I bet you’ve all heard the saying, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” While many people debate the amount of sleep we need, it's clear that getting enough sleep is only a portion of the battle and it's also clear that some people simply need less sleep to function.
Regardless, I'd bet that there are people getting 9 hours of sleep each night and then waking up just so they can begin their daily routine of habits that nullify the effects of such great sleep. So, what's the point? All of that sleep goes to waste! On the flipside, there are people only getting 6 hours of sleep that understand how to employ habits that will reinforce the benefits that sleep brings - subsequently they need less.
While we all understand the importance of sleep, let's reinforce it a little so we can maximize our energy, our money, and our brains. With that, put down the potato chips and turn off the Tivo. Let's get a little deeper into how we can really take a step towards health, wealth and wisdom.
Get Regular Exercise
- Healthy: This is a bit of a no-brainer; exercise keeps you fit, helps you to keep your weight at the right level, and boosts your immune system. It’s also great for your mental health – doctors often advise regular exercise as a way of treating mild to moderate depression.
- Wealthy: Staying fit means you’re less likely to get ill and need to pay for expensive medical care. Also (and I don’t think this is a good thing), “attractive applicants have a better chance of getting jobs, and of receiving higher salaries.” (from Mirror, mirror - A summary of research findings on body image).
- Wise: Regular exercise can boost your brain power. I always find that I can concentrate better after a gym session, and sciences backs me up here: the New Scientist reports that, “Simply walking sedately for half an hour three times a week can improve abilities such as learning, concentration and abstract reasoning by 15 per cent.” (from 11 steps to a better brain). Apparently, exercise promotes the growth of new brain cells.
- Healthy: Eating well keeps your body in great condition. Getting all the nutrients that you need ensures that all your bodily processes are running well. That means simple things like getting your five-a-day, and making sure you have a good balance of foods from different food groups (try MyPyramid to see what you should be eating each day). Eating healthily also means keeping your weight at the right level.
- Wealthy: Good, fresh, wholesome food works out a lot cheaper than fast food and takeouts. Check out The Simple Dollar’s Is the Value Menu Really a Value?? to see how a McDonald’s double cheeseburger measures up to a homemade version. Try skipping your usual snacks and meals out for a week (brown-bag lunch and take fruit with you to work or school instead) – and count how much you save.
- Wise: Studies consistently show that people who eat good, healthy food perform better on tests than those who either haven’t eaten at all, or who’ve feasted on junk. “According to research published in 2003, kids breakfasting on fizzy drinks and sugary snacks performed at the level of an average 70-year-old in tests of memory and attention.” (from 11 steps to a better brain.)
- Healthy: If you regularly get drunk, you’re doing a lot of damage to your body. Alcohol is a poison which your body works hard to get rid of: this puts a strain on your liver and depletes your body’s vitamin supplies. Long term risks include liver failure; short term ones could involve injuries incurred while drunk. And alcoholic drinks also contain calories (as well as making that late-night kebab tempting), which is why some men develop a “beer belly”. On the plus side, most research indicates that a glass of red wine each day is beneficial to health.
- Wealthy: Alcohol is expensive. If you’re blowing half your paycheck on going out, you’re unlikely to be doing so well financially as colleagues who’re putting that money into a high-interest savings account. Why not drink a bit less every time you go out and put the money into savings instead?
- Wise: Drinking too much alcohol kills brain cells. You’ve probably noticed that if you have a drink or two, it’s harder to concentrate or do anything complicated. This effect continues even when you think you’re not drunk any more:
“Scientists examined the effect of alcohol on complex, or executive, brain functions such as abstract reasoning, planning and the ability to monitor our own behavior in response to external feedback. They found that performance in these areas was affected even after the concentration of alcohol in the blood had dipped to the point that people were no longer aware of its effect.” - Alcohol effect lingers on brain