91: Avoid these sleep resolution mistakes!Dec 30, 2023
Each New Year’s holiday brings some thoughtfulness about how we might improve our lives. BETTER SLEEP is a common (and worthwhile!) goal. However, it's crucial to navigate the pursuit of better sleep with awareness . . . and avoid falling into common traps that can hinder your progress.
In this guide, I'll explore some sleep-deprived resolutions and provide insights on how to set yourself up for success in achieving restful nights throughout the year.
Don’t Overcommit. Setting overly ambitious sleep goals won’t work, so you are off the hook for any drastic changes! With sleep, you will get waaaaay more success if you’re the tortoise, not the hare. Make a realistic plan that includes one small change that you can stick to every day. For example: stop using the snooze button. Mark your progress on a calendar and congratulate yourself as you build a streak of wins! Once you feel comfortable with that change, make another small goal.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Consistency. One of the most common problems I see is inconsistent sleep. Not just inconsistency in the total sleep time, but inconsistent bedtimes and wake-up times as well. Variability in your sleep pattern means your poor brain will make slower transitions into wake or sleep. In other words, your sleep quality and your wake quality are both affected. A great way to improve your sleep (and wakefulness!) is to keep a consistent wake-up time. And you can work backward to choose a bedtime that is 7.5 - 8.5 hours before that. Keep your schedule 7 days a week, and plan some “me time” in those early morning hours.
Screen Time Sabotage. Hypnotizing yourself with screen time before sleeping and in the middle of the night is going to drop your melatonin levels. No bueno! In addition, you are missing valuable time to regulate thoughts and emotions that may be keeping you awake. Sorry, but your dreams are not in your phone. If you’re having trouble putting your screens away at night, a good first step is making a promise to yourself to avoid looking at an electronic screen between 11 pm and 4 am.
Detrimental Drinks and Nighttime Nibbles. What you put into your body has an effect on your sleep. Take a hard look at caffeine if you have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep. Alcohol could cause you to fall asleep more quickly, but the negative effects far outweigh this benefit. Eating too close to bedtime can affect the way food is processed– our bodies are optimized for metabolizing food during the day. Try pulling back on all of these things and see if your sleep improves.
Don’t Sacrifice Sleep for Productivity. Oh boy, I’m guilty of this too. But it’s a big misconception that cutting your sleep short leads to increased productivity. Sleep is a fundamental biological need and if you are deprived it will erode your efficiency in cognitive function, memory, decision-making, and overall daily performance.
Don’t Neglect Your Sleep Environment. Be sure to create a comfortable, dark, and soothing space for rest. Pay attention to the room temperature (ideal sleeping temp is 65-68 degrees F), lighting, and the quality and cleanliness of your mattress and pillows. Remove clutter and stressors from your bedroom and maintain it as a sleep sanctuary.
If finally fixing your sleep problem is a priority for you, remember that success lies in mindful and sustainable habits. By getting specific and consistent with your sleep resolutions, you can set the stage for restful nights and wake up each morning ready to embrace the opportunities that the year ahead has to offer. Sweet dreams and a Happy New Year filled with rejuvenating sleep!
You've got sleep problems...
so is it time for a sleep study?