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- Nurse Barb
A patient called the other day and asked me to prescribe medical marijuana to help her sleep. She had heard that it would help her sleep better. She’s in her 50’s, has 2 kids, works full time and says that she only used marijuana in college a few times. After this jaw dropping request, I stopped and asked a few more questions, because more information was needed to help solve this her issue.
I’m not a sleep or pain specialist and so I needed to know what was going on before making a recommendation. I’m learning more about cannabinoid receptors and the effect of medical marijuana on neuropathic pain, and especially to treat the pain that results from Multiple Sclerosis. I had read that while medical marijuana can help people get to sleep, it might not be the best option for improving REM sleep and helping people stay asleep or feel well rested the next day. I needed more information from this patient.
Night time waking
Turns out, she has no problem falling asleep, but does wake up at about 4-5 am and can’t get back to sleep for about 1 hour. When she’s frustrated with tossing and turning, she gets up and watches TV, mostly the shopping networks, then she orders something that she doesn’t need. When I asked her if her mind races when she wakes up, she said yes because she worries about money all the time. There were other things that came up, she had no pain, no chronic illnesses. (more…)
Counting Sheep? Getting to the Root of Insomnia
If you’re anything like many Americans in the hyper-connected, over-scheduled, and -dare I say it – manic world we live in, then you’ve probably suffered from more than a few sleepless nights. And for some of us, a few sleepless nights can turn into months and years of chronically waking up unrested.
Ever heard of insomnia? Well what I described is just that. Many of us go years without true restful sleep. We’re insomniacs and we don’t even know it. Or maybe we do, and that term just plain scares us so we don’t seek help. I’ve been meaning to blog about this for awhile because so many patients have come to me to talk about this or that, and the first question I have to ask is “have you been sleeping?” A lot of times, the answer is “not well” or “not lately”. And just that piece of information can help me help a patient tremendously. Insomnia can take a real toll on our physical and emotional health – and what’s crazy is that many of us don’t even realize that it’s what’s at the root of some of our health issues.
Nurse Barb’s 411 on Insomnia
1. You might not have a sleep disorder – so don’t panic.
Nurse Barb here. Please don’t go diagnosing yourself! How long have you been suffering sleepless nights? A week? Okay next question – Are you stressed? If the answer is yes, don’t fear, typically when we are anticipating a particular event or worrying about something in the near future, our body sends a signal to kick our brain and processing function into high gear. This affects sleep too. In the case of stress-induced insomnia, the degree to which sleep is disturbed depends on the severity and duration of the stressful situation. If it doesn’t resolve in a few weeks or after you’re through the major hurdles of whatever is on your mind, then you may want to speak to a health provider who can get to the root of a deeper issue.
Did you know that snoring is linked to some serious health hazards, some of which may really surprise you? Whether you’re having trouble staying awake at work or find yourself in line for a triple shot of espresso just to make it through the day, you’re not alone. Sleep issues affect millions of Americans, and one of the most misunderstood is how serious snoring can be. Far from being an embarrassment or something you put up with from a partner, snoring is not a sign of deep sleep, but it very well could be one sign of a potential sleep issue that could lead to these 5 surprising consequences:
1. Low Testosterone and Erectile Dysfunction – Did I get your attention? I was surprised to learn this from Dr. Tony Masri at the Sleep Disorders program at El Camino Hospital; however, men who were treated for their sleep issues with CPAP had improvement in sexual function and testosterone levels.
3. Serious cardiac events including irregular heart rhythms and atrial fibrillation and heart attack. For people who have obstructive sleep apnea for 4 years, there’s a 30% increased risk of having a heart attack.
4. An increase in seizure activity – People with epilepsy are more likely to experience a recurrence of seizures when obstructive sleep apnea and snoring is present, regardless of whether they’re on anti-seizure medication or not.
5. When it comes to stroke, the risk is increased by 60% for people with obstructive sleep apnea. This may be associated with the cardiac events that are linked to sleep apnea.
The Nitty Gritty on Snoring and Sleep Apnea
What is snoring? Basically snoring is the sound that occurs when our air passages narrow and each breath encounters obstacles that produce more noise. A clear, open airway is quiet, however one where there’s narrowing, swelling or a tongue in the way makes more sonorous noise. (more…)
This is the dream deprived topic that vexes most new parents. Sleep deprivation.
It’s pure torture and can lead to lots of unanticipated consequences, like arguing with your partner about who should get up, being irritable with older children/family/coworkers or anyone who you come in to contact with.
Your baby might be sleeping, but you’re not. (more…)
Another report just out that less sleep increases the risk of cancer in women.
Less Sleep is Not Good
Recently I wrote about a study that found that less sleep is associated with heart attacks. Now more data from the CDC says that it’s not just heart attacks, lack of sleep is associated with a number of other health issues. (more…)
There is a mountain of evidence that points to the importance of getting your nightly ZZZZ’s. Recent research found that people with insomnia were almost twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke as people without insomnia. Researchers wonder if lack of sleep leads to a weakened immune system, setting people up for more inflammation, which can have a negative effect on cardiovascular health.
In my practice, I see many women who have insomnia from anxiety and racing thoughts at night, which may increase the release of stress hormones increasing blood pressure and causing microscopic damage to blood vessels. Loss of sleep not only can lead to health issues, it can also cause depression, irritability and make concentrating more difficult and frustrating.
There are other reasons why people have difficulty sleeping, from restless leg syndrome to acid reflux, to having young children at home who wake frequently. Caregivers who are up throughout the night also have interrupted sleep.
No matter what your sleep issue is, it’s important to have it evaluated.
I just love babies. Their little heads smell sweet and like innocence. They’re warm and snuggly, cuddly and when they nestle into your arms, it’s, well, it’s heaven. I know that many moms find that it’s so much easier to sleep with their little ones. It’s easier to feed them, the baby will sleep more soundly and everyone gets a better night sleep.
Many people around the world sleep with their babies, and so many of us believe that it’s perfectly safe. Most of us have never heard of any tragedies, so the advice not to sleep with your baby seems outdated and like an old wives tale.
Unfortunately, though it’s not popular to say it, co-sleeping with a baby IS RISKY. Recent reports have found that the number of babies who’ve died from an accidental suffocation has risen with the increasing numbers of families who co-sleep with their infants. (more…)
Bed wetting is a common issue in children, and luckily, completely resolves all on it’s own by the time the child is 7. If this is an issue you’re dealing with, you know that there are lots of things to consider, most importantly your reaction.
Do you ever feel as if you are constantly looking forward to the end of the day so you can just get some rest? What happens when this feeling creeps up on you about 2 hours after your morning coffee? Well, if you’re nodding your head or nodding off to sleep, you’re not alone. The number of people who aren’t getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night is skyrocketing. Up from 25% to 35%.
Please Welcome Our Featured Guest Writer of the Day: Heidi Holvoet, PhD.
Heidi is a sleep parenting expert with 10+ years of independent sleep research experience. She helps parents with baby and toddler sleep issues at Baby Sleep Advice. Heidi is a certified breastfeeding counsellor as well as a happy mother of two young children.
To help your new baby sleep well, knowing just a few basics makes all the difference. A good start can prevent most newborn sleep problems and even avoid many sleeping issues with baby later on.
The first thing to know about newborn sleep patterns is that they are completely different from ours. A baby is not born with the skills to sleep deeply or to sleep all night and be awake all day.