The holiday season can be stressful. There’s always so much to do and never enough time to do it all in. That’s why sleep is always the first thing to go when holiday stresses build. Here are some tips for maintaining your sleep schedule (and your sanity) during the holidays:
- Stick to your sleep routine. Although your schedule may be different at this time of year because of guests and travel, go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Avoid caffeine at least four hours before bedtime. It’s present not only in coffee, tea and soda, but also in many of the chocolate-laden treats you might nibble on at a holiday party. Skip the cocktails, too. Alcohol depresses adrenalin (a hormone in your body) and slows you down, which can help you fall asleep. However, when the alcohol in your system wears off you can get a surge in adrenalin that wakes you.
- Get plenty of exercise. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, most days of the week. Finish exercising at least three to four hours before bedtime to avoid disrupting your sleep. Talk to your doctor about what is safe and appropriate for you.
- Turn off the TV (and Christmas lights). Darkness triggers melatonin, the sleep hormone, to be released from your brain. Light from a television, computer, cell phone or yes, even holiday lights, can decrease your melatonin production making it hard to fall asleep. Whether you’re at home for the holidays or traveling, keep your bedroom as quiet, dark and comfortable as possible.
- Turn the thermostat down. Sleeping in a house that is too warm can keep you up. Of course, there is no perfect degree for everyone across the board. You will have to find out which temperature works best for you and/or other family members, but a range of 65°- 72° Fahrenheit is suggested as a starting point.
If these tips don’t help, talk to your doctor about how to regain your restful nights.