This time of year, striking the perfect balance between rest, recovery, and activity can feel as tricky as balancing a glass of wine in your hand with a plate of pie on your lap.
Armed with the right knowledge, however, taking care of yourself, even during the chaos of the holiday season, is possible. Keep these tips in mind to ensure you commit to your well-being this holiday season — and go into the new year rested and ready.
5 Health Tips for the Holidays
1. Go to bed earlier (or sleep in) to catch up on all-important REM and deep sleep.
Both REM sleep and deep sleep have unique restorative qualities for your overall health (and happiness). REM sleep plays an important role in emotional health and resilience, while deep sleep helps restore your body, so you can wake up with the energy you need to take on this holiday season.
Because you get more deep sleep earlier in the night, one way to ensure you won’t miss out on this restorative stage is to go to bed earlier. (Here’s how to use Oura to find your ideal bedtime — and, spoiler alert, it’s probably earlier than you think!)
The majority of REM sleep, on the other hand, occurs in the final few hours of sleep. Aim for seven to nine hours total, and extend your time in bed in the A.M., if possible, to make sure you’re reaping all the benefits of REM.
2. Skip sugary or caffeinated mixers.
A glass of eggnog or wine is a holiday staple, but, like any other day in the year, too much alcohol can negatively affect your sleep and hinder your body’s restoration. (Curious how alcohol affects your Sleep Score? Check out this blog to see actual data on how alcohol affects Oura members’ sleep and recovery.)
This doesn’t mean you have to endure a dry holiday season — unless that’s your thing! Avoid sugary or caffeinated mixers, alternate alcoholic drinks with glasses of water, and give yourself an earlier cut-off time to stay on top of your sleep and overall health.
RELATED: How Alcohol Affects Your Sleep
3. Eat earlier if possible.
During the holidays, food is a constant. It’s easy to have brunch in the morning, leftovers for lunch, a feast for dinner, and a slice of pie (or three) for dessert. However, this doesn’t mean you have to reject all the seasonal delicacies to stay on top of your health — it’s all about timing.
When it comes to maintaining your sleep quality and overall health, avoiding large meals at least 3 hours before bed gives your body the time it needs to digest, so your sleep is all about recovery.
LEARN MORE: How a Midnight Snack Impacts Your Sleep Quality
4. Keep up with your self-care routine.
Consider your morning meditation, lunchtime workout, or afternoon walk as important (if not more so!) as all your holiday must-do’s. They can, after all, help you avoid the health risks of a sedentary lifestyle, such as increased levels of diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and weight gain. Add these obligations to your calendar and treat them as non-negotiables, just as you would a meeting or family event.
Oura members can use their Activity Score as a guide to make sure they’re moving enough — it takes into account how you’re balancing your activity, inactivity, and rest. Plus, certain contributors to your Activity consider your activity patterns over the past week, helping you ensure you’re staying active without overdoing it. Finally, with personalized activity goals, you can now adjust your activity goals and metrics to suit your lifestyle.
READ MORE: The Importance of Staying Active
5. Remember, it’s okay to say no if it means saying yes to your health.
We all want to please our family and loved ones, but, all too often this means deprioritizing ourselves to focus all our attention on others’ desires. If you find that your stress levels are getting too high (hint: your HRV score in your Oura App can be an indicator), don’t be afraid to take a raincheck on (yet another) holiday get-together. Your body, and your Oura Scores, will thank you for any recovery time you set aside.