New Year Resolutions

As another year draws to a close, it’s the time to start thinking about any positive changes you might want to make in the New Year. You might be thinking about moving house, booking a holiday, changing jobs, or how you could improve your health and happiness. In the time between Christmas and New Year many people start planning what things they might want to stop doing, or new habits they want to begin in the New Year.

Regularly getting a good night, sleep is a great way to improve both your physical health and your emotional wellbeing. This is especially important in the New Year following a month of partying and festivities during the month of December, when going to bed early and getting a good night's sleep may have been the last thing on your mind.

Resolutions for a happier and healthier you

Here are a few ideas to help you make some New Year resolutions for a healthier and happier you.

Writing New Years Resolutions

Get your sleep back on track

Over the festive season your sleep schedule may have become erratic. If you have taken off in the week between Christmas and New Year, it is easy to go to bed late and then sleep in later the next morning without the worry of having to get up early for work. However, when you are heading into the New Year, and back to work again, you may find it hard to start falling asleep earlier and waking up early enough for work.

It's a great idea to start shifting your bedtime and wake time a little earlier in the days before you go back work... although this can be tricky if you stay up late to see in the next year on New Year's Eve!

Also, the New Year is a good time to assess if you are regularly getting enough sleep. Adults 18-64 should regularly aim to get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night for maximal health benefits.

Get active

Physical activity is a must for your physical and mental health. The NHS recommends that adults should do some type of physical activity every day. Exercise just once or twice a week can reduce the risk of heart disease or stroke, plus exercise has been shown to boost your mood, especially if you have depression. Also, increasing your physical activity may also help you to fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep for longer.

Choose an activity that you enjoy - it doesn't have to be working out at the gym if that doesn't appeal to you. Some ideas are:

  • Take a brisk walk
  • Dance in your kitchen or join a dance class
  • Practice yoga
  • Cycle
  • Play a team sport
  • Go for a run
  • Swim
  • Ice skate or rollerblade

Aim to do at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week.

Look at your alcohol consumption

It is easy to drink too much alcohol during the festive period with Christmas parties, family gatherings and boozy New Year's Eve celebrations. Without even realising, you may be drinking significantly more than the recommended maximum of 14 units per week (which is about 6 pints, or 6 glasses of wine across the week).

Drinking too much alcohol is associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure, stroke, cancer and sleeping problems. Not to mention the money you spend on alcohol.

The New Year is a great time to reassess your relationship with alcohol, and to see if cutting back might be a good way to start the year.

People cheers with red wine glasses
Update your bedroom

Bedrooms are often neglected rooms of the house, since they aren't seen by guests, and we might not prioritise them. However, your bedroom is where you spend a third of your time, every day!

Ideally, your bedroom should be a sanctuary for sleep. It should be somewhere that makes you feel calm, relaxed, and happy. If your bedroom doesn't make you feel like it's a place you want to be, you could think about what changes you could make to improve it.

Simply updating your bedsheets can make a huge difference to the feel of your bedroom. Choose natural fibre bedding, which will help you stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Changing your duvet to a thicker one in the winter, and a thinner one in the summer will give you a more comfortable night sleep too. If you are a restless a sleeper, or you have different temperature requirements than your bed partner, you might want to consider using two single duvets instead of one double. That way you can each choose the individual tog that is right for you, plus if you want to throw your duvet off you in the middle of the night, you won’t disturb your partner. Duvets made of natural fibres tend to allow air to flow through them more easily than synthetic fibre duvets.

Making sure that you have the right pillows for your sleeping style can improve your sleep. If you sleep on your back, then you may need a softer pillow than if you sleep on your side. Also, pillows can absorb sweat and dead skin cells causing allergies, therefore it’s important to wash them regularly. Also, they have a finite lifespan, and you should replace pillows when they start sagging or developing lumps (ideally around every 2 years).

Lastly, your mattress is arguably the most important part of your bedroom as it’s the foundation for your sleep every night. Like pillows, mattresses have a finite lifespan. You should replace your mattress around every eight years and choose a mattress that is ideal for your sleeping style. Heavier people will tend to need a firmer mattress than lighter sleepers. The best way to do this is to go into a physical shop to try out the different tensions of the mattresses themselves by lying down on the showroom beds.

Make sure you are practicing self-care

As I tell my sleep clients... if you don't look after yourself, you won't be in a good state to look after anyone else.

Self-care isn't selfish! In fact, it is crucial to look after yourself and do things that boost your mood and health. This New Year, take a look at how much time you spend practicing self-care, or see if you are neglecting yourself at the expense of everyone else around you. Taking time out each day to journal, meditate, or simply allowing yourself time to sit down in the morning with a nice cup of coffee, can help to refresh you and set you up to be happier and more successful during the day. Also, making sure that you give yourself enough time to sleep, watch your alcohol consumption, exercise regularly and making sure that your bedroom is a great place for sleep are all fantastic ways to start the New Year for a better 2023.

Dr Lindsay Browning is the resident sleep ambassador for And So To Bed. She is also a sleep expert at Trouble Sleeping and author of the self-help sleep book, Navigating Sleeplessness.

Posted by Dr Lindsay Browning
27th December 2022

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