Secret Miracle Cure ?

What if I told you I have a secret something that can extend your life ?

Something that will make you feel better. Reduce your stress, your blood pressure, and improve your emotional stability, anxiety and impatience. It will probably also reduce your risk of depression.

Something that has been shown to reduce levels of bodily inflamation linked to heart disease, stroke, arthritis and diabetes, and that will actually increase the rate your body repairs itself. It also improves your resilience to colds !

Something that also amazingly improves your memory, sharpens your attention, makes you more alert and more creative, increases your willpower, regulates your appetite, improves sporting performance and willingness to take part in exercise. It also magically makes you a safer driver.

It also makes you happier !

Sounds unbelievable ?

It’s real, it exists, and is yours for free.

If you haven’t realised already, it’s sleep. Type ‘benefits of sleep’ into Google to see for yourself.

Sounds great, but the bad news is that we’re all sleeping less. It’s not because we magically don’t get tired anymore (despite self-medicating with caffeinated energy drinks), it’s because there’s so many other things to do – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

It wasn’t that long ago there was no breakfast TV and once the national anthem had finished around midnight, there was only a little white dot on the screen. Most shops were closed by six, or by lunchtime on Wednesdays, and virtually nowhere was open on Sunday.

If you’re 30 or younger you might find this hard to believe. Our lives are so different now – we can watch, work, shop, play and communicate 24/7 in endless different ways. This digital world is so enticing – why would we waste our lives sleeping ! Many of us have a tendency to sacrifice sleep for work, family or personal enjoyment such as late night surfing the internet, we think we’re maximising our time or productivity, but we’re probably doing the exact opposite.

There’s no getting away from it – if we want the happiest, healthiest life we can we need to ensure we get enough sleep.

Prioritising sleep and ensuring we get enough will likely do wonders for our concentration, mood and energy levels, and will make it easier for us to find the motivation, willpower and commitment to achieve everything else we want to do in life.

I’m as guilty as anyone.

Sleep has never been something I’ve been terribly good at – but improving my sleep is my mission for the new year.

My solution will be to build a habit of a regular bedtime, spend a little less time looking at screens, especially in the evening, and generally organising my routine to include more sleep. It will also involve finding the willpower to simply stop what I’m doing more often, and go to bed.

You might want to join me on my journey to more sleep – or if you’re there already feel free to tell the rest of us your secret ?

Photo by dannyelbrazil, via Flickr

RELATED ARTICLES – Take a Break, How Do You Want Your Story to Go ?, 8 Quick Ideas to Help You Slow Down

India’s Asbestos Roofs

The photo shows a communal washing area in the Mumbai slums, India – complete with asbestos roofs.

Corrugated asbestos-cement roofing is a very popular material in the slums and informal settlements of Indian cities – it’s rigid, not too heavy, waterproof, easy to cut and fix together, fireproof and most importantly: cheap.

But as is well known in the West, asbestos is a dangerous carcinogen, with asbestos fibres causing damage to the lung (asbestosis) when inhaled, and potentially, after a latent period of typically thirty years, the always fatal form of lung cancer mesothelioma.

As a consequence the importation, supply and use of asbestos has been banned in most Western countries for many years: since 1985 in the UK for ‘blue’ and ‘brown’ asbestos, and 1999 for ‘white’ asbestos (crysotile) the fibre that is mixed with cement to produce corrugated sheeting.

Asbestos sheeting maintained in good condition releases few fibres into the air, but once damaged, cracked, frayed or fragmented, a large number of dangerous fibres can be released, presenting a significant health hazard. On the roofs of Indian slums, where it is sawn and fixed by hand, it’s difficult to avoid releasing fibres.

Asbestos materials are still legal in India, and the risks poorly understood by those using them. It seems likely India is storing up a health timebomb for the future, amongst its poorest and most vulnerable citizens.

And you might be surprised to learn where India imports the majority of this asbestos from . . . Canada !

Photo by pandrcutts, via Flickr

RELATED ARTICLES – Should I Open the Window ?