Time Your Health Right
Feel like all of the advice you hear tells you to do more?Eat more salad. Drink more water.But it's not just about doing more, it's about doing what you already do—like taking a walk or drinking coffee—at therighttime to maximize the benefits. "Your biological clock regulates when you produce certain hormones and chemicals that affect just about everything, from your energy levels to how quickly you burn calories," says Timothy H. Monk, PhD, director of human chronobiology research at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Click through to find out the best times to do everything each day.
Protein is the nutrient that's crucial to helping you feel satisfied, and eggs clock in at about 6 grams of protein each. "Protein lowers levels of hormones that prompt hunger and boosts levels of hormones that help you feel full," says Heather Leidy, PhD, who led a study at the University of Missouri-Columbia that found a protein-rich breakfast reduces cravings and overeating.
"You're at your best mentally mid-morning, since this is when your body temperature rises and levels of the hormone cortisol peak. These changes keep you alert," says Dr. Monk. Schedule tasks that require focus and attention, like paying bills or planning meals.
Sip a cup of java with lunch and you may reduce your risk of diabetes—without disrupting your sleep later. Drinking a few cups of coffee (regular or decaf) per day was associated with a 34% lower risk of developing diabetes in a recentAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutritionstudy. Experts think that compounds in coffee can help regulate your body's blood sugar response to a meal. Having it now ensures that the buzz wears off before bedtime.
Make the most of that early-afternoon zombie feeling (caused by a natural dip in energy, says Dr. Monk) by doing fairly easy tasks that don't require much brainpower. Tidy up around the house or clear out your email inbox.
Give in to those afternoon munchies and you won't be ravenous at dinner. In fact, one study found that dieters who snacked in the afternoon shed 11% of their total body weight over one year, compared with morning nibblers, who lost just 7%. Grab an apple with almonds or carrots with salsa.
Moving your workout to later in the day may help you lose more weight. "Your body temperature is at its highest in the late afternoon/early evening, and studies show that you burn more calories and fat when you work out now because your muscles are warm and your metabolism is higher," says Shirley Archer, spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise and author ofFitness 9 to 5. Even 10 minutes of movement can help, so step outside for a brisk walk or jog.
Your liver breaks down alcohol more rapidly between 2 P.M. and 10 P.M., meaning you can drink a glass of wine without becoming as tipsy, says John D. Palmer, PhD, a professor at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst who specializes in biological rhythms. Have that glass of wine with a healthy dinner: Food slows the rate at which your body absorbs alcohol, and too much alcohol weakens your inhibitions (which can lead to overeating).
"Your body needs fat to absorb vitamin D, and dinner is typically the meal that contains the most fat," says Guy Mulligan, MD, an endocrinologist at the Cleveland Clinic. In fact, taking vitamin D with the largest meal of the day boosted levels in the bloodstream by 50%, according to Dr. Mulligan's research.
Centering this time on family and friends will help you wind down and relax before going to bed, says Arthur Stone, PhD, vice chair of the department of psychiatry at Stony Brook University Medical Center in New York. Dr. Stone's research found that levels of positive emotions in women, like feeling happy, peaked at 7 P.M. and lasted the rest of the night. Doing something social maximizes these natural feelings of calm.
Tempted to just sleep off a headache or muscle soreness? Don't. "Pain or discomfort causes changes in your brainwaves that keep you in the lighter stages of sleep," says Michael Breus, PhD, a fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine. If you have aches and pains, take an over-the-counter painkiller like ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), acetaminophen (Tylenol) or naproxen sodium (Aleve) at least 30 minutes before bed. But avoid medications that contain caffeine, like Excedrin.
It's called beauty sleep for a reason. "As you sleep, your skin regenerates and your cells repair the collagen and elastin that keeps skin looking taut and healthy," says dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD, author ofSkin Rules. That's why most antiaging treatments are recommended for before-bed use (the ingredients enhance the process). You can also help reverse damage with this at-home facial: Mash 10 blueberries and mix with 1 Tbsp plain yogurt. Apply a layer to your face and neck, then wash off after 15 minutes. The blueberries have skin-repairing antioxidants and the yogurt contains lactic acid, which helps exfoliate skin, says Dr. Jaliman.
Video: How to improve your health with the right sleeping position - right and wrong sleeping posture
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