As the countdown to Christmas begins, The Sleep Council has devised a sleep survival plan for getting through the food, drink and telly fuelled marathon that lies ahead.

Of course, it’s a joyous time of eating, drinking and being merry but for many people the festive season can be one of the most stressful times of the year.

Said spokeswoman Lisa Artis: “Christmas is the one time of the year when the sleep routine of just about everyone in Britain goes off the rails. Christmas shopping and its associated costs, family gatherings, social engagements, food and alcohol – can all put a strain on you and your sleeping patterns. And this year the Christmas break is quite long with many off work and school from the 19th December and not back until the 5th January.

“We’re not suggesting you play Scrooge and don’t party or scoff too many mince pies; but if you’re not getting as much rest as you need and you’re starting to feel it, try following these simple tips to help yourself to get a better night’s sleep.”

• 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.

• Plan ahead. Too many people spend weeks worrying about getting the shopping done – it’s far easier to do it when you first start thinking about it. Start stocking up with the supplies as soon as possible – try getting a few items over the remaining weeks leading up to Christmas along with your regular shopping. As for presents, a great tip is to have an emergency supply, just a few small gifts to save you from embarrassment in the event of someone arriving unexpectedly with a prezzie for you.

• 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.

• 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. Perhaps a new bed should be on your Christmas present list! Just don’t forget to make sure you’re buying a bed that’s safe, clean and honest – look for the NBF Approved logo.

• 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.  The run-up to Christmas can be stressful so give both the mind and body time to wind down by having a warm bath, listening to some quiet music or doing some yoga. Watch our video here  for some top tips on relaxing before bed.

• 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.

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