For exhausted new parents, it can be a relief when your infant finally settles down to sleep for the night
(or even just a couple of hours) but there can be fear as well. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) can happen even when all the right safety measures are practiced. The exact cause of SIDS is unknown. SIDS is most common in infants less than
six months of age but can occur between one month and one year.
While nothing can prevent every case, there are ways to significantly reduce the risk of SIDS. William MacKendrick, MD, Neonatologist at NorthShore, shares safe sleeping recommendations every parent should practice:
Have your own questions about safe sleeping or another parenting topic? Join the conversation in our new online community:
The Parent 'Hood.
A lack of sleep can leave you feeling groggy and foggy all day, impairing your ability to focus on work and even retain information.
That’s not all; lack of sleep also decreases libido, ages skin and can inhibit your ability to lose weight. Chronic sleep deprivation—regularly forgoing the recommended 7 to 8 hours or due to other sleep disorders—can have serious consequences on your health,
including increased risk for heart disease, heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and depression. In other words, maintaining good sleep habits is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. And, unfortunately, most of us aren't doing that.
If done correctly, there is great power in a well-timed nap. While you should not rely on naps to repair the damage done by inadequate sleep or chronic sleep deprivation, naps can recharge your energy levels and improve your mood. The key is to time them
just right. Short naps are preferable. Longer naps may be taken on occasion to make up for an occasional lapse in sleep schedule.
Thomas Freedom, MD, Neurologist and Program Director of Sleep Medicine at NorthShore, breaks down nap time to help you achieve maximum
benefits from a little daytime shuteye:
10 to 20 minutes. Often called the “power nap,” this short rest period is a great way to recharge your personal energy battery, boosting alertness and increasing your midday focus. Keep your power naps to 10 to 20 minutes because you’ll
stay in lighter stages of non-rapid eye movement (NREM), which means you won’t wake up feeling groggy and can get right back to work feeling refreshed. Also try to take the nap early in the afternoon.
30 minutes or more. Word of warning: Naps longer than 20 minutes could leave you with sleep inertia, or grogginess that can last up to 30 minutes after waking. If you need to be back on your feet right away, keep your nap to less than 20
minutes. Otherwise, after the fog wears off, you’ll enjoy the same restorative benefits of the power nap.
60 minutes. If you find yourself forgetting information halfway through your day, 60 minutes of shuteye might be able to help. A nap between 30 and 60 minutes will get you to slow-wave sleep, which can help improve your decision-making skills
and recollection of information. You’ll need to give yourself a little recovery time after an hour nap, as the effects of sleep inertia could be more pronounced. There is a possibility that a nap of this length could also disrupt your sleep at night.
90 minutes. A 90-minute nap gives you a full sleep cycle—from the lighter stages of sleep all the way to REM (rapid eye movement). A nap of 60 to 90 minutes can improve decision-making skills and even enhance creativity. At this length,
make sure to nap with care. You don’t want to disrupt your regular sleep schedule or keep yourself up at night by napping too long during the day. Sleep inertia may also be more of an issue.
Do you take day-time naps to boost your energy levels?
Stress is our body’s reaction to something which upsets the normal balance of life, something more than our
usual day-to-day duties and obligations. Stress often triggers a “fight or flight” response. During stressful events, the adrenal glands release adrenalin, a hormone that activates the body’s defense mechanisms, causing the heart rate and blood pressure to
increase, muscles to tense, digestion to slow and pupils to dilate. These physiological responses give us the strength and focus to escape or to fight when faced with an acute threat. This once ensured the survival of our species when predators were a true
Today, when many think of “stress,” they think of something negative. Stress is not a pure evil though. The world we live in now may be filled with less literal predators, yes, but the “fight or flight” response to stress can still be useful. It can help
us make good, productive decisions when faced with a deadline at work or school, and we often experience cognitive and emotional growth as a result of some stressful experiences as well.
Some are better equipped to handle stress though. Temperament plays a role in how susceptible people are to stress. Most parents have probably observed that one child might be especially fussy by nature and need extra soothing, compared to another who is
calmer and can more easily accept and feel comfort. If one does not handle stress well, it can manifest in a variety of ways physically, including headaches, stomach pain, sleep issues, regular illnesses, anxiety and depression. Chronic stress can trigger
a secretion of cortisol, a stress hormone, which can cause heart disease, obesity and the suppression of one’s immune system. That’s why it’s imperative to find ways to both harness the power of stress and find ways to cope with and reduce stress levels when
they become too high.
The holidays can be an especially stressful time for many people, from holiday shopping that becomes too much to handle, to travel that makes the holidays feel far from festive.
Zahava Davidson, Head of the Division of Individual and Relational Psychotherapy at NorthShore, shares some ways to manage your
stress levels during the holidays and beyond:
Regular exercise. Often the holidays become an excuse for letting a regular exercise routine fall by the wayside. Don’t do that again this year. You might have less time during the holidays, but make time for exercise. It’s a great stress-reducer
and even a short walk each day can do wonders.
Make a list. Finding a better way to manage your time could help you avoid those skyrocketing stress levels altogether. Prioritize your schedule. Chances are, the big things are stressing you out. Which are most important? Which will take
the most time? Acknowledge they need to be done, get them out of the way and then enjoy the holidays with your family.
Eat a balanced diet. It’s all about taking care of yourself both mentally and physically. If your stress levels are high, you are more susceptible to illnesses, so you need to keep your body healthy too. Try to eat a balanced diet. Yes,
this is important even during the holidays. Also consider limiting alcohol and caffeine consumption.
Sleep! Start each day off right. Getting enough sleep each night makes handling stress much easier. When you’re tired, you are more likely to lose your temper or become easily agitated. When you’re well rested, you can better handle whatever
the holidays might throw at you, and maybe even enjoy it.
Ask for help. You don’t have to do everything on your own. You might be hosting the big meal or you might be hosting family at your house for the week, but that doesn’t mean you have to do all the work. Those who have a strong network of
family and friends are better able to handle stress. Let your family and friends take some of the weight off your shoulders.
Try meditation and mindfulness. The holidays can leave some with the feeling that they don’t even have time to think. You do. Or you should make time for it. Find time to be alone with your thoughts. For an extra boost of stress relief,
consider combining this time with a massage, aromatherapy, yoga or acupuncture to relax your body as well.
Acknowledge that holidays can trigger depression. If your family has recently lost a loved one, or certain relatives and friends will be out-of-town, realize that it’s normal to feel grief during the holidays. Allow yourself to feel those
emotions, and seek support from community, religious or healthcare resources.
Stick to your budget. The cost of food, gifts, travel and entertaining during the holidays can create a financial burden that greatly adds to stress. Plan in advance how much money you can afford to spend, then stay committed to your budget.
If your budget is small, create more affordable ways to celebrate such as exchanging homemade gifts or asking guests to bring a potluck dish.
How do you cope with the stress of the holidays?
The importance of a good night’s sleep can’t be overstated and not getting enough can lead to more than simply waking up on the wrong side of
the bed. Prolonged sleep deprivation can raise your risk for serious health problems like heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Sleep isn’t a waste of time; it’s an investment in your health.
The benefits of sleep are many. According to
Thomas Freedom, MD, Neurologist and Program Director of Sleep Medicine at NorthShore, a good night’s rest can improve:
Remember that the amount of sleep required varies with each individual, but most adults need approximately 7-8 hours a night.
Do you think you get enough sleep each night? Do you make sleep a priority?
A good night’s sleep can be the difference between night and day with children. Frequent lack of sleep can greatly impact a
child’s physical, mental and social well-being. It's also hard on the entire family.
It's recommended that children between the ages of six and twelve get 10-11 hours of sleep each night. This allows them to be better rested for school, and to further their growth and development. The challenge with childhood sleep disorders is that they
aren’t always easy to recognize. In fact, since the symptoms are so similar to other conditions (such as ADD and ADHD), sleep disorders often go misdiagnosed.
Mari Viola-Saltzman, DO, Sleep Medicine specialist, who sees both pediatric and adult patients, identifies some of the secondary effects childhood sleep
disorders may have:
How many hours of sleep do your children get each night? Do they have a nightly routine?
You are getting sleepy, very sleepy. All hypnosis aside, hopefully when your eyelids get heavy, you yawn uncontrollably
and your head begins to nod up and down, you are not behind the wheel of a car.
According to the
National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep in America poll, a surprising 60 percent of Americans have felt sleepy and drowsy when driving. The reasons are many: you’ve had a long day at work, you’re powering through exits on a road trip to make it to your final
destination faster or you’re driving in the evening. No matter what the reason, drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence,and puts both you and others at serious risk.
Neil Freedman, MD, Sleep Medicine specialist at NorthShore, offers his insights on how to stay alert at the wheel and avoid injury:
If you exhibit any of these symptoms while driving or know that you are too tired to drive prior to getting into the car, you should either not get behind the wheel, or pull over to the side of the road or to a rest stop.
Have you ever been too sleepy to be driving? What do you do to stay alert behind the wheel?
More than 30 percent of working Americans report less than six hours of sleep a night.
Studies show that regularly sleeping less than six to seven hours a night may be associated with:
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:
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?