Sleeping and the Holidays
The holidays are one of the busiest times of the year.
Whether you’re opening your home to friends and family, partaking in traditions like tree-decorating and gift-giving, or attending delicious dinners and bustling parties (or all of the above), it’s easy to feel worn down at the end of the day.
Despite how tired we might be mentally, sometimes catching some quality Zs is harder than it sounds. And without decent sleep, you might find yourself having more in common with the Grinch or Mr. Scrooge than you’d like.
Consider the following tips to have a good night rest and healthy sleep habits during the holiday season and into the new year.
Power Down Before Bed
Having a relaxing bedtime routine is essential to have a good night rest.
Instead of endlessly scrolling on your smartphone or tablet or binging episodes of the latest Netflix show, try engaging in more relaxing, screenless activities. You could check out reading, journaling or playing a calm board game with your family.
Once you eliminate the blue light that electronic devices emit, you might find yourself falling asleep quicker as well. That blue light hinders your body’s natural melatonin production.
This one’s tough, especially when it may feel like you’re surrounded by gingerbread men and candy canes. But slowing down your snacking — especially in the evening — and being conscious of your portions can really help to have a good night rest.
Plus, high-sugar foods and beverages can keep you up at night. Meanwhile, high-carb foods and drinks can weigh you down and make you feel sluggish during your waking hours. Pay attention to when you eat — if you eat before bed, your body will focus more on breaking down and digesting rather than repairing and refreshing itself overnight.
If you insist on a bedtime snack (we don’t blame you), think about grabbing some fruit and veggies or even a small helping of cheese and crackers. Save the full plate of Christmas dinner leftovers for the next day.
[Related: When to Get a Sleep Study for Your Snoring]
Take a Hot Bath or Shower
Unwinding with a hot bath or shower is a great way to prepare your body and mind for restful sleep. In addition to soothing aches and pains, the rise in body temperature from a hot bath or shower can help you feel sleepy more easily.
To indulge in a little aromatherapy, sprinkle lavender oil-infused Epsom salts in your bathwater for extra relaxation.
Use Your Bedroom for Sleeping
Some of us tend to turn our bedroom into Santa’s workshop during the holiday season. That might be convenient when it comes to hiding gifts and wrapping surprises, but it can really put a damper on your healthy sleeping strategy.
Associating your bedroom — or more specifically, your bed — with anything other than sleep will make it more difficult to turn off your brain at night and relax.
Try to go to bed in a dark, quiet room that’s between 60 and 67 degrees for the best sleep. Sleep masks or blackout curtains can be another great way to keep things dim and cozy.
Stick to a Schedule
One good way to experience sounder sleep during the holidays is to set and stick to a sleep schedule. This means waking up and going to bed around the same time every day, even on weekends.
While it may not be easy to maintain regular sleep hours during the holiday hustle and bustle, staying on a schedule can help regulate your sleep and restore your energy during the day.
Limit Late-Night Caffeine
A strong cup of coffee or tea can work wonders in the morning. That said, it’s best to avoid caffeine intake late at night. A second (or third) dose of caffeine in the evening can give you extra energy and make falling asleep really frustrating.
Try decaf tea or coffee to provide a similar calming effect or to keep the ritual.
Don’t Overload Yourself
Perhaps the most important thing to remember this holiday season is to not overload yourself. Remember that one person can’t take on everything, and holidays don’t need to be perfect to be memorable.
Give yourself some grace, and focus on spending quality time with your friends and family during these special days. And you spend that quality time better when you’re not nodding off during the day or brooding in a grouchy mood because of poor sleep.
Work on creating healthy sleep habits. Don’t hesitate to reach out for support when you’re feeling particularly stressed or pressured.
[Related: Signs of Sleep Apnea to Watch Out For]