In the News - December 2012
How to sleep in heavenly peace this holiday
- Sleep affects mood, health
- Short, mid-afternoon naps helpful
- Stick to normal schedule during holidays
LITTLE ROCK – The holidays are a time of gift-giving, good food, visits by family and friends and lots of celebrating. Sleep usually isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, but it should be a priority, said Lisa Washburn, assistant professor-health, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
“Sleep is vital year round, but during the potentially stressful and chaotic holiday season, it becomes even more important,” she said. “Sleep affects health and mood. Getting enough sleep is always important and it can be the difference between loving or dreading holiday festivities.”
Her tips for ensuring sleep during the holiday hustle and bustle:
- Don’t wait until the last minute. Waiting until the last minute to get your shopping done can be very stressful. “Worrying about getting everything done can cause loss of precious sleep,” Washburn said. “Start making a list of presents and other things you will need. Start picking items up a little bit at a time.”
- Stick to your normal schedule. As much as possible, it is important to stick to your normal sleep/wake schedule to avoid the extra stress of your body trying to readjust. Stick to your normal exercise routine, too. Regular exercise will help your mood and attitude.
- Take naps. Studies suggest that the best time to take a nap is mid-afternoon, between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Short naps can help reduce fatigue, improve mood, and increase alertness without affecting your normal nighttime sleep. Keep naps short, no more than 10 to 30 minutes.
- Don’t overindulge. Avoid eating a heavy meal close to bedtime; it can lead to indigestion, which will disrupt your sleep. Avoid drinking large amounts of alcohol and caffeine, especially if you are take sleeping pills to help you sleep. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and can make it difficult to sleep restfully. Alcohol is also likely to disrupt normal sleep patterns. While consuming alcohol before bedtime may make it easier to fall asleep, it makes it more difficult to sleep restfully throughout the night.
- Traveling? If you are flying or riding in a car, get a pillow on the plane or bring your own. Dress comfortably, and listen to some calming music on your mp3 player or iPod. “If you are driving, make frequent stops to stretch,” she said. “If you feel drowsy, pull over safely and take a short nap or switch drivers.”
- Take a deep breath. Try to make time every night to relax and wind down before going to bed. Turn off the TV and other electronics and read a book or take a hot bath. “If you have trouble falling asleep, try closing your eyes, relaxing your muscles, and taking a few deep breaths,” she said.
For more information about staying healthy, visit www.uaex.edu or contact your county extension office.
The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
December 7, 2012
By the Cooperative Extension Service
U of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Extension Communications Specialist
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
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