It’s that time of the year again: last minute deadlines at work, parties with friends, celebratory lunches and yet another glass of something fizzy.
With everything going on in the lead up to Christmas and the holidays, sleep is something that often gets sacrificed for sake of our hectic social life.
But sleep coach Cheryl Fingleson warns that can actually have a bad impact on our overall health.
“Often, it’s the middle of January before we realise what havoc having fun has caused our general health,” Cheryl tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
The biggest mistake we make during the holiday season, according to Cheryl, is the fact we get out of our routine.
“We stop exercising regularly; we eat and drink too much; we don’t get enough sleep and, for many people, this becomes something that goes on for weeks and weeks,” Cheryl tells us.
If instead, we focus on being more well rested, we will have more energy to keep up with things, such as exercising, and we won’t be so tempted to reach for unhealthy, sugary and high carb snacks to get through the day.
Cheryl says with a bit of planning, you can have your party – and still get enough sleep. Here she shares her tips on how to make sure you are still sleeping well during the holidays.
Alcohol is a notorious sleep stealer. It interrupts our circadian rhythms, blocks REM sleep, makes us more prone to snoring and leads to more bathrooms trips in the middle of the night.
Solution: Stop drinking at least four hours before bedtime. For every glass of alcohol, drink two glasses of water. Stick to lower sugar alcohol, such as clear spirits. If you can’t resist a glass of fizz, stick to the good stuff and stay clear of the higher sugar sparkling wines such as Prosecco.
Eating a lot of food, late into the night plays havoc with sleep. It fires up our metabolism, keeps our bodies working hard to digest food and can cause acid reflux.
Solution: Where possible, eat your heaviest meal at lunchtime so you have plenty of time to digest. Stick to a light salad or veggies and lean protein for dinner and don’t eat within two hours of going to bed.
Our bodies like and do best with a routine. But when we’re going out a lot, late into the night, our sleep cycles can be affected.
Solution: Aim for fewer than two late nights a week during the party season. Stick to your usual wake up time whenever you can. Skip the lie in, and if you need a nap, make it a short one: no more than 20 minutes is optimal.
Too many treats
Sugar and sleep don’t mix well but at this time of the year it’s easy to overindulge. Studies show too much of the yummy stuff interferes with our bodies production of melatonin, which helps us feel sleepy and keeps us asleep throughout the night.
Solution: Cut back on high sugar content food in the day and build your meals around slow-release complex carbohydrates and lean proteins in the day. If you can’t resist, stop eating lollies and chocolates at least two hours before bedtime.
Even without the side effects of too many parties, sleeping in summer can be a challenge. Being too hot and having sweaty, uncomfortable bedding can make it difficult to get to sleep and stay asleep.
Solution: At this time of the year, invest in a bedroom fan and some black out blinds if you can, use pure cotton sheets on your bed and pack the doona away.
Jet lag and travel
Travelling across time-zones can be tough on our sleeping routine. Even if you don’t step on an aeroplane this summer, staying with friends or in unfamiliar surroundings can cause restless sleep.
Solution: Travel with ear-plugs or noise-cancelling earphones, a familiar blanket or your own pillow – items from home can be comforting. Beat jetlag by getting out in daylight when you arrive at your destination and stay away from alcohol, caffeine, unhealthy foods and as quickly as can to your destinations time zone.
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