How to sleep better at Christmas: avoid festive insomnia with these sleep tips

If the festive stress and over-indulgence are keeping you awake at night, follow our tips to sleep better this Christmas

A person sleeping at Christmas
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Christmas can be one of the most stressful times of the year. With cards to send, presents to wrap, decorations to put up, meals to plan and the food shopping that goes with it, plus over-excited kids to deal with, it can all add up to a potent recipe for insomnia, especially once you factor in all that festive food and drink.

Even if you've invested in the best mattress and best pillow as a Christmas present to yourself, getting the right amount of quality sleep over the festive period can be really hard, leaving you feeling worn out during the day but wide awake when it's time to catch some ZZZs.

However, by making some slight adjustments to your Christmas activities and applying a little forward planning, it's entirely possible to enjoy the whole period, complete with a sound night's sleep every night, without having to miss out on all the fun. Read on to discover our 5 top tips to sleep better at Christmas, and have a good time!

1. Make a to-do list

A person making a to-do list

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With so much to organise at Christmas, it can be hard to keep track of everything you need to get done, and easy to feel overwhelmed by it all. The last thing you want is to wake up at 2AM, unable to remember if you've bought enough stuffing, and the best way to head off that sort of sleepless situation is to get organised.

Make a festive to-do list covering absolutely everything you need to get done, and tick off every item as it's accomplished. That way, by the time you get to Christmas Eve, you should have a nicely completed list, so there'll be no need to lie awake in bed worrying about things you might have forgotten to do.

2. Watch what you eat

Christmas dinner on a table

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There's no getting around the fact that Christmas is a time for over-indulgence, and aside from the potential for putting on weight over the festive period, all that rich food may be preventing you from getting to sleep at night. Traditional Christmas food can be loaded with sugar and saturated fats, which may be delicious, but which can also raise your blood sugar levels and leave you feeling wired come bedtime.

We're not saying that you should skip Christmas dinner and all those other treats, but you can at least reduce their impact on your sleep by eating at sensible times, and in particular by not having late-night snacks, as they're a guaranteed way of keeping you awake at night; learn how eating late at night affects your sleep. And to improve your chances of sleeping well, see our guide to 5 Christmas foods that help you sleep better.

3. Go easy on the alcohol & caffeine

Two glasses of champagne

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As well as being sensible with what you eat, you should also keep an eye on what you drink over Christmas if you want a good night's sleep. Again, we're not advocating total abstinence, just a little care when it comes to your consumption.

It can be hard to avoid alcohol at Christmas, but try to balance it out by having a glass of water in between every drink, and laying off the alcohol later in the evening; it might make you feel sleepy, but it can also interfere with your sleep cycles and inhibit deep sleep, and because it can dehydrate you, you're more likely to wake up needing to drink water.

And while a nice cup of coffee can be just the thing to perk you up after a boozy Christmas dinner, you should also try to limit your caffeine intake later in the day; any time after 4PM is a bad time to be drinking coffee, as it'll still be sloshing around in your system come bedtime. See what time to stop drinking coffee for more.

4. Try to stick to your normal sleep routine

A person turning off an alarm clock

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If you're finding that your sleep is disrupted at Christmas, it's tempting to make up for it during the day by having a nap. The trouble with that approach, however, is that once bedtime comes around, that nap may mean you find it hard to get to sleep, and you can end up getting into a vicious circle of sleeplessness at night and naps during the day.

So instead of having a nap, try instead to power through until bedtime and stick religiously to your normal sleep routine: go to bed at your normal time, making sure to take some time to relax and unwind beforehand, and get up in the morning at the usual hour. That's not easy during the festive vortex when you're not having to get up for work in the morning, but after New Year you'll be glad you did, because it'll be so much easier to get up and head back to work.

5. Get out for a Christmas walk

Come people going for a Christmas walk

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Once the excitement of Christmas Day is out of the way, the festive period as a whole can be a rather sedentary affair, made worse by eating and drinking more than usual. So, it makes sense to get up and go for a walk; not only will the exercise do you good, it'll also burn off all those extra calories you've been consuming leaving you much more likely to get to sleep easier at the end of the day.

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Jim McCauley

Jim is a freelance writer who has been covering tech, games, design and more for magazines, websites and brands over many years.