If you are going to make one resolution this year, make it to get better sleep. Why? If you make the resolution for better sleep, all aspects of your life will be improved by being in a better mood, feeling less tired, being more productive, seeing an increase in concentration and feeling well rested to take on the day.
Most people seem to be working on less sleep and with more stress in their daily lives. That is a combination for disaster: too little sleep and high stress levels. In looking at the new guidelines set by the National Sleep Foundation, here is what the recommended amounts are:
- School-age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9 to 11 hours (previously it was 10 to 11)
- Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8 to 10 hours (previously it was 8.5 to 9.5)
- Young adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7 to 9 hours (new age category)
- Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7 to 9 hours
- Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7 to 8 hours (new age category)
According the American Psychological Association, “Adults who sleep fewer than eight hours a night report higher stress levels than those who sleep at least eight hours a night (5.5 versus 4.4 on a 10-point scale).”
How much sleep are you getting? How can you get better sleep? Do you need to work on reducing your anxiety and worry so you can sleep better at night? As a therapist, I find that sleep is one of the most important things children and adults can improve for better overall mental health and reduced stress.
If you can relax before bedtime, set up a routine for yourself or your children, including adding relaxation tools before bedtime. Reading or journaling is a really simple technique that can help you relax before bed. Try to quiet worrying thoughts and focus on your book and keep electronics out of the bedroom. If you feel like you have insomnia, consulting a health care provider would be useful. But for simple changes, introduce relaxation techniques, like reading, writing, meditation or listening to relaxation music and see if your sleep changes.
Happy New Year and cheers to better sleep patterns.