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Realizzze your Resolutions through Rest

January 10, 2017

Sleep Resolutions for the New Year

Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet? Or have you given it up as a wool gathering exercise? Well, it doesn’t have to be. A study by Richard Wiseman seems to suggest that that there is a strong correlation between getting adequate rest and realizing your goals. In fact, sixty percent of people (of his thousand person survey) who reported sleeping soundly confirmed that they also achieved their New Year’s resolution. Of the forty-odd percent who had trouble sleeping, the majority admitted that they had failed to achieve their resolutions.

Clearly, it’s worth incorporating some healthy sleeping habits into your strategy for achieving your resolutions. However, not all of us have the luxury (like Chris McCullough, CEO of RotaGeek) of installing sleeping pods in the office and cultivating a polyphasic sleeping pattern (where you sleep for three or more short periods during the day instead of once at night). Most of us would get fired if we were caught napping on the job. Nice to be the CEO, isn’t it?

But there are some healthy sleeping habits you can cultivate and incorporate into your normal sleeping pattern: a couple of simple do’s and don’ts that can make a world of difference. Some are straight forward, others you’ll find very surprising.

First off, switch off. Modern technology (laptops, tablets, cellphones, etc.) emit light at the blue end of the spectrum (meaning you can’t see it with your naked eye, so don’t bother switching from a blue desktop background to a red one). We are geared by evolution to accept “blue” light as daytime light. If you’re getting a face-full of it, chances are good that your laptop will go into hibernation mode before you do. Avoid anything with a screen for at least an hour before bed. Rather invest in a good, old-fashioned paper book.

Be OCD about your REM cycle. It’s called a cycle because it rolls around in stages, with a period of deep-sleep bracketed between two periods of light-sleep. You are freshest and most alert when you manage to wake up on the tail-end of the latter period of light-sleep. The whole cycle should take about ninety minutes. So plan your wake-up time (say 07:00) and count backwards in ninety minute intervals. Go to bed at either 23:30 or 22:00.

If you wake up, get up. Too many people waste time rolling around in bed, waiting for sleep. If you do this a lot, your brain starts to label your bed as the ‘rolling around, being miserable’-place instead of the ‘sleeping’-place and will think ‘ah, we’re getting into bed, it must be time to roll around and be miserable’. Which is not what you want. Get out of bed. Go do something boring (like folding shopping bags into triangles, or your taxes) for fifteen or twenty minutes and try again.

Don’t lie-in, leap off! Your body likes routine, even if you don’t. When your confounded alarm starts blaring in your ear and you finally manage to snag it with one sleep-numbed paw (and this is very important) DON’T HIT SNOOZE! Snoozing for anything less than ninety minutes (see here above) means you wake up in the middle of one of your deep- or light-sleep periods. It guarantees that you’re going to be cranky and growly. Don’t do that to yourself (or your colleagues). Get up!

The right tools for the right job. Unless you’re MacGyver and can manage miracles with a Swiss Army knife and half a gummy bear, sound sleep requires the right equipment. Now before you go running off to buy the Soothing Sounds of Whalesong, stop and think. Is your pillow more than a year old? Then it’s probably time to get a new one. Is your mattress comfy? Or are the dents simply familiar? If the latter, it may be time for an upgrade. In any event, expecting to get a good night’s sleep out of inferior accessories is like expecting to cook a Michelin  duck l’orange out of two drumsticks and a tub of marmalade jam. And half a gummy bear.

Your goals are closer to your grasp than ever. But if you’re going to reach higher, start building your ladder from the ground up. It doesn’t get more basic than making sure you wake up bright eyed and ready to tackle the new day, every day. Make the change. Achieve your resolutions. Go to bed.

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