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Add sleep to your holiday wish list

Filed in
  • Sleep hygiene
  • Mental Health
  • stress
  • Winter

By Lynn Celmer  |  Dec 20, 2012
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Between all of the shopping, baking, decorating and other preparations at the holidays, many people may end up sacrificing sleep to get everything done. But the effects of sleep deprivation are greater than most people realize, warns Dr. Timothy I. Morgenthaler, of the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center and an officer of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

"Not surprisingly traffic accidents are more common in those who are sleep deprived and even if you're fortunate enough to avoid an accident, sleep deprivation - even over relatively short periods of time - leads to impairment of mood regulation, with an increased tendency toward negative feelings and decreased tendency toward positive feelings. All of these effects of sleep deprivation are likely to affect interactions with family and friends and impair one's ability to cope with stresses over the holidays," Morgenthaler said.

Morgenthaler offered the following holiday season sleep tips:

  • Honor you sleep needs by setting and keeping a reasonable sleep schedule especially through the holiday season. During the holidays, that may mean excusing yourself from some activities early to ensure you get the rest you need. Favor quality interactions, not just being there.
  • Don't overeat and avoid substances that interfere with good sleep. This means avoiding caffeine or nicotine in the latter part of your day and moderating alcohol close to bedtime (which can make you sleepy initially, but actually impairs sleep quality). Also, don't go to bed either stuffed or hungry.
  • Include physical activity in each day during the holidays. Regular physical activity promotes better sleep quality and helps to manage the stresses that may reduce your ability to fall asleep easily.
  • Follow a relaxing bedtime ritual. Don't work or frenzy yourself by decorating, celebrating or wrapping presents right up until bedtime. Allow yourself time to wind down while you prepare for bed. For many, the bright lights associated with screen time of various electronic media interfere with their ability to fall asleep and later wake up easily and should be avoided within the hours close to bedtime. 

Make sleep a priority in the New Year. Board certified sleep medicine physicians in an AASM accredited sleep center can provide effective treatment. AASM encourages patients to talk to their doctors about sleep problems or visit for a searchable directory of sleep centers..