A Bedtime Routine for the Holidays

A Bedtime Routine for the Holidays

Don’t let seasonal stress get the best of you. Unwind with these tips.


As a kid, sometimes it was hard to fall asleep during the holidays — you had no school, there were presents and it was just fun to stay up late. As a parent, though, things change. You may be worrying about last-minute shopping, the weather and anything else that winter can throw at you.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to get yourself into a routine. While your normal day-to-day bedtime routine helps you get relaxed, you need something heavy duty to get you to bed during the holidays.

Check out these tips:

Daytime Affects Sleep
There are certain daytime activities that influence your night-time sleep. Exercise in general is good for sleep, but try to work out in the early part of the day when possible. Getting sun exposure in the morning sun for at least 30 minutes will cue your body to induce sleep at the right time of the night. Since taking a run on snow- and ice-covered sidewalks and roads could be dangerous, you can still do Pilates and yoga and other things indoors. Of course, consult with your physician before you start any exercise routine to make sure you’re fit to begin.

If you nap, keep this under an hour and not in the late afternoon or evening, so you won’t wake up drowsy or have trouble falling asleep at the right bedtime.

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Sleepy-friendly Foods
In the two hours before bed, limit your foods to those that promote, not disrupt, your sleep. A heavy or spicy meal before bed can interfere with sleep, so keep your snacks light. Try a banana and a handful of almonds, a slice of whole wheat toast and a cup of chamomile tea, or a small bowl of oatmeal sprinkled with flax seeds — all foods that aid in relaxation. Avoid caffeine after 5 or 6 p.m. (Unfortunately, the seasonal fruit cake’s high sugar content can lead to a burst of energy.)

Set an Early Bedtime
Most of your deep, restorative sleep occurs in the first few hours after you fall asleep. Establish a reasonable bedtime that gives you at least seven to eight hours before you need to wake up (allowing time for you to fall asleep and wake up briefly in the night if you need to). Once you’ve decided on a bedtime, try to stay with it — even on the weekends and during holidays — so your body’s clock becomes accustomed. The regularity will help you establish a more reliable sleep and wake schedule. 

  • Two hours before bed: Your body and mind need to downshift as bedtime nears, so lower any bright overhead lights in your home. Have a light snack. If you work in the evenings, choose a room in the house that is not your bedroom — you don’t want work thoughts to invade your sleep environment.
  • One hour before bed: It’s now time to let your mind and body relax. Turn off close-range electronic devices, as the light from these screens and their interactive nature can be activating to the brain. Close your laptop and shut down your any holiday planning or shopping stress until tomorrow. Avoid any stressful conversations that can wait for the next day.
  • 30 minutes before bed: Choose an activity that is calming. Read a print book or use an e-reader without a backlight, listen to music while you sip chamomile tea, or take a warm bath and use soothing body and face creams.
  • Bedtime: When you climb into bed, use a breathing exercise or a relaxation technique to help clear your mind and invite sleep.

It’s easy to wish someone else a happy holiday, but when it comes to yourself, it’s important that you’re taking time to unwind and rest properly. And with that rest, you can find yourself, Dec. 31, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to greet the New Year invigorated! 

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