How I’m Improving My Sleep This Holiday Season
It’s no secret that the holiday season is STRESSFUL. Between shopping for presents, decorating, navigating family drama, and now dealing with COVID, a lot of us are going to get to the end of our rope pretty quickly. That’s why it’s going to be so important that we prioritize sleep this holiday season.
I’m a bit all over the place with sleep. It’s definitely a priority for me and I do regularly get roughly 8 hours of sleep each night, but I also get nightmares most nights. This year I’ve also had a few occurrences of night terrors and a complete inability to fall asleep, which has been a fun challenge to getting good sleep. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks I use to combat these challenges and get a beneficial night’s rest.
1. Get Cozy
I feel like this goes without saying, but you can’t get good sleep if you aren’t comfortable. That means making sure your mattress isn’t way past its life cycle, keeping your room a little chilly, and getting bedding that makes you excited to get into bed each night. I recently got a new mattress after over 15 years on my old one and it has been life-changing. Last year I also invested in a down-alternative duvet and it has made curling up in bed so much more enjoyable. It also helps to keep your room SUPER dark. Cover anything that has a light on it with tape or a blanket. Get blackout curtains. Close all of your doors. The dark helps your body understand that it’s time to shut down for the night.
2. Routine is Key
Everyone talks about the importance of a morning routine, but having a nighttime routine is equally as important. It’s one way to tell your brain that it’s time to start slowing down. You probably already have a basic one. Shower; change into Pajamas; brush your teeth; wash your face; set your alarm, etc. (If you don’t do those things, I would definitely recommend starting there.)
Adding in elements like meditation, journaling, or reading can also help put you into a more relaxed state than watching TV or playing on your phone (see point 4 below). If you need a book to read, you can always pop over to Instagram or the official book club group HERE and see what we’re currently reading.
3. Wind Down Early
Do you have a routine but dread going to bed because it feels like there’s list of tasks to do first? Gretchen Rubin suggests in her book The Happiness Project (Recap HERE) that you start your routine early. Do all of your nighttime tasks way before you’re ready for bed so when the time comes all you have to do is hop into bed.
I am personally a HUGE procrastinator. If there’s something I don’t want to do I will put off doing it for as long as I possibly can (sometimes forever). This is true with going to bed. I hate having a list of things that I need to do before I go to bed, so I’ll occasionally avoid going to bed just so I don’t have to go through my list yet. Starting early might be the key!
4. Ditch the Screens
I think by this point we all know that the blue light for screens is not good for us. It decreases our level of dopamine which makes it harder for our bodies to fall asleep. So when we watch tv or scroll through our phones before bed, we’re actually hindering ourselves from being able to sleep once we decide to call it a night.
Some people can’t fall asleep in total silence, so they end up watching tv and falling asleep with it on. Instead, I would say invest in a pair of sleep headphones and fall asleep listening to nature sounds or a podcast that you don’t need to focus on. That way you still have the noise you need without the light of the tv keeping you from your REM cycle.
5. Natural Sleep Aid
Sometimes the first 4 steps won’t cut it. Melatonin is your friend in this situation. It’s a natural sleep aid that can be that little thing you need. If you can normally sleep naturally, I’d recommend getting a small dosage. I use 2.5 mg gummies when I get stuck in a cycle of not sleeping. Just that little bit completely knocked me out when I had a particularly rough week with very little sleep.
I’m also a big fan of using scents. Using something lavender scented is another natural way to tell your brain it’s time to sleep. Candles are nice for early in the night so you can blow them out before bed. You can also use a pillow spray, wax warmer, or oil diffuser if you want to keep the party going after you sleep without the risk of burning your house down.