Generally, most medical conditions that particularly affect men won’t affect most of you until much later in life. Yet be warned, although younger men’s health tends to be generally good, bad habits such as smoking, heavy drinking and a poor diet can easily be developed while in University and will be hard to shift later in life. The best way to break a bad habit is to not let it develop in the first instance.
There are, of course, medical conditions that you may be affected by during your college years. Be mindful of your health and try not to take the “ah, it’ll be alright” attitude if a health problem does arise. Real men do get sick, and they get help so use the services at your disposal.
Do you get enough sleep?
Unless a man gets enough sleep, his performance is likely to be sadly lacking. Not just sexual performance either. Work performance, creativity, reaction time and moods all become worse when we’re tired.
Although it’s not entirely clear why we need sleep, the effects of sleep deprivation justify trying to get enough.
How much sleep do we need?
The amount of sleep needed depends upon the individual and their age. Some men manage on four or five hours sleep a night. On average seven, eight or nine hours of sleep a night is what the majority of young and middle aged men need to stay bright-eyed and bushy-tailed during the day. As we get older we tend to need less sleep.
Are you getting enough?
If you can answer ‘no’ to all of these, you are probably getting enough sleep:
- Do you sleep longer than usual on the weekends?
- Do you feel drowsy or nod off during the afternoon?
- Do you fall asleep within around 5 minutes of being in bed (It takes people who are getting enough sleep around 10-20 minutes to fall asleep)?
Overcoming sleep problems:
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, including your days off.
- Keep your bedroom for sleep and sex, not work or TV.
- Avoid heavy meals, caffeine, nicotine and alcohol for 3-4 hours before going to bed.
- Don’t exercise within 3 hours of going to bed.
In our quest for physical health, it’s easy to overlook the importance of emotional health and its effect on our body. The fact that Irish men between the ages of 15 and 34 are more likely to commit suicide than be killed in a car crash demonstrates the need for our mental health to be addressed. If you feel you suffer from mental illness, or are just feeling low, then the useful contacts in the Mental Health section should be consulted.
Incredibly there are easy things that any man can do to improve his health
- Read a book or two – now a prescribed treatment in some health authorities for beating the blues, reading in the evening also helps relaxation and sleep;
- Play cards and do crosswords – keeps the brain active;
- Support a decent team – success boosts testosterone levels which is why we’re competitive. Identifying with a successful team can have the same effect.
- Work on your relationships – a study of 6,000 blokes found that the married ones got better jobs and were healthier.
- Go out in the sun – vitamin D, which is important for bones, teeth and happiness is boosted by sunlight (but keep the sunscreen on.)
- Walk – it’s good for the heart and lungs and improves brain function by boosting its oxygen supply.
- Sing – the breathing control needed to sing – however badly – makes it one of the easiest and most effective ways to shed stress.
- Drink water – many of us don’t drink enough. The yellower your urine the more dehydrated you are.
Heart disease affects many men throughout life. In Ireland it starts to present itself in men in their 50’s. If a close relative has developed heart disease in their 50s, it’s wise to have your level of risk checked. The main risk factors are smoking, raised blood pressure, raised levels of blood cholesterol and physical inactivity. Body weight is increasing throughout the developed world and more people are developing diabetes, which in turn increases risk of heart disease. We are learning more about the genetic factors associated with heart disease but for most Irish people, heart disease is related to lifestyle.
Blood pressure increases as body weight and alcohol intake increases. A diet high in fruit and vegetables and low in salt helps to keep blood pressure levels low. Healthy eating also keeps down blood cholesterol levels. Diets that are high in fat, especially saturated fats (mostly animal and dairy fats) tend to raise blood cholesterol. So it’s wise to watch your overall fat intake and change the balance the fats in your diet:
By lowering the level of your cholesterol you will greatly reduce the chance of suffering from a heart condition in later life. The level of cholesterol in our blood stream is greatly affected by what we eat. Foods that are high in saturated fats (mostly animal and dairy fats) tend to raise blood cholesterol.
For more information, contact the Vice-President / Welfare Officer