The Christmas countdown is well and truly on and that means only one thing – countless parties and social occasions in the lead up to the big day. If you’re heading from party to party it’s easy to fall into the trap of burning the candle at both ends, but it’s important not to overdo it. To help, Neil Robinson, Chief Sleep Officer at Sealy UK, is on hand with some top tips to help you make it through party season – without your sleep and health suffering.
If you’re planning on having a tipple or two over the festive season, make sure you remember to keep yourself hydrated. As a diuretic, alcohol causes you to need the toilet more frequently and, on average, you will lose 100ml more fluid than you put in to your body as a result. Having a glass of water between each alcoholic drink can help to balance out the effects of alcohol and to limit the number of units you consume, setting you up for a much more restful night as a result. Going to bed even slightly dehydrated can lead to a disruptive snoring due to a dry mouth and nasal passages, and can even lead to painful nocturnal leg cramps.
Make sure you eat
Party-hopping might mean that drinking is much higher up on the agenda, but remembering to eat whilst you’re out and about will not only help you to handle your alcohol better, it will also lead to a more restful night’s sleep. Many people may be wary of giving in to late night munchies, but going to bed on an empty stomach can have a detrimental effect on you throughout the night. This is because your body keeps you mentally alert with hunger pains, meaning you won’t get as deep a sleep. However, this doesn’t mean you should gorge on a stodgy midnight snack full of fat and sugar after a heavy night; try smaller, healthy meals and snacks throughout the day instead.
Keep to your routine
Sticking to your usual bedtime routine might be easier said than done in the run up to Christmas, but try to avoid staying up too late and compensating with a lie in. Frequently changing your sleep routine results in your body’s natural circadian rhythm falling out of sync, having a detrimental effect on your health. Recent studies have shown that a shift of even just an hour in your routine can result in ‘social jetlag’, which has a similar effect to travelling between time zones. A link has also been found between those who have a lie in at weekends and an increased likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, so make sure you stick to regular bedtimes when possible.
Don’t drink alcohol too close to your bedtime
Even just one or two alcoholic drinks can impact on your normal sleeping pattern, so regular drinking during the festive season definitely increases your risk of a disrupted sleep cycle. You may find that drinking can help you fall into a deep sleep initially, but as the night goes on you’ll find yourself spending more time in the less restful REM stage of sleep. This, combined with the diuretic effect of alcohol and an increased chance of snoring, will leave you feeling tired and sluggish the morning after. Leaving at least 2-3 hours between your last drink and your bedtime will give your body time to process the alcohol you’ve already consumed and result in a much more peaceful night.
Give yourself some time off
It’s likely you’ll be invited to a whole host of social engagements during the party season, but don’t forget the importance of a good bit of rest and relaxation. Increased numbers of social engagements will undoubtedly impact on your daily routine and generally make you more tired, so make sure to balance nights out with some time at home. A night well-spent, relaxing at home will not only give your body chance to physically recover from the effects of indulging in food and alcohol, but also give you much needed chill time.
Get some exercise
When it comes to staying healthy during party season, exercise is key – and we don’t just mean on the dance floor, busting moves to Christmas classics. Make sure you keep up your workout routine, and exercise outside whenever possible. Exposing yourself to more light during the day and less at night is vital to maintaining a healthy sleep pattern as it helps to keep your body’s circadian rhythm synchronised. The natural light will also improve your mood and the physical activity will reduce any seasonal stress and help you sleep better.
Try your best not to over indulge
Christmas is the perfect excuse to treat yourself, but try not to go too overboard when it comes to fatty and sugary snacks. A recent study has found that those with diets higher in sugar and saturated fats take longer to get to sleep and are more likely to wake multiple times throughout the night. This leads to a vicious cyclical effect, as your body then craves the fats and sugars which are the cause of your restlessness. Instead try some cherries or almonds, which contain melatonin, a hormone in the body which regulates and promotes sleep.