Here’s a new year’s resolution that you will want to uphold – a better night of sleep!
Below are 15 simple sleep (re)solutions that will help you sleep your way to a successful new year!
1. Turn off your technology before bed
The bright light emitted from computer screens, smartphones, and eReaders inhibit the production of melatonin and delay circadian rhythms. Recent research has revealed that nighttime eReader usage can reduce nighttime sleepiness, fragment sleep, and reduce alertness the following morning.
Avoid contact with light-emitting screens and other bright lights at least a couple of hours before you plan to go to bed.
2. Get a new alarm clock
A smartphone makes for a convenient alarm clock; however, sticking to the old-fashion alarm clock is a better choice. Phone notifications and messages throughout the night can result in sleep fragmentation and microarousals.
Not willing to buy an alarm clock? At the very least, put your phone on airplane mode and on the opposite side of the room from your bed.
3. Ditch the late afternoon latte
The effects of caffeine can last anywhere from 2.5 to 10 hours, which means that a mid-afternoon cup of coffee could result in tossing and turning when bedtime rolls around.
4. Set a Netflix limit
You’re only going to watch the first episode of the latest season of House of Cards? Unlikely.
Save yourself from a late-night Netflix binge by determining in advance how many episode you will watch before you go to start watching your shows. And for the love of sleep – don’t start the next season before bed!
5. Put a cap on the night caps
While that night cap may help you fall asleep faster, it will end up doing more harm than good to the quality of your sleep.
Alcohol initially acts as a sedative to decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep; however, it causes sleep to be fragmented, especially during the 2nd half of the night.
6. Develop a bedtime routine
Practicing a bedtime routine is ideal for preparing your mind and body for sleep. Listening to soothing music, taking a bath or shower, and light stretching are all great examples of bedtime routines that will help make falling asleep much easier.
7. No pets in the bed
It may be hard to kick your beloved pet out of the bedroom, but it’s for the best – we promise! Research this year found that of the individuals who shared the bed with their pets at least four nights a week, 63% reported poor sleep quality.
How is your furry friend impacting your sleep? Between their animated dreams, barks, meows, and spontaneous arousals, pets can seriously disrupt your sleep.
Some animals also operate on different biological clocks than humans. For instance, cats have poor biological rhythms of sleep and alertness, which can result in your playful cat waking you up at 4 AM.
8. Stick to your bedtime
While it may seem juvenile, a regular bed time can be incredibly helpful for the synchronization of your internal clock, which can help you to fall asleep easier. Setting a bed time will also help you to get the proper amount of sleep each night.
9. Don't be a clock watcher
When experiencing insomnia, clock-watching will often worsen the insomnia and make falling back to sleep much more challenging.
In order to avoid clock-watching behavior, refrain from sleeping with your phone at your bedside, and also cover alarm and TV clocks with black electric tape.
10. Stop falling for the snooze button
The extra sleep with the snooze button may actually be leaving your MORE tired than just getting up the first time!
When you hit the snooze button, your body may restart its sleep cycle, entering into deeper stages of sleep and causing you to feel groggy and tired upon waking up. It’s best to just wake up upon the first alarm, as your body prepares itself to wake up even before your alarm clock goes off.
Can’t seem to break your snooze button habit? Try putting your alarm clock on the opposite side of the room from your bed. This will force you to get out of bed to turn off the alarm, and decrease the likelihood of you hitting the snooze button.
11. Cut out noise
Try to keep your sleep environment as quiet as possible in order to avoid micro arousals. Some great ways to reduce external noise include using earplugs or a white noise machine.
If you are less inclined to purchase a white noise machine, there are plenty of CDs and MP3s of white noise sounds that can be used with a sound system.
12. Have a sleep disorders screening
Do you habitually snore? Have trouble falling asleep? Excessively tired during the day? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have an underlying sleep disorder.
It’s estimated that between 50-70 million Americans have a sleep and/or alertness disorder.1 Without proper treatment, these disorders can seriously impact your health and daily functioning. In fact, untreated obstructive sleep apnea has been linked to an increased risk of stroke, congestive heart failure, hypertension, and depression.
13. Start napping correctly
Need a mid-day boost? A power nap is the perfect solution – if done properly.
To maximize the effectiveness of your power nap, keep it shorter than 30 minutes to avoid sleep inertia, which can leave you feeling groggy for the rest of the day. Can’t fall asleep in that short of a time frame? Don’t worry about it! You don’t necessarily have to fall asleep to feel the benefits of a nap.
It’s also important not to nap too late in the day, as this can cause sleep troubles come bed time.
Napping trick: Drink a caffeinated beverage immediately before taking a nap so that you will feel supercharged after waking up from your nap.
14. Wake up at the same time every day
The strength of our circadian rhythms is dependent upon the consistency of our bed and wake times.
Getting up at the same time, every day (weekends too) strengthens our circadian rhythm, making it easier to fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning.
If you want to catch up on some zzzs, try taking a mid-afternoon nap or even going to bed earlier.
15. Get more sleep!
Chronic sleep deprivation is a serious issue. Studies have found that individuals who routinely sleep less than 7 hours per night have an increased risk for obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
If you’re getting less than 7 - 8 hours of sleep a night, your #1 New Year’s Resolution should be to get more sleep! With a good night of sleep, 2016 may be YOUR year to shine!
CIRCADIAN® is the global leader in providing 24/7 workforce performance and safety solutions for businesses that operate around the clock. Through a unique combination of consulting expertise, research and technology, software tools and informative publications, CIRCADIAN helps organizations with traditional and/or extended operating hours optimize employee performance and reduce the inherent risks and costs of sleep deprivation and fatigue.
1. Institute of Medicine. Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2006.