Science Has Found the Secret of Achieving a New Year’s Resolution

sleepEvery year, about 45% of Americans make a New Year’s resolution, the most common of which are to lose weight, get organized, be more financially responsible, enjoy life fully, stay fit, learn something, quit smoking, help others, fall in love, and spend more time with family. Unfortunately, only about 8% of people are ever successful, while about 24% of people consistently fail on their resolution each year.

The key to turning it all around and achieving a resolution, it seems, is to get more sleep.

According to a new study, those who get less than seven hours of sleep per night are far more likely to have weaker willpower. Tiredness simply erodes people’s self-control, claims Professor Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire, who worked on the study.

“Last month I asked more than 1,000 people to rate both the quality of their sleep and how successful they were at achieving their resolutions. The results revealed a strong relationship, with 60% of people who slept well saying they were able to achieve their resolutions, compared to just 44% of those who slept poorly,” said Dr. Wiseman. “These findings build on previous work showing that sleep deprivation disrupts self-control and willpower.”

According to Wiseman, the brain requires energy to do something people don’t want to do, or something that people find difficult. When sleep deprived, people don’t have the mental energy required to do the difficult task. Ironically, this means that those early morning runs, which could deprive people of sleep, may actually be counter-intuitive. It’s likely why people find it harder and harder to keep working towards their goal over time, instead of easier.

There are several different tactics people can use to get more sleep. Wiseman suggests taking such steps as avoiding light towards the blue end of the spectrum (which has been proven to keep people awake), busying the brain before bed, getting up when sleep only comes in short bursts, and faking sleepiness, because when you behave as if you are sleepy you become tired.

So if you’ve set a tough goal to achieve in 2015, it seems that you’ll need your bed more than a personal organizer to get it done.