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7 Sleeping Tips for a Healthy Holiday
We all know holidays are a time for over-indulging and Easter is no exception. All that chocolate, big lunches with family and the anxiety of organising everything you need to get done in the lead up to the Easter bunny arriving – shopping, cooking, cleaning, the list is endless.
It’s no wonder most people go back to work feeling more exhausted than before. The good news is that there’s a simple way to keep your health on track during the holidays. By getting enough sleep. It’s so easy.
Here are Our Top Sleeping Tips for a Healthy Holiday
1. Get Organised
If you’re like most people, you have a lot to get done before the Easter weekend.
House cleaning, present shopping, groceries, cooking, getting ready for guests arriving, staying up all night making bonnets for the Easter hat parade...
Not to mention all the work-related tasks you need to get through. Try not to leave all of those things until the last minute. Make a list and chip away at it in the days leading up to Easter.
If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night anxiously thinking about everything you need to do, have a pen and notebook on your bedside table so you can jot down a quick list.
According to a recent Baylor University study, writing a ‘to-do’ list at bedtime can help you fall asleep quicker. The research compared sleep patterns of participants who took five minutes to write down upcoming duties versus participants who chronicled completed activities.
2. Don’t Overload Yourself
Get your expectations in check. The most important thing about the holidays is spending time with family and loved ones. The people around you don’t care if your house isn’t perfectly clean, or if you have store-bought cake for dessert.
Even better, get your loved ones involved in all the preparations, you’d be surprised how much fun families can have, working together to make the holidays special. Prioritise the really important things and cross the rest off your list. Let go of perfectionism and be more flexible. Avoid disappointment by opening yourself up to the possibility of having an Easter holiday that is different to your expectations.
3. Don’t Overindulge on Easter Eggs (or alcohol)
If your memories of Easter include eating as much chocolate as possible before breakfast, you’re not alone.
Childhood food associations can be difficult to shake. If you do crush under the inner child pressure of eating a chocolate first thing in the morning with your kids don’t beat yourself up about it.
But do try to limit yourself during the day and over the weekend. Who knows, maybe it’ll be nice to sit down in a week’s time and savour that Easter egg you saved.
The same goes for alcohol. Both sugar and alcohol affect your sleep. That ‘nightcap’ you were always told would help you sleep is, in fact, a myth. While having a drink can help you fall asleep faster, you will actually have a worse night’s sleep as a result. Alcohol can interrupt your circadian rhythm, it blocks REM sleep, and it can aggravate breathing problems which is a nightmare for anyone already suffering from snoring and sleep apnoea.
4. Stick To Your Regular Sleep Schedule
It might seem like a good idea to stay up late catching up with friends and family, but the next day you’ll be feeling tired and run down. Your family and friends will appreciate the bright-eyed bushy tail version of you rather than the grumpy sleep deprived one. Try to keep your sleep schedule within an hour of going to bed and waking up in the morning while on holidays.
5. Keep on Exercising
Regular exercise is one of the best things for a good night’s sleep. Not only that but it keeps your mind clear and stress-free. If you’re away from your gym or usual routine over the Easter break, look at your new location as an opportunity to try out some different exercises.
Go hiking, walk around the neighbourhood, swimming, bowling, tennis or check out the local Council’s program of free exercise activities. Why not get the family involved too! Exercise can be a great way to bond.
6. Power Down Before Bed
We’re all guilty of watching more TV than usual during the holidays. And who hasn’t let their kids spend more time on electronic devices? After all, there’s no school or work the next morning.But what you might not know is that looking at screens at night can cause sleep problems.
Research over the last 25 years has shown that light at a wavelength of 459-485 nanometers, which is a blue-green colour, is detected by photosensitive retinal ganglion cells in your retina. These cells then pass a signal to your brain that stops the increase in melatonin production that naturally occurs after the sun goes down.
Holidays can actually provide a great opportunity to break your screen habits. Try playing board games or reading at night for a change. It doesn’t matter what activities you do at night as long as they’re screen and technology free, relaxing and not too stimulating.
7. Get Outside
Fresh air can do the world of good. Not only that but by being outside, your circadian rhythm has the opportunity to respond to the changing light. Being aware of the natural cycles of daylight and night helps regulate your internal body clock.
Increasing your exposure to light during the day decreases your production of melatonin, and decreasing your exposure to light at night increases production. Natural melatonin responses help you fall asleep quicker and lead to healthier sleep at night.
If you have tried all of these tips and you’re still having trouble sleeping, you may be suffering from something more than just too much holiday indulgence. Sleep problems are a major health issue, see your doctor if you have trouble sleeping or take our free sleep self-assessment questionnaire.
- Michael K. Scullin, Madison L. Krueger, Hannah K. Ballard, Natalya Pruett, Donald L. Bliwise. The effects of bedtime writing on difficulty falling asleep: A polysomnographic study comparing to-do lists and completed activity lists. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 2018; 147 (1): 139.
- A. Green et al. Evening light exposure to computer screens disrupts human sleep, biological rhythms, and attention abilities. Chronobiology International. Vol. 34, May 26, 2017, p. 855.