Festive? Yes. Hectic. Oh yes! The holiday season is here, and along with the joy of the season comes the chaos of attending all the holiday parties, shopping for last minute gifts, and attending endless events at our children’s schools. With all the shuffling around, you might wonder how it’s possible to find time for healthy rest. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to maintain a great sleep pattern during this busy time of the year.
1. Stay consistent with your sleep routine
With holiday celebrations and events cropping up seemingly every night, staying consistent with your sleep routine might seem like a fantasy, but it can be done. According to sleep expert Nancy Foldvary-Schaefer, DO, MS, Director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Cleveland Clinic, even when you’re up later than your normal bedtime, make sure you’re still waking up at the same hour. Although you might feel tired, you’ll be reinforcing your natural sleep-wake cycle.
2. Don’t forget the gym
Make time to exercise. Besides just burning calories and reducing stress, exercise is a catalyst for better sleep. So, whether you run, bike, swim, lift, surf, climb or hike, make sure you’re your squeezing in at least 30 minutes of sustained exercise each day. But remember to finish your workout at least 4 hours before you hit the sheets. It may be difficult to fall asleep otherwise.
3. Cocktails and lattes
Those fancy holiday coffee beverages from your favorite café sure are tempting, but drinking caffeine even 6 hours before bedtime can really keep you buzzing when you’d rather be sleeping. There’s also all the wine, beer, and spirits that seem to be everywhere you go over the holidays. While a few drinks may initially help you fall asleep faster, they often wreak havoc on staying asleep, since alcohol has been known to disturb the REM sleep stage, which is responsible for cataloging our memories and keeping our minds sharp.
4. Stay calm and sleep on
Don’t let the stress of the holidays affect your sleep. Find an outlet that works for you to put your mind at ease before settling in for sleep. If yoga or meditation is not your thing, consider selecting a good book to read and lose yourself in the story rather than stress about the shopping or visiting that has been weighing on you.
The best gift you can give yourself this holiday season is a focus on your personal health and mental state. As the foundation of good health, sleep keeps you energized, happier and less worn down, all of which can reduce your risk of contracting pesky winter colds and illnesses. When you’re well rested, you’ll better enjoy time spent with friends and family, making the holidays a time of celebration rather than frustration.