As we head into the holidays there is a never-ending list of things to be done every day. Our drive to create a special time, see family and do more, pushes us to our limits and forces us to make many sacrifices. One of the sacrifices we make and don't often think about is our sleep. This is an area where we often push our limits to dangerous levels.
For optimal function mentally, emotionally and physically it is necessary to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night. To be happy, healthy and balanced we must take care of our need for recuperative sleep. Dismissing adequate sleep will leave you exhausted, unable to think clearly and very easily frustrated.
For a great season, you need to prioritize sleep and understand the impact of not getting enough. Most people need seven to eight, sometimes more, hours of sleep to function optimally. A lack of sleep has been linked to a wide variety of health problems. One problem that results from getting inadequate sleep is unwanted weight gain. When you do not get enough sleep your appetite-inducing hormone, ghrelin, is increased causing you to eat more. The later you stay up the more food you will naturally consume leading to weight gain. Another problem with a reduced amount of sleep is the inability to think clearly that leads to an increase in the number of accidents seen on the road and at home, especially during this time of year. Depression also results from insomnia and sleep apnea. Chronic diseases such as diabetes, decreased immune function, cardiovascular and heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer can all result from prolonged sleep deprivation as it compromises your immune system and your body’s ability to function optimally. It is important to prioritize sleep in order to have a balanced holiday and live a healthy life.
Determine the appropriate amount of sleep that your body needs then implement some habits to ensure you get adequate rest. To determine how much sleep you need, wake up naturally without an alarm and see how many hours it takes you to wake up on your own feeling rested and refreshed. The amount of sleep necessary varies from person to person, it is important to consider your own unique needs.
Some habits to implement:
- Establish and stick to a sleep schedule that allows you to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day of the week.
- Create a bedtime routine that helps you relax and unwind allowing your body to fall asleep faster.
- Avoid a power nap during the day if you have trouble getting to sleep at night.
- Avoid caffeine and other stimulants too close to bedtime, they will negatively impact your ability to get to sleep.
- Keep a notebook by the side of your bed in order to calm your racing thoughts and jot things down so your mind is at peace and able to rest.
- Exercise daily, even if it is light, to release anxious energy and help you relax when it is time to sleep.
- Make sure the room you sleep in is not too hot, a cool room creates a better sleep environment.
- Eliminate noisy distractions and bright lights that can interfere with deep, restorative sleep.
- Buy a pillow and mattress that are comfortable and supportive for your body.
Get some much-needed rest to fully enjoy the holidays!