It would be nice if the holidays were 100 percent peace and joy, right? It’s January but I still feel like I’m coping with a holiday hangover— I should feel well-rested from all the time off, but I’m exhausted and depleted instead. Not the best way to start the new year. Holiday stressors (last-minute stocking stuffing, making hundreds of latkes, blowing the gift budget yet again) can lead to sleepless nights, and I’ve had more than my share lately.
In fact, a 2015 Healthline study found that more than 60 percent of people surveyed felt added stress this time of year. 12 percent said scheduling was their biggest source of stress (AKA there are way too many things to get done so sleep gets pushed to the bottom of the priority list); 47 percent listed finances as the biggest cause of stress, and that kind of worry definitely has the potential to keep you up at night.
And while all that makes it harder to sleep soundly, it’s also more important, since research shows a good eight hours helps you handle day-to-day stress more effectively. (The sleep deprived, on the other hand, feel overwhelmed and irritable and lose their patience more often.)
Now that it’s 2018 and all the holiday madness is behind us, I’m committing to prioritizing shut-eye using these nine strategies to get more sleep. In fact, all week, I’m sharing some new year’s resolutions I’m taking SERIOUSLY this year, especially the ones that involve my health. Follow my lead:
- Aromatherapy before bed.
Lavender is the essential oil most studied for improving quality shut-eye, so it’s my go-to. I use this Vitruvi diffuser to fill my bedroom with lavender and other sleep-promoting scents at night. It’s currently sold out nearly everywhere, but this is a great alternative option. Making a committment to turn it on more, before bed.
- Don’t stop working out.
Fitting in exercise is crucial, even when you’re pooped from being up all night. Research shows those who work out sleep better, and you could also use those happy-making endorphins. Try a streaming workout at home to cut down on travel time. My workout routine slid into Nowheresville at the end of the year. Strapping a leash on the dog as we speak to get out and move.
- Track your sleep.
If you’re a data geek and numbers motivate you, try a sleep tracker that will show you trends and even offer recommendations based on your data. The Misfit Shine, Fitbit Alta HR and the Beddit system are all current favorites.
- Take it easy on the nog.
Sorry, but tracking your tippling is also a good idea. I am in way saying you should skip the champagne toast, but try to reign in the excessive drinking that can happen without you even realizing at holiday parties. Alcohol may knock you out initially, but it leads to sleep disruptions later at night. This is a good one to jump start after all the holiday debauchery.
- Make friends with magnesium.
Lots of people (including some experts) swear by magnesium as a sleep aid, and I’ve found it helps me get to bed (when I remember to take it). You can take it as a supplement, jump in an epsom salt bath, or use a spray. I am putting my spray on the bedside table now, so I don’t forget.
- Invest in an eye mask.
The amount of light in your bedroom absolutely influences how well you sleep, and if you live in a city, it can be hard to totally block it out. Try a luxe eye mask that’s actually comfy, like Slip’s. I can’t even tell you how much I love this sleep mask: Most are heavy, or too tight, or make me sweaty (just me?). This one is dreamy.
- Listen to soothing sounds.
Similarly, noise (either too much or the lack thereof!) impacts sleep. I love Marpac’s White Noise Sound Machine, which I tuck under my nightstand (this home + away bundle includes the travel-sized machine I take everywhere I travel).
- Switch up your lighting.
Harsh lighting (especially from your smartphone, so leave it out of the bedroom!) is bad for bedtime. Smart lights like C-Sleep by GE come with adjustable temperature, so you can tone it down while you read yourself to sleep.
- Get outside, even when it’s cold.
Speaking of light, exposure to natural light during the day affects your biological clock, which is what tells your body when to wake up and when to snooze. Bundle up if you live somewhere chilly and then take a walk outside to absorb a little sunshine. That will be great for your mood and stress levels, too.
Do you have tricks for sticking to a bedtime this time of year? Share them in the comments below!