We asked this last week and the first response was written in giant letters. SLEEP. Most people agreed, whether they added themselves to the tally or not.
We know this. Sleep is essential to both daily well-being and long-term optimal health. It’s the best anti-aging medicine – better than anything you can do in all the hours you’re awake. Nothing replaces what sleep does for your body – not exercise, not food, not caffeine, not supplements. Lack of sleep dis-regulates all other bodily systems, from your brain function, to your appetite, to your immunity and more.
This fact is what makes sleep one of the most important and impactful keystone habits you can control. A keystone habit is one which when followed consistently, improves other habits. You might not even see this as a habit – you just think of it as your “way of life”.
Say you’re dedicated to 7.5 hrs of sleep a night. Same bedtime, same wake-up time. This habit – assuming this is enough sleep for you – also regulates your appetite, which making you less prone to overeating. You’re less run down, so more likely to exercise, maintaining your fitness. Getting enough sleep improves mental focus, increasing your work productivity, thereby reducing stress. Think of the ripple effect of a pebble dropped into still water. This is how a keystone habit effects other parts of your life.
Meditation (in any form) is a popular keystone habit. For others it’s exercise. The point is that your keystone habit has this ripple effect – when you’re dedicated to that habit other things improve. That’s what makes it so powerful.
This also speaks to the most effective approach to improving your health: dedicate yourself to one thing at a time. Decide what you can do in your daily routine that will have the most impact. Just one thing. And then master it. Keep an eye out for that ripple effect.
As for the others on the board: movement, gratitude, mini-vacations, wholesome food, a positive attitude…you can not go wrong. Pick one and be the master of your habit.