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Published on March 15, 2019

Sleep: Daylight Savings, Sleep Studies and Steps for a Good Night's Sleep

Sleep: Daylight Savings, Sleep Studies and Steps for a Good Night's SleepIn this Fox 8 House Call series, Cone Health Experts explore sleep, including:

Sleep: Are Your Kids Feeling the Effects of Daylight Saving? Tips to Help Them Adjust

Spring daylight saving time means we’ve set our clocks an hour ahead. To help your child adjust to the time change, make sure to keep their routines the same, including bedtime. As children get older, their bodies naturally adjust to the change. You can also help them adjust by moving their bedtime back 15 minutes each night over a week or two to help their internal clock adjust. Be patient, as there will be an adjustment period and your child may get cranky because they’re sleepy.

It’s important to help your kids develop good sleep hygiene. That means getting the proper amount of rest, along with taking naps if they’re younger. A happy child is one that is well rested. A common myth among parents is that if you keep your child awake longer, it will make them more tired. This actually has a reverse effect. That’s because they won’t get good sleep and will be even more tired the next day. This is why the 15-minute increment adjustments are important. It’s not good to keep kids up past their natural bedtime.

If a child is acting up or acting out, take a look at their sleep schedule. If they are at the age where they need to take a nap, did they get one that day? If not, help them adjust by going to bed an hour early that night. Prepare yourself if this is not possible, as your child will likely be irritable. It may help to understand that lack of sleep is the reason they are acting that way.

Chris Miller, MD, chief of pediatrics at Cone Health, is a pediatrician in Greensboro and a member of the Cone Health Medical and Dental Staff. Dr. Miller received his Doctor of Medicine from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine in 1998. He completed his residency at Mercy Hospital of Pittsburgh in 2001 and has been serving the Greensboro area for nearly 20 years.

Sleep: What Happens During a Sleep Study and Who Needs Them

People with sleep-related breathing disorders, the most common being obstructive sleep apnea, are good candidates for sleep studies. Symptoms include jerking limbs, behavioral disturbances, loud snoring and excessive daytime drowsiness. In other words, the patient has very poor sleep quality.

There are two types of sleep studies: one is performed in the lab, and the other at home.

A sleep study performed in a lab or center has a technician present. Patients are asked to stay the night, sleep in a comfortable bed, and are wired up from head to toe! Breathing patterns, muscle twitching and leg movements, and brain waves (EEG) are measured.

An at-home sleep study is focused on sleep-related breathing disorders, so there are limitations on who can participate. For example, jerking limbs are not measured. Three devices help collect data:

  • A nasal cannula (the tube commonly used with an oxygen machine), which measures breathing
  • A belt around the waist, which measures chest movements
  • An oxygen probe on your finger, which measures blood oxygen levels

A sleep study can be ordered by your primary care physician, but interpretation of the study and subsequent treatment is usually best directed by a sleep specialist. Treatment depends on what condition is diagnosed. For example, sleep apnea patients are given a special breathing device (CPAP machine) designed to help those with the condition.

It is important to discuss any signs of a sleep problem with your primary care physician, as you may be a candidate for a sleep study. Cone Health offers home and in-lab sleep studies at several locations throughout the Triad. Leading the studies is an exceptional team of board-certified sleep medicine specialists, sleep technologists and respiratory therapists, and state-of-the art sleep monitoring equipment.

Rakesh Alva, MD, is a pulmonologist and sleep medicine specialist at LeBauer Pulmonary Care and a member of Cone Health Medical Group. Alva is a 1997 graduate of Seth G.S. Medical College and KEM Hospital. He completed his residency in internal medicine and fellowships in critical care and pulmonary medicine in 2004 at Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Alva is also board certified in sleep medicine.

Sleep: Tired of Counting Sheep? Steps for a Good Night’s Sleep

The first step to a good night’s sleep is to have a set routine. Have a bedtime in mind and try to stick to it. Keep your bedroom cool, quiet and dark. Eliminate screens, especially your cellphone. Bluish light emitted from your phone decreases melatonin (a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles) production and signals to your body that it’s morning.

One of the reasons many people do not get a good night’s sleep is that they wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep because their mind has racing thoughts. Learn to delegate your thoughts before bedtime. Accept that tomorrow is another day and you can’t solve your problems at night. Keep a notepad next to your bed and write down any thoughts of things to do that you don’t want to forget the next day. Another tip if you wake up and can’t go back to sleep is to stop looking at the clock, which causes anxiety, and leave the room. Read, listen to music or do something that distracts you until you’re tired.

If your mind keeps racing and keeps you from sleep, or if you keep waking up in the night, you have insomnia. Cone Health offers sleep studies, which also rule out other causes like jerking limbs, snoring and apnea, and low blood oxygen levels.

There are both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription sleep aids. Old-fashioned sleep aids are OTC pain meds with "PM" in their name, usually containing the generic form of anti-allergy meds, such as Benadryl. Dry mouth, dry eyes and daytime drowsiness can be side effects. Those 65 and older should use caution when taking Benadryl, as it can lead to confusion. Melatonin is the most common OTC sleep medicine. It’s recommended that patients try melatonin at doses of 1 to 5 mg, as it is safe for both older and younger individuals. Nearly all prescription sleep aids, including Ambien and Lunesta, are habit forming and can only be taken for a short amount of time (2 to 3 days a week). However, the effectiveness of the drug will wear off over time.

It is important to discuss any signs of a sleep problem with your primary care physician, as you may be a candidate for a sleep study. Cone Health offers home and in-lab sleep studies at several locations throughout the Triad. Leading the studies is an exceptional team of board-certified sleep medicine specialists, sleep technologists and respiratory therapists, and state-of-the art sleep monitoring equipment.

Carmen Dohmeier, MD, is medical director of Piedmont Sleep Laboratory at Guilford Neurologic Associates and a member of Cone Health Medical Group. Dohmeier graduated from medical school at the University of Hamburg in Germany. She completed her residency in neurology at Ohio State University Medical Center and fellowships in pediatric neurophysiology at Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and in sleep medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. She is board certified in neurology and sleep medicine.

Fox 8 House Call

Fox 8 House Call

Cone Health experts appear Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:30 a.m. on the Fox 8 morning news.