Can Good Sleep Define Success & Help You Achieve Your New Years’ Resolutions?
6 min read
Last Modified 23 December 2022 First Added 8 January 2017
‘New Year, New You’ is a commonly heard phrase at this time of year. Our goals get written only to be ignored by the end of the month, contributing to another common phrase: January Blues.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The end of the festive season and the beginning of a new year can be a time to reinvent yourself and to set New Year goals.
To help, we’ve got one resolution that will benefit you in the long term: sleep better. We’ll also explore how sleep can help you stick to your other New Years’ Resolutions.
Sleep is vital for your health. It resets your body clock, gives your brain time to absorb what you’ve learnt and done and prepares you for tackling any challenge. With a good night in bed, you’ll be more productive, healthier and more likely to avoid falling into old habits. So whether your New Years’ resolution is to stop smoking, cut down alcohol or exercise more, getting high-quality sleep each and every night is vital to your success.
Good sleep means ensuring you get the right amount of sleep your body needs to function at its highest level. Typically, the number to aim for is 8 hours every night. However, it’s more important to listen to your own body and if you need more or less, then adapt to how you feel in the morning. After a couple of nights of solid sleep and waking up at the same time each morning, you should start feeling energised and ready for the day.
Before we dig into how sleep can help you achieve your new resolutions, here are some articles on how to achieve better sleep in more detail:
Whatever your New Years’ resolution, you’ll need to ensure your body and brain are primed to make good decisions. Sticking to new habits can be tough but ensuring you are in the best state to achieve them is key.
Good sleep helps you achieve greater productivity whether that’s more exercise or completing a creative project. It also helps improve decision-making which is key for when your brain tries to slip back into its old habits. The better your sleep, the less likely you are to feast on that late night snack or opt for a cigarette.
Vitality Health, a health and life insurance company, commissioned the University of Cambridge to study factors that affect a worker’s productivity. Researchers found that employees who slept less than six hours a night were significantly less productive than employees who slept between 6.5 and 8 hours.
Interestingly, this comes from an inability to refocus our attention back to the task at hand. This study by Buffer.com shows how those who are sleep deprived struggle to turn their attention back to their objective once their mind wanders.
The important part is that everybody’s mind will wander when completing an action but it’s those with good sleep who find it easiest to avoid being completely distracted.
Another study backs up this thinking. The US National Library of Medicine states:
Under the effects of sleep loss, people habitually more reflective and cautious become more impulsive and prone to risk-taking during decision-making based on deliberative reasoning.
In short, this means that those with poorer sleep are more likely to make bad decisions. When it comes to sticking to your new resolutions and aiming for greater productivity, this is key!
So, the answer is simple: sleep better to be more productive.
Thomas Hobbes – the Renaissance genius, English philosopher and thinker who built the foundation for today’s Western political philosophy – loved having a nap in the middle of the day. If Hobbes hadn’t slept, we would be living in a very different world! He also lived to 91, which many of his contemporaries could only dream of.
Nicotine is a stimulant and, therefore, directly impacts our ability to sleep. This is particularly true for those who smoke just before going to bed. Unfortunately, there’s a common belief that smoking calms you down; however, this has been debunked by numerous scientific studies.
For example, the NHS state:
Most smokers say they want to stop, but some continue because smoking seems to relieve stress and anxiety. It’s a common belief that smoking helps you relax. But smoking actually increases anxiety and tension. Smokers are also more likely than non-smokers to develop depression over time.
We’ve all been told to do more exercise and go on a diet to lose weight. First by our parents, then our doctors, then we tell ourselves we should join our friends in the gym. But, finding the energy is hard. Once you do find yourself drinking broccoli smoothies and running on a treadmill twice a week, you might still be struggling to find energy. That’s because sleep is the miracle third piece to the puzzle.
Sleep deprivation leads to feeling tired during the day. This is when we’re more inclined to reach for a sugary or caffeine-intense drink, leading to weight gain. Research by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people lacking enough sleep tend to reach for late-night snacks more often; and these snacks tend to have a high-fat content.
They found that a lack of sleep activates a hunger hormone, increasing food cravings of typically energy-dense, high-carb foods. Sleep will fix that by resetting your brain, absorbing the previous day’s information and preparing your body for a productive next day and a healthy new year.
There is no doubt that good sleep will help you succeed with a variety of New Years’ Resolutions. The key to sticking to new habits is ensuring that when you get the tendency to slip, your brain is primed through the right amount of rest and restoration to quickly refocus on your goals. Use the articles linked throughout to help you kickstart 2023 with healthy sleep habits so you can achieve everything you set your mind to!