Insomnia

woman having difficulty sleeping Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that makes it difficult to fall or stay asleep.  According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, It is estimated that 30% of adults living in the United States experience symptoms of insomnia.

Insomnia can be categorized into two categories: primary and secondary. Primary insomnia is not linked to any other health conditions. In contrast, secondary insomnia can be caused by underlying health conditions or medication side effects.

Symptoms of insomnia may vary and can last for a short time ( a few days or weeks), or they can be chronic occurring at least three times per week and lasting more than three months.   Insomnia symptoms can include:

  • Having a hard time falling asleep at night
  • Trouble staying asleep throughout the night
  • Waking up too early
  • Tiredness or sleepiness during the day
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings

Longterm sleep deprivation caused by severe or chronic insomnia can lead to the development of complications such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sleep apnea
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Stroke

Getting good quality sleep is crucial for our mental and physical health.  There are a few things that we can do to improve our quality of sleep. They include:

  • Setting and following a sleep schedule
  • Avoid using electronic devices before bed
  • Avoid eating heavy meals late in the day
  • Avoid the consumption of foods or beverages that contain alcohol or caffeine before bed

If you are experiencing long-term insomnia symptoms that are affecting your ability to do daily activities, you should speak with a doctor. A sleep specialist can conduct a series of tests to determine the cause of sleep deprivation and create a treatment plan.

To schedule an appointment with a sleep specialist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-5916.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

How Does Blue Light Affect Sleep?

Devices such as smartphones, laptops, and smart televisions emit blue light, which is a color on the light spectrum that’s visible to the human eye. Blue light also contains the highest level of energy on the light spectrum.

While blue light may offer benefits when utilized during the day, such as helping to boost attention and mood, it can cause several problems when used at night. The most common is interfering with our sleep cycles.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), exposure to blue light emitted from devices used at night can make it difficult for us to fall asleep or can wake us up too early.

Blue light has this effect because light plays an essential role in aligning circadian rhythms, which is the body’s internal clock that helps to regulate sleep and wake cycles. The CDC explains that the “body’s circadian clock responds to light, as a signal to be awake, and dark, as a signal to fall asleep.”

Blue light stimulates the part of our brain that makes us alert and it suppresses the body’s secretion of melatonin; the hormone that makes us feel sleepy. Exposure can trick our brains into thinking it’s daytime even when using devices such as smartphones, tablets, or laptops at night.

To prevent this problem, and reduce the risk of blue light exposure, the Sleep Foundation recommends:
• Turning off electronics two to three hours before bedtime
• Dimming the lights on electronics or using night mode
• Using smartphone or computer applications designed to reduce the emission of blue light
• Using an eye mask to sleep if you are unable to turn off or dim certain light sources

Creating a healthy sleep environment can help us to achieve the rest our bodies need to reenergize and heal. This involves making sure that lights do not interfere with our sleep.

To learn more about creating a healthy sleep environment, or to speak with a specialist about sleep-related health problems you may be experiencing, please schedule an appointment with Jamaica Hospital’s Sleep Center by calling 718-206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Signs of Poor Sleep Quality

Sleep quality is defined by the National Sleep Foundation as, “the measurement of how well you’re sleeping”—in other words, whether your sleep is restful and restorative.

Getting adequate amounts of quality sleep is essential for our health.  It allows our bodies to recharge and provides additional benefits including:

  • Improving memory and concentration
  • Strengthening the immune system
  • Reducing stress
  • Lowering the risk of chronic health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes

Consequently, not getting enough quality sleep can have a negative effect on our health.   A lack of quality sleep can result in:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Insomnia and other sleep disorders
  • Increased stress
  • An increased risk of developing health conditions such as diabetes
  • An increased risk of developing mental health issues such as anxiety and depression

Thankfully, our body tells us when we are depriving ourselves of quality sleep so that we can make improvements.  Signs of poor-quality sleep include:

  • Taking 30 minutes or more to fall asleep
  • Feeling sleepy or tired, even after getting enough sleep
  • Waking up often throughout the night and lying awake for several minutes
  • Having trouble concentrating during the day
  • Experiencing hunger more often
  • Experiencing symptoms of a sleep disorder such as snoring or gasping for air
  • Having dark circles or bags under the eyes

Improving sleep quality can be achieved by making simple changes to our lifestyles. Here are a few recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Be consistent. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends.
  • Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature.
  • Remove electronic devices such as TVs, computers, and phones from the bedroom.
  • Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime.
  • Don’t use tobacco.
  • Get some exercise. Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night.

If you are having difficulty falling and staying asleep for an extended period, speak with your doctor to explore possible causes.   Your physician may recommend that you see a sleep specialist who can diagnose and treat a variety of sleep disorders.

To schedule an appointment with a sleep specialist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Optimize Your Bedroom for A Good Night’s Sleep

One of the keys to achieving a good night’s rest is creating an environment that supports quality sleep.

There are a few factors to consider when cultivating that space. They include lighting, sound, tidiness, color, and temperature.

Here are a few ways you can optimize these elements to create a sleep-friendly bedroom:

  • Turn off all lights- This includes television lights, as well as lights from computers and phones. Exposure to light during sleep can throw off the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
  • Keep it quiet- Remove or turn off electronics and any other items that contribute to background noise. The only noise believed to help you sleep is white noise.
  • Clear clutter- Research shows that sleeping in a cluttered room can affect sleep and lead to anxiety or stress.
  • Choose paint colors that are conducive to sleep- Colors such as lavender, blue, silver and green are known to be calming. Whereas, colors such as purple and red are believed to be stimulating.
  • Sleep in cool temperatures- According to the Sleep Foundation, “The best bedroom temperature for sleep is approximately 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 degrees Celsius). This may vary by a few degrees from person to person, but most doctors recommend keeping the thermostat set between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 to 19.4 degrees Celsius) for the most comfortable sleep.”

Following these recommendations can help you achieve quality sleep.  Sleep specialists also recommend sticking to a sleep schedule, avoiding heavy meals a few hours before bedtime, and exercising at least three hours before bed as habits you can apply to improve sleep health.

If you are having problems falling and staying asleep, please consult a sleep specialist.  To schedule an appointment with the Jamaica Hospital Sleep Center, call 718-206-5916.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Sleep Awareness Week

The keys to a healthy lifestyle are eating right, exercise, and what’s the third thing?  Oh yes, sleep. While we give a great deal of attention to the first two, the importance of a good night’s sleep is often overlooked.

Serene woman sleeping at night

March 13th through the 19th  has been designated Sleep Awareness Week and Jamaica Hospital Medical Center and the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) want to raise awareness and educate the community about how important sleep is to each and every one of us. While most of us understand the importance of getting a good night’s sleep, we often do not make sleep a priority.

There are many health benefits that sleep can provide. Sleep aids our heart, brain, lungs, and muscles to function properly.  Additional benefits include:

  • Improved immunity
  • Decreased pain
  • Increased alertness
  • Lower risk of injury
  • Improved memory
  • Better mood

The NSF recommends that adults receive seven to nine hours of sleep each night. They also provide the following tips to ensure a restful night’s sleep.

  • Stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends.
  • Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual Try to separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety; a lot of which can make it more difficult to fall asleep.
  • If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps, especially in the afternoon. Napping may help you during the daybut it can interfere with your ability to sleep at night
  • Avoid drinking any caffeinated beverages at least five to six hours before bed.
  • Exercise dailyVigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity.
  • Evaluate your sleep environmentRemove any noisy distractions, eliminate bright lights and set a comfortable temperature to optimize your sleep.
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and  Make sure your mattress is supportive.

If you still have trouble falling asleep or getting a restful night’s sleep, you should speak with your doctor as there may be an underlining medical issue. Jamaica Hospital operates a state-of-the-art sleep center that can help diagnose and treat a variety of sleep disorders. For more information, or to make an appointment, please call 718-206-5916.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

The Importance of Sleep in Children

According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third of children (4 months- 17 years) living in the United States, get less sleep than what is recommended for their ages.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends:

• Infants 4 months to 12 months should sleep 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours

• Children 1 to 2 years of age should sleep 11 to 14 hours per 24 hours

• Children 3 to 5 years of age should sleep 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours

• Children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep 9 to 12 hours per 24 hours

• Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep 8 to 10 hours per 24 hours

A lack of sleep can affect children in several ways. Children who do not receive adequate sleep are at a higher risk for developing health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, poor mental health, and obesity.  Sleep deprivation can also contribute to the development of behavioral or academic problems.

There are several ways parents can help children achieve a good night’s sleep. This includes:

  • Turning off devices at least an hour before bedtime
  • Ensuring beds are comfortable
  • Creating a consistent bedtime routine (changing into pajamas, brushing teeth, etc.)
  • Establishing and keeping a consistent sleep schedule (This includes weekends and vacations)
  • Keeping children from going to bed hungry or too full
  • Avoiding scary movies, books or television shows before bed
  • Helping to alleviate bedtime fears or anxieties by talking about them and providing comfort

It is important that children receive adequate sleep as it is beneficial for their overall health and development. If your child is consistently having problems falling or staying asleep despite practicing healthy sleep hygiene, you should consult a doctor.

To schedule an appointment with a sleep specialist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-5916.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome diagnosis

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) or Willis-Ekbom disease is a common disorder that causes what is often described as tingling, pulling, throbbing, itching, burning, aching or crawling sensations in the legs. These sensations result in an uncontrollable urge to move your legs.  

RLS can also occur in other parts of the body such as the arms or torso; however, these instances are less common.

Anyone can be at risk for developing RLS.  According to the Sleep Foundation, “RLS affects 5 to 10% of adults and 2 to 4% of children in the U.S. and it is found in women more often than men. People of all ages can develop RLS, but the most severe symptoms tend to occur in older adults.”

Symptoms of restless legs syndrome can include:

  • An irresistible urge to move the legs or arms
  • Discomfort in the legs or arms
  • Trouble staying asleep due to the urge to move your limbs
  • Periodic limb movement or leg twitching while you sleep
  • Daytime sleepiness due to sleep disruption

These symptoms most commonly occur in the late afternoon or evening hours and may increase in severity at night. They can also happen when you remain inactive or seated for extended periods. Symptoms typically go away in the morning.

Although the exact cause of restless legs syndrome is unknown, it is believed that genetics and environmental factors play a significant role.  RLS is often associated with other medical conditions such as:

  • Iron deficiency
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Late-stage kidney disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Peripheral neuropathy

RLS may also occur temporarily during pregnancy with most women developing the disorder during their third trimester.

Some medications such as anti-depressants, anti-nausea, and allergy drugs can contribute to the development of RLS.

A diagnosis for restless legs syndrome is determined after your medical and family history is assessed, a complete physical and neurological exam is conducted, and blood tests are ordered to rule out other possible conditions. Your doctor may also refer you to a sleep specialist for an evaluation.

Currently, there is no cure for restless legs syndrome.  However, there are treatments available to manage symptoms.  Your doctor may include the following treatments or therapies in your care plan: exercise, massages,  foot wraps, stress reduction, iron supplementation or prescription medications.

To schedule an appointment with a doctor at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Learning More About Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder characterized by overwhelming daytime drowsiness and sudden attacks of sleep. People with narcolepsy fall asleep without warning, anywhere, anytime. When they awaken, they may feel refreshed, but eventually get sleepy again. Narcolepsy can drastically affect a person’s quality of life and can result in physical harm to themselves or others.

 There are two forms of narcolepsy: Type 1 narcolepsy is when sudden attacks of sleep are accompanied by a loss of muscle tone.  Type 2 narcolepsy occurs with no loss in muscle tone.

In addition to sudden attacks of sleep, some of the signs and symptoms of narcolepsy include:

  • Decreased alertness and focus – Excessive daytime sleepiness makes it difficult for individuals to concentrate and fully function.
  • Sudden loss of muscle tone – This condition, called cataplexy can cause a number of physical changes, from slurred speech to complete weakness of most muscles, and may last up to a few minutes.
  • Sleep paralysis – People with narcolepsy often experience a temporary inability to move or speak while falling asleep or upon waking. These episodes are usually brief, lasting a few seconds or minutes.
  • Hallucinations – Hallucinations may occur while sleeping or while awake. These hallucinations may be particularly vivid and frightening because the person experiencing them may believe they are reality.

Narcolepsy symptoms typically begin anywhere between ten and thirty years of age. Symptoms may worsen for the first few years and then continue for life. People with narcolepsy may also have other sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and even insomnia.

While the exact cause of narcolepsy is unknown, research has revealed that people with type 1 narcolepsy have low levels of the chemical hypocretin, which is an important neurochemical in your brain that helps regulate wakefulness and REM sleep. Those with a family history of narcolepsy have a greater risk of developing it.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for narcolepsy however medications and lifestyle changes can help manage the symptoms.  It is recommended that you see a doctor if you experience excessive daytime sleepiness that disrupts your personal life.

Jamaica Hospital’s Sleep Center treats individuals with a wide variety of sleep disorders. Please call 718-206-5916 to schedule an appointment.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Understanding Over- The- Counter Sleep Aids

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that is characterized by difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.   Experiencing either of these issues may happen on occasion or can become chronic -occurring more than three times a week, for at least three months. 

Whether problems getting adequate sleep occurs occasionally or is a nightly struggle, it can lead to complications such as fatigue or problems concentrating which prompts many to seek relief.  

There are a number of ways to get relief from the effects of insomnia, one of which includes taking over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aids.

Over-the-counter sleep aids are widely available but should be used as a temporary solution (no longer than two weeks). Sleep experts advise against regular use because most OTC sleep aids rely on antihistamines to promote drowsiness. Others may also combine the pain reliever Acetaminophen or alcohol along with antihistamine as their primary active ingredients.

Long-term use of sleep aids containing these ingredients can lead to:

  • Dry mouth and throat
  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Feeling off balance
  • Constipation or urinary retention
  • Blurred vision
  • Dependency

It is important to keep in mind that OTC sleep aids are often not recommended for people with certain medical conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, severe liver disease, sleep apnea or close-angle glaucoma.

Sleep aids may be used to provide temporary relief for insomnia; however, they should not be used as a replacement for creating healthy sleeping habits or seeking proper treatment.

Healthy sleep habits include:

  • Avoiding excessive blue light from electronics or cellphones before going to sleep
  • Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day if possible
  • Keeping naps short ( 30 minutes or less)
  • Avoiding caffeine or nicotine
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly

If you are suffering from the effects of insomnia, speak with your doctor before taking a sleep aid.  Your doctor can inform you of possible drug interactions or medications that can affect underlying health conditions.  They may also recommend making an appointment with a sleep specialist who can properly diagnose your condition and offer treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or prescribed sleep-inducing medications. To schedule an appointment with a sleep specialist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-7001

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

How Holiday Stress Affects Sleep

There are countless things we need to get done during the holidays. In our minds, we are constantly checking off items on our lists and thinking about future tasks to tackle.  Often our stress levels increase as a result of trying to juggle it all.

Elevated stress levels can have a negative effect on our health, specifically our quality of sleep. Stress causes many people to lose hours of much-needed rest, as they lie in bed worrying. Lack of sleep, in the short term, can affect concentration, mood, and increases the risk of serious accidents and injury. Long-term sleep deprivation increases the risk of serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Getting a good night’s sleep can reduce the effects of stress. Here are a few tips to help you manage holiday stress and get some rest:

  • Eat a healthy diet- During the holidays we tend to indulge in foods that are unhealthy. Foods that are rich in fat and sugar can make us feel lethargic and make our bodies less capable of combatting stress. Additionally, what you eat during the day can affect how you sleep at night. High- fat and high-sugar meals can lead to indigestion and a night of tossing and turning.
  • Delegate responsibilities- Sometimes our holiday to-do lists are overwhelming. Ask friends and family to help you by taking some of your responsibilities off your plate.
  • Practice stress reduction techniques- Practicing techniques such as deep breathing and meditation can help you to relax and improve sleep.
  • Exercise- All forms of exercise help the brain to release feel-good hormones such as endorphins which can help combat stress.  Studies have shown that exercise also improves sleep.

The holidays are a busy time of year; however, it is highly advised that you carve out time to get adequate sleep.  Getting your daily recommended amount of sleep not only helps you to reduce stress but also benefits your overall health.  If a lack of sleep is affecting your health, you should speak with your doctor. To schedule an appointment with a sleep specialist at Jamaica Hospital, please call, 718-206-5916.

 

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.