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Give Yourself the Gift of Sleep for the Holidays

Getting an early start on tasks and doing a little each day cuts stress, expert says

SUNDAY, Dec. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Many people sacrifice sleep in order to complete all their shopping, decorating, cooking and other holiday preparations. But a lack of sleep can reduce your ability to enjoy the season, warns Dr. Alejandro D. Chediak, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

"In order to best enjoy the holiday season, anticipate and budget the extra time needed to carry out your holiday 'to-do' list. Getting an early start and doing a little bit each day will save time and relieve stress. Delaying your 'to-do' list until the last possible minute not only leads to sleep loss, it also makes one contend with heavier street traffic and more aggressive crowds in stores," Chediak said in a prepared statement.

Chediak offered the following holiday season sleep tips:

  • Take time to relax in the evening. Giving your brain time to calm down before bed will help you sleep better.
  • Stick to your regular sleep/wake schedule. Customary pre-sleep rituals, such as a warm bath or a few minutes of reading, can also help ensure you get a good sleep.
  • Plan ahead for holiday activities. Set aside time to wrap gifts, decorate the house, or plan your holiday menu.
  • If you become drowsy while driving, pull off into a rest area and take a short nap -- about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Don't eat a heavy meal before bedtime. This can cause heartburn or discomfort that can make it difficult to fall asleep or disturb your sleep.
  • When you're at evening holiday parties, don't have too much alcohol or caffeine. Both can inhibit your normal sleep pattern.

More information

The National Sleep Foundation has more about the holidays and sleep.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Academy of Sleep Medicine, news release, December 2007

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