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Good, restful sleep may be hard to come by during the holidays. Amid all the memory-making with loved ones and prepping for get-togethers, we often sacrifice rest for the sake of getting everything done. But doing so poses risks to our health and happiness.
Juggling holiday stress and sleep
For many of us, sleep is the first habit to go in times of stress. But this can lead to fatigue, irritability and grogginess.
“With the holidays, most of us are shopping, going to parties, or hosting get-togethers” says Dr. Sarah Hussain, medical director of the sleep center at Kettering Health Miamisburg. “You end up adding a lot of stress to your daily routine. Prioritize and try to plan way ahead. That extra stress affects everything you do—including your sleep.”
It’s crucial to care for yourself and prioritize rest, especially during the holiday season.
How much sleep do I need?
Dr. Hussain recommends six to eight hours of sleep each night. She also advises not to underestimate the power of a quick nap.
“Taking 20-30 minutes to refresh gives you more energy, boosts your mood, and helps you be more present to enjoy the time you have with family and friends,” Dr. Hussain says.
The quality of your sleep is just as important. Our sleep quality often declines this time of year from indulging in sugary foods and drinks. One way to improve your sleep is to carve out time each day to exercise. Exercise gets your heart rate up and releases endorphins that help you fall into a deeper snooze at the end of the day.
The importance of a routine
Establishing and maintaining a bedtime routine is important. The holidays tend to send schedules into disarray, so having a slower evening routine helps the body transition from a hectic day to the softer pace needed for a good night of rest.
“A lot of us tend to slack off on the weekends, staying up late and getting up late,” Dr. Hussain says. “But if you can keep the same daily routine even on the weekends, it can really make a difference.”
One of the most common challenges to sleeping well, Dr. Hussain says, is struggling to calm the mind.
“We have to learn to stop worrying, to shut the mind down, and to relax.” Dr. Hussain advises that if lack of sleep is interfering with your daily routines, consider an evaluation with a sleep specialist. “Sleep disturbance can affect your day-to-day function, from your relationships to your work efficiency to your mood. When you’re well-rested, everything else falls into place.”