It’s that time of year again when we all resolve to better our lives: eat healthier foods, exercise more, quit smoking, volunteer…the list goes on. But what about sleep? Study after study shows that sleep is so important and many of us aren’t getting the recommended 7-9 hours a night. And it’s not just the adults – many children aren’t getting enough sleep either. Here are 4 reasons to include sleep with your family’s New Year resolutions this year.

It will cheer you up.
When we are short on sleep we become irritable, easily frustrated and even emotional! Kids will have more tantrums and parents may lash out at each other. Behavioural problems in children have also been linked to insufficient sleep, which makes parents even more frustrated. Having a good night’s sleep will improve everyone’s mood and create a happier home life.

It will help you fight off illness.
When you don’t get enough sleep, your body’s immune system has difficulty fighting off illnesses.  Everyone becomes more susceptible to infections, especially during these winter months. Keep everyone healthy by ensuring you get to bed at a reasonable time.

You’ll be more alert.
Studies show that if you don’t get enough sleep you’ll experience a decrease in attention span, have difficulty making decisions and your social and language skills will suffer.  Children will have trouble paying attention in school, processing new information and solving problems. If we get enough sleep we can perform at our best.

You’ll keep your waistline in check.
Getting in shape or losing weight is often on people’s resolution list. Even if you aren’t looking to lose weight, getting enough sleep will help you keep your body at a healthy weight. When you are tired you are more likely to make unhealthy food choices, as hormones which regulate appetite are thrown off when the body doesn’t get enough sleep. You’re probably less likely to exercise and be physically active if you are feeling sluggish as well. Studies have also shown that children who do not get enough sleep are more likely to be overweight later on in life.

So how can you achieve your goal of getting the family more sleep? Make your sleeping environment conducive to sleep: cool, dark and comfortable. Implement a consistent soothing bedtime routine and include relaxing activities like a warm bath, reading a good book or listening to music. It’s also helpful to set a consistent bedtime and wake time. If your body is on a consistent schedule, you’ll fall asleep more easily and feel more refreshed in the morning. And this goes for your kids too! Making small changes to your overall sleep hygiene will make a huge difference to your sleep health. Make sleep a priority in your house and you’ll all reap the benefits.