How to Battle Holiday Stress, Part 3: Silent Night, Sleepy Night

How to Battle Holiday Stress

a PHMP Online Knowledgebase


Welcome to Part 3 of 3 in our conveniently-timed, aptly-titled How to Battle Holiday Stress—and Win mini-series.

In Part 3, we’re talking about sleep. Sleep before the holidays. Sleep after the holidays. You’ll always need some good sleep—and we’re here to help!

We’re almost there. Only a few short days until the holidays arrive in full glory.

But are you getting enough sleep?

The stress of the holidays—never mind the ongoing global pandemic—can have a huge negative affect your sleep.

The more stressed you are, the harder it is to sleep. The harder it is to sleep, the less sleep you get. And the less sleep you get, the more stressed you become. It’s a vicious cycle.

According to The Better Sleep Council’s (BSC) The State of America’s Sleep and COVID-19 survey, fewer Americans are getting the minimum recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.

In January 2020, 54 percent of those surveyed reported getting 7–8 hours, while a year earlier 60 percent reported doing so.

Based on the survey’s findings, American’s stress levels increased, more Americans feel financially strapped, and fewer use coping mechanisms to deal with stress.

Sleep patterns have spiraled out of control, and many people are beginning to self-medicate: coffee or energy drinks throughout the day, perhaps a nightcap or two before bed. All this only serves to make the cycle worse.

Because of the stress of the pandemic and the fact that it gets darker earlier, more people will experience sleep problems this holiday season.

The good news? It’s possible to manage stress by managing sleep and vice versa.

In order to ensure the stress of the holiday season doesn’t show up in your sleep, consider the following tips:


Check Your Mattress

sleeping cat

optimizing your sleep environment is the first step in achieving optimal sleep health, said Cralle.

“The mattress is literally the ‘vehicle for sleep’ and should be relaxing and comfortable. Bedding should be comfortable and temperature appropriate. The sleep environment should be as dark and quiet as possible,” she said.

If your mattress has lumps, bumps, or valleys, or is at least 7 years old and causing you aches and pains, Cralle said it might be time to consider investing in a new one.


Get Your Eight Hours Sleep

alarm clock

it’s easy to forgo sleep in order to get more things done, especially during the holidays when you’re up late shopping online and wrapping presents.

However, Cralle said getting sufficient sleep on a consistent basis is one of the most important things you can do to:

  • mitigate stress
  • achieve mental toughness
  • have an improved outlook
  • be motivated
  • maintain a good mood
  • develop resilience
  • be more optimistic

“You will feel less stressed, make better decisions, be more efficient and more accurate when you are well-rested. Some research has shown that adults who sleep fewer than 8 hours a night are more likely to report symptoms of stress,” Cralle said.


Practice a Pre-Bed Ritual

phone blue light

by creating a bedtime routine at the end of the day, you help prepare the mind and body for sleep.

Try meditating or engaging in other relaxation techniques before bed … and avoid screens.

Don’t use anything with a backlit screen within 30 minutes of bedtime, and definitely not in the middle of the night. That means no phones, laptops, tablets, televisions—nothing that produces “blue light.” (For more on these blue lights and how they affect sleep, check out our Sleep Protips series #1 and #2.) said Barone.

Try reading instead. Even reading with a Kindle is easy on the eyes. Or anything else you enjoy: crossword puzzles, knitting, Legos—anything!

The idea is to distract your mind with something akin to a “bedtime story.”

Some other quick tips:

  • One hour before bed, drink something relaxing, like a cup of tea made of chamomile, lavender, and valerian steeped in hot water
  • Play soft meditation music—instrumental music and classical music work well too—on a timer
  • Use earplugs to block out sounds
  • Changing into 100 percent cotton pajamas for a soft, soothing feel or moisture-wicking pajamas if you get hot while sleeping.


Don’t Talk Money


discussing money is always a downer. And it can be seriously detrimental to your sleep, too.

If your finances are bothering you, schedule a specific time each week to think about them or discuss them with your partner, so they don’t pop up at bedtime and in your nightmares.

Keeping lists—almost like to-do lists—can be beneficial with subjects like money, or any other stress-inducing piece of your life.

A list of worries

Make a list during the day about your worries. Life’s inevitable stressors can seem much more manageable on paper, and less likely to swarm like murder hornets in your brain as you’re trying to sleep

Don’t forget about the good things!

Write down three good things that happened to or around you during waking hours. It will help put you in a nice, calm, grateful mindset—crucial for relaxing and falling asleep.


Watch What You Drink and Eat


a healthy diet supports healthy sleep, while healthy sleep supports a healthy appetite and healthy food choices.

Finish eating 2 to 3 hours before bedtime, so your body is ready to relax. And try to avoid or limit your alcohol intake.

Holiday festivities can mean many opportunities to enjoy adult beverages. Discontinue drinking alcohol several hours before bedtime to help ensure good sleep quality.

While drinking alcohol close to bedtime may help you fall asleep, it will end up disrupting the sleep cycle later in the night. As alcohol metabolizes in your sleeping body, it produces a fragmented and fitful sleep that will leave you tired and unrefreshed the following day.


Move Around

a curious squirrel!

working out at least 30 minutes a day can prepare your body for a good night’s sleep.

If you’re not big into exercising, try yoga, or just a pleasant post-meal walk outdoors. (And we’ve got two knowledgebase articles on post-meal walking: The Benefits and the Guidelines!

Exercise reduces anxiety and helps you sleep. Even a 10-minute walk is a positive contributor to sleep quality.

Morning exercises are ideal. If you prefer later in the day, complete your workouts at least 2 hours before you go to bed, so your body has time to get into rest mode.

And that wraps it up!

That’s it for our holiday-themed mini-series! We hope you enjoyed it and can apply some of these relaxing tips to make your awesome holiday season even better!

  • Melissa Pinckney
    Posted at 11:38h, 04 January

    Good info!

  • Robin Ardrey
    Posted at 13:43h, 03 January

    Thank you!

  • Kenneth+Lugenbeel
    Posted at 09:19h, 03 January

    Good read! I always try to find things to take my mind off of things that are going to stress me out. Like a ride to the mountains or beach or the hills above my house and it usually works too relax me.

  • Shirlene Jackson
    Posted at 02:22h, 03 January


  • Jennifer Yancey
    Posted at 21:45h, 02 January

    words to the wise!

  • Tammy S Rife
    Posted at 13:45h, 31 December

    Thank you

  • Jennifer Oliver
    Posted at 01:47h, 31 December

    Good info!

  • Dan yoder
    Posted at 23:09h, 30 December


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