How would you rate your sleep this year?
Since we’re sleeping 20% less than we did 100 years ago, and an estimated 30% of Americans suffer from insomnia, it’s a safe bet that your sleep has been less than ideal.
Did you make a sleep-related resolution for 2016?
If you achieved one, way to go! You’re in the minority. Statistically, we’re far worse at keeping New Year’s resolutions than we are at getting enough sleep. Forbes put the success rate at about 8% for 2013. As you plan your resolutions for 2017, we encourage you to keep or add a specific goal related to your sleep. But if you’ve failed in the past, we hope you’ll reconsider achievability and sustainability in planning your resolution. Instead of just letting your goals roll over and repeat, adjust them to increase your potential for success.
Find one way (related to sleep) to get uncomfortable.
Real change takes place when we extend ourselves beyond our comfort zones. Experimenting with sleep or cutting down on caffeine can cause real pain, but these changes have the potential to deliver big benefits. Before you commit to any sleep-related resolution, prepare yourself mentally and emotionally to get a little bit uncomfortable. Talk to your family or support system so they understand your goals – and give you a wider birth to be a bear in the morning. When you succeed, everybody wins.
Identify your chronotype.
The morning person/night person concept is real. Different people have different sleep needs. If you feel like you’ve been fighting an uphill battle to keep specific hours, you could be going about resting all wrong. Your chronotype determines when and how much you need to sleep, and its origins are biological. A conversation with your doctor or a simple quiz can help you to identify your natural propensities for sleep and find the perfect time for doing everything you hope to achieve.
Get electronics out of the bedroom – or at least limit the light that keeps you awake.
By now, everyone knows that the light from our phones, tablets, and e-readers is robbing us of sleep. Fortunately, the market is demanding solutions, and companies are answering with new options for blocking the blue light that hinders the production of sleep hormones. iPhones now have Night Shift, f.lux is available for a variety of devices, and amber glasses can be found on Amazon for about $8. Any of these will reduce the impact of nighttime light exposure on your sleep cycle.
Consider a sleep study.
The key word here is “consider.” Not everyone needs or will benefit from a sleep study. If you have chronic sleeplessness or problems staying awake, though, scheduling a sleep study with a specialist could be a huge favor to yourself. Start by talking to your doctor about your concerns and doing some research about the types of conditions a sleep study can reveal.
Get a better mattress.
Your mattress is truly the foundation for your sleep. If you’ve been devoting plenty of time to sleep but still feel tired during the day, your bed could be causing your problems. When your mattress is more than ten years old, when it’s sagging or lumpy, or when you regularly wake up with unexplained pain, it’s time to start shopping for a new one. Though proper support is vital, don’t be in a hurry. Devote enough time to trying out lots of beds at a local store, narrowing down the right options for you, and finding the right model at the right price.
Get more vitamin D.
Winter’s short daylight hours can make it hard to get enough sunlight. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to supplement your Vitamin D intake. The obvious option is to make sure you get outside for more than just a few minutes as early in the day as possible – shoveling your sidewalk, perhaps. You can also take a high-quality Vitamin D dietary supplement or even use an indoor therapy light.
More hours without caffeine; More days without alcohol.
Both stimulants and depressants can have an enormous impact on your sleep and its quality, so start somewhere by trimming where you can. Limit dinnertime glasses of wine to the weekends or skip the coffee when you feel uncharacteristically alert. Before you try to kick any habits, do some research so that you understand how these substances impact your body and your brain. Awareness will help you anticipate and get through any pain caused by cutting down.