What I Want for Christmas: More Sleep

WebMD Offers Up a Solution for Holiday Sleep Loss

From the WebMD Archives

Dec. 9, 2003 --- For a laundry list of reasons including spending too much money on gifts, feeling the loss of a loved one, and the stress of spending time with a dysfunctional family, more than three-quarters of Americans don't get enough ZZZ's during the holiday season, a new survey shows.

In the new survey of 1,000 Americans, about 50% reported getting less than seven hours of sleep per night during the holiday season that spans from Thanksgiving through New Year's day. That adds up to a loss of three or more hours per week in the majority of those polled (sleep experts recommend seven to nine hours per night for adults). Of people with sleep loss, 40% said it was caused by remembering the loss of loved ones, 38% said it was caused by financial concerns, 37% said they couldn't sleep because they were too busy, and 33% cited family issues.

Overall, about 50% said they experienced some degree of stress during the holidays, and of these, 55% said the stress prevented them from sleeping at night. What's more, the greater their stress, the more likely they were to have trouble sleeping, the survey showed. In addition, holiday stress also affected sleep quality, the survey showed.

"During the holiday season, we are all pressed time-wise, we race around to get our shopping done and finish all the work we left for year-end and people spend more money then they plan to or should at holiday time and then they can lose sleep," says Ellen Miller, a clinical assistant professor of medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y. "Holidays are also difficult for people who have lost loved ones and it may be the first holiday that loved ones are not there," says Miller, who is also in private practice in Hewlett, N.Y.

Another stressor may be the yearly fight about whether you spend the holidays with the outlaws or in-laws or who do you visit and on what night, she tells WebMD.

The Holiday Sleep Solution

Sleep loss is a common problem in the U.S. which tends to get worse during the holiday season.