5 Simple Tips for Better Sleep During the Holidays
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And that means joyous parties, memorable family gatherings, and shopping ‘til you drop for those perfect holiday gifts. Yes, this is definitely a season of fun and family, but all of that merrymaking can leave you feeling stretched a bit thin. Which makes getting your forty winks even more important than ever to help you start your New Year off right.
Worried about being able to get the best quality of sleep possible during the hectic holidays? Try these simple shut-eye promoting tips:
1. Make Time for Bonding
Sure, it can seem like all of the get-togethers with family and friends that surround Christmas and New Year’s are pure chaos. But studies have shown that some holiday traditions can actually help you sleep better. Connecting with your loved ones for celebrations has been proven to be an effective way to cut back on your stress levels, which definitely helps to prepare you for a good night’s rest.
It’s also been discovered that women who maintain healthy and positive relationships with their children and friends tend to get a better quality of shut-eye than those that don’t. Studies from the University of California, Los Angles showed that many women turn to their female friends to help care for their children and deal with life’s stressors, which appears to be an instinctual survival mechanism to allow women to protect their families (and themselves) by banding together.
This means that those holiday gift exchanges and parties can actually boost your oxytocin levels, helping your body to produce more of the biochemical that blocks stress. So if you want to rest easier at night during the holidays, go ahead and gather your loved ones for some quality time of eating, drinking, and being merry!
2. Indulge in Some Holiday Laughter
If you’re like many of us, you have a traditional movie that you like to watch as a family during the Christmas season. It’s a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street, anyone?
But researchers at the University of California at Irvine conducted a study that shows you might want to add a holiday-themed comedy to your seasonal movie marathon. The study found that stress levels plummeted when participants watched a funny film, and levels of our anti-stress hormones increased by over 80 percent.
So go ahead and take a load off and cuddle up in front of the TV in the evening to take in a holiday-themed comedy like Elf or A Christmas Story. You’ll feel lighter, happier, and more relaxed before heading to bed.
3. Squeeze in a Seasonal Siesta
Want to reduce your sleep debt, invigorate your days, and boost your productivity? If you’re anything like the rest of us, the answer to that question is, “Yes, please!” Well, studies have shown that one 30 to 90 minute nap can do just that. So why not squeeze a few siestas in during the holidays to help you stay stress-free and on-point?
If you’re not a natural napper, you can try simply laying down in the same spot, at the same time for 20 minutes a day to help you teach your body that it’s okay to relax in the middle of the day. Eventually, you’ll get the hint and be able to catch some much-needed rest. And think how much some quick afternoon sleep will help you feel refreshed before heading out to celebrate some more!
4. Enjoy the Winter Wonderland
Research has shown that exercise is just as effective at improving sleep as the drugs used to treat insomnia. And studies from the University of Arizona have shown that women who walked even short distances – as little as six blocks – during the day found themselves sleeping better at night.
So get out there and enjoy the wonders of nature during your holiday break! Build a snowman with your kids, take a stroll through the park, or even hit the slopes. You’ll notice that you’re falling asleep faster, and staying asleep longer after you add some additional physical activity to your days.
5. Keep Your Evenings for Relaxing
The National Sleep Foundation has found that the hour before bed is critical when it comes to being able to unwind and get to sleep. And a recent poll of female sleepers in the U.S. has shown that up to 94 percent are using that time to take care of children, chores, or work-related tasks instead of getting the relaxation that they need to get to sleep.
Add in the requisite shopping, cooking, and entertaining of the holiday season, and you’re in for some late nights and poor sleep. So what can you do? Try sticking to your regular bedtime as closely as possible, and set aside one full hour of “me time” in the evenings. And stick to it! Your body needs the time to settle down before bed, and you’ll find that giving it what it needs will mean more restful nights and productive days.