For many of us, the holidays signal a time to relax, take time off work, and spend time with family and friends. While this is always a welcome change, it also disrupts our normal schedule. Many of us are in different time zones suffering from jet lag, while others stay up way past our typical bedtimes so that we can reconnect with old friends. What do we do to combat this change in our circadian rhythms?  And why is sleep so important?


There are many benefits to getting a full night's rest – aside from the obvious perk of not falling asleep while doing that last minute Christmas shopping. Getting a full 7-8 hours (for adults) helps promote physical and mental health, keeps you more creative, happier and way less 'Bah, humbug!'. Sleep helps to decrease stress levels and it also regulates hormones that control appetite, so you won’t be trying to steal Santa’s Christmas cookie.


Most of us reach for the easiest thing to pull us out of our sleepy state. And doesn’t it look tempting in those cheery red holiday cups from Starbucks? While caffeine in small amounts (around 250mg or 3 cups per day) per person is moderate, many of us will go to extremes and supersize it with a Venti or even a Trenti! I’m not saying that caffeine is bad, but everything in moderation. Caffeine typically stays in our system for 6 hours. Any caffeine that you ingest after that first cup of creamy delicious espresso to kick start your day will then extend the effects that the caffeine has on your body.

[one_half]Sleep helps to decrease stress levels and it also regulates hormones that control appetite, so you won’t be trying to steal Santa’s Christmas cookie.[/one_half]

Not only can too much caffeine keep us from falling asleep, it can also disrupt our sleep cycle and keep us from getting into deep REM sleep that so many of us need. During our necessary 7-8 hours of sleep each night our body is restored both physically and mentally. We don’t want to interrupt these repairs to our bodies and mind, especially over the busy times of the holiday season. Be cautious when going for that post dinner espresso and keep in mind that it may not give you a restful night.


Alcohol can have many of the same effects on your body’s recovery during sleep that caffeine can.  While having a glass or 2 of wine may help you fall asleep – alcohol typically causes one to become wakeful during the second half of your sleep cycle. It may also make it harder to fall back asleep once you have woken up. I know that many times after drinking red wine I wake up around 345am and have an extremely hard time going back to sleep. This is known as the rebound effect.  The rebound effect changes sleep variables, actually reversing the direction of your sleep patterns. According to John Shneerson, head of Papworth Hospital’s Respiratory Support and Sleep Center in the UK, "As the alcohol starts to wear off, your body can come out of deep sleep and back into REM sleep, which is much easier to wake from. That's why you often wake up after just a few hours sleep when you've been drinking." 


Since we are sleeping in accommodations that are typically not as comfortable as our own cozy bedrooms, we may have a harder time falling asleep while visiting the relatives over this festive season. Whether you are stuck in a Red Roof Inn in Omaha or sharing a room with your brother who snores uncontrollably, there are some steps that you can take to help you get the necessary zzzz’s.



It’s time to alert your body that it’s time for bed.

Turn off all electronics about an hour before you want to be asleep. The light emitted from all of our “gadgets” sends signals to our brains that it’s still light out and that you don’t need to stay awake. Instead of reading the latest New York Times bestseller on your iPad, save your E-books for daytime reading. At night, try actually reading a real book. That always puts me right out! Try it and see the real difference it makes.

Sleep in a room with blackout shades, or wear a mask that will keep all light entering the room from disrupting your sleep. Especially that nightlight in your little brother’s room.

Meditate. Use deep belly breaths to help slow down your mind and your body. Try not to focus on all the exciting activities you’ll be doing with family or stressing about the work you’re missing. You want your body to be completely relaxed as it drifts into a restful night. Is meditation a new idea for you? A great beginner's book is 'Wherever You Go, There You Are' by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Better yet, if you want to jump in feet first, sign up for a silent meditation retreat at Spirit Rock in Marin.

Try these above tips during this holiday travel season. You want to be happy and healthy so that you can enjoy time with your family and friends.




Reference: Why You Always Wake up Early after a Night of Drinking, Robert T. Gonzalez

DIAKADI’s The 12 Days of Fitmas: Welcoming the holidays and year’s end as a time for relaxation and celebration, The 12 Days of Fitmas will teach people to take the time to enjoy the fun of the season, while reflecting on the year and looking forward to the year ahead. The series tackles the biggest problems that many face: stress, holiday parties, eating well, preparing for the New Year, and more.

“The holidays tend to be one of the most challenging times of the year for our clients,” says Billy Polson. “The stress, over-booked schedules, party foods, alcohol and travel plans wreak havoc on their workouts and their bodies. The 12 Days of Fitness are our effort to help people not only survive the holidays, but thrive throughout them.”

Through The 12 Days of Fitmas, DIAKADI will demonstrate the belief that fitness is about far more than dead lifts, burpees and the spin class. Rather, fitness and health encompass all aspects of one’s lifestyle including sleep schedules, stress levels, deep breaths, proper fuel for the body, and enjoying life every day. DIAKADI will use video to demonstrate topics like “Ultimate Destination Workout,” ensuring that whether one is at a beginning or an advanced level, they will learn proper form and technique for the perfect workout regardless of location. The principals discussed in the series will be applicable beyond the holiday season and throughout the New Year.

Originally published at

Day 1: The Most Wonderful Yet Stressful Time of Year: Managing Holiday Stress Day 2: The Holiday Hunger Games: Holiday Party Survival Tips Day 3: The 80/20 Rule: By Damn, Enjoy the Holidays Day 4: Healthy Holiday Recipes that Don’t Suck Day 5: Planes, Trains, and Drive-thrus: Smart Choices for Food on the Go Day 6: Travel Stretches to Make Coach Feel Like First Class Day 7: Grandma Got Run Over by the Holiday Cold: Staying Healthy for the Holidays Day 8: The DIAKADI Destination Workout: Anytime, Anywhere, No Equipment Necessary Day 9: Silent Night: How to Stay Rested Throughout the Holidays Day 10: The Holiday Hustle: Getting Off the Couch and Out of the House for the Big Day Day 11: Start the New Year Off with a Bang Not a Bust: Do What You Love this New Year’s Day 12: When the Clock Strikes Midnight: Successfully Setting and Reaching Your New Year’s Goals