Source: Mind, Body Green
It’s a new year and a new opportunity to prioritize your health in a big way. Instead of setting a goal to lose those 5 pounds or finally fit into that pair of jeans (which, let’s be honest, usually doesn’t last much past February), improve your health in the long haul with these science-backed habits. They’ll leave you feeling like the best version of yourself, not just in 2018, but for life.
Protect Your Sleep
In order to set yourself up for the 7 to 9 hours most people need, try to go to bed at the same time every night and keep all electronics and distractions out of the bedroom. Then, you can start to match your sleep schedule to your biological clock. While the optimal waking time differs from person to person, most people would be better off rising with the sun. When we find our natural rhythm, the parts of the body that are designed to be physiologically “diurnal”—meaning to be active during the day—can better help our bodies function at top form. Moving your body every day, exposing yourself to natural light first thing in the morning, and establishing a non-negotiable nightly relaxation ritual can all boost sleep, and good health, as well.
Why is this all so important? The science is fairly conclusive that insufficient sleep—whether it be lack of sleep in general or a shortage of restorative sleep—has been correlated with earlier onset of depression, cognitive decline, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and more.
Change the Way You Eat
Small dietary changes CAN have exponential effects on our health. This year, aim to add more vegetables, leafy greens, and healthy fats into your meals, and draw a hard line between you and sugar-sweetened beverages, refined carbs, and processed foods of all kinds.
A proper diet can help protect the body from heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, reduce inflammation, and decrease the probability of cognitive impairment, too. Conversely, research finds that leaving key nutrients out of your diet can increase your risk of cardiometabolic disease.
You can further support a proper diet by experimenting with a time-restrictive feeding routine (only eating within a 8-to-12-hour period throughout the day) as it can help decrease the metabolic burden that food has on cells and give them a chance to generate the necessary energy for healthy function. In lab studies, this technique has proven effective at reducing the risk of age-related diseases.