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Health Tips for December 24

Posted Oct 23 2008 2:22pm
Health Tip: Give Yourself the Gift of Sleep for the Holidays

Many people sacrifice sleep in order to complete all their shopping, decorating, cooking and other holiday preparations. But a lack of sleep can reduce your ability to enjoy the season, warns Dr. Alejandro D. Chediak, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

"In order to best enjoy the holiday season, anticipate and budget the extra time needed to carry out your holiday 'to-do' list. Getting an early start and doing a little bit each day will save time and relieve stress. Delaying your 'to-do' list until the last possible minute not only leads to sleep loss, it also makes one contend with heavier street traffic and more aggressive crowds in stores," Chediak said in a prepared statement.

Chediak offered the following holiday season sleep tips:

* Take time to relax in the evening. Giving your brain time to calm down before bed will help you sleep better.
* Stick to your regular sleep/wake schedule. Customary pre-sleep rituals, such as a warm bath or a few minutes of reading, can also help ensure you get a good sleep.
* Plan ahead for holiday activities. Set aside time to wrap gifts, decorate the house, or plan your holiday menu.
* If you become drowsy while driving, pull off into a rest area and take a short nap -- about 15 to 20 minutes.
* Don't eat a heavy meal before bedtime. This can cause heartburn or discomfort that can make it difficult to fall asleep or disturb your sleep.
* When you're at evening holiday parties, don't have too much alcohol or caffeine. Both can inhibit your normal sleep pattern.

Health Tip: Maintaining Routine Can Chase Holiday Blues Away

While the Christmas season is a time of joy and celebration for many, it can trigger holiday blues in some people.

If you are prone to holiday blues, there are things you can do to help prevent them, says Dr. Rajnish Mago, director of the Mood Disorders Program at the Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

Mago offered the following tips:

* Maintain your daily routine as much as possible. Don't vary by more than an hour either way the time you normally wake up, eat and go to bed. Sticking to your daily routine can help stabilize your biorhythm and reduce stress and sadness.
* Get exercise, which is an important stress-reliever. Research has shown that aerobic exercise alone can reduce depression. Get at least 30 minutes (45 minutes is better) of exercise a day. If you're older or have health problems, check with your doctor before you start an exercise program.
* Limit your chocolate consumption. Research has shown that chocolate can give people a temporary mood boost, but it can increase sadness over the long-term.
* If you have to spend time with relatives or friends with whom there may be conflict, determine beforehand how you're going to deal with the situation, rather than simply getting swept up in a bad situation.
* Instead of scouring overcrowded stores for the perfect gift for each person, buy gift cards or certificates. Or you can purchase presents online or over the phone.
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