The winter holidays can be a joyful time. They also can throw off our sleep. That’s a problem when you consider how many of your employees are already struggling to get good sleep. Less than one-third of adults get seven hours of quality sleep consistently, and nine of 10 adults report feeling constantly unrested. Sleeping well regularly is essential to good mental and physical health as well as quality work.
Why the winter holiday season can be bad for our sleep
The winter holidays can disrupt our sleep for a number of reasons, including these:
- Financial stress: As we head into the 2023 holiday season, people are carrying more credit card debt than they did this time last year, and 6 of 10 women are living paycheck to paycheck. Financial strain already keeps people awake at night, and the need (or pressure) to spend on gifts, travel, and entertainment for the holidays will heighten it for many people.
- Other stress and anxiety: The expectations associated with the holidays, e.g., to give the right gift, host the perfect meal, or attend several parties, can be another source of stress and anxiety.
- Changes to daily routines: Simply sleeping in a few times when we’re not used to doing so can disrupt our sleep patterns.
- Alcohol: A lot of people mistake alcohol for a sleep aid when, in fact, it’s anything but, says sleep expert Matthew Walker, PhD. Alcohol is a sedative that effectively switches off the firing of brain cells, an effect that’s very different from sleeping. Alcohol also can trigger our fight-or-flight response in the middle of the night, he explains, fragmenting our sleep. And last, alcohol disrupts our rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is critical to emotional and mental health, he says.
- Caffeine: Trying to make up for lost sleep with caffeine, a psychoactive stimulant, can backfire. According to Dr. Walker, caffeine has a quarter-life of 10–12 hours, so that cup of coffee you drank to beat off the 2 p.m. slump could be keeping you awake at 1 a.m. Caffeine also can negatively affect sleep quality by reducing the amount of deep, REM sleep, he explains.
Poor sleep can harm people and organizations, but Sleep Stories can help
Poor sleep can negatively affect our mood, cause emotional distress, and impair cognitive ability and performance. A systematic review study also found that sleep disturbance over time is a stronger predictor of anxiety and depression than vice versa. Conversely, getting seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night reduces stress and anxiousness, improves mood, and helps us think clearly.
Calm Sleep Stories can help your employees get the quality sleep they need this holiday season and beyond. In fact, more than 70% of 4 million+ Calm subscribers across all generations turn to the Calm app for help falling asleep faster and staying asleep.
Calm unveils “It’s a Wonderful Sleep Story” narrated by Jimmy Stewart
This holiday season, Calm users can drift off to sleep to the soothing, iconic voice of the late, beloved Hollywood actor Jimmy Stewart. Today, Calm unveils “It’s a Wonderful Sleep Story,” a new Sleep Story written and produced by Calm and narrated by Jimmy Stewart through voice support from Respeecher, a leader in AI voice technology.
Made possible by the wonders of technology and the consent of the family and estate of Jimmy Stewart (managed by CMG Worldwide), “It’s a Wonderful Sleep Story” tells a tale of love, loss, and hope during the holiday season. In the Sleep Story, Stewart takes listeners on a heartwarming journey that touches on what matters most: kindness, friendship, and love.
James Stewart (1908–1997) was an American actor with a career spanning more than five decades. Known for his everyman appeal and distinctive drawl, Stewart gave versatile performances in films of various genres that won him five Academy Award nominations, including a win for The Philadelphia Story (1940). He is widely celebrated for his roles in classics including It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Rear Window (1954), and Vertigo (1958). A WWII and Vietnam War veteran, Stewart had a dedication to his country and his craft that left an indelible mark on Hollywood, making him a beloved figure in American cinema.
Help your employees reduce stress and get better sleep this holiday season
Most employees (75%) say their mental well-being is the same as or worse than last year, despite employers’ efforts to improve it. If you’re looking for ways to have a real impact on workforce mental well-being, consider implementing preventive mental health strategies, including sleep support.
All generations are looking for help getting better sleep. By focusing on sleep support, you can open up the discussion about mental health and help reduce the mental health stigma, paving the way for broader support and a healthier workplace.
For more information about improving your employees’ sleep and reducing stress and anxiousness, connect with our Calm specialist today.