If Sleeping Better Is Your New Year’s Goal, Setting These 6 Micro-Goals Might Help
Sleep is such an elusive unicorn that a simple internet search returns eleventy-million studies and tips for how to get more restful sleep. If you're one of the people staying up at night googling how to get more sleep, consider setting small goals to get better sleep in 2019, rather than making big sweeping changes. Telling yourself you're going to get nine hours of sleep a night next year is a pretty easy way to set yourself up for disappointment, since, well, life often gets in the way of these best-laid plans. Instead, setting up small, micro-goals that you can put in motion well before your head hits the pillow can help you reach that bigger goal over time.
If you're feeling hella sleep deprived, you're in good company. A survey from Consumer Reports found that more than one fourth of people have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep most nights. In addition, 68 percent said they struggled with sleep issues at least once a week. As it turns out, getting restful sleep on the regular requires a solid sleep routine, and perhaps some lifestyle changes. It's no secret that trying to change everything at once is a recipe for failure, which is why setting small goals can increase your chances of success. If a sleep coach is not in your budget, here are some small tricks you can do on your own to get more sleep in 2019.
1. Give Yourself A Screen Time Curfew
There's tons of research about how the light from your devices can disrupt your sleep, but that doesn't stop most people from scrolling in bed. The National Sleep Foundation said on its website that 90 percent of people in the U.S. reported using their devices during the hour before bed, which can be just as disruptive.
"Using TVs, tablets, smartphones, laptops, or other electronic devices before bed delays your body’s internal clock (a.k.a., your circadian rhythm), suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, and makes it more difficult to fall asleep," the National Sleep Foundation explained.
If you use your phone in bed, try setting a screen time curfew for yourself. Start with disconnecting 10 minutes before bed. Each week, increase that time by 10 minutes until you get used to disconnecting at least two hours before you go to sleep.
2. Embrace A Clean Sleeping Routine
You may not have heard of the Goop-approved trend known as clean sleeping, but it's basically what it says on the tin. Clean sleeping is just making sleep your number one priority, and treating yourself like a baby to help you get there. Before bed, take a relaxing bath or shower, put on clean PJs, commit to going to bed at the same time every night, and unplug from your devices before bed. Doing all of this can help your nervous system calm down, and the solid routine lets your body and brain know you're ready for sleep.
3. Make Your Bedroom A Sleep Sanctuary
This is a bigger project, but if you have a spare weekend, it's a fun one: Take stock of your bedroom. Is it a place that feels restful and relaxing? If the answer is no, it's likely working against you when it comes to sleep. Things like the amount of light coming into the room, the color scheme, and even how you have the furniture arranged can affect sleep quality.
"Being surrounded by relaxing, cool-tone colors, like grays and blues, could improve sleep. (Warm shades like yellow or red may actually disrupt sleep by increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature.) Splashing a fresh coat of paint on the walls is one option, but if you’d rather not redo the whole room, an easier solution may be to change up your bedding," the National Sleep Foundation noted.
Other issues in your bedroom that could be messing with your sleep are the amount of light or noise pollution. Consider investing in blackout curtains or a sleep mask if there's streetlight right outside your bedroom, and pick up some quality earplugs if your street is on a truck route.
Just like reducing the amount of light and noise pollution you're exposed to, reducing visual clutter can help calm your mind before bedtime. (Think about it: at least "clean room" will be off your to-do list.) Personally, I need my bedroom to feel peaceful and clutter free in order to sleep — hence, why I think people sleep best in hotels. While you're doing your full bedroom overhaul, try KonMari-ing your things. Then, set a goal to put things back in their places (e.g., putting your clothes in the hamper and not on The Chair) before you go to bed. If that slips away from you, set a goal of putting away one thing — just one! — before you go to sleep.
5. Commit To A Bedtime Meditation Practice
As part of your clean-sleeping routine, consider adding a short bedtime meditation to help relax your body and mind. "Meditation, the practice of intentionally quieting or focusing the mind, creates physiological changes that are similar to those that happen in your body during the early phases of sleep. Your pulse slows, blood pressure drops, and stress hormones decrease," the National Sleep Foundation said on its blog.
6. Keep A Sleep Diary
If you're not sure what's causing your inability to get restful sleep, a sleep diary can help. Commit to keeping a sleep diary for 30 days. Record the time you go to bed and the time you wake up in the morning. In addition, keep track of how many times you wake up each night. During the day, write down what you eat, drink, how much physical activity you get, and how much time you're spending on your devices. After 30 days, you should have a clearer picture of things you do during the that are disrupting your sleep at night.
Like any change, revamping your sleep routine won't happen overnight. It's hard work, but it's also 100 percent worth it. Don't get discouraged if sleeping more soundly takes you months. It's important to set yourself up for success by implementing these changes one at a time. Don't add another change to your sleep routine until you've gotten used to the one you're currently working on. Eventually, this will all become second nature, but the amount of time it takes to master is different for everyone.