For many people, the New Year is the time to start a new chapter of health in their lives. They set resolutions to take better care of themselves with the intent of sticking to them.
Losing weight or hitting the gym is the number one New Year’s resolution – most likely because we all overeat on holiday goodies and have a touch of the winter blues.
A close second is quitting smoking (or drinking), and there are plenty of other vices that many hope to drop. If you are sleep deprived, however, you’ve already got the cards stacked up against you.
Studies show that losing sleep is public enemy number one when it comes to cheating on your New Year’s resolutions. That’s right; lack of sleep will throw you off your goal. Richard Wiseman, a world-renowned psychologist, suggests that getting a good night’s sleep will actually help you achieve your New Year’s resolution much easier, so perhaps before you work that gym time into your schedule, you should be working sleep into it!
More than Just Grouchy
Life most certainly gets in the way of a healthy sleeping schedule, whether you are partying, have just had a baby, or are working late nights in the office, you are not getting enough sleep. You oftentimes can’t change how life intervenes, but you can take a few steps to work around its craziness.
Afternoon snoozes and power naps help make up for any lost hours during the night, so if that is the only option you have, close your eyes during that 15-minute afternoon break instead of grabbing another cup of coffee and gossiping at the water cooler. Nothing can make up for not getting a good seven-to-nine hours of sleep each night, but a quick power snooze can help.
In Wiseman’s study, he tracked over 3,000 individuals trying to stick to their New Year’s resolutions. More than half of them said they were confident that they would reach their goals, but in the end, just over 10 percent actually succeeded through January, and Wiseman believes lack of sleep was the culprit for the high failure rate, as a majority who were sleeping long (and well) were the ones staying true to their resolutions.
Not Just Resolutions
Other institutions have reported additional distressing findings.
A study done at the University of North Carolina concluded that nurses who received less than seven hours of sleep the night before were less “professional” in the morning, working slower, while letting slip sensitive information with less regard. Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business conducted a revealing study in which students who went to bed late during the week were found to be more prone to cheat on a quiz. Singapore Management University found that employees with less than stellar sleeping habits were more likely to browse the Internet for fun when they were supposed to be working.
According to the Daily Mail, sleep related fatigue costs businesses more than $150 billion per year. Wow! It certainly appears that lack of sleep disrupts more than just your ability to keep your New Year’s resolutions! So, what should you do? Get some sleep!
Attaining Productive Sleep
Science shows that it takes more than just counting sheep to help you get a restful night’s sleep. You likely are going to have to make some changes to your lifestyle and routine – whether you want to or not!
Spending too much time around blue light, the type of light emitted from a computer monitor or cell phone screen, is a surefire way to keep your mind awake, as colors from this end of the spectrum have been shown to disrupt the production of your body’s sleep hormone, melatonin.
The solution, as painful as it might be, is to avoid such devices – and fluorescent lights – for an hour before you hit the sack. If you absolutely can’t leave technology alone for that long, try installing software to change the tint and warmth of the screen.
There actually is some merit to the age-old suggestion of tallying farm animals. In fact, anything you can do to tire out your mind is good, but make it something non-stimulating, like trying to recite all of the state capitals in your head. If you’re really fighting sleep, read a couple of chapters out of a book, but get up first. Don’t let your mind associate your bed with restlessness.
The key is to improve your sleep, so find something that works for you and stick to it. This will not only help you achieve your New Year’s resolutions, but also improve your health and the overall quality of your life!