A new year brings new hope and this year that rings truer than it has in quite a while. Everyone wants to lose that extra weight they put on, or start reading those books that are collecting dust, but how many of us really stick to those resolutions past a few weeks? We all know that answer is "slim to none".
Sleep, however, is a great resolution that is surprisingly very easy to stick with. Improved sleep impacts much more than just how you feel in the morning. Getting better sleep has been linked to weight loss, reduced stress, healthier skin and hair, and even an increased life expectancy. There's no getting around it- sleep is essential to your overall health and well-being.
Okay, so just... sleep more? Sounds easy enough, right? Well, it can be trickier than that for a lot of people. As much as you might want to simply turn the lights off, hop in bed and drift away to Dreamland, most of us need some help getting there.
Whether it's a noisy sleep environment, your overnight shift throwing things off, or a partner with a snore, we know how hard it is to get enough sleep. That's why we've compiled some of the most effective ways to get more sleep that you can start right now, so you can get to sleep easier and finally carry a New Year's Resolution through the entire year and beyond!
Turn Off Devices Before Bed
A recent study showed about 40% of Americans bring their cell phone into bed with them when they're trying to fall asleep and roughly 60% reported using a laptop within an hour of trying to fall asleep.
The light given off by your phone or computer, known as blue light, interrupts the body's attempt to wind down and actually increases alertness, making it harder for the body to shut down and sleep.
If you find yourself having a hard time falling asleep when you want to at night, try turning the devices off around an hour or half an hour before you want to sleep and instead read a book or do something relaxing. If you absolutely cannot put down the phone, see if your phone has a "night mode" that will turn the blue light down.
Sleep Earlier And At The Same Time Each Day
This suggestion is one that almost anyone can implement right away. Research has shown that shutting the body down at the same time each night leads to better sleep, and the earlier you start to wind down, the better sleep you'll get.
Circadian rhythms are 24-hour cycles of sleeping and waking. Essentially, circadian rhythms are your body's internal clock, and setting that clock to a consistent time each night is shown to improve sleep quality.
Cover Your Eyes With A (Heated) Sleep Mask
While your eyes are closed during sleep, they are still very much a part of your sleep and keeping them healthy and comfortable is essential to better sleep. A (heated) sleep mask does just that, keeping your eyes relaxed and comfortable while you snooze.
Eye masks promote deeper sleep, increasing the time your body is in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, which is when the brain is stimulated in areas that promote learning and memory, and also when the body is most efficient at breaking down proteins. A sleep mask is shown to increase time spent in REM and that makes it a great tool for improving the quality of your sleep.
Sleep masks relax the eyes, even repairing damage done to the eyes after looking at a screen all day. Sleep masks are also great for daytime sleepers, whether you're coming home from an overnight shift or catching a midday nap.
Block Out Noise With Sleep Earmuffs
If noise is an issue where you sleep, earmuffs for sleeping are a great device for reducing noise, thus making for a better overall sleeping experience. While some ear plugs can be uncomfortable, earmuffs are made to be a soft, cozy alternative that give you the help of reducing the noise around you, without sacrificing comfort.
A quiet sleep environment is linked to stronger Circadian rhythms, leading to more time to let your body naturally recover from the events of the day. Sleep earmuffs are a great way to go if you plan on sleeping outside of your home as well. Whether it's on a plane, an unfamiliar hotel room, or you're staying with your sister who just had a very cute but very loud baby, earmuffs can help reduce that noise and allow you to get into that deep sleep and stay there longer.
Play Some Soothing Tunes With Sleep Headphones
For those of us who might need a little more help than just the absence of noise, there are sleep headphones Not only do you get the benefit of noise blocking as you do with the earmuffs, but these non-intrusive ear buds play a variety of sounds that will help getting you to sleep faster.
Made specifically to be worn while sleeping, these buds can get you through the entire night with comfort. Connect these ear buds to your smartphone, tablet or other device, and you can customize which sounds work best for you to fall asleep to, and you won't have to worry about being interrupted in the middle of the night. Who doesn't want to hear the calming waves of the ocean or the relaxing splash of rain against the window and tune out your partner's snoring?
Lie Down On A Proper Sleep Pillow
Pillows are essential to a good night's sleep, but sometimes the standard pillow just won't cut it. If you want to really improve the quality of sleep you're getting and also keep the alignment of your spine in great condition, it would be wise to spring for a proper sleep pillow. There are even pillows made for sleeping on your side while wearing headphones or earmuffs.
Sleep pillows are made to better support the joints in your neck and back, keeping your spine aligned and making sure you stay comfortable throughout the night. What you'll find after sleeping with one of these sleep pillows is you are tossing and turning less, breathing easier, and staying cool and dry throughout the night as some of these sleep pillows are made with cooling technology for those warm nights (you know the feeling when you flip your pillow over to the cool side? It feels like that for the entire night).
A quality pillow will not only improve how comfortable you are when you're sleeping, it will also improve how you feel when you wake up and go through your daily routine.
Bite Through The Night With A Sleep Mouthguard
Bruxism is a common sleep disorder that causes people to grind their teeth and clench their jaw while they sleep. This can damage your teeth and leave your mouth feeling sore throughout your day.
A quality mouthguard for sleep will help to eliminate teeth-grinding, and, while it might sound uncomfortable sleeping with something in your mouth, it's made to fit your mouth while you sleep so it will actually improve the quality of your sleep. For those that snore, this mouthguard will also help reduce snoring, allowing a better flow of air and easier breathing in many cases.
Goals – Try To Set Smaller And Controllable Goals
One of the pitfalls in making resolutions is that we tend to make goals which are out of our reach and achieving them is not fully in our control. For example earning more money, losing weight and also improving your sleep seem to be in your control but actually they are not. What your goal should be is eating to a certain diet plan or keeping an exact sleep schedule. These things are in your control and are actually achievable.
In the business world the term SMART has been coined as an acronym for goals and their desired characteristics. What works in business can work with your sleep resolutions just as good. Here is what the acronym stands for:
S = Specific: Be very clear about the goal and avoid being vague. Don’t set a goal like “I want to sleep better. Better state something like “I will go to bed every night at 10pm and get up at 6am, weekday and weekends.”.
M = Measurable: “What gets measured gets improved!” is another famous business quote. It allows you to measure progress and help you stay motivated. In the above example, just count the days per week/months that you have stuck to your sleep schedule.
A = Achievable: Set your goals so that they are actually realistic. If you are more of a night owl don’t force yourself to go to bed each night at 10pm. Rather set a goal of having at least a certain number of hours of sleep per night.
R = Relevant: A goal should be relevant for you. In the terms of sleep goals simply imagine which are other benefits you will have from improved sleep when it comes to health, looks, mood,… By that improved sleep should easily be among the most relevant things.
T = Time-Bound: Same as above on “Achievable” you also need to set realistic time limits in which you want to achieve something. That means allowing yourself enough time with eventually a few intermediate goals. But at the same time your overall time line will keep you accountable.
And, this all won’t help if you don’t write it down! Review it as often as you can making sure you are still on track.
Make it a Habit
Create a habit not a goal! As funny as that sounds but that should actually be what to strive for with all resolutions. Make them a habit so that you can achieve them almost on auto-pilot. By focusing on the execution rather than the endpoint you can reach it much quicker and often more efficiently.
“Focus on these small wins so you can make gradual progress,” Charles Duhigg, author of “The Power of Habit” and a former New York Times writer, said. “If you’re building a habit, you’re planning for the next decade, not the next couple of months.”
Improving the quality of your sleep is a resolution that is not only easy to stick to, but it's also one you can implement right now. Whether you are a light sleeper, you have a noisy sleep environment, or you have a partner that snores, with the tools we've provided, there's no reason you can't start getting better sleep today!