The Simplest Resolution to Start Now

So how are you doing on those New Year’s Resolutions and goals you decided on just a week or so ago?

If you’re like the vast majority of people…you may already be struggling. I know I’ve already stopped eating sugar and started and stopped again several times…and it’s just the second week! Seriously.

Since most of us have improved health somewhere on our list of areas to improve, I thought I’d encourage you to start with something very simple.

Go to bed earlier.

Yup, get your sleep.  The experts tell us the average adult needs anywhere from 7-9 hours a night. Chances are you probably fall somewhere in the middle, with  7 – 8 hours being the most common sweet spot.

Last year as I lost 40 lbs., (only 10 have found me again), I made sleep a super high priority and discovered my sweet spot (when I didn’t need an alarm to wake me up) was right at 7.5 hours.

Recent studies like this one are very clear that a lack of sleep tricks your body into becoming more insulin resistant, which in turn creates a toxic environment ripe for pre-diabetes.

Dr. Mark Mahowald, MD, director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center in Hennepin County Minnesota puts it this way, “There is some evidence that sleep deprivation could lead to pre-diabetic state,”   According to Mahowald, the body’s reaction to sleep loss can resemble insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.

Even worse, one study notes, “sleep deprivation has direct effects on eating behavior; sleep-deprived humans also show increased appetite, particularly for high-carbohydrate, calorie-rich foods.”  Yikes!

So if you’re doing all the work of eliminating the foods that harm your system, do yourself a favor and don’t negate your awesome food choices by staying up late!

Here are a few suggestions to help if getting to bed earlier is a challenge for you.

Start your evening ritual earlier.  I know sometimes I’m so worn out the thought of washing my face and brushing my teeth actually makes me avoid getting ready for bed! To counteract the issue, I’ll go ahead and wash my face and brush my teeth when the kids do around 7:30, so that I’m one step ahead on heading to bed.

Happy side effect: You’ll cut down on late night snacking.  Once my teeth are clean, for some reason, my urge to eat dissipates.

Track your sleep.  You might be surprised at how little you are actually getting. (Just like estimating how much we eat, we usually overestimate the amount of sleep we get.) There are many tech tools you can use, like a FitBit or IWatch, or of course you can use the dependable pen and paper.  Keep a log for a week or two and see how you’re doing.

Happy Side effect: You may become more intentional to get your 8 hours since you’re writing it down.  The strategy of monitoring has the positive effect of helping us do more of what we want to do. In this case, get more sleep.

Make your room an environment conducive to sleeping. Declutter. Get comfy sheets and pillows. Eliminate all light. Did you know that your cells actually “read” light? I know. Crazy, but true. Put your phone on airplane mode so it’s not making noise and sending signals all night. Keep the room cool. The optimum temperature is between  60 – 68 degrees. Save your bed for sleeping and the other fun activity (ahem)

Happy side effect: You’ll smile each time you walk in the room and you’ll sleep better.

We have a long way to go this year. I want to encourage you to set the foundation for success by getting more sleep.

Question: What’s your pattern with sleep? Do you get enough? Are you chronically sleep deprived? What are you hacks to help you get more? Leave a reply and let me know.

Christy Largent
Christy Largent is a high energy motivational speaker. She is also co-host of KIXE-TV Channel 9’s The Forum, as well as a blogger and podcaster with her Encouraging Words for Working Moms podcast. She speaks and writes in the areas of Creating a Culture of Connection — including communication skills, customer experience and personal development. Christy lives in Redding with her husband and 2 school-aged children. You can find more about her at www.christylargent.com or contact her directly at christylargentspeaker@gmail.com
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13 Responses

  1. Doni Chamberlain Doni Chamberlain says:

    Welcome to A News Cafe.com, Christy! I love this topic. It’s a timely one for me.

    You ask about sleep patterns. I’m a morning person, but ever since starting A News Cafe.com I’ve gotten into the habit of staying up very late, sometimes, in crunch times, not sleeping at all, or sleeping 4 or 5 hours at the most.

    And wonder of wonders, I’ve gained weight over those years.

    Since beginning my new diet and exercise plan, I notice that the exercise really kicks my butt, so I’ve been getting to bed around 10:30 or 11, which is such a luxury. A few times I’ve not set an alarm and have found myself sleeping eight, even 10 hours straight. (I’m self-employed, so I can arrange my schedule that way.)

    I feel more rested, and I’ve noticed I’ve started having vivid dreams again, which I love.

    So, sleep IS important, and I thank you for bringing this crucial topic to our attention. I look forward to your future columns, Christy. Thank you!

  2. Ah, sleep….my very worst subject. I blame a toxic combination of my wickedly morbid imagination and three adult children living abroad.  We’ve created a sanctuary in our bedroom – it’s nice and cool and we keep away from electronic devices. My husband and I both get to bed early, in hopes of catching a decent amount of zzzzz’s. But our morning greeting is, more often than not, “Well, we can always try again tonight.”

    It never occurred to me that poor sleep might lead to weight gain – but of course, our bodies need time to rest and heal. I’ve definitely found, like Doni, that exercise helps.  I’ve tracked my sleep with my Fitbit — but have found it’s not terribly accurate – times when I was awake and running through my mental list of worries, Fitbit thought I was sleeping. But I will definitely pay more attention.  Looking forward to reading more.

    • Hi Erin,

      I know what you mean about waking up during the night. I never had any challenge with that until this past year. I think my temperature dis-regulation (that’s what I’m calling it and I’m sticking to it!) has something to do with it!

      Like you, I’ve found making sure I move a lot during the day seems to help.

      Looking forward to a great year!

  3. Avatar Sally says:

    Oh Christy – How you fit all the many activities and commitments going is beyond my comprehension.

    For the majority of my life, I would go to bed – put my head on the pillow and almost immediately be asleep.  Regardless of the time the light was turned off, I would still wake up at 7:00 raring to go.  The last few years, no matter what time my head hits the pillow, with the same routine used for years, I lay there wishing for my head to stop thinking, and my body to relax so sleep will find me.  There are too many nights that the total amount of sleep could be O, or maybe 3 or 4 hours!  And yes, I eat when I am not hungry and get out of bed tired.  I am desperate to finding some trick that speeds this self to real relaxed sleep!

  4. Avatar Ronald Chiodo says:

    I’m not sure to say. At 71 I still dream in color. If I work at I can share my dreams with my wife whom is  sure I’m. Nuts. I think I have gone over to the dark side.

  5. Keep on dreaming in color and sharing those dreams. (I have a weird thing I’ve been able to do my entire life: As I’m falling into the twilight zone, the night’s previous dream — one I’d almost forgotten – picks up from the night before. I love this.)