The holiday season means shopping marathons, gift giving, reunions, holiday parties… and sleep deprivation. Sleep always suffers during the holidays. There is so much to do that it’s easy to say “Oh, I’ll catch up on sleep later.” But there can be a high price to pay. 

There are so many car wrecks during the holidays, and alcohol alone is not always the problem. Sleep deprivation and alcohol make a lethal mix. Having a designated driver who doesn’t drink is the most important safety measure. If you drink, moderation is always best year round, but it is especially important during the holidays when people go to so many parties and everybody is exhausted.

Even if you take alcohol out of the picture entirely, the holiday season can be an extremely stressful time. You can make your holidays more enjoyable and healthier by getting enough sleep.

These holiday sleep tips apply equally to children and adults. Adults can do these things for themselves, but parents need to make a special effort to help their children avoid holiday exhaustion. It’s the most exciting time of year for kids. That’s great, but all that stimulation means they can have a hard time getting to sleep at night and feel cranky the next day.

Take care of yourself – The most important tip is to pay attention to how you’re feeling. If you notice that you’re feeling tired, you don’t have to stay that way. You can take small steps to sleep better.

Take naps – If you take a 15-minute nap before heading out the door to a holiday party, it can make a world of difference in how you feel.

Exercise – Don’t forget to exercise during the holidays. Try to continue your normal exercise routine. If you can’t do that, at least take a short walk.

Say no to a few parties – Give yourself permission to say no to some parties, even just one. Instead, spend a quiet evening at home and go to bed early. Sleeping normally for even just one night can make a big difference to how you feel for the next few days.

No evening drama – Do your best to keep stress from boiling over into emotional conversations in the hour before bed. You’ll sleep better, and you’ll be in better shape to take care of the issue the next day.

No rich foods late – Try to stop eating all that rich holiday food at least two hours before bed time. Your stomach will settle and let you sleep better.

No technology in the bedroom – A recent Wall Street Journal article described how so many people are now routinely using their bedrooms as an extension of the office that furniture makers are marketing adjustable beds and other furniture that caters to that way of working. This is extremely bad for you. The bedroom needs to be a place of rest. You’ll sleep much better if you shut off everything – laptop, cell phone, tablet, e-reader – and don’t even allow it in your bedroom. Simply avoid the temptation.

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