Category: News

Facebook Live Recap: Managing Difficult Caregiver Emotions

On June 12th at noon, we went live with Sarah Harlock, Program Director for the Dent Integrative Center for Memory. We discussed Managing Difficult Caregiver Emotions, a topic that comes up regularly in support groups, classes, and general discussion.

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia poses some special and unique challenges. As a result, caregivers very frequently experience higher levels of anxiety and stress.  Reports have shown that 30% – 40% of family caregivers who are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or Dementia are experiencing depression. Caregivers can also experience: frustration, fear, guilt and resentment.

 

The diagnosis aftermath

 

When someone receives that diagnosis, there is no question that is is very difficult.  It is hard on the caregivers as well. Everyone’s life changes after that diagnosis. “I want people to recognize that it is not all doom and gloom,” Sarah says, “It can feel very heavy and negative. But, there are moments of joy and really important moments that are going to happen on this care-giving journey.”

 

New relationships, skills, and strengths

 

Through support groups or classes, there are new people you will meet during your journey. You also may form a new form of an existing relationship, such as sibling who are taking care of a loved one together, or partners who were independent, but start to depend on each other after the diagnosis.  New skills will be developed throughout this process. You might be in control of banking for the first time, or have to take over cooking. Strengths will be developed from this.

“When you have the opportunity, if you can step back and just reflect on all the things you have done and learned and all the effort you have put in into care-giving, I hope you are as amazed by yourself as we, as professionals, are when we talk to you. The love and compassion that people put into care-giving is really amazing”, Sarah adds in.

 

The different emotions

 

Since these diseases are things that change over time, it is realistic to think that your emotions will also change over time. Be prepared that down the road, you may have more struggles or you could develop supports to help aid you in care-giving. Emotions are signals, and some of these signals mean that you need to make a change to alleviate difficulties. Two emotions come up frequently for care-giving: guilt and depression. 

 

Guilt

 

Guilt is complex, but there is a purpose for guilt. It brings our behavior in alignment with our moral compass.

Sarah explains this feeling: “Think of an example where you you’ve done something wrong. You’ve wronged somebody or hurt their feelings. Whether you meant to or not, if it caused pain to another person, you feel it. I don’t know about you, but I feel it in the pit of my stomach. I know I have done something that doesn’t fit with who I really am or the person that I should be. So, that feeling in the pit of my stomach is a signal that my behavior was not in alignment with my moral compass, and I need to pull my behavior back in line.” 

What caregivers are often experiencing is “unjust guilt”. You are feeling guilty, but you didn’t cause this pain to this person and you did not wrong them. Sometimes we bring it on ourselves and sometimes, other people expect us to do more. Very often, it is our own expectations of ourselves that fuels that guilt. 

Caregivers can also feel guilt after losing their cool and maybe yell back or snap at the person they are care-giving for. There is never any harm in asking for forgiveness. Again, this is a signal that you need to be taking some steps or making some changes. It is important to be comfortable with the fact that being is “perfect” caregiver may not be attainable.  

 

Depression

 

Statistics say that 30% – 40% of care-givers of people with dementia will experience and suffer from depression. It is important that care-givers, or someone who supports a care-giver, monitors the emotional health of a care-giver. 

“I do remember a phone call from a couple. She had just received the diagnosis and she she was devastated by this diagnosis. Her husband was saying ‘I’m literally calling you from our bed. We’re lying in bed, we can’t even get up and start our day.’ And that’s how pervasive this very heavy, heavy depressive feeling was for them”, says Sarah.

There is a significant portion of care-givers that actually qualify as clinically depressed and are suffering from the diagnostic criteria of major depression. This is not just the feeling of being blue, and it passes in a day. We are talking people experiencing pervasive and a consistently low mood.

Depression can come out in a lot of different ways besides sadness. It can come out in a short-temper, lack of focus, or inability to complete tasks. “The first thing that I recommend it that you talk to your primary care doctor. I think that is really important. If you don’t want to take medication, there are other things you can do.”

 

The importance of exercise and diet

 

There is all kinds of evidence out there that talks about the impact of exercise on mood. Start with something enjoyable. It could be a walk up and down your driveway. If you can’t leave your loved one and your loved one can’t join you,  some movement chair exercises are very appropriate and effective. 

Additionally, your diet can play a very large role in how you are feeling.

“If your diet is heavily processed if it is loaded with sugars you know it’s it’s definitely going to have an impact on your mood and your energy levels so where you can you want to make sure that you’re introducing fresh fruits and vegetables and that you are trying to make your diet as healthy as you can, because that also will impact energy levels and mood”, Sarah explains.

 

Finding joy in small moments

 

Finding moments of joy throughout your day can be really tough. It is a thing caregivers struggle with. There are many different things you can do, but a gratitude journal is a great way to start. Find one thing in your day that made you smile and feel good.  It could be a nice sunset, something someone said that made you laugh, a great article you read, a funny video, or drinking a nice cup of coffee while it is still hot.

Once you start looking for those moments, you find them more often. These are not things that will improve your mood overnight, but gradually. 

 

Caregiver counseling

 

Sarah also mentions counseling: ” I would also encourage you to consider counseling. We have people that actually specialize in counseling very specific challenges of caregiving. Those kinds of opportunities exist as well.” Sometimes, it takes that objective person to get our thoughts out of our head and help us organize them. That objective person can help you recognize how you are feeling, what your goals are, and how you want to get there.

 

Not all techniques work for everyone. It is worth giving them a try. Ignoring any emotions you experience while caregiving will not help, so finding ways to manage them is incredibly important. 

 View the entire presentation by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

The content of this post is intended for general educational and informational purposes only; it does not constitute medical advice.  Readers should always consult with a licensed healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment.

 

PTSD affects everyone differently

 

The brain responds differently for every person after being exposed to trauma. After a traumatic event, it is normal to feel anxious, afraid or upset. These events include, but are not limited to: violent crimes, car accidents, loved ones in danger, war, and natural disasters. For some people, these feelings fade within a few weeks. Others continue to have these feelings for months or years afterwards.  They might experience reliving the event, flashbacks, negative thoughts, and a sense of nervousness.  This is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

 

How do the symptoms differ?
 

Females may have PTSD symptoms longer than males. Before diagnosis and treatment, females have symptoms for 4 years, and males for 1 year. Females are more likely to:

  • Feel depressed and anxious
  • Be easily startled
  • Have more trouble feeling emotions
  • Avoid any triggers of the trauma

Males are more likely to have problems with alcohol and drugs after the traumatic event.

“It’s very common that people will try to self-medicate. They’ll try to use alcohol and drug substances to change that experience that they are having” says Dr. Horacio A. Capote, Medical Director of the Division of Neuropsychiatry at DENT.

Males and females both develop physical health problems in tandem with their PTSD symptoms.

 

Different brain responses
 

In experimental studies, the right amygdala, right rostral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and dorsal ACC showed more activation in females than males, when exposed to fearful stimuli.  This side of the brain is particularly associated with negative emotions.  These same brain areas are involved in stress response, mind-body awareness and emotional reactivity.  A different study used physiological measures to show that females experience fear more easily than males when exposed to fearful stimuli.

In terms of stress, females show more of an emotional and ruminative response. Ruminating about your triggers can make impact worse if it stops you from taking action. Males are more likely to engage in problem-solving.

 

Who is at risk?
 

An intensely scary or dangerous event can cause anyone to have PTSD. At least 4 out of 5 people experience a traumatic event in their lifetime.  The more serious the trauma is the higher PTSD risk.

Females are twice as more likely to develop PTSD than males.  About 1 in 10 females will develop PTSD in their lifetime. However, medical data from several VA centers have noted that male veterans were more likely to have healthcare visits or diagnosis of PTSD than females (22% vs 17%).

 

How is PTSD diagnosed?
 

PTSD is diagnosed by a medical professional.  Our goal at the DENT Neurologic Institute is to expand psychiatric services and to improve psychiatric care in Western New York. “Many of these problems are brain diseases, and we are very well situated to understand the brain. We work with it in an appropriate and helpful way, without being confrontational and stigmatizing” adds Dr. Capote.

We treat adult patients for a wide range of mental illnesses and addiction disorders including PTSD, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and more. Over the years, our psychiatric team has continued to grow which has allowed for increased access to care as well as expansion treatment modalities such as ECT, TMS, and psychotherapy. If you or someone you know is looking to see one of our medical professionals, call 716-250-2000 or learn more by clicking here.

 

 

 

Can exercise help with PTSD Symptoms? 

Recent research has revealed that exercise can help patients with anxiety disorders reduce their symptoms.  Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a severe anxiety disorder resulting from exposure to trauma. Flashbacks, personality changes, disturbed sleep, mood swings, startle responses, nightmares, anxiety, low self-esteem or depression are often experienced in those with PTSD. Understanding the way that PTSD impacts someone’s mental and physical health can be crucial for a successful treatment plan.

“Part of what we do is to educate the patient. To tell them, ‘Hey, this is an expected problem with this condition. It is part of your condition’… We can study it to understand what is going on and treat it.” – Dr. Capote, Medical Director of the Division of Neuropsychiatry at DENT.

 

Previous Research
 

It is thought that those who exercise regularly are less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression, which are severe symptoms of PTSD.

A study conducted in 2005 asked PTSD sufferers to participate in a 12 week long aerobic exercise program. Researchers reported positive results in participants’ moods and reduced levels of anxiety. This study was published in the International Journal of Emergency Mental Health. They saw results as early as one month into the study.

 

Evolved Studies
 

More recently, a study was done through the University of West Florida. This study was part of a master’s thesis in Exercise Science, and was designed to provide the control group empirically validated treatment for comparison that had been missed in the previous studies.

This study followed 14 women who had been survivors of rape through an eight-week treatment period. All women attended cognitive-behavioral therapy sessions, held bi-weekly. Seven of the women (50%) also participated in physical training classes two times per week. At the eight week mark, those who have engaged in physical exercise revealed more progress. Their progress was measured by the Checklist for Post Traumatic Symptoms. This is a questionnaire used to assess trauma.

 

Results in veterans
 

Researchers at Loughborough University have looked over many studies that reviewed the impact of sport and physical activity on combat veterans diagnosed with PTSD. They found that physical activity enhances the well-being of the veterans.

Aerobic exercise reduces depression symptoms and helps prevent the abuse of drugs. However, some veterans might have complications that prevent them from completing vigorous exercise.  Less physically demanding exercise, like yoga, is another option. Recent research shows that yoga may help individuals with PTSD focus on the present, reduce rumination, and combat negative thinking patterns.

 

Why does exercise help?
 

Exercise stimulates the brain’s release of endorphins. These chemicals are responsible for producing feelings of well-being. Exercise can suppress and reduce chemicals within the body related to anxiety and depression.

Exercise tires the body, which results in sleep coming a little more easily.  Physical activity can also lead to a boost in self-esteem and positive feelings of control over one’s body.

 

The importance of hope
 

The reduction of symptoms seems to appear due to the sense of determination and hope, increased quality of life and the cultivation of positive self-identity. Participating in physical activity helps one gain or regain a sense of achievement.

 

Here at Dent, our goal is to expand psychiatric services and to improve psychiatric care in Western New York. We treat adult patients for a wide range of mental illnesses and addiction disorders including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and more. Over the years, our psychiatric team has continued to grow which has allowed for increased access to care as well as expansion treatment modalities such as ECT, TMS, and psychotherapy.

“Because of all our different focuses at Dent, we actually have a more complete, holistic approach.” – Dr. Capote. If you or someone you know is looking for our Psychiatry Center, click here for more information.

 

 

 

What is MEND? FAQ’s about the new physician formulated CBD store located in Dent Tower.

On Monday, June 3rd, Mend will be opening up in Dent Tower at 9am. The store will be cash only for the first couple weeks. With CBD stores and products appearing everywhere, why choose Mend? Mend has one clear focus: a pure formula at an affordable price.

“Our research is based on clinical data from over 8,000 patients in our Dent Research Institute” – Dr. Mechtler, Dent Institute’s medical director and director of the cannabis clinic. Below are some FAQ’s related to this store opening.

 

What is CBD? Is there any THC?
 

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive product that is from cannabis or hemp. It is different from marijuana, which has more THC (the psychoactive ingredient). Patients who have chronic pain and chronic inflammation as well as sleep trouble have had excellent results from CBD.

The cannabis plant contains hundreds of different phytochemicals including cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds. Full spectrum CBD or hemp oil generally refers to products that not only contain CBD but contain the other plant molecules as well. This version of CBD oil is minimally refined, leaving most of the cannabinoids and terpenes intact and in the oil.

Full spectrum, also called “whole plant,” means the full plant extract is included. Full spectrum provides more of the plant’s molecules in ratios and amounts that nature intended.

There are indications that show cannabinoids and terpenes work together to influence each other. This synergistic effect is called the entourage effect and has seen CBD work with THC to reduce the effects of a high and CBD to influence one’s own cannabinoid receptors.

Mend is a full spectrum CBD product store. There is less than 0.03% THC in CBD products. There is no risk for psychoactive effect with these products.

 

Who can buy products from Mend?
 

Mend is open to the public. You do not need to be a patient at Dent to buy the products; however, we encourage anyone who wants to establish a relationship with an experienced provider to discuss their medical condition and learn more about proper dosing and what would work best for them to call our office at 716-250-2000 to schedule a consultation. All Dent patients will get $5 off all products. 

CBD does not require a prescription. You do not need a medical marijuana card to buy products at this location, as these products are not part of the NYS Medical Marijuana Program.

If you are interested in becoming a patient in the NYS Medical Marijuana Program, please visit our website at www.dentinstitute.com and click on the cannabis clinic logo to print off a referral form for your provider to complete and submit to us.

 

What products will be sold?
 

The initial product line will consist of: Soft Gel Capsules, Lotions and Tinctures. Soon, a hemp derived CBD lozenge will be added to the product line. The prices for these products are:

Tincture: $50

Soft Gels: $60

Lotion: $65

Keep a look out for new additions as they come along, the Mend line will continue to develop new and exciting products!

What are the ingredients in each product?

 

Mend Tincture: CBD, Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) oil

Mend Soft Gels: CBD, Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) oil, glycerin

Mend Lotion: CBD, Water (Aqua), Butylene Glycol, Glyceryl Stearate, Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, Glycerin, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Phenoxyethanol, Triethanolamine, Polyacrylamide, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Laureth-7, Carbomer, Methylparaben, BHT, Propylparaben, Menthol, Camphor, Disodium Edta, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Tocopheryl Acetate

*All products contain less than 0.3% THC. Store at room temperature, away from sunlight. 

 

Is there an option to purchase online?
 

The store will be opening June 3rd and online purchases will be soon to follow. The store will be cash only for the first couple weeks.

 

Why buy from Mend?
 

  • Third party lab testing
  • Physician formulated
  • High quality product
  • Products come with recommendation on dosing and titration based upon years of research, specialized for each condition.

 

As of now, CBD is not regulated. We believe in top-quality, highly compliant products. We track everything and third-party test everything.

“Most products on the shelves might just be vegetable oil with a sprinkle of hemp extract. You want a product that’s standardized for CBD content. We look at the lab tests for heavy metals and toxins” – Steven Przybyla, Jushi, Inc. company president.

Dosage is not the only thing that is important….it’s the purity of the CBD. “Physician formulated means that it’s under our supervision, and going forward, we’ll continue to modify these products,” said Dr. Laszlo Mechtler.

 

The Mend Store is opening June 3rd at 9am. Business hours will initially be from 9am – 5pm. It will be located at Dent Tower: 3980 Sheridan Drive, Amherst, NY 14226. You can contact the store by calling 716-466-MEND or emailing info@soundwellnessllc.com

Types of Headaches

37 million people worldwide are affected by migraine or another severe headache disorder. Although migraine may be the most well-known type of headache disorder, clinicians have identified more than 150 diagnostic categories for headaches resulting from a wide range causes. Initially, headaches are classified as either primary headache disorders or secondary headache disorders, depending on the cause of the headache. 

We sat down with Attending Neurologist and Headache Specialist at DENT, Dr. Shivang Joshi, who explained a few of the many types of headache disorders.  

Types of Headaches

Primary headaches occur independently and are not caused by an underlying medical condition.

Types of primary headaches include:

  • Migraine
  • Cluster
  • Tension-Type

Secondary headaches result from another medical condition such as hormone imbalances, injury or tumor.

Secondary headaches can be caused by underlying conditions including, but not limited to:

  • Fever
  • Infection
  • Medication overuse
  • Stress or emotional conflict
  • High blood pressure
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Head injury or trauma
  • Stroke
  • Tumors
  • Nerve disorders

Migraine vs. Headache

Migraine is a type of headache disorder with specific symptoms, like throbbing pain, which can be moderate to severe in intensity and is typically located on one side of the head. According to the American Migraine Foundation, clinically, migraine is defined as “if within an individual’s lifetime there have occurred 5 or more attacks of unprovoked headache lasting 4-72 hours, severe enough to markedly restrict or even prohibit routine daily activity and accompanied by nausea or light/ sound sensitivity.”

“Most persons with migraines prefer to lie down and not move. Sometimes, migraine can also be associated with visual symptoms such as squiggly lines, flashes of lights with different colors this phenomenon is commonly referred to as migraine aura,” said Joshi.

Although migraine is the most common headache disorder, you can still be treated for headaches even you do not have migraine!

“You may have tension type headaches or another type of headaches. Treatment of headaches usually involves, identifying triggers, dietary or lifestyle medications, medications for prevention of headache as well as medications that are taken at the onset of headache,” said Joshi.

When Should I Consult a Doctor about My Headaches?

According to the Mayo Clinic, you should see a doctor if you experience headaches that:

  • Occur more often than usual
  • Are more severe than usual
  • Worsen or don’t improve with appropriate use of over-the-counter drugs
  • Keep you from working, sleeping or participating in normal activities
  • Cause you distress, and you would like to find treatment options that enable you to control them better

“Generally, when there is a change in quality, character or frequency of your headache you may want to seek medical evaluation,” said Dr. Joshi.

“Other factors include new onset headaches after the age 40, or headaches associated with neurological symptoms or other systemic illness.”

The content of this post is intended for general educational and informational purposes only; it does not constitute medical advice.  Readers should always consult with a licensed healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a chronic, neurodegenerative disorder that affects 10 million people worldwide, with 60,000 Americans diagnosed each year. The average age of onset is 60, with incidences of the disease increasing with age. 

Although the cause of PD is unknown, symptoms result from a loss of cells in the brain, particularly in a region called the substantia nigra, where cells produce dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that regulates movement and emotion. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, most people begin experiencing symptoms later in the disease’s progression because at that point a significant amount of the substantia nigra neurons have been lost, resulting in the low levels of dopamine that affect a person’s movement. 

Symptoms

“Early signs of Parkinson’s disease include tremor, slowed movement and stiffness, as well as balance problems. Some people may notice that their handwriting has become smaller or that they have a “masked face,” making them look more serious or depressed,” said Dr. Anupama Kale, Attending Neurologist and Parkinson’s Disease Specialist in DENT Neurologic Institute’s Movement Disorders Clinic.

As the disease progresses, symptoms can include:

  • Tremor
  • Limb Rigidity
  • Gait and Balance Problems 

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, in addition to movement-related or “motor” symptoms, Parkinson’s symptoms may be unrelated to movement or “non-motor”.

Non-motor symptoms can include: apathy, depression, constipation, sleep behavior disorders, loss of sense of smell and cognitive impairment.

Prognosis

“PD is a chronic disease that is managed over time, with treatment tailored to each individual based on his or her symptoms. Most people with Parkinson’s disease can lead productive and fulfilling lives,” said Dr. Kale. “And while there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, there are several treatments available, with more and more new and promising treatments in the pipeline. 

The content of this post is intended for general educational and informational purposes only; it does not constitute medical advice.  Readers should always consult with a licensed healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment.

 

Dr. Joshi Will Be Presenting in the 2019 Migraine World Summit

Buffalo, NY – Attending Neurologist and Headache Specialist at DENT, Dr. Shivang Joshi, will be presenting at the 2019 Migraine World Summit. 

According the Migraine World Summit’s website ,”The Migraine World Summit is a virtual event that brings together over 32 top experts including doctors and specialists, to share new treatments, research and strategies, for migraine and chronic headache.”

Dr. Joshi will be presenting on “Drug Interactions and Side Effects from Common Drugs.”

Registration is required to take part in this event, please visit the Migraine World Summit’s website for more details. 

What is Multiple Sclerosis? – Facebook Live Recap

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) affects 1 million people in the United States, affecting two to three times more women than men. Over the past 10 years there have been significant developments in the treatment of MS. Director of the DENT Multiple Sclerosis Center, Dr. Bennett Myers, discussed what multiple sclerosis is, and how recent advancements in medication are changing the prognosis for those diagnosed with MS.

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that affects the central nervous system, brain and spinal cord. MS commonly starts in young adulthood, with onset in a person’s 20s and 30s, however MS can occur at any age.

“Although the cause of MS is unclear, it seems to be auto-immune, meaning that the body’s immune system is attacking something it shouldn’t be. In this case, the covering of nerves cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing the neurologic symptoms of MS,” said Dr. Myers.

Two Forms of MS

At the time of diagnosis there are two forms of MS. Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS) and Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (PPMS). 85 percent of people with MS will be diagnosed with RRMS, however sometimes RRMS will convert to secondary progressive MS over time.

“In RRMS, people will develop a neurologic symptom that comes on over the course of a few hours to days, then will generally improve over the course of days to months,” said Dr. Myers.

Symptoms of RRMS can include numbness or tingling, weakness in one arm or one leg, or one entire side of the body. Symptoms can also be visual, a person may see double, or lose vision in one eye. Symptoms can also be more subtle, a person may feel very tired, or like their balance is off, it may be harder to think or to find the right words.

“It is also important to note that unfortunately, a person does not always recover fully after each ‘flare’ of MS,” added Dr. Myers. “When there is inflammation affecting the brain or the spinal cord it does damage. Overtime, this can cause disability, weakness issues, and can affect thinking and memory.”

Primary Progressive MS, the second form of MS, is categorized as a slow gradual accumulation of neurologic disability. This form mostly shows up later in a person’s life, most commonly in the 40s or 50s.

“Many people with PPMS will associate their symptoms with aging. When people are finally diagnosed with PPMS, it is often because something drastic as changed, they may be too weak to climb a flight of stairs, or they begin walking with a limp,” added Dr. Myers

MS Treatment: Treating Symptoms and MS

“When it comes to treating MS, we often talk about treating symptoms,” said Dr. Myers. “If people have pain or fatigue issues, spasticity issues, or even mood issues – depression, anxiety—we certainly treat those symptoms. If you actually have an attack or flare we typically treat that with high doses steroids.”

Disease Modifying Therapies, are medicines that are aimed at treating the underlying disease. In this case these are the medicines that will directly treat the multiple sclerosis by preventing relapses, therefore preventing the disease from getting worse.

“When I was in medical school, back in the mid-1990s, neurologists would tell me don’t go in to multiple sclerosis, there’s nothing you can do for it. That is completely different from how it is now. Now we have so many treatments that have been shown effective in slowing down this disease,” said Dr. Myers. 

To learn more about the current medications that are used to treat multiple sclerosis, check out the entire presentation from Dr. Myers below: 

The content of this post is intended for general educational and informational purposes only; it does not constitute medical advice.  Readers should always consult with a licensed healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment.

What to Expect At Your Sleep Study

In a study from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 38 percent of adults living in New York reported getting less than the recommended seven hours of sleep per night. The CDC identifies daily sufficient sleep as one of the five key health behaviors for preventing chronic disease. 

“Poor sleep can lead to an increased risk for multiple medical issues, in addition to feeling poorly the next day. Depending on the cause, poor sleep can increase your risk for heart attack, stroke and other medical issues, just as much as untreated high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and cigarette smoking,” said Director of the DENT Sleep Center, Dr. Marc Frost.

Insufficient sleep can be caused by a number of factors, many of which can be attributed to lifestyle habits such as late night electronic use or an inconsistent bedtime routine. However, in some instances poor sleep can be caused by a medical condition that must be diagnosed and treated by a medical professional. The first step in identifying if you have a sleep disorder is to consult with your primary care provider to decide if you should participate in a sleep study.

For many, a sleep study can seem overwhelming and intimidating. We asked Doug Lukaszewski, a sleep technician in the DENT Sleep Center, commonly asked questions about sleep studies, to clear up some of the common misconceptions surrounding the diagnostic test. 

1. Do I need a referral from my provider for a sleep study?

Yes, the DENT Sleep Center does require a referral from a physician. Once the DENT Sleep Center team has received the referral, they will seek authorization from the insurance company prior to scheduling.

2.  What Should I Bring to a Sleep Study? 

 All you need to bring to your sleep study are clothes to sleep in.

“Whether it is pajamas or shorts and a T-shirt, something you feel comfortable in will work best. Please do however, make sure whatever you bring to wear is appropriate,” said Lukaszewski.

Additionally, bring all medications that you usually take at night, none will be provided for you. Pillows and blankets are supplied, however you are welcome to bring one with you. 

It is important to remember to take everything you bring to the lab home with you. All the DENT Sleep Center rooms have a restroom that include a shower. If you intend to take a shower in the morning, towels, body wash, and shampoo are provided. Other toiletries are also provided (toothpaste, toothbrush, combs.) 

3. What time do sleep studies normally begin?

Patients are asked to arrive by 8:30 pm and upon arrival are escorted to their private rooms. After paperwork is completed, the sleep technician will apply all of the devices needed to monitor your bio information while sleeping, this process usually takes around 30 minutes. 

Patient should expect to be in bed anytime between 10:00-11:00 pm, and awakened at 5:30 am. 

4. Is there an alternative to having a sleep study done in the sleep lab or office?

The DENT Sleep Center does perform home sleep studies. At home sleep studies are very simple and utilize easy to use devices. Patients are taught how to use the device, to use for their sleep study that night. Information is stored on the device while you are sleeping and is downloaded by the technician. The information is then interpreted by a physician who specializes in sleep disorders. 

5. What are a few common conditions that would bring a person into the Sleep Center?

  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • insomnia
  • narcolepsy
  • periodic limb movements
  • somnambulism (sleep walking)
  • REM behavioral disorder

6. What happens if you can’t fall asleep?

Although the vast majority of patients do get a sufficient sleep in the office, a very small amount do not sleep. In this case, the physician can order another study or the patient can try an at home sleep study.

“Keep in mind the home sleep study devices are intended to almost exclusively diagnose sleep apnea, so there are limitations as to what it can do,” added Lukaszweski. 

The content of this post is intended for general educational and informational purposes only; it does not constitute medical advice.  Readers should always consult with a licensed healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment.

Ease Up On Electronics Before Bed – Your Brain Will Thank You

For many, scrolling through Facebook or Twitter in bed is just part of the nightly routine. However, studies show these activities, especially social media use, can be disruptful to the recovery processes that occur during sleep. 

We sat down with Director of the DENT Sleep Center, Dr. Marc Frost, who discussed the importance of turning off electronics before bed, and shared best practices for getting a good night’s sleep. 

Why is it important to “power down” before bed?

Sleep is an important way for the brain to recover from a day of critical thinking and decision making. Electronics use before bed stimulates the brain, making it difficult to fall asleep, therefore delaying and disrupting the recovery process. 

“Winding down before bed gives the brain a chance to start decompressing from all the activities of the day,” said Dr. Marc Frost. “Electronics that require active involvement like Facebook or Instagram, are too stimulating and require too much attention to allow you and your brain to properly wind down.”

In addition to over stimulation, electronics emit blue light that promotes wakefulness, counteracting the natural transition to sleep. 

“The light involved with the electronics can potentially lead to a decrease in natural melatonin levels. Melatonin is produced by the brain in the evening as it starts getting darker, working with your circadian rhythms to help induce sleep,” said Dr. Frost. “Bright lights prevent this.”

Dr. Frost added that while many electronics do have some type of night mode which attempt to change light frequencies, it is not an ideal or long-term solution.

Best Practices For Unplugging Before Bed

1. Limit significant physical activity (including exercise,) too close to bedtime. Exercise can have an energizing effect, making it difficult to fall asleep if done too close to bedtime. 

2. Avoid caffeine within several hours of bedtime. Some people are sensitive enough that consuming caffeine after dinner time or even after lunch can have negative effects on their ability to fall asleep. 

3. Limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol can be very disruptive to the sleep cycle. 

5. Limit the use of video games before bed. Video games are very stimulating because they rely on active involvement.

6. Get into routine! Make a habit of doing relaxing activities before bedtime so the brain will learn a relaxing pattern that signifies bedtime. These activities may include taking a warm bath or reading a book. 

The content of this post is intended for general educational and informational purposes only; it does not constitute medical advice.  Readers should always consult with a licensed healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment.