It’s that time of year again. You know the one, where you start off the new year with all the best intentions and hopes for the coming 12 months, and by the time you get to mid-January, they’re completely forgotten about!
When it comes to sleep though, this is something that everyone needs in order to feel and to be healthy, and getting better sleep is one New Year’s Resolutions you should keep. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) states that only four in ten Americans get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis.
So, what can the remaining six in ten do? According to the NSF, one of the biggest differences between these “good” and “bad” sleepers is that people who sleep really well, sleep on average for around an hour longer than any other group.
Breaking down the figures, these great sleepers get just over seven hours of shut eye per night, whereas average sleepers get only around six hours. As you sleep your body repairs itself, so it’s no wonder that missing out on a good night’s rest affects everything from your immune system and metabolism, to your memory.
In terms of the amount of sleep you should be aiming for, for most of us, we want to get at least seven but no more than nine hours a night to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face the new day.
And there’s an added benefit of getting adequate sleep. In a study, researchers found that those who slept less than seven hours were far more likely to have less willpower than those who slept more. What’s more, sleeping well might just help you achieve your other New Year’s resolutions, as according to the study, 66 percent of the people who slept well achieved their goals for the new year, while only 44 percent of those who slept poorly were effective in achieving their New Year’s resolutions.
If you want to make your New Year’s resolution this year to get a better sleep every night, read on for 10 great ideas to help you reach your goal.
1) I will make my bed on a daily basis. The key to making your bedroom an inviting place to spend some relaxation time in is to have it in order. This begins with making your bed every morning so you have a calm, cozy place to snuggle up when nightime comes.
A National Sleep Foundation poll indicated that people who make their beds on a daily basis are 19 percent more likely to get a good sleep than people who don’t, so maybe your parents were right after all when they told you to make your bed!
2) I will not play with electronic gadgets at bedtime. You need to get into the frame of mind that your bedroom is for sleep (and sex), and nothing more. If you turn into bed to watch TV or to check your emails on your smartphone, your brain will be far more active than it should be, making you less able to fall asleep when you need to.
As reported in 2014 by WAMC Northeast Public Radio, Dr. Russell Johnson, a professor at Michigan State University, stated that the blue light emitted by your smartphone prevents you from falling asleep by interfering with your production of sleep-inducing hormones.
In addition, being constantly connected to the outside world stops you from being able to detach from your work, so you can’t get time to relax your mind. This stands to reason as you likely keep your phone close to your bed at night, so any notification has the potential to disrupt your sleep.
3) I will adhere to the same sleep routine, even at weekends
This is perhaps one of the most difficult sleep resolutions to stick to as there is always the temptation to “sleep in” on a weekend. However, it’s crucial that you get into an unchanging routine of waking up around the same time every morning as well as going to bed at the same time at night to help set your internal clock.
If you’re particularly tired at the weekend, try to go to bed a bit earlier instead of sleeping in significantly later than your normal wake up. If you change your sleep pattern too much on the weekend, it will impact your sleep during the week, and you’ll be caught in an endless cycle of weekend catch up.
4) I will turn off the light. It stands to reason that if your bedroom is too bright, you’ll have trouble sleeping, and there’s evidence to suggest that exposure to artificial light before you sleep can reduce the quality of your sleep as it suppresses melatonin production,.
Melatonin plays a role in regulating your sleep-wake schedule and lowering your body and blood temperatures. This suppression of melatonin by too much light in your room at night before bedtime can also affect your glucose levels, so it’s always best to have soft bedside lights in your bedroom rather than putting on the main one.
5) I will sleep in a quiet room. Although it’s obvious, it’s still crucial to highlight that to get a good night’s sleep you need to have peace and quiet. If you’re a shiftworker or have a different sleep schedule to others in your house, this might seem to be easier said than done. If noise is affecting you to the point you can’t rest, then investing in a pair of inexpensive earplugs can help.
Your bedroom should be your own personal sleep sanctuary where you can go to get away from the world and to relax. Your bedroom shouldn’t be filled with clutter as this can make you feel stressed from the second you enter the room. Ensuring it’s as quiet as possible, as well as being comfortable is conducive to restorative sleep.
6) I will invest in a good, supportive mattress.
Having a good, supportive mattress is the foundation for a good sleep, particularly if you suffer from ailments such as back pain. The Better Sleep Council suggests that you should invest in the best quality mattress you can afford. In addition you should replace your mattress after around five to seven years, as after this time it no longer provides you will the support and comfort you need.
7) I will exercise regularly
Getting enough exercise throughout the day should ensure that you’re tired out at night and ready to go to sleep. It’s important to remember that you should never exercise vigorously before bedtime or even within a few hours of it, as this stimulates your body and makes you feel more awake.
Exercising outside in the morning can enable you to have the light exposure needed to set your biological clock and be ready for sleeping when nightime comes.
8) I will keep a “worry book” beside my bed.
If you’re under a lot of stress and strain, you might find yourself lying awake at night worrying for hours. If this sounds like you, write down all your worries in a journal, create a plan of action relating to them if you can, and then forget about them until you wake up.
It might be easy to say, but worrying does nothing positive or productive for you. It just drags you down and stresses you out. Do your best to move on from whatever is worrying you, so you can get a decent sleep and be far more able to tackle your problems in the morning.
9) I will get enough bright light. It’s imperative to expose yourself to bright light in the mornings, as well as avoiding it at night. This is because exposure to bright light in the mornings is energizing, and helps you to prepare for a full and productive day. It’s also good for getting you out of a sluggish winter mindset, especially if you find you’re getting up in the dark for your working day.
Keeping out of the way of bright light at night when using the restroom by using a low wattage nightlight in that room.
10) I will turn not drink alcohol or caffeine before bed. Drinking alcohol isn’t a good idea before bedtime as it can disrupt the natural rhythm of your body, thus interfering with the quality of your sleep. In terms of caffeine, this is a stimulant, and is therefore definitely something you don’t want in your system when you’re trying to wind down and relax. Watch out for hidden sources of caffeine in sodas and even chocolate.
Getting better sleep requires changes and a long-term commitment to good overall health to support your body and mind to function well. Through following the 10 New Year’s resolutions above, you can be assured that you’re doing all you can to get the best sleep possible.
From all of us here at PlushBeds, we wish you a happy, healthy, and well-rested new year!
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