It’s that time of year! We are emerging from the post-holiday bliss/exhaustion/food coma and we are turning our sights to the New Year. There is something about the New Year that has us all craving a fresh start. Many of us are thinking about what we want to achieve and how we can improve our lives to be happier, healthier and more fulfilled. Christmas lists are quickly replaced by lists of New Year’s Resolutions. This year, I challenge you to look at your resolutions a little differently and instead of the most common resolutions, you replace them with one New Year’s Sleep Resolution: PRIORITIZE SLEEP!
Healthy sleep habits will help you to more easily achieve the top New Year’s Resolutions and make you more successful in sticking to your goals!
How you ask? Let’s break down how sleep negatively affects the top New Year’s resolutions.
Did you know that sleep may be just as important as diet and exercise in losing weight!? Crazy right?
- Poor sleep has been repeatedly linked to a higher BMI and weight gain
- Short sleep duration increases the likelihood of obesity by 89% in children and 55% in adults.
- Poor sleep can cause weight gain and weight gain can cause sleep apnea. These factors together can decrease sleep quality dramatically and create a perpetual cycle of poor sleep quality.
It will be much easier to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight if you are getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours each night. Also, ensuring that your children are meeting their sleep needs can help to reduce their risk of obesity.
Eating Less & Healthier:
Sleep deprivation often causes people to feel hungrier. Sleep deprivation affects two of our hunger hormones: ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is a hunger hormone released in the stomach that send signals to the brain. Leptin is a hormone released from fat cells that suppresses hunger and signal fullness in the brain.
If we don’t sleep enough, the body makes more ghrelin and less leptin, leaving you feeling hungry and with an increased appetite. Hello extra calories we don’t need!
Also, sleep deprivation makes it harder to make healthy choices and resist tempting food. After a night with little sleep, I certainly don’t want to eat salad – cheeseburger and fries sound way more appealing!
Research has found that a lack of sleep can increase your desire for foods that are higher in calories, carbs and fat. People who are sleep deprived tend to consume more calories.
If you are prioritizing sleep, it will make it much easier for you to make healthier food choices and have your body receive the proper hunger signals so you eat less.
Exercising / Getting Fit:
A lack of sleep can cause daytime fatigue, making us less likely and less motivated to exercise. It can also cause us to get tired earlier during physical activity.
So even if we can muster up the energy to exercise, scientists in Brazil found that sleep debt decreases our bodies ability to make muscle, causes muscle loss and can lead to higher incidence of injuries. Muscle is incredibly important for anti-aging and fat burning.
Poor sleep also means that we slow down our recovery time due to less growth hormone being released due to a lack of the type of sleep that we need for muscle growth. Also, with poor sleep, we have an increase of cortisol, which slows down the production of the growth hormone to help with muscle growth.
On the flip side, getting more sleep can help increase athletic performance and muscle growth. Also getting more exercise can help improve sleep quality. Win-win!
It is no secret that stress can affect sleep! Not sleeping enough increases the fight or flight hormones and it creates a perpetual cycle of more stress and less sleep.
When we are under stress, our bodies go into a constant state of fight or flight – a primitive response that we have to either fight or flee due to a challenging or dangerous situation. If you are continually under stress, your body is continually in a state of fight or flight. This means that your body is sending messages saying it isn’t time to sleep because there is danger lurking.
Continual stress can cause difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep and early morning wake ups. These all impact sleep quality and duration, which can severely impact overall health in both children and adults.
How can you prioritize sleep in the New Year and give yourself a leg up on being more successful with sticking to your New Year’s Resolutions?
Optimize your sleep environment
- Your bedroom should be solely for sleep and sex
- Create a sleep haven – cool, dark, white noise, soft sheets
- Take out the TV and any electronics.
- Remove any blue or white light sources
Develop a consistent bedtime routine
- Just like our kiddos, we need a consistent bedtime routine that helps to relax us and tells our body that we are getting ready for sleep
- A bath or a shower can be relaxing
- Opt to read a book instead of Netflix and Instagram
- If your mind is busy, keep a journal by the side of the bed to jot your thoughts down
Establish a consistent bedtime & wake time
- A consistent bedtime and awake time is important for adults as it helps with our circadian rhythm, our internal sleep wake clock.
- Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every day. Even on the weekends! If you have little kids, the waking at the same time every day shouldn’t be a problem!
Help Your Children to be Healthy Sleepers
- It should go without saying that if your children aren’t getting enough sleep, you are definitely *NOT* getting enough sleep!
- Prioritizing how to help your child to be a better sleeper will in turn help you get the sleep you need and undoubtedly, you’ll show up more as the parent you want to be.
- Our child’s disposition will be happier and therefore there will be less stress in your household.
- If they aren’t waking at ungodly hours in the morning or fighting bedtime, you’ll have time and energy to fit in your workouts and to prepare healthier food choices.
In full transparency, I finished writing this at 11:45 pm – way past my bedtime! Guess what my Top New Year’s Sleep Resolution is this year? Prioritizing sleep! Hopefully it will help me to take off the “baby weight” that has been hanging around for the past five years!
Need help with sleep for your family? Schedule an intro call with us to discuss working together. We help families to develop healthy sleep habits from the start!
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