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Sleep and the Holidays

I think it’s safe to say that most of us tend to eat pretty well over the holidays. We have some very large, carbohydrate-heavy meals, delicious desserts, and perhaps some tasty cocktails and beverages! While it all tastes good, it’s not always the best option for sleeping well. I know what you’re thinking, “but I take awesome naps after I chow down a big meal!” Yes, I’m sure you do (as most of us do), but those naps are not the problem.

You might have heard that the amino acid tryptophan that is found in certain foods will make you sleepy. This is true, since the brain transforms tryptophan into first seratonin and then melatonin, which is a hormone that makes us naturally sleepy. So the overeating we tend to do on holidays leads to quick and easy sleep, but unfortunately that’s where the fun ends. Oftentimes a heavy meal will cause you to have a restless night with on and off again wakings. Your body has to work much harder digesting all of that deliciousness than it would with a normal amount of food that wasn’t loaded with carbs and protein. If, however, you can eat it in smaller amounts, then you get the best of both worlds: initial sleepiness and a better night’s sleep.

Alcohol has the same effect. If you’ve ever had an alcoholic drink, you know that you will have an initial “high”, as it’s a stimulant, but then it will leave you sleepy once you stop drinking it. Alcohol also causes nighttime restlessness, since it keeps you from entering deeper stages of sleep.  Caffeine is something else you need to watch. While it can take just 15 minutes for you to start to feel the stimulating effect it has on you, it can take 5-6 hours for half of it to disappear from your system and take up to a full 13-14 hours to completely leave your body! So you’ll want to be very careful about when you drink your coffee or other caffeinated beverages! For example, if you normally go to bed at 10pm, then you want to be sure you’re done having these drinks by 4pm.

So this holiday season, try to spread out the goodies so you’re not eating a huge dinner with an alcoholic beverage, following it up immediately with some dessert and a cup of coffee. If you do that, you’ll surely be up, tossing and turning most of the night! Instead, trying having a midday “dinner” or lunch , along with eating smaller portion sizes, as well as watching what you’re drinking and when. If you’re careful about these things, you can still enjoy all of your holiday favorites and maybe even maintain your waistline too!

 

* If you’re suffering from poor sleep, I can help! Check out my Adult Sleep Packages, download my 5 Free Sleep Tips report, and/or schedule a free 15min phone call with to discuss your unique situation!