‘New Year, New You’ is a commonly heard phrase at this time of year. Resolution lists 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. To help you we’ve got one resolution that will benefit you in the long term: sleep better.
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 in 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.
Cut Down On Alcohol
Alcohol certainly won’t help you get a good night’s kip. Having it too close to bedtime will ruin your sleep and you’ll get none of the benefits of a good night in bed. Sleep is divided into various levels, from REM (Rapid Eye Movement) down to deep sleep. Alcohol tends to send you straight into deep sleep, bypassing REM which a critical stage in resetting the brain after a busy day.
When you are enjoying a glass of wine, remember that it takes the body approximately 1 hour to process 1 unit of alcohol. So if you’re drinking late, you may be damaging your sleep with every sip!
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 for 7 to 8 hours.
The answer is simple: sleep more 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.
Drink Less Coffee
Caffeine is a stimulant. It should go without saying that it shouldn’t be consumed before bed. In fact, caffeine has a half- life of between 6 and 8 hours. That’s the amount of time it stays in your system. When you have a cup of coffee, the caffeine stimulates all the nerves in your frontal lobes. This wakes your brain, boosts adrenaline and blocks sleep inducing chemicals. Caffeine also increases your chances of developing a headache and can make your heart rate jump, which will either wake you up or disturb your sleep.
Sleeping is vital for your health. It relaxes you, 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 and healthier. Now that’s an excuse for making sleep your only New Year’s resolution!
We would love to hear your New Year’s resolutions in the comment section below!