Rest during the festive season

Rest over the festive seasonMany people will find themselves burnt out after the festive season instead of refreshed and ready for another working year. It is very important to use the time you have off work to revitalise yourself, relax and spend quality time with your loved ones. This will have fantastic affects on your mindset going into the New Year. An essential aspect of winding down at this time of the year is through sleep and rest.

Sleep is an essential daily body function. Sleep boosts the immune system, repairs muscle and tissue damage, archives memories and helps sort through all the information processed throughout the day. Without enough sleep, we experience fatigue, attention and memory problems, and stress. It’s easy to skip the required amount of sleep during the festive period due to the stress and anxiety associated preparing food, buying presents and entertaining guests. But without enough sleep, alertness and attentiveness is affected, which will take away from your experience and enjoyment.

That is why it is just as important during the festive season, if not more, to make sure you get the recommended 7–8 hours of sleep per night. While you may not be at work, your body may be more physically exerted than it would be in non-holiday weeks, with the additional impact of alcohol and overeating. During this time you may also be more emotionally stressed, which is only intensified with lack of sleep.

Stress and fatigue

Physical and mental exhaustion are both components of fatigue. Sustaining concentration, attention and alertness is profoundly affected by lack of sleep, symptoms that are unwanted all the time but especially when you want to enjoy yourself over the festive season. Feeling fatigued causes people to feel stressed; around this time of the year when people are already starting to feel overwhelmed, lack of sleep and fatigue will heighten it further and make for an unpleasant holiday.

For more information, see Avoiding Stress over the Festive Season.

Sleep and weight control

Sleep is an integral component of weight control. Studies have confirmed that even with healthy eating and exercise, if people do not achieve enough sleep they will have difficulty losing weight. With all the almost unavoidable overindulgences during the festive period, sleep will be an essential part of keeping the weight off.

The after-Christmas-lunch lull

Rest over the festive seasonIt is a natural biological function to feel sleepy at around 2pm every day. This is heightened after a big carbohydrate rich meal – or, in other words, by what you will be eating on Christmas Day! When you feel the post-lunch dip it is perfectly okay to have a 20–30 minute nap. Napping is a good way to improve alertness and performance if kept under an hour. This will give you some energy to get ready for the next celebration at Christmas dinner!

Travel during the festive season

The festive season is a time for travel for many people and families. Sleep is essential for people travelling long distances by car. If you feel you are too tired to drive, you must stop and take an emergency nap, or swap the driving with other passengers.

Jet lag may also be experienced by people who have come off long distance flights. As we travel through different time zones, our body’s natural sleep rhythm is disturbed, substantially affecting our alertness and causing jet lag. While there is no way to avoid jet lag, there are ways to overcome it faster, such as by staying awake until 10pm local time on the day you arrive in order for your body to adjust. If you do need to sleep before then, make sure it is only a very quick nap, not longer than 2 hours.

For more information, see Jet Lag.

Steps for adequate rest

The only way to get enough sleep during the festive season is to make it a priority by actively taking the time to relax and setting aside enough time for sleep.

After a stressful day shopping, preparing, entertaining the kids, and coping with the heat at this time of year, it can be hard for some people to fall asleep. It is therefore wise to set aside some time to wind down before you go to bed. Yoga and meditation are just two methods of relaxation that you make like to use.

Rest over the festive seasonIf you have not done much exercise throughout the day, you will also find it difficult to fall asleep. During these summer months it is best to exercise early in the morning or at a beach where your body is unlikely to overheat. Furthermore, if you exercise too close to bedtime it will have the opposite affect and keep you awake! It is best to stop exercising at least 4 hours before bedtime.

Keep in mind that too much alcohol will also make it difficult to achieve a restful and quality sleep, so be aware of how many celebratory drinks you imbibe.

More information

Festive health For more information on health during the festive season, including sleep, diet, exercise and stress, see Festive Health.
Sleep For more information about sleep, including how much is good for you, tips for getting more sleep, and sleep disorders, as well as some useful videos, see Sleep.


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