The holidays are a joyous moment and a time to be thankful for your family and friends. However, this time of year isn’t all rainbows and roses.
With the holiday season comes cold weather and other stressors that can impact your health. This includes the quality of your sleep. What’s the correlation between the end-of-the-year holidays and sleep?
Stress and Sleep Disturbances
The holiday season mainly causes sleep disturbances indirectly. How so? One factor is stress. Despite being a merry time of the year, many people report an uptick in stress.
Those who work in the retail industry, for example, work more hours and in increasingly fast-paced environments in response to the holiday shopping. This can induce stress.
In fact, a survey from the American Management Association found that 66% of respondents reported higher work-related stress during the holidays.
Psychological stress causes physical changes in the body through the release of hormones like cortisol and adrenocorticotropic that elevate your heart rate and blood pressure. This puts your body on alert, making you restless and unable to sleep.
Visiting Loved Ones
The holidays are also when we pay visits to loved ones that we don’t normally see. This may include long-distance travel to different time zones that affect our biological sleep clock.
Traveling may also entail spending a night or two at a hotel or a family member’s home. Sleeping in an unfamiliar environment can also affect sleep quality.
Even if we stay in place and relatives visit us instead, we may end up spending long hours planning and hosting the get-together.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
SAD affects 10 million Americans, with an additional 10% to 20% of the population reporting mild symptoms. The precise cause isn’t entirely known, though it may be due to a combination of changes in daylight hours and temperature fluctuations. This can alter the body’s regulation of melatonin and other hormones.
The onset of SAD occurs during late fall and early winter. This also happens to coincide with the peak holiday season. One of the symptoms of SAD is insomnia. People also report fatigue and lethargy during the day hours.
How Can I Get a Restful Sleep Over the Holidays?
There are simple lifestyle factors you can make routine to help establish a healthy sleeping pattern even in the midst of the holiday chaos. Here are some sleep-friendly adjustments.
It’s no secret that people tend to gain weight over the holidays. This is due to the number of family gatherings, corporate dinners, etc.
Some of these foods may not be the healthiest options and may cause an upset stomach, headaches, and other bodily discomforts that keep us awake. It’s okay to indulge, but keep the following in mind:
- Refrain from eating anything two hours before bedtime
- If you consume a nighttime snack, stick to healthy options like fruit, cheese, and nuts
- Limit alcohol and caffeine intake, or consume earlier in the day
Read also: 9 Foods to Help Ease Sleep Apnea Symptoms
Take a Melatonin Supplement
If the holidays involve travel across time zones, consider taking a melatonin supplement. This may help your body more quickly overcome jetlag.
Melatonin supplements come in varying dosages, so determine the concentration best for you. Melatonin is a natural hormone the body produces, so taking it in supplement form is completely safe.
Use a White Noise Machine
Invest in a white noise machine. You can also download a white noise app and play it on your mobile device as you sleep.
YouTube also has a plethora of white noise videos you can play in the background. In one study, subjects with insomnia fell asleep 38% faster when white noise was in the background.
Read also: Can Music Help You Sleep?
Do you suspect you may have sleep apnea? Combined with the holiday stressors, this can compound to any existing sleep problems, which can lead to serious health issues if not treated.
At SleepWell Louisiana, we offer sleep apnea tests at home to help diagnose any sleep disorders you may have. Our Sleep Specialist will also recommend the best treatment plan for your condition. We will provide solutions that cater to your specific condition to ensure consistent and healthy sleep patterns.