Living and Wellness Sleep Soundly During the Holidays By Sleep Medicine, December 9, 2013 The holiday season, as known by many, is the most wonderful time of the year. You know, there will be Parties for hosting… Marshmallows for toasting… And caroling out in the snow… And the song goes on. But we all know that the holiday season can be one of the most stressful and chaotic times of the year. With stressful and lengthy trips to buy presents for friends and family, planning get-togethers, attending parties, wrapping presents, dealing with entertaining kids – both young and old – while they’re off from school, there is a lot happening. And sometimes, according to Ryan Soose, MD, Director, Division of Sleep Surgery at UPMC, sleep can easily be left out of your schedule. “A lot of times we are so busy during the holidays that we tend to set sleep aside,” says Dr. Soose. “And this lack of sleep can cause a lack in concentration and difficulty performing mental or physical chores, which may end up causing injuries.” Sleep is also very important to the immune system, and a lack of sleep combined with unwanted holiday stress can be a recipe for getting sick. “Studies have shown that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as the common cold,” says Dr. Soose. “And with the cold and flu season peaking during November and December, it’s important to keep your immune system as strong as possible.” If you’re worried about losing sleep over the holidays, Dr. Soose and the team from UPMC Sleep Medicine offer some tips for getting a good night’s sleep. Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool. If you need to drown out the noise of house-guests and other distractions, use a fan. If you do choose to partake in holiday sweets, drinks, and heavy food, try to finish eating or drinking at least two to three hours before your bedtime. This will help ensure that you can fall asleep comfortably and normally. Try to keep a routine exercise schedule. Physical activity won’t just fight holiday weight gain; it will help you sleep better too. Try to limit stress as much as possible. Try taking 15-30 minutes of quiet time a day where you can relax. If you are traveling, make sure to bring a blanket, sleep mask or earplugs. Even the smallest items of comfort can help you sleep soundly while on a plane or in a car (just make sure you aren’t driving).