The holiday season is here! Festive decorations, sparkling lights and baked goodies, the holidays are time of joy and excitement. But it may come at a price: your sleep. Around this time of year busier days and longer “to do” lists can keep our bodies and minds going non-stop, often making it difficult to relax and fall asleep. We asked some of our resident experts at Cooper Aerobics for their tips on how to keep your holiday nights full of zzz’s.

Carolyn Terry, MD
Internal and Preventive Medicine Physician, Cooper Clinic
1. Avoid eating a big meal too close to bedtime. This may trigger acid reflux and heartburn symptoms and that will keep you up for hours.
2. Keep exercising through the holidays! Everyone is busy running around trying to complete their holiday shopping, participating in holiday activities, etc. and it can be easy to excuse yourself from your usual fitness routine. Don’t! Consistent exercise is one of the best natural remedies to insomnia and sleep disturbances.

Meridan Zerner

Registered Dietitian, Cooper Clinic Nutrition Department
1. My favorite mantra is “Take a walk, take a breath, take a break” – all three things lend themselves to better sleep by relaxing the body and the brain.
2. Be mindful of the timing of your caffeine. It has a 12 hour half life, so that espresso in the afternoon will make it really hard to get a good, restorative night of sleep.

Carla Sottovia, PhD
CooperPT Mentorship Developer and Director
Director of Fitness and Personal Training Education, Cooper Fitness Center 
1. Meditate before going to bed. Sit Indian style, close your eyes, relax your hands and perform five minutes of diaphragmatic breathing (take in air through your nose, letting your diaphragm expand, and exhale through your mouth). Let your mind travel through your favorite places.
2. Stretch before going to bed. Lie down on your back, bring your knees to chest, hug knees and hold position for 60 seconds. Take deep breaths in and out at a slow pace.

Colleen Loveland

Registered Dietitian, Cooper Clinic Nutrition Department
1. Try not to go to bed either hungry or stuffed, as discomfort will keep you awake.
2. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine is a stimulant and can disrupt quality sleep.  Alcohol may make you drowsy and tired at first, but usually ends up interrupting good sleep.

Mary Edwards
Director of Fitness, Professional Fitness Trainer, Cooper Fitness Center 
Find activities that are calming, not stimulating, to engage in an hour or two before going to sleep. Turn off the cell phone, computer and TV! Instead, try taking a hot bath or reading a good book.

Wendy Ruggerio
Massage Therapist, Cooper Spa 
Aromatherapy is my go to answer – it works quickly and it’s natural. Most stress related sleeping issues respond well to aromatherapy. Lavender has sedative-like qualities and is calming, soothing and balancing. Use a few drops in bath water (no more than 30 drops), spray on your pillow or on a cotton ball/pad and place in pillow case. I have found it lengthens my sleep time, I feel I reach a deeper sleep and I wake up feeling refreshed.