Daily Routines Boost Health and Happiness
Predictable, habitual healthy behaviors, like consistent bedtimes, are really good for the mind and body
Habitual bedtime and wake time and a penchant for other consistent routines make me a source of annoyance to the night owls and take-it-as-it-comes people in my life, which seem to be almost everyone but me. It also makes yours truly the butt of predictability jabs and jokes, as I float blissfully and customarily through my days, stubbornly content in my foreseeable ways.
I’m happy to report that according to science, the joke’s not on me.
Healthy routines reduce stress, lift moods, fuel happiness and improve physical health. Maintaining a consistent bedtime and wake time promotes longer and sounder sleep, and people who sleep better tend to exercise more, eat better, and eat less, helping them control their weight.
“Routines can be powerful tools. They can support cognitive function, boost health and provide meaningful activities and social opportunities,” writes Megan Edgelow, an assistant professor in health sciences at Queen’s University in Canada. “Regular routines can also help people feel like they have control over their daily lives and that they can take positive steps in managing their health.”
Start early, stay active
The power of routine throughout the day is evident from cradle to grave. Young children need consistent bedtimes and predictable daytime activities to foster cognitive development and simply to feel safe.
Older people who consistently rise early and are also active throughout the day do better on tests measuring cognitive skills, and they have fewer symptoms of depression, suggesting they are happier, scientists reported this week in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
“There’s something about getting going early, staying active all day and following the same routine each day that seems to be protecting older adults,” said the study’s lead author, Stephen Smagula, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh. “What’s exciting about these findings is that activity patterns are under voluntary control, which means that making…