There is no denying that the holiday season brings lots of opportunity for joy, family fun and laughter. But don’t be fooled, the festive season also delivers a perfect storm that challenges your ability to sleep well, while also making it difficult to catch up on lost sleep. The result is lingering fatigue and compromised health that can make you feel dull all of December, or leave you feeling like you’ve been hit by a truck come January.
Even if you’ve planned to head to bed early on some December nights, there’s so much more at play than just late nights that can rob you of quality sleep during the holiday season. If you’re interested in moving through the holidays feeling more rested and relaxed than you have in the past, keep reading to build your understanding about the elements that can be sleep busters at this time of year.
What Might Be Keeping You Up At Night This Holiday Season
We’ve talked before about protecting your sleep over the holidays, and having a plan in place to do just that is a great first step in trying to stay well rested during a very busy time. However, even when you manage to get yourself to bed at a good time, sometimes what comes next isn’t exactly a restful night sleep. It can be hard to turn your brain off and relax your body, both of which are essential steps for a good night’s sleep.
Do you find yourself influenced by the following holiday pressures?
- Financial Stress.
Whether you overspend on friends and family, are worried about having enough money to buy your children the gifts they covet or are overwhelmed with keeping all the expenditures straight, the feeling of financial stress can burden your brain all night long. In addition, many people also feel pressured to make extra charitable donations this time of year, and if it’s not something you can afford, you can add financial guilt onto your list of worries.
- Family Pressures.
It can be hard to divide your family’s time so that you’re able to spend time with all the important people in your life. Depending on the geography of your family, work schedules, weather, finances and so many other factors, the pressure can feel high when it comes to meeting family obligations and invitations. And every parent wants to give their child a great holiday, which means you may also be adding pressure on yourself to create magical moments close to home too.
- Food And Drink.
Routines and habits definitely change during the holidays and many people just write it off because it’s part of celebrating the holidays. But caffeine and alcohol act as a stimulant, which will keep you awake, and can cause more fragmented sleep throughout the night. Not to mention, too much sugar and carbohydrates will also make it harder to fall asleep, and rich foods can bring about indigestion and heartburn which will likely keep you up at night.
Tips For Better Sleep During The Holiday Season
Listen, we’re certainly not saying that all those stresses don’t matter and that you should just let it all go. What we are saying though, is that by being more aware of the stresses the holiday season brings, you can be better prepared and feel more in control over why you’re feeling tired and overwhelmed. Unfortunately, feeling exhausted only makes you feel more stressed – it’s a vicious circle that can be hard to break.
Here are some of the recommended ways to manage your stresses so you can sleep well before, during and after the holidays:
- Carry a notebook during the day where you can make notes of ‘to-do’s’ and keep track of holiday purchases. Feeling confident that you are less likely to forget or duplicate something can ease off some of the holiday stress and help you stick to a budget.
- Plan ahead with your friends and family. Disappointing someone at the last minute is stressful. Have discussions around holiday plans well in advance so that everyone knows what to expect and when to expect you.
- Be smart about food and drink. Before you overindulge, stop and think about how your choices will make you feel later in the evening when it’s time for sleep.
And of course, practice good sleep hygiene, which means getting the recommended eight hours of sleep a night, and make sure your sleep environment is supporting your sleep needs.
What About The Kids?
If you take steps to reduce your own stress and fatigue over the holidays, your kids will certainly benefit too. However, one of the top holiday questions we get is how to reduce the over excitement at this time of year and make sure everyone gets a good night’s rest.
- Limit sugar intake.
- Talk to your children about the plan for the holiday (“We’ll go to Grandma’s house for dinner and when we get home it’s bath, reading your favourite holiday story and then sleep.”) Knowing what’s coming can help facilitate positive acceptance of bedtime.
- Stop all screen time at least an hour before bed.
- Get in some outdoor activity during the day.
- Try breathing techniques or meditation with your children to help them calm and relax their mind and body.
Remember The Importance Of Sleep During the Holidays
We know that there will be amazing moments to enjoy this holiday season and likely some not so amazing moments too, but what we also know (with certainty!) is that if you make a concerted effort to do what you can to get enough restorative sleep, you will enjoy the season much more.