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Even Elves Need a Good Night's Rest

Sleeping well is the best present holiday-makers can give themselves

MONDAY, Dec. 25, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- This holiday season, sleep may be the most precious gift you can give yourself.

"During this frantic time of year, it is common for many people to make sleep less of a priority in order to make sure everything is accomplished in time," Michael H. Silber, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), said in a prepared statement.

"However, because your body is not a machine, it can't keep going, and eventually needs to rest. To make the season more enjoyable for you, it is important to make sure you are well-rested, so that you are able to better manage the stress that often develop during this time of year," Silber said.

He noted that more people are sleep deprived during the holiday season than at any other time of the year, because people try to cram too many tasks and activities into a short period of time.

"You can't be at your best if you are fighting sleep deprivation. Saying 'no' to just one or two extra demands this time of year may make all the 'yeses' more pleasant and more enjoyable for you and your family," Silber said.

The AASM offers some tips for getting enough rest over the holidays:

  • Take time to relax. Even if you have plenty to do, you should stop at a certain point in the evening in order to give your brain time to wind down before bed. This will help you sleep better.
  • Keep your sleep pattern on schedule. Maintain a regular bedtime and wake-up time. Other rituals, such as a warm bath or reading before bed, also may help.
  • If you become drowsy while driving to a holiday destination, pull off in a rest area and take a short nap -- about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Don't eat heavy meals before bedtime, because that causes heartburn or discomfort that can prevent you from falling asleep or disturb your sleep.
  • When you go to evening parties, don't have too much alcohol or caffeine, which can also harm your sleep.

More information

The National Sleep Foundation has more about getting a good night's sleep.

SOURCE: American Academy of Sleep Medicine, news release, December 2006
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