January is the month of resolutions. Each year, we take time to review our lives and decide which habits we hope to create or get rid of in order to live a more fulfilling life.We pledge to exercise more, eat better, save more, be more productive, be less stressed, wake up earlier, stop procrastinating, and just generally do more. We pledge to be happier.
Unfortunately, life is complicated and come February or March, our new routines are often abandoned and forgotten – which is normal! All of us are susceptible to losing our determination and motivation.
For 2017 we’ve created a five-part blog series that focuses less on adding and doing more, and more on simply being present and focused on things as they are. If you missed Part 1 on mindful meditation or Part 2 on being present with those who matter, click on the links above.
Improve your sleep to improve your habits
When it comes to your mental and physical health, there is no doubt that quality sleep is essential.
Most of us know the dreaded sluggish feeling the next day after a poor night’s sleep, however not all of us are aware of the more subtle, yet severe effects sleeping problems can have on our brain’s ability to function.
Along with a general decrease in productivity, lack of sleep has also been shown to inhibit our ability to concentrate, be alert, assess new information correctly, and recall previously learned information – essentially hindering our ability to learn and create new memories.
Sleep deprivation can also lead to poor decision-making, as a result of our brain’s impaired ability to assess a situation correctly and select the best solution. Not only, does poor sleep impair your judgment, but has also been shown to weaken your self-control throughout the day, as a good night’s rest can help restore your self-control reserves. This helps explain why it’s more difficult to make yourself exercise, eat healthily, and avoid distractions when you’re feeling tired.
So by getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night, you’re increasing your potential to live a healthier, happier life.
Better sleep hygiene = better sleep
According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 Americans is not getting enough sleep. Poor sleep quality can be caused by a variety of factors, however for most of us, major improvements can be made with small changes to your sleep hygiene.
So what is sleep hygiene? Sleep hygiene is a variety of practices that you can do to ensure that you will most likely to get the rest you need.
Here are 8 practices you can use to help you get the sleep you need:
- Make sure you create a sleep-inducing environment
- Make sure your bed, comforter, and pillows help to create a calm, comfortable, cool environment
- Try to create a consistent sleeping schedule based on your natural circadian rhythm
- This means going to waking up and going to bed at roughly the same time every day – yes, even on weekends
- Only go to bed when you’re tired, and when you do, don’t watch your alarm clock
- Too often we try to go to bed when we’re not tired, causing a vicious cycle of not falling asleep because you’re too busy stressing about falling asleep
- Get rid of distractions – use Freedom to set a schedule for when you will no longer allow yourself to be online
- This will help to calm your thoughts, as well as your intake of blue light, which like sunlight can wake you up when you’re trying to drift off
- Be active during the day
- Getting a dose of exercise each day can help to tire you for bed. But remember not to exercise too close to your bedtime!
- Try to avoid drinking caffeine or eating too late
- If your mind is racing, try meditating or various relaxation exercises to help find peace and calm. For more on getting started on meditation, check out our post here.
- An hour before bed, create a to-do list or schedule for tomorrow
- By writing down all the things you know you will have to do, you help your mind relax knowing that you have everything under control