Sleep expert James Wilson's Christmas survival guide
December is here and we’re socialising more, spending more, doing more, eating more - but sleeping less. It’s easy to get into the party mood and start burning the candle at both ends, working, partying, shopping and planning the perfect Christmas. Westfield Health’s tips on how to get quality sleep over the festive period.
Getting the kids to sleep on Christmas Eve It’s the most exciting night of the year (Father Christmas is coming!) and getting our kids to sleep can be a huge task. The chances are that they’ll be far too giddy at their normal bedtime on Christmas Eve, so try and not be too prescriptive. Here are some ideas you can try:
• Turn off all blue screens about an hour before your kids usual bedtime. • Give them a bath/shower about 30 minutes before their usual sleep time. • If they go to bed and seem over excited, take them back downstairs and do some relaxing activities like reading, singing, jigsaws or colouring.
The main thing to remember is to not to worry too much, as long as they have a good routine and wake up at a similar time every day both before and after Christmas Day, they’ll switch back to their usual sleep behaviours relatively quickly.
Dealing with disturbed sleep The party season over Christmas can have a real impact on our sleep and productivity. Now I’m no party pooper, Christmas is all about enjoying yourself, but if there’s one thing you can do to help deal with your disrupted sleep during the party season, it’s this: resist the temptation to lay in bed all day after a late night.
If you’ve been up late Christmas shopping or out drinking until late, try and get up as close to your usual wake up time as possible so that you don’t disrupt your internal clock. This means you’ll be able to get to sleep that evening around your usual bedtime and you’ll be able to get up the next morning. So even though you might be a little hungover and fear a tough day ahead of you, get up and keep your internal body clock on track to avoid and a number of days of poor sleep.
Give the gift of a good night’s sleep Magnesium spray One of the key components to my work with poor sleepers is helping them to create an anchor point to their pre-sleep routine. I often use a magnesium spray/flakes to do this, which could make an ideal gift for the poor sleeper in your life. Magnesium is great for helping us relax on a cellular level and also strengthens the part of the brain that produces melatonin, the hormone that helps us sleep. There’s evidence that it helps some people with Restless Leg Syndrome too.
Alpaca duvets/pillows and bamboo bedding A drop in core temperature is incredibly important to us sleeping well and it only takes a small change in our core temperature during the night for us to start waking up. For many of us, temperature fluctuations are a real issue, but Alpaca duvets/pillows and bamboo bedding can help to keep our body at a consistent temperature, giving you a longer and less disturbed sleep.
Sunshine alarm clock One of the main building blocks that I use to help poor sleepers improve their sleep is making sure they have a consistent wake up time every single day. We often obsess about getting to bed at a certain time, but we’re unable to force sleep, but we can control the time we wake up and a consistent wake up time will help your body get into a healthy rhythm. My favourite tool to achieve a consistent wake up time is a sunshine (or daylight) alarm clock. They wake you up with natural light, ensuring that your body stops producing melatonin and that when awake you stay awake. If you are going to buy one product to help you sleep better this is the one!
Whether you’re a good or bad sleeper, the Christmas build up can cause us to lose sleep, and being sleep-deprived can make any stress seem a bigger deal than it really is.