Happy Thanksgiving! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! It all kicks off this weekend with shopping and crowds and back-to-back diet-busting parties. Don’t forget the endless chats with quirky relatives, a few temper tantrums and tangled Christmas tree lights that refuse to unwind thrown in for good measure.
With all this awesomeness, it’s easy to understand why sleep is often sacrificed at this most wonderful time of the year. But it doesn’t have to be. Yes, we’re serious.
Coffee on an empty stomach can spike blood sugar levels, which can make you very grumpy and cause attention problems. Food first, coffee second. And remember to finish your last cup before 2 pm because we all know coffee and sleep don’t mix.
Sunlight stimulates the production of serotonin, the feel-good hormone that combats Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Get outside for a walk or sit near a sunny window early in the day and remember that light controls your sleep – so dim the lights in the evening.
When it comes to better sleep, exercise can be a powerful tool. While sleep is the fuel you need to function, exercise is the mileage that consumes that fuel naturally – unlike sitting at a desk all day. Tire your body naturally with exercise and sleep is pretty much guaranteed. What’s more, research has shown that exercise can boost your mood for up to 12 hours.
A whiff of lemon or orange first thing in the morning can energize you and relieve stress by nudging your body to produce norepinephrine, a hormone that helps improve your mood. In the evening, breathe in the soothing scents of lavender, chamomile or jasmine to help your body relax into sleep.
That fleshy area between your index finger and thumb is called the hoku spot. Traditional Chinese medicine says squeezing that spot for 30 seconds can reduce stress and tension. Try adding this to your bedtime ritual and fall asleep easier, stress-free.
The holidays can wreak havoc on your body’s circadian rhythm. If you can’t say no to holiday parties or yet another cookie-bake-a-thon, block out time in your calendar to relax and go to bed early.
Music is the universal language. It has the power to soothe or excite, bring us to a meditative state or spur creativity. Create playlists for different times of the day, letting your music lead you where you want to go.
What you eat directly affects how you sleep. If you’re entering a no-sleep-marathon, choose from foods known to disrupt sleep. If sleeping well through the holidays is your goal, create your very own sleep diet.
Constant connectivity has been linked to higher incidents of depression and anxiety, especially in women. Turn off your gadgets during mealtimes and holiday get togethers and enjoy face time the old fashioned way. At night, put your cell phone on silent or set it to ring only from certain numbers.
It’s no secret that sex and orgasms increase your body’s production of endorphins (nature’s own pain reliever) and oxytocin levels. But did you know that regular sex promotes better sleep? According to Women’s Health Magazine, women report sleeping better after sex.
Stop focusing on perfect and concentrate on what brings you joy. Twenty years from now the kids won’t remember if the turkey was done to perfection but they’ll remember the giddy, crazy moments that had everyone in the room laughing. A happy holiday is bound to help you sleep better, right?
If holiday stress has taken its toll on you, plan a staycation that keeps you home – but cutoff from the outside world – or a real vacation in the sunny south. Either way, the time away from stress will help you get through the holidays well-rested and happier.
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