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Over the Holidays, Give Yourself the Gift of Sleep

During this busy holiday season, as you nestle snug in your bed, forget the presents yet to be wrapped and settle your brain for a long winter's nap. Sleep specialists say the best gift you can give yourself this year is the gift of sleep. According to a study published in the September 2005 issue of the journal Sleep, the average sleep duration among U. adults is only 6.9 hours per night, and 39 percent get less than the 7 to 9 hours recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).

Add to that the extra demands of the holiday season - shopping for gifts after work, party preparation, waiting until the kids are asleep to wrap the gifts -and it's easy to see why many people are more sleep-deprived than ever this time of year. "We see more people in sleep centers after the holidays because the hectic season took a toll on their sleep," said Dr. Donna Arand, sleep specialist for the AASM. "You also will not enjoy the holidays as much if you are getting up early, going to bed late and are stressed out. You can't be your best holiday self if you are fighting sleep deprivation.

" The AASM offers these suggestions for better sleep during the holiday season: * Take time to relax. Even if you have a lot to do, allow yourself to stop at a certain point in the evening. Giving your brain time to wind down before bed will help you sleep better. * Keep your sleep pattern on schedule. Maintain a regular bedtime and wake-up time. Other regular rituals, such as a warm bath, a light snack or a few minutes of reading, also may help. * Plan ahead for holiday chores. Set aside time earlier in the day to wrap gifts, decorate the house, plan your holiday menu and similar tasks. To stay on track, write these "appointments" in your daily planner. * Love eggnog? Avoid too much alcoholic eggnog or coffee at evening holiday parties.

Alcohol and caffeine can inhibit your normal sleep pattern.


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