When does ‘bad habits’ begin to take root?
When you’re not doing the things that you used to do, it can be hard to break the bad habit of sleeping.
But a new study shows that habit formation can begin to slow down once you’ve had the chance to sleep.
The researchers said that even if you’re sleeping well, it’s possible that your subconscious subconscious will start to trigger “a new habit,” or at least “a different set of negative outcomes” that you didn’t plan for.
The study, published this week in Psychological Science, analyzed the habits of 8,000 adults who said they had “habituated” to certain behaviors, and the research found that “a good portion of the habituation process involves the creation of new patterns.”
The study also found that people who sleep well tend to have a “better sense of self-efficacy, a sense of control, a higher level of happiness, and a lower likelihood of experiencing negative outcomes in the short term.”
Here’s what the study found about habituation: 1.
Habits are not permanent.
“It’s not a linear process,” study coauthor Dr. Jennifer E. Smith, a clinical psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, said.
“The habit is always changing.”
So if you change the bed or change the mattress, or maybe even switch your alarm clock to a different time of day, you might not start seeing a new set of results.
The good news is that “habits are temporary,” Smith added.
“You’re just going to start seeing the pattern.”
Habituation doesn’t happen without an external trigger.
People who don’t have the right habits don’t “fall into bad habits” the way we fall into bad moods or unhealthy eating habits, Smith said.
She also said that people might be “slightly less able to change their habits in response to external cues.”
But even if the behavior you have is “just not conducive to your life, you may still be able to alter it,” she said.
The habit isn’t necessarily bad.
The study doesn’t prove that habituation is a permanent condition.
It doesn’t mean that a particular habit has an immediate negative impact on the rest of your life.
And it doesn’t show that it’s impossible for people to “fix” the habit.
The best advice, Smith added, is to “just get out there and do the things you used do before” the study started.
You don’t need to change your entire lifestyle to have habits.
You just need to start doing the ones you enjoy doing, she said, and to be mindful of what they mean to you.
“If you want to do good things, it has to be about the habits,” she added.
Habit formation can be gradual.
The most common way people habituate to certain habits is through “focusing on them in a negative way, which is to think of them as bad,” Smith said, adding that this can happen when people are thinking about things like “the health risks of smoking,” or “the negative impact of alcohol consumption.”
The “positive consequences of doing things you like,” she continued, “are just the negative consequences that come with the habit itself.”
“Bad habits” can be easily avoided.
As with most things in life, we all have bad habits, and that includes “bad” habits like smoking, drinking, and binge drinking.
Smith said that you can avoid the negative outcomes of those habits by taking a few days off work and having a “break” from them.
But the fact that we can’t do that is a big reason we’re constantly putting on a “bad habit” label.
If you’re struggling with “bad habits” or want to find out if you’ve got them, you can check out the “habitations” section of the National Sleep Foundation’s “How to Start the Habit” guide.
The research is still in its infancy, but the authors say the findings “support the idea that it is possible to change habits.”