If you ever really have stopped to think about it, our health is all we really have. The saddening truth of the matter is, that once your body deteriorates, you have no way to complete whatever duties you have left to complete on earth. I won’t bother getting into whether or not God or heaven or reincarnation exists in this post; quite frankly, it doesn’t matter. Once your body is gone, whatever else you want to accomplish within this realm we call Earth, you no longer have the means to accomplish. If you fail to prioritize your health, you fail to prioritize your life, period.
Sleep is one of the most important aspects of health, that too many people shrug off as unnecessary. Have you ever gone into work or school trying to conquer a huge project right after a night of sh*tty sleep? If so, you might know just how important sleep really is. Some people can get by on a few hours of sleep as long as they chug their coffees. Some trudge through and get the work done, despite a much lower rate of efficiency in their work. Yet I know from experience that sacrificing sleep is not the way to go. A mere one percent of the population is estimated to be able to survive on less than four hours of sleep per night, but for most of us, that simply is not a reality, despite how much we wish it were. Sleep deprivation can lead to cognitive issues such as reduced IQ and a higher risk for diseases such as dementia later in life. So sure, cutting your sleep to the minimal amount of hours needed might sound convenient now, but it sure won’t be when you’re fifty years old and can no longer cognitively perform at high levels.
So why is it that sleep is something shrugged off as something that only losers and people with nothing better to do, do? Possibly because an astounding number of CEOs admit to sleeping less than six hours a night. However, some mega successful people, such as Mark Zuckerberg and Arianna Huffington admit to getting the normal seven to eight hours per night. In fact, Arianna Huffington once collapsed due to intense sleep deprivation, and is now a strong advocate for well rested nights. Having more hours in the day isn’t necessarily beneficial if it means that those hours won’t be full of productivity and vitality.
However, sleep isn’t all that is needed to feel energized and at peace. Diet and exercise affect our energy levels during daylight, and can also influence the quality of our sleep. Exercise can work to your advantage if you do more strenuous versions (such as HIIT or cardio) during the morning hours, and more calming types (such as stretching) during the evening. Diet works similarly: knowing where and when to eat more carbohydrate dense foods is helpful. In fact, cutting down your overall consumption of carbohydrates (especially simple forms) will affect your energy in a positive manner quite a lot. Try it, you can thank me later.
Of course, mental health is extremely important as well. High levels of stress need to be managed, and a busy lifestyle needs to be organized. Taking some time out of your day to meditate, journal, and plan out your day can work miracles on your stress levels. Doing these things will give you a renewed sense of purpose, and with apps such as Headspace in existence, there is literally no excuse nor better time to start your practice than now.
Imagine how much better your energy levels and vitality could be if you started prioritizing your health more than you have been. Even if you don’t know what type of diet, exercise, or sleep routine works best for your health and lifestyle, you have to start trying something new if you aren’t happy with where you’re currently at. Experimentation is key: stick with something for at least three months, and if you don’t notice any changes, incorporate a new routine. I definitely encourage anyone reading this to start taking steps towards a healthier, more productive future starting now!