The Perfect Christmas Day Schedule for Family, Fun, and Healthy Sleep

December 19th, 2018

The holidays are often equated to hectic schedules and obligations that lead to us feeling stressed, sleep deprived, and run down. By the time Christmas day comes around, many of us are walking zombies who just want the holiday to be over. This year, celebrate the season by planning your Christmas day schedule so you and your family have fun, make special memories, and get plenty of healthy sleep.

Morning

Kids love to wake up impossibly early on Christmas morning with the excitement of gifts and toys under the tree. If kids are a part of your life, make sure you get to bed early the night before to prepare your mind and body for the early morning results of Santa’s visit. That can be a tall order, as many parents have last minute gifts to wrap or Christmas Eve plans with family. But it’ll pay off handsomely when you hear the inevitable shouts of excitement and cries of “Hurry, wake up!” from the kiddos on Christmas morning.

If you don’t have kids, get your eight hours of sleep, but don’t be tempted to sleep until noon! You don’t want to throw off your sleep schedule by drastically changing your wake time. With that said, enjoy your day off. Wake up, ease into the morning and let go of the week’s stresses – it is the holidays after all!

Once you are up and moving, treat yourself to some morning sunshine before you start unwrapping presents. The morning light will help wake you and keep your circadian rhythm in check. Then it’s breakfast time, the best time of day for your hot coffee caffeine kick. Savor the moment.

Afternoon

Many American families opt for an afternoon Christmas meal with family and friends. If you’re the designated chef this year, a great option to avoid panic or stress is to prepare as much of the feast the day before. You can prep your turkey or ham, get your casserole ready for the oven, and even pre-bake pies (and store-bought items are always excellent time savers!). Enlisting friends and family to bring dishes to the gathering is another great way to save time and undue anxiety on Christmas. Worry over creating the perfect holiday meal is a recipe for a stressful day and unhealthy rest the night before.

Energy tends to dwindle after a big meal. If you need a quick pick me up to keep entertaining, skip the coffee and instead go for a brisk walk around the neighborhood. You’ll get your body moving and shake off that post-feast sleepiness. The exercise will also promote deeper sleep, and since you’re avoiding caffeine, you’ll experience an easier time falling asleep in the evening. It’s a holiday miracle!

Evening

Whether you’re dining with friends and family in the early afternoon, or just taking it easy with loved ones, Christmas evening is usually when we start to feel the weight of the holidays lift. The preparation and lead-up to Christmas can be a tiring, albeit joyful, time of year, and once it’s come and gone, the body is usually ready for a solid rest. Take a few moments to reflect on the positive aspects of your holiday gatherings, and then relax with a movie, book, or just some hangout time at home.

Another great way to wind down is to dim your house lights and leave your Christmas tree lights on. The dim lighting will tell your body that bedtime is approaching, and you can still enjoy the cozy feeling of a lit tree.

Let’s be honest, you deserve some downtime after your busy Christmas day! If you want to hit the hay earlier than usual, aim for 30 minutes earlier than your typical bedtime. Any sooner, and you risk disrupting your normal sleep schedule.

Bedtime

If you’ve received the latest tech gadget in your stocking this year, remember to put it down for the night at least one hour prior to bedtime to avoid blue light disruption to your sleep. Take some time to take a hot bath or shower, listen to your favorite music, and sink into your cozy bed, unwinding from an exhausting, family-filled day. You can keep your typical bedtime rituals in check, and do a few of these extra things to make the evening extra relaxing. Happy Holidays!

“Attention, stress and negative emotion in persistent sleep-onset and sleep-maintenance insomnia.” National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8446832.
December 19th, 2018

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