Published on December 24th, 2013 | by Mattress Journal0
Sleeping Well During the Holidays
Getting enough sleep during the holidays can be difficult due to a variety of factors, but with a little prior preparation and awareness you can muddle through well-rested and ready to enjoy time with family and friends. The holiday season is an exciting time of year; however it is often accompanied by weight gain, stress, and late nights, all of which can disrupt your normal schedule. In this article we’ll look at some of the top sleep stealers during the holidays as well as solutions designed to help improve your ability to sleep well now and all year long.
Getting a Good Night’s Sleep is Important!
Sleep loss can make you more susceptible to a host of ailments, like reduced immunity to cold and flu viruses, greater stress, overeating, and general grinch-iness, as well as long-term diseases such as diabetes and heart disease when lack of sleep becomes chronic. The quality and quantity of rest you get also influences work performance, your ability to operate a vehicle, and your mental clarity. Finding solutions for the problems that affect your sleep can improve both quality and quantity of rest, as well as your general feeling of wellness.
Don’t Let the Grinch Steal Your Sleep This Year
Feeling restless and stressed and generally blah during winter months is a frequent complaint, and these types of feelings can reduce your quality of sleep. We have collected some of the most common culprits that steal your sleep during the holidays along with a few ideas and suggestions to counter their effects.
Disrupted Circadian Rhythm
Shorter days often mean you leave the house in the dark and return home in the dark. Combined with cold temperatures that reduce outdoor activities and holiday festivities, this can disrupt the body’s natural melatonin production as well as vitamin D production and affect your normal sleep-wake patterns. Try to get a little time outside in the daylight each day, via a short walk or some other activity, or consider using natural spectrum lights or vitamin supplements if your doctor recommends. You can also help keep your circadian rhythm in a normal pattern by waking and turning in at similar times during the holiday as in your normal routine. Staying up too late and sleeping in (or just skimping by on a few hours a night) can make you feel groggy during the day and make it harder to get back into your routine once work and school return.
Caffeine can greatly impact your sleep, particularly when ingested after noon or within 6 hours of bedtime. A recent study included people without sleeping problems who were given a combination of placebos and pills that contained caffeine. Caffeine was given at intervals which included 6 hours prior to going to bed, 3 hours prior, and immediately prior to determine a cut-off time. All subjects, including the ones who took the pills 6 hours before going to bed, lost at least an hour of sleep. The researchers suggested limiting coffee to before noon and definitely at least 8 hours before retiring for the night. Try switching to decaffeinated coffee, sodas and teas in the afternoon and evening instead.
Holiday foods can wreak havoc with our bodies in more ways than one. With cookies, fudge and a plethora of sweet treats, people often gain weight as well as experiencing a spike and corresponding plunge in blood sugar. They are often enjoyed with coffee which increases the chance of interfering with sleep. Heavy, greasy meals can also leave you feeling uncomfortably bloated or with indigestion which can affect your rest. Enjoy your favorite holiday treats, but use moderation and try not to indulge too much before bed when sugar highs and heartburn can steal your sleep.
Dehydration can disrupt sleep and may also make you feel more tired during the day. When we are busy travelling to see family, running around shopping, and having a good time, it can be easy to forget to drink enough water, even for normally-diehard hydrators. Hot forced air, airplane travel, and your body’s natural respiration also rob moisture, making you feel sluggish. Try to consume at least 40-80 ounces glasses of pure water per day during this time of the year in addition to other fluids, and more if you are exercising (there are phone apps or you can even mark a water bottle to keep track on the go).
Holiday gatherings and parties often include cocktails which can reduce sleep duration. Although it is common to feel groggy after a few drinks, and they may make it easier to fall asleep, the effect is counterproductive. During the night as your body metabolizes the alcohol, you likely experience reduced sleep quality and may wake up, only to find it nearly impossible to fall back asleep. Be conscious of how much you are drinking, and try to allow a few hours between your last drink and your bedtime.
Overheated air dries out mucus membranes which can make you more susceptible to colds and sore throats, as well as uncomfortable cracked lips and hands. Turning down the thermostat a bit and/or adding humidifiers to help return moisture to the air can help alleviate the problem and keep you sleeping soundly through the night.
Although heaters dry out the air, rooms that are too cold can also cause sleep problems during the holidays, as it disrupts your body’s production of melatonin, and can also make it difficult to fall asleep. Although many people turn down the thermostat to save money during heating season, it can actually end up costing you in lost productivity and colds. For most healthy adults a nighttime temperature of approximately 65-68 degrees is optimal, although children and seniors may require slightly warmer temperatures. If you want to keep heat costs down or always feel cool, a heated blanket or mattress pad could help you stay cozy.
Stiffness & Soreness
Anyone who suffers from arthritis knows that the holiday season can make it worse. Cold air, dropping barometric pressure, processed foods, and sleep loss can combine to make your body stiff and sore. Additionally, all of the shopping, travelling, present wrapping and holiday decorating can leave just about anyone a little worse for wear. Aches and pains can make it hard to fall asleep and to remain asleep. If it is cool air or foods that contribute to your soreness, keep warm and watch your diet. For everyone else, be conscious of safety when using ladders and lifting heavy gifts, and make sure your mattress is in good shape for comfortable sleep.
Sleeping on the Wrong Bed
Your mattress can also be a sleep stealer if it is too old, no longer supportive or contributing to aches and pains. If you have difficulty finding a comfortable position during the night or wake up stiff and sore, consider replacing your current mattress. Based on owner surveys and reviews, memory foam mattresses and latex mattresses tend to rate the highest and last the longest compared to spring beds, and these type of beds also excel at relieving pain and improving back support. During the winter months, we tend to spend a lot more time at home and in bed, so it can be a great time to upgrade to nice new mattress.
During the holidays, you may also find yourself sleeping on unpleasant guest beds or hotel beds as well. If you are hosting guests, try to make sure the guest mattress is still in good shape. Even a latex or memory foam mattress topper can be a good quick fix for short term visitors, and guests that are sleeping well are sure to have a better time and be better spirits for the holidays. If you are traveling by car, you can bring a mattress topper or comfortable travel mattress with. But, you find yourself with a bad bed, practicing good sleep hygiene can still help you make the most of your stay until you can return home.
Sleeping well during the holidays one of the best gifts you can give yourself. It is mostly free, and just requires a little awareness as to what can affect your rest. Develop a “good sleep plan” for yourself and your family this holiday so that everyone will be healthy, happy and ready to enjoy their vacations and time together.