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?
Today, bullying doesn’t necessarily stop once your child walks through the front door. Cyberbullying, an extension
of traditional bullying, uses electronic technology and communication mediums—from emails and texts, to messages on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter—to send threatening and insulting messages anytime and anywhere. How do you protect your child
when the threats are happening online? What is the role and responsibility of the school when bullying is happening both on and off school grounds? How do you know when it’s happening to your child?
Benjamin Shain, MD, PhD, Child-Adolescent Psychiatry, answers questions on cyberbullying and bullying to help parents and teachers
find the best and most effective ways to protect kids:
How is bullying defined?
Bullying has been defined as having three elements: aggressive or deliberately harmful behavior 1) between peers that is 2) repeated and spans a length of time and 3) involves an imbalance of power, (e.g., related to physical strength or popularity), making
it difficult for the victim to defend himself or herself. Bullying behavior falls into four categories: 1) direct-physical (e.g., assault, theft), 2) direct-verbal (e.g., threats, insults, name-calling), 3) indirect-relational (e.g., social exclusion, spreading
rumors), and 4) cyber. The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey of students in grades 9 through 12 in the United States indicated that during the 12 months before the survey, 22.0% of girls and 18.2% of boys were bullied on school property, 22.1% of girls and 10.8%
of boys were electronically bullied, and 6.0% of girls and 5.8% of boys did not go to school one day in the past 30 because they felt unsafe at school or on the way to or from school.
How can you tell the difference between a joke and cyberbullying? When should you be concerned? When should you get the other parents involved?
Note the definition of bullying in the above question. Look for repeated aggressive or harmful behaviors involving an imbalance of power. That said, there is little you can do to monitor without being highly intrusive. Some teens need this but most do not.
What is the best way for schools to handle cyberbullying when they find out about it? Is it different from the way they would or should handle regular bullying?
There is little difference in consequence between cyberbullying and the face-to-face variety. Schools are in a unique position to intervene. Parents are limited in what they can do and most bullying does not meet the threshold for legal involvement. My belief
is that schools should handle all bullying as bullying.
How does a parent’s use of computers impact children? How can we set healthy examples that could contribute to less negative, and potentially bullying, situations?
Children learn more by example than what we tell them. I don't think we can have rules that apply to all (e.g., limit screens to X hours per day) as there is wide variation in needs and abilities of both parents and children. However, parents should consider
rules when usage becomes excessive (e.g., seems to limit other activities) and redirection is not effective. How to handle bullying (as both victim and bully) can be modeled by example, as well, with parents talking about how they handle electronic situations
as they arise.
How closely should you watch the way your kids use Facebook and their phone? Is it going too far to ask to see messages they send and receive?
Think of how you supervise kids in face-to-face interaction. Most kids navigate going to and from school and participating in class with some, but very limited, parental supervision. Some kids need much more supervision. Electronic situations are something
that parents can supervise much more closely, as they are often with the child, or at least in the same house, when the communication occurs. Nonetheless, even if monitoring could be done (children will find ways to circumvent even the strictest supervision),
children view supervision as highly intrusive. In addition, studies have shown that electronic communication is used heavily by children for support, which means close monitoring interferes with the support they are receiving from friends and peers. So, yes,
for most children, it’s not recommended to ask to view all electronic communication.
Is it safer for kids not to have access to cell phones or social media?
For most kids, electronic communication is not only the way they stay "in the loop" with their friends, but it is also the main way that they obtain social support. Taking this away protects them (and sometimes that is necessary) but it also denies
them avenues for normal social and emotional development.
If your child is on the receiving end of a cyberbully’s attentions, how should they respond? When should they seek an authority figure's help?
First thing is to encourage them to bring in a parent for advice. I can’t emphasize enough, though, that I mean advice and not control. As soon parents clamp down on communication or take unwanted action, the child will stop communicating with them.
An authority figure is useful when the actions are repeated and damaging.
What signs of bullying should a parent look for if a child is unwilling to communicate about what is going on inside or outside of school?
First, be patient. You may need to wait but typically waiting patiently and being there for support works faster than putting pressure on a child to communicate when they clearly do not want to. Second, look for signs of depression: overt sadness, angering
more easily, isolating more, declining grades, less interest in seeing friends and other activities that had been considered fun. Some of this, such as self-imposed isolation, you may see as a consequence of normal development. However, when it is sudden,
or combined with other problems, consider a mental health evaluation.
Why do the bullied often become bullies?
Kids are commonly both bullies and victims. Unfortunately, being a victim may teach children that imposing one’s power on another is important, which predisposes them to becoming a bully. As a parent, if you encounter this, talk to your child about his/her
behavior and consider a mental health evaluation if the behavior persists.
If you do discover your child is being bullied, online or off, should you talk to your children and the parents of the other children involved before getting the school involved? Should the schools be told right away?
For a bullying victim, being a victim is highly embarrassing in and of itself. First, consider interventions that are less of a "deal," as long as they are effective at stopping the bullying. On the other hand, bullying involving threats or encouraging
a child to commit suicide should be brought to the attention of the authorities immediately.
Does your child communicate with his or her friends online? How closely do you monitor activity?
With 25% of the American population suffering from heart related problems, it's extremely important for everyone to carefully monitor their health, and take the necessary precautions to avoid heart disease. The most common ways to prevent heart disease
include exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, going to the doctor frequently and avoiding smoking. However, there are ways to prevent heart disease that may surprise you! From snuggling to laughing, and even steering clear of traffic, there are plenty
of unusual ways to practice a healthy lifestyle.
Click on our
health infographic below to view our 10 surprising ways to improve your heart health.
Hulick, MD, MMsc, Medical Geneticist at NorthShore, discusses the increased risk for breast and ovarian cancer in women who carry the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutation. He responds to the recent study from the
Journal of Clinical Oncology on the impacts these mutations have on women as well as identifies ways women can minimize their risk.
What are your general impressions of the new study?
The study, particularly given its size, helps further parse out the details of risk differences between BRCA1 and BRCA2. There have been retrospective studies that have suggested this, but here we have a prospective study that adds further evidence.
In addition, it looks at overall reduction in mortality which shows the gains go beyond the ovarian cancer risk reduction.
Who is most at risk for having the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation?
There are many potential ways someone can be at risk, but certain characteristics stand out:
Ultimately, if you have been diagnosed with breast and or ovarian cancer, or multiple family members have, you should discuss the family history with a cancer risk specialist.
What is the difference between the two genes?
Both genes are involved in how the body repairs DNA damage that accumulates and maintaining the “checks and balances” that control cell growth. As this study reinforces, there are differences in cancer risks associated with each. While the risk for ovarian
and breast cancer might be somewhat lower for BRCA2 than BRCA1 (though still considered high compared to average risk), BRCA2 mutation carriers tend to have higher risk for other BRCA-related cancers (e.g. pancreatic, prostate).
What preventative measures can women engage in to minimize their risk of breast and ovarian cancer?
The first step is to get an accurate assessment of one’s risk. Women may still be at elevated risk even if BRCA testing is negative. Other genes and non-genetic factors contribute to ovarian and breast cancer risk. Depending on the risk level, certain
options exist for increased screening, preventative medications or preventative risk-reducing surgery. This is a complex and very personal decision and accurate information about risk is key.
What screening options are available for women to learn more about their risk?
The first thing women can do is to get an accurate family history from BOTH sides of the family, then discuss with one’s physician.
What next steps would you recommend for women with the BRCA1 / BRCA2 mutation?
I would recommend women talk to their doctors about speaking to someone familiar with cancer genetics such as a geneticist, a genetics counselor, or a gynecologist/oncologist/breast surgeon knowledgeable about the management of BRCA carriers. There
are online resources from Be Bright Pink and FORCE that can be helpful in understanding the implications of having BRCA mutation and putting in a plan to reduce risk. As this study and others have shown, we have the ability to greatly reduce one’s risk if
we know one faces these risks.
Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S. for both men and women. Genetics, tobacco use, family
history, obesity, an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, stress and diet all contribute to this alarming statistic. And while some heart-healthy changes are easier to make than others, finding a balanced diet that appeals to the entire family, while also possibly
lowering your risk for heart disease, might be easier and more enjoyable than you think.
Studies have shown that the rates of heart disease as well as certain types of cancer, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s were lower for those living in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Researchers were able to determine
that diet played a significant role in keeping the community healthy and living longer. The fundamental components of that diet are known as the Mediterranean diet.
Philip Krause, MD, Interventional Cardiologist at NorthShore, discusses what makes the Mediterranean diet so great for your heart:
Focuses on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. On a typical American plate, meat is the star. On a Mediterranean diet plate, meat plays second fiddle to fresh fruit, vegetables, beans and whole grains. When the focus on the meal shifts
toward fresh fruits and vegetables, the result is a diet rich in vitamins, antioxidants and fiber.
Puts the salt shaker away. Excessive salt consumption can raise your blood pressure, which may damage the arteries leading to your heart. And there’s no doubt about it: Americans consume too much salt. The Mediterranean diet diversifies
the spice rack, favoring spices and herbs over salt.
Cuts down on red meat. Red meat is sidelined in favor of proteins that contain healthy fats like fish, poultry and nuts. Fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can be very beneficial.
Makes olive oil the main source of fat. Just say no to butter. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat and this type of fat may help bring high cholesterol levels in the right direction. It also may help regulate insulin levels in those suffering
from type 2 diabetes.
Allows for a glass of red wine. This is a great perk for the older adherents of the Mediterranean diet. When consumed in moderation (one four-ounce serving per day), red wine can be beneficial to your heart health by reducing LDL cholesterol
levels and increasing HDL cholesterol levels.
Limits portion sizes and cuts the carbs. Just because the Mediterranean diet is healthy doesn’t mean recommended foods can be consumed in unlimited quantities. Watch your portion sizes as you would with any diet or dish. If both weight loss
and heart health are goals, limiting portion sizes along with carbohydrate intake—reducing the consumption of bread, potatoes, rice by 50%—can markedly assist in weight loss.
Share your heart-healthy Mediterranean diet recipes with us on Facebook.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. Each
year, approximately 600,000 people will die of heart disease, nearly half of them women. And yet many still believe that heart disease is a man’s disease. It’s not.
There are some possible differences, however, between men and women when it comes to heart disease.
Brian Shortal, MD, Cardiologist at NorthShore, discusses these differences and the heart disease risk factors that are the same for everyone:
Age. Men are considered at cardiovascular risk starting at 40. Women, on the other hand, are considered at cardiac risk starting at 50. That does not mean that women under the age of 50 have no risk for heart disease, so any symptoms should
not be disregarded. The incidence of heart disease between men and women equalizes around 65, and studies then show that women actually begin to surpass heart disease events in comparison to men.
Symptoms. Typically, men exhibit more classic cardiac symptoms, including pain across the chest that radiates down the arms, back and jaw, and shortness of breath. Women might display more atypical symptoms like nausea, vomiting, dizziness
and syncope (fainting/temporary loss of consciousness). In fact, the most common symptom in women over 80 is not chest pain but shortness of breath.
Risk Factors. The risk factors are the same for both men and women. The major risk factors for coronary artery disease are hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, family history of heart disease, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle.
If you think you might be at risk, see your physician for more information.
Do you know your risk for heart disease?
Foot and ankle pain might be common in active, athletic individuals but that doesn’t mean it can or should be ignored.
If left unexamined, mild foot and ankle discomfort could lead to pain that disrupts day-to-day activities, or even lead to a more severe injury. Pain and noticeable discomfort are signs that there could be something wrong. Identifying the site and source of
the pain could be the first step to getting back on your feet, pain-free.
Lan Chen, MD, Orthopaedic Surgery at NorthShore, discusses foot and ankle injuries common in the sporty set:
Plantar fasciitis. A common cause of heel pain, plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia, a band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes, becomes swollen or irritated. The pain is most severe after long periods of rest—first
thing in the morning or when climbing stairs—and it typically subsides the more active you are throughout the day. In older individuals, plantar fasciitis is caused by the natural wear and tear of aging. Plantar fasciitis is also a common injury in young athletes
and those who spend long periods of time on their feet.
Treatment: There is no cure-all for plantar fasciitis. Giving your feet a break, cutting back on exercise or simply changing your shoes could relieve some or all of the pain. Stretching of the ankle and plantar fascia are also very important.
If you think you might be suffering from plantar fasciitis, discuss your treatment options with your physician.
Achilles tendonitis. Often an overuse injury, Achilles tendonitis is a swelling of the Achilles tendon, which extends from the heel to the calf muscle. Not stretching before and after physical activity, wearing high heels, or simply having
flat feet or fallen arches are all common causes of Achilles tendonitis. Tendonitis pain may be mild to moderate but the pain following an Achilles tendon tear will be sudden and severe.
Treatment: If you give it the time and rest it needs, Achilles tendonitis will heal on its own, but make sure to see your physician to determine the extent of the injury. Your doctor will then help you determine the best way to proceed, which
could include rest or the use of crutches to keep your weight off the injury.
Stress fracture. Stress fractures are small cracks that develop in the bones of the feet, ankle and legs. For active individuals, they are most often caused by overuse in high-impact sports like distance running (e.g. feet repeatedly hitting
the ground). Worn out, unsupportive shoes as well as a sudden increase in physical activity might also be to blame. The most common locations of stress fractures are the second and third metatarsals in the foot, and the bone at the top of the foot called the
navicular. Pain from stress fractures will most likely develop gradually, increasing the more you are on your feet and decreasing when at rest. Also look for swelling and bruising at the site of the pain.
Treatment: Rest is essential! Ignoring the pain could cause more serious injury, including a complete break of the stress-fractured bone. See your doctor to determine the exact location of the stress fracture; treatment varies depending on
the severity and location of a stress fracture.
Turf toe. Common in football players, turf toe is a sprain of the ligaments surrounding the big toe. It’s caused by a hyperextension of the toe, or bending back of the toe beyond the point of normal movement. Injury can occur from a sudden,
forceful movement or repeated hyperextensions over a period of time. Pain, swelling and limited movement of the big toe are all indicators of turf toe.
Treatment: As with many overuse injuries, rest is best. Depending on the severity of the injury, your doctor might recommend immobilization, either by taping the injured toe to another to relieve the stress on the joint or the use of a cast
Ankle sprain. With the ice and snow on the ground, ankle sprains are most common in the winter months. Mechanical twisting of the lower leg and ankle can cause simple ankle sprains, which will heal on their own, or high ankle sprains, which
can be more serious and require additional stabilization in a cast or boot. Other injuries such as ligament tears, tendon strain and cartilage injuries can all occur in an ankle sprain.
Treatment: Most ankle sprains will heal on their own. Resting a short period to allow the initial pain and swelling to subside is common and you may need a brace or boot initially. Chronic pain after an ankle sprain is a clue that there is
something else going on. And that’s when it is important to see your doctor right away. Additional imaging and exam might be needed to clarify the situation and physical therapy might come into play.
Have you injured yourself while playing your favorite sport?
“First and foremost, we’re looking for the best possible outcome,” says
Lalit Puri, MD, Orthopaedic Surgeon and Division Chair of Adult Reconstruction at NorthShore. And, according to Dr. Puri, the philosophy of the Total Joint Replacement Center at NorthShore is that the best possible outcomes are created from strong partnerships
between patients and healthcare professionals.
Dr. Puri shares more information on the partnerships formed between patients and their orthopaedic care teams at the NorthShore Total Joint Replacement Center:
Why is the partnership between patient and healthcare provider so important?
If we enter into a partnership with our patients, we’re asking the patient to give his or her best before and after surgery, just as we’ll give our best throughout as well.
We know that surgery can certainly be anxiety-provoking, but we don’t want patients to come into NorthShore feeling like that. So our partnerships are about trying to demystify the process. Our partnerships start with an open and honest dialogue.
Part of that demystification process is patient education. Why is educating the patient before surgery so important?
It’s critical that the patient has an understanding of what to expect before surgery. Most importantly because it reduces anxiety in the patient’s mind so that he or she is more comfortable with what’s ahead. I also think that the more educated a patient is
about surgery, the more he or she can participate in his or her care. A more informed patient has a better understanding of what is happening, and therefore may be a more active participant.
What does patient education at the Total Joint Replacement Center involve?
A key element of our partnership with the patient is our comprehensive Patient Education Program. This program guides patients through the entire process of a total joint replacement before surgery even happens, from pre-surgery preparation recommendations
to full rehabilitation.
Patients are encouraged to attend a class prior to surgery that is run by a team of specially trained orthopaedic nurses. In this class, they learn what they can do to be active participants in their own care, and have an opportunity to interact with many
of the clinicians who will be a part of their care teams.
The Patient Education Program is not just about educating patients though. Our multidisciplinary team uses this time to learn about the individual needs of each patient by asking and answering questions, getting to know each individual patient, to discover
the best way to help patients maximize their health before the surgical procedure.
Find out more about the Patient Education Program and Total Joint Replacement Center here:
Developing a regular exercise routine is one of the most important elements of a healthy lifestyle, and roughly 53% of Americans show their agreement by exercising three or more days a week. However, participation in any physical activity, whether it's hitting
the gym or the slopes, increases your risk for an exercise-related injury. Still, the health benefits of exercise far outweigh the risks, as long as you approach each new physical activity and sport armed with the right information.
Get fit but also stay safe with the help of our sports injury prevention infographic. Learn how to recognize common sports injuries that affect both athletes and energetic amateurs and use our simple, easy-to-follow sports injury prevention tips to keep
you pain free and active. Click on the link to view our full NorthShore University HealthSystem
The update to a report first published 25 years ago in the British Medical Journal continues to raise important questions about the value of mammography; however, it must be considered in the context of other randomized trials that
confirm a significant reduction of breast cancer mortality in women who regularly undergo screening mammograms. This report shows, as it did previously, an improvement in survival rates for women who had their breast cancer detected via mammogram before clinical
signs of cancer had become apparent.
As screening technology continues to evolve, screening guidelines may be modified. At present, there is convincing data that women should have annual screening mammograms beginning at 40, as suggested by the American Cancer Society’s guidelines. Those with
a strong family history or a genetic predisposition may begin screening earlier after consultation with their physician.
For more information on mammography services and locations at NorthShore, please visit