You're invited to join Dignity Health Heart and Vascular Institute for Day of Dance
– an interactive morning of fun for women of all ages. Kick up your heels with a Zumba session or a lesson in line dancing; participate in an informative panel discussion with cardiovascular experts; and learn about your heart health through health screenings. It's all FREE and it's happening at Day of Dance
on April 5. Seating is limited so register
Sleep Like a Baby
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Sleep Like a Baby as a New Parent
It's one of the most common effects of being a new parent - the misery of sleep deprivation. Whether your baby sleeps in short bursts, sleeps during the day but not at night, or simply never sleeps at all, chances are your sleep habits will change dramatically after you have a baby. However a study shared in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology showed that the problem for most new mothers isn't the quantity of sleep but rather the quality of sleep. And - good news - there are things you can do to improve the quality of your sleep.
The study - which looked at mothers' sleep for the first four months after their baby's birth - found that on average, new mothers get about 7.2 hours of sleep daily. That is actually slightly more than the average American. But it is no surprise that most new mothers feel exhausted because the study also found that the moms were experiencing sleep that was "highly fragmented" - which means they were not able to settle into the truly deep, restorative sleep which nourishes our mind and body. The researchers found that the mothers' sleep patterns mimic that of people who suffer from sleep disorders like sleep apnea.
To understand the problem behind fragmented sleep, you need to understand the sleep cycle: When we sleep, our brains go through a pattern of definitive cycles, each one lasting 90 to 120 minutes. So every hour and a half to two hours, you should fall into the deep sleep that is key to feeling rested the next day. However, when something awakens you every two to three hours, you may never reach that deep sleep or your deep sleep may be interrupted. In the case of new parents, that "something" is your precious bundle of joy!
So what can a new mom do to address her need for more quality sleep? First, have your partner take at least one nighttime waking. By sleeping through one waking, you will hopefully be able to string together enough hours of sleep to ensure that you hit the entire sleep pattern, including the deep sleep that is so critical. Of course, for this plan to work you need to ensure that you will be able to sleep through your baby's cries - so consider sleeping in a different room without the baby monitor.
Another great idea is to give yourself the time to nap for an entire sleep cycle. While a 20-minute nap might be enough for a person who is usually well-rested, once you hit the sleep deprived stage you really need a full 90 minutes. This will allow you to reach deep sleep and wake up feeling more rested. You've probably heard the old adage of "sleep when your baby sleeps" - well if your baby is a great daytime napper, then that adage is meant for you!
Finally, be aware of your mood and the impact your sleep (or lack thereof) is having on your spirit. The first four months after a baby's birth can be emotionally challenging and made even more difficult by lack of sleep. If you feel hopeless or depressed, contact your physician immediately. As with all things related to having a new baby, never hesitate to ask for help!
To learn more about Dignity Health's Family Birth Centers and classes and events available to new or future parents, visit our website.
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Head Injuries: Warning Signs
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Head Injuries: Warning Signs You Need to Know
By Jennifer Jennings, MD
We've all bumped our heads before, due to a fall, a sports injury, an accident... The odd bump and bruise is commonplace. Usually the injury is minor and quickly forgotten. But do you know the warning signs that indicate when a bump to the head could be something more serious? March is National Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month - a great time to get familiar with what you need to watch for if someone you care about suffers an injury to the head.
Traumatic brain injuries occur when a bump, bolt, blow, jolt or other injury causes damage to the brain. Every year, millions of Americans of all ages suffer brain injuries, with more than half needing to be hospitalized. Half of all brain injuries are caused by car accidents but many occur during sports or every day activities. Symptoms of a brain injury may not appear immediately - it could be a few hours or even days.
When facing an injury to the head, it is important to note that your skull actually provides very good protection for your brain. The skull is made up of thick, strong bone, cushioning your fragile brain. While some head injuries are obvious, others can be more subtle - if the skin does not break, it is hard to tell what may be going on beneath the skull surface. That is when it is especially important to pay attention to the person's behavior and symptoms.
A concussion is the mildest form of brain injury. Symptoms include headache, neck pain, nausea, ringing in the ears, dizziness and/or tiredness. If symptoms progress or worsen, that could be evidence of a more serious brain injury.
Once an injury occurs, it can be helpful to know how and where the head was hit. For instance, bumping into a stationery object at a low speed is much less concerning than a moving object (like a bat) hitting the head or a fall that happens while your body is in motion (like while skiing). In addition, take note of the area of the head that was involved. The skull above the ear is a much thinner layer of bone and is also home to an artery. An injury to that area is far more worrisome than an injury to the top of the head or the forehead, where the skull bone is thick.
It is important to know the warning signs of a moderate or severe head injury. Get help immediately if the injured person has:
- A headache that gets worse or does not go away
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Convulsions or seizures
- An inability to wake up
- Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
- Slurred speech
- Weakness or numbness in the arms or legs
- Loss of coordination
- Increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation
People taking blood thinners or a daily aspirin regimen are more likely to suffer a dangerous head injury because of their heightened risk for bleeding. In those cases, contact the person's primary care doctor immediately following the injury to see if follow up care is necessary.
Dr. Jennifer Jennings is a neurosurgeon, practicing at Capital Neurosurgery. For more information, visit their website.
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