Tips for at home and on the go
One of the best things about the festive season is spending tons of time with friends and family. But travel, social events, and extra tasks can also work together to affect your sleep.
Luckily for you, we have plenty of tips and tricks to help you get better sleep during the holidays. All of these tips are appropriate for getting quality rest generally and for helping you sleep when you’re away from home.
A simple rule of thumb is to avoid caffeine from eight hours before you want to sleep. Remember, though: coffee isn’t the only tasty treat harbouring that caffeine hit, and decaf drinks aren’t always caffeine free. All of these can pack a hefty caffeine punch:
I know it can be difficult to avoid at parties. Alcohol may help you doze off, but it disrupts your REM sleep, causing micro-awakenings, and will leave you feeling more tired the next day. Be everyone’s best friend and volunteer to be designated driver instead.
Some foods, if consumed within four hours of sleep, will disrupt your digestion in one way or another and make it more difficult for you to rest:
Some stories suggest the Romans swore by lettuce sandwiches before bed, and research suggests they may have been on to something. Lettuce contains a substance called lactucarium, which acts like opium on the body, but if that doesn’t appeal, you could try a banana with a spoon of nut butter or a couple of whole wheat crackers instead.
Some foods eaten closer to bedtime (in moderation) can actually help you sleep:
Try sipping teas such as camomile or lemon balm before bedtime. Both will help you relax and drift off gently. Or, you could have some fun trying out one of the many proprietary bedtime tea blends available at your natural health food store.
The place in which you sleep should feel like a sanctuary. Research has shown that any mess and disorder in the room can hamper you emotionally and has the potential to cause sleep problems. Here are a few ideas to create a good sleep environment.
Tidy your room. Put away any clutter, all reminders of work or household issues such as bills, and clothes.
Keep it cool. Set the room temperature between 14 C and 21 C.
Stay in the dark. Make the room as dark as possible—try darkening shades or blinds—or wear an eye mask.
Seek some quiet. Consider a white noise machine to block out street noise—or to provide soothing noise if you’re unused to a quiet night!
Remove all electronics. Don’t watch TV in bed, chat with people on your tablet, or finish off work on your laptop. The blue light emitted from these items affects levels of melatonin in the brain and makes it more difficult to fall asleep.
Create soothing scents. Use an essential oil diffuser with lavender oil. Research has shown that lavender oil increases slow-wave sleep, the very deep sleep during which your muscles relax and your heartbeat slows right down.
Travel is often a part of the holiday season. Sleeping away from home can have its own challenges. Having a regular bedtime routine can help prepare your mind and body for sleep, even in unfamiliar environments.
When you know you’ll be sleeping in a hotel or a relative’s home, pack your essential oil diffuser and lavender, your eye mask, and your white noise machine, if possible, to recreate your home sleep environment (as closely as possible).
Of course, none of these tips will help you when the kids are jumping on your bed in excitement at 4 am, but we have five children, and I still haven’t figured that one out yet!
My homemade travel kit for good sleep includes