In 2019 You Only Need One Resolution

Franklin – Franklin VNA & Hospice wants you to let sleep be your New Year's resolution for 2019. While some people may have a whole laundry list of New Year's resolutions, including losing weight, eating better, spending more time with family and, in general, figuring out ways to enjoy life more and not be so stressed out, I challenge you in 2019 to have, and stick, with just one resolution -  get your recommended amount of sleep! The National Institute of Health found that adequate sleep can help lower your risk for diabetes and heart disease, help with weight loss, improve your mood and help you get sick less. Sleep is when your cells build muscle, regulate hormones that control weight and mood and is when we build our memories. Skimping on just an hour of sleep can cause us to perform 7 points lower on IQ and vocabulary tests!

So how do you figure out how much sleep is enough? Most people need eight hours, but that rule doesn't always fit everyone – kids and teens can need up to 12 hours a night. To figure out how much sleep your body needs will take a few nights of good restful sleep. The reason you can't figure out in one night is because often times we sleep too little and accrue what is known as a sleep debt. Sleep debt is the reason why you want to sleep-in on the weekend mornings. You skipped on sleep during the week and now need to make it up. Because of this, the amount you sleep in on a Saturday morning may not necessarily be the amount of sleep your body actually needs every night. Make a point to go to bed early for a few nights, in a healthy sleep environment, then see what time you wake up in the morning and feel well-rested and energized. That will be your new hours of sleep goal number.  

What’s a healthy sleep environment, and how do you create one? First, keep a consistent bedtime to allow for your needed sleep, even on the weekends. Make sure the room is truly dark and quiet. This may mean moving electronic devices to a different room, putting light blocking tape over small offending standby lights and ensuring that your curtains and blinds are thick enough to truly block out light and sound. A small fan or other “white noise” producer can help if you have noisy neighbors. There’s even an app. Next you need to make sure the bedroom is a comfortable temperature, the National Sleep Foundation recommends you aim for a little bit on the cool side, 60 -67 degrees. The cool air will help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep. If you get cold feet, wearing socks or putting a hot water bottle by them is just fine.  Lastly, you need to train your brain that it’s time for sleep. Try not to have any activities in your bedroom aside from sleeping and sex. So move out the TV and avoid playing on your phone or tablet while in bed. Wear comfortable sleeping clothes and do something restful for a few minutes before going to sleep like deep breathing exercises or writing in a journal. If you have trouble sleeping and are lying awake at night, get up out of bed to read a book for a few minutes rather than grabbing for your cell phone. The light emitted by cell phones and other electronic devices can trick our brain into thinking that it's morning time and start our chemical wake-up process.

Getting enough sleep should truly be the one resolution that you start for 2019. It will help you lead a more productive, happier, less-stressed new year and may help with weight loss as well! So here’s to a more restful 2019 with good sleep habits!

For more information, try: www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/sleep/healthysleepfs.pdf and www.sleepfoundation.org

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