A watchful night

December 22, 2011

One of the best things about the holidays is the lights on the trees glittering in the night. One of the worst things is when you can’t close your eyes, and you watch those lights all night while your mind races. Morning dawns with exhaustion and very little desire to be merry.

Insomnia is a chronic issue for many people, but for others the holidays may trigger sleeplessness. If worry about paying bills, finding the right gifts or keeping certain relatives out of the eggnog keeps you awake, you are not alone.

Kids who are excited about Santa’s arrival may also have trouble getting to sleep. This seasonal issue is probably not insomnia, but just a temporary inability to relax and fall asleep. Because we know we’re exhausted and need sleep, it’s just getting there.

Don't let sleeplessness turn your holidays into a nightmare.


Getting holiday-hyper kids to sleep just before the big day is particularly tough. This article offers some tips for calming kids at bedtime. And then there are always CD versions of books like The Night Before Christmas that they can listen to while Mom and Dad finish putting things together and tucked under the tree!

Your mom might have given you a warm cup of milk when you couldn’t sleep. It may still work – particularly if it did when you were a kid – but according to this article, the effect is likely more psychological than scientific, because the sleep-inducing chemical, tryptophan, is not present at high levels in milk.

The over-the-counter, synthetic version of Melatonin may help some stay on track with sleep and wake cycles during the holidays. Because if it gets out of control, insomnia can be debilitating.

Establishing a relaxing nighttime ritual, with calming stretches, a stomach full of the right kind of food, and staying away from too much alcohol or caffeine, is common advice.

It’s best if you’ve established some relaxation techniques prior to the holidays, but even if you haven’t, some of these steps (reading, focusing on breathing)  may help.

There’s even a form of yoga that’s supposed to induce deep relaxation. Some say a half-hour of yoga Nidra is equivalent to three hours of sleep.

Maybe watching this girl wrap gifts and chat about holidays (in a delightful accent) will calm you and help you drift off.




Published: Dec. 22, 2011

Author: Allison O'Leary Murray


Word Count: 384

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