...And Easy Ways to Fix Them
You had plenty of sleep, a good breakfast and maybe even got in some exercise. That’s a good start on the day, right? Not necessarily. You may be surprised to learn that you are making several health mistakes before you even walk out the door in the morning. Here are six common health mistakes many people make every morning—and quick, easy fixes…
1. Your supposedly healthy breakfast leaves you hungry and tired by midmorning.
We all know that eating breakfast is a must. After a long night without food, your blood sugar is low and you won’t have the mental and physical energy to function well if you don’t fuel up.
Common mistake: Eating only carbohydrates—such as a whole-wheat English muffin with jam. By eating an all-carb morning meal, you are setting yourself up for all-day food cravings. The carbs cause a spike in insulin followed by a plummet in your blood sugar, which in turn makes you hungry and leaves you craving more carbs in an hour or two.
The fix: For breakfast, go ahead and have your whole-wheat or whole-grain English muffin or toast, if you like, but add protein (an egg or two) and perhaps even some fat—cheese on the egg, for instance, or peanut butter on toast. Doing this releases your satiety hormones and maintains steady blood sugar so that you won’t be hungry and fatigued by midmorning.
2. You’re stuck in an exercise routine.
Research shows that exercise in the morning helps you feel more alert because it boosts your circulation. It also revs up your metabolism for about six hours afterward.
Common mistake: Doing the same workout every morning. Limiting yourself to one type of exercise is certainly better than being sedentary, but it shortchanges you of important fitness benefits. Switching among a variety of workouts challenges different body parts. Optimal health requires a mix of both heart-healthy cardio and strength-building resistance-training.
The fix: Mix up your workout routine to incorporate variety. For instance, you might take an early-morning walk on Monday and Wednesday…visit the gym Tuesday, Thursday and Friday mornings (doing different activities at each visit)…and then, on weekends, go for a bike ride, swim or hike.
3. You are making your coffee wrong.
If you love the caffeine jolt from a cup of coffee, the news is good. Though coffee used to be considered unhealthy, medical research shows that most people can safely drink several cups a day, and it even may bring health benefits. Drinking coffee has been linked with lower risk for depression, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and other illnesses.
Common mistake: Though it may seem fiscally and environmentally responsible to purchase a reusable metallic filter, doing so may cause a rise in your cholesterol. Why? Paper filters absorb—and therefore block—a substance called cafestol that is found in the oil contained in coffee beans. Cafestol stimulates the production of LDL (bad) cholesterol, the kind you’re better off keeping low.
The fix: Use paper coffee filters if you have high cholesterol or want to prevent it. In addition to avoiding metal filters, don’t use a French press or K-cups.
4. You hit the snooze button on your alarm clock.
It’s true that you probably could use more sleep. Though adults need between seven and eight hours of sleep a night, nearly 30% of us get less than six hours, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Insufficient sleep is linked to a wide range of health and medical problems, including cancer, heart disease, obesity and premature death.
Common mistake: Hitting the snooze button and closing your eyes for just a few more minutes. You may justify this by telling yourself that a bit more rest will improve your day, but actually it won’t. You’re allowing yourself to drift back to sleep just when your body is beginning to wake up. You’ll probably feel more out of it, even though you actually spent extra time in bed.
The fix: It’s best to establish a sleep schedule that allows your body to rest when you are tired and wake up refreshed when it is time to start the day. Try to fall asleep and wake up at the same times each day. If you can’t wake up naturally, it’s OK to use an alarm, but get up when it first wakes you—don’t hit the snooze button. If possible, choose an alarm with a sound that’s gentle, not jarring (many smartphones offer a variety of tones for this purpose). Or look for an alarm clock with sounds that gradually increase in intensity or one that wakes you up with a light that grows brighter by the minute.
5. You’re not opening the shades.
Whether for privacy or because a partner needs to sleep longer, many people don’t get morning light.
Common mistake: Keeping the curtains/blinds closed as you get up and get dressed. The morning light is a signal to your brain and body that the day has begun. It also triggers your body to switch off the production of melatonin, the hormone that helps your body keep track of time and also regulates the need to sleep. Darkness after awakening prolongs your sleepiness.
The fix: If possible, open your shades or curtains to bring in the morning light. If that’s not possible or it’s dark outside when you get up, turn on the lights. If your partner needs to sleep longer, try getting dressed in another room.
6. You don’t listen to your partner’s complaints that you snore.
Many couples, even happy ones, stop listening to each other even when they have legitimate complaints.
Common mistake: Ignoring your significant other’s complaints about your snoring. That’s bad for two reasons—your snoring could ruin his/her sleep…and it could be affecting your own health. The research that links snoring and sleep apnea to serious medical problems continues to pile up. Just recently, researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City found that loud snorers developed symptoms of dementia 10 years earlier, on average, than people who don’t snore—and that getting treatment for snoring helped delay the onset of dementia.
The fix: Talk to your doctor about getting tested for sleep apnea. Treatment (ranging from losing weight to the use of a breathing machine, among other options) can reduce dementia risk.
Fair use, from: