we don’t get enough. The kicker is that other primates, including our close relatives chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas can (and do) laze around all day long and have no health problems. We have evolved to walk around for hours at a time hunting or gathering food. We have also evolved a desire to avoid unnecessary exercise (which made sense in a world of limited resources) so the idea of exercising just to be healthy doesn’t naturally appeal. This is my theoretical explanation as to why few people really WANT to go to the gym even though it usually feels good once you start moving.
If you are like most people, you don’t drink enough water. Everything works better if you’re well hydrated. You may not need 8 glasses a day and if it wakes you up in the middle of the night, don’t drink a lot before bed (that last I got directly from a doctor I interviewed at my last job).
Don’t put too much crap into your body and make sure you get some vegetables into that pie-hole. I recommend limiting or cutting out alcohol but you do you.
It’s incredibly good for you to sit and breathe every day. I could go on and on about this but many other people are, nowadays, so why pile on?s
Here’s the thing. If you are reading this, I appreciate that a lot and I know that if you do (or do more of) these five things, your life will improve. You will feel better and be more productive. You’ll have more energy and be able to support others around you.
But the real reason I’m writing this is for myself. I have gotten away from these basic habits and it sucks. These essential five habits all feed each other as well. I know that:
- Exercising and eating healthy and
mediationhelp me sleep better.
- If I get plenty of sleep it’s easier to avoid bad comfort foods and I’m more likely to exercise.
- If I drink plenty of water I feel better and eat better.
- Regular meditation makes me mindful of my behavior so I eat better and exercise more.
It’s all related, dude!
If you think I left out any basics, please make a comment below.