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A New Year’s Resolution for you—Go to Sleep
So you made it through the holidays. You stayed up on New Year’s Eve to watch the ball drop at midnight (or you didn’t, in my case) and now you’re making resolutions to lose some weight, get in shape, pursue that better career. If so, you are impressive. You are also probably exhausted.
I’ve got a new year’s resolution for you that I intend to adopt early and often—get more sleep.
Way, way, way too many times I’ve heard students, new mothers and ambitious business people say, “Sleep is overrated.”
Sleep is your body’s way of repairing itself. Sleep is blissful. Sleep keeps you from getting sick and dying early. If your kids are asleep and it’s eight hours before you have to wake up in the morning—go to bed and sleep for heaven’s sake!
Do it. You won’t be sorry when you wake up in the morning feeling good. You’ll function well, your reflexes will be better and you’ll be able focus on the task at hand. Overrated? I think not. All the above claims are made by the National Institute of Health—scientists who do research and know their stuff. Not your boss, not your kids, not your burn-out-early-party-animal friends.
This is what the NIH sleep expert says about different ages and sleep needs:
- Adults need 7-8 hours at night
- Babies need 16 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period
- Young children need 10 hours of sleep
- Teenagers need at least 9 hours. No, they’re not just being lazy.
So go to sleep 2 hours after your young children go down, assuming you all wake up at about the same time. If you wake up earlier than them, get in your jammies at the same time and go to bed shortly after they do. Real Housewives can wait. In fact, I think you could probably chuck it altogether and not feel like you were missing anything of value.
If you have an infant, do like my mother says and ‘Sleep when they sleep.’ The laundry can wait. Then sleep train ‘em. I totally mean it. This does not entail what some people feel is the torturous and medieval ‘cry it out’ method. Convince them gently but absolutely that we sleep at night, we sleep all night (unless we are an infant and need a bit to eat, and then it is not a midnight tea party y’all) and we get enough sleep. It is the third thing that I teach my children when they enter the world after ‘I love you’ and ‘You can trust me to take care of your needs.’
The rest is totally up to you. Aim for at least half an hour before lights out. Have a comfy bed, snuggly pajamas and a relaxing routine. Perhaps it’s a bath before bed, a cup of tea, a good book (don’t stay up late reading, though) or a bit of a magazine or newspaper. It shall not be your phone, tablet or laptop, nor should it be the television. Lights should be minimal as well as the noise level—no techno pop or German speed metal. Meditate if you need to, put on a fan or white noise machine if necessary to drown out city noises. Then turn off the light, close your eyes, take a deep breath and head off to Dreamland.
Join me in this easy, no regrets and no sweat New Year’s resolution. Now go to sleep.