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Sleep Experts Reveal How to Fix Your Body Clock After Christmas

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YouGov survey found that 95% of Britons who celebrate Christmas find spending time with family to be the most important aspect of the festivities, along with this 75% said socialising with friends and colleagues. 

With this in mind, the sleep experts at MattressNextDay have shared their failsafe guide to resetting your body in three nights, perfect for those who are struggling to get their sleeping pattern back on track after socialising with family and friends over the festive period. 

Despite 40% of Brits suffering from sleep deprivation, studies show that it takes just three nights of high-quality sleep to recover from deprivation. So, to help, the sleep experts have pulled together a three-day guide to fixing your body clock – perfect for this festive season. 

Day 1: Wednesday 27th

  • Today’s wake-up time: 10am
  • Today’s bedtime: 11pm
  • Complete a 30-minute workout in the morning to improve your sleep tonight 

Studies show that exercise and sleep are deeply interconnected. Exercising can improve your sleep quality and duration of sleep, whilst a healthy sleep-wake cycle ensures more strength and endurance when working out.

Drink at least 2 litres of water today for an energy boost throughout the day 

Not only does keeping hydrated boost your energy but your metabolism too. Even mild dehydration can leave you feeling sleepy and tired, whilst negatively disrupting your mood.

Use lighting (or lack of it) to notify your brain of the different points in the day 

Light is the most important external factor affecting sleep as it plays a central role in regulating your body’s internal clock, otherwise known as your circadian rhythm. This signals when to be alert and when to rest, so you should expose yourself to natural sunlight throughout the day. Then when the sun starts to wind down on an afternoon, start dimming your lights so that by the time you get to bed, your bedroom is pitch black. You should also stay off your phone for at least three hours before you plan to sleep, as the blue light emitted on your phone screen can trick your mind into thinking that it’s daytime despite it being dark outside.

If you’re struggling to sleep, try this five-minute hack – which should see you drift off in no time

Known as the Cognitive Shuffle, you should list random items in your head that are easy to visualise, non-threatening and not directly related i.e. potatoes, Tarzan, a violin. This will tire your brain out and help keep your mind off issues preventing you from sleeping.

Day 2: Thursday 28th 

  • Today’s wake-up time: 8am
  • Today’s bedtime: 11pm

As soon as you wake up, open your curtains – and switch on some lights.

Being exposed to bright light signals your brain to stop producing the sleep hormone, melatonin, which makes you feel drowsy. Also, if 8am is a relatively early time for you to wake up on a Thursday morning, this will help you wake up faster.

Spend at least 10 minutes outside in the sun for a “happy hormone” boost

Lately, the sun doesn’t rise until around 8:30am, and once it does even just 10 minutes spent walking outside in the daylight can boost your happy hormone, serotonin, and stop you from feeling sleepy and sad. However, try and go for a walk that lasts as long as possible as the more you tire yourself out, the easier you’ll find sleeping that night.

If you do need to nap, do it the right way – there’s no shame in snoozing on the sofa, especially after a roast dinner

You should only sleep for between 10-20 minutes as anything longer than 30 minutes can risk feeling groggy as your body will have entered a deep sleep cycle. Also, make sure to time your nap right. As your alertness naturally dips in the afternoon, you should pay attention to when you start to feel drowsy and nap straight away (if possible). Make sure this is more than 8 hours before your bedtime though, as it could impact your sleep if not.

If you want to drink, only allow yourself to have one unit of alcohol 

Given that it’s the festive season, you may be tempted to have an alcoholic beverage tonight, however, you should only allow yourself one unit and drink it at least four hours before bedtime. Whilst alcohol can make you feel sleepy due to its sedative properties and, therefore, allow you to fall asleep more quickly – your quality of sleep that night will not be high. Research shows that people who drink before bed are likely to experience disruptions later in their sleep cycle and can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness the following date.

Day 3: Friday 29th

Today’s wake-up time: 6/7am depending on what time you normally get up for work

  • Today’s bedtime: 10pm
  • Eat breakfast to give yourself an energy boost

Research has repeatedly shown that your diet and sleep quality are linked, meaning that a poor diet can cause sleep debt. First and foremost, you should never skip breakfast, as it plays an important role in wakefulness. Try to stick to a balanced breakfast that is adequate in protein and healthy fats for an energy boost. i.e. eggs, plain, lean meat, avocado.

Never drink coffee five hours before bed and stick to two coffees max 

Whilst caffeine can provide a short-term energy boost, it takes an average of 5 hours to eliminate half the amount of consumed caffeine. So never drink coffee 5-7 hours before bed, and keep your intake to two cups as a maximum.

Create a winding down routine to reduce your stress hormone – which keeps you awake

When you’re stressed or anxious, your body produces more of the stress hormone, cortisol. The higher the cortisol, the more awake you feel. So, if you’re dreading going back to work tomorrow after a full-on Christmas, you should consider trying some calming activities before bedtime. This could include anything from yoga to stretching, meditating to deep breathing, journaling or even having a hot bath. All of these activities are proven to help you relax.

Play rain sounds or white noise to help you sleep more soundly – check out YouTube or Spotify for options

Steady rainfall noises help lure the brain into falling asleep as they are predictable, calming, stable, non-threatening and can block outside noises – making them the perfect sound to fall asleep to.

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