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Doing What Comes Naturally
a healthy routine for humans

Whenever something new comes along that needs to be done, a certain amount of reorganisation takes place in order to squeeze it into the normal routine. If every single moment of the day is already allocated, one of the regulars has to be dumped or a number of the others compressed to make room; and if neither of these are practical, the intrusive element has to be dismissed altogether. Whatever the solution, consideration has been given to a most important part of human life that is often taken for granted. Without routine we would run ourselves ragged trying to cope with everything unless some aspects could be handled on auto-pilot. It is relied on to start the day with a minimum of fuss, performing each task as a matter of course, getting ourselves and others ready, breakfasted and off to wherever on time. There's no list on the fridge reminding us what needs doing - well, maybe for the kids, but they never read it anyway! We simply follow a pattern tried and tested over a period that works well. Its constant repetition means we don't even have to think about it. Whether at home, on the road, at work or school, exercising or relaxing, an enormous part of everything we manage to achieve is thanks in part to routine of some kind. Without it, we couldn't function as well as we do; disrupt it, even in a small way, and we are out of our comfort zone.

Imagine trying to integrate an extra twenty minutes of exercise into a normal day. It may be necessary for health reasons, but the disruption to the normal routine in order to fit it in will add yet more problems and will probably increase stress-levels into the bargain. One way to avoid a major re-shuffling of everything else that needs to be done is either to get up earlier, or go to bed later. This may not seem a big deal, but it is arguably worse than any of the other choices because it interferes with that most important balance between waking and sleeping. Most humans require around eight hours of uninterrupted sleep in a twenty-four hour period, preferably at night. That leaves two-thirds of each day for conscious employment of some kind. Included in this will be meal breaks and additional rest periods at suitable intervals. It is said that humans also benefit from a sleep often referred to as a nanna-nap some time part-way through. If this benchmark pattern or something close to it can be achieved, a person will be giving themself the best chance of a healthy lifestyle, always assuming it can be continued on a regular basis. Messing with that routine can have far-reaching and adverse consequences.

It could be argued that there are exceptions as with shift workers who may claim they have adapted to working at night and sleeping during the day. I don't doubt some believe it is doing them no harm, but I've heard of many cases where the stress and strain of it has been detrimental to their health and that of families and partners who find it awkward trying to integrate it into their own relatively normal routine. Then there are the night-owls, quite often teenagers living a reverse life-cycle to the rest of us. When they aren't partying all night, they'll be on Facebook or snap-chatting until the early hours, completely ignorant of the fact that their health is suffering because of it. Trying to convince them of that is an exercise in futility. Use the argument that humans aren't traditionally nocturnal creatures and can't see in the dark and they'll point out smugly that their Iphone has an illuminated panel!

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