All year, you dream about the best part of the holidays: Chunky sweaters. Movie marathons. Sweet treats in your comfiest PJs. Soothing yellow lights.
Just as you’re about to close your eyes, warmed by the thought of drinking hot cocoa by a crackling fire, you suddenly remember all of the gifts you have yet to buy and wrap, the (vegan) potluck dinner you have to cook for (you’re not even vegan), and your in-laws’ extended family you have yet to meet. Don’t forget the chaos of holiday travel. (Have you booked your flights yet?)
The good news is: you’re not alone. It turns out over 60% of people claim the holidays increase their overall stress levels. More stress means less sleep, which leads to more stress and then even less sleep! It’s a nasty cycle that can lead to a whole host of issues including higher cortisol levels (meaning a worse metabolism for those holiday dinners), brain fog, heart disease, and even lower life expectancy. Simply put: not getting enough sleep is bad snooze.
Here are some mindful ways to unleash your inner zzzen before jumping into the jingle bell hooplah.
Gone are the days of waking up with the sun and going to bed when it’s dark. Instead, we rely on a cacophony of assaultive noise to motivate us out of bed, and a plethora of methods to help us fall asleep. ‘ Tis the season to give your nerves a break, which means turning off your alarm and avoiding blue light before you go to bed (yes, that means no phones). Creating ambiance with a calming light can actually help you head into a deeper, more restful sleep.
Traveling during the holidays can be an absolute nightmare. Whether it’s airport traffic, lost luggage, delayed flights, inclement weather, or seats that barely recline, the entire experience of reaching family that you may or may not want to see is an arduous task. If you’re headed towards a potentially hair-raising obligation, make sure your trip in between is as restful as possible. Enter: comfortable travel accessories. Consider compression socks to help your circulation while you fly, along with some face spray to help prevent your skin from drying out. Most importantly, a quick n’ dirty nap pillow (that fits perfectly on your tray table) will let you get some mile-high rest.
From afar, the joy of indulging in desserts around the holidays can glimmer like a sweet and salty caramel glaze. But when you get up close and personal with December, you realize temptation seemingly exists at every hour of the day. To maintain your energy during the season, wane off the sweets at least three hours before bedtime. This is a helpful rule whether or not it’s chocolate silk pie season (but more useful when it is chocolate silk pie season). The body needs at least three hours to break down most foods before sending it to the small intestine. So even if you don’t wake up, you can be stirred by sugar processing in your stomach. That time window, however, shouldn’t stop you from celebrating the season in the way it was meant to be celebrated — doused in powdered sugar. Just leave yourself room between indulgence and bedtime.
Holiday evenings are filled with small talk and not-so-small talk that can leave your brain burdened before bed. Before you trail off to sleep, listen to a calming playlist — something that offers a lot of ocean waves and meditative ways. The Casper Sleep Channel on YouTube and Spotify is a great place to start. From “Bird Lullabies” to “Truly Boring Fairy Tales,” episodes on this playlist will leave you zonked out pretty quickly, and allow your eyes to take a break from all the screens. Hitting “play” on a good sleep playlist is like the excitement of opening presents — only the complete, calm, and unprovoked opposite.
Light some candles; boil some hot (uncaffeinated) tea and start that book you bought in July. You can always Facetime your friends from bed. It’s hard to pass up a party, but even harder to enjoy a party on low fuel. If anything, remember that the holidays are also meant to be relaxing and joyful. So as your eyelids close each night this December, think of the sparkly stars in your orbit — the people you love, the memories you’ve made, and all the restful nights yet to come.