{Sleep} ‘Twas the week before Christmas…and you’re not sleeping enough!

Win a “nap sack,” including sheets, pillows, and iPod clock radio and eye pillow, to help you sleep better this holiday season, by answering in the comments below: What holiday-related tasks will you sacrifice shuteye for this week?

‘Twas the week before Christmas… and you’re not sleeping enough, says a recent study published by Sleepy’s and conducted by Toluna, an independent research service. The study shows that the “most wonderful time of the year,” is also the most sleep-deprived. Women, especially FOFs, push physical limits, sacrificing sleep for holiday chores. This past week, FOF Julianne Shannon tells us she pulled an “all-nighter” in order to turn her California home “into a  winter wonderland with faux snow and reindeer–a kind-of Santa’s Workshop motif. Then, I took my son to school and came home to have a morning nap before work.”

Julianne is not alone. More than half of women queried in the study expect to spend between one and four hours a night in December performing holiday-related tasks, cutting into crucial sleep time. The study reports that men will forfeit some sleep too, yet (no surprise here) they devote much less time to holiday chores.

According to sleep expert Robert deStefano, a woman over 50 should be getting seven to eight hours of sleep to function properly. “Throughout the year, women suffer stress-induced insomnia at a 2:1 ratio to men. That skyrockets over the holidays.”

“Many women over 50 have lower sleep efficiency, meaning that their quality of sleep is much poorer,” adds Dr. Steven Y. Park, M.D. an otorhinolaryngologist and Integrative Sleep Surgeon at Montefiore Medical Center.

“If her sleep is fragmented, the central nervous system is taxed and little stressors become magnified,” says Robert. “Stress is a primary contributor to heart disease, the number one cause of death to women in the U.S.”

Lack of sleep (quantity or quality) is known to promote weight gain by increasing your physiologic stress levels,” says Dr. Park. “It causes cravings of sugary or carbohydrate-laden foods, and metabolically makes you put on weight.”

Seven to eight hours of sleep before the holidays?! Fat chance! Here’s what the study shows that FOFs are doing instead of sleeping.

  • 46% sacrifice sleep for making or wrapping gifts

“I spent last night from midnight to 4 a.m. wrapping gifts for my 4 kids and making a dozen intricate holiday garlands for a fundraiser for our local museum,” says FOF Teri Miceli.

“I woke up from a dead sleep at midnight last night because I forgot I still had a dozen individual scrapbooks to finish and wrap for my co-workers… Was up until dawn on that one!” says FOF Tina Mulheisen.

96% put in extra hours baking, cooking, decorating or cleaning

Every year, FOF Francesca Kranzberg has a “cheesecake party” for 120 to 250 neighbors. She bakes 15 different varieties of the dessert–and non-cheesecake treats, too. “The last few days before our party I usually stay up until 2:30 or 3 a.m. finishing the baking, cleaning, etc., and arise at my usual 7 a.m. to get to work. While I always hope to get some sleep before the party, I am simply too nervous.”

“Sleepless nights start before Thanksgiving, with bread baking and prepping pie crusts,” says FOF Cathy Barrow of the cooking blog Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Kitchen. “As soon as that holiday is wrapped up, the holiday confections and cookies start. It takes two weeks to make twenty varieties (about 120 dozen) for my holiday cookie box. Lots of baking well past midnight. Plenty of mornings that start at 4 a.m., with cookies in the oven before the coffee is brewed. I mailed off all the treats on Monday, and now my holiday begins.”

“In addition to my normal crazy party schedule, this year I volunteered to make 700 gift boxes of white chocolate dipped and decorate pretzels, oreos and rice crispy treats–up all night with that,” says Alison Mesrop of Alison Mesrop Catering “Also made 20 flourless chocolate cakes complete with ganache frosting and glaceed fruit decor. In a sleep-deprived stupor at 3 a.m. I possessed the patience to separate prosciutto slices, painstakingly fitting into cups, baking them to make 500 crispy prosciutto cups.”

45% are shopping online during hours they normally sleep.

“I stay up to 11:30 p.m. shopping for clients last minute..not for myself,” says FOF style guru Sherrie Mathieson, author of Steal This Style and Forever Cool. “Then it’s hard to unwind, as the computer light affects melatonin cycles. They say that sleep  between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. is most important, and I have sabotaged that rest time.”

Win a “nap sack,” including sheets, pillows, an iPod clock radio and eye pillow, to help you sleep better this holiday season, by answering in the comments below: What holiday-related tasks will you sacrifice shuteye for this week?

One FOF will win.(See all our past winners, here.) (See official rules, here.) Contest closes December 29, 2011 at midnight E.S.T.