How to give yourself the gift of sleep this Christmas

This year give yourself a Christmas present that will keep you happy long after the wrapping paper has been thrown away: the gift of a good night’s sleep.

According to the Sleep Council’s Great British Bedtime Report, 70% of people in the UK sleep less than the recommended amount through the week, losing an average of 41 minutes per night. By the weekend, we’ve racked up approximately five hours of ‘sleep debt’, often leading to a little (or a whole lot of) oversleeping.

And now it’s Christmas – a continual flurry of festivities filled with late-night parties, endless fizz and one too many sweet mince pies (great in the moment, not so great for catching those z’s). What many don’t know, however, is that we can’t just make up for this sleep deficit another day, nor pay back the sleep debt once December’s done and dusted.

A recent campaign carried out by furniture retailer Furniture Village suggests the magic formula is simple – to maintain a healthy dose of slumber throughout the month. So without further ado, here’s how to celebrate the festivities without sacrificing your sleep.

1) Eat your Christmas dinner earlier in the day

If you want to get a good snooze this Christmas, try and eat dinner earlier rather than later – and stick to canapes and small plates of finger food at your evening dos. Eating more in the earlier parts of the day and gradually reducing meal sizes as we move towards sleep time is the most nutritionally beneficial way to eat for most people.

2) Treat yourself to turkey (and some other well-balanced meals)

The best foods for sleep are almonds, avocados, cherries, spinach, egg whites and… that’s right, turkey. Try and keep the balance by having something like a spinach omelette or smashed avocado for breakfast, then treat yourself to a festive sandwich with the leftover turkey! By eating protein rich foods (which help promote serotonin production), you can stimulate the onset of sleep.

3) Don’t be frivolous with the fizz

Look, we get it. Christmas – or The Festive Season of Free-Flowing Fizz– is always likely to be boozy for some of us. But if you can, try to limit yourself to 2-3 glasses of Prosecco, or create a ‘cut-off’ point for your drinking so that you have a better chance of sleeping. We promise we’re not just being a Scrooge, you’ll thank us for it later, as alcohol causes blood sugar rebounds and dehydration. Don’t forget to drink some water when you go to bed, too.

4) Invest in some calming scents

Some smells can affect your mood, making you more relaxed and calmer and ready for sleep. Try sprinkling a potpourri with essential oils of lavender or geranium to get you settled for snoozing – though never during pregnancy or in a child’s room. Even better, why not go for an essential oil with something like pine, cinnamon or candy-cane peppermint for a festive scentanda fantastic sleep?

5) Listen to ‘white noise’

Steady, low sounds are soothing and help to block out other noises that could be stopping you from sleeping. Some people may find that listening to ‘white noise’ helps to get songs like White Christmas out of their head, while listening to soothing classical music can also calm the mind and make it easier to fall asleep. This is particularly useful if you were throwing tipsy shapes to Little Mix at the office Christmas party mere hours before bed.

6) Switch off the blue light

Studies have shown that the blue light emitted by screens can suppress the release of melatonin – one of the important messengers in the initiation of sleep. People who use screens in the hours before bed experience poorer sleep and feel sleepier the next day. However, other wave lengths of light, as well as the brightness, are also implicated in modulating our sleep/wake cycle. Give yourself the best shot at switching off, by switching off (two to three hours before bed).

By maintaining these things, you can have fun throughout the party season withoutwanting to sleep for a whole year afterwards. So, here’s to going into 2019 – awake – and sleep debt free!

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz