You might be cutting out the booze or hitting the gym this January, but you should also be assessing your sleep
With the festive season officially over, many of us are hoping to make a few positive lifestyle changes to mark the start of a New Year.
Unfortunately, research from business insider reveals that 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February.
The reason for this? We tend to set our ambitions too high, and don’t give ourselves enough support. Whether it’s starting a strict new diet or promising to go to the gym every day, making big changes to your habits is difficult to achieve without assessing every aspect of your lifestyle – including your sleep.
We’re here to show you why better sleep is the best goal you can have for 2020. Not only is quality sleep vital for your health – improving your mood, energy and reducing your risk of serious diseases – but it can also help you reach new levels of success when tackling some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions.
Why make quality sleep your goal?
Sleep and fitness
According to YouGov, fitness is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions, only behind eating better. Many of us take advantage of a new gym membership in January, but finding the energy and motivation can be difficult.
Good quality sleep is proven to boost your energy and focus. From reaction times to injury prevention and recovery, it’s fair to say that sleep and fitness go hand in hand.
Sleep and diet
As we mentioned earlier, eating healthy is the most popular New Year’s resolution in the UK. If you’re one of the many people aiming to improve their diet for 2020, then sleeping is key. It’s much easier to avoid temptation and stay away from sugary indulgences when your energy levels are high.
In fact, one 2013 study published in Nature Communications found that, when we’re sleep deprived, our brain activity spikes at the thought of food. When our body senses a lack of energy, it craves sugars and fats as a quick fix. Research has also shown that being tired can cause calories to be burned slower, so skipping sleep could actually inhibit weight loss.
Sleep and productivity
One of the biggest misconceptions about succeeding in your career is that sleeping less means working harder. In fact, the opposite is most often true. Those who get a good night’s sleep every night are far more likely to be able to concentrate and feel motivated. The result of this is that well rested individuals are more productive.
This was what non-profit organisation RAND Europe found in their 2016 study, which showed that sleep deprivation costs the UK as much as £40 billion per year in sick days and lost productivity – that’s roughly a third of the NHS’s annual budget!
Sleep and relationships
Communication and patience can both suffer as a result of sleep deprivation. When we don’t get enough sleep, our mood drops. We become more irritable, less sociable and more likely to miss out on social occasions and opportunities. It’s simple: making the time for good sleep is a key part of making the time for strong relationships.
How can you improve your sleep?
Improving your sleep quality is important, but that doesn’t mean it has to be difficult. The first step to improving your sleep habits is to set yourself a clear sleep schedule, and stick to it. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day will help your body learn its new routine, and unwind accordingly.
Keeping your bedroom cool and dark and avoiding bright screens before bed can also help your body relax before sleep. Instead of scrolling through your phone in bed, try reading a couple of chapters of a book or engaging in some meditation to clear your head.
Writing down your thoughts can also be a helpful way of relaxing. Whether this is keeping a sleep journal to help identify bad habits, or writing a to-do list for the following day to help with anxiety, putting pen to paper is a simple way to unwind.
What you eat and drink is also important. Try to avoid alcohol and caffeine in the lead up to bedtime.
Making simple changes like these will, overtime, improve your sleep quality and help you stick to your guns throughout 2020.