Q: Is sleep really that important for maintaining good health?
The importance of sleep in maintaining good health really can’t be overstated. Good sleep habits play a big role in your physical, psychological and emotional well-being. Getting a good night’s sleep can provide you with the energy you need to stay active throughout the day, as well as helping you to stay mentally sharp, allowing you to think more clearly and reducing the chance of fatigue related accidents. Plenty of sleep can also help give your immune system the edge it needs to keep you healthy, making it more capable of fighting off colds, and even the flu. Prolonged lack of proper sleep has even been linked to increased rates of serious health conditions like heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, stroke, and high blood pressure.
So how much sleep should you be getting each night? While the optimal amount of sleep a person needs each night varies from individual to individual, most professionals agree somewhere between 7-8 hours is the sweet spot. Make the most of your bedtime by avoiding caffeine after lunch and not consuming alcohol or smoking before it’s time to hit the pillow.
Anita Naik, DO
Q: What’s the difference between a nurse practitioner (NP) and a physician assistant (PA)? When should I try to see a medical doctor (MD) instead of an NP or PA?
A: NPs and PAs are nurses and other clinicians who have obtained advanced clinical and academic training (most hold a master’s or a doctoral degree) and are licensed to do many of the same things that physicians can, either as part of a team that includes a doctor or, in some cases, on their own or at a clinic in a retail pharmacy. The main difference between an NP and a PA is really in the amount of supervision required. In general, NPs have more autonomy, while PAs are required to have supervision by a physician either onsite or immediately available in writing or by electronic means.
So when is it a good idea to see an MD rather than an NP or PA? MDs tend to have anywhere from 4 to 8 additional years of education than NPs and PAs, and handle the most complicated or high-risk patient cases on their own. So if you believe you’re dealing with a particularly complex illness, you may decide to wait until you can be seen by an MD. However, it doesn’t hurt to see an NP or PA first.
Barb Lewis, CRNP