With the stress of Christmas shopping, late nights and excitable kids, it can be hard to get a good night’s sleep.
A survey by Healthline, a consumer health information site based in San Francisco, found 62 per cent suffer higher stress levels during the holidays.
Stress-induced anxiety causes over a third of insomnia episodes, according to US research. But insomniac turned professional sleep therapist Duncan Spedding is here to help.
He says: “Almost everyone that comes to see me has anxiety about sleep. I see this increase threefold in the build up to Christmas. In women it’s even higher as they’re often juggling the lion’s share of tasks.”
According to a report by holistic sleep expert Christine Hansen for mattress firm Eve Sleep, 27 per cent of women lose sleep due to festive stress.
Duncan, a former Southampton FC footballer, struggled to sleep for nine years before away matches.
He says: “When I finally sought help, I learnt simple behavioural techniques to quickly get sleep back on track.
“Now, I help hundreds of people every year, and I’ve devised this easy guide to help you nip poor festive sleep in the bud.”
Most people are hard-wired to sleep but I encourage clients to view sleep as a luxury. It sounds counter intuitive but the principle is simple.
Don’t be bothered by sleep. Stop caring. If you’re worried you won’t sleep, simply accept you’ll not and mean it.
If you miss a night’s sleep, so what? You’ll survive. Overthinking your ability to fall asleep creates doubting fear.
Don’t fret about drinks
Drink alcohol in moderation because too much can interrupt your sleep.
You’ll likely wake up in the middle of the night thirsty or needing the loo and may struggle to fall asleep again, starting a cycle of sleep anxiety.
December is hot for festive drinking, so alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks during your event.
That way you won’t feel like you’re missing out while still bagging essential hours of rest in this jam-packed season of excess and exhaustion.
Fit in a little bit of daily exercise, be it walking the dog, a lunchtime jog or evening stroll with the kids, or a spell on an exercise bike.
Exercise releases natural endorphins – happy hormones, giving you a feeling of wellbeing.
That will feel doubly good in this season of high fat, sugar and booze.
Sometimes the guilt we carry through December for all the indulgence is more damaging to our sleep and mental wellbeing than anything else.
See it coming
People who expect stress deal with it far better than those who don’t.
It’s more realistic for us all to accept Christmas and New Year can be a very stressful time and simply resolve to deal with whatever life throws at us.
If you expect and welcome it, can you be surprised or further stressed by it?
Take things in your stride and know that when your head hits the pillow you won’t be ruminating on all the things that the season is sending to test you.
- See duncanspedding.com/sleep for more information.