Beating the After Christmas Sleep Blues.
Holiday seasons have a profound effect on our body clock and natural rhythms; we unwind into time off work with no school run and a few days away from commitments. We relax into later mornings and staying up to enjoy child-free evenings or socialising with friends. If there are no young children pulling us out of bed at the crack of dawn we naturally adjust to a sleep/wake cycle that suit our needs.
Christmas often comes with overindulgence in food and drink; late meals and rich foods make going to sleep difficult at night as our body struggles to digest unfamiliar foods and the extra alcohol and nicotine can over stimulate us or cause us to take out of character naps during the day. When the countdown to returning to work and school commences, think about preparing your body for the routine it needs in order to sleep well and function as you need it to during the day. If there are children in the house, work together and set a good example to them; Christmas is an exciting and over stimulating time for kids and winding down requires some patience and leadership.
- Make sure your bed is inviting. Fresh sheets, comfy pillows and a tidy room will help you feel like bed is a good place to be. If you’ve been meaning to do it for a while, now is a good time to replace an old or uncomfortable mattress with a new one. Put that set of gifted bedding on a child’s bed and make it special for them.
- Get out for a walk or run or return to your natural exercise pattern (perhaps setting up some new habits ready for the New Year) and make sure you are physically tired at bedtime. Take the kids to the park for quality family time so everyone goes to bed sleepy.
- Gradually return to normal eating habits, cutting out rich food or late eating. Sugary snacks that the kids have been eating are best kept for earlier in the day.
- Prepare for the first day of the school run or going back to work by getting up earlier again. Even if you save the grim reality of 7am for the big day, having everyone functioning by 9am for a few days will make it less painful – and helps get to sleep earlier at night too.
- Associating a relaxing habit with getting ready for bed is also useful. If you struggle to relax, take a warm bath with calming scented bubbles or getting into a good book can help. For children, make sure the TV and screens go off in good time and build cosy family habits like a bedtime story or communal reading into your evening routine.
Start the New Year as you mean to go on; bedtime should be comfortable and restful so make sure you give yourself every chance of it being so.