Weighted blankets: what are the benefits, and do they work?

November 2019

“The science behind weighted blankets points to a ‘cocooning’ benefit which may elevate feelings for comfort and relaxation,possibly through an increase in oxytocin, a powerful bonding hormone,” says Alex Dimitriu, M.D., a physician who is board certified in psychiatry and sleep medicine and the founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine. “Additionally, adults may have maintained an association between being swaddled in infanthood and relaxing, which may even go back to our days in the womb.”

Click HERE for the full article.

She Thought Antidepressants Would Treat Her Depression. They Didn’t

By Leah Campbell, 11/5/19

“In most cases, 4 to 6 weeks on a therapeutic dose of an antidepressant is enough time to assess if the medication is working,” said Dr. Alex Dimitriu, who is double board certified in psychiatry and sleep medicine.  He made a point of explaining that’s only for therapeutic doses, though. “Indeed, most doctors will appropriately start with lower doses to minimize side effects. But these doses may not be effective, and hence not count toward the 4–6 week time period to assess full response,” he said. He also pointed out that some evidence suggests anxiety disorders may take even longer for medications to become effective.

Click HERE for the full article.

Light flashes plus cognitive behavior therapy can increase teens’ sleep time

By Marilynn Larkin, New York (Reuters Health) October 4, 2019

Dr. Alex Dimitriu, a psychiatrist and sleep medicine specialist in Menlo Park, California, commented by email, “For phase 1, CBT was done over the phone, while in phase 2, CBT was done in person, in the lab; it would be interesting to see what is the ‘minimum’ amount of CBT, via phone or in-person, that would still be effective.” “It would also be interesting to dive into the CBT interventions further, and see which components were most powerful when combined with light therapy,” he told Reuters Health.

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A Patient’s Guide to Pregnancy Insomnia

By Elaine K. Howley, Contributor, Sept. 11, 2019

The simple logistics of growing another human inside your belly leads to a lot of structural changes in the body, which may mean your normal sleeping positions are no longer comfortable. For example, if you prefer to sleep on your stomach, as your pregnancy progresses, you may not be able to assume that sleeping position. This can disrupt your ability to sleep and may make it difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position. Dimitriu says these structural changes in your body are one of the biggest reasons why pregnant women experience insomnia. “Being larger and trying to sleep with a big belly can be challenging.”

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What to Know About Sexsomnia, a Rare Sleep Disorder Where You Have Sex in Your Sleep

By Morgan Mandriota, August 19, 2019

What triggers sexsomnia? Basically anything that disrupts a normal, healthy sleep pattern—such as drinking alcohol or consuming caffeine too close to bedtime. Maintaining an irregular sleep schedule or not getting enough sleep can led to sexsomnia as well, Alex Dimitriu, MD, who is double board-certified in psychiatry and sleep medicine and the founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine in New Jersey, tells Health. Less commonly, sleep apnea, seizures, or a condition called REM behavior disorder can also contribute, he explains.

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How to Recover From a Nightmare

By Elizabeth Yuko, August 15, 2019

In fact, it’s that “realness” of dreams that causes us to continue to experience feelings from the dream—whether that’s joy, sadness, fear or anxiety—upon waking. “There is some theory that we process emotions and feelings in dreams, and in some cases if the emotions are too strong, we wake up, and never get to ‘process’ these thoughts,” Dimitriu explains. “This is believed to be the case with PTSD, and why people with PTSD continue to suffer and wake with disturbing nightmares by night, and flashbacks by day.”

Click HERE for the full article.


By Erin Magner, AUGUST 12, 2019

But why do people sleepwalk, anyway? Sleep medicine specialist Alex Dimitriu, MD, says it falls under the category of “parasomnia”—essentially, a glitch in a person’s sleep cycle. “These states occur when something disturbs our normal sleep depth,” says Dr. Dimitriu. “When this happens, the person awakens partially, in between sleep and wake.”

Click HERE for the full article.

Will a Weighted Blanket Improve Your Sleep? Experts weigh in on the heavy covers.

by Emma Stessman, August 2019

The problem is, weighted blankets are often made with plastic pellets or glass beads, and all that extra weight can make things hot. “The body’s ability to cool off naturally at night allows us to enter deeper, more refreshing sleep,” says Alex Dimitriu, MD, a psychiatrist and founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine. A heavy blanket can easily interrupt that, he says. To counter those effects, you should maintain a cool room temperature and choose a blanket with a breathable material. Companies like Gravity and Luxome offer “cooling” blankets, made with moisture-wicking and thermal-controlled materials to help things stay at a sleep-worthy temp.

Click HERE for the full article.

Treating Insomnia Outside the (Black) Box

Elaine K. Howley, July 29, 2019

Although nonmedical interventions have long been at the top of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommendations, at least one expert hopes the warnings will encourage practitioners to consider alternatives to the commonly prescribed sedative-hypnotic drugs. “Oftentimes, the hypnotic ‘Z’ drugs, such as zolpidem, are a Band-Aid or cosmetic fix for something more involved,” says Alex Dimitriu, MD, a sleep medicine specialist in Menlo Park, California.

Click HERE for the full article.

Am I Depressed or Just Exhausted?

July 23, 2019, by Risa Kerslake

“Sleep is the tip of the iceberg for our mind’s state,” Dimitriu explains. “People find it much easier to notice sleep is off because it is objective, thus it truly opens the door to investigating if something else is wrong.”

Click HERE for the full article.

What People With Bipolar Disorder Need to Know About Exercise

Christine Coppa, July 19, 2019

Also important to stress: “If someone is in the midst of a bipolar manic or depressed episode, most non-medical interventions, including exercise, will not be enough to help, and should never be relied upon as treatment,” says Alex Dimitriu, M.D., a double board-certified psychiatrist and sleep-medicine specialist in Menlo Park, CA.

Click HERE for the full article.

REM sleep can reset your brain after an upsetting event

By Tracey Anne Duncan, 7/18/19

“REM sleep is considered a time when the brain can process emotional memories, and ‘pack them away,” says Alex Dimitriu, a psychiatrist and sleep specialist at Menlo Park Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine in the San Francisco Bay Area. “When everything is working well, we experience unpleasant — and pleasant — situations, and our brains ‘rehearse’ and process these memories through the night. Like the process of therapy, which REM sleep has been compared to, this helps consolidate and safely store these experiences.”

Click HERE for the full article.

Why You Don’t Sleep as Well on Vacation—Plus, What to Do About It

By Krissy Brady, Updated: July 16, 2019

Because sleep is such a rhythmic activity, travel can easily send our natural rhythms off the rails, says Alex Dimitriu, MD, founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine in California. And this is true even if you’re not switching time zones in the process.

The combination of being in a new environment and the disruption to your go-to routines can make chilling out in general a challenge, but especially at night—changes in ambient temperature, bedding, noises, and even smells tend to keep us alert instead of sleeping easy.

Click HERE for the full article.

Cannabis and Mental Health: Schizophrenia

July 11, 2019, by  Andrew Ward

Dr. Alex Dimitriu is a double board-certified in Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine and founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine. In response to this article, Dr. Dimitriu explained what the effects of psychosis are like on a person. “Psychosis is defined as having false beliefs (often called delusions) and seeing or hearing things that are not real (hallucinations). In a psychotic state, people may appear disorganized, confused, paranoid, almost as if they were tripping on something (like LSD, or magic mushrooms).”

Click HERE for the full article from High Times.

Experts Decode These 7 Common Anxiety Dreams

by Elizabeth Yuko, Jul 10, 2019

Our brains do some interesting things while we sleep, and we are designed to often forget the content of our dreams, Dr. Alex Dimitriu, who is double board-certified in psychiatry and sleep medicine and the founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine, tells SheKnows. So what actually happens in our heads while we sleep? According to Dimitriu, a lot: Memories get sorted and stored, we free up new space to learn, we problem solve and connect known facts to form “revelations” and our entire brain gets a power wash by the glymphatic system, to essentially clean up the busiest organ of the body. 

Click HERE for the full article on SheKnows.