Why Your New Year’s Resolution Should Be To
Each year it’s the same story: millions of people make New Year’s Resolutions on the 31st of December only to fall short before the first week of January has even come to a close. It’s easy to see this pattern as a lack of willpower or *ahem* resolve on the part of those who fail to follow through on their goals, but that mindset doesn’t really help anyone get things done. Sometimes you can’t just “try harder”. Instead you really should just sleep on it.
You see, in an article published by Neuroscience News last year, Cathy Goldstein, M.D., a sleep physician at Michigan Medicine and an assistant professor of neurology in the Sleep Disorders Centers at the University of Michigan, explains how getting more sleep can actually help you achieve your other New Year’s Resolutions. By getting more and better sleep your body and mind will function better in your waking hours, making it easier to attain that new promotion or stick with that workout routine or even quit smoking.
That’s why we have compiled a short list of sleep related New Year’s Resolutions that will make your daily goals that much easier.
The Sleep Resolutions
Getting to Bed at a Certain Time
Setting a bedtime for yourself may seem childish on first glance, but in actuality it’s an extremely responsible and adult thing to do. It will help you get your body on a more consistent sleep schedule, which helps you get better sleep. According to a study published in BMC Public Health, those with an irregular bedtime schedule are more likely to experience poor sleep quality.
So if you resolve to stick to a specific bedtime, you’ll get better sleep and wake up more well rested and ready to tackle the day.
Limiting Screen Time Before Bed
As we mentioned in our article, Reading Before Bed: The Benefits and Drawbacks, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences back in 2014, Anne Marie Chang et al. found that the evening use of light-emitting eReaders negatively affects sleep, circadian timing, and next-morning alertness. Chang discovered that reading from one of these devices decreases natural production of melatonin, significantly alters REM sleep, and delays the Circadian Clock.
This is not the only study done on the effects of blue light on sleep, but the basic takeaway from these findings is that you should stop looking at light emitting screens such as televisions, mobile devices, and computer screens well before you lay down for sleep. If you make a resolution to limit screen time before bed, you might find yourself sleeping better through the night.
Cutting Off Late-Night Snacks
Eating before bed is not healthy. The way your body digests food when you’re asleep is not the same as when you are awake. That bowl of cereal or bag of chips you were munching on while watching Netflix will get stored as long term energy in your body, and by long term energy, I mean fat cells. This is because your metabolism slows a great deal when you sleep. For more information about the science proving that this bad habit is, well… bad, this article in the Atlantic details a study done by a team at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences.
So if one of your other resolutions is to lose weight, this sleep related goal can seriously help.
Waking Up Earlier
Setting a consistent wake time every morning is extremely helpful for the body to get a full night’s rest, and this goes for the weekend too. According to recently released anonymous sleep data collected by FitBit, Sleep Scientists have uncovered very interesting associations between bed/waketime consistency and sleep quality. The Fitbit data shows that “if your bedtime varies by two hours over the week, you’ll average half hour of sleep a night less than someone whose bedtime varies by only 30 minutes.”
This sleep data, which has been hailed as the most robust set of sleep data ever collected, has helped scientists find and name this association Social Jetlag. So, the more consistent you are with your sleep patterns, the better quality of sleep you will achieve and the more productive you will become in your waking hours.
Making the Bed Every Morning
This one may seem silly, but it can be so beneficial that Naval Adm. William H. McRaven, ninth commander of U.S.Special Operations Command, based an entire University of Texas commencement speech around it. Making your bed has also been shown to improve productivity and increase your tendency to keep the rest of your bedroom tidy. Finally, if your bed is made when it’s finally bedtime, you can just get in and fall asleep.
Picking even just one of these sleep-related New Year’s Resolutions can help you achieve your other daily goals, and there is a lot of evidence that better sleep hygiene can lead to more productive and fulfilling aspects in your life. Your day starts and ends with sleep, so why not make it a positive and pleasant experience that rejuvenates and revives?