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Tired all the time? How to tell if it’s holiday fatigue or sleep issues

When the holidays come to an end, all of that hustling, bustling, and seasonal anxiety starts to catch up to us. Post-holiday fatigue is a common effect of stressful holiday planning, inconsistent sleep schedules, and unhealthy eating habits. It’s a joyous season, but it has its consequences.

How can you tell, though, if your wintertime exhaustion is a result of general holiday fatigue or something more serious? Sleep issues are common disorders, and they can be linked to things like long periods of reduced sunlight as well as poor eating habits. Sleep disorders can also become chronic issues, though, and cause other problems like reduced job performance, lowered immune response, and other health issues.

Here are some common indicators of more serious sleep issues that should be discussed with your doctor. We’ll also give you some tips to manage them and help you figure out if your fatigue is temporary after the holiday season or a more serious issue.

Woman's hands emerging from under a sheet
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Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep

If you lie awake for a long time before falling asleep or you find yourself waking up multiple times during the night, this may be an indicator of a sleep disorder like insomnia. To rule out such a disorder, it’s a good idea to limit stimulants for a several hours before bedtime. This includes caffeine, alcohol, spicy food, and electronic screens.

Since you might be affected by small noises around you while trying to sleep, try out a white-noise machine or ear plugs to cancel out noise and help you drift off into a solid sleep.

Feeling tired even after a full night’s sleep

It’s understandable to be fatigued when you know you’re sleep-deprived. If you know you’ve gotten your necessary hours of snooze time, though, and you still feel tired during the day, you may have some underlying sleep issues to deal with. Sleep apnea, for example, is not always obvious, especially if you sleep alone, and it causes your sleep quality to be reduced, causing prolonged fatigue.

While sleep issues could be the result of your daytime fatigue, there are some other, less serious factors that could be playing a part. For example, excess light in your bedroom, noisy surroundings, or even a poorly made pillow can reduce your quality of sleep and cause fatigue. Try using blackout curtains or a sleeping mask to block out light, and ear plugs or a noise machine to drown out any noises while you sleep. If you’ve had your pillow for a number of years, it may be time to upgrade to one that is ergonomic and has an appropriate firmness for your needs.

Significant weight gain (prior to the holidays)

While weight gain is common around the holidays due to heightened stress as well as indulgent holiday food traditions, weight gain prior to the holidays is a bit more concerning. Particularly when coupled with fatigue, weight gain is a common indicator of sleep issues.

If you’ve tried limiting your caloric intake, and you’ve intensified your workout routine without successfully dropping weight, you may want to partake in a sleep study to find out if sleep issues are playing a role in your weight gain.

woman sleeping with sleep mask on
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The holidays are a common time of year for sleep issues, whether due to stress, anxiety, or simply the weather. Since it can be difficult to distinguish holiday fatigue from more serious sleep issues, being aware of these subtle but significant indicators can give you some insight into the underlying cause of your exhaustion. Take some steps to improve your sleeping conditions, and you’ll soon be able to identify the culprit of your sleep issue and take action to get some good, well-deserved sleep.

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