The holidays: some people love ‘em, some people hate ‘em. No matter which camp you fall into, the holidays can create extra stress in your life because of hectic schedules, increased time with family and long lines at pretty much every store.
Unfortunately, stress is not just a negative feeling we experience. It can also have detrimental impacts on our health. In fact, it can impact sleep quality, diet, and other areas of our life. Think about the last time you were stressed. How did you sleep? Did you wake up the next morning feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day? Or did you toss and turn all night, with a growing ball of anxiety in the pit of your stomach about your to-do list for the upcoming week?
A good ambience can help you get a good night’s rest. Make sure your room is set up for sleep success. If you have a lot of ambient light that comes in through the window, be sure to close the blinds or even consider light blocking curtains. Use a sound machine or wear earplugs to stop miscellaneous noises from keeping you awake.
While it might seem like a tall order to stick to your normal sleep/wake routine, it can be the best recipe for quality sleep. Staying consistent in the time you go to bed and wake up each day - even after a late night party or on the weekends - can reinforce your sleep-wake cycle and help you get more relaxed rest. While it may seem counterintuitive, wake up at your usual time, even after a late night out. You may be tired, but it will make it easier to fall asleep the following night and get restful sleep.
The body and brain view eating as an influx of new energy to be used. When we eat, our brains and bodies see it as a reason to stay awake and use up this new energy. This one is a little tricky because you can’t necessarily control when dinner will be served or the timing of various parties, but if you can help it, try to avoid eating large meals too late. If you have a dinner party coming up where dinner will be served a little later, try eating a snack beforehand and leaning on the lighter side for dinner.
This tip may be the least fun of all, but the fact of the matter is that alcohol reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Of course, alcohol may seem like it puts you to sleep faster, but the reality is that it also suppresses the most restorative type of sleep we can get. It’s also disruptive to sleep that happens in the latter half of the evening. If you are going to drink, stick to one or two drinks and try to imbibe at least several hours before bedtime.
We’re not trying to be debbie downers, we swear! But caffeine, similarly to alcohol, can disrupt a good night’s rest. If you’re going to have a coffee with that slice of German chocolate cake, make sure you have it at least four hours before bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant, so it will keep you awake longer than you normally might be. Also note that caffeine is found in many different items that appear at holiday parties. Obviously, there is a lot of caffeine in regular coffee as well as some in tea and sodas. But also keep an eye out for chocolate, which contains caffeine as well.
Don’t let a lack of quality sleep disrupt your life, especially during the holidays. While lack of sleep can contribute to holiday weight gain and an increased chance of getting sick, you don’t have to succumb to bad sleep habits. Keep bad habits from creeping in and maintain sleep — and your health — with some conscious healthy choices. Great sleep can ensure that you stay healthy through the hectic holiday season and that your emotional well-being remains intact, too. Consider the tips above to get your best sleep and make it through the holidays refreshed, recharged, and ready to take on the next holiday party.
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