With a new year coming upon us (and the old not ending prematurely), it’s time to start thinking about what you’re going to do for your New Year’s resolution.
I’m sure you’ve got the usual resolutions bounding around in your head: lose weight, eat better, and just be happier. But what if I told you I have a resolution that will help you achieve all those things? What is this magical resolution you could do this year that could just make life that much better? It’s pretty simple actually.
Now, before you throw your pillows at me, let’s take a look at what learning how to sleep better can do for you.
Studies have shown that proper sleep is key in helping people manage weight, with people who report that they don’t sleep well demonstrating increased risks for weight gain, hypertension, and even Type 2 diabetes.
There’s even a link between sleeping and eating. For men, there’s an increase in hunger without enough sleep, because of an increase of a chemical called ghrelin that (in short) makes you hungry. For women, there’s a reduction in a key hormone in making you feel full called GLP-1. While the causes may be different, the effect is the same: sleeping better helps you eat better.
So what about just feeling better? Everyone has felt refreshed after a good’s night sleep at least once in their life (or at least, I hope you have). Part of this is because sleep does everything from aiding in healing to helping us process problems in our unconscious minds (the term “sleep on it” really is helpful). While science hasn’t entirely unraveled all the secrets of sleep, what information is out there makes it pretty important.
So how do you learn how to get better sleep? Here’s a few quick tips to get you started.
1. Develop pre-sleep habits and rituals (called sleep hygiene), and stick to them.
2. Wake up at the same time every day. Yes, even on Saturday.
3. If you can’t fall asleep, don’t just lie in bed. Get out of bed and just go relax somewhere for 20 minutes, then try again (but don’t flip on the TV, grab that page-turner, or web surf — just relax!).
4. Try not to go to bed hungry or full. Eat at least 30 minutes before you sleep to give time for digestion to start working.
5. Put down that 5 p.m. coffee or energy drink. Caffeine is a chemical that can last for hours in your system. By promoting better sleep habits, you may find you don’t need it anymore.
It’s not always easy to prioritize sleep when you don’t see the cause and effect as clearly as you might with the other resolutions on your list. Eat healthier, exercise more, and the results are clear. But if you can learn how to get better sleep as your top resolution this year, you may be surprised at how your other goals become easier to accomplish.