If the big, red-clad, white-bearded,seasonal visitor was a real person, he would be a public menace with sleep deprivation and alcohol at every house he visits around the globe.
"Each year, Santa Claus and his team of elves and reindeers stay awake for days and nights so he can deliver presents to children all over the world for Christmas," say Franco Cappuccio and Michelle Miller of Britain's University of Warwick Medical School.
Advertisement"But he could be putting his and their health at risk."
Cappuccio and Miller, making a cunning pitch for their new book on the perils of sleep deprivation, assess the perils faced -- and posed -- by Santa on his nightlong global trek.
Days without sleep, frantic all-night driving and tipples by the Christmas tree all add up to a terrifying picture... of a sleigh-crash in slow motion.
"Considering that he does it only once a year, it may not be too bad for his long-term health," the pair said in a tongue-in-cheek assessment on Tuesday.
"However, in the short term, there are risks.
"Lack of sleep will make him drowsy, his vigilance will fade and his ability to think and remember will diminish. There is a risk for himself and others -- he could fall asleep at the reins and crash his sleigh."
Physicists have determined that, factoring in the different time zones and rotation of the planet, Santa has 31 hours in which to deliver presents to children in around roughly 100 million households where the Christmas tradition is observed.
Taking into account the time he would need to come down each chimney and leave the presents, Santa would have to travel at around 1,000 kilometres (650 miles) per second to do his round.
Without the help of advanced physics -- ion-shield resistance and travel between dimensions, for instance -- Santa, Rudolph, the sleigh and the little elvish helpers would be instantly vaporised by friction with the air.
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