Earlier in 2021, a new survey showed that over 60% of Americans want to get healthier.
Based on the men and women I talk to everyday, I think that number should be higher.
People tell me how they feel tired all the time. They say there’s debilitating pains or uncomfortable digestion. Their health concerns keep them just enjoying a normal day.
A lot of people want to feel better but worry they never will.
The truth though is that you can do it. You can make positive changes and you can feel like yourself again.
To get started, you just need a little push in the right direction. Here are 4 simple health hacks that make a huge difference.
1. Get plenty of sleep
The first of these simple health hacks might sound like a no-brainer. Everyone knows they need sleep. And yet, the value of a good night’s rest is dramatically underrated.
Sleep isn’t just a necessary evil. It is the foundation of a healthy life.
When you sleep your mind and body are able to recharge. Some of the most important biological processes happen while you’re catching z’s:
- Your cells repair and grow
- The central nervous system and brain clear out waste
- Memories are consolidated
- Your emotions are managed
- The body learns to regulate glucose
Sleep helps you have better mental and physical health — a sharper mind, a healthier weight and the energy to take on the day.
Without a healthy sleep routine, the rest of your life suffers. You won’t have the energy to exercise, eat well or invest in important moments with your loved ones.
How much sleep should I get a night?
I’m sure you’ve heard about the 8 hours a night guideline.
There’s a reason this is such an enduring rule of thumb. Eight hours is about the average sleep time for a healthy person.
The amount of sleep you need changes as you age. Newborns need as much as 17 hours a day while adults 65+ can happily get by with 7-8 hours. The typical adult will function best in the 7-9 hour range.
What about those who seem fine with less? You may have heard about people who seem incredibly productive with 6 or fewer hours.
While the exact amount of sleep needed does vary a little based on genetics, be wary of anyone who tells you they’re healthy on little sleep. Our bodies are notoriously slow in recognizing sleep deprivation. Sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Don’t shortchange yourself.
So how much sleep do you need? Probably more than you think!
Tips for better sleep
To make sure you sleep well, be careful about your bedtime routine.
Avoid technology. Many people spend the hours before bed scrolling through their smartphone or watching TV. But these devices can ruin your sleep.
They emit blue light, a wavelength that actively inhibits melatonin (the sleep hormone!) secretion. That’s why it’s harder to fall asleep after browsing Instagram.
Avoid caffeine. Many people love their coffee and tea, but drinks with caffeine continue to affect long after you finish your cup. Caffeine stays in your bloodstream for 6-8 hours.
That means that afternoon pick-me-up could actually be keeping you up.
Set a consistent schedule. Sleep functions on what is called circadian rhythms. These biological clocks tell us when to be awake and asleep. But if your sleep habits are all over the place, your body won’t know when it’s time to let you drift off and when it’s time to keep you alert.
Try to set a regular bedtime and wake up time, even on weekends. Sticking to this will help you get better quality rest.
You can check out more tips for better sleep here.
2. Stay hydrated
Did you know that up to 60% of your body is water?
This life-giving liquid does it all.
- Our cells use water as a building material
- Water regulates our internal body temperature and blood pressure
- It carries important nutrients through the bloodstream
- Water flushes out waste and toxins
- It lubricates joints and forms a cushion for the brain and spinal cord
- Water is important in maintaining a healthy weight
You need water to feel your best.
Dehydration can cause you to feel lethargic or dizzy. It is known to create headaches and can cause severe damage to your body if not remedied.
How much water should I drink a day?
The amount of water you need to drink in a day varies depending on several factors.
If you’re physically active or in a region where the weather is hot or humid, you’ll need more to replace what is lost in sweat. When you’ve been sick or are pregnant or breastfeeding you’ll also need to replenish your fluids.
To stay hydrated, try to follow the 8×8 rule. That is eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day (about half a gallon). Drinking water throughout the day is a simple health hack for keeping your system running smoothly.
If you need help upping your intake, keep a water bottle handy to sip throughout the day. Use lemon or other fruits to add a little flavor. I recommend some sugar-free electrolyte drops or a pinch of Himalayan salt to balance the adrenals and protect the kidneys. Check out these recipes for more ideas to make your water taste even better.
3. Eat vegetables at every meal
You’ve probably been told this since you were a little kid: eat more vegetables.
Maybe you rolled your eyes then and maybe you grimace now. Many people don’t find vegetables all that enticing. But there’s a good reason your mother and your doctor keep telling you to fit them into your diet.
- Help you maintain a healthy weight
- Lower blood sugar
- Reduce risk of heart disease and stroke
- Lower blood pressure
- Prevent some types of cancer
While different types of vegetables offer different benefits, together they give your body important nutrients and vitamins. They help you feel full and give you energy.
What are the best vegetables to eat?
Check out this chart to see what each vegetable offers.
Easy ways to eat more vegetables
Not everyone loves the taste of vegetables. But if you want to get healthier, it’s important to eat them with every meal (don’t skip breakfast!).
Here are some creative ways you can get more veggies in your diet:
- Blend them up in a smoothie
- Make a roasted vegetable medley
- Try out new salad recipes
- Grill veggie kabobs
- Make cauliflower rice
4. Focus on your breath
You might not expect this last one to make the list of simple health hacks. Isn’t inhaling and exhaling as simple as … well, breathing?
Your breathing is more important than you probably think. When we inhale, our body takes in oxygen. Oxygen is needed to make energy out of the food you eat. It is also essential for brain activity and is even antimicrobial. Meanwhile when we exhale, our body gets rid of carbon dioxide, a waste product.
That might not surprise you, but the quality of your breath actually has a dramatic impact on your health:
- Deep breathing helps you manage depression and anxiety
- It helps reduce pain
- Breath increase your ability to manage stress
- Can improve your immune system
- Breath increases energy
- It reduce blood pressure
- Breath can help you recover after workouts and grow new muscle
How to breathe better
Breathing better is all about the right environment and the right practice.
To get more oxygen into your body, spend time outside in nature or bring plants into your home. Trees and other plants give off oxygen and take up our carbon dioxide.
Even though breathing seems simple, there are exercises you can do to help get the most out of it.
Check out a good list of breathing exercises here.
Weave some of these practices into your daily rhythm and you’ll be able to maximize the benefits of your breath.
If you’re looking to get healthier, start with these important areas. They might sound simple, but they have a huge impact on looking and feeling your best.
Be sure to get plenty of sleep. Stay hydrated throughout the day. Eat vegetables at every meal. And focusing on breathing well.
Cross off those four and you’ll start to reclaim the life you deserve.