So have you broken you New Year’s resolution yet?
If you resolved to sleep more in 2013, you probably got off on the wrong foot on the first night of the year. After all, the whole point of New Year’s Eve is to stay up ‘til the wee hours and welcome in the New Year—and usually a drink (or two… or five…) is involved in the process.
Resolve to Sleep More
Even if you didn’t start out strong, “I will sleep more in 2013” is probably one of the healthiest resolutions you can make. But more isn’t always better… Sleeping more than 9 to 12 hours per night can negatively impact health and potentially indicate depression or mental illness. Maybe “I will consistently get quality sleep in 2013” would have a better impact.
How to Make Good on Your Resolution
It’s one thing to say, “I’ll get better sleep.” It’s another to implement that resolution. Here’s the best way you can guarantee the most nights of good sleep for yourself in 2013.
- Plan a sleep schedule. Even if you work at night or study ‘til the wee hours, you can get enough sleep if you design a schedule and stick to it. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. (Yes, even on weekends!)
- Cultivate the habit. Research by Phillippa Lally and others at University College London found that it takes 66 consecutive repetitions to form a habit, according to research published in the European Journal of Social Psychology. That’s 66 nights of going to bed and waking up the next morning at regular times before the habit really sinks in. Stick with it, and you’ll create healthy habits that can last a lifetime.
- Pay attention to your sleep hygiene. Lally and her research team also found that performing the action(s) to become habit in the same environment or setting aids habit formation. Create a bedtime routine, exercise early in the day, and eat a balanced diet to optimize your chances of falling asleep easily at bedtime.
- Get back on the wagon when you fall off. And that’s not an “if” but a “when.” We all have social lives, families, special occasions, deadlines, and emergency situations that impact sleep. There will be nights when you simply won’t get the sleep you need. Don’t let one or two bad nights derail you for the year.
Sound sleep on a regular basis can improve your day-to-day health, your responses to stress, even your risk for heart disease. To make a New Year’s Resolution that can change a lifetime, help yourself build healthy sleep habits in 2013.