It’s easy to start off a new year with the best of intentions, only to reach mid-January and find that those well-meaning resolutions have fallen by the wayside. Lose weight, drink less, eat healthier, exercise more. Often, these lofty goals are hard to stick to in the long run, and we simply set ourselves up for failure.
Instead, it’s the smaller shifts in our everyday habits that are usually much more achievable, and there’s one daily activity that arguably has the biggest impact on every aspect of our lives – sleep.
A good night’s kip affects everything from our immune system and metabolism to our concentration levels and memory, with most of us needing between seven to nine hours of sleep per night to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start the day. But let’s be honest, that’s easier said than done. It’s all too tempting to watch that extra episode or scroll on social media for just a tiny bit longer.
That’s why this is the year to prioritize getting enough sleep – and who knows, it might be the secret to making all your other goals that little bit easier! So, if you fancy setting some new intentions this month, pick even just one simple tip from our list below, and you’ll be on your way to more successful snoozing for 2024.
1. Wake up at the same time every day
Perhaps the most difficult resolution to stick to (but the most important!) is to wake up at the same time every morning. We’re talking seven days a week and no lie-ins on the weekends.
Getting into this habit might take time, but your body will thank you for keeping to a consistent rhythm. If you’re particularly tired at the weekend, go to bed earlier rather than risk hitting the snooze button the next day.
2. Get outside in the morning
Getting exposure to sunlight in the morning is crucial for keeping our internal body clock in sync. As soon as you open the curtains, or step outside, that natural light will start synchronizing your internal timer with the 24-hour day.
It also signals for your body to stop producing the hormone melatonin, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle. So, sipping your morning coffee outside or taking a quick walk around your neighborhood will set your day off on the right foot.
3. Banish tech from the bedroom
While natural light in the morning is good for our body clock, the blue light emitted by our screens can really throw your rhythm off balance. This is a resolution we all struggle with, but try to avoid screen time an hour or so before bed, and do your best not to reach for your phone as soon as you wake up.
Leaving your phone outside your bedroom will avoid this temptation and will prevent you from any late-night doom scrolling. If this is too much of a stretch, switch your devices to night mode to minimize your blue light exposure in the mornings and evenings.
4. Avoid certain foods and drinks that keep you awake
What we eat and drink is another important factor that affects our sleep quality. The general guidance is to avoid caffeine after lunchtime, skip that glass of wine before bed, and eat dinner at least three hours before you go to sleep.
Researchers have also found that eating more plants, fiber and foods rich in unsaturated fats helps to promote good sleep.
5. Create a consistent wind-down routine
Following a similar routine each evening before bed can help your body recognize and prepare for sleep. It can be as simple as dimming the lights and brushing your teeth at a regular time each night, or you can add more elements to your routine, like spraying a calming pillow mist or listening to a sleep story to help you drift off.
If you struggle to switch off, you could keep a notebook on your bedside table to jot down anything that’s on your mind. That way, you won’t be up for hours worrying about that day’s events or tomorrow’s to-do list.
6. Invest in a supportive mattress
If your mattress doesn’t give you the right support, it can leave you feeling tired and achy when you wake up. Everyone’s mattress preferences will be different, but a good mattress will fully support your body and keep your spine in a neutral position. You generally need to replace your mattress every six to eight years.
Make sure your bed is also big enough (a double bed means two adults have less space each than a child’s bed!) and that your duvet tog is right for the season.
7. Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary
Your bedroom should be the most relaxing room in the house, and there are plenty of interior tricks you can use to create a soothing sanctuary. Opt for bedding that you’ll look forward to cocooning yourself in after a long day, incorporate different textures and fabrics to soften your space, use side lamps to bring a gentle glow, and keep your room clear of clutter.
You want your bedroom to conjure up a sense of calm as soon as you walk through the door.
8. Block out as much light and noise as possible
To get a good night’s sleep, you’ll want to minimize any potential disruptions. Make your bedroom as dark as possible by using blackout curtains, or opt for an eye mask to block out light.
To reduce any background noise, whether that’s the drone of an electric fan, your snoring partner, or the sound of traffic or sirens outside, consider wearing earplugs or using a white noise machine to cover up any random sounds.
We hope these resolutions offer a starting point to help make sleep a priority for you in 2024! If you’re in a reading mood, you can find even more tips on getting a good night’s sleep in our Journal archives.