Two weekends ago I had to travel a couple of hours to my cottage and back. These trips are enjoyable, simply because I can choose any podcast to further my knowledge about health.
The podcast I chose to listen to on that day was over two hours long. It was an interview by Dr. Rhonda Patrick (her web site is www.foundmyfitness.com) talking to Matthew Walker, a sleep neuroscientist. It was about his discoveries on how our brain works when we sleep and the detrimental effects when we don’t. His research is powerful, and to me who has poor sleep habits, scary. Sleep well, and our brain repairs itself, grows neurons, and cleans out unnecessary debris (yes, even amyloid). Our memory improves, we even learn as we sleep.
This is a very powerful episode. If you can find the time, I would encourage you to listen to it.
Now, with the knowledge of how important sleep is, have I changed? Matthew Walker outlines 12 steps to follow to improve sleep quality. Even knowing that my brain repairs and grows in knowledge and memory, I didn’t turn out the lights a couple of hours ago or stop looking at my IPhone or IPad. Obviously not, because I’m writing this late at night!
What I’m trying to get at, is that we all have a disconnect between knowing and doing.
I know sleep is important, and I should begin to follow his basic suggestions. For three nights after listening to that podcast I followed a lot of what he suggested, because knowing that lack of sleep increases my risk for many illnesses, I was ‘motivated’. But then what changed?
Much like ‘dieting’, I pushed that important knowledge to some recess of my brain, and returned to old habits of staying up late and avoiding the necessary sleep for preventative health. Now, knowing how important sleep is, I know I will listen to the podcast again (and I purchased his book, ‘Why we sleep’), simply because the more I understand, the more likely it is I will change.
Exercise, nutrition, good sleep and stress reduction are all of equal importance for health. But will we change? What does it take for each of us to pay attention to our present and future health?
If we knew that heart disease, or Alzheimer’s, or diabetes or arthritis was in our future, would we change any of these pillars of health now, to prevent their development? I think, and I hope so. It does take ongoing research of the benefits. I think reading books or listening to podcasts on any of these subjects is important. Knowing the importance then understanding what we have to do, most likely will lead to change.
Do not push thinking about your future to the ‘back burner’. Think about your health constantly, until the habits of good nutrition, regular exercise, meditation and sleep hygiene become a priority. Something you look after daily and not push off to next week or next month.
We each hold the keys to our future health (or lack thereof), in our hands. Do some research for yourself. Knowledge of the why and how is powerful. The more you learn the more you are likely to change. Our future health is now and tomorrow and the next day. Don’t delay. If you feel stuck in any or all of these areas, don’t despair. Read something or listen to a motivating podcast. Search for little things you can change.
For me, tomorrow I will make a promise to turn the lights out earlier and certainly not be watching TV or looking at my IPad, because now I know that chronic sleep disturbance does not bode well for my brain. For you? Will it be no snacks after dinner? A 20 minute walk at lunch or right after supper? 5 minutes of mindfulness practice? Efforts to ensure a proper sleep?
Don’t put off doing anything that is important to your health. Start now! You can do it. Don’t ever give up trying.