How Food Can Affect Your Sleep

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SHARON M. O’BRIEN, MPAS, PA-C February 18, 2016

I have often been asked by patients about the relationship of food and sleep. There are various articles on the internet that suggest eating foods like bananas and cherries before bed can help promote better slumber. I even have a coworker that swears that her glass of cherry juice puts her right to sleep. Can I say for sure that these things are helpful? Well, I guess it is up to the patient. However, what I can say is that there is research that suggests that what you eat in the evening can influence your sleep.

We probably have all experienced feeling sleepy after eating a high-carbohydrate meal, so we know that food has an effect on our bodies. Researchers now have evidence that fiber and sugar eaten before bed can affect the different stages of sleep.

In the study, meals were provided to participants 3 times daily, with the evening meal at 7:00 pm. The diet contained 31% of energy from fat, 53% of energy from carbohydrates, and 17% of energy from protein. Sleep was assessed each night by polysomnogram. The participants also had an opportunity eat whatever they wanted for 2 days of eating for comparison.

The results showed that higher fiber intake was associated with decreased time in stage 1 sleep, our lightest stage of sleep, and an increased time in slow wave sleep, which is our most restorative sleep. Higher saturated fat intake was associated with decreased time in slow wave sleep. Both sugar and non-sugar/non-fiber carbohydrates were associated with more nocturnal arousals.

Given these findings, a diet rich in fiber with reduced intake of sugar and non-fiber carbohydrates may help a patient sleep better. So, thinking about our bananas and cherries again, I’m not sure they would fit the criteria. Both bananas and cherries have fiber, but they also have a considerable amount of sugar. Bananas have 3 grams of fiber and 19 grams of sugar, and cherries have 13 grams of fiber and 18 grams of sugar. Although it may not sound as appealing, cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage are great sources of fiber. These might be better suggestions for your patients if they want to improve their sleep!

References

St-Onge MP, Roberts A, Shechter A, Choudhury AR. Fiber and saturated fat are associated with sleep arousals and slow wave sleep. J Clin Sleep Med 2016;12(1):19–24.

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Headache

Can An Unconventional Piercing Rid You of Migraine Pain?

 

How is Neuropathy Diagnosed?

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Peripheral neuropathy is nerve damage or dysfunction that is present in the hands or feet. Is is generally suspected by a medical provider when deficits in temperature, pain, and vibratory sensation exist. Nerve conduction studies and electromyography studies are used to diagnose neuropathy.

Nerve conduction studies measure the speed of conduction of an electrical impulse through a nerve. This procedure may be performed by a trained medical technician or medical provider. NCS involves the placement of electrodes on the extremity to be tested, then a small amount of electricity is applied to detect nerve conductivity. This is typically not painful.

Electromyography measures muscle response or electrical activity in response to a nerve’s stimulation of the muscle. This procedure is usually performed by a medical provider. EMG involves the insertion of fine needles into at least one muscle in the extremity to be tested. This may cause mild pain during needle insertion, but is generally not a painful procedure.

Generally, both procedures are done in sequence for comprehensive nerve conduction testing.  If nerve conduction tests demonstrate slowed conduction or nerve dysfunction, then investigation is necessary to determine the underlying cause of damage.  Generally, it is necessary to perform blood tests, and a complete history and physical examination to ascertain the etiology.

Some information obtained from http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/test_procedures/neurological/electromyography_emg_92,p07656/.

Mediterranean Diet May Preserve Brain Structural Connectivity

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The Mediterranean diet may help preserve structural connectivity in the brain in older adults, results of a French study hint.

Greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with preserved microstructure in extensive areas of the white matter up to a decade later, the study team found. And this appeared to be related to strong cognitive benefit, equal to up to 10 years of delayed cognitive aging for those with the greatest adherence, they say.

 “This is to our knowledge the first study investigating the associations of the Mediterranean diet to brain structure in humans, focusing not only on grey matter volume but also on white matter architecture (a more novel marker of brain health),” Cecilia Samieri, PhD, from University of Bordeaux, France, told Medscape Medical News. To read more http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/849205#vp_1

Do you suffer from painful or numb feet? Tingling hands?

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If so, you have symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. What is peripheral neuropathy? Neuropathy is nerve damage, resulting from local insult to the nerves or systemic factors. Peripheral means that extremities are affected i.e., hands and feet.

Symptoms include:

  • Burning
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Pins and needles sensation
  • Stabbing, sharp pains
  • Decreased temperature perception
  • Aching feet or hands
  • Decreased sensitivity to painful stimulus

Causes of peripheral neuropathy include:

  • Undiagnosed or poorly controlled Diabetes Mellitus
  • Nerve damage or compression r/t surgical repair or injury
  • Thyroid or other autoimmune diseases
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Exposure to heavy metals and environmental toxins
  • Genetic factors

It is important to diagnose neuropathy early, investigate the cause, and initiate treatment to halt and in many cases reverse nerve damage. Long-term consequences of untreated peripheral neuropathy include:

  • Progressive disability from pain
  • Trouble walking and falls
  • Slow healing wounds progressing to infection
  • Amputations
  • Decreased mobility
  • Decreased quality of life
  • Premature death

Peripheral neuropathy can be diagnosed through a brief office consultation and nerve conduction testing (takes approx. 30 minutes).  KCA Neurology providers will educate you concerning your diagnosis and initiate a comprehensive treatment plan.  At KCA, our ultimate goal is to improve your quality of life by improving mobility and decreasing pain.

 

KCA Neurology
4323 Carothers Pkwy, Williamson Tower, Ste. 609
Franklin, TN 37067
615-550-1800

 

Anxiety

  
Worried that you worry too much? Everyone worries or gets scared sometimes. But feeling extremely worried or afraid much of the time, or repeatedly feel panicky, may be signs of an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders include panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. They are among the most common mental illnesses, affecting roughly 40 million American adults. A person has an anxiety disorder if she or he has persistent worry for more days than not, for at least several months. Some people with anxiety feel they have always been worriers, even since childhood or adolescence. In other people, anxiety comes on suddenly, triggered by a crisis or a period of stress, such as the loss of a job, a family illness, the death of a relative, or other tragedy.

Numerous therapies can help control anxiety. These include psychotherapy and medication, ideally supported by good nutrition, sleep, and regular exercise. People who are anxious tend to reach for unhealthy “comfort” food—and then worry about it. Or they completely avoid food, skipping meals or even fasting—and worry that something is wrong, such as an undiagnosed cancer. Healthy eating can avoid these anxiety triggers.

Not getting enough sleep can boost a person’s anxiety level. On the flip side, getting enough sleep can help control stress and anxiety. So can getting regular exercise—aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days a week.

Taken from http://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/anxiety