What I Want for Christmas: More Sleep

WebMD Offers Up a Solution for Holiday Sleep Loss

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And "the way that we can maximize sleep is to get rid of the stress that we focus on at bedtime," she says. "Plan ahead and don't leave all the shopping to the last minute and put money away in advance, rather than max out your credit cards and be concerned about how to pay it back with all the interest," Miller suggests.

Other tips include practicing good sleep hygiene. "Use the bed and bedroom for sleeping and don't take work or bills into the bedroom because it's better to do those activities somewhere else," she says.

"It's always good to exercise but try not to do right before bed because that wakes you up and avoid caffeine before bed," she says.

Eat Drink and Be ... Sleepy?

"Everybody likes to be a social butterfly and attend every social function during the holidays, but if we go out every evening, we may eat too much and drink too much which will affect sleep," she says.

"People may turn to alcohol because they think they will sleep better, but it backfires because later during the night when it's coming out of system, it is likely to cause more awakening," says David Neubauer, MD, an associate director of the Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorders Center in Baltimore, and author of Understanding Sleeplessness.

"Alcohol is never a good solution, but the bigger problem is being out driving while sleep deprived when you have had alcohol," he stresses. "That can have disastrous effects."

Holidays can be a challenge to sleep, he says.

"You have got more social activities that interfere with sleep, but there is also shopping to be done," he says. "You have to balance your sleep because when sleep loss is unavoidable, you can make up for it at other times," he says.

"If you have got plenty of sleep in the bank, you can withdraw a little bit for a special occasion," Neubauer says, adding that the trouble occurs when you are overdrawn.

Miller says that if sleep problems are "going on for several weeks and don't resolve by the time that the holiday season is over, talk to your doctor."

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SOURCES: Ellen Miller, clinical assistant professor, medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, N.Y. David Neubauer, MD, associate director, Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorders Center, Baltimore; author, Understanding Sleeplessness.
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