4 tips how to avoid insomnia

Insomnia and Depression are extremely common forms of mental disease affecting millions of people around the world.[1] Insomnia represents the most common sleep disorder and can affect people as a primary or secondary disorder associated with other disease processes. Depression is frequently associated with insomnia and many researchers debate the causal linkage between insomnia, depression, and a host of other physical and mental ailments.[2]

“People suffering from depression and insomnia should seek medical consultation to work toward uncovering all the causal factors that may be contributing to their symptoms. Many patients refuse to acknowledge that they are experiencing these symptoms and fail to work toward a diagnosis and solution with their physician.”

1. Eat a healthy diet

One of the first things an individual should do is ensure they are eating a healthy and appropriate diet, regularly exercising, working to maintain an ideal body weight, removing burdensome stressors from their lives, and creating a restful sleeping environment.

2. Avoid coffee and cigarettes

Drinking caffeinated and alcoholic beverages near bedtime can lead to poor sleep; leaving the person lethargic and fatigued the next day. The half-life for caffeine is 5.7 hours and therefore if you have a cup of coffee or other caffeinated drink it takes almost 6 hours to remove only half of the caffeine from your body.[3] Nicotine abuse has also been linked to insomnia as has been reported in tobacco users.[4]

3. Do regular exercise

Regular exercise has been proven to help treat insomnia and it doesn’t have to be the regimen of an elite athlete. Moderate exercise a few times per week can be all that is needed to get a better night sleep.[5] Obesity has been associated as a causal factor in some forms of sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, and therefore maintaining an ideal body weight is an important factor in good sleep hygiene [6].

4. Avoid stress

Stressful work environments can lead to anxiety and insomnia, so working to clear worrisome “to-do lists” and learning how to set limits is crucial if one is to sleep well.[7] A thoughtful sleep environment is key to allow for a restful night sleep, including reducing distracting noise, minimizing light, and setting an appropriate room temperature.[8]

Working to ensure you have good night’s sleep can be the first step in treating insomnia and reducing potentially associated symptoms of depression. These symptoms, if persistent, warrant a consultation with your physician to ensure a metabolic, psychological, or other disease process is not responsible.



[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2504337/

[2] http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7361718

[4] http://sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/content/what-causes-insomnia

[5] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21717814

[6] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1389945710002868

[7] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/smi.2460080103/abstract

[8] http://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/docs/Info-sleep%20hygiene.pdf

Back pain symptoms and diagnosis

Low back pain is the most common cause for medical consultation worldwide. Low back pain may be acute or chronic, with the latter being defined as pain that lasts greater than 3 months. One study[1] has indicated that 85% of adults will experience incapacitating back pain at some point in their lives.

Low back pain is frequently reported as the most frequent cause of disability; it reduces quality of life by hindering work responsibilities and limiting many other life activities. Back pain is most commonly attributed to degenerative disease though many other pathologic states may be the cause. Some of these include trauma, renal stones, pancreatitis, aneurysm, cancer, inflammatory arthritis, scoliosis, infection, metabolic syndromes, and developmental malformations.

Degenerative changes of the spine frequently occur at the disk space between the vertebral bodies or between the posterior elements of the vertebra. The disks are like shock absorbers for the spine; they distribute forces equally and transfer them to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments along the spine. The posterior elements server as anchors for muscles and maintain bilateral joints at each level for movement of the spine.

Patient with both degenerative changes and Paget’s disease.

The spinal cord and spinal nerves protected by the spine can become compressed by degenerative changes leading to pain. Disk tears and inflammatory changes of the bones and surrounding soft tissues are commonly associated with pain.

“There are many treatments for back pain ranging from conservative care to minimally invasive interventions and even open surgery.”

Knowing all the potential causes of back pain is essential to tailoring an effective treatment plan and alleviating pain. Some medical reports only describe glaring abnormalities when in fact those may or may not represent pain generators. If spine imaging has been performed a second opinion from a fellowship trained specialist may be considered prior to any intervention as a second opinion may help identify occult causes of pain.

[1] http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-97-058.html