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New Year’s Resolution: Get More Sleep

12/28/2018 11:00AM ● By Patrick John

Catch some ZZZ's

January 2019
By Patrick John

FOR ONCE, I’ve planned my New Year’s resolution in advance.  My wife’s been telling me for years, but I’ve finally concluded that I really do need more sleep. MUCH more sleep.  

I did the research for you.  The Centers for Disease Control, the Mayo Clinic and the National Sleep Foundation all say adults over age 18 need at least seven hours of sleep per night. In fact, they say seven to nine hours, but let’s start with baby steps. Teens need eight to 10 hours, and elementary school-aged children need up to 12 hours of shut-eye.

My original thought was, “I’ll have to go to bed when it’s still light out – no way!” There’s a little exaggeration there, but my DVR will be working overtime. Full disclosure: I co-host a morning radio show, so my alarm has been going off at 4:20am for the last 24 years. I earned those dark circles under my eyes. I’m used to five or six hours of sleep per night, so this will be a big change. I needed convincing, so here’s what the experts say:

• Those who prioritized sleep as important and slept soundly for the recommended timeframe considered themselves more productive at home, at work and with their family.

• Lack of sleep is scientifically linked to overeating. Experts say it has to do with two specific hormones. I say it just means I won’t do any late-night snacking! Either way, more sleep wins. Not enough sleep tonight actually means you are more prone to eat extra calories and fat tomorrow.

• Less sleep also equals less motivation when it comes to exercise. If you plan on going to the gym regularly, you’ll be more motivated with more sleep.

• Proper amounts of sleep also help lessen nicotine dependence, meaning it may help if you want to quit smoking.

There are countless other benefits to plenty of sleep, from overall improved attitude to better learning and memory skills, and the research continues to recognize those pluses.

If you’re now on the “more zzz’s” bandwagon with me, we have to figure out how to make it happen.  These are some of the recommendations that should make it a little easier to get deep, restful, sleep:

• Prep for sleep with a regular routine. A bath or shower, some calm music, a book or magazine, or even a cup of tea (decaf) sets the tone for your mind and body. Try to use that routine every night, and your body “learns” the signs of impending sleep.  

• Dim the lights and make sure you have window coverings that sufficiently block the light from your bedroom. The color of your bedroom walls matters. Sleep studies repeatedly say lighter hues of blue are the best color for a bedroom. It’s a happy and calming force in your sleep environment. Good colors include neutral earth tones, and pastel greens and yellows. Purple, red and brown were the worst wall colors for a sleep-friendly room. If you’ve been itching to try a new color or re-paint, more sleep is a good reason!

• This should be a no-brainer, but a comfortable, supportive bed with cozy sheets and blankets makes a world of difference. Remember your pillow, too. Try a few styles out, because the right pillow is magic. If you’ve been sleeping on the same bed for awhile and can clearly notice lumps, bumps and sags in the mattress, it’s time to get a new one. Some beds last longer, but the average person over age 40 should get a new mattress every seven years. 

One more thing: If you’ve been sleep deprived for an extended period of time, you can actually make up past lost sleep – not completely, but to some extent, so maybe those dark circles will go away. Here’s to a  bright-eyed and bushy-tailed 2019 for all of us! •