You’ve probably heard about melatonin, a hormone your body produces at night to help you get your beauty sleep. But did you know there’s a link between melatonin and weight loss? That’s right: Scientists are finding that the “sleep hormone” is intricately connected to metabolism and weight loss, and that it plays a role in other important body processes as well.1
Read on as we discuss how melatonin works in the body—and the many ways it affects your metabolism, sleep and natural body rhythms. We’ll also look at how you can optimize your own production of this important hormone to help you along your weight loss journey.
How Melatonin Works in Your Body
1. It’s intricately linked to circadian rhythms.
According to the National Sleep Foundation2, melatonin is produced and released in a daily circadian rhythm—the natural 24-hour cycle of light and darkness that helps to regulate the sleep/wake cycle that has been linked to weight loss. The gland in your brain that controls the production and release of melatonin is activated around sundown, when it begins to release the hormone into the bloodstream, helping to prepare your body for sleep. Melatonin levels rise sharply at around 9 p.m. and stay elevated for approximately 12 hours, until levels begin to drop to barely detectable daytime levels.
2. It promotes sleep.
Naturally secreted by your pineal gland, melatonin helps facilitate sleep. This is important for a number of health reasons, including that studies have found a link between length and quality of sleep and weight loss.3 What’s more, researchers have found that even partial sleep deprivation, if chronic, can increase the risk of obesity and diabetes.4
3. It may boost the production of a good type of body fat.
Although more research is needed, initial studies on animals5 have shown that melatonin increases the amount of beige fat—sometimes referred to as brown fat—in the body. This type of fat helps to burn calories instead of storing them, unlike the more dangerous white fat (usually found around the abdominal region).6 The researchers found that melatonin does this by inducing the “browning” of white fat, actually transforming it into the healthier, fat-burning type.
4. It may help reduce body weight.
In a small study7 of postmenopausal women, researchers found that subjects who took a daily melatonin supplement experienced reduced body weight, along with an improvement in sleep quality, after 24 weeks. The researchers state that melatonin secretion begins to decline with age, primarily affecting postmenopausal women—which may help explain the tendency to gain weight after menopause.
Research8 shows that suppression of melatonin—often brought on by night-time light—can cause significant shifts in the circadian rhythm. Irregular circadian rhythms are linked to a range of health problems, including depression, diabetes, obesity and sleep disorders.9
5. It helps prevent insulin resistance.
According to research10, melatonin is at least partly responsible for regulating normal metabolic processes related to the action of insulin. If melatonin production is reduced, the researchers say, insulin resistance and glucose intolerance can result. Both of these conditions are strongly linked to obesity.
How to Boost Melatonin Naturally
Melatonin plays a vital role in so many different body processes—so how can you naturally optimize yours? Here are a few ways you can boost the production of this beneficial hormone and potentially your health and weight loss along the way.
Avoid light when sleeping.
Melatonin is only produced in a relatively dark environment; sunlight and indoor lighting prevent its release.11 Make sure you sleep in a comfortable, dark room, and protect yourself from outside light, such as bright porch lights. Also, try to avoid screen time—whether TV, computer or phone—for at least an hour before bed, as the blue light these devices emit can dramatically affect the production and release of melatonin.12Read these other sleep hygiene tips to get a better night’s sleep tonight.
Research from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine13 also shows that exposure to light during sleep may increase insulin resistance. In fact, the researchers found that just one night of light exposure had an adverse effect on measures of insulin resistance. While the researchers state that the impact they witnessed is “acute,” they say more research is needed to determine whether chronic exposure to light during sleep has long-term effects on metabolic function.
Get bright light early in the day.
Get out into the sunlight in the morning—or, if you are unable to get outside, seek out a bright indoor light. Research14 shows that exposure to bright light early in the day causes melatonin to be produced earlier in the evening—and that sleep comes more easily.
Get regular exercise.
Researchers15 have found that just one hour of moderate exercise “contributed significantly” to the amount of melatonin produced at night. Use these simple tips to sneak more activity into your day.
Eat the right foods.
Experts16 say that the long-term safety of melatonin supplements hasn’t been established. To boost your melatonin naturally, focus on these foods, which are some of the highest in melatonin17:
Nuts, particularly pistachios
We hope you found these tips and information helpful. While more research is needed to better understand all the health benefits surrounding melatonin, it’s clear that the hormone plays an important role when it comes to your health.
If you’re thinking about making a lifestyle change to improve your health, Jenny Craig can help. Contact us to book a free appointment and get started today.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a rare condition that affects the function of nerves and muscles. A little over 5,000 cases of ALS are diagnosed each year. In 5 to 10 percent of cases, ALS is considered hereditary, while the rest of cases have no known cause.
There is a need for increased awareness of what ALS is, what causes it, and whether it can be prevented so more people can recognize its symptoms and implement ALS prevention measures in their lives.1 It’s a very challenging disease that has broad-reaching impact on the people living with ALS, their families, friends and communities. Our family at Jenny Craig has been impacted by this disease, and we hope that by bringing awareness to ALS, we can help support the pursuit of a cure.
Read on as we discuss ALS symptoms, risk factors and research around ALS prevention.
The word “amyotrophic” is rooted in Greek and provides clues to ALS’ side effects. According to the ALS Association, “a" means “no.” "Myo" refers to muscle and "trophic" means nourishment. Together, these elements are translated as "no muscle nourishment.”
ALS is a neurodegenerative disease, where the nervous system’s or brain’s cells lose their ability to function.2 ALS is progressive in nature, meaning that it becomes more severe as it develops. ALS affects the nerve cells in both the spinal cord and the brain. When an individual develops ALS, muscles begin to lose their nourishment, which leads to muscle atrophy. As muscles atrophy, their fibers shrink, which causes them to slowly deteriorate.3
As its name indicates, ALS affects the lateral area of the spinal cord. This lateral region houses the portions of nerve cells that control and signal muscles within the body. As nerve cell degeneration occurs, the area becomes hardened or scarred, which is referred to as sclerosis.4
Two types of ALS
There are two different types of ALS that can affect individuals: sporadic ALS or familial ALS.
Sporadic ALS: is the most common form of ALS in the United States and accounts for 90 to 95 percent of all cases. Sporadic ALS can manifest itself in anyone at any given time during their life.5
Familial ALS: is inherited. In families with a history of familial ALS, there is a 50 percent chance that a child will inherit the gene for ALS and may develop the disease. Familial ALS accounts for five to ten percent of all ALS cases in the United States.5
Common symptoms of ALS
ALS symptoms can vary depending upon how quickly the disease progresses and the unique manifestation of its symptoms.6 However, the ALS Association identifies several common symptoms associated with the onset of ALS, including:
Progressive muscle weakness
Abnormal fatigue of the arms and/or legs
Muscle cramps and twitches
As ALS progresses, individuals typically experience muscle weakness and paralysis. Once the muscles that control breathing are impacted, individuals with ALS often require permanent support to assist with and maintain normal breathing patterns.6
ALS risk factors
While there is still much to learn about this disease, scientists and researchers have been able to identify several risk factors:
ALS often develops in individuals between the ages of 40 and 70 and the average age of diagnosis is 55.
Military veterans are roughly twice as likely to develop ALS compared to the general public. Researchers believe this may be connected to physical trauma or exposure to toxins.7
ALS is 20 percent more likely to occur in men than in women.8
With this knowledge, recent studies continue to uncover information about treatments and methods to reduce the risks of developing ALS.
Reducing the risk for developing ALS
Scientists and researchers have not yet found methods to prevent or cure ALS, but they continue to make progress with different treatments and medications to lessen the risk of its development and ease its symptoms. One study published in the Annals of Neurology indicated that a greater consumption of carotenoids, specifically beta-carotene, may be associated with a reduced risk of ALS.9 Beta-carotene is found naturally in pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato, collard greens, kale, turnips, winter squash, and cantaloupe.10 Adding more of these foods to your diet is a healthy way to get more essential vitamins and antioxidants and maybe help fight against developing or potentially delaying this disease.11
Raising awareness with Augie’s Quest
One of Jenny Craig’s board members, Augie Nieto, was diagnosed with ALS in March 2005. As one of the most successful innovators and entrepreneurs in the fitness industry, Augie’s diagnosis of ALS gave him a new mission: conquering his devastating disease. Augie’s Quest, together with the ALS Therapy Development Institute, is an aggressive, cure-driven effort singularly focused on ALS treatments and cures. To date, the nonprofit institute has identified a potential treatment for the disease, developed in-depth research databases, and launched the Precision Medical Program to bridge the gap between scientists and those with ALS.11
Being a new father is exciting, but between diaper changes and sleepless nights, it can be difficult to focus on your health. You might be wondering how you can find the time–and energy–to make healthy dinners and stay in shape (because with or without kids, finding the time to prioritize your health can prove challenging!).
Many new dads experience this same dilemma. It’s probably one of the reasons “dad bod” became a trending term. A recent study showed men entering fatherhood were more likely to see their BMI increase as compared to their single counterparts—who actually tended to lose weight over the same period of time.1
As you focus on caring for the newest member of your family, don’t forget to care for yourself—being mindful of your health is one of the best ways to make sure you’ll have the energy to keep up with your little one. Use these helpful tips to help stay on a healthy path while still spending lots of time with your new bundle of joy.
1. Make better health your goal
While losing weight is a common goal to set that can lead to better health, when you’re in the midst of living around a newborn’s schedule, it may be more helpful to reframe your goals around just getting healthy. Start small. During nap time, cut up some fresh vegetables and keep them in the fridge for easy access. And if you can, meal plan every weekend for the week, so you’re not making impulse decisions at the drive-through. Outsource meal-planning if possible, and get the support you need to help you with your health goals. And remembering why you want to get healthy is always a good way to keep up your motivation, so write down your “why”; is it to be able to play with your kids without getting out of breath? Being a good role model for them? Keep those motivations in a spot that you’ll see often.
2. Eat according to your circadian rhythm
Life is busy, especially with a new baby. Focusing on feeding your baby may have you putting your mealtimes on the back burner! In fact, a recent survey found that parents eat approximately 156 meals while standing up each year. One way to help prevent excess weight gain and to assist with weight loss is to eat with your circadian rhythm.2
Your circadian rhythm refers to the mental, behavioral and physical changes that occur in your body over a 24-hour cycle.3 When you have limited time, working with your body’s circadian natural rhythm may help maximize your metabolism’s efficiency.4 When you eat and what you eat both contribute to weight loss.
To eat in accordance with your circadian rhythm, make sure to start your day with a healthy breakfast. Researchers have found that regularly eating breakfast may help with weight loss by reducing hunger, providing you with more energy and setting you up to make smart food choices throughout the day.5 Another tip: Avoid late-night snacking to allow your body the time to properly rest and focus on repairing its cells rather than digesting food. Ideally, allowing 12 hours between your last meal and first meal of the day can help this repair process.
3. Don’t skimp on sleep
Shut-eye is a precious commodity for most new parents, and studies show getting enough sleep may be essential to achieving a healthy weight.6 Sleep and weight loss have a strong connection: too little may make you more likely to reach for unhealthy snacks and eat more between meals.7 In one study, adults who slept only four hours a night reported they were hungrier than those who slept for 10 hours.8 Why? Lack of sleep tends to lead to an increase in the production of the hunger hormone, ghrelin.9 What’s more, those who sleep less may also be more likely to feel fatigued and engage in less physical activity.10 So while healthy eating and staying active is important to improve your health, getting enough z’s each night is just as crucial.
4. Hydrate with water
Taking care of a newborn can be exhausting, which may motivate you to reach for a that extra-sweet latte or sugary energy drink. While delicious, your favorite caffeine-packed drink can hold hidden calories, contributing to weight gain without you even realizing it.11
The best way to avoid these liquid calories is to drink more water and cut back on beverages like soda and energy drinks. Drinking water nourishes your body and can quench your thirst. Want extra flavor? Try adding a lemon wedge or sliced cucumbers for a refreshing twist without the added sugar.
Like sugary drinks, alcohol may also set back your weight loss goals. Reaching for a nightcap after a long day might be tempting, but alcohol may hinder your weight loss by interfering with sleep, adding extra calories to your diet and impairing your ability to make good food choices. Try a healthier alternative: unwind with a soothing herbal tea instead.
5. Stress less
It can be stressful to balance family time, work obligations and other responsibilities when you welcome a new baby into your busy life. But be wary: Chronic stress may lead to weight gain by increasing cortisol levels, a hormone that is naturally produced in response to a crisis.12-13 Increased levels of cortisol may boost your insulin levels, leading to a drop in blood pressure. As a result, you may be more likely to reach for foods high in fat and sugar that you’d usually avoid.14
To help reduce your stress levels, make time for yourself to do something you enjoy. Whether it’s shooting hoops with your friends, or taking a walk just to gather your thoughts—it’s a great way to combat stress and ensure that you’re taking care of yourself! When you’re happier and healthier, you can better support your family and enjoy your time with them.
6. Get moving
Finding time to be active doesn't mean you need to spend less time with your little one. Get the best of both worlds by choosing an activity you can do together. Grab the stroller or baby carrier and go for a walk together around the neighborhood. Once your child is old enough, spending the day at the park or playground will keep you both moving.
Finding ways to increase your activity in little ways can add up and help keep you on track toward better health.
Say hello to healthy habits
Welcoming a baby into the world is an exciting and busy time, so to make time for yourself, you might have to get a little creative! When you strive to get more sleep and pay more attention to the foods you’re eating, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the way your body responds. As a new dad, it’s important you create healthy habits to keep up with your little one for years to come–the physical benefits are the nice bonus!
Ready to take the next step? Learn more about improving your health with a weight loss program backed by scientific research. Contact Jenny Craig for a free appointment to get started!
Two words: Treat yourself (in a healthy way, of course!)
When was the last time you did something you enjoyed, just for you? Juggling everything in your life can feel overwhelming—from family, to work, to trying to maintain a social life— you’re probably left with very little “me time.” Whether you’re busy and single, a working mom or stay-at-home parent, these self-care tips are easy to incorporate into any lifestyle.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is just what it sounds like–taking the time to care for yourself. Feeling stressed can make you feel exhausted, irritable and even impact your physical health!1 The simplest way to think about self-care is to take a note from the Golden Rule: Treat yourself the way you’d treat someone you love.
Benefits of Self-Care
Stop putting yourself last. To appreciate the benefits of self-care, you’ll need to put yourself first, so don’t be shy–you deserve it!
1. You'll Stress Less
Stress causes the body to release a hormone called cortisol into the bloodstream, which may lead to a number of different negative side effects, including weight gain.2 While some stressors are normal, learning to manage and monitor stress can help get you through difficult times.
2. You’ll Be a Better Caretaker
Let’s set the record straight: Self-care isn’t selfish. Sometimes putting your needs first can help you to take care of others in healthy and productive ways, and that’s nothing to feel guilty about!3,4
3. You’ll Be Present
By making self-care a priority, you’ll force yourself to take stock of the simple things you enjoy, helping you to feel present mentally and physically. Need a little help? Breathe in slowly for five seconds and breathe out for another five seconds to clear your mind and refocus.
4. You'll Be More Productive
A little self-care goes a long way! Taking care of yourself mentally and physically, by getting enough sleep and eating wholesome food, may help boost your productivity.5
5. You'll Boost Your Focus
It’s tough to give tasks your full attention when you feel overworked and tired. Start changing this by prioritizing rest periods and giving your body the time it needs to recharge.6
Self-Care Tips for Everyone
There are so many ways you can practice self-care–just remember to keep it simple! Self-care doesn’t need to disrupt your schedule or be expensive. Check out these great self-care ideas to help you get started:
Enjoy a relaxing massage.
Sit somewhere peaceful and read a book.
Spend ten minutes meditating.
Incorporate light walking into your weekly routine.
Take a long bath without distractions.
Mindfully enjoy a healthy version of the foods you love.
Take a break from your electronics for an hour.
Take a 20-minute nap.7
The Importance of Self-Care
Just remember: You can’t pour from an empty cup. If you’re spending all your time and energy on everything and everyone around you, you might not be taking the best care of yourself or the people you care about. Making time for self-care sets you up for success. When you feel happier and more content, it’s easier to share that positivity with everyone around you.
Looking after your health is one of the best ways to practice self-care! To learn more about the positive effects a weight loss program can have on your health goals, contact Jenny Craig for a free appointment today.
As a parent, you are undoubtedly determined to create the best life possible for your children. And chances are, helping them to live a long, healthy life is part of the plan. This prospect can be daunting, however, especially if you are new to parenthood: After all, you are responsible for determining how to raise healthy children—and then doing it!
Rest assured, that you can raise healthy kids. It starts with focusing on being healthy yourself and creating an environment that instills healthy habits in your children. Read on for eight habits of healthy families.
1. Instill Healthy Habits Early On
To instill lifelong positive habits in your kids, it’s good to establish healthy patterns at an early age. If your children become accustomed to eating unhealthfully during their early years, it can make it more difficult to change their eating patterns later-on. By introducing their palates to various fruits and vegetables at an earlier age, they may grow more accustomed to the different tastes and come to like them, maybe even prefer them to unhealthy alternatives (it can happen!).
Exposure to different flavors, textures, herbs and even mild spices at a young age can also help build their palates to foods that are flavored by more than oil and salt. If they are hesitant, try introducing a new food in conjunction with something they already like.
2. Practice Mindful Eating
When considering different ways to be healthy for kids, consider when and where you eat. Eating while distracted by a TV, phone or computer is not ideal for either parents or kids, as distracted eating can lead you to eat more.1
Things can get complicated when food is used as a reward or punishment for certain behaviors, a method to soothe oneself or as a distraction.2,3 By changing to a mindful-eating mindset, focus on dedicating the time of consuming food to nourish your body. Try to set an example for your kids that eating is a mindful experience, paying attention to hunger cues and that when you feel satiated, you can stop eating.4
3. Plan Healthy Choices in Advance
If you want your children to make healthy food choices, make it easy for them by keeping an abundance of healthy foods in the house. Even better, have those foods prepared and ready to go so that eating something unhealthy does not become an easier option than choosing healthy alternatives.
When your children are hungry and looking for something to eat, make it easy for them to make a healthy choice. Whether it’s celery with almond butter, low-fat yogurt with fruit, carrots with hummus or a dozen different options in between, there are many healthy snacks that your kids are likely to enjoy.
4. Encourage Daily Activity
Exercise and movement are an important part of daily life. A good habit to develop is taking an evening walk or a bike ride as a family, go to the park or play a family sport—the possibilities are virtually endless. Team sports are also a great way to keep your children active—and they’re a good way to get social interaction, both for your children and you.
Whatever you do, make it fun and keep it consistent. The earlier you start, the more your kids can have the groundwork to continue living an active life, well into adulthood.
5. Eat Meals Together
Schedules can get crazy, and dinnertime usually is a hectic time with the race of commuting from work, after school activity and homework. But by creating a family dinner routine, it can help you and your children get much-needed time to reconnect after the busyness of the day.
If you can lead by example and sit with them, eat with them, talk with them, and be relatively consistent with dinner timing, this can be a time that you all can look forward to and try new foods together. As they watch their family eat and enjoy a food they may be unfamiliar with, they may be more willing to try it and enjoy it.
Eating together as a family can also improve your children’s nutritional health. According to the American Psychological Association5, when families eat at least three meals together per week, the children are 24 percent more likely to eat healthy foods when compared to families in which few or no meals are eaten together. The children are also 12 percent less likely to be overweight.
6. Make Sure Everyone Gets Enough Sleep
While eating healthy food and getting enough exercise is important, it’s also vital for children to get the right amount of sleep each night to function optimally.6 It’s good to start as early as possible on helping your little ones get good sleep and setting a nightly routine that they can come to expect, so that a focus on adequate, healthy sleep becomes a habit and a normal part of life. Also, if they know that every night they have the same routine, it may cut down on the “bedtime negotiations” of trying to get a later bedtime.
To help establish healthy sleep, try following your circadian rhythm, or the natural 24-hour cycle of light and darkness. The premise is fairly simple: Sleep when it’s dark and rise when it’s light; doing so not only helps ensure better sleep, but it can also help facilitate weight loss and improve many aspects of your health.
In addition to following your circadian rhythm, it can be helpful to create routines surrounding bedtime:
Institute regular bedtimes.
When getting ready for bed, remove electronics, which may interfere with restful sleep.
Cultivate an environment of rest and relaxation that promotes restful sleep. This may include a bath or shower before bed, storytime, and then a dark, cozy room to sleep in.
And practice good sleep hygiene. Even though you may not go to bed at the same time as your children, it’s important to model healthy sleep habits for your children so they understand and value the importance of sleep for the entire family.
7. Avoid Negative Body Talk
Children are attentive to their parents and emulate what they see, so be kind to yourself and try not to dwell on negative aspects of your body. Instead, maybe focus on the parts of your body that you are proud of, and emphasize for them (and yourself) that everybody is different … and beautiful.
8. Be a Positive Role Model
One of the most important steps you can take to create a healthy family is to model healthy behaviors for your children. After all, if you encourage your children to adopt healthy behaviors but routinely engage in unhealthy ones, you’re sending mixed messages. Show them how to be healthy through your own actions.
Creating a healthy environment for yourself and your children is built on making simple, consistent choices over time. By making the decision every day to engage in healthy habits, you are helping to ensure better health for you and your children—not only for today, but for the future.
These are just helpful tips for you and your family to develop healthy habits, each family is different and always consult your healthcare professional for any health-related concerns.
Need some help implementing healthy habits of your own? Jenny Craig can help! Our approach to weight loss combines delicious, nutritious meals and one-on-one guidance from your own personal weight loss consultant. Contact Jenny Craig for a free appointment to get started today.
In your 20’s, you may not be in the habit of thinking too much about your health and wellness long-term. After all, other than catching a common cold here and there, maybe a few strained muscles and a cavity now and again, you may feel like you’re in top form, with no major health issues yet. Plus, you’ve got other responsibilities competing for your time and attention, whether it’s finishing college, starting your career, tending to your family and personal relationships, or managing your finances.
We get it: It’s a lot to handle and a lot to figure out. Yet it’s important that you start prioritizing your health and wellness in your 20s—not only to stay healthy now, but to remain healthy later. Here’s a look at what you can do to help optimize your health and wellness in your second decade … and for decades to come.
Stay on Top of Doctor’s Visits and Screening Tests
While health concerns are generally less likely in your 20s than in your older years, certain conditions are more likely to develop now, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and other immune-system disorders.1
To be sure you stay in optimal health, take the time to find a doctor while you are well rather than waiting until you are sick. Schedule a comprehensive physical exam so your doctor can do a thorough health assessment; be certain to let her know if you or members of your family have had any medical conditions, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure.
In addition to regular checkups with your doctor, the National Institutes of Health2 recommends specific health tests and procedures beginning in your 20s, including the following:
Blood pressure: You should have your blood pressure checked every three to five years as long as your test results are normal. If it seems to be creeping up (with the top number—the systolic—reaching 120, or the bottom number—the diastolic—reaching 80), have it checked yearly. You may also need to have your blood pressure checked more often if you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems or other medical conditions; be sure to check with your doctor.
Breast health: Ask your doctor if you should be doing monthly breast exams to help screen for cancer. Mammograms are generally not recommended until age 40, but if you have a close relative (mother or sister, for example) who was diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age, your doctor may recommend getting a mammogram earlier.
Cholesterol: Ask your doctor if you should have a cholesterol screening, which is recommended for women between the age of 20 and 45.
Dental: Get a full exam and cleaning once or twice per year, per your dentist’s recommendation.
Diabetes: You should be screened for diabetes if you have a body mass index over 25 and you have other risk factors, or if your blood pressure is above 135/80.
Gynecological: If you're female, beginning at age 21, you should have a pelvic exam and Pap smear every three years to screen for cervical cancer.
Immunizations: In addition to getting a flu shot every year, talk to your doctor about other vaccines you may need, including HPV (human papillomavirus); pneumonia; TdAP (tetanus-diphtheria and acellular pertussis); and varicella (chickenpox).
Vision: You should have an eye exam every two years if you have vision problems, or more, per your optometrist. If you have diabetes, you need an exam at least once a year.
Some experts3 also recommend that you do a head-to-toe skin check monthly to look for new moles and make sure any existing ones have not changed shape, size or color. This is particularly important if you have a personal history of sunburns or a family history of skin cancer, or if you have a large number of moles.
Commit to Sleep
While staying out late on the weekends may happen regularly during your 20s: Remember that getting adequate sleep is vital to your short- and long-term health. Numerous studies4 have shown that insufficient sleep is linked to a number of serious health problems, including:
High blood pressure
Impaired immune function
To ensure that you get healthy amounts of sleep, try to follow as closely as you can your circadian rhythm, the natural 24-hour cycle of light and darkness. The rules are simple: Sleep when it’s dark and rise when it’s light (within reason, of course). In addition to aiding with sleep, living according to your circadian rhythm may help with weight loss5 and can influence many aspects of your health, including hormone release, digestion, depression and more.6
In addition, be sure to sleep in a dark room to help boost levels of the “sleep hormone” melatonin. Also avoid screen time before bed, as the blue light emitted from electronic devices can impair sleep.7
Put Your Phone Away When Driving
It goes without saying: Driving while distracted can be deadly. In 2015, nearly 3,500 people were killed nationwide in crashes involving distracted drivers, with an estimated additional 391,000 people injured.8
Distracted driving is particularly common among millennials. Research9 shows that large numbers of people within the 18- to 34-year-old group admit to “frequently” or “always” engaging in distracted behavior—such as sending or checking texts or e-mails—while behind the wheel. In fact, about 17 percent of millennials text or email while driving, compared with 4 percent of non-millennials.10
So for your own safety and that of the people around you: Put your phone away while driving. It’s just not worth the risk (and your friend won’t mind if you don’t respond immediately, we promise).
Find a Job You Love
Sure, everyone wants a job they’re excited to go to day in and out. But did you know the work you do beginning in your 20s can affect your mental health years later? According to researchers from Ohio State University11, people who reported low job satisfaction between the ages of 25 and 39 reported higher levels of depression, sleep problems and excessive worry in their 40s. They also scored lower on a test of overall mental health and were more likely to have been diagnosed with emotional problems.
Have a job you’re not thrilled about? The good news is that the researchers found that improvement in job satisfaction early on in one’s career helped mitigate the health problems listed above.
Keep Weight Gain in Check & Adopt Healthy Habits
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention12 reports that people tend to gain a disproportionate amount of weight between the ages of 19 and 29, with women gaining an average of 12 pounds and men gaining an average of 9. Yet gaining weight in your 20s goes far beyond aesthetics and being able to fit in your favorite pair of jeans: It can affect your long-term health.
Research13 shows that middle-aged men and women who had gained between 11 and 22 pounds after the age of 20 were up to three times more likely to develop heart disease, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes than those who’d gained 5 pounds or less.
What’s more, your weight and waist size—along with the amount of weight gained since your mid-20s—can increase your chances of developing several health problems, including:
To help maintain a healthy weight, try incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet; limit the amount of sugar you eat (and watch out for it in these common places); eat plenty of lean protein; make exercise a part of your daily life; watch your portion sizes; and get adequate sleep.
Find Work-Life Balance
It can be hard not to burn the midnight oil when you’re relatively new to the workforce and are eager to prove your dedication to your career and your employer. But it’s important that you try to establish a healthy work-life balance—not only because it’s good for your social and emotional health, but because it can be hard to change habits once they’re established (and once your co-workers are accustomed to your 24/7 availability).
Use these tips to help establish a healthy work-life balance:
Set reasonable limits. Try to establish sensible work hours—and expectations—from the outset. Let your co-workers know that you don’t routinely work during your off-hours … crises, deadlines and occasional heavy workloads notwithstanding, of course.
Set healthy boundaries for yourself. Resolve not to check email or voicemail from home—and turn off your phone notifications if you have a hard time ignoring every text and email that comes in.
Take your vacation time. Not only is it vital to unplug from work once-in-a-while, but taking a vacation may also be good for your health. Research14 has shown that among men who were at high risk for heart disease, those who took regular yearly vacations had a lower risk of dying during the study period, compared with those who didn’t take a vacation.
Find ways to reduce stress daily. Exercise, meditation, listening to music—do whatever works for you to help reduce your stress levels. Also consider reading for pleasure: Research15 shows that doing so can reduce stress by up to 68 percent.
And if you’re finding that you can’t quite make the commitment to work-life balance now, you may find the motivation to do it toward the end of this decade. Researchers16 have found that people in the last year of their 20s (as well as those in the last year of their 30s, 40s and 50s—what they call the "9-enders") often are more reflective of their lives and more likely to make dramatic changes.
We hope these tips help you start prioritizing your health and wellness starting now. Even though your later years may be a long way off, the steps you take today to safeguard your health can have dramatic impacts down the road.
Do you need more help instituting healthy habits? Contact Jenny Craig for a free appointment and get started today!