It’s the most wonderful time of the year — but it can also be one of the most hectic. With so much going on, it’s no wonder that lots of us feel worn out by the new year, which is far from ideal when you’ve got to get back to work. Fortunately, Phil Lawlor, a Sleep Expert with mattress and bedding retailer Dormeo, is here to share his top tips for getting your sleep back on track after the festive season.
So much for silent nights and a deep and dreamless sleep: for most people, Christmas is a time when we tend to burn the candle at both ends. While late night parties, afternoon naps in front of the TV, and excessive amounts of food and drink are all part of the fun, they also play havoc with our sleep patterns. And, that only makes the crash back to reality in the new year all the more difficult.
But, you don’t necessarily need to be a bleary-eyed mess come January 2nd. Here, I’ll share my five top tips for resetting your body clock, so you can start the new working week feeling refreshed, energised and ready for the year ahead.
Refresh your bedroom
You won’t get a good night’s sleep at any time of year in an uncomfortable bed. So, if you often find yourself tossing and turning because of a flat, lumpy pillow or an old mattress, it may be time to gift yourself some new bedding. Plus, you can take advantage of the deals on offer during the January sales.
While bedding is important, don’t forget about factors like lighting and temperature, too. Streetlights can disrupt our body clock and trick the brain into thinking it’s still daylight outside, so make sure all artificial light is blocked out using blackout curtains or blinds. While we tend to think of warm rooms as being cosy, they’re actually not ideal for sleep: the perfect sleeping environment is around 16–18°C, according to the Sleep Council. So, turn the thermostat down, and if you feel chilly in bed, invest in a thicker duvet.
Try to keep exercising
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy sleep pattern, so if you want to feel refreshed in the new year, I’d recommend that you try to keep moving over the festive season. That’s not to say you need to hit the gym for an intense workout at 6am on Boxing Day, but a few gentle exercise sessions over Christmas week will help to keep your body clock on track.
If you can, exercise outside and get some fresh air: natural daylight helps regulate our circadian rhythm, ensuring we feel awake in the day and sleepy at night. It could be as simple as a long walk, a quick jog around the neighbourhood, or even a family bike ride — anything that gets you off the sofa and out in the fresh air for an hour or two!
Consider using a SAD lamp
While the days will be getting longer throughout January (just slightly!), it’ll be a while until we have lighter mornings, and that means most of us will still be getting up in the dark. So, if you struggle with early starts in the winter, you might want to consider using a SAD lamp in the morning. This will imitate the brightness of natural daylight, helping you to feel more alert and energised and combatting Seasonal
LED SAD lamps can also be used in place of an alarm clock, helping you to wake up naturally and feeling refreshed — and who doesn’t want that on a cold, dark January morning?
Don’t sleep in too late on New Year’s Day
Staying up past midnight on New Year’s Eve is all part of the fun, and you certainly won’t want to miss out on the festivities. But, if you want to try and get back on track as soon as possible, try to avoid sleeping in too late on New Year’s Day to make up for it. Even though it’s tempting to hit snooze (especially if you celebrate with one too many glasses of champagne) it’s only going to mean you struggle to fall asleep the following night — and feel groggy on the first day back at work.
So, try to ensure you start the new decade on the right foot by setting an alarm and getting up at a reasonable time. It may help to organise something fun, like lunch or brunch with family and friends, to help motivate you to get out of bed. Natural daylight and exercise will also help you to feel sleepy the following evening, so consider going for a long walk in the afternoon.
Floor a wind down routine
If you don’t have a proper wind-down routine before bed in the evening, then make it one of your New Year’s resolutions to create one. Doing the same thing at the same time every night before we go to bed helps to train our bodies to fall asleep and wake up at the same time, and it helps us to get better quality, more restorative sleep. So, create a relaxing routine which you can follow every night before bed.
Every person will have their own unique routine, so it’s all a matter of working out what you need to enjoy a good night’s sleep. For most people, avoiding blue light right before sleep is very important, so try to put away phones and laptops and switch off the television at least an hour before bed — you can always read or listen to an audiobook instead. Stretching, deep-breathing, and meditation can also help to ready the body for sleep, so consider doing 15 minutes of gentle yoga or Pilates before you turn in for the night.
Christmas can be a very tiring time of the year, and it can take a toll on our sleep patterns well into the New Year. But, by taking care of yourself over the festive season and practicing good sleep hygiene in the new year, you should have no trouble getting your body clock back on track come January.