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How to get enough sleep over the holidays

How to get enough sleep over the holidays

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Or is it? The holidays are a great time to indulge, relax, and (virtually) socialize. However, going overboard on Netflix, drinks, and food can sometimes leave us a little worse for wear. Here are some tips for getting enough sleep over your winter break.


Avoid evening meals

Try having dinner at least 2 hours before bed. According to the National Sleep Foundation, going to bed with a full stomach may have you tossing and turning all night long while your system tries to digest all the food and drinks. If you’re still hungry late at night, have a light snack like granola or some fruit. 


Reserve a “relaxation” hour before bed

If you can, try scheduling an hour of wind-down before you fall asleep. Some things to try include taking a bath, gentle stretching, meditation, or reading a book. Simple and relaxing activities set us up for a good night’s sleep. The bonus is this tip can double as a self-care activity!


Get daily light exposure

Generally, light exposure helps our bodies regulate sleep properly. Most of us are sheltering indoors with limited natural light and it doesn’t help that the sunshine is gone by 6 pm. As much as possible, spend time outdoors and leave the blinds and windows open for optimal light exposure. Our circadian rhythms heavily depend on light-based cues, so the more walks and outdoor activities we can sneak in during the day, the easier it will be to get sleep. 


Watch your alcohol 

It’s definitely time for a drink or two...or five. Just keep in mind that overconsumption of alcohol often reduces sleep quality. It’s worth noting alcohol can cause extreme drowsiness and as it metabolizes, it can lead to fragmentations of sleep and awakenings. Further, alcoholic beverages are muscle relaxants causing breathing disturbances that can lead to even more broken sleep. 


Nap the right way

The holidays can surely alter our sleep schedule and have us taking random midday sleep sessions. We typically want to avoid naps as it can negatively impact our internal clock. However, some studies show that napping for 30 minutes or less can actually enhance daytime function. It’s important to listen to your body: if you are sleepy, take a short nap. Just don’t sleep for 3 hours in the middle of the day. If you can help it. 


Even though this year’s holidays are looking a little different, getting enough sleep is vital for healthy brain functioning and will help you enjoy your holiday, whatever that looks like this year. 


References

  1. https://www.sleep.org/beat-holiday-sleep-challenges/
  2. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-guidelines-covid-19-isolation
  3. https://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2014/12/18/six-simple-ways-to-improve-your-sleep-for-the-holidays/
  4. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/17-tips-to-sleep-better#4.-Reduce-irregular-or-long-daytime-naps