The weeks leading up to the holidays can be extremely stressful – intense work deadlines, holiday party planning and making sure you’ve gotten everyone’s gifts (even if they didn’t make the “nice” list) can put your mind on overdrive when trying to fall asleep. Don’t let sleep deprivation turn you into a Grinch! Here are five tips for a better sleep before the holidays, because amongst the chaos, you deserve some good R&R, too.
- Slow Down on the Sweets
One of the best parts of the holidays is the food – especially the sweets! Who can resist the candy canes, pecan pie, chocolate cake, sugar cookies, toffee, mousses, truffles, cheesecakes, cupcakes, brownies…the list goes on (just naming them gives me a sugar craving). With endless options at every corner, keep in mind that slow and steady always wins the race. Indulging in too many sweets can lead to some not so sweet dreams, with recent studies revealing that increased sugar-intake can negatively affect your sleep quality – resulting in less deep sleep and a higher frequency of sleep arousals. This may explain feeling over-exhausted the next day, even if you think you got enough hours in!
- Deck the Halls – But remember to turn off the lights!
We know that increased light exposure can disrupt our ability to fall asleep – but we might forget that this applies to all of our Christmas lights and decorations too! Light exposure affects our body’s ability to produce melatonin, which promotes sleep. Whether you put LED candles in the windows, have Christmas lights shining in from outside, or even decorate your room/ hallway, remembering to turn off the Christmas lights at least an hour before bedtime might help you fall into REM a little easier.
- Keep your Bedtime Consistent
Not having enough time in the day to keep up with daily demands, let alone holiday demands, can throw your circadian rhythm for a loop. If you find yourself compromising your normal bedtime in lieu of some extra hours to cram in those last holiday check-offs, chances are your sleep schedule will have a hard time bouncing back. Not only will this have you staying up later the following nights, but keep in mind that a good night’s sleep helps promotes your best-self and may actually help you get more done the next day.
- Baby, It’s Cold Outside! (But Go Out There Anyway)
We know it’s cold out – but getting some fresh air and natural daylight will help better align your circadian rhythm and internal clock. Whether its partaking in sports, getting festive by building a snowman, or just taking a stroll down the block, absorbing more daylight helps regulate melatonin levels – signaling a decrease in levels during the day and an increase in levels at night when it’s time to wind down. Even though the daylight is sparse during the winter months, try to soak up as much sun as possible!
- Schedule in Some You Time
The holidays seem easier to prepare for when there’s a plan – but don’t forget to plan-in some time for yourself, too! Give yourself an adequate amount of time before bed to unwind and de-stress from the day’s events. Whether it’s with a hot bath, meditation (I recommend downloading the “Headspace” app in the app store) or with a soothing cup of tea and a book, letting your mind and your body relax will help you separate yourself from the clutter and feel more at ease once you go to bed.