New Year’s resolutions are about new beginnings. We promise ourselves that we will eat better, exercise more or spend less and save more. These are commendable goals but the best resolution by far is getting the proper hours of sleep each night. According to a Nielsen survey of American consumers, sleep did not make their top ten list of New Year’s resolutions. Why? This is a good question because sleep plays a critical role in your physical and mental health and a third of Americans are not getting enough of it.1 Sleep provides energy, helps repair tissue, improves your mood and increases productivity. Getting quality sleep every night is one of the most important things you can do for your body. Sleep is about renewal.
How much sleep do I need?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should sleep between 7-9 hours and adults 65 years and older should sleep 7-8 hours a day.
How many hours of sleep do you get each night? If your answer is less than 7 hours, sleep should be your top priority for 2018.
Poor sleep can be a medical problem
It is important to note that for many, sleep is very real problem. Insomnia, which is defined as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, affects 55 million Americans.2 Insomnia is chronic when the sleep disturbance happens at least three times a week for three months. If this describes you, trying harder to sleep is not helpful. You may need to seek professional help. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment options for you to get the sleep that you need and deserve. There are new drug-free treatments available that may help you. If you have talked with your doctor in the past but have not resolved your problem, your New Year’s resolution may simply be to try again. Consult with a sleep physician who specializes in treating insomnia.
Declaring sleep as a priority
For others, hectic work and personal schedules leave little time for sleep. There are many things that are distracting us from getting enough sleep. Start by following good sleep hygiene. Below is a list that Dr. Eric Nofzinger, a renowned expert in the science of sleep and the founder of Ebb Therapeutics, has compiled to help you get started.
One step at a time
It is easier if you start with one goal. For example, don’t look at electronics an hour before bedtime or start with keeping a consistent bedtime even on the weekends to get the recommended hours of sleep. Utilize sleep trackers or a sleep diary to help you monitor and keep track of how well you are sleeping and remember to reward yourself when achieving your sleep goals.
Another benefit of getting the recommended hours of sleep each day is that it can help you with other resolutions such as losing weight and exercising. Sleep is linked to maintaining a healthy weight. Too little sleep can make you hungrier, crave carbohydrates and over eat. Skipping a few hours of sleep can make you more emotional leaving you feeling more irritable and short-tempered. With a good night of sleep, you will feel energized to stay active and lose weight. Sticking to a consistent sleep schedule is the key to success.
Sleeping feels good and almost everyone enjoys sleeping. It is easier to commit to something that you like to do. Healthy sleep should be everybody’s New Year’s Resolution.
1 “How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?” (2018) http://sleepfoundation.org
2. National Sleep Foundation and Roth et al. Biol Psychiatry , 2011