Sleep Well Wednesdays: Not sleeping well? You can blame silly season

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IF you want raw, real and unfiltered Olivia, my blog is where you'll find it.

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You can blame silly season for more than just your hangover. Image: Unsplash

If you’ve been finding it harder than usual to get to sleep – and stay asleep – sleep expert Olivia Arezzolo has the answers for you. And unfortunately they’re all exacerbated by the silly season.  

Silly season is well and truly here – complete with cocktail parties, late nights and boozy long lunches. Especially after the year that was 2021, I trust we all need to let our hair down and let loose.

However while getting ‘amongst it’ has done wonders for my mental wellbeing and social life, it definitely has not been so kind to my sleep. But I know exactly why beacause I know which sleep saboteurs are ruining my sleep.

Let’s look at our typical ‘night out’ during silly season: it’s synonymous with eating within two hours of bedtime, consuming more desserts and (sugary) cocktails than normal, added exposure to blue light (via indoor ceiling lights and devices), and forgoing your bedtime routine in favour of ploughing into your bed as soon as you get home instead.

Any single one of these is a problem if experienced by itself – but their impacts are manifold when experienced altogether. 

Let’s take a closer look at the top three key sleep saboteurs that might be ruining your shut-eye, too.

Silly season sleep saboteur 1: Eating late

First up, 2011 research in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that participants who ate a carb-based dinner an hour before bed took 47 per cent longer to fall asleep, compared to another night when they ate that exact same meal four hours before bed. If you can, request that Christmas dinner is a lunch, and eat mindfully through the day.

Silly season sleep saboteur 2: Sugar

Next, sugar. A 2020 study led by Columbia University in New York found that individuals with the highest intake of sugar are 16 per cent more likely to suffer insomnia, compared to those with a lower intake. Especially if you’re usually having a low sugar diet, even a slight increase in your intake via cocktails or cakes could send your sleep array.

Image: iStock

Silly season sleep saboteur 3: Alcohol

Lastly, booze. According to a 2019 study in the Journal of Nursing Research, 75 per cent of alcohol drinkers wake too early and 69 per cent struggle to stay asleep. And, most of these wakings are likely to occur around 3am: this is the time cortisol spikes after the sedative effects of the alcohol have worn off. And, if you’re wondering why it spikes around 3am, it’s because your circadian rhythm naturally increases the awakening hormone at this time, to prepare for the next morning.

Although I’ve highlighted three, as you can see, I could go on – about the perils of blue light or sleeping in. However, I don’t want to – it’s Christmas, after all!

But these choices are your own: drinking, eating late, saying yes to piece of Aunty Cecile’s chocolate cherry ripe cake (I mean… how can you not?!). So – if you want to see improvements in your sleep, first, make improvements in your actions: avoid booze, eat earlier when you can, and halve the cake with mum.

You’ll sleep better if you do, and feel that little bit more ‘Christmassy’ the next morning.

Originally featured on Body and Soul

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smart, savvy and more than just a sleep expert.

Hi, I'm Olivia.

If you want raw, real and unfiltered Olivia, my blog is where you'll find it.
As an author and avid writer, I find immense pleasure in sharing the ins and outs - without holding back - of my journey through life.
Professionally, I'm a sleep expert - but i'm guessing you already know that.
Personally, I'm a free-flowing, idealistic introvert who loves to travel, dance and enjoy an Aperol Spritz.

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