The ABCs of getting healthy — and it all starts with sleep

Allen Foster

It's harder to truly get healthy if you aren't getting enough rest.

Many people abandon their New Year's resolution after only two weeks because they make it harder on themselves than it has to be. Turns out, willpower is one of the most ineffective ways to make a permanent change. 

And, if you're always struggling with surviving until your next "cheat day," you actually haven't made any lifestyle changes at all. A much more effective approach is to gradually develop new habits. It's not an all or nothing proposition; any success is a triumph.

Don't try to go straight from the couch to running a daily 5k; instead, do something simple like choosing a parking space at the back of the lot. It's all about slowly developing new routines so you don't even have to think about doing the better thing -- you just do it.

Often, the difference between repeated frustration and victory comes down to having the right tools on hand. Here's a breakdown of the three areas that are crucial to good health -- achieve sufficient sleep, break unhealthy eating habits, and committing to an active lifestyle -- and the products that can support your healthy progress. 


Achieve regular sleep

More and more studies are discovering that quality sleep is actually the foundation of wellbeing. Without a good night's rest, eating right and exercising may not have the impact on your overall health that you were hoping for.

Operating on too little sleep can slow down your metabolism and make you crave high-calorie foods. Your ability to make good decisions will decrease and your risk for type 2 diabetes will increase. Your body won't be able to fully repair itself, so you won't recover from exercising, and you'll get sicker more often with illnesses that last longer. Even if you're eating right and exercising, lack of sleep can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Because of these factors, you will want to do everything in your power to help you get a full night of quality sleep. These are some items that can help you do exactly that.

Leesa Hybrid Mattress: $799+ at Leesa (was $999+) 

In order to get quality sleep, you need comfort, and your mattress provides the foundation of all rest. This Leesa Hybrid adapts to your body as you sleep, providing you with the support you need all night long. It also has a cooling top layer if you tend to be a hot sleeper.

Casper Pillow: $89+ at Casper

Casper isn't an ordinary pillow. It gives you much-needed neck support while you sleep, and its unique design allows it to stay cool throughout the entire night. Additionally, a Casper Pillow can provide cervical spinal alignment so you wake without those annoying aches and pains in your neck and back.

Adaptive Sound Technologies White Noise Sound Machine: $38.96 at Amazon (was $49.95)

Many of us just can't fall asleep without some kind of soothing sound. Adaptive Sound Technologies's noise machine features 10 ambient, relaxing sounds from white noise to fan sounds, and it has both timed and volume settings so you can create the perfect sonic environment for your sleeping needs.

ZonLi Weighted Blanket: $59.99 at Amazon (was $99.90) 

A weighted blanket helps relieve stress by providing gentle, calming pressure on the sleeper, leading to deeper, more restful sleep. ZonLi's blanket is manufactured to be both comfortable and durable so you can enjoy many, many nights of supreme comfort and superb slumber.

AmazonBasics Room Blackout Window Panel Curtains: $34.99 at Amazon

Whether you need to sleep at atypical hours or you live in an area where sleep-disturbing light can keep you from obtaining quality rest, these AmazonBasics blackout curtains can help. They're light-blocking, soundproof, fade-resistant, and energy-efficient, plus they make a nice addition to any room.

Parachute Sateen Sheets: $80 -- $110 at Parachute

When it's time to get cozy, nothing makes you feel more pampered than a silky sheet. Parachute's sateen sheets are manufactured with soft, smooth, and durable Egyptian cotton to deliver an unparalleled hotel-like luxury sleeping experience.

ASUTRA Premium Lavender Silk Eye Pillow: $18.99 at Amazon 

ASUTRA's silk eye pillow helps you get rid of all stray light distractions to give your eyes the relief they need so you can fall into a deep and blissful sleep. Additionally, the mask is filled with a soothing gel that can be refrigerated to help reduce eye fatigue.


Break unhealthy eating habits

In America, we can place such an emphasis on the dining experience that we often forget that eating isn't a recreational activity. Eating provides your body with the vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and energy it needs. Food is fuel, and, without the proper fuel, your body won't function at its best.

Even when you are trying your hardest, however, eating right can be extremely difficult. In order to help keep you on track with confidence, here are a few items that will help you eat better.

The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom: $16.45 at Amazon

In order to thrive on a healthy diet, you need to be in control of your eating habits. This popular Whole30 cookbook can help you reset your habits by forcing you to eat with purpose to improve your sleep, raise your energy levels, and elevate your self-esteem.

Just Eat It: $19.08 at Amazon

Laura Thomas, Ph.D., is a revolutionary thinker who is encouraging people to develop a new outlook when it comes to choosing what to eat. Contrary to nearly every philosophy of food out there, she believes the way to end disordered eating is to eat intuitively. Open your eyes to a new way of thinking that may help you break the restrict/binge cycle.

Plant-Based on a Budget: Delicious Vegan Recipes for Under $30 a Week, in Less Than 30 Minutes a Meal: $16.73 at Amazon

Toni Okamoto became a vegan at a time when she was worried she couldn't afford the lifestyle, so she had to figure out how to have a plant-based diet that would fit within her budget. In this comprehensive book, Toni reveals the secrets behind her 100 "frugal but delicious" recipes.

Physician's CHOICE Probiotic: $21.73 at Amazon

Probiotics are live microorganisms that offer numerous health benefits when taken regularly. Physician's CHOICE probiotics have 60 billion CFU and are packed with ingredients that can help with everything from boosting your nutrient absorption to bolstering your immune system and enhancing your overall digestive health.

Maxi-Matic Elite Platinum Electric Digital Hot Air Fryer: $83.86 at Amazon (was $190.99) 

That satisfying crunch that most of us desire when eating our favorite deep-fried comfort foods is obtained by cooking in an extremely unhealthy fashion. But with Maxi-Matic's digital hot air fryer, you can achieve that same irresistible crispiness in a much healthier manner so that your cravings can be appeased.

Fullstar Mandoline Slicer Spiralizer: $19.99 at Amazon

If you'd like a fun new way to enjoy your fruits and vegetables, consider this spiralizer. With the six included blades, you can grate and cut to your heart's content. You'll be amazed at the number of ways you can use this handy kitchen gadget to achieve better eating habits. For starters, try replacing your normal pasta with noodles made from zucchini or sweet potato.

NutriBullet Blender: $99.99 at Amazon

A Nutribullet blender makes consuming nutrients effortless, because it's easy to make nutrient-dense smoothies and soups with minimal effort. This 64-ounce model features hassle-free cleaning, a 1200-watt motor base, and a recipe book so you can jump right into healthier eating.


Committing to an active lifestyle

Besides making you happier, exercise has a number of direct benefits on your physical well-being. Regular exercise increases your metabolism, and when paired with adequate protein intake, activities like lifting weights can help build muscle and strengthen your bones. Additionally, physical activity reduces your risk of chronic disease, sharpens your mind, and, to bring it full circle, makes it easier for you to get a full night of quality sleep.

But exercising doesn't have to be an intense, high-impact activity -- it can be a series of little things that all contribute to a more active lifestyle. The following items can help you increase your daily active time to be happier and healthier.

Fitbit Versa 2 Health & Fitness Smartwatch: $149.95 at Amazon (was $199.95) 

Monitoring your day-to-day activity is the best way to make sure you're moving forward with a healthy lifestyle. With a Fitbit smartwatch, you can track your heart rate, count your daily steps, monitor the quality of your sleep, and more. Additionally, this device is Alexa-enabled so you can accomplish your tasks simply by using your voice.

BODYMINDER Workout and Exercise Journal: $7.80 at Amazon

If you prefer to track your workouts manually, F.E. Wilkins's exercise journal is the tool for you. Besides offering ample space to write down your fitness progress, this book includes a number of useful tips that can help keep you on your path to developing new and healthier habits.

On Cloud Running Shoe: $129.95 at Nordstrom

If you want to get the job done, you need to have the right tools. At the crossroads of comfort and fitness, you'll find the flexible, lightweight On Cloud Running Shoe. This particular model offers all-day wearability, a slip-on style, and elastic lacing for ease of use.

Manduka PRO Yoga Mat: $96.86+ at Amazon

Whether you're looking for increased flexibility or reduced stress, yoga can help. However, in order to get the most out of the activity, you need the right yoga mat. Manduka's durable, no-slip, sweat-resistant, eco-friendly mat is a top-of-the-line option that will last for years of use. 

Safco Adjustable Height Stand-Up Desk: $197.35 at Amazon (was $559)

Although you don't really burn many additional calories, standing at your desk can help combat many of the health risks and discomforts that are associated with long hours of sitting. One of the most impactful benefits is it can drastically reduce back pain, making it easier to stay active in general. If you'd like to stand up for your health, consider Safco's affordable adjustable stand-up desk.

Royal Anti-Fatigue Comfort Mat: $38.99 at Amazon

Standing for extended periods of time can create problems in your feet and joints. An anti-fatigue mat can provide cushioning that helps to reduce weakness. It also can help lessen the stress on your joints that might manifest when using a stand-up desk.

Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Weights: $324.49 at Amazon

Weight training not only builds muscle, but it can also strengthen your bones. Having a set of adjustable weights on hand offers you the chance to slip in a few quick reps whenever you have a little downtime. Instead of munching on that bowl of chips while watching TV, for instance, why not get in a light workout?

Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.