For something so crucial to your quality of life as your health, there are certain shocking health facts that can make it difficult to know just what to do to stay healthy.
1. Night nap or stay awake?
You had to work late for a meeting. Now it’s 4am, and you have to be at work at 7am. Should you try to get a couple hours of sleep, or is it better to just stay up and deal?
According to experts, even though you may want to take that nap, it may not be the best thing for you, says Michael A. Grandner, PhD, research associate at the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at the University of Pennsylvania.
“If you get less than 4 hours, there’s a good chance that you’ll wake up in slow-wave sleep, which can leave you disoriented, irrational and extremely irritable,” Grandner says.
So, what should you do? Drink some coffee and keep busy until your regular bedtime. NOTE: This is different during the day when you want to just take a quick power nap. Your body reacts differently and better during the day, since it’s not your normal hour of sleep.
2. Which is worse: sitting for too long or smoking?
Just about everyone knows that both sitting down for too long and smoking are both pretty bad for your health. But which one is worse?
A group of Australian researchers recently tried to find out by analyzing data from a lifestyle survey with 11,247 participants over the age of 25. The result? The team concluded that every daily hour of sitting while watching TV was associated with an 8 percent higher risk of death.
“Watching one hour of TV above age 25 may be about as lethal as smoking one cigarette,” says J. Lennert Veerman, PhD, a senior research fellow at the University of Queensland, who led the study.
Yes, smoking causes many cancers–lung, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach and cervix–as well as acute myeloid leukemia. But, prolonged sitting has been associated with higher risks of heart disease, diabetes and obesity-related illness.
So, what should you do? Or rather, not do? “While smoking rates are going down, almost everyone watches quite a bit of TV,” says Veerman. He recommends limiting couch time to two hours per day or night.