Happy New Year!
Did you create a list of goals for 2016?
If you’re like most people, your resolution(s) focus on either achieving a specific goal (e.g., making more money), or improving yourself in one of the following dimensions:
- Physical (health, wellness)
- Emotional (relationships, mood)
- Mental (learning, focus)
- Spiritual (meaning, passion)
It probably also involves taking on something new.
However, before you go out and conquer the world, what if it turned out that the most valuable goal you could set for this year didn’t involve doing something new? What if it was doing more of something you already do, but doing it more proactively and intentionally?
What if you got conscious about going unconscious?
We’re talking sleep.
Getting more zzzzzzzzs.
It turns out that if you’re chronically sleep deprived, creating (and intentionally designing) a sleep resolution is the #1 thing you can do for the overall quality of your life.
The research behind the reasons why sleep is vital is overwhelming and clear: Sleep is the cornerstone of your physical being. It’s –by far –the most important form of renewal we have. When you don’t get enough sleep, the quality of everything else in your life erodes.
For example, think back to the last time you pulled an all-nighter, or tried to go multiple nights on 4 or fewer hours of sleep a night.
Do you remember the side effects? They include:
- Your health (immune system is impaired, craving sugar and caffeine to stay awake)
- Your focus (mental fog, unable to exert concentrated directed thought)
- Your mood (crabby, anxious, depressed, out of it)
- Your relationships (leave me alone!)
There’s a reason that sleep deprivation is considered a form of torture by human rights commissions all around the world. Life without sleep is torture.
Meta-analyses of sleep research say that 95% of us need between 7-8 hours a night to feel fully rested. So there’s a pretty good chance that you’re in that 95%.
Can you survive with and get by with less sleep? Sure.
But the point of life is not just to survive: It’s to thrive.
What things can you do to create a terrific sleep resolution for the New Year? First, start with making sleep a top priority. Remind yourself why you want to sleep more (like the impact it has on every other part of your life) so your actions don’t feel like some kind of externally imposed parental punishment.
Once you’ve made the choice and are resolved to invest in your sleep, here are some tips to help:
Give up the “I’ll just do one more thing” mindset.
Don’t keep believing the fallacy that “1 less hour of sleep = 1 more hour of quality productive time”. It will come back and bite you. Whatever is it that you do in that last hour or two before you currently fall asleep, what would happen if you got more sleep instead?
Turn off the devices.
All of our gadgets are designed to keep us in a state of heightened alertness and arousal. Not the best state to try to fall asleep. Give yourself a deadline, and then power down.
Do things that relax you.
Drink a glass of warm milk, take a bath, listen to jazz, etc. You know what works for you. If you don’t, be a scientist and experiment with different relaxation type activities and see what works to help you get tired and ready for sleep.
Here’zzzzz to your New Year!
What other tips do you have for getting adequate sleep? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.