These everyday habits are more harmful than you think
What do sleep deprivation, sneezing into your hands and wolfing down your food have in common? Judging based on societal norms, all three seem harmless. Our busy schedules cause us to accept consequential behaviors, out of convenience, and forget their negative effects. If it’s hard for you to remember the last time you had a full night’s sleep, or the last time you ate dinner that wasn’t take-out, this post may be for you.
• Be wary of germy surfaces. Surprising places that harbor bacteria include your vacuum cleaner, your bed, your shower curtain, grocery carts, restaurant menus and even lemon wedges. Vacuuming can shift germs to uncontaminated areas; fifty percent of vacuum brushes tested in a 2008 University of Arizona study contained harmful bacteria. Dust mites live in your bed sheets and feed on your dead skin. And according to a study from the Journal of Environmental Health, 70 percent of the lemon wedges tested carried disease-causing microbes. The point is, you never know where germs are lurking so make sure you think and clean before you touch.
• Get more sleep on a daily basis. Sleep should be treated as a necessity rather than a luxury. Sleep deprivation can have serious short-term and long-term effects. That is why a good night’s rest will help cognitive functions and decrease your risk for chronic illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, mood disorders and alcoholism. Though the amount of sleep a person needs varies based on age, consistent sleeping patterns can improve life expectancy. Be sure to get enough sleep every night. It just might save your life.
• Turn down your music. If it’s too loud, i.e., over 80 decibels, then you are in danger of permanently damaging your hearing. Concert-goers, musicians, recording engineers, sound crews and loud machinery operators, are more likely to have long-term hearing loss. Turning down your headphones or speakers and exposing yourself to less noise now, will allow you to preserve your ears later into your life.
• You don’t need all those vitamins! In fact, Americans consume several vitamins in huge doses that can actually hurt your body. For example Vitamin A is known for aiding vision, bone health and immune function, but does not need to be absorbed outside a natural diet because high levels of it can become toxic in the body. This can cause liver problems, birth defects and central nervous system problems. Altogether, we spend almost $30 billion per year on unnecessary vitamins supplements. The need for vitamin supplements varies for everyone, be sure to consult your physician before starting or stopping any vitamin regiment.
Whatever your daily routine consists of, being more aware of and willing to kick harmful habits to the curb, in favor of healthy ones, will make you a stronger person mentally and physically. It’s fine to stick to your norms, but challenging yourself to be a healthier you is one thing you shouldn’t ignore.
Photo credit: Wes Peck