A new year is approaching, a time to resolve to make positive change in our life. And while most New Year’s resolutions focus on losing weight, quitting smoking or other lifestyle changes, few include better sleeping habits. But even minor positive changes in our sleeping habits can make a big difference in many areas.
Numerous studies show the myriad benefits of getting enough sleep, which for adults means seven hours to nine hours a night. According to WebMD, getting a good night’s sleep can have myriad benefits, including:
Better health: Studies have found a link between insufficient sleep and serious health problems including heart disease, heart attacks, diabetes, and obesity.
Better sex life: An international sleep poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that as many as 56 percent of American respondents’ sex lives suffer because they’re too tired.
Less pain: Many studies have shown a link between sleep loss and lower pain threshold. The more sleep a person gets, the higher his or her pain threshold.
Lower injury risk: There is a link between sleep deprivation and major disasters, such as the grounding of the Exxon Valdez and destruction of the Space Shuttle Challenger.
And investigators of the recent MTA train derailment are looking at exhaustion as a contributing factor.
Better mood: Those who get enough sleep are less likely to be grumpy and are better able to control their emotions.
Weight control: When we sleep, the body produces more of the hormone leptin, which plays a key role in making you feel full. When we don’t sleep, our leptin levels drop, which can lead to late-night snacking and even overeating.
Clearer thinking: Studies have found that people who are sleep-deprived are substantially worse at solving logic or math problems than when they’re well-rested.
Better memory: Sleep helps the brain process and consolidate our memories from the day. Those who are sleep deprived run the risk of those memories not getting stored correctly and instead getting lost.
Stronger immunity to illness: One study looking at the link between sleep and immunity discovered people who got less than seven hours of sleep and were exposed to a cold virus were three times more likely to get sick than those who got at least eight hours of sleep.
If your New Year’s resolution involves losing weight or otherwise improving your health and well-being, getting enough sleep could help you achieve your goal—and a whole lot more.