The year is winding down and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. And while this delicious holiday is going to look quite different for most of us (no driving 3 hours to your in-laws; no hearing the same story from your great uncle; none of Grandma’s specialty casserole), some things aren’t going to change. Many of us will still be near people we love, just on a smaller, more close-knit scale. We’ll still be enjoying our favorite Thanksgiving dishes (preparing and cooking a turkey will be a first for many of us), and we’ll still be overcoming personal challenges … such as being “the snorer.”
If you’re here reading this, chances are you’re either “the snorer” or have to endure acoustic proximity to “the snorer.” Holiday stress is real, and even more so when you suffer from snoring or suffer because of someone snoring. What people may not realize is that 1. Extreme snoring is almost certainly an underlying medical condition that needs to be addressed, and 2. Holidays can worsen sleep disturbances.
For more mild snorers, there are a couple of strategies that may help stave off a particularly rowdy bout of snoring. Before the turkey takes effect and causes an overwhelming urge to lay down on the couch for a nap, employ, or kindly suggest to the offending party, this game plan:
Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption.
While it’s certainly true that alcohol aids in relaxation – and that very property makes it appealing when spending prolonged time with family – alcohol also inhibits one’s ability to stay in a deep, restorative sleep, interrupts your naturally occuring sleep patterns, and exacerbates sleep breathing problems, potentially worsening the severity of snoring. Partake wisely in the provided spirits, and maybe even switch to that delicious, celebratory sparkling cider to have with dessert.
The same goes for caffeine. While it’s very tempting to have a second (or third … or fourth) cup of coffee post-meal, caffeine intake can negatively impact sleep hours after you’ve had your last cup, resulting in the same impact on your snoring you tried to avoid by limiting alcohol consumption. So don’t be afraid to indulge in the morning, but maybe rethink that decision as the sun begins to set.
Choose foods that promote healthy sleep.
The starch and carb-filled platters that generally complete a full-course Thanksgiving buffet may fulfill our wildest Thanksgiving dreams, but may not be as enjoyable when you’re tossing and turning later that evening. Thankfully, there are plenty of foods found in a typical Thanksgiving menu that not only keep our bodies happy and healthy, but allow us to maintain healthy sleep as well.
Foods such as turkey, broccoli, whole grains, leafy greens and beans, as well as some of our favorite dessert and snack items (ie. dark chocolate, nuts, and cheese) contribute to healthy, restful sleep. (Find a more comprehensive list of foods here.)
The important thing to remember is not to overindulge. While turkey will lull us to sleep and provide us with many necessary nutrients, too much protein – or too much of anything, really – can worsen sleep. A balanced plate equals balanced sleep!
Don’t go from the kitchen table to the couch.
Realistically, we understand that it’s impossible to totally avoid the three types of potatoes, mac and cheese, and other starch-filled foods that await on Thanksgiving. Knowing this, we highly recommend going outside for some light physical activity instead of bee-lining for the couch.
Play catch with the kids or take the dog(s) on a walk. A little physical activity will help your body’s digestive processes, which in turn will allow you to sleep more soundly later that evening.
With the year-ending holiday season approaching, it’s the perfect time to consider what’s ahead for the new year. If you or a loved one has been struggling with persistent snoring or fatigue, or any of these tell-tale sleep apnea symptoms, having your sleep evaluated by a sleep specialist will help uncover the underlying cause of the sleep issues and is the first step to finding an effective treatment option.