Well, it's that time of year again. Holidays. Those times of joy/stress, where we gather with friends and family, over eat, and sometimes annoy each other. Usually it is a time we enjoy, and enjoy it we should. However, it is also a time we break from our normal routines. We take days off of work, maybe we stop our exercise routine, and often times, we let our sleep schedule slip as well.
Here are 7 tips that will help you get enough sleep during the holiday season, which in turn, will serve to make your holidays happier.
1. Don't pull all-nighters. Yes, I know there are Christmas parties, and New Years parties, and probably other parties that go waaaaay into the early hours of the morning. Catching up with childhood friends you haven't seen in months, or family you haven't seen in a while. Maybe you are out, maybe you are in. Whatever the occasion, do not stay up all hours of the night partying/talking/drinking, etc. It's okay to break your normal sleep pattern a little by staying up later then you usually do, but don't over do it. You'll need to compensate for this. Which brings me to my next tip...
2. Take a Seasonal Siesta. I'm going to assume that most of you reading this live in a non-siesta culture. During the holidays, it is okay (even encouraged, by me anyway) to take a mid-day nap. The holiday season can be exhausting. And exciting. Both of these things require rest. You may want to stay up later than normal during the holidays to enjoy activities you don't normally get to. Great. Stay up. Enjoy them. But make sure you are getting rest before hand so you don't completely throw off your sleep schedule.
Plan for about 3 hours of sleep shortly after lunch. 1:00pm-4:00pm would be ideal. The average sleep cycle is about 90 minutes. A good siesta nap gets you two solid sleep cycles. This will help offset any sleep debt you may incur by staying up later that night.
3. Don't over-do it. There are a myriad of things you may want or need to get done. This can overwhelm you quickly. To avoid this, plan ahead. If you need to bake 4,000,000 Christmas cookies, don't wait until the night before everyone comes over; spread the work around a little. Also, it is not unreasonable to ask people for help with things that need to get done. If you are overwhelmed with tasks already and someone asks you to help out "with just one more thing," feel free to tell them no.
4. Step away from the chaos. Piggy-backing off of tip #3, it is okay to step away from all the crazy. You should quite literally walk away from the area you are doing the demanding tasks. Take a 10 minute break (or longer!) to step outside, or into a quiet room. Take some deep slow breaths, and allow yourself to unwind for a minute. You can even try the relaxation exercise mentioned at the end of this article.
5. Exercise. What?! But I'm on vacation. Maintaining your exercise routine is ideal. But even if you want to slack off a little bit, you should still exercise to some degree. Take a walk in the snow (if you live in a snowy climate). Just a few blocks trudging in snow is great exercise. If you don't have snow, find some ways of being active; don't just sit around all day watching It's a Wonderful Life over and over.
6. Don't over-indulge in food and drink. By all means, indulge. Just don't over-indulge. Watch what you are eating. Have an extra slice of pie, some extra cookies. Great. Don't have 10 extra cookies, or 4 extra slices of pie. Avoid eating heavily in the evening. As far as booze goes, if you are going to drink, do so sparingly. If you only have a drink every once in a while the rest of the year, then several in one day is a BAD idea. Two or three will probably be plenty. Again, avoid drinking alcohol (or caffeine) 6-8 hours before bed.
7. Travel smart. We are creatures of habit. We like our comfortable beds and familiar environments. When traveling to someone else's house for your holiday get-together, and you plan to stay the night, bring your own pillow from home. For young kids, let them bring a favorite stuffed animal or blanket, too.
If your travel is extensive, and you have layovers, check out the articles over at SleepingInAirports.net
And that's it! Follow these 7 steps and you should be able to get good sleep, even during the holidays.
Merry Christmas! Happy Festivus! Whatever you celebrate. :) But most of all: