Christmas is coming soon!
For most of us, our vision of the holidays is one of leisure: sitting around the house in cozy clothes, listening to cheerful music with our family and friends, watching the cool and/or snowy weather set the stage for an afternoon of skiing—or, if you’d prefer, more sitting around.
What we tend not to imagine, but often becomes reality as the holidays approach, is a less idyllic scenario. A cold or illness threatens to take hold, lingering anxiety caused by late nights at work or the coming deluge as recompense for holiday time off, stress due to a packed schedule of gift-buying, family-visiting, meal-planning and stocking-stuffing. Indeed, the holidays can be one of the most stressful times of year.
Clearly, taking care of your health is paramount, to help you enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season. Tactics include practicing moderation and mindfulness and perhaps, above all, getting plenty of rest, since a good night’s sleep is one of the simplest and most effective ways to support your physical and mental wellness. Here are a few considerations on how to help your sleep—and your health—this holiday season.
Stay active over the holidays
Exercise has been shown to help reduce stress and make you feel better. And it doesn’t even have to be intense exercise. Yoga and stretching are effective, as are more vigorous aerobic activities. Even going for a long walk after an epic holiday meal has benefits. Exercise helps produce endorphins in the body, which make you feel good. It burns calories, which can be helpful if you’re eating more than usual. Exercise can also help you sleep better. It’s a gift to yourself that keeps on giving.
Skip the hot toddy
Simply put, scientists have found that alcohol disrupts sleep.(1) If you’d like a drink (or two), consider pairing it with dinner, and skipping the late-night tipple. You’ll likely sleep better and feel more rested as a result.
Being exhausted throughout the holidays is no fun. No one wants to be that person who falls asleep right after dinner, missing an evening of merriment. Limit your caffeine intake, sneak in naps when you can, and travel with the equipment you need to support your sleep. If you are traveling, make sure you have a comfortable place booked well ahead of time where you can spend the night. Consider avoiding “red-eye” flights that fly over night, which tend to create a sleep debt that can be tough to overcome.
Aim to unplug
Giving your mobile phone a break actually has some sound science behind it, especially right before you go to sleep. Blue light from bright screens has been shown to negatively impact sleep. So try leaving your device in another room when you head to bed.
Hope this post hasn’t made you too sleepy! Though maybe that’s not a bad thing.
Happy, healthy holidays from all of us at ResMed.
(1) Thakkar et al. Alcohol disrupts sleep homeostasis. Alcohol 2015; 49(4)