Archive For: Medical Conditions

What’s Keeping You Up at Night?

What’s Keeping You Up at Night?

Breaking the Cycle of Anxiety, Insomnia and Sleep Anxiety

A good night’s sleep does more than refresh and revitalize. It’s essential to your health, so make it a priority to understand what’s keeping you up at night.

“Healthy sleep is as important as proper nutrition and regular exercise for our physical and mental well-being,” says Kannan Ramar, MD, sleep medicine physician at the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Sleep Medicine and immediate past president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “Lack of sufficient sleep is associated with increased risks of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, depression and anxiety.”

The sleepless nights and drowsy days previously experienced by one out of three Americans with insomnia rose to pandemic highs of almost 60% in 2021, sounding a wake-up call to address this treatable condition which profoundly impacts both mental and physical well-being.

Sleep disturbance is intricately interconnected with the presence of issues such as anxiety and depression, each influencing the others, so it’s not always possible to determine which came first. Behavioral changes that result from chronic insomnia include feelings of being overwhelmed, inability to concentrate, irritability, nervousness, restlessness, and a sense of impending danger or doom.

Of adults diagnosed with depression, 75% experience insomnia and 20% have obstructive sleep apnea. Similarly, anxiety can make it harder for the body to relax and fall asleep.

Research suggests that anxiety can also affect rapid eye movement (REM) during slumber and trigger vivid, disturbing dreams that wake the sleeper.

Completing the loop is sleep anxiety — apprehension or fear about going to sleep — which is commonly seen in those with insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome.

While insomnia can seem never-ending, a number of strategies can effectively break the cycle.

The Basics:

  • Set boundaries for blue light exposure by turning off tv, tablets and phones at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Limit large meals, caffeine and alcohol within 3 to 4 hours of bedtime, which can disrupt sleep. Alcohol allows you to fall asleep quickly but not stay asleep throughout the night.
  • Establish a consistent wake-up time seven days a week.
  • Ensure your bedroom is a designated place of sleep by keeping it dark, cool and quiet. And turn around your clock so you can’t see the time if you’re tossing and turning in the middle of the night.
  • Pursue support if you are experiencing chronic insomnia, defined as difficulty sleeping three or more times per week for at least three months. “We know that the longer insomnia lasts, the more difficult it is to treat,” says Dr. Ramar.

Support can include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI), a form of talk therapy focused on learning how to create an optimal sleep environment with positive bedtime routines and avoidance of factors that trigger anxiety and negative thinking. Requiring up to 12 weeks to see results, the key is shifting from “trying hard to sleep” to “allowing sleep to happen,” according to Stanford Health.
  • Prescription sleep hypnotics, such as Ambien or Lunesta. Hypnotics can be considered in conjunction with CBTI, but patients must be closely monitored for adverse effects and a buildup of tolerance to the medication’s effects. Low doses of Trazodone, an antidepressant, are sometimes used, as it causes drowsiness.
  • Light therapy, which is especially helpful for those who need to reset their circadian rhythms; e.g., a night owl who wants to function better with an early morning rising time.

If you are experiencing too many wakeful nights, please let your healthcare provider know. It may be helpful to keep a sleep diary for several weeks to help pinpoint the habits affecting your ability to fall and stay asleep. In some cases, we may recommend a polysomnography (sleep study), where you’ll be monitored for blood oxygen levels, body position, breathing, electrical activity in the brain, eye and leg movements, heart rates and rhythms, sleep stages and snoring during an overnight stay in a sleep lab.

Finally, keep in mind that the amount of sleep needed per night – typically 7 or 8 hours on average – varies by individual. “If you function well and are fully alert during the day, you can be confident your sleep needs are being met,” says Dr. Ramar.

Read more →

Pandemic Stress Likely Compounded by Seasonal Affective Disorder

Pandemic Stress Likely Compounded by Seasonal Affective Disorder

Coping With Sad This Winter As we continue to weather the storm of COVID-19, seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is once again on our radar. More subtle than an arctic blast, SAD is just as real, with just as much potential to have a chilling effect on our mood, productivity and wellness. Similar to last...

The post Pandemic Stress Likely Compounded by Seasonal Affective Disorder appeared first on Specialdocs Consultants.

Read more →

COVID-19 and The Road Ahead

COVID-19 and The Road Ahead

From Boosters & Breakthroughs to Vaccines & Variants: Where Do We Go From Here? The following reflects an 8/24/2021 discussion; please check the CDC website for real-time updates as the situation continues to evolve. Their answers may not land lightly, but epidemiologist Jodie Guest, PhD, and drug development expert Michael Kinch, PhD, have been immersed...

The post COVID-19 and The Road Ahead appeared first on Specialdocs Consultants.

Read more →

New Lung Cancer Screening Recommendations

New Lung Cancer Screening Recommendations

Illustration of a toxic smoke in Lung

Spotlighting Both Challenges and Progress This winter the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released its new Lung Cancer screening recommendations, lowering both the starting age and pack-per-year criteria. Previously, low-dose computed tomography screening was advised for adults age 55 to 80 years with a 30-pack-per-year history of smoking who are current smokers or have...

The post New Lung Cancer Screening Recommendations appeared first on Specialdocs Consultants.

Read more →

A Quick Guide to Seasonal Allergies

A Quick Guide to Seasonal Allergies

Mature Couple Gardening

Pollen, Grass, Ragweed and Mold spores For more than 24 million Americans, the flowering trees and mild weather of spring and summer, signals another allergy season in full bloom. The cause: substances such as pollen, grass, ragweed and mold spores enter the body and are mistakenly identified as a threat by the immune system, triggering...

The post A Quick Guide to Seasonal Allergies appeared first on Specialdocs Consultants.

Read more →

Can We Co-Exist with COVID-19?

Can We Co-Exist with COVID-19?

An Epidemiologist Separates Fact from Fiction and Offers Hope for the Future Epidemiologists seek to learn why, how and when some people contract diseases when others don’t. Their findings are used to help monitor public health status, develop new medical treatments and disease prevention efforts, and provide an evidence base to healthcare and policy leaders. Whether...

The post Can We Co-Exist with COVID-19? appeared first on Specialdocs Consultants.

Read more →

Headaches – Types and Remedies

Headaches – Types and Remedies

Headache Types and Remedies

Oh, My Aching Head A dull pressure, a sharp pain, an uncomfortable pounding, a vise-like sensation – all can signal the start of a headache. A painful part of the human condition since the beginning of time, more than 150 different types of headaches have been identified, categorized and treated in increasingly effective ways. We...

The post Headaches – Types and Remedies appeared first on Specialdocs Consultants.

Read more →

Headaches – Types and Remedies

Headaches – Types and Remedies

Picture of woman having a headache

Oh, My Aching Head A dull pressure, a sharp pain, an uncomfortable pounding, a vise-like sensation – all can signal the start of a headache. A painful part of the human condition since the beginning of time, more than 150 different types of headaches have been identified, categorized and treated in increasingly effective ways. Following...

The post Headaches – Types and Remedies appeared first on Specialdocs Consultants.

Read more →

Alcohol Affects Women Differently than Men

Alcohol Affects Women Differently than Men

The Female Factor: Alcohol is Not Gender-Neutral Given the growing popularity of the cocktail culture and wine time, it’s important to know that alcohol affects women differently than men – physiologically, psychologically and socially. It’s worth asking: For women, is the wine glass half full or half empty when considering the risk-versus-benefit ratio? First, there...

The post Alcohol Affects Women Differently than Men appeared first on Specialdocs Consultants.

Read more →

Alcohol: Not Gender-Neutral

Alcohol: Not Gender-Neutral

The Female Factor: Alcohol is Not Gender-aNeutral Given the growing popularity of the cocktail culture and wine time, it’s important to know that alcohol affects women very differently than men – physiologically, psychologically and socially. It’s worth asking: For women, is the wine glass half full or half empty when considering the risk-versus-benefit ratio? First,...

The post Alcohol: Not Gender-Neutral appeared first on Specialdocs Consultants.

Read more →