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6 Realistic steps for better sleep

You have to live in dreamland if you want a good night’s sleep, according to the usual expert advice: Make your bedroom into a spalike sanctuary. Don’t drink a drop of caffeine after 2 p.m. No laptops in the bedroom. So we were shocked when sleep doctor Michael Breus, PhD, admitted that he drifts off with the TV on and his Chihuahua, Sparky, and cat, Monte, in the bed — two major no-nos. His refreshing philosophy: “Steer clear of all the hard-and-fast rules and do what makes sense for your lifestyle.” That we can handle. Read on for more surprising sleep tips that mere mortals like us can actually follow.

Sleep in on weekends.

Forget all the blah-blah about maintaining a consistent wakeup time every day. Snoozing late on the weekend can have real benefits. Adults who were sleep deprived for five days (sound like your workweek?) made up for it somewhat — bouncing back closer to their baseline brain function and alertness — when they clocked 10 hours the next night, a study in the journal Sleep found. Still, it’s best to snooze only an extra hour or two come Saturday and Sunday. “Any more than that will reset your body clock, and then you won’t be able to fall asleep on Sunday night,” says Carol E. Ash, a sleep specialist in Monmouth County, New Jersey. If the additional winks aren’t enough to make you feel rested, take a 20-minute nap at 3 or 4 p.m. on the weekend, which won’t mess with your internal timetable, Ash says.

Exercise before bed — it’s OK, really!

Working out after dinner has long been considered a don’t by sleep docs. But — surprise! — it may actually help you snooze better. Young adults who rode a stationary bike for about 35 minutes, finishing two hours before bedtime, conked out faster and slept more deeply than when they didn’t exercise, a recent study in the Journal of Sleep Research found. If you discover you’re too revved up to go to bed after a nighttime sweat session, keep a weekly log of your exercise time and how you sleep afterward, advises Lisa Shives, MD, the founder of Northshore Sleep and Weight Management Medicine in Evanston, Illinois, and a medical expert for SleepBetter.org. You may learn that a treadmill jog within an hour of hitting the hay is disastrous for dozing, but that doing it two to three hours beforehand makes you sleep like a baby. Exercise, whenever you can get it, is one of the best sleep medicines, period, Dr. Shives says.

Snuggle with Fluffy.

Feel lonely? If you do, you’re likely to wake up more often during the night, a University of Chicago study found. Consider picking up a new bedmate…at your local animal rescue society. “I tell my patients who don’t like sleeping alone to consider getting a dog,” Dr. Shives says. A pet helps many women feel less isolated, which can restore sound sleep. It’s fine to break the no-pets-in-bed rule even when you’re not lonely, especially if keeping your furry friend out creates more disruption than letting him in. “If I banned my cat from the bedroom, he would paw at the door all night long, and I would get even less sleep,” says Breus, the author of The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan: Lose Weight Through Better Sleep.

3 Tips to Fall Asleep Faster

Play a bedtime story.

The next time you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep, ignore the prevailing wisdom about getting out of bed to read by dim light. Dr. Shives recommends a new strategy: Quiet your churning mind with an audiobook, preloaded on your phone or music player and at the ready, bedside. Plug in your earbuds, press “Play,” and cover the display to block the glow. The story shouldn’t be too stimulating, so choose a biography or your favorite book from childhood instead of, say, Fifty Shades of Grey. In 15 to 20 minutes the narrative should soothe you to sleep, Dr. Shives says. If TV has always been a snoozing aid for you, follow Breus’s trick: Use a TV with a sleep timer and set it to switch off after 30 minutes.

Think before you drink.

It’s generally a good idea to cut out coffee, soda, and energy drinks seven to eight hours before bedtime. But the half-life of caffeine affects everyone differently. Download Caffeine Zone 2 Lite (free at the iTunes App Store), developed by Penn State researchers, to help you predict the hour at which caffeine will still deliver a kick without stealing sleep. Also be aware that a nightcap can be as disastrous for your slumber as an after-dinner cappuccino. Under the influence, you snooze in seconds. Problem is, you’ll wake up four or five hours later. And healthy women are much more susceptible to the “sleepus interruptus” effects of overimbibing, according to a recent University of Michigan study. “The best rule: Have your last drink three hours before you turn in,” Breus says.

Score better sleep.

You log your workouts, so why not your zzz’s? A spate of new sleeptracking devices with mobile apps, including Zeo Sleep Manager and Lark, allow you to monitor such habits as the time at which you fall asleep and get up, how much light versus deep sleep you’re getting, and the number of times you awaken during the night. We like the Renew SleepClock ($200, us.gear4.com; Renew SleepClock app, free, iTunes App Store) because you don’t have to wear anything on your body to use it; your movements and breathing rates are detected and monitored through your iPhone, which rests on the SleepClock’s docking station on your nightstand. “None of these devices are diagnostic, so they’re not going to tell you if you have sleep apnea or insomnia,” Breus says. “But they give you information about your sleep and make you think about how you can improve it.” For instance, an app can help you notice a pattern, like how your slumber improves on days you exercise. Or you may be surprised to learn, as one FITNESS editor did, that you’re getting a lot less sleep than you think.

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Burick Center Staff MemberTracy Koval

Office Manager

Tracy joined the Burick Center for Health & Wellness in June of 2016 to help patients by managing various aspects of the office. Tracy brings more than three decades of medical office experience as the former office manager of a multi-specialty group and also works on a part-time basis as a Patient Service Rep at a local urgent care center.

Tracy’s favorite part of working in a medical practice is the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life by helping them navigate through the maze of health care. She loves being part of the dynamic team at the Burick Center.

Tracy likes to spend time with her family. She has two sons, Mason, who is living and working in Philadelphia as a Sr. Analyst for a marketing firm, and Spencer, who works at Hershey Entertainment & Resorts.

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Burick Center Staff MemberRena Geesaman

Patient Coordinator

Rena Geesaman is a Registered Medical Assistant who enjoys providing attentive and caring client service. She is very happy to be part of the Burick Center team where patient care is our number one focus.

Her goal is to do everything within her power to ensure every interaction leaves you feeling well cared for and perhaps even delighted.

Rena volunteers by serving as board treasurer for Carlisle Christian Academy. She also helps facilitate a program at River of God Church for single, pregnant girls which provides practical, emotional and spiritual support.

Outside of the office Rena enjoys hiking, traveling, tending to her flower beds, hosting meals on their back deck, enjoying time with dear friends, loving on her little dogs, and best of all spending time with family. Being fairly new grandparents, she and her husband Don are always happy to share pictures of their little grandson, Lucas. Feel free to ask! She considers herself amazingly blessed!

Burick Center Staff MemberDr. Peter Lu

Acupuncturist

Dr. Peter Lu trained and worked in New York City for 15 years and recently moved to central PA. He studied pre-med at Brooklyn College and attended medical school at SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn. Thereafter he worked in the inner city hospitals of New York City, and lastly had the honor of caring for people with his sister in Stamford, Connecticut.

Dr. Lu greatly appreciates open lines of communication as it pertains to questions you may have about your ailment and how acupuncture could help in the healing process. His intention to address your needs to the best of his ability.

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Burick Center Staff MemberLee Morand

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Lee has had the sincere pleasure of working in the Greater Harrisburg area for over 20 years. She relocated to Harrisburg in 1990 after completing her undergraduate degree in Nutrition Pre-Med at Cornell University. Lee received her first Master’s Degree from Shippensburg University. Her second Master’s Degree, as well as Doctorate, were both from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

She uses a Cognitive-Behavioral approach to guide her work with clients across the lifespan. She strongly believes research has shown that changing your thoughts does change your life. Her primary focus with clients is to reduce symptoms by assisting clients to achieve skills they can utilize in their professional, academic, and personal lives.

Burick Center Staff MemberHeather Motter

LMT, Massage Therapist and Back Desk Coordinator

Heather Motter joined the Burick Center team in 2018. A graduate of YTI Career Institute, Heather prides herself on using her highly developed skills to maintain the balance between mind and body. As a licensed massage therapist, she specializes in Medical Massage, Lymphatic Drainage, Trigger Point Therapy, and Oncology Massage.

Heather has a vast amount of experience working with a variety of patients. From a simple relaxation massage to a patient dealing with chronic pain, Heather is able to facilitate treatments uniquely designed for each patient’s individual needs.

Heather insists that massage is not just a relaxation luxury. Instead, her philosophy is that massage helps lead to a healthier, happier lifestyle. She encourages everyone to take the time to meet with her to develop a care plan to enhance their overall wellness.

Heather is a resident of Carlisle, where she resides with her fiancé, two sons, and four dogs. When she’s not at work, she can be found outside working on her back yard oasis, or volunteering at Speranza Animal Rescue.

Burick Center Staff MemberFelicia Miller

Nutritionist

Felicia Miller is a Registered Dietitian and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist who provides nutritional counseling and education to patients of the Burick Center for Health & Wellness.

She takes the science of nutrition with her extensive knowledge of food and coaching skills to create an easy-to-follow actionable plan for her clients to follow.

Recognizing that there are multiple components to creating a successful wellness plan, she looks at the whole person – their concerns, lifestyle, personality, family, and career. Listening to her patients allows for Felicia to find the root cause of their issue and not simply the symptoms.

“Being healthy goes beyond diet, food is just one of the pillars of a happy, healthy person.” Felicia goes beyond the traditional diet education- she coaches and supports her patients as they learn how to make changes in their day-to-day life.

“I’m passionate about whole foods and healthy living I strive to inspire you to make positive food and lifestyle changes – at any age.”

Burick Center Staff MemberAshley Weibley

Registered Nurse

Ashley is a nurse at Burick Center for Health & Wellness. Her nursing philosophy is one of holistic care. She is a patient advocate committed to clear communication, education and applying critical thinking and decision-making skills to help patients achieve better outcomes. She enjoys providing the highest quality nursing care in a respectful, healing environment. She has a personal commitment to life-long learning through formal education and hands-on experience. She appreciates that compassion along with innovative care is what the Burick Center for Health & Wellness is all about.

Ashley has an Associate’s Degree from Harrisburg Area Community College and a Bachelors Degree from Penn State University.

She is married and has twin boys, She enjoys spending time with her friends, family and pets. She has owned and shown Quarter Horses all of her life and continues to compete in her spare time.