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Healthy Habit # 6 Protect your heart with sleep

Want to reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke by 50%? How about reducing your chances of dementia? Of course, we want those things, but that doesn’t help us sleep. How do we build the healthy habit of sleep? What healthy habits help us sleep better?

Here are 5 proven habits to try from the Mayo Clinic

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sleep/art-20048379

1. Stick to a sleep schedule

Set aside no more than eight hours for sleep. The recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult is at least seven hours. Most people don’t need more than eight hours in bed to achieve this goal.

Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Try to limit the difference in your sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends to no more than one hour. Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle.

If you don’t fall asleep within about 20 minutes, leave your bedroom and do something relaxing. Read or listen to soothing music. Go back to bed when you’re tired. Repeat as needed.

2. Pay attention to what you eat and drink

Don’t go to bed hungry or stuffed. In particular, avoid heavy or large meals within a couple of hours of bedtime. Your discomfort might keep you up.

Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol deserve caution, too. The stimulating effects of nicotine and caffeine take hours to wear off and can wreak havoc on quality sleep. And even though alcohol might make you feel sleepy, it can disrupt sleep later in the night.

3. Create a restful environment

Create a room that’s ideal for sleeping. Often, this means cool, dark and quiet. Exposure to light might make it more challenging to fall asleep. Avoid prolonged use of light-emitting screens just before bedtime. Consider using room-darkening shades, earplugs, a fan or other devices to create an environment that suits your needs.

Doing calming activities before bedtime, such as taking a bath or using relaxation techniques, might promote better sleep.

4. Limit daytime naps

Long daytime naps can interfere with nighttime sleep. If you choose to nap, limit yourself to up to 30 minutes and avoid doing so late in the day.

If you work nights, however, you might need to nap late in the day before work to help make up your sleep debt.

5. Include physical activity in your daily routine

Regular physical activity can promote better sleep. Avoid being active too close to bedtime, however.

Spending time outside every day might be helpful, too.

6. Manage worries

Try to resolve your worries or concerns before bedtime. Jot down what’s on your mind and then set it aside for tomorrow.

Stress management might help. Start with the basics, such as getting organized, setting priorities and delegating tasks. Meditation also can ease anxiety.

Know when to contact your doctor

Nearly everyone has an occasional sleepless night — but if you often have trouble sleeping, contact your doctor. Identifying and treating any underlying causes can help you get the better sleep you deserve.

Other Resources

https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-dementia

Blog, Diet

Habit # 3 Follow a Diet

Diet is a four-letter word since we’re good or bad when following a diet. We think of different kinds of food as good or bad food. But I was hoping you could think about it differently. The word diet describes what you eat. Most of us think we know what healthy food is. So what do I mean when I say you to follow a diet? What are you supposed to eat? 

What should you eat? A diet should help you follow your goals. Once you know what the guidelines are for your diet, you’ll be able to follow them with confidence. The key to most people’s long term success is to keep it simple.

I will explore three different diet guidelines and how to use these guidelines to build a diet that works for you.  I’m going to explore diet guidelines for the Mediterranean diet, as it is the only diet proven to promote longevity. The Canadian food guide has the most straightforward dietary guidelines for healthy living. The third diet guideline I’m going to outline is a calorie deficit diet-this is the kind most people think of when they use the word diet. Please remember I’m not a dietician or nutritionist, and there are no magic solutions to nutrition, just daily choices. Once you’ve selected your diet guidelines, you’ll find healthy eating much easier to do.

Mediterranean diet

https://intermountainhealthcare.org/blogs/authors/intermountain-healthcare/

I follow this guideline for my diet as it is easy to understand, allowing me some flexibility. This diet might be a significant change for people who don’t cook or eat many pre-packaged food.

An Even Simpler Diet is the latest Canadian Food Guide

The Canadian Food Guide is the simplest guide designed for ease of use and effectiveness in disease prevention. However, you will need to come up with your meal plan without suggestions or portion recommendations. 

Canada's Food Guide

https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/

This simple dietary guideline was designed to help you avoid many lifestyle-related illnesses. Make half of every meal fruits and vegetables, a quarter is a protein, and the remaining quarter is whole grains. Drink water instead of soda or juice, or alcohol. The food guide has many lifestyle tips to help someone who follows their dietary guidelines enjoy a healthier diet.

The Kind of Diet We Think of When We Think Diet is the Calorie Deficit Diet

Diets that focus on cutting calories cause so much harm to people’s psyches. It is the type of diet that promotes the idea of good and bad foods. All you need is willpower and discipline only to eat good foods. This belief is nonsense, but it is a belief that generates billions in sales every year. Yes, lots of people will be healthier if they lose weight. The best way to lose weight is in the kitchen. So you will need to create a calorie deficit in your diet to lose weight. 

3,500 calories a week equals 1 pound

The guideline for sustainable weight loss is to reduce your caloric intake by 3,500 calories a week or 500 calories a day. This reduction in calories should amount to roughly a pound a week. It is tempting to think it is this simple, and of course, it’s not. Many factors to consider, such as your metabolism, genetics, how long your body has been in a calorie deficit, medication, and the amount of movement and exercise you get in a day. Also, if you go from overeating to undereating you will run out of willpower. You should replace the quantity of food with better quality of food.

The simplest way to create a calorie deficit is to count your calories, and the simplest way to do that is through the app myfitnesspal. The app is super easy to use. You can plug in your current weight, your ideal weight, and how much weight you want to lose per week. It will give you your daily calorie count, and as long as you can stick to it, you should lose weight. I’ve seen this technique work wonders for some people, but most don’t keep it up and start a roller coaster of gaining and losing weight.

Most long term diets are the same

Once you’ve been using the app for a while, you will figure out that planning your meals to be half fruits and vegetables is your best choice for the quantity of food with the fewest calories. If you follow your myfitnesspal recommendations, your diet will quickly resemble the Canadian food guidelines as well as the Mediterranean diet. If you enjoy tracking your food or need to control your portions, myfitnesspal is an excellent awareness tool. It has an attractive option to show you how nutritious your food selections are.