In today's busy world everything is going a mile-a-minute. We work more, we commute longer, we want to do more with our free time and something has to give. Usually it's sleep. According to recent studies by the NSF's Sleep in America, more than 60% of Americans don't get the recommended number of hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. That 8 hour rule of thumb is a pretty good one, though in general 8 is the minimum recommended. Sleep is kind of interesting because it's cumulative -- that's why naps are so glorious! When you miss sleep in the night you can make up for it by catching some Zzz's in the daytime.
In general, most people carry a sleep 'debt'. Sleep that they owe their body, but haven't paid back yet. You can make up for this by getting extra hours at night or in the day time. Eventually you will catch up and your body won't need that extra. Sleeping an extra 60 to 90 minutes per night could have some incredible benefits for your body, improved memory, strengthened immune system, more effective muscle recovery and growth, higher daily energy levels... the list goes on and on. It's not always easy to shut that TV off an hour early or put that book down, but try it for a week and see if you feel the difference! I personally struggle with this one. There never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done. What I've come to realize is that I need to better manage my time so that I can make sleep a priority. Here's to making this simple change!
This is another one that I can hear you're saying 'yeah, yeah, I know'. Not only do we often not get enough water in a day, but we'll drink other things that rob our body of the hydration it needs: coffee, diet sodas, energy drinks... You've heard the old adage, 8 glasses of water a day. This isn't necessarily the right rule of thumb, but it's not terrible either. If you want to be really dialed in, try this online calculator. If you like mental math you can take your body weight in lbs, multiply it by 0.55, that's the number of ounces of water you should drink in a day. (yeah, I pulled out my calculator to do that one).
The body is around 65% water so it makes sense that we would need to drink a significant amount of water to keep us running properly.
So, It's easy enough to say that you'll drink your 2 or 3 liters of water in a day but it's not always easy to actually do it. The right answer is to make it a habit. When you get up in the morning, have glass to start your day. Maybe throw a lemon in there to help balance your body pH and give yourself a nice boost. Fill a pitcher (or a washed out milk jug) and put it on your desk at work. Schedule it as a task in your calendar, or make yourself fill up your glass every time you get up to go to the printer. There are lots of strategies for building the habit; it's one worth investing a little energy in. You'll feel the difference (and I'm not talking just talking about that terrible urge you have to pee every 30 minutes).
So you eat healthy, I get it. You're big on your greens, pound back berries like it's nobodies business. You eat almond butter on a daily basis and get fish 3 times a week. Lean protein, "at every meal baby!". Healthy starches: yams, rice and potatoes -- check! Guess what? You're probably still nutrient deficient. This study looked at 70 high level athletes and assessed each of their nutritional micro and macro intakes. They found that every single one was deficient in at least three areas, and many, in more than that! The truth is, unless you're eating a diverse and balanced diet that's 4000+ calories a day, you're probably missing some key nutrient somewhere.
I think of your body like a car, the calories and macros are your fuel but the micronutrients are like your essential fluids -- think brake fluid, transmission fluid, motor oil...). You can have a tank full of gas, but you're never going to be able to burn it if your engine isn't running properly.
You've probably heard lots about how poorly regulated the supplement industry can be, so that's a good reason to take caution. Buy quality. Look for a brand that guarantees their product and ensures they are only putting exactly what they say into each pill. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am as frugal as they come, but the longer I live the more I'm learning that you really do get what you pay for. If you're reading this you're probably someone who values their health and wants the best for themselves long term. Spend a couple extra dollars and get something that is actually going to help you attain that wellness you are chasing.
That's it ladies and gents. Short and sweet. Writing this post is actually a good reminder for myself that I need to keep prioritizing these things in my life as well. These are three very simple things that we can do to help us live happier, healthier lives. Pick one and start building (or re-building) the habit. Once you've got that nailed, go on to the next one. Fall is a season of change, why not make a couple changes for yourself that are going to are have impact for much longer than just the winter.
Live your best life!