Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.
I feel like everyone goes crazy come December, and that includes us! (we somehow managed to get a snowman on our roof as you can see from the picture).
It’s typical for physical health to get neglected during the holidays. This isn’t anyone’s fault but simply how our brains react to modern-day stressors. According to The American Institute of Stress:
The nature of stress for modern man is not an occasional confrontation with a saber-toothed tiger or a hostile warrior but rather a host of emotional threats like getting stuck in traffic and fights with customers, co-workers, or family members, that often occur several times a day. Unfortunately, our bodies still react with these same, archaic fight or flight responses that are now not only not useful but potentially damaging.
What’s even more unhelpful are the reactive ways we deal with stress (think screens, food, staying up late, and spending). Overuse of these behaviors depletes our resources instead of pumping them up.
That’s why stress is the topic for December. An effective strategy for managing stress is taking care of ourselves with sleep, activity, and balanced eating. This week we will focus on sleep, something most people fall short on. Consider the following:
* Only 7% of children (globally) meet sleep and movement/exercise recommendations
* 75% working adults don’t get sufficient sleep
* Inadequate sleep has repeatedly been linked to higher calorie intake, higher weights, and a more robust appetite for empty-calorie foods high in sugar and fat.
So this first full week of December let’s be mindful of our family’s sleep patterns, and make more thoughtful decisions. Try to catch yourself right when the reactive mind steps in, and remind yourself of the pros and cons of either course of action.
You may find it helpful to write down the benefits of sleep on sticky notes, keeping them near your bed or computer (or anything that keeps you up). Do you want to (surf the web, watch a show, etc.) more than going to bed so you can…
* get more done/focused at work
* be in a good mood and have energy
* be more patient with your family
* whatever is important to you — sleep makes everything better!
Try some different strategies and see how they go:
* move bed time up for both kids and adults/create rituals
* experiement with screen-free nights
* explain the benefits of sleep to kids (one study showed this worked better than barking orders)
* when feeling overwhelmed, try going to bed earlier and waking up early to attack that to-do list
Let me know how it goes on Facebook.