As the year draws closer, we’re willing to bet that you’ll be pulling out your pen and paper to start writing down your latest batch of New Year’s resolutions.
When making those resolutions, it’s human nature to focus on the things we consider failures over the last year; however, it’s always a good practice to evaluate what you were successful at in the previous year so you can build on those successes, too.
For many, resolutions are centered on diet, exercise, relationships, career, and more. Of course, based on our sleep-first philosophy, it probably won’t surprise you to hear that we suggest making a new addition to this list: sleep goals. With so much focus on how sleep can aid in recovery and your overall health, striving to sleep better this year—or any year, for that matter—should be a priority.
5 Goals to Better Sleep
Today we’ll focus on five sleep goals for you to consider in the upcoming year.
Goal #1: Identify Your Chronotype
We’ve talked about figuring out your chronotype before but it bears repeating. While you can find various different chronotype breakdowns online, for simplicity’s sake you can look at two: night owls and early birds. Your chronotype is based on your PER3 gene, which dictates your circadian rhythm—that internal clock that includes the important aspects of daily life, which includes sleeping, eating, and sexual activity.Even if this is your first time hearing the term chronotype, after reading it just now you probably know whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, or maybe even a hybrid of both. Some studies have taken the idea of the chronotype even further, assigning different animals as specific chronotypes. No matter how far you want to dig into your chronotype, having an understanding of your personal sleep cycle allows you to work toward many of the additional goals we’ll discuss today.
Goal #2: Establish Your Own Sleep Routine
Perhaps you already have a set sleep schedule; you hop in bed at 10 pm, sleep till 6 am, and you’re good to go. However, if you don’t have a sleep routine, creating one based on your chronotype will go a long way towards getting a good night’s sleep consistently. Specifically, how to get more deep sleep—which we’re passionate about.
Going to bed and waking within the same windows on a daily basis is one of the great secrets to getting quality sleep night in and night out. If your schedule doesn’t allow it, just do the best you can. But if you’re struggling to sleep and have been reluctant to create steady sleep habits, this goal should be your highest priority.
Goal #3: Create Habits Around Waking Up
Technically this is an extension of goal #2, but this goes beyond timing and sleep windows. (But yes, actually waking up when your alarm goes off should be a habit.) What do you do first in the morning? It’s worth considering, especially if the first thing you do is grab your smartphone or turn on the TV.
For example, getting sunlight in the morning has its benefits, especially considering most of us spend the majority of our lives indoors. But getting sunlight ensures you’re getting enough Vitamin D, which allows you to maintain appropriate serotonin levels and keep your circadian rhythm running like clockwork.
Getting outdoors in the morning is just one option here; the goal for the first 30 minutes you’re awake should be to create some “me time” that allows you to get a great start to your day (and you can create that 30-minute “me time” window before bed, too).
Goal #4: Try Something Completely New
We’ve discussed establishing new routines and creating 30-minute windows before bed and once you wake up. Now, what can you add or subtract to or from your current routine to mix things up? There are a variety of options that have the potential to help you sleep better.
In our previous blog; Am I Sleeping Too Much, we’ve sung the praises of meditation in relation to sleep in previous posts, and the benefits it offers around reducing stress and anxiety alone make it worth a try. Yoga Nidra provides similar benefits as well. But if you’re not willing to make the leap into these specific practices, start small and build towards them. Maybe you just turn the TV off that 30 minutes before bed or leave your smartphone downstairs. Ultimately the goal is to try to integrate new habits that have the potential to improve your sleep.
Goal #5: Complete a “Sleep Inventory”
While you can start on the first four sleep goals in January, wait a little longer on this one. But in a couple of months, after you’ve established a routine, created healthy habits, and tried new things, it’s time to take inventory and see what you would change and what you would keep.
No matter how many tips for better sleep you read or hear, experimentation is the only way to fine-tune your own personal sleep schedule. That’s important because each person is unique, but also because your sleep needs will change with age. So by continuously taking stock of what’s working and what’s not, you’ll constantly find ways to enhance your sleep and improve your overall health.
Have you set any sleep-related goals for the new year? If so, we’d love to hear about them, so give us a shout.