Holiday sleep disorders, improving sleep quality during holiday season and later

By: Emily Lunardo | Sleep | Sunday, December 27, 2015 - 08:00 AM

Man sleeping by fireplace

The holiday season can leave us feeling exhausted and can impact our quality of sleep, but there are simple steps we can take to improve our rest during the holiday season.

You would think that all the rushing around during the holiday season would make us so exhausted that we would get a great night’s sleep, but the fact is, a change in routine is a common cause of insomnia. Let’s face it, during the holiday season people are hardly sticking to a regular routine. Even without travel, people are adding extra hours of shopping to their days and nights, hosting guests at home that can lead to late nights, as well as attending many events themselves, all while keeping up with regular responsibilities.

Being exhausted with the addition of stress can make it hard for a lot of people to get good quality sleep during the holiday season.

Sleep better during the holiday season

Sleep and holiday seasonThe holiday season is supposed to be joyful, yet for some people it can cause a great deal of stress to surface. For example, conflicts with family or friends can reignite because you only see those people during holidays. Other examples include people who find shopping or deciding what to buy for people stressful or those who are worried about the expense associated with holiday shopping.

If any of this sounds familiar, remember to pace yourself and only do the things that really bring you joy during the holiday season. It will give you a better chance at a peaceful night’s sleep. Going into the holidays, think about communication strategies just in case conflict does arise. This will make you better equipped to work through issues. One other important tip is to add an activity to your routine to encourage better sleep. It could include meditation, yoga, or some sort of light exercise. Any one of these “me time” activities has the potential to counteract stress.

Related Reading: Simple tips to reduce stress this holiday season

Simple tips to improve your sleep during holidays

tips to improve your sleep during holidaysDuring the rush of the holiday season, focusing on healthy habits can be easier said than done, but sleep is absolutely crucial to the healing and repairing of our body. Ongoing sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke.

To keep you healthy and refreshed, here are some simple tips to improve your sleep during the holiday season and beyond…

  • Go to sleep when you feel tired.
  • Ease yourself into a new time zone to prevent jet lag.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption.
  • Reduce caffeine consumption.
  • Exercise daily and do it outside if you can.
  • Schedule 15 minutes of worry time an hour before bed to put your demons to rest.
  • Don’t overeat late at night.

Discuss other holiday sleep tips with your doctor. He or she may have suggestions that are specific to what is keeping you awake.

Tips for getting better sleep post-holiday

sleep post-holidayWhen the holidays are over and we return to our regular routine, we also expect a return to our usual sleep pattern; however, we forget that our bodies are now in a new rhythm. Since the holiday season threw off our schedule, we have to teach our bodies to get back into the old rhythm. Sleep experts say January and February are busy months for them because people are looking for advice on how to get back on track.

Here are some healthy sleep habits to consider:

  • Establish a rhythm by going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time every morning.
  • Turn off any backlit stimulation, such as TV’s or computers, two hours before bed.
  • Dim lights at least two hours before bed.
  • Avoid drinking fluids two hours before bed.
  • Exercise earlier in the day, as opposed to at night.
  • Get to know your caffeine tolerance. Many people should not have it any later than noon.
  • Do not eat anything for the three hours before bedtime.
  • Discuss stress management with your doctor.
  • Make the room as dark as possible – use dark curtains or an eye mask.

If you try all the holiday sleep tips, as well as post-holiday suggestions, and still have trouble getting a good night’s sleep, you should seek medical advice. There are other factors that impact sleep besides a change in routine and stress. Sometimes there can be a health-related reason for insomnia.

When sleeplessness is related to the holiday season, the good news is that practicing some of the tips mentioned above can make a big difference for a lot of people. One thing to keep in mind, if the holidays tend to disrupt your sleep, is to savor the special moments you experience because they can often help you have a healthier and more restful holiday.

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