Christmas has high expectations which can lead to high levels of stress. What makes it all worse? Sleep deprivation. The holidays are a dangerous time for sleep cycles, with overscheduling interfering with sleep and stress-induced insomnia.
In an unscientific survey of 1,000 adults done by Silive, 64% of participants reported they slept less than eight hours each night during the holidays, with 32% of that group between three to five hours. The respondents also rated the quality of their sleep on a scale of one through ten, with the average score turning up as only six.
According to Silive, “The reasons people tend to lose sleep during the holidays vary, but the most common responses were visiting family members (12%), pressure to get everything done (11%), hosting family members (10%) and financial stress (9%).”
On top of the holidays, students have finals, overtime shifts are required to take time off, and it’s also a very important time of year for corporate advertising and sales. All the extra work that needs to be done seems to come right at the time when people want to do anything but work.
“During the holidays there’s a lot of stress,” said Nathan Adolf, a freshman studying accounting. “You have to get gifts, decorate the place, plus people are always expecting you to be jolly. You tend to lose a lot of sleep, which isn’t good for your mental or physical health.”
Another big factor for sleep loss during the Christmas season is due to the high amount of travel. Whether it be visiting family out of state or just holiday activities in another city, long car rides in heavy traffic, flights, and bustling streets can add a lot of travel stress.
“I lose a ton of sleep on the holidays when I am back in my home town,” said Mallory Eldridge, a freshman studying communication. “I try to split time between spending time with my family and friends (and) shopping for presents, and traveling from Idaho to Texas is a serious hassle.”
However, there’s a lot of differences between the lifestyle of a student and that of a working adult, so not everything affects them in the same way. Due to school assignments and more emphasis on a social life, students at universities will often not be getting enough sleep on a regular basis.
“I definitely miss a lot of sleep around Christmas with travel and spending time with family,” said Joshua Mitchell, a freshman studying business management. “I was actually just talking to my mom about this, and she said all of her kids at college that come back for the holidays are basically on her Christmas schedule already. It’s super hard for her to miss that much sleep, but for us college kids it’s not as hard since we’re kind of used to it.”
Remember this Christmas that not getting enough shut eye can lead to decreased energy, a weakened immune system and depression. Making a set sleep schedule a priority could keep the holidays merry and bright.