For many families, the holiday season is the busiest, craziest, most activity-filled time of the year. With so many places to go and things to see, it becomes very easy to push a good-night’s sleep lower and lower on the list of things to do during the month of December. This, of course, is one of the worst mistakes that can be made during the holidays. Lack of sleep adds to the stress and frustration already felt by parents trying to make the holidays nice for their kids and makes the kids feel agitated instead of excited for holiday events.
Here are a few much needed sleeping tips to help both children and adults get the full amount of sleep they need on their varying matress sizes during the holiday season.
For the Grown Ups
7 Ways to Get Better Sleep During the Holidays
Tips for relaxing sleep during the festive, hectic season.
Between holiday shopping, parties and family visits, the holiday season can leave you short on time and sleep. But it’s important to keep your sleep routine so that you can truly enjoy the season.
A lack of quality sleep increases chances of holiday weight gain and can disrupt your fitness routine,” says sleep expert Nancy Foldvary-Schaefer, DO, MS, Director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Cleveland Clinic. She warns that the extra alcohol, finger foods and treats along with the added hustle and bustle of shopping can lead to fitful, unsatisfactory sleep. But a few conscious choices can help you maintain your sleep and your health, she says.
Dr. Foldvary-Schaefer offers these seven tips for maintaining your sleep schedule (and your sanity) during the holidays:
1. Stick to your normal sleep routine. “It may seem impossible during the busy holiday season, but it’s really not,” says Dr. Foldvary-Schaefer. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day – even on weekends and holidays. Stay consistent toreinforce your sleep-wake cycle and encourage a more relaxing night’s slumber, she explains. If you have an evening holiday party to attend and you plan on staying up late, try to keep your wake up time the same, even if you feel tired the next day.
2. Avoid eating within two hours of bedtime. If you’re hungry, Dr. Foldvary-Schaefer suggests having a glass of milk and a light snack like fresh fruit or granola. Milk contains the amino acid L-tryptophan, whichresearch shows helps people go to sleep.
3. Make your bedroom your sanctuary. Minimize noise (wear earplugs if you must), close the blinds and eliminate any ambient light. Your kids may be excited about the holidays and find it hard to sleep. Don’t allow them to sleep in your bed with you. This will disrupt a good night’s sleep for all of you.
4. Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Avoidcaffeine at least four hours before bedtime. As a stimulant, it will keep you awake. “When it comes to caffeine, watch out. It’s present not only in coffee, tea and cola, but also in many of the chocolate-laden treats you might nibble on at a holiday party,” says Dr. Foldvary-Schaefer. Alcohol is a depressant that you may think is helpful because it might help you fall asleep more easily at first. But when your body metabolizes it during the sleep cycle, it often disrupts sleep and wakes you up.
5. Keep your mind calm and anxiety-free at bedtime. The holidays can bring stress and anxiety along with joy and excitement. “Thoughts about when you’ll find the time to finish your shopping, or about all the cleaning you have to do before your weekend guests arrive may plague your waking mind. Put these to rest at least an hour before bedtime,” says Dr. Foldvary-Schaefer.
6. Get plenty of exercise. Exercising during the day reduces the levels of stress hormones in your body, but avoid anything too strenuous (aside from sex) within three hours of bedtime, she says. Regular exercise can promote a deeper sleep.
7. Learn a relaxation technique. If you have trouble winding down before bedtime, learn a relaxation technique like progressive muscle relaxation, suggests Dr. Foldvary-Schaefer. The technique involves tensing and relaxing certain muscle groups one at a time to create awareness of tension and relaxation.
Your health and emotional well-being are your most important personal assets. Maintaining healthy sleep habits, no matter the season, can help you feel refreshed and recharged so you can truly enjoy precious times with the people you care about. Take the time to incorporate these tips into your everyday routine and you’ll notice the difference almost immediately.
For the Kids
Give Your Children the Gift of Good Sleep this Holiday Season
The holiday season is full of sleep-busters: long travel, parties, sugar cookies, visiting relatives, and holiday TV specials. It’s not hard to see how your child’s sleep can be thrown off. And while you might not mind the disruption to your sleep now, I can promise you come January 2nd, the bedtime battles and middle of the night bedside visits will be wearing on you! Here are 4 tips from The Baby Sleep Geek to help keep your children well-rested this holiday season.
1. Keep to your schedule whenever possible: A well-rest child falls asleep easier, sleeps more soundly, wakes less often, and sleeps later into the morning. They are also able to handle unavoidable disruptions to their schedule. If a party starts right in the middle of naptime, kindly let the host know you’ll be a little late. Your child will have more fun and be more enjoyable if she has that needed nap!
2. Bring your child’s sleep environment with you: If you are traveling overnight or will be away during naptime, help your child sleep better by making the spot feel more like home. Don’t forget your child’s lovey or stuffed animal, a favorite book to read, or anything else you need to replicate your normal winding down routine. Bring a white noise machine (or download an app on your phone) to drown out the party cheer and black trash bags or extra blankets to tape over the windows to keep out the sun.
3. Limit TV time: While a later bedtime once in the while might not be a problem, consistently letting your child stay up past his bedtime to watch the holiday TV specials can cause overtiredness. Instead, pick one special night to let your child stay up. Better yet, tape the shows and watch them the next. Try to end TV watching at least an hour before bed. Watching TV right before bed makes it harder for kids’ brains to wind down and get sleepy, even if it’s a jolly show like Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer!
4. Get back to basics: If you slacked on bedtime during the holidays, you’ll need to be extra consistent after the holidays are over. Review your sleep rules with your kids again and then stick to them by setting limits. Remember, good sleep is just as important as good food. It helps your child grow and learn.