Sleep Answers

Can worry raise blood pressure?

Worry is a natural part of everyday life for a lot of us that can’t be avoided.  Worry is an emotion that has several reactions in the body.  While these reactions in the body differ from person to person, one common reaction is increased blood pressure.  One simple reason for this is that we tend to increase our heart rate when we are worried.  For example, if I am worried about a job interview that is really important to me, I might naturally feel a fast heart rate and maybe could even hear my heart rate so fast.  Higher heart rates are naturally associated with higher blood pressure.  Another symptom of worry that is really common and can cause a rise in blood pressure is a disruption to sleep.  Some people suffer from restless sleep after falling asleep, others suffer from not falling asleep, and some suffer from both.  Whatever the case may be, a lack of sleep is closely connected with your body’s overall health. Therefore, if you are losing sleep because of being worried, that can easily increase your blood pressure.  This is especially true if this goes unaddressed and you continue to lose more and more sleep.  When we get worried, it is really common to struggle with our eating habits.  Some people react to worry by eating less, and some react to worry by eating more.  When people react to worry by eating more, they tend to make poorer choices about the foods that they are eating.  Poorer food choices, such as foods higher in fat content, higher in sugar content, and higher in sodium content, can cause an increase in your blood pressure. On that same note, when people are worried, they sometimes drink alcohol and/or smoke more.  People that do not drink alcohol might even drink more drinks that are higher in sugar content.  All of these optioThesease someone’s blood pressure over time if they are not consuming them in moderation.
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 05/10/2021

Why Alzheimer’s patients sleep so much?

Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disease that results in dementia symptoms. Alzheimer’s is responsible for the majority of dementia diagnoses given. While the condition is different for each person who experiences it, the disease tends to advance systematically. Scientists believe that the condition is caused by the buildup of proteins in the brain. These proteins are called plaques and tangles. The formations of plaques and tangles block brain cells from absorbing needed nutrients and interrupt their ability to communicate with one another. This results in the symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease, and brain cells eventually begin to die. Over time the disease results in atrophy or a loss of mass in the brain overall as cells continue to die. Alzheimer’s advances in particular stages. The earlier symptoms are memory and cognitive-related. Difficulty recalling words or names in the beginning, is common. In the middle stage, which may last for many years, memory issues become more severe. Wandering and becoming lost and difficulty remembering personal history and events and personal information like home address are common during this stage. In the later stage of Alzheimer’s, the loss of motor abilities like walking, swallowing, and talking are impacted by the damage to the brain’s cells. Sleep issues are common in the later stages of Alzheimer’s. The patient may begin to sleep at odd hours and more often. This occurs for a few reasons. The damage caused by the disease leads to an increase in exhaustion over time. This extreme tiredness causes the need to sleep. Some of the medications that may be used to treat mood issues that are often experienced with Alzheimer’s can cause sleepiness and increase sleep. Increased sleeping can signify that the disease is progressing, but if you notice any changes in your loved one with Alzheimer’s, talk with their medical provider for guidance. People in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease are more prone to infection. They may struggle with communicating, so they may have trouble communicating pain or other symptoms to you or other care providers. This makes it important to talk with the doctor involved if there are any sudden changes in symptoms or behavior. If you have concerns about Alzheimer’s symptoms, talk with your doctor or your loved one’s doctor. You can also contact the Alzheimer’s Helpline at 1-800-272-3900.
(MS., CMHC., NCC.)
Answered on 05/06/2021

When Do Alzheimer’s Patients Sleep A Lot?

Until a few years ago, doctors were not overly clear as to why people with Alzheimer’s needed to sleep so often. However, research does show a correlation between people that had a neurodegenerative disease and an increased need to sleep during the day could be at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s. In the past few years, new research has come out from the University of San Francisco, along with some other institutions, showing patients with Alzheimer’s have brain cell loss in the brain areas responsible for keeping us awake. According to the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Journal, a protein in the brain called tau can trigger these brain responses if too much is being released. These proteins can disrupt communication between the brain cells or neurons and affect cell health. [Retrieved from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326073.] When a person enters the later stage of dementia, they become weaker due to the excessive damage to their brain, and increased sleeping is a symptom of that. Daily tasks such as eating, talking, or engaging in what is going on around them are overwhelming and exhausting, so they will sleep more as their symptoms become more severe. Patients with Alzheimer’s usually take many different medications, and some of those could contribute to them feeling groggy or tired as well. If you feel the medication is causing these symptoms, it is important to discuss those concerns with the patient’s doctors. Alzheimer’s can impact everyone a little bit differently. For some, their sleep patterns can become reversed where they sleep all day and stay up all night, or others have a hard time distinguishing between night and day, or they wake in the middle of the night and cannot go back to sleep. Therefore they need to nap during the day. Most people that have Alzheimer’s may be sleeping anywhere from 10- 15 hours a day. However, it most likely is not a good sleep quality, as they do not get enough of the slow-wave sleep needed to help the body and brain recovery. [Retrieved from: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/blog/is-it-typical-people-dementia-sleep-lot-during-day] There is still so much to learn about Alzheimer’s and its overall impact on the brain. There is a lot of new research and treatment options that can help improve the quality of life. It is always important to discuss these options with a doctor to know all of your treatment options.
(M.ED, LPC)
Answered on 04/29/2021

Which mindfulness measures to choose to use?

Mindfulness is the practice of just being in the moment, embracing what is instead of what was or what will be.  There are various ways mindfulness can be implemented, including focusing on elements of experience within the body, outside of the body or a combination of both.  Popular methods that focus on internal perceptions and bodily sensations are typically breathwork and body scanning.  Breathwork involves focusing on the sensations of inhaling and exhaling, whereas body scanning is about slowly noticing feelings occurring in the body from head to toe.  Focusing on the body and breath is usually best suited for those most comfortable with being internally receptive or those who would benefit from enhanced awareness of bodily feelings (i.e., building awareness of hunger signals, connecting to the self, etc.).  Sometimes focusing inward allows for a sense of grounding or stability in situations or circumstances in which external aspects of the environment are too overwhelming or bring stress. Connecting to elements outside the body may be more helpful or appropriate for other people.  Practices here may include tuning into sounds, smells, sights, etc., bringing awareness to the external vs. internal environment.  Some people are not ready to confront feelings and emotions that can arise in focusing on the body, so putting the spotlight on the environment can be a helpful adaptation to being mindful.  Because there are so many things outside of us to pay attention to, the directions this technique can go in are endless.  For some, a combination of both can be used and/or effective in connecting to the present moment.  No matter what process is used to implement mindfulness, the person should feel safe (enough) to use it without feeling destabilized or panicked.  One of the great things about mindfulness is that you can adapt it in any way you choose—so if you are worried about what it may feel like, you can start by using it in small increments (around 1-2 minutes) to test the waters.   If it feels doable, you can continue to use it however it feels best.  If it feels unsafe or overwhelming, you can either modify how you use it or use a different technique altogether.  You always have the power to choose what fits your life best!
Answered on 04/28/2021

Are mindfulness apps worth it?

Mindfulness is a great practice to bring you closer to your present experience through noticing emotions, thoughts, and sensations, nonjudgmentally.  Resources for mindfulness can be found on Youtube, mindfulness-based websites, and apps.  Because people gravitate to apps as a convenience, many apps have become available specifically for mindfulness practice. One of the most popular apps for mindfulness is called Calm.  Its free version provides the user with soundscapes, a few mindfulness-guided exercises, and breathing practices.  Its full version allows users to choose from many meditations, sleep stories, and music made for distinct settings or situations.  Having a variety of options can be beneficial as sometimes we need to focus on breathing, sometimes we want that calming background noise, and other times we need help falling asleep.  Calm also gives the user options to track their use and log moods before and after certain features. Headspace is another popular mindfulness app that has both free and paid versions.  It offers nearly the same features as Calm and movement-based techniques to recenter yourself or reduce anxiety.  As with the Calm app, there are many different options for meditation and mindfulness to choose from, including those focused on distinct emotions, situations, and goals for the day.  They have practices suited for people at different levels of meditation, making it an app that can provide for your individual needs. The great thing about apps is that you can usually set reminders to use their features.  This can help keep people on track with mindfulness goals and provides ease of access as the only thing you need is your phone.  Another benefit here is that if you don’t connect with one app, there are plenty more to choose from that may fit your needs better.   It may take some trial and error, but it only takes one to find the right fit! For some people, apps aren’t helpful, or premium versions are not affordable.  Other options include www.mindfulnessexercises.com, www.mindful.org, and other sites specific to the practice.  Finding what works for you is an important and necessary part of meeting your own needs!
Answered on 04/27/2021

What should I do when worry keeps me awake?

Thank you for your question, reader. Losing sleep over your worries can certainly be disruptive and add to your overall worry. Hopefully, practicing the tips discussed here will help you feel like you have some tools at hand the next time you find yourself unable to sleep because your mind won’t turn off. One common mistake that people make when they can’t sleep is to keep laying in bed, willing your mind to turn off so that you can rest. In fact, one of the best things we can do for worry is to help your mind disrupt that process of worrying. It is recommended that you leave your bed, and even better, the room that you sleep in, and do something else for about 10-15 minutes. However, don’t distract yourself with screens, like on the phone, unless you have blue-light blockers. Light can be stimulating for your brain, making it harder to prepare for rest. You could try drinking some herbal tea or warm milk, reading a good book, listening to calm music, or completing a small chore. After that period of time, try laying back down to see if you are feeling any more tired. If you cannot fall asleep within 15 minutes or so, you should get back up again. Another tool that can be beneficial is to give yourself a set time to journal about what is on your mind, again about 10 to 15 minutes. At the end of that time, tell yourself to stop thinking about it until the morning. Tell yourself there is nothing productive that you can do about any of this worry until the daytime. Sometimes, the brain goes over and over things in an attempt to store them in memory; allowing yourself to make a record of the worry to keep until the morning can help. Another practice to help disrupt the worry process is to do a short mindfulness practice that helps to refocus your attention onto sleep or rest. There are many scripted exercises available on the Internet that you can close your eyes and listen to. I recommend searching for keywords like “mindfulness with deep breathing” or “mindfulness practice for sleep.” If you often find yourself suffering from insomnia, it could help you speak with a mental health professional about the uncontrollable worry you are having.
Answered on 04/21/2021

How to deal with insomnia anxiety and depression

Thank-you for reaching out to better help for assistance. I look forward to assisting you. Sounds like you are saying you fall asleep but you wake up in the middle of the night and than you have trouble going back to sleep. Sounds like it becomes more difficult with your anxiety and depression.  I would suggest you get a good physical check up with your medical doctor, to make sure everything is okay physically and see what the medical doctor would suggest. I am sure this is frustrating that you wake up in the middle of the night and than can't get back to sleep. That is a horrible feeling to be lying in bed and not be able to go to sleep. I am sure this makes you more anxious and depressed. Are you taking any medication for your depression and anxiety. If you are, talk with your doctor about possible side effects for these medications. Also are you having dreams or nightmares at night, when you go to sleep. Nightmares and dreams could make it harder to back to sleep. Also you want to have a good sleep hygiene program. You can talk to a medical doctor about a good sleep hygiene program, google one and I will talk about it here some. For good sleep hygiene, you want to have a comfortable and relaxing place to go to sleep, no caffeine or eating after a certain time, prior to bed. You don't want to be looking at a computer screen alot prior to bed. The blue light can affect your sleep. You want to practice some good relaxation skills. Some good relaxation skills are deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. With deep breathing, just breath in deeply through your nose, hold for 4 seconds and blow out your mouth. This will get good oxygen to your brain. Oxygen is food for your brain. With progressive muscle relaxation you will get a good deep sleep. I would suggest trying this one. You can download a 15 minute progressive muscle relaxation video, on you tube, lie down on your bed or somewhere else, close your eyes and listen to the person talking your through the progressive muscle relaxation exercise. People say it puts them to sleep and it is a good deep sleep. It also takes away headaches. I would suggest you try both of these relaxation tips but really try the progressive muscle relaxation exercise. I wish you the best and look forward to hearing from you. Thank-you for allowing me to assist you with this problem. 
(LPC, NCC, MS)
Answered on 01/22/2021