And the crazy awesome health benefits of sleeping well!
When we look back at 2016 and all the artists, musicians and politicians we lost, we may wonder if the year was cursed. Prince (57), who died early in 2016, was awake for more than 150 hours before he died of a drug overdose. George Michael (age 53) died in his sleep but was an insomniac and battled an addiction to marijuana, heroin and prescription sedatives. “Several times, he was found slumped over his car’s steering wheel after using both at the same time,” the Huffington Post reported.
Carrie Fisher (60), Star Wars royalty, passed away after suffering from a heart attack aboard a transatlantic flight. ”Sleep deprivation, hurting your sleep cycle in general can be a problem,” HT Health reported from a 2013 interview with the actress.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the US can expect to live at least to 76 years old while women can look forward to at least 81 years. For some of the younger artists we lost this year, the sad truth is that their early deaths may be a direct result on their crazy rock and roll lifestyles.
When it comes to how long you’re going to live, there’s a lot of truth in the saying that genetics is a loaded gun – but there’s no denying that lifestyle choices are BIG triggers. We all carry genes for a multitude of diseases, but whether we get them or not is largely dependent on how we live our lives.
Diet, exercise AND sleep for the three pillars of a healthy, long life and if they’re out of balance, the results can be devastating. The good news is that if you’re still on this side of the grass, you still have time to change. Ready to kick 2016 to the curb and make 2017 your year to start living healthier?
Living healthy AND longer may be easier than you think
- Get a better night’s sleep – No surprise sleep tops our list. Sleep heals your body from the abuse of the day, fuels it up to tackle the next day and fortifies your organs to fight against future stress and disease. But if sleep isn’t a priority, feel free to steal these ideas for getting the worst night’s sleep.
- Eat breakfast – When you skip breakfast, your body conserves resources and stores calories in an effort to keep you alive. Skipping breakfast puts your body in full protection, high-stress mode.
- Curb alcohol consumption – A beer or glass of wine with dinner can help you relax after a long day but too much of it and you can kiss your waistline and restful sleep goodnight. A glass of wine packs about 120 nutritionally-empty calories and it’s a diuretic. It acts on the kidneys to make you pee out much more than you take in, which is why you need to go to the toilet so often when you drink.
- Enjoy a rainbow diet – The color of your food choices is as important as cutting out sugary and salty snacks. When you eat all the colors, you add in disease-fighting nutrients and vitamins into your body. While we’re at it, adopting a vegetarian or flexitarian (mostly meat-free) can also help you avoid disease as you age.
- Walk 10,000 steps a day – In 2001, the US Surgeon General launched the 10,000 Steps Program – an ambitious goal to help a mostly sedentary nation shape up. It might feel overwhelming to consider walking 1 ½ hours daily but countless studies to point to the fact that we need to move our bodies to stay healthy. According to LiveScience, “Past research has shown that walking more can decrease the risk of becoming overweight and obese and developing insulin resistance. But it can also make a difference in your diabetes risk.”
- Leave work at work – Long term stress is like a slow gas leak. While you’re obliviously living your life upstairs, the basement is filling up with explosive gas – and it only takes a spark to blow the whole thing to smithereens. You may think you’re coping with stress just fine – that kink in your shoulder notwithstanding – but what you don’t see, can kill you. There’s no one answer that will work for everyone but a few tweaks to your schedule may help you reduce stress and live longer.
- Be more social – Good friends are good for you but we’re not talking about Facebook. Study after study shows that healthy face-to-face relationships can boost self-esteem and ward off depression. New studies show friendship can actually help us sidestep cancer, slow aggressive cancer growth and improve effectiveness of chemotherapy. Heart attack survivors with a healthy support system live longer, richer lives compared to those who lead isolated lives. Isn’t it time you glammed onto happiness?
- Invest in lifelong learning – Your longer life might actually have more to do with self-determination than formal education. People who make learning part of their daily lives as they age feel more in control of what happens to them because they actively seek out information to help them make smarter choices. “A high sense of control all but wipes out educational differences when it comes to mortality. A person with less education but a high sense of control is practically indistinguishable from a person of high education,” commented Margie Lachman on ConciousLifeNews.com.
- Walk on the sunny side of the street – Bad things happen to everyone but how we perceive those “bad” things can extend or shorten our lives. “You know you feel better when your attitude is focused on optimism and gratitude. Now research confirms that a feeling of gratitude may not only increase your quality of life by making you smarter, healthier, and more energetic but may optimism may also help you live longer,” according to OptimumWellness. Start a gratitude journal – one thought per day is all you need to help you polish up your rose-colored glasses.
For some added inspiration to make 2017 your healthiest year yet, have a look at the celebrities we lost this year – and their ages. The ages tell a sobering story…
Actors & singers who died in 2016
- David Bowie – died January 10, cancer, age 69
- Alan Rickman – died January 14, cancer, age 69
- Glenn Frey – died January 18, pneumonia, age 67
- Abe Vigoda – died January 26, natural causes, age 94
- Paul Kantner – died January 28, heart attack, age 74
- Merle Haggard – died April 6, pneumonia, age 79
- Prince – died April 21, drug overdose, age 57
- Muhammad Ali – died June 3, complications from Parkinson’s disease, age 74
- Gene Wilder – died August 29, Alzheimer’s disease, age 83
- Florence Henderson – died November 24, heart failure, age 82
- Alan Thicke – died December 13, cardiac arrest, age 69
- Craig Sager – died December 15, leukemia, age 65
- Zsa Zsa Gabor – died December 18, natural causes, age 99
- Leonard Cohen – died November 7, age 82
- Maurice White – died February 4, complications from Parkinson’s disease, age 74
- Pete Burns – died October 23, cardiac arrest, age 57
- Frank Sinatra Jr – died March 16, cardiac arrest, age 72
- Phife Dawg – died March 22, diabetes complications, age 45
- George Michael – died December 25, cause of death unknown, age 53
- Carrie Fisher – died December 27, heart attack, age 60
Political figures who died in 2016
- Fidel Castro – died November 25, natural causes, age 90
- US Attorney General Janet Reno – died November 7, complications from Parkinson’s disease, age 78
- Former First Lady Nancy Reagan – died March 6, natural causes, age 94
Famous people who died in 2016
- Astronaut John Glenn – died December 8, natural causes, age 95
- Golfer Arnold Palmer – died September 25, heart failure, age 87
- Basketball Coach Pat Summit – died June 28, complications from Alzheimer’s disease, age 64
- Author Harper Lee – died February 19, natural causes, age 89
Our bodies need sleep to recover from the wear and tear of daily life while our brains rely on sleep to sort and store memories and problem solve. Under the cover of sleep, our veins are flooded with age-defying human growth hormones while an army T cells are raised and sent into battle to fight against colds and infection. What’s more, sleep lowers the risk of just about every scary health issue as we age.
What happens when you skimp on sleep and build up a sleep debt? In short, the price you pay for a sleep deficit is more than just lost productivity. Don’t you think it’s time to wake up and learn why sleep is so important?
Arianna Huffington – Succeed by getting more sleep
In this short talk, Arianna Huffington shares a small idea that can awaken much bigger ones – the power of a good night’s sleep. Instead of bragging about our sleep deficits, she urges us to shut our eyes and see the big picture. We can sleep our way to increased productivity and happiness – and smarter decision-making.