Christmas is an exciting time. There’s no time like it, even a birthday doesn’t quite induce excitement on the scale that Christmas does. Particularly when you were young, Christmas Eve might have rendered you unbearably excited, refusing to sleep unless you missed Santa, and having to be told a million times that the big red guy won’t visit if you don’t get some shut-eye.
Now you’re an adult. And if you’re like me, the child inside comes out on Christmas Eve, ruining a good night sleep by keeping you awake with excitement, leading to an exhausted Christmas Day where even the idea of socialising will make you crave your bed. How can you ensure you get a good night sleep on Christmas Eve?
Avoid caffeine on Christmas Eve
Caffeine has a half-life of between 6 and 8 hours. That’s the amount of time it stays in your system. When you have a cup of coffee, the caffeine stimulates all the nerves in your frontal lobes – waking your brain, boosting adrenaline and blocking sleep inducing chemicals. Caffeine also increases your chances of developing a headache and can make your heart rate jump, which will either wake you up or disturb your sleep.
Stay busy in the day
Make sure you have a well-planned day so that the weight of productivity sends you into a deep slumber. Hopefully gifts will already be wrapped, so you can concentrate on pre-chopping vegetables for the big day. The best way to guarantee a fully productive day is to make a check-list of what needs to be bought, wrapped, cooked and decorated. All the energy that might have kept you awake at night will be depleted, leaving you to sleep like a baby.
Limit exposure to light
Get ready for some science! When the body decides it needs to sleep, the small pineal gland in your brain wakes up and produces a hormone called melatonin. Once this floods into your bloodstream, you naturally become less alert and are ready to drift off to sleep. This usually occurs around 9 pm, and melatonin levels will remain high for about 12 hours. However, our modern lifestyles are fighting the production of melatonin. The pineal gland relies on darkness to become active, and staring at a television screen, smart tablet or phone has the negative effect of delaying melatonin and causing a disturbed sleep. Steps can be taken to limit the damaging blue light, such as lowering the brightness of the screen or, better still, adding a special screen protector such as those from Ocushield.
These tips will help you doze off on Christmas Eve. Don’t ruin the evening by ignoring excitement, it is a fantastic time of year and should be enjoyed, but you don’t want to suffer from sleep deprivation on Christmas Day. Relax and good night!
For further reading, the Royal College of Psychiatrists have a leaflet on sleeping well, click here to read it.
If you have any more tips that help you fall asleep, please share them in the comments below!