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Are You Getting Enough Rest?

By Mellanie Hills

Reprinted from Women in Technology International

With holidays and year-end heaped atop your over committed life, are you getting enough rest? By adding the holiday decorating, shopping and wrapping presents, sending cards, entertaining, and attending parties, school pageants, and religious activities to your usual work, family, spiritual, social, and volunteer commitments, and throwing in year-end deliverables and deadlines to boot, no wonder you're exhausted. Even though the holidays are fun, the pace can keep you keyed-up, making it hard to sleep restfully as your mind constantly recounts all the things on your to-do list.

It's just the way it is during the holidays, so why make a big deal out of it? Because lack of sleep can make you vulnerable to a host of illnesses that can put a damper on your holidays, such as colds and flu, and can even put you at risk for more serious illnesses, such as heart disease. One out of every two women will suffer from heart disease, and the holidays simply make us more vulnerable. In a new National Institute of Health (NIH) study, women heart attack survivors recalled unusual fatigue (71%) and sleeplessness (48%) in the month before their heart attacks. Another study found that consistently getting less than five hours sleep, even if only twice per week, triples your risk of heart attack. If you experience unusual sleeplessness, check with your doctor right away.

Sleeplessness can also be a side effect of menopause, or can be related to other causes, such as diet and exercise. Here are some simple, healthy strategies to maximize your rest, especially during the holidays.

  1. Prioritize what's most important to you and your family for the holidays - do what's most important, skip the rest, and don't feel guilty (this is also useful during the rest of the year)
  2. Share the load by recruiting family members to pitch in more during the holidays (and get them in the habit for the rest of the year)
  3. Give to others in ways that boost your spirits
  4. Nap, if possible, if you're feeling tired or run down, even if only for 10 minutes
  5. Eat healthy (balanced diet, lots of fruits and veggies), and avoid calorie-laden fast-foods
  6. Drink water throughout the day, but minimize during the last few hours before bedtime
  7. Minimize caffeine, and avoid it during the late afternoon and evening
  8. Avoid sweets just before bedtime, to eliminate a sugar high
  9. Exercise during the day to ensure your body is tired at bedtime, even if it's just taking a distant parking place and walking
  10. Create bedtime routines - stick to a consistent bedtime, taking into account your body's rhythms. Have a bedtime ritual (brush teeth, remove makeup, apply night creams). Gently unwind by reading or listening to music for 30 minutes before going to bed, bringing the lights down gradually as you do so. I fall asleep to a relaxing CD, tuning out hotel noise when on the road
  11. Check your bedding to be sure you have a comfortable mattress and pillows, and the right covers to neither get too hot nor too cold

You don't have to do all of the above - just pick a few to focus on, and don't stress over them. If getting enough rest is high on your priority list, it can be second nature by the new year as it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Enjoy your holidays, and stay healthy.

WITI is pleased to announce that Mellanie True Hills, The Health & Productivity Revitalizer, is now a featured columnist for WITI and will be providing regular health tips and feature articles in the Strategist and at the Web site.

You may reprint this article in your publication or company newsletter by including attribution, copyright, and contact information. Please send us a copy. Thanks

Copyright 2004 Mellanie True Hills Company.  All Rights Reserved.

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