Alaska Sleep Education Center

Better Sleep: A Resolution To Keep

Posted by Julia Higginson on Jan 1, 2020 5:00:00 AM


The new year has begun and that means its time to pull out your resolutions. Do you have any new resolutions on your list or are you making the same resolutions that you seem to keep failing at?

Year after the most common resolutions are healthy eating, exercising more, and stopping smoking. And year after year most people find that their resolutions fall by the wayside within a few weeks to months.

Have you ever wondered why so many people fail at accomplishing worthwhile goals? The answer is simple: sleep. When you are sleep deprived or have poor sleep you are less likely to accomplish your goals because you are tired.

This year, instead of making the same old resolutions again, try making a goal for better sleep. A good night’s rest is the basis for making and keeping resolutions for a healthy lifestyle.

The Importance of Sleep:

Failed resolutions can be more than frustrating as you try to make changes that will lead to better health. Before you start to make life altering health resolutions first take a look at how you sleep.

Sleep is the time when our body’s cells reenergize, waste is cleared from our brains, and learning and memory are supported. Sleep is also vital to mood regulation and appetite.

Lack of asleep is tied to your levels of motivations, concentration, and energy. When you are exhausted you may feel sluggish and unmotivated. You might even feel irritated. Exhaustion and irritability don’t lend themselves to wanting to start a new habit like exercising.

Even if you do find the motivation to start exercising the physical results are reduced when you aren’t getting enough sleep. Think of it as a domino effect; the more tired you are the less exercise you will be able to handle.

Lack of sleep also makes it more difficult to want to change your eating habits. You are more apt to make poor eating choices when you are tired. The appeal of fast food over home cooked healthy meals seems easier when you are exhausted.

Have you ever wondered why sugary or salty foods are so appealing when you are feeling tired? Research shows that sleepiness decreases your level of leptin (the hormone responsible for making you feel full) while boosting gherlin (the hormone responsible for regulating your appetite). When your leptin is low and your gherlin is high the end result is your body craving foods that are salty, sugary, and high in carbohydrates.

Sleep deprivation can also sabotage your resolution to quit smoking Both stress and concentration are made worse by exhaustion. Nicotine users are dependent on smoking as a way to relax or concentrate. Smoking then creates a vicious cycle of overcoming the effects of sleep deprivation while putting your health at risk.

Barriers to Sleep:

Your resolution to sleep better might fail despite your best efforts if you happen to have an underlying medical sleep disorder. Have you been told you snore or are a restless sleeper?

Most people recognize nighttime snoring as a sign of sleep apnea. But did you know that long pauses in breathing, tossing and turning in bed, chronic mouth breathing while sleeping, daytime sleepiness, and night sweats due to an increased effort to breathe are also possible signs of apnea?

If you have any of these symptoms its no wonder that sleep is a struggle. Receiving a diagnostic test in an AASM accredited lab, such as the Alaska Sleep Clinic, can be the first step in helping you towards easier breathing and restful sleep.

Medical sleep disorders are linked to either an obstruction blocking breathing or a central nervous problem that is preventing sleep. Common medical sleep disorders include:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): Individuals with OSA have difficulty moving air during sleep. OSA can be caused by an obstruction of the airway (usually enlarged tonsils and adenoids) or by obesity.
  • Hypoventilation: Hypoventilation means inadequate breathing or ventilation at night, which can lead to abnormal blood gasses. Hypoventilation is usually associated with complex medical disorders.
  • Narcolepsy: Individuals with narcolepsy usually have excessive sleepiness, dream-like behavior while awake, and a sudden loss of muscle tone.
  • Parasomnia: Parasomnias include sleepwaking, night terrors, and confusional awakenings.
  • Circadian rhythm disorders: Circadian rhythm disorders describe a disruption to an individual’s internal body clock causing you to sleep at irregular times.
  • Periodic limb movement disorder: With Periodic limb movement disorder, there is frequent twitching or movements of the legs or feet during sleep. This can lead to daytime sleepiness because of the interruption to sleep.

Successful Sleep:

Any resolution to better yourself should start with sleep. Making a commitment to getting the right amount of quality sleep can help you stay focused on your goals.

Sleep can also help you have the energy and motivation needed to create the healthy lifestyle you desire. Here are five tips that can help you keep your new resolution to sleep better:

  1. Keep a sleep journal for a week. Take care to note what time you go to sleep and what time you wake up including anytime during the night you wake up. Write down what activities you do before sleeping. Also keep track of any snoring or restless sleeping. Keeping track of your sleeping patterns can help alert you to a possible sleep disorder that needs to be evaluated and treated by a certified sleep physician.
  2. Set a consistent sleep schedule. Going to bed and waking up at a similar time every day can help your body know when it is time to relax and when it is time to get moving.
  3. Create a sleep friendly environment. Keeping your room free from distractions, clutter, and electronics can help you feel more relaxed and help you drift off easier.
  4. Get the right mattress and pillow. A comfortable bed will allow you to go to sleep without discomfort.
  5. Change your nightly routine. The activities you choose before bed can make it harder to fall asleep. Cut out busy work and electronic use right before bed. Instead, focusing on relaxing by reading a book or taking a bubble bath.

So here’s to a new year filled with restful nights and accomplished goals. If you are worried about your sleep, contact the Alaska Sleep Clinic to help you evaluate your sleep patterns and symptoms. Don’t let another sleepless night pass by this year. Call Alaska Sleep Clinic today for your free consultation.

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Topics: holiday, get better sleep, new year's resolution

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