Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Monday, January 16, 2012 8:22 AM comments (0)

More than 30 percent of working Americans report less than six hours of sleep a night.Sleep

Studies show that regularly sleeping less than six to seven hours a night may be associated with:

  • Decreased performance on the job
  • A higher risk of car accidents
  • An increased risk of cardiovascular disease, colon polyps, and metabolic problems
  • An increased risk of mortality


A common myth is that people can make up for a lack of sleep by sleeping longer on the weekends. Yet according to Cathy Goldstein, MD, Neurologist and expert in sleep medicine at NorthShore, the body does not have the ability to catch up or make up for chronic sleep deprivation.

Dr. Goldstein offers the following tips for getting a good night’s sleep:

  • Be vigilant about getting enough sleep.
  • For shift workers or those who are forced to sleep on what would normally be waking hours, use bright light therapy or over-the-counter melatonin supplements. 
  • Leave electronics like laptops and BlackBerry devices out of the bedroom.
  • Avoid exercise, heavy meals and alcohol in the hours before bedtime. 
  • Keep the bedroom cool and dark during the night.

Patients with actual sleep disorders like sleep apnea are urged to talk to their physician and undergo a sleep study for diagnosis and treatment.

How many hours of sleep do you typically get a night? What do you do to ensure a good night’s sleep?

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Tags: sleep

Trimming Down in 2012 – A Quick Guide to Weight Loss

Thursday, January 12, 2012 8:10 AM comments (2)

The New Year is upon on us, and with that comes the resolution of many: to lose weight and adopt more healthy living habits.

According to Goutham Rao, MD, Primary Care Physician at NorthShore, weight loss can be achieved through incremental behavior change. He provides some quick tips about healthy behaviors to help lose weight.

Healthy behaviors include:

  • Eat a balanced breakfast. Skipping breakfast encourages overeating later in the day.
  • Eliminate all sweet beverages from your diet and switch to water exclusively. (Sweet beverages include: fruit drinks, punches, regular soft drinks, fruit juices, sweetened iced tea, flavored milk, sports drinks and energy drinks).
  • Limit fast food consumption to no more than once per week. 
  • Incorporate about 15 – 30 minutes of physical activity into your daily routine (e.g. aerobics classes). Walking—even part of the way to work—is a good example.
  • Limit all non work-related screen time to no more than two hours a day. This includes computer, video games and TV. 
  • Eat meals as a family. Don’t eat in front of the TV; mindless eating promotes obesity.
  • Avoid snacks or meals just before bedtime (when energy is least needed).

What tips do you have to stay trim in 2012?

For more information about Childhood Obesity, please check out Dr. Rao’s book, Child Obesity: A Parent’s Guide to a Fit, Trim and Happy Child.

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Winter Got You Down?

Friday, January 06, 2012 9:05 AM comments (1)

 As the days get shorter and the temperatures continue to drop during winter, some people experience depression-like symptoms. Dr. Robert Farra, Director of Solutions for Depression and Anxiety at NorthShore, shines some light on commonly asked questions relating to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). 

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Q: What is seasonal affective disorder?

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that affects a person during the same time each year.
  • Anyone can get SAD, but it’s most common with people who live in areas where winter days are short and there is limited sunlight.

Q: What are the symptoms of SAD?

  • Feeling sad or moody
  • Loss of interest in usually pleasurable things
  • Eating more and craving carbohydrates
  • Gaining weight
  • Sleeping more and feeling drowsy during the day

Q: How many people are affected?

  • It is estimated that half million (500,000) people in the U.S. have SAD.

Q: Why do many people experience depression before the holidays?

  • Typically the days of little sunshine
  • Stress of the season

Q: How can people combat seasonal depression? Any concrete tips?

  • Light therapy may help.  Sitting in front of a high intensity fluorescent lamp (usually 10,000 Lux) for 30 mins to 2 hours can help.
  • Sometimes people respond better to an antidepressant and specialized treatment called Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT).
  • Depression, regardless of cause, shows up as negative thoughts and feelings.  Ruminating about negative thoughts and feelings can bring us down.
  • CBT teaches that negative thoughts and behaviors, while influenced by such things as a lack of sunlight, are still within a person’s ability to change.

Are you affected by the change of the season? What do you do to stay active even with less sunshine?

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