At this time of year, our normal routines go out of the window. Bedtimes get later, we eat and drink more and we often feel stressed, worried and overwhelmed.

This cocktail of festive factors can affect our sleep and while we certainly don’t want to be bah humbug here it’s still important to get your rest. Remember, no one likes a grump!

Short term lack of sleep will make you drowsy and irritable, and memory and concentration will be affected – not good when you’re trying to remember which present is for who! Plus when you’re tired your appetite increases so be careful you don’t over indulge even more than normal at Christmas!

Here’s a few simple steps that can help keep sleep healthy over the festive period:

• 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.

• 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 ‘Big Tick’ logo.

• Get some exercise of fresh air. 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.

• If you’ve got children make sure their routine isn’t too disrupted. Where you can, try to stick to a similar bedtime and ensure you get them to wind down properly – even a simple story will put them in a great frame of mind for sleep!

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