(December 4, 2023) — The holidays are almost here. That means festive parties, family reunions, and joy — but maybe also sleep problems due to over-indulging, over-commitment, and stress!
“Getting good sleep during the holidays should be a priority, but unfortunately it’s one of the first things to go because we’re all so busy,” said Dr. Anuj Chandra, medical director of the Advanced Center for Sleep Disorders. “We’re all running around, we have deadlines at work and home, we’re buying gifts. All the frantic activity comes at a cost… sleep. We can’t enjoy the holidays if our sleep is disturbed.”
Here are some tips about food, alcohol and more to help you manage all the holiday temptations that seem so enticing but can harm your sleep.
Aim for Moderation
Eat smaller portions — You need to give your body time to digest more slowly. When you load your body up with lots of food in a short time — especially the carbohydrates, protein, and fat that taste so good — your body has to work too hard to digest, making you drowsy but then keeping you from sleeping well when you go to bed.
Drink some water — Have a glass of water before you eat. It will help you eat less, and staying hydrated is also important if you are drinking alcohol.
No late eating, especially sugar — Stop eating at least two hours before going to bed. Sleeping with a full stomach can wake you up with indigestion or acid reflux. Eating sweets too late can give you bursts of energy that make it hard to fall asleep.
Minimize alcohol — Be careful not to drink too much, and don’t drink at all if you’re driving. Stop drinking two hours before bedtime. Alcohol does make you drowsy, but it disrupts your sleep later in the night.
Keep Your Good Sleep Habits
Get some exercise — Sticking to a regular workout routine is best, but if you can’t manage that, a neighborhood walk is great. If that’s too much, just take a break from sitting, even if you just walk around the house.
No napping after eating — Wait a while before napping especially if you have heartburn. Also, keep any naps no longer than 20 minutes, don’t nap too close to bedtime, and don’t nap at all if you have insomnia.
Screens off — Turn off all screens — phone, tablet, laptop — an hour or so before going to bed. The blue-spectrum light from screens interferes with your sleep.
De-stress — It’s hard to avoid getting stressed out this time of year, but stress can wreck your sleep. If you take a few minutes to meditate or listen to soothing music, your sleep will be much more restorative. If you can’t get everything done, it’s okay. Take a realistic look at what’s causing you to worry, and let something go.