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When you aren’t getting at least seven hours of sleep per night, that’s a problem.

When 1 in 3 American adults aren’t getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night, that’s an epidemic.

Right now, the stress of the holidays makes it hard to get enough rest. It’s the toughest time of year for that as we chase our tails planning, shopping, partying, visiting, reveling. What about the sleeping in heavenly peace? No, we kind of stink at it throughout December.

Wouldn’t it better for the world if we put some of that energy focusing on how good sleep equals good health and find gifts that will help loved ones achieve it?

I think we agree on that, but how? Well, quality sleep starts with two things, a relaxing place and the right equipment.


You can easily build an environment conducive to sleep. Setting the mood in your bedroom, according to the National Sleep Foundation, means creating a dark, cool, quiet, pleasantly smelling space enhanced by a comfortable mattress with soft sheets, pillows and blankets.

You’re building a cocoon from which you will emerge rested, feeling light and lovely like a butterfly. (Yes, that was about 20 percent, but you get the point. Without good sleep, you look and feel like an ogre.) The NSF encourages everyone to pay attention to their bedroom surroundings because addressing these issues can make a difference to sleep quality:

Issue 1

Too much light coming from your phone, TV or tablet can jangle the neurotransmitters of your brain into thinking you need to stay awake. Solution: Turn them off. Better yet, leave them in a different room at bedtime.

Issue 2

The room is hot and you’re agitated and tossing the bed clothes instead of relaxing. Solution: Shoot for under 60-67 degrees. You want the blankets to do the work so you feel comforted and relaxed.

Issue 3

Noise. No, putting a Shawn Mendes slow jam on repeat for the night isn’t soothing you to sleep. Solution: Ambient noise—sounds of the sea, wind in the forest—is good. Or you can find long music tracks with tones calibrated specifically to relax you and ease stress.


Your mattress has a huge impact on sleep quality. You might say it’s the performance tool for getting your best sleep. But a mattress older than 10 years will likely hinder sleep instead. Mattresses are expensive gifts, but since the arrival of online companies like Leesa, Nectar, Saatva and others, you can find a quality mattress for under $1,000.

And you will be able to find the right mattress. There are so many options that can alleviate a multitude of struggles. For example, if you’re just leery of choosing something you may not like, nearly all online mattress retailers give you at least a 100-day trial run and will both ship to your door and take back any unwanted mattresses for free.

Also, several companies offer split styles so couples can personalize their side of the bed and keep the peace in the family. A more specific example? Saatva has a coil system that supports the lumbar area of your back, if lower back pain is a personal bugaboo.

There really are so many mattresses you can buy. Don’t be overwhelmed. Exploit third-party reviews to narrow down your search and to educate yourself on how mattresses are constructed to suit so many different needs.


Sleep truly is a gift. What other one act in life, when we do it right, can make us feel secure, in control, within our right mind, healthy, energetic, and capable? We should treat it as a cherished commodity.

The holidays are a time for reflection. We sometimes need to do things differently to feel present and engaged with what’s happening around us. It’s OK if you need reminding. Just know that when we are well-rested, it’s easier to embrace the renewal of traditions and the strengthening of bonds between family and friends.

Don’t let the taxing nature of the holiday season rob you of any of that. Because you, my friend, are too precious a gift to the world.


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