Today I am going to attempt something I have never done before in “The Doctor Is In” column: answer two questions.
First, let’s continue the discussion regarding good sleep hygiene. After all, getting a good night’s sleep in these times is a valuable commodity that will help us get through each day feeling stronger and more positive.
Q:Thank you for answering a question about taking melatonin on a daily basis. What are your thoughts regarding reading or doing crossword or Sudoku puzzles in bed before lights out?
Sleep has a tremendous impact on both our physical and mental health, so anything we can do to improve it can be critical. Your question of reading or doing puzzles in bed before lights out is intriguing.
On one hand, there are good studies to show that doing puzzles in general can be helpful for staving off dementia. For some, these puzzles can also be very relaxing, which is important for falling asleep.
For others, activities such as crosswords and Sudoku can be frustrating, and may make falling asleep more challenging as you search for answers that may not come.
Reading before bed can also take your mind off of your current situation and has been shown to reduce stress.
Reading a paper book is much preferred to an e-reader or iPad, as these electronic devices release blue LED light which can inhibit melatonin release (see my January 28 column) and make falling asleep more elusive.
Also, where you read before sleep may be important. Reading is best done in a chair or even in another room before bed. This helps your mind make a stronger connection between getting into the bed and falling asleep.
It also may depend on the content of your reading material. A murder mystery may be much less helpful for falling asleep than a Jane Austen novel … it just depends on what might make you sleepy.
Q:My mom and grandma have both had the first dose of the
COVID-19 vaccine. Is it safe (for them and for me) to see them
after the second?
You still have to take precautions. The vaccines will definitely help prevent those who get them to get serious illness, hospitalization and death. But, the jury is still out whether the shots can prevent transmission of the virus.
So, if you are not yet eligible to get the vaccine and you want to visit your mom and grandma, it is safe to do so. Just continue to wear masks, wash your hands, and preferably be outside and six feet apart.
They could potentially still transmit the virus to you, and vice versa. You could then spread it to more vulnerable people who have not yet been vaccinated.
There are also some concerns about new variants of COVID, and although it still looks like the current vaccines are protective, this data seems to change rapidly and is constantly in flux.
Now is not the time to let your guard down, as we definitely see some light at the end of this pandemic tunnel. Vaccines are helpful, but let’s continue to keep everyone safe as we still have some ways to go to get our country back to normal. Things are definitely improving, and soon you can give them both a hug.
Have a question for Dr. Damon Raskin you’d like to see answered in a future edition of the Post? Send it in to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.