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5 Habits That Make You Unhealthy (And How To Fix Them)

5 Habits That Make You Unhealthy (And How To Fix Them)

The New Year is coming, so there are resolutions to be made. But before you start promising yourself you will live healthier, why not start by identifying the bad habits you have right now? Most of us are doing small things we are not even aware of, but which does ourselves a lot of damage. Here are some habits I managed to identify in myself.

1. Faulty sleeping habits

The way you sleep can have a lot to do with your posture and your back pains. There are three main sleeping positions: on the back, on the belly, and on a side. The best of them is on the back, because your entire body is sitting straight. Sleeping on your belly forces you to twist your neck, while sleeping on a side requires more support in order to keep your spine straight.

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Regardless of how you like to sleep, make sure your spine is supported[1] and stays straight. Any unnatural curve can lead to back pains, especially in the long run, so always keep an eye on how your body is supported during sleep.

2. Faulty posture

Look around you. Do it! If you are at the office you will see your colleagues sitting in their chairs with their spine awkwardly twisted and their heads tilted forward. If you are on public transportation, you will see people shrinking their entire body due to cold, or keeping their shoulders and heads rolled forward so they can text on their smartphones. Keeping your body in a faulty posture can to alter your health in dramatic ways,[2] damaging your bones and your muscles.

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To avoid having the posture of an elder in your 30s, you can train yourself to sit upright. This is not going to be easy – I am saying this from my own experience! Exercise by dragging your shoulders downwards and backwards, pushing your chest forward. Keep your chin up and breathe deep, as this will exercise your abs and back muscles, as well as the diaphragm. If you have to text, keep the phone as high as needed, so your chin is not tilted downward, dragging the neck with it.

A good way to relax your muscles and relieve some of the pain you will feel as you start improving your posture is getting a massage, either in a massage chair, or by a professional.

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3. Your breath is too shallow

Singers and athletes know very well how shallow other people breathe, and how damaging this bad habit is in the long run. Most people breathe with their upper chest, which means they don’t use the diaphragm, and they take in small amounts of air. This translates into a poorly oxygenated blood stream and body. The correct way to breathe is using your diaphragm,[3] inflating your belly. This enables you to take in bigger amounts of air, inflating the lungs completely. As you do so, your body is going to receive more oxygen, promoting better functions of the internal organs, especially the brain.

4. You’re not getting massages

Getting a massage is often considered a habit of the rich and famous, but in fact you should schedule a massage session from time to time, regardless your revenue. Nowadays, massages are available for everyone, and you can also get your own massage chair[4] or portable massager to help you unwind after a long day. A massage can help your muscles relax, which is going to ease your aches, especially if you are used to going to the gym. Stretching is another important thing to do, as it helps improve your mobility and provides muscle strength. Stretching and massages help you get rid of the lactic acid that builds up in the muscles after a workout. The best way to benefit from stretching and massages is to stretch before and after each workout, and get a massage once a week or twice a month.

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5. Listening to loud music

Remember when your mother told you to stop listening to loud music? Well, she was right! Listening to loud music is a bad habit[5] many people have, especially millennials. However, this habit can lower your hearing sensitivity, and can even lead to hearing phantom sounds, or ear pain. This happens because our ears are not built for listening to loud sounds for extended periods of time. To avoid damaging your hearing, wear ear plugs at loud concerts, and keep the volume of your music down, especially on headphones.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

Why you can’t sleep through the night

The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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Stress

If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

Exposure to blue light before sleep time

We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

Eating close to bedtime

Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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Medical conditions

In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

The vicious sleep cycle

The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

You get a bad night’s sleep
–> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
–> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
–> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

    You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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    How to sleep better (throughout the night)

    To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

    1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

    What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
    • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
    • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
    • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
    • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

    What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

    • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
    • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
    • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
    • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

    3. Adjust your sleep temperature

    Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

    Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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    Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

    Sleep better form now on

    Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

    I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

    As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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