Sleep at core of healthier lifestyle
Bermudians who hope to improve their health as part of their new year’s resolutions should focus on achievable goals, said a New York doctor set to speak in Bermuda this month.
Paul Lee, medical director for Global Patient Services at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, believes those who are looking to improve their health in 2019 could take a tip from how businesses set their goals.
He said: “I think a part of it is that we need to know how to set a good goal to begin with.
“In the business world, they use the acronym Smart; specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based.”
Dr Lee suggested four steps to help improve health — including getting more sleep.
He said: “The first thing, which is very much overlooked, is to improve your sleep. Your first goal should be to ensure that you get enough sleep.
“People are just constantly sleep deprived today and they don’t realise how much that effects their health. People overestimate how much sleep they get.
“Most people need eight hours, but people get on average about seven hours. That’s really not enough.”
Dr Lee suggested that people take a break from electronic devices before going to bed to help them go to sleep easier and to avoid caffeine in the afternoon.
He also recommended that people start a sleep log, which would help to highlight if they are getting enough sleep and help their doctor treat any related issues.
Dr Lee also recommended that people increase the amount they exercise. He said: “Walking is just about the best medicine. We were built to walk and we don’t walk as much now.
“If you need to go somewhere and it’s less than a mile away, ditch the car and walk there. Get an app on your phone which counts your steps and use that to set a goal.
“Ten thousand steps a day is ideal, but telling some people to walk 10,000 a day can be difficult or challenging in the beginning. If so, set a goal that’s more appropriate and move up.”
Dr Lee added that those who already exercise can diversify their approach to improve their health, balancing strength training, cardio and balance-focused exercise such as yoga.
His third recommendation is to decrease overeating. He said that it can be a challenge, but there are small achievable goals that can help.
Dr Lee said: “You can try to substitute one snack with a healthier option — having carrots instead of chips. Try doing that once or twice a week.
“Perhaps you can reduce your plate size — we eat more when there’s more food on our plate. Remember to check in with yourself halfway and decide if you really need to eat more.”
His fourth suggestion is to improve your mindfulness by meditating or dedicating time away from electronics.
Dr Lee said: “I think a lot of us have becomes slaves to our smartphones these days, and it’s important to get some time away from them. Try to dedicate two nights a week that you are not using your mobile phone or set up a “no phone zone” somewhere — ideally your bedroom.
“Meditate ten minutes a day before you go to work or pick a couple of days to do something for yourself that you enjoy doing that doesn’t involve a screen.”
For those who are already struggling to keep up with their new year’s resolutions, he suggested finding a friend or family member who will support your efforts — and do it in person rather than on social media.
Dr Lee said: “Increasing real social contact, getting together with some one face-to-face has so many benefits to your health.”
Dr Lee will speak at a physicians and health professionals seminar organised by the Bermuda Heart Foundation and NewYork-Presbyterian on January 26 at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club.