21 Sleep resolutions for the New Year
Is improving the quality of your sleep on your New Year’s resolutions list? If not, add it to your top 5. Sleep is a pillar of health and wellbeing. It’s as essential as breathing,
If 2020 gave you sleepless nights, let 2021 be the year you take back control of your health and sleep patterns. Here are the sleep resolutions we recommend you focus on in 2021:
1. Sleep 7-9 hours
We’ll start with the obvious: getting enough sleep. If you’ve been getting fewer than 7 hours of sleep a night as an adult, you want to make getting between 7-9 hours of sleep one of your first goals for 2021.
Not getting enough sleep can cause daytime fatigue, make it hard to focus, increase your risk of accidents, cause hormonal imbalances and negatively impact your mental and physical performance.
On the other hand, if you have a history of sleeping too much, try to limit your time in bed to 7-9 hours a night. Too much of a good thing can be bad, even when it comes to sleep.
Excessive sleep disrupts your sleep cycle even after just a few nights of doing so. Just one day of sleeping too much can make it harder to fall asleep the next night, creating a ripple effect and making it harder to get into a good sleep routine once again.
Sleeping too much can be an indication of an underlying condition like narcolepsy, depression and sleep apnea. If you frequently sleep too much, and feel fatigued during the day, speak to your doctor. You might need to go for a sleep study to help you determine why you are sleeping too much.
2. Break your screen habit
We know. It’s not easy to break your pre-bed Netflix or social media habit, but we highly recommend making it one of your 2021 resolutions. The blue light emitted from your device interferes with melatonin production, which your body needs to prepare for sleep.
This year, avoid digital screens before bed, get blue light blocking glasses and change all the light bulbs in your house to warm lighting. Swap your screen for a book – it’s not only good for your brain, but it’s also good for your sleep too.
3. Stop eating 2 to 3 hours before bed
Stopping your late-night snacking habit will not only help you meet your New Year’s resolution to lose weight but avoiding big meals before you call it a night can help improve the quality of your sleep too.
Ideally, you want to stop eating 2 to 3 hours before bed to give your body time to digest the food.
Don’t eat too little before bed, though. Your last meal should be substantial enough that you don’t go to bed hungry. A growling stomach will make it harder for you to fall asleep, and if your blood sugar levels crash in the middle of the night because your tank is empty, it can wake you up.
A combination of protein, fibre and fat at dinner will help you stay full enough.
4. Exercise regularly
Resolving to exercise regularly in 2021 will not only help you become your fittest self, but exercising can also help to improve the quality of your sleep. Exercise regulates your circadian rhythm and it can help you manage stress and symptoms of mental health conditions like anxiety and depression that can affect your sleep quality.
So, dust off your running shoes, get on your bike, lift some weights or play some music and dance around your living room. Do whatever exercise you can and want to do regularly.
5. Get sunlight
Let 2021 be the year you spend more time outdoors. Even if you have to drag yourself out the door to take a 20-minute walk when you would rather sit inside and watch TV, do it.
Sunlight exposure, especially in the morning, can improve sleep by helping to regulate your circadian rhythm. Light exposure has a significant impact on your sleep-wake cycle and mood regulation.
Top tip: Pair your daily workout with your time in the sun, take your morning coffee outside in the garden or sit outside when you want to read your book.
6. Practise breathing exercises before bed
Before you try to fall asleep, take a few minutes and do some breathing exercises, especially if you experience nighttime anxiety and have racing thoughts keeping you up. Breathing exercises can slow your heart rate, lower cortisol levels, help you relax and make it easier for you to fall asleep.
Breathing exercises you can try include box breathing, alternate nostril breathing and abdominal breathing.
7. Cool down
Your room should be as cool as you are for optimal sleep. The perfect temperature for sleep is 18,3°C or 65°F.
There are different ways of cooling down before bed. You can adjust the thermostat if you have one, turn on the air conditioning or room fan, get a cooling mattress pad and take a cold bath or shower before bed.
Avoid bedding and sleepwear that don’t allow your skin to breathe.
8. Turn your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary
If you’ve been looking for an excuse to give your bedroom a makeover in 2021, we say make it a sleep sanctuary.
- Dark curtains. You can try blackout curtains or blinds for the best effect. The goal is to make your room as dark as possible.
- Picking colours that help you relax and fall asleep like blue, beige and grey.
- Getting the perfect pillows and bedding. Treat yourself to some new bedding this year. You want bedding that will help you get better sleep. Choose light fabrics like cotton with long fibres for a more comfortable feel.
- Changing your lightbulbs from cool white and blue lights to warm lighting.
- Using an essential oil diffuser with scents that promote sleep like lavender.
9. Keep your bedroom clean
Your mum was right; it is important to keep your room clean, especially for sleep. Once you’ve upgraded your room and made it the ideal space for sleep, you want to keep it as tidy as possible. A cluttered room can be overstimulating and make it harder to fall asleep.
You don’t have to go full minimalist but aim for the cleanest, most clutter-free room you can create.
10. Eat foods that promote sleep
Following a healthy diet is always a good idea. And if you want to improve the quality of your sleep, you have even more motivation to improve the quality of the foods you eat.
Foods to avoid before bed include fried foods, cruciferous vegetables, spicy foods and cured meats.
Foods that can improve sleep include cherries, beef, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products.
11. Reduce stress
Are you dealing with stress? Do you need to go from worrier to warrior? Make it a priority to manage your stress in 2021. Too much stress can make it hard for you to sleep at night and can also make you wake up in the middle of the night. When you are stressed, you release the hormone cortisol, which wakes up the body.
The best stress-relief plan is different for each individual. Still, we highly recommend adding any movement to your routine, whether walking, boxing, dancing, weight training or tennis. Also add a mindfulness practice to your routine, like meditating, restorative yoga and journaling.
If you can speak to a psychologist or counsellor about your stressors, we highly recommend it. Doing so will help you get to the root of your stress so that you can manage it.
12. Journal before bed
Get a notebook, put it on your bedside table and start journaling in 2021. It can help you get thoughts that keep you up at night out of your head and onto paper so that you can fall asleep easier.
Perhaps anxiety is keeping you up at night. Perhaps you can’t sleep because you are excited about a business venture and have too many thoughts and ideas racing through your head. Writing your ideas down will help you remember them, and your mind should be able to relax and calm down sooner.
Writing down a list of things you are grateful for can help counteract any pre-bed anxiety and potentially offer a little light if you have depression.
13. Visit your doctor
Have you been delaying that appointment with your doctor? Pick up the phone and make an appointment for a check-up.
Whether you have been waking up in the middle of the night every night, struggling with insomnia, sleepwalking or experiencing daytime fatigue, or you just want to check that everything is in order, speak to your doctor.
If your doctor suspects that there is a problem with your sleep quality and that you may have a sleep disorder, they may recommend that you go for a sleep study to help them make a diagnosis.
14. Get into a regular bedtime and wake time routine
Don’t let your bedtime be something you decide on a whim each night. Going to bed and waking up at random times every day is not doing you any favours. As Jocko Willink puts it in the title of his book: “Discipline Equals Freedom.”
If you become more disciplined about your sleep schedule and start waking up and going to bed at similar times each day, it will help regulate your circadian rhythm and improve your sleep quality.
Your body will start to get into a habit of preparing for sleep and producing melatonin at similar times each day, and it will be easier for you to fall asleep at night and wake up without having to drag yourself out of bed.
15. Try fasting
What time you start and stop eating during the day can influence the quality of your sleep.
Your body does not only use light exposure to regulate your circadian rhythm, but it also uses your mealtimes.
Stopping your late-night eating habit and eating breakfast a little later in the morning can improve your sleep quality. Fasting for at least 13 hours overnight is recommended to help regulate your circadian rhythm.
16. Choose a new alarm tone
If your alarm clock gives you a fright every morning when it goes off, it is not very good for your heart, and it is not a pleasant way to start the day. Choose an alarm tone that will ease you into the day like one that plays nature sounds or classical music instead.
Doesn’t it sound nice to wake up every morning without that moment of stress or panic? Instead wake up with the birds or the sounds of a waterfall flowing.
17. Stop snoozing
Hitting the snooze button may feel good in the moment, but the adverse effects it can have don’t. If you wake up and then snooze for 15 minutes, you start a new sleep cycle and then wake up without completing it. If you wake up feeling tired each morning, but you have a habit of snoozing, this could be the reason why.
It will take you longer to feel awake even if your eyes are open when you wake up mid-sleep cycle. Try to make it a habit in 2021 to get up when your first alarm goes off. If this is difficult, put your alarm on the other side of the room, so you need to get up to switch it off.
18. Develop a good bedtime routine
What you do before bed can largely influence how easy it is for you to fall asleep, affecting your sleep quality. Develop a good bedtime routine in 2021 that you can rely on for good sleep for the rest of your life.
Good bedtime habits include reading, yoga, meditation, taking baths, journaling and drinking herbal tea. Avoid bad habits like late-night snacking, drinking alcohol before bed, watching TV and having coffee before bed.
19. Try guided meditations
There is a reason why meditation finds its way onto countless New Year’s resolutions lists worldwide. If you’re sceptical about the effectiveness of guided meditations for sleep, at least give it a try. Meditation has helped thousands of people over thousands of years to relax, clear their minds and unwind.
You don’t have to commit to meditating daily for the rest of your life, but try meditating and experiment with different meditation types to see if it is effective and helps you.
20. Invest in a pillow spray
This is one of the resolutions that will be the quickest and easiest to incorporate, and it can make a big difference when it comes to sleep. A lavender, chamomile, geranium or bergamot pillow spray can help you relax, unwind and fall asleep much faster at night.
21. Become your own sleep expert
Knowledge is power. If you will learn about something in 2021, learn about the most important thing you need for a healthy body and mind: sleep. Make it one of your goals this year to learn as much as possible about sleep and improving sleep quality.
Browse our hundreds of articles on People Who Sleep and transform yourself into a sleep expert.
Ready to make 2021 the year you get the best sleep of your life? Start with these 21 resolutions.