The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and it's all too easy to find yourself in bed with a spinning head, especially this time of year.
So here are a few strategies for times you know you're going to be out, and for when you've had more than you intended. Because we all know that though a green juice/vitamin infusion or coffee/fry up (as per your preference) can help the next day, the only real cure for getting over the night before is sleep. So here's how to get the best sleep when you need it the most.
When You Know You're Going to Rage 💀
You're going to a birthday or, given the time of year, the holiday party. You're going to be eating late, eating all the things, and drinking ALL THE THINGS. So first can I say: just own this. Be unapologetic and excited because, for all the charm of hygge, these exist for a reason! BUT, maybe it's a Wednesday, & you're going to work in the morning. So you want to rage but not to the point of destruction. Ok - let's go.
Painful as it is to admit, we all know that prevention is better than the cure, so if you really want to hit the pillow feeling good, this will involve some self-control that may, depending on your temperament, take you a little bit out of the moment. Still, I think you can have fun while being, dare I say it, mindful, but you need to acknowledge that you will need to think a bit about your choices. Pretty much true of anything in life. Now, how do we make this easier?
Can I suggest that you make an effort to go to the party in a good mood? It may seem obvious to say this, but you are going to be so much less likely to arrive & immediately drink 2 glasses of prosecco if you have left work (or whatever) stress behind, aren't hyped up and feel content. So maybe try to fit in a yoga session (if that's your jam), exercise class, some sweet tunes, or anything that makes you feel good before you go. Because if you go relaxed and happy, it is going to make it so much easier to have the experience you want to have, and make choices that will set you up for a better night's sleep and following day.
If you even suspect that you may struggle with this, or you are actually hell-bent on destruction, maybe rearrange your schedule so you don't have important meetings or work assignments to tackle first thing the next day. And if you do get caught getting unexpectedly trashed, and you end up eating pizza at 2 AM dancing in your pants (true story), it is OK! I feel like these days so many of us are afraid to let go and enjoy ourselves, and would rather feel consistently good but maybe a bit stultified rather than occasionally OOC and silly. As long as you aren't a jerk (and maybe you don't use your camera phone), it's ok to go for it from time to time!
The Drinking 🍷
So with all that in mind, your evening. If you want a sugary cocktail (YES), try to just have 1 (or so), and really, really enjoy it. Honestly, that is the key to anything related to moderation and health. If you really take your time and enjoy your food and drink, you'll probably end up consuming less and have a better chance of staying on track than if you slam a few drinks quickly upfront and try to ease off as the evening goes on. You can also feel very chic and French (right? Seems like a French thing to do).
After that, low(er) sugar cocktails like vodka soda are your friends. If you like coconut, you could try something like this. Keep drinking water, of course - alcohol is a diuretic so it's dehydrating, and dehydration makes you feel like crap (simples!). You may have to hunt down the H2O, but water at least you can chug and then discard, or, alternatively, disguise as one of those boring cocktails so no one is the wiser. If you are at an epic dinner, you may have to watch overzealous waiters or hosts who constantly top up your glass...this is where you are taken slightly out of the moment, which is a bit annoying, but I've been caught too many times having no concept of how much I've actually had to drink because the level never dips below half a glass. You'll need to pay attention to how you're feeling, and gauge when it's time to back off. If you are veering dramatically off course, one of your friends or partner may be happy to do this for you. Winky-face.
The Eating 🍔
When it comes to food, anything fatty, spicy otherwise difficult to digest will make sleep harder, so just be aware of that. Those of us who are based in the UK know that these parties can start early, so you can try to have anything particularly indulgent early on (which is when you're in best shape to enjoy it, actually). if it's late, go easy. If you don't think you'll be eating much but do plan on drinking, a good trick is to eat a big spoon of nut butter just before you go out. It won't bloat you, but will line your stomach and should prevent you from feeling trashed after 3 sips of champagne. I love this one, this one and this one - which is great for on the go, travel & kids.
If you ate early or not a lot and you're peckish before bed, you obviously want things that are easy to digest. Simple sugars will help restore blood sugar levels and make you feel better; the banana is a classic for a reason. Honey & toast is recommended too, but I personally think it's too easy to go crazy and have a million slices when your self control is low - a single piece of fruit works better for me.
The Actual Sleeping 💤
Once you're home, try to drink a large glass of water and take a magnesium supplement (I love this one); magnesium help us sleep and it also calms your muscles, promotes good digestion (go easy, it's powerful stuff) and can help clear your head in the morning. A friend shared that for strategic celebrating she sometimes drinks a bottle of pedialyte (UK equivalent) before and after she goes out, and that it wards off the hangover like a talisman. I can't personally vouch for this remedy, but it sounds plausible. Try to make sure your room is cool and dark, and turn off your phone.
Help I'm Trashed and I Can't Get to Sleep ☠️
We've all been there; you go to lie down, and the room starts spinning. If it's so bad that you feel slightly sick or really dizzy, just get up. You're not going to get any rest yet. Don't panic though, just find something you can do to pass the time.
Don't Do This 💻
For a variety of reasons, but for the purposes of this article we'll focus on its effects on your sleep, don't get on FaceBook. Or Instagram, or Twitter, or your tv. Also don't sit there obsessing about what you said, to whom and how someone looked at you with a weird expression on their face. Distract your brain from destructive thoughts like these (what can I say, I like muscles).
Do This 📖
Just try to chill out - listen to some music; if you can focus on a book or some easy, repetitive task like colouring (never tried it but some people love it!), do that. This may not be the time to get in the bath or light a candle, but you can still try find a calm space with soft light to chill out in until you are feeling like you can lay down.
Help I Woke Up Wired at 4 AM
Of course you may have passed out immediately, only to wake in the middle of the night. That's because of something called the "rebound" effect - basically once alcohol is out of our system, we are rocket-launched into lighter sleep where we are more likely to wake. This is why it's better to stop drinking way before you hit the hay - all the alcohol is already out of your system. But that ship has sailed. So if you do wake at this time, your brain may be going crazy and you may feel super anxious. If that happens, I've found it most helpful to simply recognise that this is what is going on, and that I may have to ride out some internal brain craziness.
If it gets to be too much, you can get up and read a book for a bit (maybe something like this rather than this) - I've found that my brain is calmer once again in the very early morning, and I can usually get back to sleep then. I personally don't think meditation is going to work in this scenario; your thoughts will just be too all over the place. But monks pray in the middle of the night and apparently the rest of us used to do this too; so that could be a centring practice as well til the craziness passes.
Do try to get some more sleep though rather than simply starting your day at some insane hour. You will feel so much better if you can get a few more hours.
Finally, remember that often the best memories are made when we've been able to loosen up and revel a bit. Try to be kind to yourself, but learn from your experiences too! They more we get to know ourselves, the easier it is to manage how we feel, which is what this whole wellness thing is really about.
Happy celebrating...and sleeping! 😴😴😴