The 12 Days of Christmas Health, Day 6

Find time for sleep

Shopping, visiting family and friends, attending parties, and even travel can get in the way of getting enough sleep over the holidays. But it’s important to keep your sleep routine so that you can truly enjoy the season.

The following tips will help you to get that necessary and restful rest during this festive time of the year:

Restful sleep.jpg

Maintain a sleep schedule:. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Staying consistent reinforces your sleep-wake cycle and encourages better quality sleep. If you find yourself staying up late  visiting with family or attending a party, try to keep your wake up time the same, even if you feel tired the next day.

Avoid eating three hours before bedtime. Instead of slowing down and resting, your digestive system will be overactive, interfering with your sleep. This may also make you feel bloated and keep you from being able to rest comfortably.

Turn your bedroom into your sanctuary. Minimize noise (using earplugs can help), use well-fitting blinds to eliminate any ambient light, find a comfortable pillow, and as tough as it might be, keep pets out of your room (as cute as she is, my puppy can be very restless in the night). Try to limit anything that will disrupt a good night’s sleep.

Restful sleep during the holidays.jpg

Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed. The general rule is to avoid caffeine at least four hours before bed, but for some, the effects of caffeine can last even longer. So it is best avoided by mid-afternoon. Caffeine is a stimulant, and will keep you awake. Alcohol also negatively impacts your sleep. Studies show that alcohol can help you to fall asleep quicker and sleep more deeply for a while, it reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. And the more you drink before bed, the more pronounced these effects

Stay active during the day. Sleep and exercise have an important connection: getting enough sleep helps you to stick with your exercise routine, and in turn, exercise helps you sleep more soundly. Regular exercise can promote a deeper sleep, as it helps you cope with stress by regulating the levels of stress hormones in your body. But it is important to avoid anything too strenuous too close to bedtime, or you may find it difficult to unwind. 

Learn stress management techniques. If you have trouble winding down before bedtime, learn a stress management technique, such as meditation or guided imagery. Practiced even for a few minutes, these techniques can help your mind and body prepare for a good night’s sleep.

Recipe: Avocados are high in both tryptophan and magnesium, two nutrients which help to promote sleep. This great-tasting Avocado Dip contains dulse, a good source of a long list of vitamins and minerals, including iron, vitamin C (which aids iron absorption), vitamin B-12 and protein.