a tired looking woman with insomnia sitting in her room with a long list in her hands and a full moon out her window with Santa and his reindeer flying by

Silent Night, Sleepless Night: Holiday Insomnia

Christmas break as an adult looks a lot different than the Christmas break of my youth. I remember being over-the-moon excited to walk out of school on the last half-day in December and more than ready to get home and begin my mini-vacation.

There’s just something about the fervor of shopping and the joy of family gatherings. Don’t get me wrong, as a teacher, I am still beyond excited to walk out that door on the last day.

There’s a distinct contrast to my days as a student, though. The holidays now come with a level of stress that keeps me up awake most nights.

Financial “Fa la la la la”

The holidays are expensive. Who are we kidding? As merry and bright as they are, they are costly. On any given night leading up to the holiday season, I can be found lying wide awake with my mind on my money. I can spend hours going over my list and checking it twice--three, four, even five times.

How much do I allow for this? How important is that? Do I really need to make another trip to the store? Is there a better price online? So many money questions. And none of them are answered, unfortunately, in the middle of the night.

‘Tis the season...for lists

My list-making begins in November and continues in a cycle of adding-to and marking-off until Christmas Eve. (Yes, I am a procrastinator.) I lose an inordinate amount of sleep trying to make sure I have added everyone’s name to my Alexa shopping list. In addition, I spend some fitful nights going over lists of ingredients I need to grab on my next shopping trip.

I also have lists of gift-wrapping supplies I am sure I bought after Christmas last year but will pick up again this year anyway. To add just a little more fuel to my insomnia fire, I even have a list of home improvements I need to accomplish on the short break from school. So much to think about--and so many sleepless nights in which to do it.

Dear Santa...help!

Perhaps the most insomnia-inducing aspect of the holidays is the age-old question of what gifts to buy. You would think I would have mastered this Christmas tradition after 19 years of motherhood, but you would be so very, very wrong. It’s a struggle every single year. Just getting answers out of my 2 teens stresses me out.

Night after night, I mull over what to get each member of the family, wondering if they may have already bought themselves the very item I have been eyeing for them. Toss in the added anxiety of what to buy for my students, and you have the perfect mixture for a long night spent scrolling online catalogs, clicking “add to cart” with a heart full of holiday hope.

It's (still) a wonderful life!

Despite the restless nights, the holidays are every bit as special as they were when I was a kid. They come with all the stress of being the adult in charge, but they are memorable nonetheless. If you told 8-year-old me I would one day be over 40, lying wide awake on Christmas Eve wondering if I had enough brown sugar in the pantry, I would have told you were a special kind of crazy.

Yet, here I am, livin’ the life. You know what? I don’t think I would trade it. It’s a wonderful life, insomnia included.

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