With Thanksgiving less than a day away, and just a month until Christmas, we're once again reminded how quickly "the most wonderful time of the year" can also become the most stressful.
Family. Finances. A tree in your house. Holiday stressors can feel immense when they all seem to hit at once, and in today's society, it's almost commonplace to simply "give in" to our anxieties keeping us awake at night.
According to a recent article in the New York Times, Why Sleep Matters, nearly a quarter of Americans don't get enough shut-eye
because they're too busy “concentrating on things."
As commonplace as it may seem, however, losing sleep to stress is unhealthy and counterproductive.
"Lack of sleep can contribute to numerous health issues, including
higher prevalence of chronic pain, high blood pressure, obesity, Type 2
diabetes, heart disease and premature aging," says Carol Ash, D.O., Director of Sleep Medicine for Meridian Health.
In addition to restoring the immune system, sleep is vital to the energy and focus necessary to handling the life's most stressful situations head on. To break the stress-insomnia-stress cycle and get to sleep when your mind is in overdrive, Dr. Ash recommends a few different techniques.
"Find a cause. Studies show volunteering and pro bono work helps create external focus and connects us to others," Dr. Ash says. "These types of commitments help people find purpose and meaning in life, which can help eliminate racing thoughts at night."
"For a more immediate solution, try deep breaths," she adds. "Mindful breathing helps you relax and clear your mind prior to bedtime."