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The holidays are a busy and hectic time for most of us. With parties, shopping, and an endless list of things that need to be done, you might find yourself tired and stressed out more than usual. However, by making sure you focus on yourself and getting enough sleep, you may find it easier to stay happy and healthy during the holiday season.

Adequate sleep is crucial to staying healthy, focused, and happy any time of the year.  According to the CDC, adults should get seven or more hours of sleep a night to maintain the best health.[1]  Although it might seem impossible during the month of December, a few healthy changes can keep you on track and in top shape for the festivities. The following are a few ways to make sure your body is getting enough sleep so that you can truly enjoy the holidays:

  1. Maintain Your Regular Sleep Routine

If you already have a healthy sleep routine, try to continue your regular pattern. It can be easy to allow your sleeping pattern to be disrupted during the holiday season by travel and parties, so help yourself out by making sure you stay within an hour of your normal schedule. While enough sleep any time of year is essential for your wellbeing, it can be even more beneficial around the holidays. A healthy sleep routine can help your body fight colds and the flu, as well as help you fight stress and irritability.

  1. Make Time for Exercise

Exercising daily can have a positive effect on your rest and wellbeing.[2] Although your calendar in December is likely very full, it is fundamental to set aside time each day to exercise. Regular workouts around the holidays can help you control the stress of the season, burn calories from those extra desserts, and promote better sleep habits. In addition, exercise can help fight the winter and holiday blues by releasing endorphins—the chemical your brain releases to boost feelings of happiness.[3]  If you don’t have time for a trip to the gym, getting outside for a walk or bike ride can be just as beneficial for your health.

  1. Avoid Heavy Foods & Alcohol Before Bed

Overindulging on treats can be difficult to avoid during the holidays, yet it’s a key contributing factor to poor sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep requires limiting what you eat and drink before bedtime, as certain foods can be detrimental to getting enough quality rest.[4]  If possible, don’t consume heavy foods, caffeine and alcohol within a few hours before bedtime to help avoid any negative impact on your sleep.

  1. Control Stress

The holidays should be an uplifting time for fun and relaxation with family and friends.  However, stress can be magnified during the month of December. Adopting techniques to control stress can help you appreciate the cheer of the season, as well as contribute to good sleep habits. Taking time out for yourself can help minimize the anxiety and tension you may be feeling. If you are overextended, it is ok to decline an invitation. Reserving a few moments each day to do something that you enjoy can be the key to keeping your cool and taking full pleasure in the holidays.

Moreover, by getting adequate sleep, daily exercise and controlling stress by practicing some of these tips, you are sure to keep the “happy” in your holiday celebrations!

[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (no date). Data and Statistics. Retrieved from  https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/data_statistics.html

[2] Mayo Clinic. (no date). Exercise: 7 benefits of regular exercise. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389

[3] Jennifer Berry, medically reviewed by Alana Biggers, M.D., MPH. (February 6, 2018). Endorphins: effects and how to increase levels. Medical News Today. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320839.php

[4] Eric J. Olson, M.D. (no date). Will a bedtime snack help me sleep better? Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/foods-that-help-you-sleep/faq-20057763

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