The holidays are one of the most stressful times of the year. Throw in a pandemic along with the usual Christmas shopping, parties and family dinner dynamics and you could be forgiven for having a few sleepless nights.
But event during the busiest periods of our lives, sleep is more important than ever.
So what can we do to ensure we get enough quality shut-eye to deal with that massive to-do list?
Dr Carmel Harrington, internationally recognised sleep expert, says the past 18 months have negatively impacted stress levels and sleep routines, a trend she expects to continue as Aussies head into the holiday season period.
Top tips for a great night’s sleep
Dr Harrington, who is also the Managing Director of Sleep for Health at the Children’s Hospital Westmead and is a founding member of the Sleep Health Foundation, says that fortunately, there are a number of natural ways to stay on track with our sleep.
Emphasising the impact of daytime activities upon night-time sleep quality, Dr Harrington has six recommendations for getting a great night’s sleep, with the hour before you go to bed becoming particularly important.
The suggestions include getting up at the same time every day, exercising on a regular basis-especially around 5:00 pm when cardiovascular strength peaks and reducing caffeine and alcohol intake after midday.
You should also limit naps to 20 minutes a day.
There are also ways to prepare your bedroom to maximise the amount of rdejuvinative sleep you get.
“At night, ensure your bedroom is dark, cool and quiet, and consider using a white noise generator,” says Dr Harrington.
“The hour before you go to bed should be as conducive to good sleep as possible. Switch off, dim the lights, try a relaxation exercise and consider using aromatherapy with a diffuser overnight.”
The scent of sleep
Scent can also play a dreamy role in helping you get some much-needed rest.
For a consolidated sleep, Dr Harrington, who is an Ambassador for In Essence essential oils, particularly advocates the use of aromatherapy.
“The burning of certain essential oils has been shown over centuries and is supported by recent research to actually reduce stress and induce sleep,” she says. “It’s also a lovely way to nurture and nourish ourselves”.
The cost of stress on sleep
While the exact severity of post-COVID 19 life upon stress and sleep is yet to be seen, research indicates the pandemic has definitely impacted these areas.
One 2021 study found that 40% of respondents reported a decline in sleep quality compared to before the pandemic. Of these, 60% experienced daytime dysfunction, a condition associated with insomnia and circadian rhythm irregularities. Additionally, sleeping pill consumption amongst respondents increased by 20%.
And with summer heating up Australia, the likelihood of a good night’s sleep decreases.
“Now the world’s opening up, we don’t really know what to expect. It can be very stressful for people, especially now we’re meant to be back at work and don’t fully know what’s happening there. It can cause a lot of stress and affect our ability to sleep at night”, the author of “The Sleep Diet” and “The Complete Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep” remarked.
Never miss a thing. Sign up to Yahoo Lifestyle’s daily newsletter.
Or if you have a story idea, email us at email@example.com.