Four Fixes for Phenomenal Health: PART TWO

Before we dive into our second fix, let's take a look at the first fix. (If you haven't read about FIX #1 yet, you can go back and read yesterday's blog right now!)

How's it going? Did you drink 3-4 quarts of plain water yesterday? If not, why not?

Maybe you need a method of keeping track of your water? You might fill a gallon jug with fresh water each morning and just keep drinking until it's empty. Or you might write down each quart in your daily planner as you finish it. Tying your new habit to an old habit can help you remember, so drink a quart of water every time you walk your dog, or before each meal/snack. Remember that caffeinated beverages do not count, as tea and coffee are diuretics.

If you have implemented FIX #1, great job! So, how are you feeling? Do you notice any differences when you are well hydrated? Keep drinking your water as we discuss FIX #2.

For our second fix, you might need a little detective work. As I said before, water is the easiest fix. Our second fix will require a little bit more effort, but this is still totally doable. And absolutely necessary!

FIX #2: Super sleep. Try for at least 7-8 hours per night. 7 is the absolute minimum. 8 is better. Some people need 9-10.

It is impossible to overemphasize how important sleep is to our health. You cannot have phenomenal health without enough sleep. When you are tired, nothing works well, including the immune system, your hormonal system, your nervous system, and especially your brain. Unfortunately, fixing your sleep might not be as simple as fixing your hydration.

Insomnia is a common issue for older folks. If you have trouble sleeping, it's crucial to find out why and fix the problem. Keeping a sleep diary can help. Note all the habits which may affect your sleep each day, and keep track of how well you sleep that night. Habits like drinking coffee in the afternoon, taking naps, drinking alcohol, eating a very low carb diet, eating a big meal too close to bedtime, exercising late in the evening, watching TV or other screens late in the day, worrying about things, all can contribute to a less-than-stellar night.

Many people attempt to solve this insomnia issue with drugs. But I do not believe this is a healthy solution. Drugs alter the quality of our sleep, just like alcohol and caffeine. To reap the benefits of a good night's sleep, we need to discover how to sleep through the night without drugs.

A consistent night time routine can help. Try to make your way toward the bedroom at the same time each night. This way, your internal clock will know when you are supposed to get tired. Complete the same steps each night in your bedtime routine. Floss and brush your teeth, wash your face, put on your pajamas, do some gentle yoga stretches, read a soothing bedtime story, turn out the light at the same time each night. If something is on your mind, try writing it down before you close your eyes. Just the act of removing it from your head and putting it on paper might help you relax.

There are many natural sleep aids available over the counter. If you still have trouble after implementing all of the above habits, you might want to add melatonin, magnesium, theanine, and/or 5HTP to your nightly ritual. I take 3 mg. of melatonin each night, and at least 1000 mg. of magnesium. These are not habit-forming. They are natural substances which your body makes and/or uses every single day. As we age, we make less melatonin, a hormone which cues our body to get sleepy. Magnesium helps us relax. Theanine comes from green tea and is calming. 5HTP is a precursor our bodies need to make seratonin, a hormone responsible for sleeping well.

Make a commitment to fixing your sleep issues, get a good night's sleep consistently, and reap the many health benefits! Once you get this vital habit down, it will be time to move on to FIX #3.