Have Yourself a Good Night’s Sleep This Holiday Season

Contributed by: Victoria Surdulescu, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine 

GoodNightSleepSleep is absolutely essential for a person’s health and well-being. You need sleep to keep your body going just as you need gas in your car to keep it moving but millions of people do not get enough sleep.

According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 48% of Americans say they don’t get enough sleep. More women (53%) say they aren’t getting enough sleep over men (44%). Lack of sleep can be a result of a number of factors including sleep disorders, stress or an over-active brain. But how to do you give yourself the gift of sleep especially when the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is with us?

Spend time with your family and friends. Despite all the chaos that may be taking place around you during the holidays, some holiday traditions actually help you sleep. Visiting with family and friends is an effective way to de-stress, preparing you for a better night’s sleep.

Watch a holiday themed television show or movie. Watching one of the many holiday themed television shows or movies (It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle On 34th Street, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story) will cause your stress hormone levels to drop significantly and your anti-stress growth hormone to increase, ultimately relaxing you and putting you in a happy mood so you will get a better night’s sleep.

Schedule naptime. Taking a quick nap (20 minutes) in the afternoon will help you get some much-needed rest before you head out for holiday gatherings, shopping or any other activity you have scheduled.

Exercise. Walking around a neighborhood looking at lights, building a snowman, hitting the slopes, or ice skating are all great forms of exercise that can be done during the holiday season and help you get more sleep. By exercising, even a little, you reduce the time it takes to fall asleep and increases the total time you stay asleep.

Relax before bed. The hour before you go to sleep is crucial for your body to wind down and relax so you can sleep. Late night cooking, shopping and entertaining guests should end at least two hours before you’re ready to sleep so your mind and body can relax before you fall asleep.

Keep your regular sleep schedule. Staying up late or waking earlier is enough to throw off your biological clock. Your body is used to a particular sleep schedule and changing it, even for a day or two, can take a toll on your sleep cycle. If you have to stay up later or wake up earlier than you usually do, make sure to get back on track a few days before resuming your normal schedule.

If you have trouble sleeping, whether it’s during the holiday season or any other time of the year, don’t hesitate to speak to your doctor. For healthy sleep tips, click here.

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