Healthy sleep: one of five keys to health and wellness
On the most basic level, we all want to live a long and healthy life. While material possessions, career success and other achievements can enhance our lives, the most essential element of living well is your overall health and wellness. So, what steps do you need to take to guard and improve your health?
For the past 12 years, we have looked at different technologies, theories and innovations to help our clients achieve success in terms of their health and wellness. There have been important advances in diagnosing and treating illness, from genetic risk factor analyses to high tech tools and leading edge drugs. At the end of the day, however, although each individual is unique, wellness and longevity are largely dependent upon how well you devote yourself to addressing the quality of five key elements:
- Nutrition: You truly are what you eat, so choose foods that help you maintain a healthy weight, provide good quality nutrition and help you manage your risk for chronic conditions like heart disease.
- Fitness: Whether you think of it as “physical activity” or “fitness”, the point is to exercise regularly, whether you’re walking, swimming, biking, or working out at the gym.
- Sleep: A number of studies have found a link between lack of adequate sleep and a myriad of health problems, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and depression. Some studies have even found a correlation between a failure to get enough sleep and an increased risk of dying from heart disease.
- Stress management: It can be difficult, but it’s essential to find effective strategies for managing stress and use them regularly. Stress has been linked to a wide range of health problems, from heart disease and asthma to accelerated aging.
- Risk factor management: It is equally important to follow appropriate testing and screening guidelines for early detection and treatment of illness.
How conventional medicine is failing you
Conventional medicine and primary care physicians tend to be best at addressing risk factor management. Physicians order tests and arrange screenings based on established practice guidelines. They treat you with medication based on the results of the testing or screening. They react when you become ill. Obviously this is a generalization, however there tends to be limited personalization and patients who have specific risk factors are rarely exposed to the unique technologies that might lead to early diagnosis and treatment. The goal of practice standards is to gather and assess clinical evidence and draw best practices from this information. This standardized approach, however, often does not take into account the fact that each individual is unique and would benefit from an approach to wellness and disease prevention that is tailored to his or her specific health situation.
In most cases, because they focus on disease management or risk factor management, primary care providers as a rule do not address the other four equally critical objectives – nutrition, fitness, sleep and stress management – that are integral to the success of a health and wellness plan to optimize longevity. It is not the physician’s fault; traditional medical education doesn’t provide any specific training in this area and a typical 10-15 minute office visit does not allow the time to address these important issues. An appointment that brief barely allows the time to address risk factors and screening.
Make a plan and live it
That raises the question—how can you know what you need to do to lead a healthier life and lower your risk of preventable illness? You need to find a partner who can focus on your individual needs, risk factors and health goals, someone who bases risk factor management and prevention on the unique needs, desires and concerns of the individual patient.
Longevity and wellness are simple in concept yet incredibly difficult to achieve without a plan and a team working with you to help you achieve your goals. Your partner should help educate and empower you and help you design and implement a truly personalized plan that properly addresses your nutrition, fitness, sleep and stress management needs. Every moment you spend focused on these fuller objectives is an investment in your most valuable asset.