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It’s time to start settling on your New Year’s resolutions for 2013 and if you are resolving to improve your health, one of the most important things you can do is focus on your sleep.  In recent years, research has shown again and again how critical sleep is to our overall health.  Not getting enough sleep increases your risk of developing a number of serious conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular problems.  It also contributes to problems with your weight, which means any resolution dealing with weight loss should also be supported by one aimed at improving your sleep.

Most experts agree that everyone needs a bare minimum of 6 hours of sleep per night but the National Sleep Foundation says that a normal sleep duration for adults is between 7 and 9 hours a night.  Unfortunately, the trend in our sleep duration is going the wrong way.  More and more of us are spending 6 hours or less each night asleep which not only makes us crabby and short-tempered but increases our risk of everything from being in a car accident to developing a chronic disease.

Set the Right Resolution

Just deciding that you will get more sleep isn’t enough; you need to be more concrete and specific.  A New Year’s resolution is really just a goal tied to the start of the New Year.   Goals of all kinds are more likely to be achieved when they are SMART goals, where SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.  Give yourself the best chance of sticking to your New Year’s sleep resolution by picking a specific sleep duration and choosing a supportive sleep schedule to follow every day.

Swap Mountains for Mole Hills

One of the other things you can do to increase the likelihood of making your resolution stick is to remove obstacles before you get stuck by them.  Take some time to think about how you are sleeping now and what issues currently keep you from getting the sleep you need, then develop a plan for how you will remove, mitigate, or manage each of those obstacles.  It won’t matter if you have the right resolution and all the will power in the world. If you don’t determine how to manage or move the things that will get in the way, you will struggle to succeed.

Track Your Progress

Setting goals that are measurable is another critical factor for success.  If you are aiming for a specific sleep duration, you can record how many hours of sleep you are getting each night as a way to track your progress and measure whether or not you are sticking to your resolution.  Increase your likelihood of success by deciding how you can measure your progress before you start.  As an added bonus, tracking your success can provide positive reinforcement and help you stick to your resolution.

Upgrade Your Environment

One of the best ways to get the sleep you need is to make sure you have an environment that is conducive to sleep.  Remove electronics like televisions and computers from your bedside.  Check things like light levels, noise, and temperature to ensure you have the most optimal sleep environment possible.  Set your resolution, clear the way, and provide the right environment and you can make 2013 the year of sleeping better.

 

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