How to Achieve Sweet Slumber During the Hectic Holiday Season

Tis the Season to be Merry“Family Feud” is a popular television game show based on some interesting polls of public opinion. Recently one of the questions went like this: On a scale of one to ten, how stressful is Christmas? One hundred people were surveyed, and the number one answer was “ten!”

While the idea of a relaxing holiday with giggles and merriment is quite appealing, the reality is that most of us are stressed out just thinking of all the extra work involved. The “most wonderful time of the year” is often the most stressful time of the year. Yet, it comes around anyway, there’s no postponing it! We know that stress interferes with our sleep – and that a lack of sleep can cause us to feel more stressed. It’s quite the dilemma!

In order to come up with sleep solutions let’s start by looking at the cause of our stress. With as many activities and responsibilities as we have it seems like there’s one in particular that tends to affect our stress levels the most. If we can figure out what that is, we can implement some strategies to both deal with the stress and get the sweet slumber that we crave.

WEATHER

In the northern hemisphere, the weather outside can indeed be frightful in the winter. It’s cold, it’s dark, and it’s dry outside. And then we put the heater on and the air inside the house becomes dry as well. While the weather itself is beyond our control, there are some things we can do to help us get a good night’s sleep this time of year.

Spend a little time outside every day. You might have to bundle up, but being exposed to daylight helps keep our body clock functioning properly. Many people experience SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, during the winter months when the days are short and there is less sunshine. SAD can cause us to feel tired, but also make it difficult to sleep. Getting some daylight, and making sure you’re getting enough vitamin D really helps.

Running a humidifier when you’re indoors helps to put moisture back into the air. This will help you breathe easier, and sleep better. If you don’t have a humidifier, a slow cooker, or crockpot, works wonders. Just fill it up with water and keep it plugged in on low. You can even add some spices to the water to help provide some aromatherapy to your home. It’s traditional during the holidays to make ornaments out of fresh oranges and cloves. These scents are uplifting – you can simply add some orange slices along with some cloves in your crockpot and you’ll get a refreshing holiday fragrance going throughout the house in no time!

SHOPPING

It’s difficult enough going to the mall on a weekend, but during the holidays the population there grows exponentially. You can’t find a place to park, people are in a hurry, lines are long, and there are never enough workers to help everyone. On top of that, we worry about our budget, and don’t want to forget anyone on our list. How to handle this gift-giving time of year?

Rather than shopping once a year, shop all year long. When you see something that would make a great gift for someone, get it and stash it away. I have a cupboard exactly for this purpose and it works out great! Come holiday time I take inventory and there’s usually not much left on the list at all. Every January I stock up on giftwrap and cards that are marked down drastically.

Have a plan. Instead of going out looking for “something” have a specific item in mind for each person you want to buy for. This will save you valuable time.

Shop online. When you know what you want to get, you can compare prices easily online and not spend time and energy going store to store. Most places even offer free delivery with a minimum order.

Consider giving sleep-related gifts this year! How fun to get matching pajamas for the whole family. Imagine the photos you can post on Facebook! What do you get someone who has everything? How about a nice pillow, or new bed linens? Pillows need to be replaced every two years, and everyone could use a new pair of sheets. How long have Grandma and Grandpa been sleeping on their mattress? Mattresses have all kinds of great options now, so you can choose one that is best suited for their current needs.

THE KITCHEN

Sometimes getting in the kitchen and baking is a great way to relieve stress. But when you’re already under pressure trying to get a lot of things done then all the fun flies out the window.  What to do?

Manage your expectations. Not all of us are Martha Stewart – and we don’t need to be! Do what you enjoy during the season and leave the rest to someone else. If your friend loves baking, but can’t stand decorating the tree – have her make you an extra batch of sugar cookies while she’s making hers. You can go over there and put the tree up for her and it’s a win-win! Or you can stop at the bakery on the way home from work and pick up whatever you need – no mess, no stress!

Cinnamon is one of the signature smells of the season, and it can even help you to sleep better because it helps to balance out blood sugar levels. Bananas and cinnamon together make a yummy combo. Bananas are filled with potassium and magnesium, great for promoting restful sleep because they soothe the nervous system and relax the muscles. Better yet, banana peels have even more of the good stuff! I found this easy recipe that’s nice to have after dinner to help you relax so that you can get to sleep more easily.

Banana-Cinnamon Tea

Take 1 banana with the peel on, wash it thoroughly. Cut off the ends of the fruit, and chop in half if you need to so that the banana fits in the saucepan.

Place the banana into boiling water (Use 1 banana and about 2 cups of water per person) with a pinch of cinnamon. Allow the water to continue on a low boil for about 10 minutes.

Pour the tea into cups and enjoy!

Don’t let the boiled banana go to waste. Let it cool and you can eat the banana, skin and all, as a snack or low calorie dessert. You’ll be surprised at how tasty this is!

ENTERTAINING

Many people invite company over during the holidays. Because of this, there’s more pressure to keep the house tidy and decorated and ready for entertaining. We might see relatives we haven’t been around in a long time, and it’s easy to fall into old familiar, familial habits and disagreements. Who can sleep after another round of worn-out arguments? Especially if you’re up late cleaning up a messy house. If you are the host at this time of year, keep these things in mind:

Simple is perfect. Now is not the time to try a complicated new recipe or deck the halls with delicate ornaments. The idea is to get together with those people you love, and just providing the setting for that is a wonderful gift.

Keep alcoholic drinks to a minimum when serving your guests. Alcohol accentuates and amplifies behavior – so if there is bad behavior coming out, alcohol will only make it worse.

Lighten up with laughter. Last Christmas Eve my whole family was howling with laughter as we played an impromptu game of Cards Against Humanity. It doesn’t have to be this particular game; you might have just as much fun with charades or Bingo. Another idea: put on a holiday comedy like “Elf” with Will Farrell. Toss hot popcorn in a bowl, first with a little butter (or vegan alternative) and then with a blend of powdered sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Serve up in individual paper bags and you’ve got a fancy family movie night. Now there’s a holiday tradition you’ll want to continue!

When you do post those holiday pics on Facebook be sure to tag The Better Sleep Council. We would love to see your holiday stress-busting strategies for sleep in action!

 

Blogger: Lissa Coffey     @CoffeyTalk

Wellness Spokesperson for the Better Sleep

Lissa Coffey                 Wellness Spokesperson for the Better Sleep Council

 

 

Comments

  1. Rox, I’m sooo proud of u! Life is a journey, a cotelicampd one at that, and ur writing is a very big n important part of it. Every challenge you take on in ur life, whether career or personal, you give it your all n inspire those around you to do the same. keep writing babe!

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