The holidays are full of lists — wishlists, to-do lists, shopping lists. If I had to narrow it down to only one that I felt was absolutely necessary to write out and check twice, though, it would have to be my New Year’s resolutions. Hear me out: How much of 2018 did you spend fine-tuning your self-care? Because, listen, I get it: The past 365 days were a lot, and time somehow always feels limited. But 2019 should be about making positive changes, and setting wellness goals — like New Year’s resolutions for better sleep, for example — that you’ll actually keep. It’s not selfish to spend a little extra time reviewing your strategies to achieve them, either. As far as I’m concerned, it’s kind of necessary.
According to a YouGov poll from December 2017, the top three most common New Year’s resolutions going into 2018 were to eat healthier, get more exercise, and save more money. Self-care came in fourth on the list, with a focus on getting more sleep — which, at least IMO, is pretty surprising when you consider one in every three adults in the United States doesn’t get enough sleep, as per a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention press release. Going off that statistic alone, wouldn’t you think more people would be making a greater effort to clock in the seven to nine hours of snooze time the National Sleep Foundation recommends?
Well, 2019 is going to be the year you sleep like you’ve never slept before, friends. To help get you there, I reached out to a few experts in the space to offer their best tips for making New Year’s resolutions for better sleep that’ll actually stick.
Set An Intention To Spruce Up Your Sleep Hygiene
Sleep hygiene is one of those phrases that might make you tilt your head to the side, but it actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it. See, sleep hygiene simply refers to tidying up some of your everyday behaviors so that, when it’s time to go to bed, your body is ready for sleep.
“[Sleep hygiene] focuses on all behaviors that affect sleep, both day and night,” sleep science coach and founder of SleepZoo, Chris Brantner, tells Elite Daily. This includes setting a schedule for your sleep and wake times, making sure you’re getting enough sunlight during the day, limiting light exposure at night, limiting your caffeine and alcohol consumption, and creating a sleep environment that is relaxing for you, he says.
Try To Be More Consistent With Your Sleep Schedule
Once you’ve got all the components of your sleep hygiene in order, the next step is to stick with this new routine, Monday through Sunday. Trust me, I know myself, and I tend to stay up late and sleep in on the weekends, too, but according to Nate Watson, MD, a SleepScore Labs scientific advisory board member, consistency is key, 24/7.
“Consistent bedtimes and wake times on weekdays and weekends that allow seven or more hours of sleep [are important],” Watson tells Elite Daily. He adds that little details, such as avoiding caffeine after 2 p.m., putting screens away an hour before bedtime, and eating and exercising at or around the same times throughout the day/week, can also “help the body fall into a natural rhythm that will facilitate healthy sleep.”
To Better Understand Your Sleep Patterns, Set An Intention To Track Your Sleep
Your body and its experiences are unique to you, so just because investing in a set of blackout curtains was the answer to your roommate’s sleep issues, that doesn’t necessarily mean the added darkness is going to solve your problems. Talking to a sleep coach is an option, but Watson tells Elite Daily it might also be worth downloading a sleep-tracking app to your phone, and reviewing the data over a period of time to see where you could improve.
“Track your sleep with an app such as SleepScore to better understand the level of your sleep impairment,” Watson suggests. “Then you can make positive behavior changes to improve your sleep quality and monitor the improvements over time.”
Create A Sleep Environment Your Body And Mind Will Associate With Rest
Your bedroom should be a sleep oasis, but let’s say you bring your laptop under the covers with you to finish up a work assignment, or scroll through Instagram the second your head hits the pillow. These types of behaviors are probably going to cause your mind and body to associate the bed with busyness. To ensure you get high-quality shut-eye in 2019, ditch the devices at the door, and try to make your bedroom a place of pure comfort and calm.
“Having a comfortable bed and a peaceful bedroom are essential to a quality night’s sleep,” Carl Johan Hederoth of Sleep Cycle tells Elite Daily. To create this type of environment, Johan says, investing in a set of “comfortable, breathable sheets, a nice supportive pillow and mattress, a white noise machine to block out any outside noises, and a fan for good/cool air circulation” could be helpful.
Start Separating Yourself From Technology An Hour Before Bed
While we’re on the subject of sleep spaces, BIOS Lighting‘s director of circadian design, Erica Voss, tells Elite Daily that one major faux-pas people tend to make is bringing their technology to bed with them. In 2019, make it your New Year’s resolution to cut back on all devices at least an hour or so before you plan on getting ready for bed, so that your mind can rest.
“Do not sleep with electronic devices (phones/tablets/etc.) in your bedroom. Smart devices and luminous screens should be located outside of the bedroom, since they are often using light frequencies that can provide a daytime signal to your body, and are also generally mentally stimulating, which provides alertness that you don’t want when trying to go to sleep,” Voss explains. This will, she adds, be “part of establishing good sleep hygiene.”
Try Not To Party Too Close To Bedtime
I know it’s tempting to get in on another round of shots with your squad, especially when it’s on your bestie’s tab, but check the time before you throw back another SoCo and lime. If it’s getting late, you might want to pass and order a seltzer, instead, if meeting proper sleep hygiene etiquette is where your head’s at in the new year.
“Alcohol could also disturb your sleep without you knowing by hindering REM sleep,” Marten Carlson, a spokesperson for Mattress Clarity, tells Elite Daily. “[As a result], while you are sleeping for eight hours, your sleep quality is poor. So, cutting down on alcohol, especially close to bedtime, is a big step.”
Get Into The Habit Of Dimming The Lights In Your Home At Night
Have you ever heard of light pollution? It basically refers to when you’re overly exposed to artificial light, particularly at night. Too much light pollution can make it hard to fall asleep, so in order to avoid this issue in the new year, director of health coaching at Be Well, Amanda Carney, suggests an “electronic sundown” to dim and dismiss artificial light sources in your home.
“Start dimming the lights throughout your home to help ease the end-of-day transition, power down all electronics and take them out of the bedroom, put a timer on your router to keep the wifi off while you sleep, and use low, amber lightbulbs on your nightstand,” Carney tells Elite Daily. “The artificial blue lights used in electronics disrupts the body’s ability to release sleep-inducing hormones, so make sure your electronic devices are not near you while you sleep.”
Keep Stress Levels Low
Stress affects pretty much everything in your life — from the way you look, to how you sleep. To avoid the effects stress can have on your sleep cycle, Carney suggests doing everything you can to keep your body and brain feeling cool, calm, and collected in the new year.
“It’s important to take a few minutes each day to [relieve] pressure with meditation and exercise,” she tells Elite Daily. “Squeeze in a few early morning sun salutations, and take a few walks throughout the day. Book some regular sauna time, and always close the day with restorative yoga to help relax the mind and body.”