The holiday season is a time of joy, but it can also bring its fair share of sleep challenges. Late-night festivities, irregular schedules, and family activities often take a toll on our sleep and self-care practices. But don’t worry, strategies from Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-i) can help you keep your sleep on track, even during the holidays.
The Impact of Holidays on Sleep
Holiday festivities often present a complex challenge for maintaining a healthy sleep routine. The alterations to your usual schedule, whether due to travel, hosting duties, or familial obligations, introduce a significant shift that can disrupt even the best sleepers.
The holiday season brings about changes in routines, heightened stress levels, and additional responsibilities, all of which can contribute to sleep disturbances. Whether it’s the pressure of family gatherings, the demands of hosting, or the cumulative effect of late-night celebrations, these factors can create a perfect storm for compromised sleep quality, potentially leading to insomnia.
Recognizing the impact of these holiday-induced stressors on your sleep is essential. And knowing what you can do to maintain your sleep can be empowering.
Keeping a Scheduled Wake Time
Consistency is the name of the game when it comes to your holiday schedule. Your body loves routine. You can support this by keeping your wake time as regular as possible, even when you don’t have your typical morning responsibilities.
This means going to bed at around the same time or later and keeping your wake time close to your typical schedule. So, let’s say you normally wake up at 7:30 am during a regular week, stick with this routine. By sleeping later, we throw off our sleep drive and interrupt our body’s natural circadian rhythm. Even though you may want to sleep in, do your best to resist this urge.
Not Spending Time in Bed Awake
It’s also important to keep your bed reserved for sleep and intimacy only. With more leisure time, you may be tempted to spend more time in bed. But this will only disrupt your sleep further. So, no reading, watching TV, or scrolling through your phone in bed. Feel free to do these activities outside of bed and keep your bed as your sleep sanctuary.
And if you can’t sleep, make sure not to stay in bed. Lying in bed awake can lead to further sleep problems, including insomnia. Think about some things you can do if you can’t sleep, like reading a great book or watching a show you have been putting off. Make sure to do these things outside of your bed. It’s all about creating a positive link between your bed and sleep – no more tossing and turning or spending time awake in bed.
Finding Time to Wind Down
If you are traveling to see family, hosting relatives, or even working through the holidays, you may not prioritize wind-down time. It’s essential to give yourself 1-2 hours to relax and turn your mind off before bed.
Wind-down time signals your body that it’s time to sleep and helps you prepare for bed. Amid all the holiday chaos, your mind needs a break. Constant stimulation from social interactions, travel logistics, or work-related pressures can keep your brain in overdrive. Wind-down time offers a crucial opportunity for your mind to unplug and can help set the stage for more restful sleep.
CBT-i Can Help
In a nutshell, better sleep during the holidays is achievable using CBT-i strategies. Unlike traditional remedies, CBT-i is evidence-based, meaning it’s grounded in science and proven to work. It’s not just a band-aid for sleep issues; it’s a sustainable solution. By incorporating CBT-i techniques into your holiday routines, you can set yourself up for success.