5 Reasons Not to Skimp on Sleep this Holiday Season (or Ever)

The holiday season is rapidly approaching, bringing with it decorating, shopping, parties, travel, preparing meals, eating meals, and more. Sometimes there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done. At such times, it may be tempting to make time by sleeping less. There are those old sayings, after all: “You can sleep when you’re dead” and “You snooze, you lose.”

Don’t fall for it.

Sleep is very important to your health and wellbeing, especially during busy, stressful times. Here’s why:

1. Sleep helps you stay physically healthy

According to the National Institutes of Health, sleep is involved in the healing and repair of your body — including your heart and blood vessels. Don’t sleep enough on an ongoing basis and you will increase your risks of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. Inadequate sleep can also harm your immune system. The Mayo Clinic reports that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus and that our immune system needs sleep time to produce key illness-fighting factors. If you’re not feeling rested, try to figure out why and then help nurture your body with good sleep practices.

2. Sleep helps you maintain a healthy weight

The National Sleep Foundation reports that poor sleep increases appetite, calorie intake, and risks of weight gain and obesity. Sleep deprivation can also have a negative impact on exercise, says the Harvard School of Public Health, making you too tired to exercise. If you’re planning a fitness- or weight-related New Year’s resolution, consider improving your sleep hygiene as well and boost your chances of success.

3. Sleep helps you to learn, remember, and solve problems

Parents, students, and anyone trying to tackle difficult tasks at school or work, listen up: Burning the midnight oil can harm your cognition. The National Sleep Foundation reports that sleep is essential for memory and concentration. Sleep also improves attention, decision-making, and how rapidly you’re able to process information. As you attempt to meet those year-end deadlines, understand that more sleep, rather than less, can help you get the job done.

4. Sleep can make you happier

The holidays are supposed to be fun. Help yourself to get through them with a genuine smile by getting enough shut-eye. Psychology Today reports that when people are sleep deprived they are more likely to be irritable, angry, hostile, or depressed, none of which is great around the holiday dinner table. Do yourself and your loved ones a favor and get more rest, even if it means you don’t finish cleaning the house before that party or you buy cookies instead of baking them.

5. Sleep gives you more energy (duh)

Of course, we know this, but it bears repeating: Sleep is restorative and helps you to have the energy you need to get through the busy days with aplomb. The National Sleep Foundation reminds us that during quality sleep the body restores functions necessary for daily life, including a strong immune system, steady hormone levels, balanced appetite, and necessary temperature regulation. Increasingly, top athletes are recognizing the key role of sleep and adding it to their training schedules. Kevin Durant swears by 8 hours of sleep, Usain Bolt says he prefers 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night, and golfer Michelle Wie says she “doesn’t feel good” unless she gets 10 hours of sleep (and that 12 is even better). Treat yourself like a star and rest up for better day-to-day performance, whatever your goals.

Need help getting the sleep you need to be your personal best? We hope you’ll reach out to your healthcare provider or a sleep specialist and find the sleep strategies you need to stay happy, healthy, and energized this holiday season and throughout the year.