Essential Sleep Habits for the Holiday Season

2-dogs-sleeping-in-a-bedWith the holidays approaching, you want to make sure that you are practicing these essential sleep habits. Quality sleep can protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety. Without enough quality sleep, you could increase your risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.

Essential sleep habits for the day

  • Don’t sleep late. Late nights during the holiday season can put your time clock off track. So it may be tempting to sleep an extra three hours in the morning. Here’s why it’s not a good idea: When you go to bed and get up at the same time each day, you keep your body’s circadian (natural cycle) rhythm running smoothly. It’s best to stick to that routine to keep your cycle on track.
  • Enjoy the sun. Sunshine helps your body set the circadian rhythm. If you want to sleep well, go outside and a take a stroll in the sun.
  • Watch your coffee. You can enjoy your regular morning coffee after a late night. It may perk you up. But since caffeine stays in your system for several hours, don’t drink coffee or other drinks that contain caffeine close to bedtime.
  • Exercise. Exercise isn’t good only for your health. It can improve your sleep and help you fall asleep more quickly. Your best habit is to exercise in the mornings or the early afternoons. When you exercise, your body produces cortisol. This hormone makes you more alert, so you don’t want to have it streaming through your blood in the evenings.
  • Keep your naps short. A short, 20-minute nap can sharpen your attention and motor skills. Some research shows that short naps are good for heart health. But longer naps can leave you feeling groggy and make it harder to get to sleep in the evening. So sure, take a nap, but keep it short and sweet.

Essential sleep habits for the evening 

  • Try melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that your body makes to calm you down. You can try a supplement of 1 to 3 milligrams 2 hours before bedtime. Melatonin doesn’t make you sleepy, but can have a calming effect that can lead to sleep. Don’t use it if you have seizures, an autoimmune disease, or depression. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, talk to your doctor before you take it.
  • Eat a light supper. Best practice is to eat light foods (toast, fruit, yogurt, soups) several hours before bed time.
  • Switch off electronic devices. The blue light given off by your smartphone, computer, or tablet will keep you awake. Don’t use these devices right before you want to go to sleep.

Follow these essential sleep habits to make sure that you get enough sleep to enjoy the holiday season.

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