The holidays are a joyous time, but let’s face it, all that travel and celebrating can be exhausting! We’ve compiled some tips to help you stay rested and keep you singing fa-la-la-la-la instead of fa-fa-fa-fatigue.
There’s nothing like sleeping in your own bed, but during the holidays, chances are your squatting on someone else’s turf. Here are a few tips to get the best sleep you can while sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings.
- If you’re staying in a hotel, ask for a room far away from the elevator and all the noisy traffic it brings.
- Bring an eye mask in case the curtains don’t darken the room enough. Or, use clothespins or hairclips to hold the curtains closed.
- Don’t forget the earplugs to block out the celebrations in the room next door (wink wink J)!
- Use your new Christmas socks or scarf to cover up any light sources in the bedroom. All light is bad light when trying to sleep.
- If you’re staying at someone else’s home, let your hosts know what time you would prefer to get up so that they know not to muzzle the kids and not bother you before you’re ready.
- If your hosts have pets (or young children), keep the bedroom door closed to discourage them from entering and disturbing your sweet slumber.
- Bring your own pillow (especially if you have allergies) to optimize your sleep and prevent a kink in your neck.
- Travel with anti-histamines. They produce a drowsy effect that can help you fall asleep when the house is noisy, and they don’t have the addictive or narcotic effect of sleep medications.
- If you use a C-Pap device, make sure you bring it with you. There are travel versions available for easier packing.
Stick to a Schedule
Our bodies’ circadian rhythms crave routine, including a set sleeping schedule. However, if you find yourself invested in an all-night Christmas move marathon, or catching up with family and friends over one too many libations, a mid-day nap may be just what you need, but make sure you stick to the rules!
- Limit your nap to 20-40 minutes to avoid falling into a deep sleep or, commit to at least two hours so you can complete a full sleep cycle and wake up back in the lighter stages.
- No nap is too short. Sometimes a five-minute nap is all you need to kick start the festivities all over again.
If you’re traveling between time zones, there are more rules to follow.
- If it’s a short trip (2-3 days) to see Aunt Bertha and Uncle Herbert, or if you’re only travelling across one or two time zones, stick to your home schedule. For example, if you normally go to bed at 11PM EST, make sure you still go to bed at 11PM EST even if it’s 9PM MST.
- If it’s a longer trip (3+ days) or across multiple time zones (hello jetlag!), slowly adapt your routine towards the time at the new location that you’re headed to. A few days prep can make all the difference!
Watch the Indulgence
The holidays are a time for indulgence and who are we kidding, most diets go out the window until the new year. However; what we eat and drink can have a big impact on our sleep.
- Avoid late-night meals and snacking when our digestion is shut down.
- Over-indulgence of alcohol especially 2-3 hours before you go to bed not only increase drowsiness, but significantly disrupt sleep patterns and the ability to get into deep recuperative sleep. It also wipes out your memory.
- Alcohol also increases snoring by causing the throat muscles to relax.
- Salty snacks can cause dehydration, which makes you feel tired.
- Eat breakfast to help stay alert throughout the day.
- Sugary snacks and beverage give a quick energy boost, but after 30 minutes, can makes us crash and burn.
Don’t Blame the Turkey!
We all know the turkey drug… Tryptophan! Yes, it makes you drowsy and has a calming effect, but only when the tryptophan is activated. So what activates tryptophan? Carbohydrates such as stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, and all the lesser regarded dishes at the holiday feast that we overdose on. If you just ate turkey and nothing else, you would be alert enough to do the dishes after dinner instead of crashing in front of the TV within 5 minutes of “It’s a Wonderful Life”. So stop blaming the turkey.
During the flurry of activities, set aside time to get out for some fresh air and exercise. Not only will it help keep the holiday pounds off, but it also does wonders to relieve stress and stabilize your body’s circadian rhythms for a better night’s sleep.
Finally, make sure you schedule in some quiet time for yourself; catch up on a book or take a relaxing bath!
Before you know it, the holidays will be over and you’ll need a vacation!