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University Doctor Discusses the Importance of Sleep

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With our busy, hectic lives, it is so easy for most of us to disregard the importance of getting some quality sleep. However, multiple researchers in the last few months have reinforced its importance.

A new survey conducted by Art Van Furniture PureSleep reveals Chicagoans sleep habits and it doesn’t look pretty. According to the survey, eight out of 10 Windy City residents aren’t getting a good night sleep and 62 percent wake up experiencing some sort of pain. It also states that 40 percent have had their mattress for seven or more years. A mattress should be kept no longer than eight to 10 years.

So what should we do to improve our sleeping habits? Dr. Amy Guralnick, clinical associate of medicine at the University of Chicago Medicine, talked to Brandi Walker about why most people disregard the importance of sleep, the safest ways to treat insomnia, and how can a person avoid waking up with physical pain.

  1. Why do you think most people disregard the importance of sleep? As American’s lives become busier and more demanding, we sacrifice our time in bed in order to be more productive during the day. People may not realize the implications of short sleep time on their health, performance and overall well-being.
  2. What effect does sleeping on your mattress longer than eight to ten years have on your sleeping? Being able to have quality sleep depends on many things, one of which is comfort. If your sleeping environment is too hot, too cold or too loud, most people would make it more comfortable. If your mattress is uncomfortable, or if you suffer from chronic pain, then one should consider changing their mattress. In addition to the mattress aging, the needs of our bodies change over time as well, which may be another reason to evaluate the comfort level of our sleeping environment.
  3. Why do you think most people don’t change their pillows often? People may underestimate the impact that a comfortable sleeping environment has on the quality and quantity of sleep. A good pillow should provide enough support for your neck and head depending on your needs.
  4. What do you think are the safest ways to treat insomnia? The best way to approach insomnia, is to first evaluate whether or not there could be an underlying sleep disorder which may be causing the problem: Obstructive Sleep Apnea or Periodic Limb Movement Disorder are just 2 examples. You and your doctor should also evaluate whether or not any of your underlying medical conditions may be contributing to your sleep complaint. Once you and your doctor have decided that your insomnia has no underlying medical cause, the best way to approach insomnia is with general improvement in sleep hygiene and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia. In order to achieve the best sleep, a few simple sleep hygiene tips can be followed to help people fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.

Have a comfortable sleep environment- Limit pain and have a cool, dark quiet setting for sleep.

Keep a consistent wake time- Wake time should remain a constant whereas bed time may vary depending on your sleepiness.

Avoid daytime napping.- Napping decreases sleep pressure and makes it more difficult to fall and/or stay asleep during the night.

Avoid bright light exposure near bedtime- Bright lights from overhead lighting and even from a tablet, laptop computer or smartphone may decrease melatonin levels which make it more difficult to fall asleep.

Exercise is encouraged- Exercise should be avoided within 2-3 hours of bed time.

Avoid substance which can affect sleep. (talk to your doctor)

Caffeine in coffee, soda, teas, and even chocolate can affect people up to 8 hours after ingestion.

  1. How can a person avoid waking up with physical pain? Firstly, pain should be evaluated and managed by the patient’s primary physician as pain can be caused by any number of things. Ideally the sleep environment, which includes the mattress and pillow, should provide maximum comfort during sleep. There are businesses which have an in-store test which claim to help find the mattress and pillow best suited for your needs such as Art Van PureSleep. There is no easy formula for eliminating pain, especially if someone has chronic pain; Addressing it with your physician and identifying the etiology of the pain is the first step.

For more information on the Art Van Pure Sleep survey and Dr. Guralnick, visit http://www.artvanpuresleep.com/ and http://www.uchospitals.edu/physicians/amy-guralnick.html.

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