Don’t Let Lack of Sleep Catch Up with You This Holiday Season

Jennifer Dennard  @JennDennard
January 20, 2016  | Last Updated: January 19, 2016

Ah, the holidays. Thanksgiving was barely here, and now it seems it’s full steam ahead towards Christmas and New Year’s. With the holidays, of course, come jam-packed schedules for the entire family. Moms tend to try to pack in a little bit more — staying up later to put class goody bags together, getting up early to make sure baked goods for the neighbors are wrapped and ready to go. As obligations begin to pile up, that eight hours of recommended sleep slowly erodes, turning into barely six before you know it.


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A good night’s sleep is one of my greatest joys. I wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. There’s a deep sense of satisfaction in knowing I’ve achieved the nearly unattainable — eight hours of uninterrupted bliss. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit hopping back into bed after a long day is one of the first things I look forward to in the morning. 

Eight hours — the recommended amount of sleep time for adults — is attainable if you plan your evening (and following morning) accordingly. You’ve heard all the tips, I’m sure: Don’t exercise before bed. Wind down with a book rather than a screen. Sip a nice cup of relaxing, caffeine-free tea before you turn in. All good pieces of advice for the average time of year. The holidays, however, call for stricter measures. Here are my top five tips for making sure your bedtime stays on time:

1. Don’t over obligate yourself to the point that you’re staying up late or getting up early to get things done. (Room moms, you know what I’m talking about!) Delegation is key to keeping projects on time. Whether it’s whipping something up for the next day’s office Christmas party, or preparing gifts for all 20 of your children’s teachers, enlist the help of family to make it seem like an effortless project. (Just saying no to added responsibilities at this time of year also works, too.)

2. Set an example. Ensuring you get eight hours of beauty rest sends a pretty strong signal to other members in your household that sleep is not, as they say, “for the weak,” but rather for those who want to maintain typical energy levels the following day. 

3. Make it a fun, relaxing process. Lay out those cozy flannels and matching slippers. Grab the latest issue of your favorite magazine and relax nestled amongst soft covers and pillows. Turn on soft music, too. The Christmas Jazz station is one of my favorites at this time of year.

4. Set the alarm a few minutes early so that you won’t feel so guilty hitting the snooze button. It doesn’t sound logical, but there’s something satisfying about hearing that alarm, and then hitting snooze, safe in the knowledge you actually have nine more minutes under the covers.

5. Don’t forget about tomorrow. Make getting up as painless as possible. Set your robe and slippers near the bed. Set the coffee maker to wake you up at a certain time with its wonderful aroma. Make sure your favorite mug is handy, too. Arrange a small vase of flowers on your bedside table so that the first thing you see in the morning is a fresh, bright burst of color. Zesty, citrus-scented toiletries also help make the waking-up process easier. I love Almay’s grapefruit-scented facewash and face lotion.

Margaret Feinberg, one of my favorite authors, writes in her book “Fight Back with Joy” that a lack of sleep is the “great joy swindler,” and that joy and rest are intimately linked. (I’d argue that coffee needs to join that group, too.) “Most of us find ourselves in seasons of living in overdrive,” she adds. “Holidays, pressing work deadlines, and the kick-off of the school year are among many seasons when we can find ourselves doing too much and giving into our performance-driven culture. But if we go for too long without rest and rejuvenation, we could be on our way to burnout.”

I urge you to avoid burnout this holiday season by making a good night’s sleep a priority. As Christmas creeps closer and your to do list seems to grow longer, take an extra 15 minutes each evening to put your sleep strategy in place. Tomorrow will thank you!

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