Tis the season to make those New Year’s resolutions for a healthier 2023. Millennium Physician Group Family Medicine Physician Thomas R. Mitchell, MD, has some advice for making and keeping those promises to improve your health.
Start in the Bedroom
“If you’re going to make a New Year’s resolution, why not make one that’s going to impact your health and well-being day in and day out?” he suggests. “Getting adequate sleep, allowing time for that, following good sleep hygiene steps is a great way to do that.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists the following good sleep hygiene habits to improve your sleep health:
- Be consistent. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends.
- Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature.
- Remove electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smartphones, from the bedroom.
- Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime.
- Get some exercise. Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night.
In fact, research has shown sleeping just 60 to 90 minutes more per night can make you happier and healthier.
“The importance of sleep to general health, to well-being, to concentration and focus just can’t be overestimated,” admits Dr. Mitchell. “As we age, sleep tends to get more fragmented, so you can’t get that solid eight hours in a row. You may get up to go to the bathroom or you may get up and wander around for a while because you’re not sleeping, but you still need to cumulatively get the seven to eight hours of sleep to really feel rested and perform at your best.”
Less Sleep Means More Health Issues
The Sleep Foundation reports almost half of all Americans say they feel sleepy during the day between three and seven days per week. And the CDC reports adults who sleep less than seven hours each night are more likely to say they have had health problems, including heart attack, asthma, and depression. Some of the reported health problems – like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and obesity – raise the risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Put Prevention at the Top of Your To-Do List for 2023
Another great resolution for a healthy 2023 is to check in with your primary-care provider for an Annual Wellness Visit.
“It’s really, really important to do that wellness visit every year,” says Dr. Mitchell. “It gives your physician an opportunity to address gaps in care, to address screening procedures that you may be due for that may kind of get lost in the shuffle of a routine medical visit where we’re dealing with prescriptions and maybe an illness or an acute problem.”
Sticking to Your Resolutions
Dr. Mitchell says skip the big changes when it comes to resolutions and just be realistic.
“If you’re going to make a resolution, you should make it a realistic one,” he explains. “Don’t say, ‘I want to become an astronaut in 2023.” Baby steps. Say, ‘I want to read a book about astronomy.’ Just make it realistic, get some success under your belt and build on that.”
Tips for Success
The American Psychological Association offers these tips for sticking to your New Year’s Resolutions:
- Start small
- Change one behavior at a time
- Talk about it with family and friends
- Don’t beat yourself up when you slip up
- Ask for support
Whatever your resolutions for a happy and healthy 2023, remember to make your health the priority not just on New Year’s Eve but every single day of the year.