Sleep: The Domino Effect

Why sleep is a totally worthy New Year’s resolution.

It’s January. That means it’s all too easy to tell yourself, “THIS is the year I’m going to conquer everything, get incredibly fit, quit all of my bad habits, and be everything to everyone… while also finally incorporating yoga, meditation, and mindful “me” time into my life.”

Yup, we all do it. Something about a blank slate is just so appealing. And tricky. It doesn’t matter if on some level we KNOW that goal setting is most successful when it is specific and action-oriented, preferably with a timeline (yada yada yada… the advice goes on and on) — something about that big, beautiful “fresh start” makes us want to bite off more than we can chew.

I recently read a book called The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, and it was a timely reminder of this fact. Basically, it starts with the truth that a very small domino is ultimately capable of generating a tremendous amount of energy and toppling a gargantuan domino, with the right planning and direction. This idea is translated into the recommendation that if you work backwards from an end goal to figure out what ONE action you need to take NOW to move in the direction of achieving your ginormous goal, you’re far more likely to actually make it happen. (Assuming, of course, that you actually TAKE the one action, which — and this is the hard part — sometimes means saying “no” to other things.)

It was a good point, and as is often the case, I found myself thinking of sleep. For many (including myself), sleep is a keystone habit: start to improve your sleep, and it becomes easier to improve other habits like diet and exercise, too.

But sleep almost seems too “easy” for a New Year’s Resolution. I mean, tell the friend who’s sworn off carbs that you’ve resolved to SLEEP more, and she’ll likely consider biting off your (carb-free) head. I’d challenge you to reconsider the notion that sleep isn’t a worthy goal, in and of itself. Try making sleep a priority for a month. You may find that it’s harder than you’d think… but ultimately more rewarding than you’d expect, too. And perhaps you’ll even discover that sleep is the “key” you didn’t know you were missing.


Originally published at blog.marpac.com.