In my last blog, I explored some of the ways the holidays can make it harder to sleep. But sleep is one of the most important gifts you can give yourself during the holiday season, so this time I’ll talk about a few things that can help you sleep better during the holidays.
You’re trying to find time to make presents or work to make money for presents, actually go out and buy those presents, wrap everything, and somehow make it a priority to spend time with friends and family while you’re at it. Getting enough sleep is key to being able to enjoy this time of year!
Here are a few things you can do to get the sleep you need this time of year. Some of them are obvious, some might seem counterintuitive at first… but all will help you sleep better, if not longer.
- Spend time with your friends and families. Shelley Taylor, Ph.D., a Professor of Psychology at the University of California—Los Angeles studies the ways women cope with stress. According to Taylor, women’s social ties to other women and the time they spend caring for their children are important ways women manage stressful times. Take the time to go to that holiday party—de-stressing with your friends or connecting to your family members in positive ways can help you leave the worries behind when it’s time for bed.
- Work out early in the day. Even if it means getting up early, working out is one of the best things you can do for your body—awake or asleep. Sleep studies suggest that exercise can have a profound effect on our circadian rhythm regulation. Exercising in the morning or early afternoon can help you sleep more soundly at night, though exercising within four to six hours of bedtime may make it hard to fall asleep.
- Catch a catnap. According to Best Health magazine, a nap between 1:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon can reduce your sleep debt and leave you invigorated, actually increasing your productivity. Naps as short as 20 minutes or as long as 90 minutes in this time window can increase your energy for the rest of the day without hurting your nighttime sleep. See what works for your body.
- Remember your sleep hygiene. “Sleep hygiene” refers to your actions during the day and at bedtime that can affect your nighttime sleep. Just as it’s important to stay clean and take care of your teeth, it’s important to take care of your ability to sleep. A comfortable bedroom, a calm mind, a regular schedule, and a healthy body all contribute to our sleep health. The things you do to take care of yourself in myriad other ways are also helping you to improve your quality of sleep.
This holiday season, enjoy yourself within reasonable limits, stick to a sleep schedule when you can, and remember, “all things in moderation.” A little enjoyment and a little self-forgiveness can go a long way toward a happy, healthy holiday.