SATURDAY, Dec. 25 (HealthDay News) -- The lack of sleep
experienced by Santa, his elves and reindeer around Christmas may
put their health at risk, British sleep experts suggest.
While staying up all night on Christmas Eve may not harm Santa's
long-term health, there are short-term risks, according to
Professor Franco Cappuccio and Dr. Michelle Miller, of the
University of Warwick's Warwick Medical School.
The lack of sleep while Santa travels around the world could
make him drowsy, decrease his vigilance and reduce his ability to
think and remember. It's possible he could fall asleep at the reins
and crash his sleigh, or even deliver presents to the wrong
There are some things that could help the Jolly Old Elf, such as
a quick nap (no more than 20 minutes) on a rooftop here and there.
Or he could have a large cup of coffee, which could give him a
boost about 20 minutes later. But Santa can't rely on repeating
this several times because the effect of the caffeine will reduce
with time and he may suffer nasty side effects, such as heart
palpitations and increased blood pressure, the experts warned.
Sleep deprivation increases appetite, so Santa appreciates the
treats people leave out for him as he does his rounds. Since sleep
debt also leads to obesity, Cappuccio and Miller said they aren't
surprised by Santa's big belly.
If you plan to give Santa a treat, make sure it isn't alcohol.
His lack of sleep already reduces his level of attention to that of
someone who is over the alcohol limit. Booze would greatly increase
the risk of a sleigh crash.
While there's no way to avoid a sleepless night on Christmas
Eve, Santa can take steps to ensure he and his elves are
well-rested before the big night. For example, he could recruit
more elves so that they could limit work shifts to 10 hours
maximum, with plenty of rest and sleep in between, the experts
suggested in a university news release.
Deer normally nap during the day and are active at night. So as
long as Rudolph and the rest of the team are well-rested
beforehand, they should be ready for their long and demanding
journey on Christmas Eve.
Jet lag is a major issue for Santa. In order to deliver presents
at exactly midnight all around the world, he has to spend 24 hours
in trans-meridian travel with rapid changes in time zones, giving
his body clock little chance to adapt, Cappuccio and Miller
If Santa did this year-round, his well-being would be at serious
risk. But he'll have a whole year to practice good sleep habits and
remain fit and healthy.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers a
guide to healthy sleep.