For some people, the holidays represent the happiest time of year: buying and wrapping gifts, spreading cheer, and gathering with family. For others, these things can be extremely stressful. Between remembering who Uncle Joe’s new girlfriend is and making sure you got the exact right color Hatchimal for your niece, anxiety can take the reins. And, when anxiety is running this high, so can lack of sleep.
If you’re powering through those last days before the holidays on just a few hours of sleep a night, you could actually be making the anxiety worse. In fact, sleep deprivation, even for a short period of time, can lead to "tremendous emotional problems," says Dr. Steven Feinsilver, the director of the Center for Sleep Medicine in New York City.
So what can you do to lessen your holiday stress and, ultimately, get more sleep during this busy time of year?
Learn To Say No
More than one holiday party in a night isn’t an uncommon conundrum you may run into as the year winds down. But remember: you’re under no obligation to say yes to every party! You don’t need to go to any of them, if you don’t want to. Building in some down time between shopping, decorating, and being social is just as important as getting those things done. Stay aware of your limits - when you just need a night off from all of the holiday cheer, holing up in the house to refresh and refocus can be invaluable.
Feel The Burn
Yes, ensuring your have time to keep up with your regular exercise schedule can be just as stressful as dropping it completely during the holiday season. But along with taking down time, that exercise time is just as important to keep a part of your schedule. Exercising is a great way to release stress, clear your mind, and get refreshed before, or after, you tackle the next task on your (seemingly never-ending) holiday checklist.
That sixth cocktail or that late-night leftover Christmas ham sandwich can definitely look enticing, especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed. However, resisting that temptation can make you feel lesser so. While you might think a heavy meal or an extra drink will help you fall asleep, it doesn’t actually help you stay asleep. Both of these vices can cause restlessness during the night, decreasing the amount of quality sleep you could be getting without them.
Live, Laugh, and Love
The holidays will naturally bring you close to friends and family. However, mixed in with the people you love most might be a few people you find hard to stomach. Don’t focus on the bad eggs! Don’t forget to laugh when your best friend Carol gives you the gag gift you both joke about. Don’t forget to spend extra time with Cousin Bridget who you only get to see once a year. And, most importantly, don’t forget to spend time in the moment instead of worrying about the things you need to do next. Allowing yourself the time to enjoy the people you’re spending it with can do wonders for stress and anxiety reduction.
While some of these tips may seem against your best judgment, trust us when we say that getting enough sleep is more important than showing up at your old high school friend’s Christmas party. Focus on keeping yourself well-rested and the rest will be a little easier. Most importantly, have a very happy holiday season with friends, family, and whomever you chose to spend it with.