Healthier Me: Adding Sleep to Your New Year's Resolutions

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Diet and exercise are often at the top of the list for New Year's resolutions, but experts are encouraging people to add sleep to their list this year.

Valley News Team's, Danielle Barber, explains how to start getting more sleep and how it can improve your overall health.

"Sleep is one of those things that can affect every system in your body," said Sanford Sleep Medicine Specialist, Mary Saunders. "So, when you want to feel rested, you want to be healthy to fight off disease, have good mental health, all those things require not only enough hours of sleep, but good quality sleep."

While people should be getting at least eight hours of sleep a night, Saunders said it's important to have a set sleep schedule.

"You need to go to bed at the same time, get up at the same time," said Saunders. "Getting those sleep hours at consistent times will really help you transition through the different stages of sleep, get the right amount of each stage of sleep and that's what we need to feel most refreshed."

If your New Year's resolution is to lose weight, getting more sleep will actually help.

"The hormones that affect hunger are affected, so you can actually feel hungrier," Saunders said. "The hormone that actually makes you feel full is decreased. So, all that can add to you feeling like you need to eat more. People will gain weight most likely, it lowers that metabolism."

Drinking alcohol before bed should also be avoided. Experts said it can cause other health issues besides sleep deprivation.

"It also tends to act as a muscle relaxer," added Saunders. "It can relax the muscles in the airways, so it can increase snoring. It can increase the risk for obstructive sleep apnea where the airway becomes compromised and people don't get enough oxygen when they sleep at night."

If you have trouble getting to sleep, Saunders recommends setting aside relaxation time before bed.

"We want a dark, quiet environment at least an hour before bed, so that means no devices, no iPads or computers," Saunders said. "We don't want people physically or mentally engaged in things as they're kind of winding down and getting ready for bed."

To avoid sleep disorders like insomnia, Saunders said to listen to your body and try to get in bed when you feel tired.