Staying up late to attend holiday parties and then sleeping in the next day are often ways that we celebrate at the end of a year. However, these interruptions to our regular sleep schedule can be enough to throw off our biological clocks.
"A person's sleep often suffers during the holidays," explained. Malinda Miller, RRT, RPSGT, Sleep Lab Supervisor of the Salem Sleep Center. "There is so much to do that it's easy to think that you will catch up on your sleep later. However, it should come as no surprise that people are committing less time for sleep and when they do sleep, it's of poor quality.
"This lack of sleep has been shown to impact motivation, concentration, energy, and weight gain. By making a commitment to sleep, your other New Year's resolutions will be easier to keep. For example, you will have more energy to exercise and your motivation will be higher not to smoke. You may also be less hungry, which makes it easier to lose weight. In addition, cognitive thinking skills may increase and make it easier to get more organized."
New Year's Eve and Sleep
"During the New Year's Eve holiday, several factors can trigger a short-term sleep problem or aggravate a chronic sleep disorder," Miller continued. "Many people suffer for an extended period of time from the sleep debt they accumulate on this one night. The combination of late hours, drinking alcohol or eating rich foods before bedtime, can all have a dramatic impact on sleep patterns that may persist for weeks after the holiday is over. This can be particularly harmful for people who already suffer from insomnia or other sleep disorders."
Inadequate sleep is associated with a wide range of problems, including difficulty concentrating, reduced productivity, complication of serious health conditions including depression and hypertension, and increased risk of job- and highway-related accidents.
"You can have fun on New Year's Eve while reducing the damage that the holiday's excesses can wage on your sleep," said Miller.
- Plan a nap if you will be out late: Take a nap earlier in the day to cushion sleep loss, but no longer than 30 minutes.
- Taper off drinking late into the evening. Alcohol consumption, particularly in excess or close to bedtime, produces fitful sleep that is marked by multiple wakings and an inability to transition or stay in the more restorative stages of sleep. Also, try to avoid caffeinated beverages, like cola, tea or coffee as these will also negatively affect sleep.
- Eat a full meal at dinnertime. Overeating or ingesting rich foods late in the evening closer to bedtime may disrupt sleep. For example, digestion turns foods into sugars that can energize the body and wake you in the middle of the night. Likewise, the discomfort of a full stomach or indigestion from fatty or spicy foods can keep you awake.
- Make sure that you get a full night of sleep in subsequent days. Many people complicate short-term sleep deprivation by turning it into a habit. "By committing to regular sleep in the days following New Year's Eve, you can help to eliminate any New-Year's-related sleep debt," Miller advised. "However, those who experience sleep disturbances for more than a few weeks should see their doctor to help them restore normal sleep habits."
The Best Time for a Successful
Sleep Resolution Is Now
The winter months - January, February, and March - mark a great time to make a commitment to getting enough sleep.
Social activities around the holidays are over and we tend to spend more time at home.
With shorter days and more darkness, we often get sleepier earlier in the day, making it easier to fall asleep when it is time for bed. Increased darkness also allows us to produce melatonin naturally, which makes us drowsy and promotes good sleep.
Seven Tips for Successful
Sleep Resolutions in the New Year
1. No technology in the bedroom: You'll sleep much better if you shut off everything - laptop, cell phone, tablet, or e-reader, and don't allow these devices in your bedroom. In addition, tell your children that research has shown that if they keep electronics out of the bedroom and get to bed on time they may do better on tests, have higher GPAs and more energy for activities.
2. Relax before bed: According to the National Sleep Foundation, during the hour before bed, around 60 percent of women do household chores, 37 percent take care of children, 36 percent do activities with other family members, 36 percent are on the Internet, and 21 percent do work related to their jobs. Make sure to set that one hour aside so that when the day is over, you're ready for bed.
3. Watch the clock: You must make a time commitment for both quantity and quality sleep, which means no late nights.
4. Get the right sleep tools: Make sure you have a comfortable mattress and pillow that allow you to sleep without discomfort. This will make it easier to fall and stay asleep.
5. Keep cool: Make sure the room temperature is cool at 65 to 68 degrees. This is key because in order to fall asleep and maintain sleep we need a decrease in core body temperature.
6. Fit in a siesta: Studies show that a 30 minute nap between 1 and 4 p.m., will reduce your sleep debt, boost your productivity, and not affect your sleep at night.
7. Exercise: Exercise can effectively improve sleep. Studies from the University of Arizona show that women who walked short distances, such as just six blocks at a normal pace during the day, found their sleep significantly improved.
Regular exercise reduces the time it takes to get to sleep by 12 minutes, and increases total sleep time by up to 42 minutes.
Malinda Miller, RRT, RPSGT, is the Sleep Lab Supervisor at the Salem Sleep Center, located in the Salem Medical Center, 2094 East State Street. For more information about the Salem Sleep Center, call 330- 332-7796.