Finding yourself making the same tired resolution to get fit or lose weight or eat more nutritious foods?
You're not alone. New Year's resolutions are successful 39 percent of the time among young people, and only 14 percent of the time among people who are 50 or older.
But there's a reason -- or a few -- why you didn't reach your goal this go round. Maybe your plan was too complex or not measurable or too vague. Or maybe you've been struggling with healthy living because you've been ignoring an essential (yet often overlooked) pillar of good health: sleep.
Sleep, just like physical activity and a balanced diet, is crucial for optimal health, HuffPost blogger Russell Rosenberg, Ph.D., CEO of the Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine and chairman of the board of the National Sleep Foundation, told HuffPost. "It's an important piece to the overall health puzzle."
And yet, more than 40 percent of Americans say they "rarely or never" get a good night's sleep on a weeknight. And 60 percent report experiencing some sleep problem every or almost every night.
That's why we think it's time for a different approach. In the slideshow below, you'll find eight potential New Year's resolutions you could adopt (today!) for better sleep in 2013. Let us know in the comments below how you plan to prioritize sleep in the year ahead.
Power Down An Hour Before Bed
Nearly all Americans -- as many as 95 percent, in fact -- use some tech gadget in the hour before bed at least a couple of nights a week, according to the National Sleep Foundation's <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/07/sleep-in-america-poll_n_832457.html">2011 Sleep In America poll</a>. But the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/13/ipad-use-bedroom-sleep_n_1339346.html">blue light emitted</a> from TV, laptop, tablet and smartphone screens disrupts the brain's natural melatonin production and can trigger alertness, keeping you awake later. Experts recommend going screen-free about an hour before bedtime and picking a less disruptive way to unwind during that time instead. In 2013, why not try a warm bath, a good book or some <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-michael-j-breus/yoga-insomnia_b_1939696.html">nighttime yoga</a>?
Leave The Cell Phone Outside The Bedroom
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/16/smartphone-addiction-time-survey_n_1791790.html">Half of Americans sleep next to their cell phones</a>, according to a Time magazine poll. More than 80 percent of 18-24 year olds are guilty of this sleep no-no. Not only is the blue light emitted a problem, but middle-of-the-night texts and emails can disrupt your sleep as well. In the new year, resolve to leave your phone charging in another room so you're not tempted to check it when you stir. If you must keep it nearby, turn it to a mode that allows only emergency calls to wake you. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/06/bedroom-sleep_n_1847576.html">Invest in a regular alarm clock</a> so you have no excuses.
Commit To At Least 7 Hours
It's true that there's no magic number of hours of sleep that every adult must get, but in general, <a href="http://www.sleepfoundation.org/alert/how-much-sleep-do-you-really-need">most people require about seven to nine hours</a> to feel and function their best. Risk for a number of the serious consequences of short sleep, like heart problems and obesity, increases dramatically when people get <a href="http://www.health.com/health/condition-article/0,,20573185,00.html">fewer than six hours a night</a>. Calculate seven hours back from the time you need to wake up, then hit the hay as close to that time as possible. Take into consideration <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-christopher-winter/sleep_b_2084339.html">how long it takes you to fall asleep</a> and whether or not you wake up frequently throughout the night.
Stick To The Schedule
Both staying up past your bedtime for a Saturday night out and staying in bed late on a Sunday morning can wreck havoc on your sleep. Throwing off your bedtime and wake up schedule even by just an hour <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/13/twelve-tips-for-better-sleep_n_2101579.html">disrupts the body's natural clock</a>, called circadian rhythms. Researchers have given a name to this practice of adopting different sleep habits for the weekdays and the weekends: "social jet lag." If you're guilty of this practice, come Monday morning, you'll likely feel as if you're adjusting to a different time zone. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/11/social-jet-lag-weekend-harm-health_n_1507396.html"> Social jet lag has been linked to higher body mass index</a>, and may also raise risk of obesity or diabetes, like shift work has been shown to, Health.com reported. As much as possible, set a sleep and wake schedule that works for you -- seven days a week.
Consider What (And When) You Eat And Drink
If you rely too heavily on that 4:30 p.m. cup of coffee or that glass of wine before bed, consider committing to healthier eating and drinking habits for sleep in the coming year. Experts recommend <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/13/twelve-tips-for-better-sleep_n_2101579.html#slide=1739454">ditching caffeine six to eight hours before bed</a> to make sure it's out of your system by lights out time. Alcohol, while it <em>can</em> help lull you to sleep, is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/russell-rosenberg-phd/alcohol-sleep_b_902578.html">only disruptive later on in the night</a>. It's also a good idea to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/20/sleep-foods_n_1686983.html#slide=1248119">steer clear of fatty foods</a> too close to bedtime, since they can lead to fewer hours of sleep, and sleep-disrupting issues like indigestion and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/01/acid-reflux-food_n_2019932.html">acid reflux</a>.
Stop Badmouthing Sleep
When's the last time you heard someone brag about cutting a night short in order to hit the hay? It's much more likely you've heard something along the lines of "I'll sleep when I'm dead." But short sleep isn't a sign of bravery or competence or toughness. In fact, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/17/sleep-quotes_n_1525828.html">sayings like this send messages about sleep</a> that all too often paint a negative picture of good rest. Continuing to spread belittling messages about sleep hurts us all -- in 2013, commit to doing your part to change our national attitude toward sleep.
If You Really Can't Sleep, Get Up
Getting out of bed may be the last thing you feel like doing when counting sheep just won't work, but it can actually help you fall back to sleep faster -- and reduce the stress of staring at the clock. "When a person stays in bed and they can't sleep, the bedroom can induce a certain level of anxiety," Michael Decker, Ph.D., an associate professor at Georgia State University and spokesman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/03/cant-sleep-home-remedies_n_1739190.html#slide=1328737">told HuffPost earlier this year</a>. "We say after 15 or 20 minutes, get out of bed, sit in another part of the house until you feel a little groggy, then go back to sleep. Staying in bed can condition you to become anxious in bed."
Talk To A Doctor
If you've been told you snore, or you constantly feel tired or can fall asleep the minute your head hits the pillow, and no <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/03/cant-sleep-home-remedies_n_1739190.html">home remedies</a> seem to help, commit to <a href="http://www.youbeauty.com/sleep/how-to-talk-to-your-doctor-sleep-issues">getting expert help in 2013</a>.
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