Thursday, February 24, 2011
How much sleep do you need?

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

One of the things that we know about our current fast paced world is that many people do not get enough sleep. We all have an inner biological clock that directs what is called our circadian rhythm. What that means is that each of us has a time period that our bodies prefer for sleeping. I often see issues with this in my practice. Parents expect their children to go to sleep at a certain hour and to wake up at a certain hour. If that matches the child's inner clock, then there are no issues. However, not all children follow their parents' expectations. Some of them can only sleep for a certain number of hours. That may not be what the parents expect. However, it is what the child's inner clock sets. Adults tend to need about 8 hours of sleep. Adolescents usually need about 8-9 hours of sleep per night. Pre-adolescents usually need 9-10 hours of sleep per night. For children between the ages of 5 and 9 the usual number of hours is 10-11. Some children require more and some less so these expectations are general in nature. In addition to the number of hours of sleep, there is also a certain time of the night when we get tired. Some people go to sleep early and wake up early. We refer to them as larks. Others go to sleep late and sleep later in the morning. Those are the owls. Adults who choose to sleep early or sleep late have no problems with others accepting that. However, parents do not always have the same tolerance for children doing it. Some children fall asleep early and then get up at the crack of dawn. Their parents will complain about them getting up too early in the morning. Other children will want to fall asleep later. They then like to sleep later in the morning. This creates a bigger issue for the parents. They want the child to fall asleep earlier. They want the child to get up earlier to go to school. In these families there will be an argument about going to sleep. There will be another argument about getting up. The result is that they complain to the physician that their child has a sleep problem. It is not really a sleep issue. It is a biological clock issue. If school started later, there would be no problems with this situation. This system is regulated by a chemical that our body produces. It is called melatonin. About two years ago I wrote an article on melatonin and how to use it to help sleep. Each of us needs to figure out how our own clock works. We should pay attention to how long our bodies require us to sleep when we do not use an alarm clock. For example, I wake up exactly 7 hours after I go to sleep. That means, I need to allow 7 hours before I expect to wake up. We need to know whether we are an owl or a lark. That would help tell us what shift we should be working. Someone who is a lark would have few problems getting up for an early start to work. An owl would prefer a late shift. Once we figure out how our own clock works (or those of our children), it will make it easier for us to ensure that we get the amount of sleep that our bodies need to refresh themselves each night.

First flu death in state The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) reported the first flu death of the 2010-2011 flu season, a 78-year-old male from New Castle County, on Feb. 16. The individual had underlying health conditions and had been hospitalized. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from Oct. 3, 2010 to Feb. 5, 2011, there have been 5,777 laboratory-confirmed influenza associated hospitalizations and 86 laboratory-confirmed influenza associated deaths reported in the U.S. thus far in the season. Certain groups of people are at higher risk of complications from the H1N1 flu, including people with chronic underlying health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, obesity and who are immunosuppressed. Precautions to help stop the spread of flu include:

  • Get vaccinated against both H1N1 and seasonal flu.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your cough/sneeze with a tissue, or cough/sneeze into your inner elbow and not into your hands.
  • If you are sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever goes away. This means no fever for at least 24 hours after you have stopped taking any fever-reducing medication. Employers are encouraged to be flexible with their employees on the issue of staying home when ill.
Stay informed about the latest developments on the H1N1 flu by visiting

Diabetes education program Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will hold a four-session diabetes educational program on March 2, 9, 16, 23 from 5 to 7 p.m., at the hospital. Registration is required. The cost of the four-session program may be reimbursable by insurance. This four-session program includes weekly education sessions and individualized meal planning for diabetes self-management. Our goal is to give you the self-management skills to control your diabetes. Family members/significant others are welcome to attend the weekly sessions. To register and obtain more information about the course, contact the Diabetes Education department at 629-6611, ext. 2446.

Diabetes Support Group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will hold a free diabetes support group on Monday, March 14, from 5 to 6 p.m, at the hospital. As a person with diabetes, are you struggling to make positive behavior changes in your life or would just like to share with others coping with diabetes? Each scheduled support group will offer an educational offering related to diabetes care, as well as a question and answer period. Registration for this support group is required. On March 14, Barbara Gijanto, BA, RN, WCC, CWOCN, Wound Care specialist, will speak on the topic, "Taking Care of Your Feet". To register and obtain more information regarding the support group, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Diabetes Education department at 629-6611, ext. 2446.

Nanticoke offers cholesterol class Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's next cholesterol class is Tuesday, March 29 at 5 p.m. at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital. The class will focus on foods and eating habits that may help to manage your cholesterol levels and will incorporate practical suggestions for overcoming the barriers to eating in a heart healthy way.

Topics will include risk factors, saturated, unsaturated fats, trans fats, portion sizes and other American Heart Association guidelines. There is a class fee of $20, and pre-registration is required. For more information and to register, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital at 629-6611, ext. 2455.

Community CPR classes Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer community CPR classes to anyone interested in learning CPR at the Nanticoke Training Center on Water Street in Seaford. Participants will learn how to perform the basic skills of CPR on adults, children, and infants and how to help an adult, child or infant who is choking. This classroom-based, video and instructor-led CPR course offers families, friendsand community members the opportunity to learn CPR and need a course completion card. Classes are open to participants ages 12 and up. This program is specifically designed for those who prefer to learn in a group environment with feedback from an instructor. The target audience is those who have a duty to respond to a cardiac emergency because of job responsibilities or regulatory requirements. Cost is $30. Payment and registration is required by no later than five business days prior to the class. Late registrations (if seating is available) will be an additional $5 fee. To register and to obtain a listing of class dates/times, contact the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Training Center office at 629-6611, ext. 8919. Pre-registration is required.

Breast cancer support group Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Inc. (DBCC) has expanded its Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey, a program for women newly-diagnosed with breast cancer, by partnering with Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center in Seaford. The free, monthly program is offered at the Cancer Center located at 801 Middleford Road, Seaford, the third Thursday of each month from 3 to 4 p.m. Of particular value to newly-diagnosed women is DBCC's Peer Mentor Program through which they are paired with a long-term survivor for one-on-one support. To learn more about Beginning Your Pick Ribbon Journey at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center, call Lois Wilkinson at 672-6435. Registration is required and light refreshments and small gifts are provided.

Cancer Support Group offered The Wellness Community-Delaware offers a general cancer support group for people affected by cancer and their loved ones at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford. The on-going monthly support group meets in the first floor resource library of the Cancer Care Center on the third Monday of each month. For the winter months the group meets from 3:30 to 5 p.m. The next meeting is Feb. 28 at 3:30 p.m. due to the Presidents' Day holiday. Call 645-9150 for information or to register for this free program. The Wellness Community, an affiliate of the Cancer Support Community, is dedicated to helping people affected by cancer enhance their health and well-being through participation in a professional program of emotional support and hope. For more information about The Wellness Community, visit

Bereavement luncheons Delaware Hospice's "New Beginnings" bereavement luncheons are an informal way to meet and talk with others, who have had similar loss experiences. Lunch begins at noon and is followed by a brief program. The location rotates each week of the month according to the following schedule:
  • 1st Thursday: Grottos Pizza, Rt. 26, Bethany Beach;
  • 2nd Thursday: Georgia House, 300 Delaware Ave., Laurel;
  • 3rd Thursday: Millsboro Pizza Palace, Rt. 113-southbound lane, Millsboro;
  • 4th Thursday: Blue Ocean Grill (formerly Milton House), 200 Broadkill Rd., Milton;
  • 5th Thursday (when applicable): Texas Grill (formerly Ocean Point Grill), 26089 Long Neck Rd., Millsboro.
"New Beginnings" luncheons are open to the public. Registration is not required.There is no fee except the cost of your lunch. For more information, call Carol Dobson or Paul Ganster at 856-7717.

Wellness Center shows art The Wellness Community will be featuring Renew Your PaletteƉ Art for the Mind, Food for the Soul, scheduled for March 12. To submit art or obtain more information, contact Marcia Esposito, special events coordinator, at 645-9150 or For more info see

Heart and Stroke Gala The 2011 Southern Delaware Heart and Stroke Gala, "An Evening in Oz," will be held on Saturday, March 19, at the Sheraton Dover Hotel. The annual event benefits the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association. Volunteers are actively planning the gala. Volunteers work on committees, including sponsorship, publicity, auction, hospitality, multimedia, website, entertainment, casino, photography and decorating. To find out more about sponsorship or to volunteer, contact Karen Gritton, special events director at or 286-5705. You may also contact the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association's Delaware office toll free at 877-750-4276. Annual Brain Injury Conference The Brain Injury Association of Delaware (BIAD) will host its milestone 20th Annual Brain Injury Conference "Journey of Purpose" on Wednesday, March 23, and Thursday, March 24. The conference will be held at Clayton Hall Conference Center at the University of Delaware's North Campus. BIAD welcomes Keynote Speaker Dr. Al Condeluci who works with UCP/CLASS as a speaker, author, teacher and nationally renowned consultant on human and community services. Lunch speaker is Rita Landgraf, Secretary of Delaware Health and Social Services. Closing speaker will be Dr. Lani Nelson-Zlupko, the force behind LNZ Consulting, Inc., where she is a life coach and motivational speaker. The two-day BIAD conference will also include a reception, annual meeting and other speakers and exhibitors. Registration is open for sponsors, exhibitors and conference registrants. Visit for more details, or call 1-800-411-0505. A reduced rate is available for students, brain injury survivors and family members. Pre-registration is required. CEU's will be offered.