'Tis the season. Christmas, New Years. Out of town visitors and parties. Turkey and fruit cake. Nuts and chocolates. Christmas cheer and New Year's bubbly. 'Tis the season for merriment, joy and love.
But for those people who suffer from a sleep disorder, the holiday season can add more stress and often lead to depression. A very important aspect of managing sleep disorders is a regular schedule. Your visitors may not understand why you feel a need to retire early, or why you aren't going to attend the all night parties. Every year there is the usual pressure to stay awake until after the giant ball drops in Time Square. To some people, it may seem imperative that everyone sit up to watch the New Year come in.
Christmas turkey and all the trimmings have been a tradition in many families for hundreds of years. Heavy meals, however, especially if eaten late in the evening, can cause sleeping problems. Heartburn, nightmares, or just a general feeling of discomfort can make it hard to get to sleep and stay asleep. Be especially wary of nibbling on chocolates and nuts as you relax in front of the fireplace visiting with folks you haven't seen since the previous Christmas. The amount of snacks you eat can be deceptive. That evening cup or two of coffee is another item to avoid.
Alcohol is a part of holiday celebrations for many people. It's not a good idea for anyone who suffers from a sleep disorder. For those who have sleep apnea or even a severe snoring problem, alcohol relaxes the throat muscles even more, allowing fatty tissue to block the air passages, increasing the problem. People who suffer from insomnia sometimes try to use alcohol to help them sleep. Alcohol does have a sedative effect at first, but it is actually a stimulant, and will disrupt sleep patterns, causing early arousal and the inability to fall back asleep.
I have compiled a list of tips that may help you get through the holidays with a minimum of discomfort. Although you may miss out on a bit of the fun of late parties and drinking in the New Year, it's always wisest to put your health first. While your more frivolous pals are still asleep, you can watch baby Allison opening her very first Christmas gift. You can spend time outdoors engaging in a snowball fight or going on a sleigh ride, things that may not appeal to those who are suffering from the late night doldrums. Sure, your buddies may have seen the New Year in, but while they are still asleep, you get to enjoy the first morning of the New Year.
TIPS FOR A HAPPY HOLIDAY
- As much as possible, keep to your regular schedule. Have meals at the times you are accustomed to.
- Go to bed at your usual time. If you must stay up and visit, try not to make it too late a night.
- Avoid all night parties. They can screw up your sleep patterns for days afterwards.
- Enjoy your Christmas turkey, but try not to overindulge. Having the Christmas dinner early in the afternoon is the best plan. Then, for your evening meal, have a turkey sandwich, or a bowl of that delicious leafy salad Aunt Sofia made.
- Keep snack foods like chocolate and nuts, to a minimum, especially in the evening.
- Avoid alcohol. A glass of wine with your (early) Christmas dinner shouldn't do any harm, but late night imbibing, especially to excess, can definitely be detrimental to anyone's health, and this is even more true for those who suffer from a sleep disorder.
- Don't be afraid to explain to family and friends about your illness. Ask for their help in sticking to a healthy holiday lifestyle.
KEEP HEALTHY AND HAVE A
Published On: December 22, 2008