November 30, 2022

How to save your sleep from the holidays

5 min read

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Holidays and stress seem to go hand in hand. To cope with this, many people often steal from them. Sleep to pack in cooking, shopping, gift wrapping, parties and family time.

“Even a short night or two of sleep can have short-term effects on your health, mood, and well-being,” said sleep expert Kristen Knutson, associate professor of neurology and preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. can.” E-mail

You’ll enjoy your vacation more if you can protect your bedtime — and you can actually get more done if you’re not tired and incapacitated from lack of sleep, he said.

Eating large, heavy meals causes the body to work harder to digest the food, which can lead to fatigue, said Steven Mullen, an associate professor of kinesiology and health at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

“Carbohydrates and protein, as well as fat, trigger a series of hormonal changes that can promote changes in serotonin, a feel-good, happy hormone that promotes sleep,” he said via email. Gives.”

Eating smaller portions and taking breaks to check in with your body can help you see how full you are, says sleep expert Dr. Raj Dasgupta, an associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine.

“I know it sounds cruel, especially when a delicious meal is right in front of you, but this tip can help you feel less sleepy,” he said.

Try replacing sugary and fatty foods on your holiday plate with more unprocessed, fiber-rich foods. These alternatives “slow down digestion in such a way that people feel fuller for longer,” Malin said.

“Another approach is considering water intake. Drinking adequate water before meals can help lengthen the stomach and create a feeling of fullness.”

Exercise also helps in coping. Feelings of lethargy, Malin said. Even standing up and walking around the house or neighborhood can help reset that “tired” switch.

And don’t eat and drink until morning. Digestion slows down when we sleep, which can lead to indigestion, heartburn or heartburn that can wake us up, Knutson said.

“Ideally, we should stop eating 2 or more hours before bed. If you’re hungry before bed, a light breakfast is fine, but avoid heavy, filling meals,” she said by email. said through

All those holiday sweets, especially if eaten on an empty stomach while waiting to eat, can cause changes in blood glucose, or blood sugar. Keeping your blood stable throughout the day is good for the body.

When blood sugar rises, it triggers the release of insulin, which clears glucose from the blood, Malin said.

“The drop in blood glucose, due to insulin-stimulated clearance in the body’s cells, can promote feelings of ‘crash.'” At the same time, consuming sugar-based foods later in the evening can promote a burst of energy. “That can lead to sleep withdrawal, making it harder to fall asleep,” he said via email.

Dasgupta said that although many of us believe that alcohol helps us sleep, it actually worsens the quality of sleep.

“Remember, alcohol can make you fall asleep faster and sleep soundly in the first half of the night. However, alcohol can disrupt your sleep in the second half of the night,” she said.

Alcohol acts as a brain depressant, so when we drink a little too much (or too late in the evening) we feel drowsy. By midnight, however, the liver may have finished metabolizing the alcohol into a stimulant called acetaldehyde, according to Dr. Bhanu Kola, an addiction psychiatrist and sleep medicine specialist at the Mayo Clinic.

Holiday responsibilities can rob us of sleep, setting the stage for poor sleep.

So if you drink too much alcohol before bed, in about four hours it turns into aldehydes that can disrupt sleep and wake you up. Kola told CNN in an earlier interview.

If you’re in a deep, restorative sleep phase around the time you wake up, it inhibits the brain’s ability to repair and restore cells.

Like eating, try to stop drinking at least two hours before bed to minimize its effect on your sleep, Knutson said.

Many people look forward to this holiday nap, and often point to Turkey as the reason. First, a bit of myth busting: Turkey is not a criminal.

“Tryptophan from turkey is unlikely to get into the brain and make enough serotonin to make us sleepy,” Malin said.

In fact, you’d have to eat about 8 pounds of turkey to get the effect, Malin said. Instead, it’s rich, processed foods, like candied sweet potatoes or pecan pie, that make you feel tired.

If you do decide to take a nap, make sure not to do it right after a meal, Dasgupta advises.

“In general, it’s not a good idea to lie down right after a big meal, especially if you have heartburn. Also, if you’re someone who deals with insomnia, I recommend taking a nap. I won’t,” he said.

“But if you’re sleep-deprived from a long trip, didn’t get much sleep the night before, and it’s not too late in the day, a 15- to 20-minute nap is fine,” he added via email. “Just don’t blame the nap on the turkey!”

If you feel pain. Whether it’s anxiety, depression or seasonal affective disorder (a condition that causes sadness when daylight hours are short), watching your sleep is key, experts said.

“Depression and sleep are linked. Poor sleep can ruin our mood, and depression can lead to unhealthy sleep,” Knutson said.

Calming strategies can include a relaxing transition before bed in which you can take a bath, meditate, or listen to soothing words. Music, he said.

To help calm your mind, leave a notepad by your bed to jot down any to-do items that may pop into your head while you’re trying to fall asleep, suggests Knutson. are

Another effective strategy is regular exercise. Experts say it plays an important role in sleep and depression, as it reduces stress and promotes the release of “feel-good” hormones called endorphins.

“Exercise improves sleep by reducing sleep onset, meaning it takes less time to fall asleep and the amount of time you spend awake in bed during the night,” Dasgupta said. said

“Studies show that exercise enables insomniacs to fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and enjoy better sleep quality,” she said. “Exercise is also a great way to relieve stress and depression, which are common problems for people on vacation.”

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