Don’t Let the Holiday Spirit Hurt Your Sleep

It’s hard to sleep when you have “visions of sugar plums dancing in your head” but healthy sleep habits, while important year round, are especially important during the holiday season. You don’t want to become Scrooge dreading one holiday gathering after another or suffer from an illness because your immune system is run down from not enough good, restful sleep.


It’s not always easy to stick to tried and true bedtime routines when you’re rushing from family gathering to family gathering and if you add in the fact that you might be traveling for the holidays and having to deal with jet lag. Here are a few issues that may arise during the holidays and ways you can cope:


Later than usual bedtimes: If you’re going to parties after dinner times, it’s likely you’ll be home later than your usual bedtime. Late nights can cause increased levels of cortisol and adrenaline making it difficult to fall asleep when you climb into bed. Even if you’re getting home later than usual, try to settle your down before you leave and spend a few extra minutes to relax your body before you hit the pillow.


Planes, trains and automobiles: Many sleep problems that are caused by travel can be addressed if you plan before, during and after your trip for those sleep disturbances. If you’re traveling to a different time zone, start a few days before with adjusting your sleep schedule to the time zone to which you will be traveling. If you can sleep on a plane, sleeping during a red-eye flight can help you actually adjust faster when you arrive at your destination.  Just make sure you push yourself the first day to adapt to the new time zone.


‘Tis the season… for stress and excitement: Holidays are so exciting with the parties, and travel and the anticipation of receiving gifts. Excitement is a form of stress that can lead to sleepless nights. You may want to alter the bedtime routine to include additional warm bath time and/or quiet reading and relaxation before turning out the lights.


So many good foods: It’s common to eat large, heavy means during the holidays and that could lead to belly aches and sleepless nights. If possible, try to sample tiny bits of rich foods that you might not normally enjoy and indulge in more fruits and vegetables while limiting sugary drinks and desserts.


Irregular sleep schedules are the culprit when looking at holiday sleep times, but with planning and understanding you can all get through it and take time out for a good night’s sleep!

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