Why You Should Prioritize Sleep Over the Holidays + Tips to Get Enough Sleep

It can be tough to get enough sleep during the holiday season, but there are many reasons why you should prioritize sleep over the holidays.

By Nicole Gleichmann

The holidays are a festive and joyous time of year. We have the opportunity to gather with our friends and family, enjoy social events, and spend time eating our favorite guilty pleasures.

With so much going on, you may find yourself clocking fewer hours snuggled under the covers at night. With travel, get-togethers, and house guests, maintaining a healthy sleep schedule can become a low priority. Holiday sleep loss is common. But there are some unintended consequences of sleep deprivation that might sway you to prioritize getting a good night’s sleep.

The Consequences of Being Sleep Deprived

1. A Lack of Energy

We’ve all experienced the mental and physical fatigue that comes from being sleep deprived. Excessive sleepiness makes it hard to do all you need to do over the holidays. Plus, it makes your experiences less enjoyable.

2. Dampened Immunity

Winter is the season for getting sick with a cold or flu. Contrary to the old wives’ tale, this boost in sickness is not caused by a drop in temperature. Rather, people spend more time indoors, sharing germs with everyone around them.

When you don’t get enough sleep, your immune system suffers, leaving you at an increased risk of getting sick. Pair that with all of the time you spend indoors with others during the holidays, and it is the perfect recipe for catching a cold or flu.

3. Increased Cravings

Sleep regulates hormones that control appetite and cravings. When you don’t get enough sleep, you will have higher plasma levels of your hunger hormone ghrelin.

The result? An almost insatiable urge to give in to your cravings. You may find yourself eating far more sweets and fried foods than you would have if you got enough sleep. And while the holidays are a great time to indulge, your waistline and energy levels would prefer if you did so with a sprinkle of self-control.

4. Low Mood and Heightened Stress

Proper sleep is central to mood regulation. When you do not get enough, you are more likely to experience mood swings, a depressed mood, and anxiety. Catching enough Z’s will allow you to enjoy the holidays.

5. Poor Cognition

Lapses in memory, trouble concentrating, and slow reaction times are common symptoms of inadequate sleep. This is the last thing you want when traveling to new places, trying out challenging recipes, or driving around this holiday season.

How to Get Better Sleep Over the Holidays

Getting plenty of rest during the holidays requires the same good habits that it does during the rest of the year. Follow these tips to fall asleep faster, reduce your tossing and turning, and get more sleep.

  • Make Sleep a Priority: Commit to yourself that you will set aside seven or more hours each night for sleep. Share this goal with your family and friends so they understand when you hit the hay early.
  • Say No: Do you have too many responsibilities and commitments? If you find yourself spread too thin, it is okay to say no.
  • Watch the Coffee and Alcohol: Caffeine and alcohol negatively impact how well you sleep. Limit coffee to early in the day and try not to drink too much alcohol. When you do imbibe, drink plenty of water.
  • Take a Bath: A warm soak 30 minutes before bed can help set your body up for sleep. Not only will it help relax you, but it will result in the release of the sleep hormone, melatonin.
  • Stick to a Schedule: It can be tough to stay on your same sleep schedule during the holidays, particularly when traveling. But attempt to keep a fairly regular sleep schedule to support your ability to sleep.

Conclusion

It is far-too-easy to prioritize everything else over sleep during the holidays. But if you want to stay happy and healthy, you must do what you can to avoid sleep deprivation this holiday season.


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