The holiday season can be truly magical. Sharing meals together as a family, enjoying Christmas decorations, baking cookies, and other traditions can be a lot of fun. But at the same time, there is no denying that the holiday hustle and bustle can be rather stressful — and even cause you to lose sleep.
For individuals who already struggle with obstructive sleep apnea, adding holiday insomnia to the mix can leave you feeling grouchy, irritable, and too exhausted to fully enjoy that extra time with family and friends.
Fortunately, you don’t have to let poor sleep turn you into a Scrooge or Grinch. By following a few basic practices for managing holiday stress and fun, you can get through the season without throwing your sleep out of whack.
1. Start Holiday Prep Early
If you’ve ever seen the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Jingle All the Way, you’ll know that putting off Christmas shopping until the last minute can quickly lead to disaster. Letting all of your holiday to-do’s pile up can be a big source of stress that leaves you overloaded and overwhelmed. That stress can easily lead to sleep deprivation, especially if you sacrifice sleep so you can get everything done at the last minute.
To avoid this, start your holiday planning and prep as early as possible. Make a list, and use free time to take care of your responsibilities in advance. If you’re feeling overburdened, get your family to help! Split up responsibilities or do tasks alongside a family member to make them more manageable and fun.
2. Make Time For Outside Time
Even though it’s colder outside, you should still try to spend some time outdoors each day. This is because exposure to natural light can help reduce stress, improve mood, and keep your body’s circadian rhythm on track.
That outside time can be even more effective if you’re using it for exercise. Physical exercise won’t just help you avoid packing on extra pounds during the holidays — exercising has also been linked with improved sleep quality. If you don’t like the cold, hit the gym (or the treadmill). Or, you could get some unique winter fun by skiing, ice skating, or sledding with your kids.
3. Follow Your Regular Sleep Schedule
Holiday parties can make it all too easy to decide to stay up late — or to sleep in the next day. But in reality, you should try to follow the same bedtime and wake up time every day. Ideally, you should never deviate more than an hour from your normal schedule if at all possible.
Consistency in your sleep schedule will make it easier to stay in line with your circadian rhythm so you have an easier time falling asleep at night. Getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night will ensure you have enough energy for whatever the next day brings.
4. Avoid Big Meals and Alcohol Close to Bedtime
Another potential hazard of all those holiday parties is the temptation to eat a lot of sugary, fatty foods late at night — as well as to indulge in too much alcohol. When you eat a lot of food (or consume too much alcohol) late at night, your body’s energies get focused on digesting that food, rather than letting you fall asleep so it can refresh and recharge.
This is especially true of alcohol. Even though drinking before bed may seem like it helps you fall asleep, the metabolization process will actually lead to sleep disruptions later in the night, leaving you feeling tired the next day. Keeping your appetite in check will also help you avoid the unhealthy weight gain that so many people experience during the holidays!
5. Schedule Your ‘Worry Time’ For Earlier in the Day
Between attending Christmas parties, completing your gift shopping, and other holiday to-do’s, it can become all too easy to find yourself tossing and turning in bed as you think of everything left on your list. If you’re not careful, that time that you’re lying in bed can be when those feelings of stress and being “overwhelmed” can peak.
One way to avoid this is to actually schedule your “worry time” for earlier during the day. At least two hours before going to bed, give yourself 15 minutes or so to write down your to-do list and other concerns for the next day (or week). Thinking through these problems earlier in the evening will help you come up with solutions before you go to bed. This way, by the time you get under the covers, your brain will be in a more restful state so you can fall asleep quickly.
Give Yourself the Gift of Better Sleep!
Getting plenty of rest during the holidays is one of the best ways to ensure that this season will truly be merry and bright for you and your family. Making sleep a priority will help you have the energy and mental clarity you need to manage all your Christmas to-do’s and make the most of this time of year.
If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, be sure to make using a CPAP machine part of your holiday sleep strategy. By providing a steady flow of pressurized air throughout the night, you won’t have to deal with nighttime interruptions to breathing and sleep. At No Insurance Medical Supplies, you’ll find a variety of quality CPAP machines available at discounted prices off of MSRP, making it easier than ever to afford this essential medical equipment.