December is here! It’s time to prepare ourselves for the final sprint before the end of the year.  We want to be ready for the holidays, but must finish some important projects at work. We have to think about a million things at a time, but don’t have enough time to achieve everything. 

We know the importance of getting some rest, but our nights are shorter because of that stress and lack of time. How can we get through this busy and stressful time of the year and break this vicious circle?

LOWER YOUR STRESS LEVEL: Stress is directly related to the quality of our sleep. When we are out of time and stressed, the easy solution is to stretch our day by reducing the time allotted to sleep so we can finish as many tasks as possible. The problem: we become more tired, thus accumulating a lack of sleep in the long run. When we’re stressed, it’s important to properly plan out our time, eliminate sources of stress, learn to say no and listen to our body. Yoga and meditation can also help us find this balance and avoid accumulating fatigue.

EAT WELL AND TRAIN: As our digestive system is very active during the night, an inadequate diet can affect the quality of our sleep. Avoid eating too much or not enough, heavy and late dinners, caffeine, alcohol, and foods that can cause heartburn. No time to train? Making space in your schedule is key; it will be a great investment of time. Indeed, in addition to entertain ourselves, sports help the body to relax by releasing endorphins; precious hormones that help us fall asleep. The time invested in training is regained in time of sleep and recovery. It’s a win-win situation!

A GOOD SLEEP ROUTINE: A good preparation for bed is crucial, it ensures an optimal quality of sleep. To have a good sleep routine, you must wisely choose quiet activities in the evening, staying away from TV screens or tablets. Indeed, our sleep cycle is triggered not only by the hormones of our internal clock, but also by the decrease in daylight at the end of each day, which is detected by our eyes (retina). A signal is then sent to the brain, activating the release of different hormones, including melatonin, which triggers the “tiredness” feeling. Melatonin production may differ from person to person, with age, stress level, or many other reasons. It is possible to take supplements of melatonin, for those stressed periods of our lives, when we greatly need recuperative sleep.

By Julie Séguin, M.Sc. Microbiology and R&D Manager at Adrien Gagnon

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