As we get closer and closer to another Christmas, it’s normal to feel excited, anxious, or overwhelmed by the holiday; Christmas excitement or joy and Christmas anxiety or stress are all very common and all to be expected for the average year. The need to purchase or find gifts, general pressures of the holiday, time spent with family, and time taken off work or school can lead to some very mixed feelings about the day. For a lot of people, knowing how to fall asleep on Christmas Eve is an elusive, difficult thing, but it’s never too late to improve your sleeping habits and prepare for the big day.
In the past, we’ve talked about how anxiety can keep you from getting a good night’s rest,1 and the principles are no different when you have the next day off – or when it’s excitement keeping you awake instead of anxiety. Come on, it’s Christmas! The funny thing is that excitement and anxiety are really easy to confuse with one another, because the symptoms of both include your heart beating faster, your thoughts going faster, and your body trying really hard to prepare itself for… something.2 Have you ever been advised to “calm down” when you’re anxious (and have you ever wanted to strangle the person for offering such useless advice)? It doesn’t usually work. But what can work a lot better is trying to convince yourself that you’re actually excited instead – because that one’s believable to your brain.
Either way, it’s always important to get enough sleep, because a lack of sleep can negatively affect your critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.3 Not that you expect to be solving a lot of problems on Christmas Day (though you were just trying to figure out how to fall asleep on Christmas Eve…), but since it only comes around once a year, it’s a good day to be on your game.
So what can you do to combat the Christmas anxiety and holiday excitement that keeps you up at night? Plenty!
- Avoid screens for at least one hour before you go to bed – and avoid social media for even longer than that! Studies indicate that the more social media you consume, the less your quality of sleep becomes.4
- Stick to your usual routine. Yes, it’s Christmas tomorrow, but pretend it’s a usual evening; go to bed at the same time you did last night, and see if your body remembers what it’s supposed to be doing.
- Try listening to music, nature sounds, or other kinds of calming ambience. Nothing muzzles Christmas stress quite like Christmas music!
- Remember that a good place to sleep is one that is dark, quiet, and a little on the cool side. A bad place to sleep is in a body that’s had coffee recently. Don’t drink coffee on Christmas Eve!
- Practice something mindful before you go to bed – for example…
- Reading something
- Writing something
- Light exercise (like yoga or even just stretching)
- Play an instrument
eSmartr Knows the Secret of How to Fall Asleep on Christmas Eve
Just kidding. I mean, yes, we do, but we get excited for holidays too. That’s part of why our smart compression sleeves are designed to enhance mindful activities like reading something, writing something, meditating, or instrument-playing. We don’t recommend wearing them to bed – but we think they’re a good way to think about the importance of a clear head and a calm disposition in the evening leading up to bedtime. A mindful day usually leads to a good night’s sleep – being excited or anxious shouldn’t make a huge difference in that regard!
So don’t forget to take care of yourself as you dive into family, food, and presents. Feeling anxious is normal. Christmas stress is normal. Excitement is normal! We believe that mindfulness and taking care of yourself are the first steps towards having a good night’s sleep all the time. So have a safe, healthy, and happy Christmas – and for goodness’ sake, get to bed at a good time the night before!
3. Sio, U. N., Monaghan, P., & Ormerod, T. (2013). Sleep on it, but only if it is difficult: Effects of sleep on problem solving. Memory & Cognition, 41(2), 159-66. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.library.sheridanc.on.ca/docview/1314695270?accountid=3455
4. Heather Cleland Woods, Holly Scott, #Sleepyteens: Social media use in adolescence is associated with poor sleep quality, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem, Journal of Adolescence, Volume 51, 2016, Pages 41-49, ISSN 0140-1971, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2016.05.008.