5 Ways to Help Someone With Hypersomnia Survive Christmas

Most people get excited about Christmas. They love decking the halls and singing carols and putting up the tree. They love going to the kids nativity play and shopping for presents and seeing all their relatives.

But the thought of such an interactive holiday can be intimidating for people who struggle to stay awake. When it comes to the holidays, I, for one, am always afraid I won’t be able to accommodate all the things people want me to participate in. However, here are a few things family members can do to help:

1. Don’t assume I’m a Scrooge (or the Grinch). I’m already frustrated with myself. There are so many things I wish I could do: decorate the tree, put up the lights, frost the cookies. I want to feel awake. I want to be “normal,” but I have to prioritize.

2. Be patient. Don’t get upset with me when I can’t manage to do everything you’ve planned. Believe me, I wish I could. It’s no fun staying behind while everyone else goes out shopping, for instance, but I know I’d be exhausted afterwards, and I’d rather be awake for the Christmas Eve party so I can see the extended family.

3. If you’re going out shopping, ask if I need you to pick up any last-minute gifts. I will absolutely love you for this because it means I won’t have to use my small store of energy pushing through the last minute crowds. Instead I can use it on you and the other people close to me.

4. Use affirming words. I’m doing the best I can because I do love you and want to spend time with you. When you focus on what I’m doing right, instead of on what I can’t do, it helps me stay positive. Even saying something as simple as, “I know you must be tired, and I really appreciate the effort you’re putting into helping me make these pies,” means the world to me.

5. If I look exhausted, ask me if I’d like to take a nap. Sometimes I feel bad for leaving because I don’t want to put a damper on the fun. Let me know it’s all right for me to take a nap if I need to. Believe it or not, I often do feel like I need permission, otherwise I tend to feel guilty for disappointing you.

Christmas is a wonderful time of year, but it’s especially stressful for people who experience from excessive sleepiness. The greatest gift you can give us is your understanding and support.

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