Healthy habits or daily sins?
Written By: Abbie Smith
Getting Eight Hours Sleep
Eight hours is the recommended amount of sleep that adults should be getting every day. It is thought that not enough sleep can result in various health problems, although the advice is a rather modern convention.
Some academics believe getting your eight hours can sometimes make you feel more tired, and that napping in the middle of the day can be of real benefit.
“A short four to 15 minute ‘power nap’ can be as effective as an extra hour at night,” says Professor Jim Horne from Loughborough University.
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He also says that hundreds of years ago sleep patterns were very fragmented with people only sleeping for two, three or four hours at a time but averaging about seven hours sleep a day.
“If cavemen had slept through the entire night they’d have been eaten alive,” Horne added.
One of the major habits of personal hygiene, having a shower everyday is perceived as the key to being clean.
However, daily showers could actually have a detrimental effect on our skin, as we are exposed to hot water and harsh chemicals in soaps and shower gels.
Dermatologist Dr Nick Lowe said: “It can strip the skin of its oils, resulting in dryness, cracking and even infection.”
He said that if you can’t bear to go without a daily shower, you should wash with cooler water and soap-free shower gels.
He also advised aqueous cream for people who suffer with exceptionally dry skin.
Rinsing after brushing
Brushing your teeth twice a day is another important hygiene ritual, and when we rinse the toothpaste out of our mouths we are left with a minty-fresh sensation.
This is actually a daily sin, because you are washing away the fluoride coating of the toothpaste which would normally provide hours of protection.
Wetting the toothbrush before applying toothpaste is also a no-no as it dilutes the power of it.
Dr Phil Stemmer is a dentist and he also says we shouldn’t clean our teeth just after eating: “Wait at least half an hour because the food acids and sugars temporarily weaken the protective enamel on the teeth. If you clean your teeth too soon, you are actually brushing away at the enamel before it hardens again.”
Normally when we take a deep breath we puff our chest out and then inhale – but this is not the correct way of breathing.
We are instead supposed to breath from our stomachs which is what we do as babies, but as adults we become accustomed to breathing from our chest which is inefficient and lazy as it does not allow air to reach the bottom of our lungs.
Luckily, we can train ourselves on how to breathe properly. To practice you should inflate your stomach as you breathe in but keep your chest still and then as you exhale contract your abdominal muscles.
Neil Shah, director of the Stress Management Society, says: “Breathing should be rhythmical and regular, with between 12 and 20 breaths a minute, and a short pause between the in-breath, out-breath. Just a few minutes each day practicing can have a huge effect — it can help combat stress and even lower blood pressure.”
Sitting on the toilet
According to research, modern toilets are bad for us and squatting instead of sitting when we go to the toilet is a more natural position and requires less straining.
Straining when going to the toilet can cause bowel problems such as diverticular disease and haemorrhoids which can both lead to painful swellings in the gut.
According to Charles Murray from the British Society of Gastroenterology, going to the toilet is “a complicated physiological process.”
He advises: “Placing a six-inch footrest under your feet and leaning forward on a regular sitting toilet may help.”
He added: “Raising the feet in this way on a regular basis may well result in shorter visits to the loo and less straining.”
Relaxing after having dinner
Picture it now – a stressful journey making you arrive home late, you wolf down a quick dinner before sitting on the sofa for an hour and then going to bed.
This type of inactivity after eating encourages the body to store the food as fat, because you are not doing anything to burn it off.
There is advice which says we should eat a large breakfast rather than a big dinner to make sure we burn off the calories throughout the day.
Alternatively, Claire MacEvilly, a nutritionist from Cambridge University, says: “Taking a brisk 20 minute walk after dinner — as you should — means there’s no reason why eating your evening meal at 8pm, or even 9pm should make you put on any weight.”
An arduous chore that is loathed by many – cleaning could be bad for your health, according to recent research.
There have been suggestions that often coming into close contact with cleaning products and chemicals increases the risk of developing asthma.
In addition, American scientists studied 100 men and woman and found that those who were mainly responsible for carrying out domestic chores had a higher blood pressure than those that did not get involved with the housework.
They found that rather than the actual cleaning itself, it was the stress and worrying about having time to get the chores done that increased blood pressure.