6 Ways Living Alone Affects Your Health

Some people love living with others. They like having family or roommates, and a home that's occupied by more than one person. Other people prefer their own space, and maybe that's who you are. You like the solitude. You love the freedom. But living this way can be both beneficial and hazardous to your health.

1. You can be yourself

Anyone who has lived with roommates knows it's tough to be completely yourself. Differing opinions on everything from politics and food, to movies and music, means that compromise is a must. In a marriage or other living arrangement, it's much the same. You both have to make compromises to keep the other person from getting peeved.

But when you live alone, all bets are off. Want to decorate the living room to look like the set of Star Wars? Go ahead. Want wooden floors throughout? Do it. Want to replace the sofa with a bunch of giant bean bags? Your call.

This kind of freedom is incredibly beneficial to your mental health. There's no stress about keeping someone else happy. And less stress leads to better overall health. (See also: 20 Free (or Really Cheap) Ways to Relieve Stress)

2. It's easier to create healthy habits

With no one else in sharing your space, there are fewer distractions and excuses keeping you from getting into healthier routines. If you decide to eat healthier, it's hard to stick to that regimen when someone in the house is eating doughnuts and cooking bacon. Or if you have a partner who doesn't want to work out with you, it can be tough to find the time to get away for a sweat session on your own. Living alone gives you the freedom to work out on your own schedule, and stock your fridge with nothing but non-processed and fresh foods. (See also: 25 Low-Cost Foods Packed With Nutrition)

3. You sleep better

If you're actually sleeping next to someone in the same bed, your nights will not be as restful as if you were sleeping alone. The other person is going to move around, make noises, and ultimately crowd your space. Even though you may not feel like you're waking up, your body and mind can be constantly getting stimuli that stop you from entering the most important part of the sleep cycle — deep sleep. This stage (three in a series of four) occurs just before Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, with your brain and body activity dropping to the lowest point, and blood being redirected from the brain to the muscles. If you don't ever make it to this stage due to the constant interruptions, you won't feel as rested when you wake up.

Even if you aren't actually sharing a bed with your housemate, you can still be disturbed from your slumber. Loud roommates can rob you of precious sleep, too, which can lead to lower productivity at work, increased stress, and poor eating habits. (See also: How Getting More Sleep Helps Your Finances)

4. You can feel isolated to the point of depression

At first, the idea of living alone can be glorious. No rules but your own. No noise from anyone else. No messes to clean that other people left behind. It's all you, baby. But then it can hit you like a hammer; it's all you. No one to talk to about your day. No one to watch TV with. No one to cook for, and enjoy a meal with. And for some, this realization can lead to feelings of loneliness.

Studies have linked loneliness to low self-esteem, depression, high blood pressure, and the increased risk of dementia in later years. Humans are naturally social creatures, and we need some interaction to feel balanced. Without it, life can start to look bleak.

5. You have to do everything yourself

Need help bringing in the groceries? You're on your own. Need a hand shoveling the driveway? You're on your own. Need someone to steady that ladder? You're on your own. And on it goes. Living alone means you have to rely on yourself for almost everything. Sure, you can ask a friend or a neighbor now and again, but you certainly can't abuse that privilege. You could also hire a TaskRabbit or pay to have someone else run all your errands and outsource your housework, but few have the money to afford that. That can bring physical stresses and challenges that take their toll on your body. From backbreaking work in the garden, to painting, lifting, moving furniture, and cleaning, your health can take a beating when you do everything yourself.

6. You're not as safe

There are numerous ways that living alone can affect your safety. When you're sick, there's no one there to take care of you or check on your well-being. You may not even have the ability to call someone for help, especially if you fall or have a serious medical problem. And when you're alone, you'll also have to defend yourself alone against intruders. For this reason, it's recommended that anyone living alone should take extra steps to secure their safety. Strong deadbolts, motion-sensing lights, and an alarm system can help provide a little more peace of mind.

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6 Ways Living Alone Affects Your Health

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