With Britain set to sail into virtual shutdown from Friday December 21 until Wednesday January 2, the nation’s sleep routine will be thrown into turmoil during the 11 day festive break.
“The Christmas break gets longer each year which is tremendous in many ways, but it can play havoc with sleep routines,” says Jessica Alexander of The Sleep Council.
“Over indulgence during the festive period along with a change to the usual bedtime routine can lead to many people finding their sleeping patterns out of sync.”
It’s hard to avoid the many temptations that the party season brings but here’s a few tips to help lessen the impact:
• Try, as much as possible, to keep regular hours – we know it can be hard when you’re staying up late for Santa! Going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time, all the time, will programme your body to sleep better.
• Create a restful sleeping environment. Keep the Christmas decorations to the other parts of your home! Your bedroom should be kept for rest and sleep and it should be neither too hot, nor too cold; and as quiet and dark as possible.
• Creating a perfect sleep environment means ditching tellies and all other technology from the bedroom too. For more information on how to get your bedroom ‘sleep ready’ visit here.
• Make sure your bed is comfortable. It’s difficult to get deep, restful sleep on one that’s too soft, too hard, too small or too old. It should also be as big as possible so your partner rarely disturbs you. If it’s not – or if your bed is seven years old or more, then it could be time to hit the sales on Boxing Day and buy a new one!
• Take more exercise. Regular, moderate exercise such as swimming or walking can help relieve the day’s stresses and strains. But not too close to bedtime or it may keep you awake. A good brisk walk is ideal to stop you feeling sluggish after a hefty Christmas dinner!
• Don’t end up compensating for lack of sleep by going too heavy on stimulants such as caffeine in tea, coffee or cola – especially in the evening. They interfere with falling asleep and prevent deep sleep. Have a hot milky drink or herbal tea instead.
• Don’t over-indulge on turkey, mince pies and mulled wine! Too much food or alcohol, especially late at night, can play havoc with sleep patterns. Alcohol may help you fall asleep initially, but will interrupt your sleep later on in the night. It is hard in the party period but try to swap to water a couple of hours before bedtime.
• Keep some ear plugs handy to block out the sound of your partner’s alcohol or feast-induced snoring.
• Try to relax and insist on some ‘me time’ before going to bed. Have a warm bath, listen to some quiet music, do some yoga – all help to relax both the mind and body. Your doctor may be able to recommend a helpful relaxation tape, too.
• Resolve arguments before bed. Ongoing conflicts are not conducive to putting you in the right frame of mind for sleep!
• If you can’t sleep, don’t lie there worrying about it. Get up and do something you find relaxing until you feel sleepy again – then go back to bed.