TIPS RELATED TO SLEEP, FOOD AND EXERCISE FOR EXCEPTIONAL HEALTH
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), ‘Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’
This is an accurate definition as it encompasses all the main aspects of good health. With the sedentary lifestyle we follow these days, health has become a major area of concern for us. Mostly, when we talk about health, we mostly refer to physical fitness. But what about a fit mind?
We often overlook the fact that it’s a healthy mind that ultimately leads to a healthy body! The mind and body are interdependent and affect each other’s functioning.
So, what if I tell you, or rather just remind you 3 simple habits that will transform your physical as well as mental health? These are the habits, we are all well aware of, but struggle to practice in our daily life.
The first habit is ‘sleep’. Sleep is something all of us love. But are we giving it the importance that it deserves? Social media, binge-watching, pulling all-nighters, especially during exams, or excessive workload are some of the reasons why we remain sleep deprived. This affects our mood and productivity throughout the day. It is also one of the main causes of absenteeism.
Our brain secretes a liquid called Cerebro Spinal Fluid (CSF) whose function is to flush out the amyloid beta, a toxic protein that is formed as a result of normal brain functioning. For the CSF to penetrate the deeper parts of the brain, the chemical-electrical reactions in the brain need a pause. That pause is sleep.
When we are asleep, the spaces between the tissues in the brain increases which allows the CSF to get deep inside and eliminate that waste. If we don’t sleep enough, the brain does not get cleaned and this invites all sorts of terrible diseases like hypertension, heart problems, diabetes, obesity, depression, and anxiety. Sleep deprivation also impairs the production of Collagen, which is a protein responsible for keeping the skin and hair healthy. Hence, it accelerates ageing. Now we know, the reason for the term ‘beauty sleep’.
Moreover, if we don’t sleep enough, the production of ghrelin, a hunger hormone, increases which causes us to feel hungry and crave junk food. This makes us more prone to obesity and many other health problems.
According to many sleep researches, the necessary amount of sleep to be taken by adults (18-65 yrs) has to be at about 7-9 hours. So how do we sleep better? Here are a few tips:
• Do not consume caffeine later than noon.
• Put your phone away at least an hour before going to bed.
• Make sure your room is comfortable enough in terms of temperature and light.
• Have dinner at least 3 hours before bedtime.
• Take a hot bath before bed.
• Read a printed book before going to sleep.
• Use essential oils like lavender, clary sage, chamomile or any other you like.
The second habit is ‘food’. Food is one of the important aspects of life. We know that we should consume food that is rich in nutrition and avoid junk food, but we are not very successful in following this. People like me who live in hostels are the most loyal customers of Swiggy and Zomato!
Junk food not only makes us fat but also impacts our mood and thinking. According to Ayurveda, there are three types of food: Sattvic (vegetables, ghee, fruits, legumes, whole grains, etc.), Rajasic (Coffee, bread, cooked vegetables, etc) and Tamasic (meat, fish, mushrooms, excessively oily/deep fried food, etc.)
Sattvic food is full of energy, easy and light to digest. It not only keeps physically fit but helps to maintain a balanced state of mind. Rajasic food gives us energy but is not very healthy. Finally, Tamasic food harms our body.
Here are few tips on eating right:
• Consume less sugar.
• Exlpore and switch to veganism/vegetarianism if possible.
• Keep dry fruits handy so that you are less likely to munch on something unhealthy during the day.
• Carry a water bottle with you all the time to keep yourself hydrated.
• Never stay hungry for too long to keep yourself from over-eating.
• Cook food on a low flame to keep the nutrients intact and avoid over-cooking.
Moving on to the third habit, ‘exercise’. This is the habit that tests our will-power! Nowadays, we are getting used to sitting for long periods of time and there is very little need to move our body throughout the day. Lack of physical exercise has been proven to cause obesity, heart diseases, various types of cancers, depression, and anxiety.
Exercising not only helps us to keep our body fit, but it also regulates emotions and cognitive abilities. When we exercise, we feel good and productive, because dopamine and endorphins, the feel-good hormones are released into the blood.
Hence, exercise is also a great way to help deal with mental health problems like stress, depression and anxiety. It helps in developing qualities like concentration and discipline, which help us immensely in all the areas of life.
So here are a few quick tips on exercising better:
• Try to exercise at least 30-45 minutes everyday.
• After every 45 minutes of sitting, get up and walk for around 10-15 minutes.
• Always prefer the staircase over elevators.
• Prefer walking rather than using a vehicle for traveling short distances.
• Play an outdoor sport like soccer, cricket, etc.
• Include yoga, meditation and pranayam in the morning routine.
That was all I wanted to remind you! I am sure everything that I mentioned above is already known to you, but all we need to do is the execution! Just these 3 habits, and you are the healthiest and happiest person!