Illustrate photo: Woman stays up at night to chat
Most of us know that habits like smoking or not exercising can harm our health, but there are a number of everyday habits that may seem less obvious, but can have similar affects to our lifespan. These surprising habits that can shorten your life may be things you don’t even think twice about, but they do play a role in our longevity. For those of us who want to live a long life, it’s important we pay attention to these activities to make sure we are ensuring a healthy and long life.
“Habits are important for our longevity because habits are things we do without much or any conscious thinking,” says Dr. Caroline Cederquist, founder of BistroMD, over email. “Habits actually make up a very large portion of the actions we do each day. Those actions like exercising, drinking water, flossing, going to bed at a regular time, and eating with regularity can work for our health and longevity. Or, other unhealthy habits can work against it.”
If you’ve got goals to reach the triple digits, you might want to consider ditching some of these 11 surprising habits that can actually shorten your life, as unsuspecting as the may seem.
1. Staying Up Late
“Many adults do not sleep enough,” says Cederquist. “So many people will zone out in front of the TV or graze on junk food because they are tired. Neither provides as much energy and relaxation as getting the right amount of sleep does.” Sleeping less than six hours a night makes you 12 percent more likely to die prematurely than someone who sleeps up to eight hours, according to a study from the journal Sleep.
2. Sleeping In Too Much
On the flip side, too much sleep can be bad for you as well. According to a study published in the journal PLOS One, people who sleep for more than nine hours a day have a higher risk for a shortened life. The same was true for people who slept less than seven hours, so it looks like the magic number is between seven and nine hours of rest a night.
3. Using Too Much Hand Sanitizer
Hand sanitizer seems like it would help prevent us from getting sick, but too much of the stuff can actually have the opposite effect. “Over-using hand sanitizer will create an environment for antibiotic-resistant bacteria to grow,” says Dr. Scott Schreiber over email. “These bacteria are very difficult to get rid of and can cause a myriad of health conditions.”
4. Not Working
Working for too much of your life might seem like it would send you to an early grave, but retiring early may not actually be a good thing. Research from the British Medical Journal found that those who retired at age 55 doubled the risk for death before reaching age 65 compared to those who worked past 60 years old. Researchers are not exactly sure why, but working could keep people’s brains and bodies more active and increase their amount of social exposure.
5. Living In A Loud City
Living in a big city definitely has its perks, but unfortunately all that loud noise can take a toll on your health. Research from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine found that longterm exposure to loud traffic noises during the daytime contributed to the risk of a shorter life expectancy. This is because traffic noise can cause a spike in blood pressure and the stress hormone cortisol, which can pose larger health issues.
6. Only Doing Cardio At The Gym
Cardiovascular exercise is great, but you want to make sure you’re working your muscles as well to prevent breakdown. “If you are just doing cardio, your body will become less efficient at burning fat, and begin to break down muscle tissue instead,” says Schreiber. “Sacropenia, a decrease in muscle tissue, has been shown to cause people to move less, increase risk of heart disease and diabetes, and eventually decreasing longevity.”
7. Having A Bad Attitude
A bad attitude is detrimental to your overall health, not just your mood. A 30-year study from the Mayo Clinic found that optimists had around a 50 percent lower risk of early death than pessimists. Negative people are more likely to be stressed, which can weaken your immune system and increase your risk of getting sick.
8. Texting Too Much
“Using your smartphone in excess has been shown to cause pain in the neck, shoulders, head, and back,” says Schreiber. “Sustained abnormal postures have been shown to decrease lifespan by putting pressure on internal organs, blood vessels, and nerves. In addition, those that experience chronic pain have a decreased lifespan.”
9. Eating Too Many Animal Products
“There have been several studies that show eating meat and animal secretions lowers life-expectancy,” says Schreiber. One study from Harvard Medical School found that eating an extra serving a day of unprocessed red meat increases your overall risk of death by 13 percent. Researchers suspect its saturated fat and high amounts of sodium that are to blame.
Unfortunately, we can’t all live next to where we work, but commutes of about an hour have been found to increase stress and have been linked to the same negative effects as sitting, according to research from the Journal of Urban Health. People who have long commutes are also less likely to engage in healthy activities.
11. Drinking Out Of Plastic Water Bottles
“Drinking out of plastic water bottles increases your exposure to xenoestrogens that can lead to breast cancer, fibroids, and cysts,” says Dr. Gabrielle Francis over email. The chemicals found in plastic water bottles can also lead to higher rates of other diseases such as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes, according to Livestrong. Stick to BPA-free reusable water bottles instead of using single use plastic ones.
In general, anything that seems healthy can help you live a longer life, but it’s always good to make sure you are doing everything in moderation.