Penn State experts say adults and children should do everything possible to keep their sleep and wake times normal during the holidays.

  1. Plan party times. People should consider how long they want their party to last, and then plan a start time that won’t interfere with a set bedtime. “For example, people who go to bed at 10 p.m. and plan a five-hour party should set the party start time for 4 p.m.,” Basappa Krishnamurthy said. “Then they can enjoy the party and still have an hour for sleep prep.”
  2. Get travel ready. It may be tempting to drive overnight when traffic is lighter. But don’t do it if it interrupts a normal sleep cycle. “Driving requires vigilance and cognitive skills,” Basappa Krishnamurthy said. Instead, drive in the morning when people are awake, alert and protect nighttime sleep. People flying to different time zones should start adjusting their wake-sleep times by 20-30 minutes every three to four days for one to two weeks prior to the trip, thereby adjusting their circadian rhythm faster after arrival.
  3. Write it down. Overwhelmed by the amount of holiday to-dos? Write them down 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime to relieve stress and clear the path for good sleep. Concerned about talking to a difficult family member? Write it down too and develop coping strategies to ease anxieties in advance.