It's pretty easy to get caught up in all that we do with our lives. In doing so, we pick up unhealthy habits and only realize them once they've gotten worse. Other times, there's a little thing that's been nagging us, and we want to figure out how to fix it. Without a doubt, it’s best to see a doctor if you think you have a serious condition. But for those of you who are looking for a little do-it-yourself action, check these health hacks out:
Sleep it Off
For all of you who say, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” you’re doing it wrong. Sleep is important for so many reasons besides improving basic brain function. Lacking it can cause injury, poor health, and difficulty socializing, as the effects of a sleep-deprived brain take hold. If you find yourself going to sleep late, waking up late, or not being able to sleep at all, you can get your body clock — aka circadian rhythm — back in sync by changing your eating schedule.
Stop eating about 16 hours before the time you want to be awake. Once you start eating again, your body clock will be reset, as if it’s the start of a new day. This can be especially useful for people traveling to different time zones who want to avoid jet lag, according to Dr. Clifford Saper, head of the department of Neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, who conducted a study on sleep and eating habits. “Simply avoiding any food on the plane, and then eating as soon as you land, should help you to adjust — and avoid some of the uncomfortable feelings of jet lag,” he said in a press release about the study.
Other sleep hacks: If you’re trying to study, or just need to memorize something boring, read it before going to sleep. This way, there’s nothing getting in-between what you learned and the longer-term memory-consolidation process that occurs while we sleep. Also, if you’re trying to get rid of acne, sleep with a clean towel on your pillow as well as a clean pillowcase, according to Derma Care Online. Makes sense, considering that sweat and oils from our face can rub off onto the pillows every night.
I See It… I See It!
All of us value our sight, but sitting in front of a computer for too long — as too many of us do — can cause us to turn nearsighted. You can give your eyes and computer screen, or what have you, a break by closing your eyes, tensing your body, taking a deep breath, and, after a few seconds, releasing both your muscles and breath at the same time, Anne Barber, an optometrist from Tacoma, Washington told Men’s Health. This works because tightening and releasing voluntary muscles can trick involuntary muscles like the eyes to relax as well. You can also take it back to when you were 5, and pretend your semi-closed fist is a telescope again. Doing this will only allow a “narrow beam of light to enter the eye… [reducing] the size of the circle of confusion on the retina” and increasing the depth of field, Lifehacker reported.
Other sight hacks: If you’re like the rest of us, you know the agonizing pain of stubbing your toe on a bed, and especially on a metal frame. Well, it turns out the pirates were on to something with their eye patches — they used them to see instantly when going into the darkness below their sunny decks. You can do the same thing when you wake up in the middle of the night. Keep one eye closed and cover it while you do whatever you need to do. Once you’re done, and back in the dark, uncover it and you’ll be able to see.
Regarding the Mouth
Gum is not just for chewing. While some say that it could abate hunger, studies have also shown that it can improve mental performance, including memory, cognitive reasoning, and attention. One study tested 159 students’ ability to repeat random numbers backward and solve difficult logic puzzles, among other tests. Students who were given gum before the tests — half of the total — outperformed the control group in five out of six tests. The study, however, found that gum improved mental performance only temporarily, for about 20 minutes.
If you already chew gum, but your mouth has suffered from chewing on the sugary kind, then chances are you’ve become pretty friendly with your dentist. For those of you who can’t tolerate all those instruments in your mouth, and who start to gag, making a fist and squeezing your left thumb can help. Although it’s largely unclear why this helps, one study found that it could have something to do with a pressure point in the palm.
If you haven’t become friendly with your dentist, but want to cure a small toothache, try rubbing ice on the upside of your hand, in the webbing between the index finger and thumb. Doing so can relieve up to 50 percent of toothache pain, according to a Canadian study, Mens Health reported.
Running Got Me Tired and in Pain
In a nation where obesity is still largely prevalent — more than one-third of Americans are obese — exercise can go a long way for helping to prevent obesity-related conditions, like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Running is one of the simplest ways to get this exercise. Doing it wrong, however, can lead to some painful cramps in your side, or a side stitch. Getting rid of these is as easy as controlling your breathing. According to The Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Men, most people who run exhale as their right foot hits the ground. This is wrong, since it puts downward pressure on the liver, which sits on the right side of the body. In turn, that pulls at the diaphragm and causes the cramp. Exhaling as the left foot hits the ground will fix this.
Also, if running has gotten you overheated, learn where your body’s cooling spots are. These spots, which are also called pulse points, are areas where the blood vessels are closest to the skin’s surface. You can cool off by pouring water over these areas or rubbing ice one them. Although they can be found all over, including on the tops of the feet, inner ankles, and inner elbows, the most effective places to apply water or ice are on the neck, wrists, and temples. Simply wrap a cold, wet bandana around these areas.