Most people look forward to Christmas, with parties, social gatherings with family and friends, family travelling back home and re-arranging the home for their holiday stay, buying presents and preparing for the big day. For many people however, it is a time filled with sadness, self-reflection, loneliness, anxiety and depression. Christmas is a time of heightened emotions and it can interfere with a good night’s sleep.
Sleeping in a different unfamiliar room can affect how well we sleep. Having a different pillow or unfamiliar bed, may not be quiet what you are used to. Maybe you have to share a room with someone who snores, making you lie awake staring at the ceiling in frustration. In addition, there’s all the preparations leading up to Christmas day. Adding to all this exhaustion, many people get up on Christmas morning to get an early start cooking the turkey or maybe woken by excited children opening their presents.
Yes, the holiday season can be quite stressful and frustrating when it comes to getting quality sleep. There is financial worry and the demands of family obligations or maybe the inability to be with ones family or friends. The winter blues are very common, with many of us experiencing a mood shift during the colder, darker days of the winter months. For some, the ability to cope with all these stressors and environmental triggers are overeating and excessive drinking.
We are losing almost a day of sleep in the build up to Christmas and it ends up leaving us irritable and unable to really enjoy all the magical moments of Christmas day. Routine, sensible eating and exercise/movement go out the window and we get totally out of sync. According to Dreams.co.uk, 1 in 5 adults get less than 5 hours sleep on Christmas Eve and 1 in 3 adults wake up between 4am and 7am. It’s no wonder so many people end up falling asleep after their Christmas meal. Improving your sleep can leave you in better mood, less irritable and more organised on the big day.
Tips to help you get more rest and less stress at Christmas
- Festive Eating: Be mindful about what you are eating over the festive period. Eating too much, including sugary treats, mince pies and chocolate, will leave you feeling bloated and uncomfortable, raise your blood sugar and giving you acid re-flux. Try not to eat too late in the evening as this will put a strain on your digestive system and prevent you from winding down at night.
- Alcohol: While drinking is heavily associated around the holiday season, it can have a big impact on how well you sleep at night. Alcohol can prevent you from getting your much needed deep sleep for healing and repairing your body and restoring your cognition and mental health. Alcohol is a diuretic so, while it may knock you out, alcohol will more than likely have you going to the bathroom in the middle of the night, it dehydrates you and prevents you from going back into a deep sleep.
- Caffeine: Avoid too much caffeine on Christmas Eve. It take 6-8 hours to metabolise 50% of the caffeine. If you have a cup of coffee at 4pm, you will still have half of the caffeine in your system at 10pm. Caffeine is a stimulant and will prevent you from falling asleep easily or staying asleep during the night.
- Plan: Organise as much as possible in advance. Make checklists for all the shopping and presents. Having a well-planned day will be a productive day. When you go to bed, you will be confident knowing everything is taken care of, allowing you to slip off into a deep slumber.
- Sunshine: It is crucial to get sunshine especially in the morning to reset your circadian rhythm and get back into sync with your natural rhythms, improve your mood and sleep better.
Christmas is probably by far the most exciting time of the year for many but it can also be the most depressing and anxious time too. Rest well in advance, get sunshine in the morning and make the most out your Christmas day! Here’s to many silent nights over your Christmas!
Happy Christmas and sleep well.