Tips for Sleeping Well During Holidays
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By Trina Basaysay
The holiday frenzy shouldn’t be an excuse for you to miss out on having quality rest too. But you don’t have to miss out on enjoying the festivities to have quality rest. Finding balance and following a few easy habits will let you enjoy the holidays and have a good night’s sleep at the same time! Here we tackle the mini routines you can adopt to help you sleep well during the holidays.
The Importance of Quality Sleep
In the build-up to the festive season, reunions, parties, and other social gatherings are hosted left and right, with many lasting into the early morning hours. As a result, your sleep routine might suffer as you go about your holiday commitments, leading to some lost hours of precious slumber and rest.
Sleep should still be part of your priorities in the middle of the Christmas rush, late-night socialising, and family reunions. Here are the three reasons why:
You Can Handle Holiday Stress Better
The desire to go to every party, travel, and see family members, as well as the financial pressure, can leave you feeling overwhelmed. But you can brush off holiday stress with proper sleep, which has something to do with what is happening to your brain when you doze off.
When we sleep, there’s an increased activity in the parts of the brain that regulate our emotions for improved brain function and emotional balance. The one brain area is the amygdala, which is responsible for the body’s response to stressful situations and other perceived threats.
Emotions in the amygdala are better regulated with adequate sleep, making you less reactive to stress and anxiety. As a result, you are more patient and in a better mood, putting you in the right mind frame to navigate your way through party preparations, festivities, and family get-togethers.
Sleep Is a Super Tool for Recovery
Sleep Expert Dr Michael Twery explains how sleep plays a part in boosting your immune system and improving your breathing, blood pressure, and cardiovascular health. This makes sleep an effective health and well-being tool for body recovery and rejuvenation.
Your body heals from stressors of the day as it enters into a recovery mode during Stage 3 of sleep, also known as Deep Sleep. At this stage— where we spend a fifth of our sleep in our younger years and more if we are sleep deprived— muscle and organ repair takes place and chemicals vital to building a strong immune system begin to flow into your blood.
With quality sleep, you feel refreshed and rejuvenated when you wake up. This gift of sleep may help your tired body easily recover as you attend one Christmas event after another. However, keep in mind, sleep can only help reduce the symptoms of a hangover but not prevent it.
It Helps Clear Your Mind
If you are wondering if sleep helps clear the mind, the answer is yes. And this is backed by science. Citing the result of a mouse study, the National Institutes of Health suggested that sleep may help in brain restoration “by flushing out toxins that build up during waking hours.”
A refreshed mind allows you to interact with others well and helps you resolve social challenges better as you celebrate the holidays.
During the season, relax and clear your mind by getting enough sleep despite your hectic holiday schedule. Boost your emotional well-being further by taking a short break from your holiday duties to get some fresh air or go for walks. These benefits and more make prioritising your sleep worth the effort.
How to Have Quality Sleep: 8 Tips
When you are asleep, your brain and body are still functioning and processing activities that are vital to having a quality life, explained Neurologist Dr Mark Wu. Studies have shown we are more productive and energetic thanks to enough sleep. Below are 8 tips to improve sleep quality during the season.
1. Watch Your Alcohol Intake
Festive drinking games might be a staple at holiday parties and family reunions. Consuming large amounts of alcoholic beverages, however, can disrupt your sleep because too much alcohol causes you to wake up several times as you enter different stages of sleep. Additionally, after a night of heavy drinking, you feel exhausted and will likely experience a hangover in the morning.
To control your consumption, the key is to stop if you have had too many drinks. You can also try the following for better monitoring of your alcohol intake:
• Avoid getting drunk by setting limits
• Eat before and during alcohol intake
P.S. Remember that it is ok to turn down drinks once you hit your limit
2. Take Time to Relax
As the song says, Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year.” But as wonderful as it is, preparing for Christmas can be really stressful as we need to budget not just for gifts, but for food, travel and holiday events. Don’t forget it’s ok to give yourself permission to relax and unwind if you feel like your stress levels are going up, which may help you fall asleep fast.
These techniques can aid in soothing both your body and mind:
• Watch your favourite films
• Read a book
• Listen to calm music
Exercising contributes to a good night’s sleep. According to Dr Charlene Gamaldo of Sleep at Howard County General Hospital, you can sleep fast and achieve quality sleep after working out. Try to take a break from your busy schedule to walk, jog, do yoga and indoor cycling, and many more, to keep the holiday stress away.
4. Listen to Soundscapes
Taking time to listen to the sounds around you has calming effects. A 2017 study found that the sounds of nature particularly soothe the body and decrease its “natural fight-or-flight instinct.” An activated fight-or-flight response makes you overreact during stressful situations, said Clinical Psychologist Dr Sophie Mort. It is no wonder that listening to the ocean waves and the rustling of leaves in the trees helps lull you to sleep.
5. Don’t Stress if You Don’t Get Enough Sleep
If having sufficient sleep is a challenge for you, stressing about it is not going to help either. Instead of overthinking it, creating the right approach is the more productive way to go.
Relaxing your body and mind is a good place to start. There are several relaxation methods that you can try and mix until you find the one that fits. They include:
• Breathing exercises: Ten deep breaths are enough to help make you feel calm and doze off.
• Visualisation exercises: Use mental images to reduce stress levels for fast, deep sleep.
6. Practise Mindful Breathing
Focusing on your breath as you gently inhale and exhale works like magic in your wellness. Deep breathing helps melt away the stress and anxiety triggered by the holiday season for better sleep. Breathing exercises such as pursed lip breathing and alternate nostril breathing only take a few minutes to complete. It is easy to incorporate any of the breathing techniques into your daily routine.
Meditation will help ease you into sleep. With all the goings-on around you during this season, sleep meditation is a great way to achieve quality slumber. Mindfulness meditation, guided meditation, and body scan meditation, to name a few, may help you drift off to sleep by calming your mind and activating the areas of the brain that control sleep.
8. Eat Mindfully
Overeating or sleeping on a full stomach disrupts normal sleep because of the discomfort you feel caused by bloating and indigestion after consuming too much food at parties. Being mindful of what you eat, especially during family gatherings and other holiday festivities, can make a lot of difference in your rest.
Studies have suggested that sleep is not only essential to your health but also your very survival. This says a lot about how we should not underestimate the power of sleep and its role in our well-being. As you resolve to be healthier in the coming year, make quality sleep part of your health and wellness routine today.
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