Whether you’re up late writing cards, whipping up a storm in the kitchen or out enjoying festive parties, there’s no doubt the festive season can wreak havoc with your sleep.
The hectic days of December are enough to leave you exhausted, but when you add a mix of booze and rich food on top, not to mention family stresses, you’ll be lucky not to feel worn out by the time New Year arrives.
Luckily TV’s Dr. Pixie McKenna has revealed seven ways you can wake up feeling fresh throughout the busiest month of the year, even if you’ve been partying hard or running yourself ragged with preparations.
From keeping Christmas tasks out of the bedroom to a glass of warm milk after a late night party, here’s how you can beat the curse of festive exhaustion.
If the stress of the festive season is wreaking havoc with your sleep, there are tricks you can use to make it to January without feeling exhausted (stock image)
SNACK ON TURKEY AND WARM MILK
‘When you’re sleep deprived, levels of the appetite-increasing hormone Ghrelin rise, making you want to reach for even more unhealthy treats,’ Dr Pixie, who is the Sleep Expert for bed retailer Dreams said.
‘If you are feeling peckish, why not make yourself a turkey sandwich as the meat is rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which stimulates sleep and might help you recoup that December sleep deficit.
‘A relaxing cup of camomile tea can also improve your chances of falling asleep post party. Warm milk also works a treat and is not just for the young. The tryptophan content aids sleep and to some extent there’s a placebo effect that will encourage you to nod off.’
BUILD ACTIVITY INTO YOUR DAY
‘When you’re feeling tired it’s tempting to stay sedentary but exercise triggers mood-enhancing endorphins and helps take your mind off any worries.
‘It also gives your gut a good work out meaning you are less likely to be lying in bed feeling you’ve overeaten.
‘When running low on energy during Christmas, it can be tempting to stay glued to a screen at your desk. Instead you should try to keep active to boost energy levels. Wherever possible at work stand at your desk, walk to a colleague rather than email them and take the stairs instead of the lift.
‘These little every day changes can make a significant difference to your energy levels, and by bed time, to your sleep pattern.’
Not just for kids! A glass of warm milk before bed when you come home from a party will help you nod off, thanks to the amino acid tryptophan (stock image)
BEWARE OF THE BOOZE
‘Christmas is all about catching up with loved ones over a tipple or two. But be careful not to overdo it.
‘Alcohol affects the all-important restorative sleep and can disrupt our sleep patterns. Aim to stick to your units, have alcohol free days and try not to drink too much right before bedtime.
‘It doesn’t make that much of a difference whether your drink of choice is champagne, wine, beer or spirit based. It is the quantity of alcohol that will affect your sleep the most rather than the type.
Dr Pixie McKenna, who is known for her stint on Embarassing Bodies, has revealed the tricks to getting better sleep at Christmas
‘Do watch out for drinks with an additional kick though. Espresso martinis or spirits paired with energy drinks deliver a double dose of alcohol and a caffeine based stimulant that will keep you awake for longer.’
MAKE YOUR BEDROOM A SLEEP SANCTUARY
This tip is particularly pertinent for men, who are twice as likely as women to stay up late eight partying or doing last-minute planning, according to new research by Dreams.
‘It’s easy to let the Christmas planning and preparations take over your entire house – especially when you’re trying to keep presents away from little ones’ eyes,’ Dr Pixie said.
‘But try not to wrap presents or write Christmas cards in your bedroom to help keep your sleep space free of any festive stress and cues of what remains on the list of ‘to dos’.
‘If you do find yourself lying wide awake staring at the ceiling, don’t get bogged down making lists in your head, as this will only keep you awake and prevent sleep.
‘Instead, get out of bed and do something constructive but not activating, such as laying the table, emptying the dishwasher, rather than doing ‘activating’ tasks like online shopping or writing down the jobs you need to do.
‘These activating jobs will contribute to you lying awake and frustrated, which only leads to more stress and an increased struggle to sleep.’
Make sure you keep activities such as writing cards and wrapping presents confined to other spaces in the house and out of the bedroom (stock image)
STICK TO A SLEEP PATTERN
‘It can be tempting to try and make up for a late night with a lie in. But lie ins are deceptive and will not necessarily help you catch up on sleep.
‘Throughout the holiday season, even if your bedtime is later than usual, try to go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every morning.
‘If you can’t stick to a regular routine aim to think of sleep as 90 minute cycles rather than by the hour.
‘Dividing your allocated sleep time into blocks of 90 minutes means you can complete full sleep cycles. If you wake up in the middle of on of these cycles you’ll be disrupting a deep sleep and will wake up feeling much groggier.’
DON’T STRESS OVER LACK OF SLEEP
‘Lack of sleep provokes a vicious cycle. If you worry you won’t sleep, inevitably you won’t.
‘The key thing is to have what’s called good sleep hygiene. Good habits breed a good night’s rest.
‘So rather than stressing about not getting to sleep when you get under the sheets focus on fixing the whole process of going to bed – everything from brushing your teeth to the wake up.’