The ABCs of ZZZs: Help for the sleepy

Do you wake in the middle of the night and toss and turn, unable to get back to sleep? Or do you wake in the morning feeling as if you never really slept at all? Do you feel tired and worn down nearly every day? If so, you may have a sleep disorder. It’s estimated that between 50 and 70 million U.S. adults have some type of sleep or wakefulness disorder that can interfere with health and quality of life. A few of the more common sleep disorders include insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and narcolepsy. Clinicians at Yale New Haven Hospital's Sleep Medicine Centers evaluate, diagnose and treat sleep disorders and sleep-related conditions. Accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the sleep medicine program offers a coordinated approach to the management of a variety of sleep disorders and related conditions. Learn more about the Sleep Medicine Center online or call 203-287-3550.

Loss of sleep can cause problems at home or on the job, and can lead to serious or even fatal accidents. Sleep problems also get worse as you get older. As you age, your sleep patterns change and not always in a positive way. Not getting enough sleep puts you at risk for a number of chronic diseases.

Looking for advice on how to get a restful night sleep? Email “Sleep Tips”  and we’ll send you a free tip sheet with “31 Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep.”

Keep your kidneys healthy

Chronic kidney disease is a major public health concern. In fact, one in three Americans is at risk for developing kidney disease. Major risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, a family history of kidney failure and being age 60 or older. Additional risk factors include:

  • African-American heritage
  • Native American heritage
  • Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander heritage
  • Obesity
  • Prolonged use of NSAIDs, a type of painkillers, such as ibuprofen and naproxen
  • Lupus, other autoimmune disorders
  • Chronic urinary tract infections
  • Kidney stones
How can you help your body — and your kidneys — stay healthy and strong?
  • Exercise regularly
  • Control your weight
  • Eat healthy meals
  • Quit smoking
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Stay hydrated
  • Monitor cholesterol levels
  • Get an annual physical
  • Know your family medical history
Most people with early kidney disease have no symptoms, which is why early testing is critical. By the time symptoms appear, kidney disease may be advanced, and symptoms can be misleading. Pay attention to these possible signs of trouble:
  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Difficult, painful urination
  • Foamy urine
  • Pink, dark urine (blood in urine)
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased need to urinate (especially at night)
  • Puffy eyes
  • Swollen face, hands, abdomen, ankles, feet

Regular testing for everyone is important but it is especially important for people at risk. If you belong to a high-risk group, ask your primary care physician about getting tested for kidney disease. For a physician referral, call 888-700-6543 or use our Find-a-Doctor.

Why eye care? For people with diabetes

More than 30 million Americans are living with diabetes, which is a leading cause of heart disease, amputation, end-stage kidney disease and liver problems. It can also lead to negative effects on the eyes.

A condition called diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetes and can lead to blindness. Other eye problems include diabetic macular edema (DME), cataract and glaucoma. The risks rise the longer you live with the disease. By carefully controlling diabetes — monitoring blood sugar levels, taking medications as prescribed, staying physically active and maintaining a healthy diet — you can prevent or delay vision loss. Especially important are regular eye exams from an ophthalmologist or optometrist trained to care for people with diabetes.

Diabetic retinopathy can occur when high blood sugar levels damage the tiny blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of the inner eye, potentially causing leaking of fluid or bleeding. In some people, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina. Those changes may result in vision loss or blindness. Between 80 to 85 percent of individuals with diabetes will develop some level of retinopathy, and those with type 1 diabetes are more likely to develop the condition.

DME can happen when the macula, a part of the retina, swells from the build-up of leaking fluid. It is the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetic retinopathy. Cataract, a clouding of the eye’s lens, tends to develop at an earlier age in people with diabetes. Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, from increased pressure. In adults, diabetes nearly doubles the risk of glaucoma.

Making matters more complicated, retinopathy typically develops without early warning signs. As it progresses, symptoms can include blurry or double vision, dark or floating spots, pain or pressure in one or both eyes, rings, flashing lights or blank spots.

Such complications are why diabetes eye exams are critical. If you have diabetes, you should have what’s called a dilated eye exam at least once a year. During the procedure, drops placed on the eye’s surface dilate, or widen, the pupil, allowing for a close-up view of the retina and optic nerve to detect changes, leaking or damage.

To help you avoid eye problems, coordinate with your primary care doctor to make sure that your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels are all under control — and schedule an annual eye exam.

Learn more about diabetes-related eye problems and how to prevent them in our health library. For a physician referral, call 888-700-6543 or use our Find-a-Doctor

Colorectal cancer: Do you know the signs?

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most-common cancer in the U.S. and the second-leading cause of death from cancer. There are often no signs or symptoms – which is why screenings are important. Screenings can find colon cancer early, before symptoms develop, when it’s easier to treat and survival rates are more favorable.

When symptoms do occur they may include:

  • Blood in/on the stool
  • Change in bowel habits
  • General stomach discomfort (bloating, fullness, and/or cramps)
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
  • Frequent gas pains
  • Weight loss for no apparent reason
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Constant tiredness or new fatigue during activity that was previously tolerated

People over age 50 have the highest risk of colorectal cancer. You may also be at higher risk if you are African American, smoke or have a family history of colorectal cancer or inflammatory bowel disease. Take this colorectal cancer assessment to learn about your risks.

Talk to your healthcare provider about screening for colorectal cancer. For a physician referral, call 888-700-6543 or use our Find-a-Doctor.

Classes available for cancer patients

Smilow Cancer Hospital offers a number of free classes and programs for patients and caregivers. Offerings include the following:

New Haven:

  • Introduction to Zumba Gold: This gentler form of Zumba offers a fun and safe body movement class with easy-to-follow dance moves in a festive atmosphere. It incorporates merengue, salsa, cumbia, cha-cha, belly dance, tango and flamenco, as well as many other international rhythms. Previous experience with Zumba or dance is not required. Class is offered from 10 - 11 am on Tuesday, March 19 at Smilow Cancer Hospital, 35 York St., New Haven.
  • Gentle Yoga for Oncology Patients: Yoga cultivates balance and fosters well-being. During each yoga session, breath is linked with simple movements to improve posture, flexibility and strength. Class is offered from 10:30 - 11:30 am on Tuesdays, March 12 and 26 at Smilow Cancer Hospital, 35 York St., New Haven.
  • Mindful Meditation: Learn to quiet the mind's constant chattering of thoughts, anxieties and regrets. Practitioners are guided to help them keep their attention focused on whatever they're doing in the moment. The most basic mindfulness practice is sitting meditation: You sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and focus your awareness on your breath and other bodily sensations. Walk-ins are welcome. Class is offered from 12:30 – 1 pm on Tuesdays, March 12, 19 and 26 and from 1-1:30 pm on Thursday, March 7, 14, 21 and 28 in the Reflection Room - 4th floor, Smilow Cancer Hospital, 35 York St., New Haven..

Old Saybrook:

  • Yoga for Smilow Patients: This specially designed yoga class offers gentle poses and modifications, stretching and strengthening exercises, mindful breathing practices and systematic relaxation at the end of every class. No previous yoga experience is necessary. Class is offered from 1- 2 pm on Wednesdays, March 6, 13, 20 and 27 at Old Saybrook Medical Center, 633 Middlesex Turnpike, Old Saybrook. Register online.

“Meet the Midwives” on March 13

Expecting a baby? A free information session about the midwifery model of care at Yale New Haven Hospital will be held on Wednesday, March 13 from 5:30 - 7 pm at YNHH Saint Raphael Campus, 4th Floor Annex, 1450 Chapel St., New Haven. The discussion will focus on prenatal care and labor support options. A tour of the labor and birth unit is also included. Register for "Meet the Midwives."

Referrals for physicians and surgeons

YNHH provides free information about and referrals to more than 2,600 affiliated physicians 24 hours a day. Call 888-700-6543 or use our Find-a-Doctor for information on physician specialties, office hours and locations as well as insurance plans accepted. YNHH physicians represent more than 70 medical and surgical specialties and subspecialties, including internal medicine/family practice, obstetrics/gynecology, orthopedics, pediatrics and psychiatry.

Need blood work? We’re in your neighborhood

When your physician orders blood work or you need to schedule a blood test, Yale New Haven Health makes it easy with blood draw stations conveniently located in your community. No appointment is necessary and all major insurance plans are accepted.

Please note: A requisition form is required. Our blood draw stations honor requisitions from other labs. Find the location best for you on our list of blood draw stations.

Free blood pressure screenings

YNHH offers free blood pressure screenings at a variety of community sites. Call 203-789-3275 for a list of locations and times or for more information.

YNHHS patients: Do you have MyChart?

MyChart gives Yale New Haven Health System patients secure, online, 24/7 access to portions of your electronic medical record (EMR). There you can see your medical history, most laboratory and test results, appointment information, medications, allergies, immunizations and other health information. You can schedule appointments with your doctor, request or renew prescriptions, see your billing and insurance information and send and receive secure, confidential electronic messages with your doctor’s office. Ask your healthcare provider for a MyChart brochure or your MyChart Activation Code, and then go to and select “Sign Up Now.”

Make a lasting impact at YNHH

Help support the mission of Yale New Haven Hospital with a donation! Your contributions support vital programs, services and facilities within the hospital and help keep Yale New Haven at the forefront of innovative treatment. When you make a gift to YNHH, you are part of the advanced medicine and compassionate commitment that touch so many lives in our community.

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Billing questions?

Yale New Haven Hospital offers financial counseling to patients and families. Spanish-speaking counselors are available. Additionally, evening sessions are scheduled once a month — the next two are Monday, March 18 and Monday, April 15 from 5 - 7 pm. To make an appointment with a financial counselor, call 203-688-2046.