Part of the “Make Sleep a Priority” Series
(December 19, 2018) — The holiday season can be one of the most joyous but stressful times of the year. Good sleep is one of the best ways to keep the Holidays happy, so be sure to give yourself and everyone you care about the gift of good sleep this year.
Between shopping, parties, and traveling, everyone is short on time. Family tensions and memo-ries of loved ones who are no longer with us sometimes bring depression and anxiety. Add pres-sure to meet other people’s expectations—and our own expectations—and everything can add up to a recipe for unusually high stress. Eating more rich foods and drinking more alcohol than nor-mal can make it hard to get enough good quality sleep.
“If we’re not careful, losing sleep during the Holidays can become part of a very damaging, self-reinforcing pattern,” said Dr. Anuj Chandra, medical director of the Advanced Center for Sleep Disorders with locations in Chattanooga, Cleveland, and Ringgold/East Ridge. “When you don’t sleep well, your body can’t recover from stress effectively and you can’t deal with other problems as well, either. Throughout the year, sleep is like medicine because it helps body and mind heal, but it’s especially important during the Holidays.”
How to Give the Gift of Good Sleep
How can you give good sleep this year? Dr. Chandra offers these tips. Use them yourself, and share them with loved ones.
- Stay as close as possible to your normal sleep routine. It may be impossible with parties and travel, but do your best. You will sleep better if you go to bed at the same time.
- Use a relaxation technique to wind down before bed. Meditating or praying is good. Or just observing your breathing: start by counting your breaths, then try to increase the number of seconds it takes for you to exhale. That activates the part of your nervous system that relaxes you.
- Get some exercise, but not too close to bed time. Exercise is one of the best ways to help your body process the chemicals that stress creates. Get your heart beating and your body moving with a brisk walk or gentle yoga, but do it at least an hour before going to bed so your body has time to relax.
- Don’t toss and turn in bed. If stress or anything else is keeping you awake, don’t try to force sleep to come. Instead, get up and do something relaxing to take your mind off your worries. Maybe take a warm bath or listen to calm music.
- No electronics before bed. Even if the content seems relaxing, the blue light from cell phones, tablets, computers, and televisions tells your brain it’s time to wake up… not a good idea when you’re getting ready to sleep. Turn everything off an hour before you go to bed and store your devices outside the bedroom.
This article is part of “Make Sleep a Priority,” Dr. Anuj Chandra’s education program to encourage healthy sleep. For other articles, visit SleepForHealth.org. Or follow the Advanced Center for Sleep Disorders on Facebook or Twitter (@AdvancedSleep).