Good quality sleep is something that we take for granted, however, during the holidays it can be hard to come by. What with all the activities and festivities surrounding the holidays:
- shopping for presents
- baking cookies
- writing out christmas cards
- attending parties
- suffering from jet lag from travel
- eating and drinking too many sugary treats
- drinking alcohol
- sleeping in unfamiliar locations when you’re visiting family
- eating huge heavy calorie-laden foods before bed
- working more hours if you’re in retail
- and many later than normal bedtimes
It’s no wonder that your internal clock can become messed up.
Add in shift work, kids excited about Santa and getting presents, and being exhausted, and it all adds up to the potential for disrupted, fragmented, and simply overall poor sleep. Not only can poor sleep impact your mood during the holiday season, but it can reduce the effectiveness of your immune system, making you a target for a cold, flu or other illness.
Getting a good night’s sleep makes you far less likely to suffer the effects of stress, and results in you feeling tired, irritable, and pretty Grinch-like. To ensure your mood stays on a positive level, and to avoid over-worrying during the holidays, sleep is the key.
Good Housekeeping mentions a study by Brigham Young University that found that if you don’t follow a consistent sleep schedule, or if you sleep too little or too much, you’re more likely to be overweight. Another study mentioned in the same article and from McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., discovered that when you’re tired, the part of your brain that regulates willpower is less active, making you far more likely to eat and drinking to excess.
Not getting adequate sleep weakens your immunity, so if you want to avoid getting sick and potentially missing out of the big day itself, you need to keep your sleeping pattern as regular as you can. Good Housekeeping points to a Carnegie Mellon University study that found that if you get less than seven hours of shut eye a night, you’re as many as three times more likely to get a cold than someone who sleeps for a solid eight hours.
How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep
If you’re worried about burning the candle at both ends this holiday season, and are too stressed to sleep, take a look at these 15 ways to sleep in heavenly peace.
1) Avoid eating within two hours of bedtime. It can be pretty difficult to avoid eating at abnormal times during the holidays, especially when you’ve lots of parties to attend. However, to ensure your body is well-rested and ready to sleep, you need to stop eating at least two hours before you intend to go to sleep.
If you feel hungry, try having a light snack or fresh fruit along with a glass of milk. A study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that L-tryptophan, that’s found in milk, actually aids sleep.
2) Keep to your usual sleep routine. Do your utmost to get to bed at the same time every night, as well as wake up at the same time in the morning, even on holidays and weekends. If you have a late-night party to attend, ensure you get up at your usual time the next day, so your sleep schedule isn’t altered.
3) Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Don’t drink anything containing caffeine for at least four hours before you go to bed as it’s a stimulant and will only keep you awake. Be aware too that caffeine can be present in chocolate, and not just in cola, tea, and coffee.
When it comes to alcohol, although it’s a depressant, your body metabolizes this during sleep, and this process can be disruptive to getting a good night’s rest, often waking you up.
4) See your bedroom as your sanctuary. Make your room as comfortable, noise-free, and dark as possible so it’s an inviting place to relax and is therefore conducive to sleeping well.
5) Relax and keep your mind calm before bedtime. Although they’re generally seen as a time for fun, the holidays can also be the source of a great deal of anxiety and stress. You need to put all the stresses and worries about the big day out of your mind at least an hour before you intend to go to sleep. Journaling can help as can a warm bath, meditation, or yoga.
6) Replace your mattress. According to The Better Sleep Council, even if you don’t think you need a new mattress, there are various factors that you need to look out for:
- You’re still tired after a full night of sleep.
- Your mattress is more than seven years old.
- Your mattress is damaged, stained, ripped, sagging, or has holes.
- You’ve slept better on another bed than your own.
- You wake up with aches, pains, numbness, or stiffness.
If you’re experiencing any of the above, it’ll only be compounded by the stress of the holidays. Generally speaking, all mattresses that are more than seven years old won’t be giving you the right support and comfort you need for a good sleeping experience.
7) Have fun with your friends and family. Although the idea of going to lots of get-togethers can sound stressful, celebrating the holidays with people you love helps you destress and consequently sleep better.
8) Learn some relaxation techniques. If you’re having real difficulty sleeping, it’s a good idea to learn some relaxation techniques, for example, progressive muscle relaxation. This involves tensing and relaxing various muscle groups one by one.
9) Get lots of exercise. Exercise is a wonderful tool to destress both your mind and body. Just remember not to do anything strenuous within three hours or so of bedtime as your body needs time to wind down prior to sleep.
10) Adjust sleep patterns before you travel. A myriad of sleep issues can be caused by traveling. If you’re going on a long-haul trip to a different time zone, get your body into training and start adjusting your sleep schedule to the time zone where you’re travelling. This might be difficult or strange to begin with, but your body will thank you for it in the long run.
11) Don’t eat too many heavy meals. The holidays are a time for making merry and eating all sorts of lovely rich foods. However, eating too much can lead to belly aches as well as sleepless nights. Try to eat as healthily as possible when you can, rather than constantly overindulging.
12) Make time for naps. If you’re feeling particularly exhausted, try to fit a few short naps into your day. This will boost your productivity, and make you feel invigorated and ready to take on another challenge.
13) Don’t wait until the last minute. Make sure you get all your holiday preparations done well in advance so you’re not rushing everything in too short a time window. Write out a list, and do a little each day until you’re all set. Starting off with all the easier tasks will help you get the ball rolling.
14) Delegate. It’s all too easy to take too much upon yourself at this time of the year. With this in mind, put together a task list and ask those closest to you to give you a hand. For example, you can give your kids the jobs of gift wrapping and decorating the tree, freeing you up to focus on other holiday tasks.
15) Avoid saying yes to everything. You can’t be everywhere at one time, so practice saying “no” sometimes. Being able to do so doesn’t mean you’re selfish. It means you’re human, and you don’t want to get burned out. Be firm when you refuse as you know some people just won’t take “no” for an answer.
By following the advice above you can be sure to enjoy your holidays while ensuring you get all the sleep you need.
Happy holidays everyone, and to all a good night’s sleep!
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