For week 3 of our 12 Months of Wellness, were hitting the hay as a way to de-stress this holiday season.
Although Christmas carols and CBS specials might try to convince us otherwise, there’s no denying that the holiday season—and all of the cleaning, planning, partying, cooking, cocktailing, gift-buying, and running around it entails—can sometimes cause our knickers to get knotted.
And, with our minds racing and thoughts full of the things we need to get done tomorrow, we don’t always get the same amount of shut-eye that we otherwise would.
Stressing versus snoozing
It’s common knowledge that stress can cause sleep problems but, as it turns out, there’s a rather vicious cycle at play that might very well sap a person of their holiday cheer, as sleep problems can in turn cause stress.
One study of 53 healthy adults suggests that sleep deprivation can lower our thresholds for things we perceive as stressful. This means that minor stressors that we could normally shrug off—such as that mall lineup or the cat getting in the box of winter decorations—don’t seem so minor anymore and can cause increased stress, anger, and anxiety.
Another study found that those who spent more time yawning also tended to have higher levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress.
Tips for counting sheep
If sleep is being elusive and your flock of counting sheep has run out, try incorporating some of these tips into your day:
- Unwind each evening by practising some yoga.
- Get some of the thoughts running around your head out on paper by spending some time journalling.
- Let your body know when its bedtime by developing a regular bedtime schedule (and stick to it!).
- Avoid bright lights—including those from cellphones, TVs, tablets, and computers. The light coming from these screens suppresses melatonin production, keeping us from feeling sleepy.
What are your secrets to a good night’s sleep? Share your tips and tricks with us by leaving us a Facebook or blog comment. Or, you can join the Twitter conversation by using the hashtag #2013alive and share your secrets with the world! (Although they wouldn’t really be secrets, then.)
Plus, make sure to finish 2013 off right with the help of December’s goal tracking sheet.