The Seven Fundamentals for Good Health: Number 1

How are your life-juggling skills holding up? Between job, family, friends, chores, and staying on your board while surfing the information tsunami, it’s easy to lose perspective—as well as practice—on the fundamentals that support good health. Do you feel like Erich Brenn and his spinning bowls, madly dashing to keep every part of your life moving?

 If you’ve lost the zing in your step or your plates are spinning out of control, it could be you are neglecting one or more of the practices that keep your magnificent body happy.

At Go Well PDX we’ve narrowed the field down to Seven Fundamentals for Good Health that will help keep your plates spinning smoothly (or maybe help you reduce the number of plates). Complete the quick assessment of the Seven Fundamentals below to identify where you are solid and where you could use a little support. At the end of the assessment we offer some tips on the first fundamental practice to help you boost your score and keep your plates spinning.

Assess Your Fundamentals for Good Health

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being lousy and 10 being excellent, estimate where you feel you are right now on the Seven Fundamentals for Good Health scale. Jot down the first number that comes to mind.

  1. How well are you sleeping?
  2. How well are you eating?
  3. How’s your water intake?
  4. How often do you exercise?
  5. How often do you go walking?
  6. How often do you take time to rest?
  7. How often do you laugh out loud?

Take a look at your scores. Any surprises? For any Fundamentals on which you scored 8 or above, congratulations! Good for you and keep up the great work! Your plates should keep spinning nicely.

If you scored less than 7 on any of the Fundamentals, it will serve you well to spend some time and effort improving your practice in those areas. Some may just require a little focus and intention to bring up your score and—in no time—you will feel better. Others may take a close, hard look to get to the root of the causes. If so, take heart. You have at the very least identified a place (or two) that may be holding you back from feeling your best; now take steps to improve.

How? In future posts we’ll take a closer look at each of the Seven Fundamentals for Good Health and offer tips and solutions to improve your score and the quality of your overall health. For now, let’s focus on some quick tips for the Number One practice: Sleep. Deep, luscious, glorious sleep.

How to Improve the Quality of Your Sleep

It’s been estimated that 70 percent of us are not getting enough quality sleep, meaning we are a culture of sleep-deprived humans. Yikes. That’s a scary enough thought to keep us awake at night. What’s enough sleep? What’s quality sleep? How do we get the sleep we need?

Since seven out of 10 of us are sleep-deprived, here are some tips to help improve the quality of your sleep—and they work immediately. (Watch for a future sleep post that goes into greater detail about the physiology of sleep.) The miracles that happen when we sleep are staggering: hormonal regulation, brain detoxifying, and muscle rebuilding are among the most important. For now, apply these practices and sleep well.

  1. Plan to get eight solid hours of sleep per night. Period. Block out eight hours: 10 to 6… 9 to 5… 11 to 7, whatever works for you. As much as practical, try to work with the natural rhythms of daylight—not easy in this electronic world. Identify a block of eight hours that works for you and do it. Try it for a week and see what happens. You will be surprised at how well you feel.
  2. Darken your room. You should not be able to see your hand in front of your face. Seriously. Remove all sources of light—the electric clocks, computers, nightlights (replace with motion-activated lights), all electronics, your neighbor’s light coming in through the window. Our pineal glands stimulate the secretion of the necessary sleep-inducing melatonin when there is an absence of light. Give it a try tonight. You will be surprised at the difference in sleep quality.
  3. Speaking of your bedroom: Honor your space. Make it sacred. Reserve it for two things: rejuvenating sleep and intimate sexual interludes. Get your office out of your bedroom. Move the TV, computer and PlayStation. You will be amazed at the difference when you honor your space.
  4. Sleep cool. Turn down the thermostat. Our bodies start kicking in with all the magic when the room is cooler—say between 55 and 65 degrees.
  5. Though a little out of our control: Sleep without noise distractions. This one may be easier said than done. However, a snoring partner or persistent pets may be contributors to excess noise that can disturb sleep. Explore options for reducing or eliminating the noise.
  6. Prepare for sleep. Treat sleep as though it’s one of the highlights and most important parts of your daily/nightly routine. To prep: Take a shower or bath and wash away the day. Read something non-work related. Close the computer. Leave Facebook alone an hour or so before hitting the sheets. Meditate. Still yourself. Let your body celebrate the anticipation of sleep. Then, sink into your dreams.

If you suffer from a sleep disorder, by all means get some help from a sleep specialist and good luck. For the rest of the 70 percent, try these ideas on for size. Sweet dreams tonight and every night.

More to come on the Fundamentals. Till then: Sleep well.

And Go Well!