Ask the Doctor: Holiday health & safety, sleeping tips

Published: Nov. 21, 2023 at 2:07 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Dr. Bob Cassady from the South Bend Clinic joins us every Tuesday on 16 News Now at Noon to answer your medical questions.

This week, we’re focused on the holidays, as Thanksgiving is coming up on Thursday!

Question #1: “In the past few years there has been a lot of discussion about how to safely gather for the holidays. What are your thoughts on that, Dr. Cassady?”

DR. BOB: I think people may have different opinions about this. My sense for family gatherings in the post-pandemic world is that families need to navigate these situations together.

We are not at a point in time where we are pursuing strict measures to prevent COVID and flu infections. Thus, most people at some point are going to get exposed to these viruses.

So, it is reasonable to live our lives and do the things we want to do. For most people, during this time of the year, that will mean gathering with the people we love.

Is there some risk? Sure, there is, but that risk is not going away and we need to learn to live with it.

At the same time, there are some common sense practices to follow. If you know you have COVID or influenza, you should stay home. If you have a fever, you should stay home.

Beyond that, families need to have open communication and navigate their particular circumstances.

Question #2: “Dr. Bob, do you have any tips for following a healthy lifestyle during the holidays?”

DR. BOB: I think a big area where our health suffers this time of year is with exercise.

When it gets dark in the early evening, it is cold, or maybe it’s raining or snowing, our instinct can be to stay inside and hunker down. But we really need to be creative and motivated to stay active through the winter months.

I would really encourage people to get up Thanksgiving morning and do some exercise. Go for a walk as a family, maybe jump on your treadmill or exercise bike.

The break that we get for the holiday is a perfect time to start a good habit of exercising regularly.

Question #3: “Any tips for helping with sleep disturbances with time change?”

DR. BOB: The time change can really throw things off for our sleep schedule. My advice is that your body will adapt to a new pattern if you let it.

It is important, if we are trying to improve our sleep, to follow a consistent sleep pattern. Go to bed around the same time and wake up around the same time every day. Try to avoid napping.

The exercise I discussed before can be a helpful way to decrease stress and help with sleep.

Some people may find that some of these measures may not be enough to help their sleep. If that is the case, see your doctor to talk through options for help with sleep.

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