New Year and getting back into a routine

Happy New Year 2022!


After the Christmas festivities, and a year dogged by Covid-19, we may have lost our way in term of regular activities, sleep schedule and healthy eating. The first thing we need to do is to get back into a routine. January is the start of a brand-new year and the perfect opportunity to make new decisions and take new paths and create a life that works for us.

Why is having a routine important?

Having a routine is very important for children as it promotes improved family life and improved sleep. However, it isn’t just children that benefit from a routine. For example, studies show that weight loss is more successful when people maintain the same diet across the week rather than dieting more strictly during the weekdays and have more relaxed eating at the weekends. Also, people are more successful at maintaining weight loss when they don’t skip meals.

When it comes to sleep, having a consistent sleep schedule not only benefits your circadian rhythm, but there are also overall health benefits. People who get a consistent amount of sleep each night have better health than those who get less sleep during the week and then catch up on sleep at the weekend. That is, people who got enough sleep every night are healthier compared to those who get the same amount of sleep overall, but it is spread over long sleeping nights and short sleeping nights.

Getting regular exercise is fantastic for our overall physical and mental health. The NHS suggest that we should get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week (such as swimming, a brisk walk or cycling) or at least 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise per week (such as sport or running). You are more likely to stick to exercise if you set a regular time to exercise and stick to it – such as doing the same exercise at the same time on the same days each week.

How to get back into a routine

Planning meals for the coming week can help speed up shopping, be healthier, reduce wasted food, and make dinner time easier throughout the week as you don’t have to spend time thinking about what to cook each day. Batch cooking at the weekend not only saves you meal-time prep during the week, but you will also save money by buying things in bulk. You will also be much less tempted to get a takeaway if you have home-cooked food already made in the fridge or freezer. You could even prep your weekday lunches at the start of the week to ensure you have healthy and nutritious meals, even when you don’t have time to make lunch between meetings. You can also prepare healthy snacks, such as some carrot or cucumber batons and houmous, for easy snacking during the day.

Sleep

Adults should ideally get somewhere between seven and nine hours sleep per night. You should try to get this regularly rather than depriving yourself of sleep on some nights and making up for it on others. In order to get enough sleep, you might like to set yourself a bedtime reminder to remind you to go to bed. This may sound unnecessary, however it can be too easy to get distracted with the latest Netflix series or scrawling through social media that you simply forget to go to bed on time. If you go to bed later than you planned, that may not leave you enough time in bed to get to sleep that you need before you need to be up for work or the children.

Perhaps this January, you may like to do a sleep review to see if you are getting enough sleep for your health and well-being. Are you regularly getting enough sleep? If you are finding falling asleep or staying asleep difficult then you might like to consider possible causes… If your mattress is too old or uncomfortable then it may not be helping you to get enough good quality sleep at night. And So To Bed have a number of different mattress options and expert to help you choose the right mattress to suit your size and sleeping style.

Exercise

If your exercise regime has gone completely out of the window over the past year, then January maybe the time to start forming some new habits. If you have a gym membership that you aren’t using, perhaps you could investigate which group classes are on, and see if there are any that fit in with your schedule that you could commit to doing each week. Group classes give you a set time to exercise and you might even make friends as well. Other ways of incorporating regular exercise into your regular routine would be to walk or cycle to work instead of taking the car, if that is possible. You could also commit to going outside for a regular brisk walk during your lunch break, which would give you some moderate exercise as well as some greatly beneficial light exposure during the day.

Self-care

Self-care is something that we can all too easily neglect. If you schedule some self-care into your daily or weekly routine you’re much more likely to actually do it.

Journaling or writing a gratitude journal can be really good to help you process anything that you are emotionally dealing with. Also, the gratitude journal specifically helps you to focus on positives in your life which can boost your overall happiness. You could buy a daily self-care or gratitude journal which will have morning and or evening prompts to help you write about those things. Another good self-care technique that you could incorporate into your daytime routine is to do some kind of meditation. There are many mindfulness meditation apps, courses you can take, or you could even find some guided meditations on YouTube. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to help people take control over negative thinking and help well-being, and even help improve sleep. To incorporate meditation into your regular routine you may like to commit to a 10 minute meditation first thing in the morning or just before bed.

Overall, this January is the perfect time to look at some of the things we do every day and make sure that we are making choices for our own positive well-being. Happy New Year and here is to a prosperous and joyful 2022.



dr lindsay browning is the sleep amabasador for And So To Bed and author of self-help sleep book, navigating sleeplessness. You can get your copy as an ebook on kindle, or in print from amazon or waterstones.


Posted by Dr Lindsay Browning
1st January 2022

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