Could your bad habits actually be good for you?

We all have our ‘bad habits’ – whether it’s sleeping in late at the weekends, or drinking a bit too much coffee. And those bad habits are called that for good reason, right? Well, maybe not…

Perhaps some of our guilty habits could actually be beneficial to our health and well-being, suggests NHS weight loss consultant and surgeon Dr Sally Norton, who is founder of

Coffee addiction

Hot espresso

Coffee is often given a bad rep, but a couple of cups of coffee can actually have certain health benefits, such as increasing mental alertness and possibly reducing our risk of Type 2 diabetes. You just have to remember to steer clear later in the afternoon, as it can take several hours for caffeine to clear our systems, and you don’t want it to affect your sleep.

Love a lie-in?

Woman sleeping in bed

We all know that good sleep is vital to our health and well-being, though a lie-in or afternoon nap feels a bit indulgent! But could a lazy morning actually be beneficial to our health? And is there an optimum amount of time for a nap or lie-in?

Around seven to nine hours is about right when it comes to how much sleep we need – less or more than that has actually been linked to weight gain. That said, everyone is different – we’ve all heard about how Margaret Thatcher supposedly only slept for around four hours a night, but for most people that’s nowhere near enough.

If you tend to get less sleep during the week and think you can compensate for this ‘sleep debt’ at the weekend, then think again. Some studies have shown that you need to have regular, adequate sleep for the best health benefits.

Are you a procrastinator?

Contemplating her next move

Often, putting too much pressure on ourselves or trying to do everything at once can lead to stress – which is associated with poor sleep, high blood pressure and weight gain. So putting off non-urgent tasks could actually be a good thing. Just try not to procrastinate too much when it comes to important things, as this could lead to even more stress further down the line.

A bit of a chocaholic?

Chocolate. Black chocolate. A few cubes of black chocolate

We all know that processed, sugar-laden chocolate really isn’t all that good for our health or our waistlines. But still, many of us end up craving the sweet stuff every now and then. It’s not all bad though – simply swap your milky chocolate for dark chocolate with a high cocoa content. Chocolate with a high cocoa content has been found to have certain benefits, including improving memory, heart health, and maybe even weight loss. Just keep it to small quantities!

Tendency to splurge?

Credit card payment, buy and sell products & service

Of course, being frugal is great for saving the pennies and avoiding financial stress, but the occasional splurge could actually do you good. In fact, provided you don’t end up wracked with guilt, we all feel better with the odd treat. In particular, if your splurge involves spending time or sharing an experience with loved ones, then it could strengthen social ties and help boost your mental well-being.

Indulging in ‘me-time’

We all need a rest day

Spending quality time on yourself might seem selfish, but it could actually do wonders for you. Many of us simply don’t spend enough time relaxing and looking after ourselves. The trick – like with eating well, exercising and everything else – is getting the balance right. And if you feel guilty about indulging in some quality ‘me-time’, then just remember, if you don’t look after yourself, you won’t stay well enough to look after others!

Even if your bad habit really isn’t all that good for you, don’t panic. A few gentle tweaks can turn a bad habit into a healthier one. Swapping the excessive ‘me-time’ spent on the sofa for some equally de-stressing walks in the fresh air will help you reach your 10,000 step goal. Slowly reducing your alcohol habit by alternating alcoholic drinks with water will increase your hydration.

But don’t stress too much about the odd bad habit as stressing isn’t a great habit either – after all, we can’t be good all of the time!

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