On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: a good night’s sleep.
We all know that Christmas is the busiest time of year. For many, it’s a season jam-packed with late-night parties, early morning starts, and endless long lunches with colleagues, family and friends. We all deserve to be able to kick back and let loose at the end of the year. But the increased number of social events often means that sleep is the last thing on our minds at Christmas time.
Did you ever suspect that sleep deprivation over the festive season is taking a greater toll on you than you think? With so many activities to distract you, you may not even realise just how much a lack of sleep is leaving you feeling fatigued and run-down over the holiday period (a time when you deserve to be able to feel good, above all.) The holiday season should be a time for recharging and resting, in preparation for the coming year. So why don’t you sleep well over Christmas?
Here are 3 ways the festive season is ruining your sleep.
Contrary to the myth that alcohol helps you sleep, alcohol consumption actually stops you from getting a deep, restful sleep. We’re all acquainted with that drowsy feeling that comes from having a few drinks; this is the body producing adenosine, a chemical that induces sleepiness. However, the adenosine production due to alcohol is always short-lived – and once it wears off, your body will likely jolt you awake in the middle of the night.
Alcohol also actively prevents REM sleep, as it interferes with the stages of the sleep cycle that allow to you get to the REM stage. REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is the most restorative stage of sleep, responsible for consolidating your memories and rejuvenating your brain so it can absorb new information the next day. What’s more, drinking alcohol means more bathroom trips through the night, further limiting your chances of getting a restful night’s sleep.
We want you to still enjoy the festive season, so here’s what you can do:
- Limit your overall alcohol intake – something that’s of course easier said than done at Christmas, a time where drinking is encouraged and celebrated – but if you can keep your drink count in check, you’ll be rewarded with a better night’s sleep (and be able to function at your best the next morning when opening presents with loved ones!)
- Stay hydrated. For every alcoholic drink, you consume, have two glasses of water. This will help flush out the alcohol and excess sugar from your system, and also helps to replenish the fluid you’re losing, preventing dehydration from alcohol.
- Eat!Eating and drinking at the same time will ensure that you pace yourself. Eating allows alcohol to be soaked up by food so it gets absorbed into your body at a slower, safer rate.
- Think twice about bubbles. The bubbles in sparkling wine, mixers and fizzy drinks can cause swelling and bloating, which in fact makes your stomach larger and causes it to absorb more alcohol (this is not good).
A disrupted balance between sleep and wakefulness
Christmas usually involves back to back family commitments and social gatherings, from AM to PM, that effectively disrupts your sleep cycle. With the increased pressure to fit everything into your day, you may find yourself completely disregarding your strong urge to sleep in favour of socialising.
Sleep is the best thing you can do to give yourself the energy to sail through Christmas in the healthiest way possible. Your body has a drive to sleep, and this drive gets stronger the longer you are awake – so we need to be actively making up for the lack of sleep.
What you can do:
- Plan ahead: create a kinder schedule for yourself by thinking ahead. When you know you’ll be staying up late, try to squeeze in a nap in the early afternoon. Getting up early for a road trip or breakfast? Make sure you get to bed at a sensible time.
- Try to maintain your regular sleep routine to continue a sense of normality. This will allow your circadian rhythm to function as normal.
- Don’t over-commit yourself. Kindly remind yourself that you are only human and that it’s probably impossible to attend every event on the social calendar. And don’t forget, no amount of yummy food, Christmas cake or brandy can make you feel better than a good night’s sleep!
Christmas can bring feelings of anticipation and anxiety. Many Australians experience increased psychological stress through the holiday, which can lead to difficulty sleeping. Perhaps you’re worried that well-laid plans with friends or family will go askew. And those who go through the holiday season without family are more likely to feel lonely. There is no one-size-fits-all remedy for stress and anxiety, but research has proven that getting quality sleep profoundly improves the brain’s ability to function and see clearly.
Here are a few things you can do when stress is keeping you awake at Christmas:
- When anxious thoughts are keeping you up, write them down and think about possible solutions for a few minutes. Once you’ve done this, put it away and deal with these issues tomorrow.
- Avoid going into the holiday season with sleep-debt. Resting up before the onset of Christmas will allow you to embrace it with a more positive mindset – as sleep has a profound impact on a person’s mental health and outlook.
- Create a restful, peaceful sleep environment that will allow you to truly switch off and unwind. Ensure your bedroom remains at a cool temperature and is free from phones and technology. A.H. Beard offers a range of sleep solutions engineered to increase restful sleep for both individuals and partners.
If you can be mindful of these things, you’re more likely to enjoy the holiday season with family, friends, and go into the New Year feeling rested and ready for anything.