In the busyness of everyday life it can be easy to overlook the small things that have a big impact on our health. Here are some commonly forgotten yet essential practices to include into your day for optimal wellness and a long, happy and healthy life.
Sleep for 7-8 hours per night.
When you do not get restful, deep sleep – damaged proteins and other toxins build up in the brain, leaving you feeling foggy and more vulnerable to rapid brain aging. Research also shows a strong association between sleep quality and psychological wellbeing. Some healthy sleep habits you can adopt and lifestyle changes you can make include:
- Having your last cup of coffee before noon so the caffeine is out of your system by the time you are ready to hit the sheets
- Wearing a pair of blue light-blocking glasses as darkness falls and avoid screens and bright artificial lights two to three hours before bed
- Using relaxation practices such as meditation or deep breathing to calm your mind and help you drift into sleep
Get some sunshine or sit in front of an infrared panel.
Your circadian sleep rhythm is your 24-hour internal clock, and is tied closely to the sun and the light you take in from your environment. It’s beneficial to follow your body’s natural patterns for sleeping and waking.
One way to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm is to go outside and feel the sun on your face and arms and legs every day for at least 15 minutes. Exposure to sunlight is also thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused. At night, darker lighting triggers the brain to make another hormone called melatonin. This hormone is responsible for helping you sleep.
But you can’t always count on natural light. Our modern lives keep us inside much of the day, and the weather doesn’t always cooperate even when we can get outside. Red light therapy sessions at Expand Health can supplement your light intake from the sun.
Red light therapy is a simple, non-invasive treatment that uses LEDs to deliver wavelengths of infrared light directly to the skin and cells. This enhances cellular function by supplying the mitochondria with the light needed to make the ATP energy that powers your body.
Move your body regularly.
Our inactive work and home life are contributing to accelerated aging – triggering the onset of numerous health concerns including obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Exercise increases blood circulation to the brain and increases the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which helps more nerve fibers grow, which helps with better thinking, memory, and learning—optimising mental wellbeing. This is also one of the reasons exercise is thought to help stave off age-related brain degeneration, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The real key to aging well is to lead an active lifestyle and move as much as you can. It is important to build movement into your regular day – getting up to stretch every hour or so, using stairs instead of the elevator or taking a short walk a few times a day. And if you can add a more vigorous work-out to your schedule (running, swimming, yoga, Pilates, CrossFit or high intensity interval training (HIIT)), the better off your body will be.