Avoiding Insomnia at the Holidays

Dr. Dan JensenInsomnia, Sleep

Dr. Dan Jensen
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Holidays are a time of celebrating everything we’ve accomplished in the last year, and a time to look forward to the year ahead. However, the holidays can also be stressful. They add a lot of extra demands on our time, like shopping, spending time with family we haven’t seen in awhile, and even traveling. We often celebrate by eating large holiday meals and staying up late. If you’re worried about sleeping this holiday season, here’s how to avoid insomnia at the holidays.

Do You Have Insomnia?

Insomnia is the term we use to talk about the chronic inability to get enough sleep. You have insomnia if you:

  • Have a hard time falling asleep, and lay in bed for a long time before sleeping.
  • Struggle to fall asleep if you wake up in the middle of the night.
  • Wake up way too early and can’t go back to sleep.
  • Suffer from daytime drowsiness and fatigue.

If you recognize any of these symptoms, you probably have insomnia. Insomnia can have a major effect on your body and your mind. You’ll feel very tired, and have a hard time accomplishing everything you need to get done in a day. You’ll also notice some changes in your mood, like being more irritable or easily upset. You may even notice increased anxiety or feelings of depression.

How to Avoid Insomnia This Holiday Season

If you’re worried you might have insomnia over the holidays, there are a few things you can do to sleep soundly and avoid insomnia this holiday season.

  • Avoid Overeating – The holidays are a time of great cooking and delicious desserts. Holiday cookies are everywhere, and it’s hard not to sample all the sweets. However, eating all these treats and huge holiday meals can cause insomnia. Overeating, especially in the evening before bed, makes it hard for your body to properly digest all that food, and you may find yourself awake at night if you had a big meal or too many snacks.
  • Limit Alcohol – Just like overeating can lead to insomnia, drinking too much alcohol can also affect your quality of sleep. A couple drinks throughout the day won’t hurt, but if you consume a lot of alcohol just before bed your sleep will be affected. Drinking can make you fall asleep faster, but you’re more likely to wake up in the middle of the night, have less deep sleep, and wake up feeling very tired.
  • Keep Exercising – Getting enough exercise is important all year round. Don’t give up on your exercise routine over the holidays. Even if you don’t have time for your normal workout, find time to do a few minutes of activity every day. This helps your body digest, get rid of any stress, and make you feel tired by evening.
  • Avoid Napping – With time off work, it’s tempting to spend the afternoons napping. If you’re very tired, it’s ok to have a short 20-minute nap. However, having long naps over the holidays can lead to insomnia. Try to stay awake during the day and go to bed at your usual time. Make sure you have at least 7 to 9 hours set aside for sleep each and every night.
  • Turn Off the TV – Are you watching all your favorite holiday movies late into the night? It’s better to save your watching for the daytime or early evening. Watching TV or using your electronic devices in the evening can lead to insomnia. The blue light from these devices will trick your body into thinking there’s natural sunlight in the room, and that it’s not time to go to sleep. We recommend turning off the TV at least an hour or two before you plan to go to bed. 
  • Write it Down – Are you feeling stressed by everything you need to get done this holiday season? Try writing it down. Make lists of what you have to do so you don’t lay awake at night stressing. If you’re stressed about other things, try journaling to let go of all that stress. 

Sound Sleep Medical

If you have insomnia, you’re not enjoying life to the fullest. Visit Sound Sleep Medical to find out why you’re not sleeping, and learn how to improve your quality of life with better sleep.