Sleep deprivation is a real problem with today’s hustle and bustle lifestyle, and quality slumber suffers even more during the holidays. Poor rest can negatively impact your enjoyment of the season and your health. As November is National Sleep Comfort Month, we’d like to shed some eye-opening light on the importance of getting enough sleep with tips to help improve sleep quality, so you can focus on being grateful, not wakeful!
Importance of Sleep
Shut-eye is a vital function of our biology and wellness that affects all bodily organs and dictates how our bodies are restored. Did you know that just one to three nights of sleep loss can detract from your physical and mental well-being? While the body somewhat acclimates, chances are that if you suffer from mild sleep deprivation, your body, immune system, and brain could be healthier and more energized.
It is no secret that the amount of sleep we need changes as we age. Adequate rest and early bedtimes are essential for growing children and youths, as sleep deprivation hinders physical and mental development. The 7 to 9 hours that work for most people aren’t nearly enough for babies, children, and teens. But that doesn’t mean sleep isn’t still paramount for adults. Adults with inadequate sleep experience impaired immunity, cardiovascular issues, diabetes, obesity, poor memory, and mental health challenges. Sufferers may have difficulty thinking clearly or have feelings of anxiety and depression after a period of sleeplessness. Another study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine found increased aches, gastrointestinal and respiratory issues, nervousness, loneliness, irritability, and frustration in participants who racked six or fewer hours of sleep eight nights in a row. This further validates the importance of rest and sleep for our overall wellness.
While scientists are still unraveling the complexities of sleep, we know that it impacts nearly every bodily system. Our brains emit messages and chemicals that govern when and how we rest. Ideally, your body downshifts as you drift off in the beginning sleep cycle, with breathing, heart rate, and brain activity slowing down and your body temperature lowering. Your body undergoes four sleep stages, three non-REM stages followed by REM (rapid eye movement) sleep when we experience the most intense dreams. While all stages are necessary for restoration, and every person has a unique sleep architecture, the third non-REM stage involves the deepest relaxation for most.
How Sleep Works
Two powerful regulators work together to ensure your body gets the rest it needs to function optimally. With insufficient sleep, you will notice an increased, impossible-to-ignore desire to hit the hay. That is the body’s sleep-wake homeostasis or homeostatic sleep drive kicking in. It partners with your circadian rhythm alerting system to ensure you get enough rest, with the presence of light influencing wakefulness and darkness encouraging sleep. Chemicals and hormones, including acetylcholine, adenosine, adrenaline, cortisol, GABA, norepinephrine, orexin, melatonin, and serotonin, play a part in the sleep-wake cycle as well. Inadequate sleep can also impact ghrelin, the appetite-regulating hormone, and leptin, a growth hormone. Women tend to experience additional sleep issues due to fluctuating hormones associated with monthly cycles, pregnancy, and menopause.
Sleep + Lifestyle Choices
Lack of adequate rest is a growing wellness concern, as evidenced by the multitude of pills, potions, and gadgets geared to energize and keep us alert. While sleeping a full 7-8 hours seems like a luxury, it is not! Hunger, stress, caffeine intake, and blue light exposure have adverse effects on your mind and body and are just a few factors that interfere with the natural sleep process. Succumbing to the temptation to forgo sleep in lieu of other activities doesn’t come without sacrifice. Sure, the occasional weekday holiday party and extra cup of joe the day after is okay, but skipping meals, sucking down energy drinks, and late-night scrolling to get holiday shopping done will take a toll. Add in holiday stress, and you have a perfect recipe for even more sleepless nights.
Just take a pill, right? Unfortunately, physicians don’t recommend sleep medicines long term as they may entail side effects or overreliance while failing to address underlying causes of sleep issues. You can overcome the seemingly insurmountable sleep debt with a holistic, healthy approach that prioritizes deep, tranquil slumber. To help you get back to sleeping like Baby New Year, here are some steps to enhance sleep hygiene:
Try a sleep aid: Sleep-enhancing gizmos are an excellent part of a calming sleeping ritual. Using sleep headphones with relaxing music or white noise buffers against outside noises and induces a restful slumber. Or tap into your competitive nature with a sleep calculator that tracks how many hours you actually sleep. Seeing the hard numbers of hours can incentivize you to log more snooze time. Imagine bragging to your bestie that you logged 8 hours instead of bragging about how little sleep you need to “get by.”
Stay cool: For optimal zzzs,keep your room cool and wrap up exercise one hour before bedtime to allow your body temperature to normalize and complement its natural evening temperature reduction. Some people find that silk sleep pillowcases help keep them cool, in addition to being kind to skin and hair, leaving you smoother-looking and ready to face the next day.
Man the lights: Your brain needs complete darkness for optimal rest as our bodies respond to light even when eyes are closed! Block all light sources, including night lights, street lights, and natural morning light, with a sleep mask or blackout curtains and dim lights pre-bedtime, too! The minute you awaken, open your blinds, flip the light switch, and, if possible, head outdoors for a quick stroll in natural light (with ocean safe sunscreen, of course!) to signal your brain to wake up!
Eat right to sleep tight: Avoid big, heavy meals a few hours before bedtime so that your digestion has a chance to settle down and the energizing effects of food diminish. You don’t want to go to bed hungry, either, as that can also prevent a deep state of rest. Timing meals is essential! Up the ante on whole grains – Consume one cup of whole wheat pasta a few nights a week to get 38% of your Magnesium RDA (recommended dietary allowance). It relaxes the muscles and nervous system, plus it promotes production and absorption of sleep-promoting neurotransmitters. Skip spicy foods as they may reduce the amount of time spent in light and deep sleep phases. Why? The thought is that spicy foods hinder the cooling process your body normally undergoes at bedtime.
Watch the stimulants: Look out for anything that may energize your brain. Avoid caffeinated holiday hot chocolate and other treats by mid-day and stop stimulating content from blue light-emitting electronics an hour before bed so you can drift off easily. Afraid skipping your afternoon java will cause you to lose your razor-sharp focus? Remember that sleep keeps you sharp - clearing out old memories to make way for new facts and information. Drink smarter to regulate the sleep-wake cycle by curtailing holiday cocktails and sipping Chamomile tea or melatonin-rich cherry juice before tucking in instead. While that hot toddy sounds appealing, alcohol disrupts REM sleep, interfering with deep, restorative rest.
Make a date with your bed: Strictly sticking to a regular bedtime and wake schedule will be instrumental to you improving your sleep hygiene. Remember that you are the best boss, mom, dad, employee, child, friend, and host/hostess when you take care of yourself first. And, get a bed for Fido or Fifi – as, pets are not your sleep’s best friend. Unfortunately, just four nights slumbering with furry pals can adversely affect sleep as they tend to wake you up.
Call the doc: If snoring is keeping you from deep sleep, a sleep specialist can help determine if sleep apnea is to blame. Dreading learning the truth and having to wear a C-pap machine? Perhaps the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine citing that treatment can approve your looks will encourage you to get diagnosed.
Wind It Down
A nightly sleep-time essential is important year-round but challenging during the holidays. Jot down what’s on your mind to put it aside and permit yourself to rest. If worries about gifting are leaving you sleepless, you can easily set that stressor aside, as Pevonia has gifts for everyone on your list! Remember, he knows when you are sleeping! Let us be like Rudolph’s nose so bright to guide your holiday shopping tonight - so you can sleep like one of Santa’s elves!
To awaken refreshed and ready to take on the holidays, make a contract with yourself that you’ll stick to an established winddown ritual. The Pevonia Sparkling De-Stress Body Holiday Gift features moisturizing clean beauty products infused with calming Essential Oils for a relaxing nighttime habit that will leave you ready for dreams of sugarplum fairies.
Here’s how we suggest you unwind through the holidays and throughout the coming year:
Step 1: Do gentle stretching, followed by dry brushing with our Body Brush, to help eliminate health-disrupting toxins while you sleep.
Step 2: Take a calming bath with the Sulfate-free Anti-Stress Bath & Shower Gel to separate you from holiday worries. The cooling sensation thereafter, coupled with the relaxing Lavender, Calendula, and Sweet Almond Oil, will cleanse away the stresses of the day, welcoming a restful evening reprieve.
Step 3: Spritz your face and body with the deluxe trial-sized skin mist. Steeped in calming Green Tea and Aloe, it will envelop your complexion in soothing moisture.
Step 4: Deeply inhale the relaxing aromatherapy of Lavender, Rose, and Grapefruit Essential Oils in our De-Stress Escape Aromatic Oil, and gently press the moisturizing formula onto your face.
Step 5: Soothe away aches and discomfort from hours of decorating and holiday shopping with the Marine Magnesium and cooling Tension Relief Gel for a deep, restful slumber. Instead of waking up wondering why you slept so poorly, these sleep tips will help you give your body the gratitude it deserves this holiday season.