2020 has been quite a year! It’s one we won’t forget and one which has thrown most of our regular routines out of the window. But, while there are things that are totally out of our control, there are still some things that we can control. Like, our sleep habits.
With 2021 here, now is the time to start considering some goals to set in order to get better sleep for the year ahead. Below we suggest 5 New Year’s sleep resolutions for 2021 that could transform the way you sleep.
Cut Your Screen Time
A survey carried out a couple of years ago by the UK Sleep Council found that 91% of us keep our mobiles within three feet of our bed and that one in three of us makes phone calls and sends or receives texts/emails from our bed. These figures are far from ideal, given that our beds are supposed to be places dedicated to calm, relaxation and sleep.
Technology and screen time have been widely proven to impact the quality and quantity of sleep we receive each night. Checking social media or emails before bed will stimulate your brain and do completely the opposite of what should be happening before you turn off the lights. Depending on what you are reading, your body could release cortisol, making you feel anxious, which in turn speeds up your heart rate and raises your blood pressure.
So, this coming year, make a goal to cut your average daily screen-time by at least a third, while promising yourself that you won’t have any screen time for the last hour before you go to bed. Trust us, there is nothing really worth reading about that can’t wait until tomorrow!
Plan Your Exercise Schedule
The topic of exercise has never been more prevalent in the media than it is now. Regular exercise can significantly help to reduce stress and anxiety while boosting your mood. As well of these mental health benefits, there are also the physical benefits of stronger muscle density, reduced obesity, better lung capacity and optimised heart functionality. When it comes to sleep, exercising also makes your body tired, which will help you to enjoy a better night’s sleep.
While exercise is good for sleep, sleep is also very good for exercise too! If you’re tired and sleep-deprived from the night before, you won’t feel motivated to exercise, your performance rates will be reduced and your ability to adapt will be lowered. So, it’s in your best interest to plan in a regular exercise schedule based on the things you like to do, as well as ensuring you give your body enough sleep recovery time each night.
Look at Your Diet
While you are assessing your exercise goals, it’s worth looking at your eating habits too.
Make it your mission to finish eating your evening meal at last three hours before you go to bed to ensure it has fully digested. Also, try your best to fight the cravings to snack on sugary treats and biscuits just before you hit the sheets. You risk the chance of waking up in the night with indigestion or nausea as a consequence.
Also, if you drink caffeine or alcohol, consider limiting your intake and avoiding them before bedtime. Caffeine and alcohol can both stay in your system for up to 12 hours and will affect your ability to fall into a deep sleep. You might find yourself waking up in the middle of the night when the effects have worn off from your system.
Assess Your Mattress
In addition to your personal health and lifestyle considerations, the health of your mattress can also make a huge difference to the quality of your sleep. So perhaps 2021 is the year to invest in a new mattress?
If your mattress is older than six or seven years, then it’s time to look out for tell-tale signs that it might be heading for the recycling tip. Give it a thorough MOT to see if there is any damage or visible signs of wear. If it’s lumpy, sagging or makes creaking noises when you move on it, then things aren’t looking good.
Also, if you are waking up feeling unrefreshed, tired and achy, then your mattress might be failing you. Maybe you’ve recently spent the night in another bed that wasn’t yours and slept amazingly well? Well, if that’s the case, it’s time to do your research to find a supportive mattress that will help to give you better sleep.
Start to Meditate
If you haven’t already added a short meditation period to your daily schedule, then 2021 might be a good time to start. It might seem daunting and you might be unsure of how to start or if you will even be able to do it, but fear not, for there are many beginner’s meditation programmes available.
Evening meditation can help you to shut off from the day that’s gone and help clear your mind so that it’s focussed only on sleep. After all, for some of us, the night time is when our thoughts usually have more time to sneak up on us and take control. Beginners can use guided audio meditations, which give you gentle encouragement on slowing down your breathing rate and also using visualisations to help induce relaxation.