Happy Snooze Year: How to Recover from the Holidays and Get the Best Sleep of Your Life

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Hannah Puechmarin)

The holidays can be seriously disruptive to your sleep schedule. And getting your snooze habits back on track after the break isn’t always easy. So we called on sleep expert Nancy Rothstein, aka The Sleep Ambassador, for advice on how to remedy our holiday sleep-related sins — and fortunately, she had lots to share.

Read ahead for some simple ways to score a good night’s sleep once the holidays are over.

Sleep Sin #1: You slept in every day

The Remedy: “If you slept in every or most days during the holidays, it’s an indication that you’re not getting the sleep you need on a regular basis.” Says Rothstein, “Start 2018 with a commitment to having a consistent sleep and wake time. This will keep your circadian clock in balance so you’re not craving extra sleep. Have a routine to prepare for sleep, starting with tuning out from technology about an hour, yes an hour, before bed. You will likely experience a new ease in falling asleep and awaken feeling more refreshed.”

Sleep Sin#2: You’re jetlagged from travel

The Remedy: “Jet lag means your body clock is lagging from its normal rhythm,” Rothstein explains. “Get back to your routine but be gentle with yourself as your natural rhythm adjusts. You may choose to ease back into your sleep schedule by going to bed a little earlier or a little later depending on which direction you traveled. As for your wake time, it’s likely you don’t have as much flexibility if you have to go to work so just be consistent with the time you awaken.”

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Sleep Sin #3: You consumed too much (alcohol or food) and can’t sleep

The Remedy: “While alcohol may help you fall asleep, it can play havoc with your sleep cycles.” Says Rothstein, “And eating too much within about 3 hours before bedtime is tough on your digestive system because you’re asking it to work just when it needs to slow down, not to mention attempting to digest laying horizontal. Avoid caffeine after about noon and don’t consume alcohol at least 3-4 hours before bedtime so you don’t aggravate your sleep quality.”

Sleep Sin #4: You’re still stressed out from the holidays and having trouble falling asleep

Remedy: “A holiday stress hangover usually leads to some kind of struggle falling asleep,” explains Rothstein. “For better sleep in the New Year, be proactive about eliminating stress-triggers at bedtime. Recharge your devices outside of your bedroom so you can recharge in bed. Purchase an inexpensive alarm clock vs. using your cell phone alarm. Why? So you aren’t tempted to check text messages and activate your brain when it’s time for sleep. And the blue light from tech devices inhibits the release of your melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep/ wake cycle.”

Rothstein’s foolproof tips for scoring a good night’s sleep

1. Keep cool

“Make your bedroom your sleep sanctuary. It needs to be cool, dark, and quiet. It should not be your auxiliary office or entertainment center.”

2. Water works

“Take a shower or a bath before bedtime so you go to bed clean and relaxed. When in the shower or tub, take some calming breaths and feel the water flow over you. This is a great time to practice mindfulness.”

3. Clock out

“Don’t look at the clock if you’re having trouble falling asleep or if you awaken during the night. This will spare you from activating your brain as it counts the hours you have left to sleep, creating anxiety.”