Why Sleep Should Be Your #1 Resolution in 2014
Want a New Year’s resolution that will help you stay healthy, productive and happy for 2014? It might sound too good to be true, but getting good quality sleep every day can help you achieve all these things.
Here are 9 reasons you should make sleep a top priority in 2014.
1. Maintain a healthy weight: Losing weight is always one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. So if you’re hoping to drop a few pounds this year, remember to not only count calories - but also how much sleep you’re getting.
According to several studies, chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.
2. Attractiveness: Need another reason to make sleep a priority? How about we appeal to your vanity: Research has confirmed that people are perceived as less attractive, sadder and even less healthy than when they are sleep-deprived as opposed to well-rested.
3. Sickness: No one likes getting sick. And one of the best ways to stay healthy and avoid that nasty cold this winter is to make sure you’re getting enough shut-eye. Research has shown that sleep deprivation alters immune function, leaving our bodies more vulnerable to infection.
4. Cardiovascular health: Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat. If you suspect that a sleep disorder may be preventing you from getting good quality sleep, talk to your doctor about setting up an appointment for a sleep disorder screening.
5. Mood: Let’s face the facts: we all tend to get crankier when we’re tired. In fact, research shows that sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Not only that, but too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you enjoy.
6. Judgment: Could your judgment and decision-making be impaired when you’re tired. The research suggests that it can be. For example, a review of 23 studies found that sleep loss was associated with risk-taking behavior (Womack, et al).
And another study found that sleep deprivation leads to poor decision-making even when subjects took high doses of caffeine or other stimulant countermeasures, such as modafinil (Killgore, et al).
7. Better Athletic Performance: Research on college and professional athletes has revealed that getting good quality sleep can significantly improve athletic performance, including: better hand-eye coordination, faster reaction times, and even faster recovery time from tough games and workouts.
8. Learning and memory: Want to learn a new skill in 2014? Then get your sleep. Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later.
9. Safety: When people are not getting enough sleep, they become less safe. Whether it’s increasing the chances of falling asleep on-the-job or behind the wheel, reducing your hand-eye coordination or impairing your judgment, being fatigued can lead to an increased risk for errors and accidents.
Have a happy and healthy 2014 and be sure to make sleep a top priority this year!
Harvard Women’s Health Watch. “Importance of Sleep: Six reasons not to scrimp on sleep” Harvard Health Publications: Harvard Medical School. Retrieved on 12/6/2013 from http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/importance_of_sleep_and_health
The Huffington Post UK, “Get Your ‘Beauty Sleep’: Well-Rested People More Attractive, Say Experts.” Retrieved in 12/6/2013 from http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/11/11/beauty-sleep-well-rested-people-more-attractive_n_4253472.html
WebMD – reviewed by Louise Change, MD. “The Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep.” Retrieved on 12/6/2013 from http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-benefits-10/healing-power-sleep
Womack SD, et al (2013). Sleep Loss and Risk-Taking Behavior: A Review of the Literature. Behavioral Sleep Medicine, Vol. 11, Iss. 5, Pgs. 343-359.
Body + Soul, “10 benefits of a good night’s sleep.” Retrieved on 12/6/2013 from http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/health/health+advice/10+benefits+of+a+good+nights+sleep,17681
Peter Keating, “Sleeping Giants: Research shows that getting enough sleep is a ‘magic pill’” ESPN The Magazine, April 16, 2012. Retrieved online on 12/6/2013 from: http://espn.go.com/espn/commentary/story/_/id/7765998/for-athletes-sleep-new-magic-pill
Killgors WDS, Grugle NL, and Balkin TJ (2012). “Gambling When Sleep Deprived: Don’t Bet on Stimulants” Chronobiology International, 29(1):43-54.
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