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The ONE thing that can help achieve almost any New Year's resolution

Updated: Jan 11

It’s New Year’s resolution time, once again and you may be feeling inspired to set goals and make lifestyle changes towards the things important to you and the life you want. First the bad news: most people fail in the first few weeks, if not days. 😕


But what if I told you that the top 10 most popular New Year’s resolutions could be much more easily achieved by one single thing? AND that one single thing may be more achievable than you think.


It’s better sleep! 😴


Caucasian woman reading a new year's resolution that says new year new me, sitting at desk at home

Think about it: have you ever noticed the difference in your mood and energy after a good night’s sleep compared to a bad one? It’s like waking up after a storm to see the clouds have parted and the sun is shining once again. ☀️😎


African American family playing with their son in the living room in front of the couch.

 So much more energy to:

  • Be motivated and productive at work

  • Have Fun

  • Spend quality time with friends and family

  • Exercise more and make healthy choices

  • Overall have a much better day

And when sleep is consistent, better days turn into a much better life! 🙌

 


Consider the research: improving sleep can also improve things such as:

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder

  • Healthier eating choices

  • Energy

  • Motivation

  • Memory and mental clarity

  • Job success and satisfaction

  • Relationships


Woman sitting up energetically in bed just after waking up.


So what are the top New Year’s resolutions for 2024 – and how can better sleep help people succeed? According to the American Psychiatric Association, 76% of people are planning New Year’s resolutions this year – and nearly 1 in 3 want to prioritize mental health.


📣 Top 10 New Year's Resolutions:


1. Physical Fitness (39%)

Exercising is so much easier and more enjoyable after a good sleep, isn’t it? Did you know that exercise increases a chemical produced in the brain called adenosine, one of the biggest factors promoting nice deep restorative sleep? What a great way to help break the vicious cycle of poor sleep leading to less activity due to lack of energy.



2. Finances (34%)

Better sleep offers the benefits of more energy to shop for better deals or to cook at home instead of ordering in or going out to eat simply because it’s easier. (Who hasn’t thrown out expired broccoli from the fridge!?) It can also help with the mental clarity needed to make wiser decisions (Just say no to that Taylor Swift coffee mug! And do you really need another online subscription that you’ll never use?)



3. Mental Health (28%)

Research shows that Treating Insomnia may help reduce mental health problems.” For example, one study of people battling both depression and insomnia found that after just four sessions of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I), the severity of both depression and insomnia was significantly reduced. In fact, a 61% majority of those who underwent CBT-I therapy guided by a trained professional experienced remission from both insomnia and depression after three months.


Historically, insomnia has been brushed off as a mere side effect of mental health issues. But, research challenges this notion, indicating that insomnia might not just be a symptom, but actually a contributing factor in psychological distress. CBT-I treatment for insomnia can be a catalyst for better mental health. I see this all the time with my clients.


According to the University of Oxford, this shift in perspective highlights the crucial role sleep plays in enhancing psychological well-being, making it a potent tool in the arsenal against mental health struggles.


4. Diet (26%)

Did you know that sleep deprivation increases the hunger hormone, ghrelin, leading to overeating and cravings for unhealthy food? Worse yet, at the same time, lack of sleep also reduces leptin, the hormone that tells us when we’ve had enough to eat. Yes, we actually do feel hungrier when we’re sleep deprived! It’s not just your imagination. Not only that, but our energy and willpower is compromised after a poor night of sleep, making us more likely to reach for junk food instead of making the healthy food choices we really desire.


If you’re inclined to snack at night to help you sleep, you might want to check out circadian rhythm researcher Satchin Panda’s fascinating TED Talks, Health lies in healthy circadian habits or How optimizing circadian rhythms can increase healthy years to our lives. And of course, a healthy circadian rhythm is important for good sleep and good sleep helps strengthen the circadian rhythm, further helping to break the vicious cycle.


5. Spiritual (22%)

Okay, I’ll admit I’m having a hard time coming up with how better sleep can improve spirituality. I will say, however, that for some people, spirituality can be helpful in finding the acceptance that is so powerful for overcoming sleep-related anxiety – if they are also practicing the evidence-based CBT-I strategies for better sleep. (On a related note, check out my blog on The Grief and Loss of Chronic Insomnia for more on how peace and acceptance can help with overcoming insomnia).


Older Caucasian couple posing together for a picture

6. Social / Relationships (22%)

If you feel irritable after a bad night of sleep, you’re not alone. I know I sure do. Almost everyone does. I have so much to say on this topic that I wrote 2 whole blogs about it last year:




7. Travelling (21%)

Many people living with chronic insomnia are afraid to make travel plans. What if bad sleep ruins the trip again? Of course, anxiety about not being able to sleep while travelling can turn it into a self-fulfilling prophecy. CBT-I can help manage sleep-related anxiety to break that vicious cycle.


8. Hobbies / Skill-based (18%)

Sleep deprived? Who’s got energy for a hobby.


9. Organization / Decluttering (15%)

Sleep deprived? Who’s got the mental clarity or motivation for organizing and decluttering?


10. Professional / Career (13%)

There's a growing body of fascinating research in this area. Better sleep helps improve memory, productivity, concentration, and even workplace relationships. In other words, it can help with achieving work and career goals.


A group of colleagues fist pumping each other over a desk while brainstorming

It’s no surprise that workplace research on sleep has found that improving sleep among workers can result in:


Decreased:

  • Absenteeism

  • Presenteeism

  • Health care costs

  • Disability costs

  • Mistakes / errors / accidents


Improved:

  • Improved mood, self-control and job satisfaction

  • Productivity, efficiency

  • Creativity and innovation

  • Leadership outcomes

  • Safety

  • Employee job satisfaction


If that doesn’t already make intuitive sense to you, check out some of the research references below.


One last common New Year’s resolution that didn’t quite make the Top 10 list is the 9% of people wanting to take a break from social media (that is, 31% of those planning to focus on mental health this year). While all the above New Year’s resolutions can obviously be more challenging without proper sleep, perhaps the easiest thing in the world to do when exhausted and sleep-deprived is scroll … endlessly. And while there are many benefits to social media, it’s become quite clear that excessive social media use is having a negative impact on mental health around the globe. Whether doom-scrolling or comparing yourself to everyone else who is “obviously” living a perfect life, staring at a bright screen at bedtime (blue light in the eyes at the worst time) can be a perfect storm for bad sleep.


On the other hand, good sleep habits can help with the mental clarity and motivation needed to make better choices for achieving your goals. Add to that the additional hours gained that used to be wasted on tossing and turning in bed. With better sleep improving energy, willpower, motivation, memory, productivity, depression, anxiety and much more, is there any New Year’s resolution that doesn’t stand a much better chance?


So, no matter what your New Year’s resolutions might be, if you want to make them a whole lot easier and help you succeed at achieving your goals, consider placing better sleep at the top of your list. And if you’re thinking to yourself, “easier said than done”, I totally get that. I lived with chronic insomnia myself for over 20 years. I also now know that it is very possible to overcome insomnia and learn how to get good, deep restorative sleep – along with all the wonderful benefits and quality of life that come with it. With better sleep this year, you may just be one of the mere 9% who achieve their New Year’s resolutions. 💪


Wishing you all a Happy New Year and a 2024 full of better sleep – to help make your resolution dreams come true! 🥳🎉🤩


 

I’d love to help you learn how to overcome insomnia. I specialize in gold-standard cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I). For more examples of how CBT-I can help improve sleep check out what the research says.


 

Sample of research on the impacts of poor sleep in the workplace


By Marco Hafner, Martin Stepanek, Jirka Taylor, Wendy M. Troxel, and Christian van Stolk (2017) Why Sleep Matters—The Economic Costs of Insufficient Sleep - A Cross-Country Comparative Analysis


Emerson M. Wickwire, PhD Value-Based Sleep in the Workplace Commentary on Thiart et al. Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia: a health economic evaluation. SLEEP 2016;39(10):1769 –1778.


Emerson M. Wickwire, Fadia T. Shaya, Steven M. Scharf (2016) Health economics of insomnia treatments: The return on investment for a good night's sleep 

 

Christopher M. Barnes a, Nathaniel F. Watson (2019) Why healthy sleep is good for business


 

Looking for more help to get your sleep back on track? Send me a message to join the waitlist for one-on-one CBT-I or our therapist-guided digital CBT-I program. Or get started right away by signing up for my online self-paced program on Effective Natural Strategies for Chronic Insomnia.


 

Share the love – and the sleep ❤️


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Know someone struggling with insomnia?

Share this article if you think they could benefit.



 

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