Strange health tips that actually work

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Eat your greens, sleep at least seven hours a day and get enough exercise every week. This is the advice you're used to hearing.

Now, familiarise yourself with these strange but useful health tips that will surprise you.

1. Caffeine improves your naps

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You probably associate coffee with keeping awake, but taking a nap immediately after drinking a cup of coffee can actually give you more restful sleep.

The thing is, the effects of caffeine don't kick in immediately.

Take a 15-20 minute nap immediately after downing your cuppa and you'll feel more refreshed compared to doing either on its own, say UK researchers.

8 ways sleep can solve your problems

  • If you often suffer from monthly period cramps, try to clock in more Zs. In a study done in Georgia, it was found that a lack of sleep made period cramps worse, as less serotonin is produced when we don't sleep enough, resulting to a lower threshold for pain.
  • Here's something we can't complain about. Sleeping more can indeed help you burn calories. So don't put in hours in the gym, but hit the sack an hour or two earlier for the sake of your waistline!
  • A lack of sleep causes the emotion centre of the brain, known as the amygdala to become more sensitive, hence sleep-deprived people often react more negatively to situations.
  • Your best self will definitely arise from a well-rested you. When we are sleep-deprived, we lose focus, attention and vigilance.
  • Even with excessive amounts of vitamins, you are still likely to fall sick if you're not sleeping enough. Our bodies stop reacting to vaccinations when we suffer from a lack of sleep, similar to how we always sleep to feel better after our medication when we're feeling under the weather.
  • Beauty sleep is indeed a real thing. When we are sleep deprived, our skin will suffer from inflammation and dehydration. Increased stress hormones can also arise which worsens any inflammatory skin conditions like acne.
  • Try getting a full night's sleep and you might see a difference to how you approach the everyday stressors in your life. Even with the world weighing down on your shoulders, a well rested night could definitely make anything better.
  • When we're running on minimal sleep, anything can seem more risky and daunting to attempt. With more sleep hours clocked in, you could be more willing to try out adventurous things in your life, be it in your work or downtime.

2. Floss before brushing

Flossing helps to dislodge plague and dirt trapped between your teeth.

For the best clean, do so before brushing so that your toothpaste can effectively reach the spaces between your teeth.

3. Don't brush immediately after meals

On the same note, don't be too quick to brush your teeth after eating.

Certain foods - especially acidic ones - can wear down tooth enamel, and brushing accelerates this process.

Think about it, you really don't want to be rubbing acid all over your pearly whites as you clean them. Wait 30 minutes to an hour before brushing.

4. Minimise use of antibacterial soap

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You may feel a false sense of security when you see your soap bottle claiming to kill 99.99 per cent of germs, but antibacterial soap may not necessarily be better for you than regular soap.

According to the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), antibacterial soaps often contain harsh chemicals like triclosan which may cause hormonal imbalances when used in the long run.

Instead, just wash your hands the proper way with plain soap and water - this is still one of the most effective ways of minimising the spread of infectious diseases.

5. Be more honest to fall sick less

Turns out telling lies are bad for your health. True story!

Research from the University of Notre Dame found that when participants lied less over a 10-week period, they reported significant improvements in their physical and mental health.

Honest volunteers had fewer headaches and sore throats, and felt less tense or melancholy - probably because of reduced guilt and stress.

6. Close the toilet lid when you flush

Unless you like basking in airborne particles of germs and faeces, please put the toilet lid down when you flush.

The force of gushing water shoots up pee and poop particles into the air, and these tiny droplets can settle on your bathroom floor, sink, and uh… your toothbrush.

This phenomenon was first discovered by a microbiologist in 1975, and we can only hope more people will heed these wise words of wisdom.

7. Get a pet

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Furry friends may be the key to a healthier heart. Having a dog is linked to a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, possibly since dog owners tend to get more exercise.

Cat owners were also found to have lower risks of fatal heart attacks than non-cat owners.

It could be that stroking Pup or Kitty's fur helped reduce stress levels and increase happiness.

Shape, the only women's health & fitness magazine in Singapore is now available in both print and digital formats. Log on to www.shape.com.sg to subscribe!

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