When it comes to Christmas time and the holiday period it seems a lot of things just go out the window. We start to eat more than we normally do, we consume more alcohol than we normally do and we start to sleep a lot less than what we normally do too. You might think there is no harm in that, it is Christmas after all, but they all start to take their toll on the body and our minds.
Christmas, Eating and Sleep
There is no such thing as healthy eating around the Christmas period and what you eat and when you eat them can affect your sleep. There’s no doubt your plates will be full with fatty foods and high sugar desserts and not just once, but day in and day out for potentially weeks. Eating large amounts of fatty foods and refined sugars can stress your body and make you feel sluggish and lethargic. This can place a significant demand on your digestive system and in turn affect your sleep.
Lack of Sleep and Over-Eating
Not only are we eating more and more bad foods for sustained periods over the holiday break but we are staying up later and later with a long list of parties and events to attend. This has a two-pronged effect, we are eating more bad food which hinders our digestion and in turn our sleep and the sleep deprivation we are experiencing from all the late night and early morning starts is actually associated with overeating. So if we weren’t eating enough, when we are sleep deprived we tend to eat even more. And of course added to all of this we typically aren’t expending as much energy as we normally would to work off these added calories. We also eat later and later in the night which may increase the risk of weight gain as the body is more likely to turn calories into fat rather than burning them off.
Christmas, Alcohol and Sleep
This time of year usually means a huge increase in the amount of alcohol consumed. Even a couple of drinks can jeopardise the normal sleep process. When you drink alcohol you can go straight into deep sleep, missing out on REM sleep which is the usual first stage of sleep. You might start in deep sleep but as the alcohol wears off you usually come out of deep sleep and back into REM sleep. The deep sleep is where your body is restored and refreshed and when consuming alcohol your sleep in this area is limited. You usually have six to seven cycles of REM sleep each night too, when you’ve been drinking you typically have only one to two, meaning you’ll wake feeling exhausted. Which means you’ll most likely overeat and the cycle continues.
How to Sleep Better This Christmas
This holiday season many of us will be worn down and stressed. We can minimise this by limiting our alcohol intake and limiting how much we eat. Minimising doesn’t mean missing out; we just have to be smart to avoid alcohol close to bedtime and avoid too much greasy, spicy or protein rich foods close to bedtime too. Leave these foods for earlier in the day so we don’t put too much strain on our digestion system right when we are getting ready to lie down. Sleep affects what we eat, what we eat affects how we sleep, alcohol affects how we sleep and sleep affects how happy we feel.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
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