Sleep and the Silly Season: How to manage your sleep health during the holiday season

It is important to keep your body’s health at the top of your wish list this holiday season

December is a month full of both exciting and stressful occasions; family gatherings, end of year parties, packed shopping centres and long-distance travel can all take a toll on our health and wellbeing.

Through all the fun and chaos, it is important to keep your body’s health at the top of your wish list, and getting the best night’s sleep possible can go a long way to seeing you through the celebrations.

Below are our best sleep tips for the upcoming holidays, which may help you and your family during the busy holiday season.

Stick to your sleep schedule

Though you may have more free time, your physical activity may increase. Standing on your feet for long periods of time at shopping centre or in the kitchen exerts a lot more energy than your average week. The increased frequency of these activities, combined with the warmer weather, will drain your energy levels quicker.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the recommended sleep time range for adults is 7-9 hours per night. While it might be difficult during this season, sleep is more important than ever.

Keeping kids calm

The concept of receiving gifts is exciting for most, but especially for little ones. The promise of presents upon waking up would make even the deepest sleeper struggle to doze off, so the key is to keep kids distracted throughout the day.

It’s harder to sleep when you don’t exert energy throughout the day, so planning a list of activities to get their bodies moving will enable them to rest easier at night. Limiting sugar intake the night before big occasions may also help, as sugar acts as a stimulant which may keep their bodies awake. It’s also important to instil regular sleep schedules which may reduce their burnout and prepare them for when the holidays come to an end.

Embrace the midday nod off

We’ve all been there after a big feast; stomachs are full and tiredness kicks in, then suddenly, everyone’s out like a light on the couch. But don’t fear, experts say that power naps during the holidays can do wonders, if preparation is taken.

A study by the Flinders University’s School of Psychology found that setting an alarm for 20 minutes can refresh the body and keep you going for the rest of the celebrations. However, any longer than 20 minutes may affect your ability to get a good night’s sleep later. 

Prepare for jetlag

Whether by car, plane or boat, long distance travel is a common occurrence over the holiday period, with time zone changes also being a possible factor.

To lessen the impact of jetlag and get your holiday off to a great start, attempt to align your first night’s sleep time with that of your home town. For example, if you are travelling to Adelaide from Melbourne and your normal bedtime is 9:30pm AEST, try to get to bed around 9:00pm ACDT to ease yourself into the new time zone and avoid a longer than intended sleep in.

Gift yourself some alone time

Amongst all the socialising and partying, it’s important that you look after yourself to ensure you’re fully relaxed when your head hits the pillow.

If you have a regular exercise routine, don’t be afraid to stick to it, and, if possible, indulge in a well-earned bath before bed. Research has shown that a hot bath before bed may assist in lowering body temperature, which sends signals to your body that it’s time for some R&R.