Expert tips on how to save your sleep from holiday stress and indulgence

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

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

“You’ll enjoy the holidays more if you can protect your sleep schedule — and you can actually get more done if you’re not tired and incapacitated from lack of sleep,” she said.

Eating large, heavy meals makes the body work harder to digest foods, which can contribute to fatigue, said Steven Malin, MD, an associate professor in the department of kinesiology and health at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

“Carbohydrates and protein as well as fat induce a series of hormonal changes that can promote changes in serotonin, which is a feel-good, pleasurable hormone that promotes sleep,” he said via email. Told.

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

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

Try replacing the sugary and fatty foods on your holiday plate with more unprocessed, fiber-rich foods. These substitutions are “like the slow digestion people feel over a long period of time,” Malin said.

“Another approach is considering water intake. Consuming adequate amounts of water before meals may help to distend the stomach and create a feeling of fullness.

exercise also helps to counteract A sense of lethargy, Malin said. Even standing up and moving around in the house or neighborhood can help reset that “tired” switch.

And don’t keep eating and drinking till you urinate. Digestion slows when we sleep, Knutson said, which can lead to indigestion, heartburn or acid reflux that can wake us up.

“Ideally, we should stop eating 2 or more hours before bedtime. A light snack is fine if you’re hungry before bedtime but a heavy, fortified meal should be avoided,” she said via email.

All those holiday sweets, especially if eaten on an empty stomach while waiting for a meal, can cause blood sugar or blood sugar fluctuations. It is best for the body to keep your blood stable throughout the day.

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

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

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

“Remember, alcohol can make you fall asleep faster and have a heavier sleep in the first half of the night. However, alcohol can disturb your sleep in the second half of the night.

Alcohol acts as a depressant on the brain, so when we drink a little too much (or too late in the evening) we will experience drowsiness. However, at midnight, the liver will end up metabolizing alcohol into a stimulant called acetaldehyde, according to Dr. Bhanu Kolla, an addiction psychiatrist and sleep medicine expert at the Mayo Clinic.

“So if you drink a lot of alcohol right before you go to bed, in about four hours it’s converted to aldehydes, which can disrupt sleep and wake you up,” Kolla told CNN in an earlier interview. Is.”

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

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

Many people look forward to that holiday nuptials, and often point to turkey as the reason. First, a little myth-busting: Turkey is not the culprit.

“The tryptophan from turkey is unlikely to make enough serotonin to enter the brain and make us sleepy,” Malin said.

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

Dasgupta suggested that if you decide to take a nap, don’t take it too soon after eating.

“Generally, it is not a good idea to lie down straight after a big meal, especially if you have heartburn. Also, if you are someone who struggles with insomnia, I would not recommend napping,” he Told.

“But if you’re sleep-deprived from a long trip, didn’t get much sleep the night before, and haven’t gotten 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 are suffering Whether it’s anxiety, depression, or seasonal affective disorder (a condition that causes sadness when daylight hours decrease), it’s important to keep an eye on your sleep, experts said.

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

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

To help quiet your mind, Knutson suggests, leave a notepad by your bed so you can write down any to-do items that may pop into your head.

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

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

“Studies have shown that exercise enables individuals with insomnia to fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and enjoy better sleep quality,” he added. “Exercise is also a good way to relieve stress and depression which have been common issues for people during the holidays.”

Expert tips on how to save your sleep from holiday stress and indulgence

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