It’s that time of year again … the time when we make a promise to ourselves that we’ll finally hit the gym, lose weight, or spend more time with friends and family. But what about setting a single New Year’s resolution that can actually benefit your full-body health and mental well-being?
Sleep, along with exercise and diet, are part of the three “pillars of health.” Moreover, improving your sleep may help you to reach your other goals – eating better, exercising more and/or losing weight. This is because studies have found that losing sleep is associated with increased appetite (particularly for junk food!), feelings of fatigue (it’s hard to exercise when you’re tired) and unhealthy dietary choices (such as hitting the drive thru for dinner).
Increasing the number of hours you sleep might not always be an option or they may fluctuate based on your schedule. So we recommend focusing on improving the sleep you get during those hours. You can do so by improving your bedroom environment, developing sleep-friendly habits and avoiding sleep-damaging ones, and utilizing tools that will help you wake up in a non-startling way. You might want to consider keeping simple sleep diary – recording when you go to bed, when you wake up in the morning, if you awoke throughout the night and when, and how you feel in the morning. Consider your environment. Is the temperature in the room varying throughout the time you sleep? Are you exposed to loud sounds or bright lights? Are you awakening to an alarm clock blasting music or a loud beep?
If you are exposed to external noises throughout the night, you might want to consider using a white noise generator. If you feel startled by your alarm, considering using a wake-up light to simulate sunrise and a more soothing sound to gently awaken you. If the temperature in your room fluctuates, consider using a smart thermostat like the nest which you can program by your phone or control with an intelligent alarm clock like BEDDI.
Setting a goal for better sleep is definitely worth the effort in the long run. Acknowledging the importance of sleep for health and learning different ways to improve your sleep quality can also help you achieve other New Year’s resolutions as well.