Why Am I Waking Up with Headaches? A Sleep Expert Helps Us Save Our Morning

By Lindsay Champion | Mar. 1, 2021

Sleep apnea. This is one of the most common causes of morning headaches. Alex Dimitriu, MD, double board-certified in Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine and founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine, tells us. “This happens because the brain is starved of oxygen during periods of snoring, which leads to headaches.” Sleep apnea can be dangerous and may require a breathing assistance device, like a CPAP machine, so if you snore and frequently get headaches in the morning, get checked out by your doctor.

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Asked a Sleep Expert How to Sleep 8 Hours in 4 Hours (& If It’s Even Possible)

By Lindsay Champion, Feb. 23, 2021

We hate to break it to you, but you can’t. There is no shortcut for a good night’s sleep, says Alex Dimitriu, MD, double board-certified in Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine and founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine. “The body goes through specific stages of sleep, which we refer to as sleep architecture,” he explains. “We need a significant amount of deep sleep, and dream or REM sleep each night, and often to get enough of both, we need at least seven hours in bed.” That means there’s really no way to truly feel like you got eight hours of sleep (or experience the benefits) when you only got four. Sorry, friends.

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Asking Yourself ‘Why Don’t I Have Dreams?’ The Answer Might Surprise You

Jessica Estrada・February 21, 2021

Alex Dimitriu, MD, double board-certified in psychiatry and sleep medicine and founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine, adds dreams are very likely the brain’s way of working through problems, past events, as well as planning for the future. “Dreams allow us to connect loose concepts and ideas, and may also be a source of creativity and ingenuity,” he says. “They may also be a form of self-therapy, as the brain is able to process experiences and emotions and make sense of life events.” He says there’s also been a recent rise in research backing the belief that dreams are a type of psychedelic experience, which explains why dreams are powerful in emotional healing and growth. “Interestingly, the dreaming brain looks a lot like the psychedelic brain,” he says. “Both are able to make loose connections and come up with creative solutions.”

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Yes, you can overdose on melatonin — here’s how to find your proper dosage

By Erin Heger, Feb 12, 2021

It’s hard to say exactly how much melatonin is too much since there is no standardized dose, but it’s best to start with the lowest dose possible and work up from there, says Alex Dimitriu, MD, founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine in Menlo Park, California. There is no known lethal dose of melatonin and no reports of death from taking too much melatonin, Dimitriu says, but taking too much can disrupt your natural circadian rhythm and internal body clock, causing you to actually have more trouble falling asleep. 

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Is It Better to Sleep Without a Pillow? 2 Sleep Experts Weigh In

By Lindsay Champion Feb. 9, 2021

Pillows make sense if you think about it: “If you look at a person laying down, the shoulders are far wider than the head,” says sleep medicine expert Dr. Alex Dimitriu. “What this implies is that for anyone sleeping on their side, essentially, their shoulder gets in the way, and they need a place to rest their head so it doesn’t ‘hang’ in the air.” Another benefit of sleeping with a pillow? It can help you breathe more easily. “An advantage of pillows, besides comfort, is elevating the head above the body, so blood pools away from the head, and the airway can remain less congested,” adds Dr. Dimitriu.

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Could Sleep Anxiety Be to Blame for Your Tiredness?

By Dominique Michelle Astorino, February 01, 2021

Insomnia disorder is its own beast, according to Dr, Dimitriu. “Insomnia disorder (or psychophysiological insomnia ) is not a result of depression, anxiety, medical issues, or substances including alcohol, caffeine, or stimulants.” Rather it’s defined as trouble initiating or maintaining sleep or waking too early, three days per week or more over a period of at least three months, he explains. Insomnia disorder, aka chronic insomnia, is a long-term pattern of sleep difficulties that, as Dr. Dimitriu explains, aren’t necessarily a direct byproduct of anxiety. Then there’s acute or short-term insomnia, which is a brief episode (less than three months) of sleep loss brought on by factors such as sleep anxiety, grief, or job loss and typically improves as the patient copes with the stressors that originally brought on the sleep issues, according to SleepFoundation.org. Just as you can feel depressed but not have a clinical depressive disorder, you could experience insomnia symptoms, but not have chronic insomnia disorder.

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The best sunrise alarm clock in 2021

Suzy Hernandez Jan 29, 2021

Dr. Alex Dimitriu, founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine, told us that the gentle stimulus from sunrise alarm clocks starts getting the body out of deeper sleep stages, and closer to wakefulness. “Whether it’s a gradual sound or light alarm, wake-up lamps can help better prepare the body to wake up more gently, with less startle,” Dimitriu said.  

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How Long Does It Take to Fall Asleep? What’s Normal & What’s Totally Not, According to a Sleep Expert

By Alexia Dellner | Jan. 28, 2021

“Really short times to fall asleep (i.e., less than five minutes) often suggest significant sleepiness or sleep debt from insufficient sleep on prior nights,” Dr. Alex Dimitriu, MD from Menlo Park Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine tells us. Other signs that you’re sleep deprived include fatigue, irritability, mood changes, difficulty focusing, a weakened immune system and a reduced sex drive. If you’re lying in bed and struggling to fall asleep, when should you just give up and try something else? Dr. Dimitriu usually tells his patients to spend 20 minutes trying to fall asleep. “Clock watching is bad, as is getting stressed out about not sleeping in bed,” he explains. After about 20 minutes of not being able to fall asleep, you should get out of bed and do something relaxing like reading in a dimly lit room. When you feel sleepy, get back into bed and try it again.

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How a Full Moon May Affect Your Sleep

Written by George Citroner on January 27, 2021

Dr. Alex Dimitriu, who is double board-certified in psychiatry and sleep medicine, said the moon most likely exerts its effect by an increase in evening or nighttime light. This might suppress melatonin (a sleep hormone), which affects the onset and duration of sleep. “According to this study, it does seem that there is a significant delay and decrease in total sleep time on nights leading up to a full moon,” said Dimitriu, founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine.

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What Is Toxic Positivity, and Why Do Experts Say It’s Harmful?

January 21, 2021 by Jenna Wirth

“Toxic positivity is essentially the denial of negative feelings, a forced positive attitude that attempts to negate any negative sentiment,” Alex Dimitriu, MD, a double board-certified physician in psychiatry and sleep medicine and founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine, told POPSUGAR. “It’s telling someone ‘to cheer up’ or that their sadness or worry is not warranted or useful.” This unhealthy denial is harmful, he explained, because any defense that glosses over reality can be a dangerous thing. Not only does it have the potential to hurt people by discrediting their experience or feelings, but it can also hurt yourself by rejecting real information or feelings in favor of a positive facade. “It’s like putting makeup on a wound,” Dr. Dimitriu said.

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Should you wake a sleepwalker? And other sleepwalking FAQs answered

Amanda Capritto, Jan. 20, 2021

Dr. Alex Dimitriu, psychiatrist and sleep medicine doctor at Menlo Park Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine, says sleepwalking is an example of a “disorder of confusional arousal.” “People do weird things at night when they are half awake and half asleep,” he says. “You are confused, because you are half asleep. I compare it to your bed partner poking you in the side every two minutes — you might eventually wake up and say something thoughtless, half asleep. Sleepwalking is not much different.” 

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Night terrors: What causes them and how to get rid of them

Amanda Capritto, Jan. 20, 2021

Night terrors and nightmares both involve sleep and fear, but they differ in a couple of ways. One key difference is the time at which they happen, says Dr. Alex Dimitriu, psychiatrist and sleep physician at Menlo Park Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine.  Nightmares are scary dreams that usually occur during REM sleep, which is when dreams occur, Dimitriu says. This means nightmares commonly occur in the second half of the night, or early morning. Night terrors, on the other hand, more often occur during deep sleep, which is more clustered in the first half of the night, he says. People generally wake up with night terrors around 90 minutes after falling asleep. Additionally, during nightmares, people usually wake up and remember the dream, Dimitriu says. But with night terrors, “People wake up startled, scared and confused, with no recall of what they were dreaming,” he explains. 

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What Are Depression Naps?

By Emilia Benton, January 13, 2021

According to Alex Dimitriu, MD, a psychiatrist and sleep medicine specialist and founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine in Menlo Park, California, depression naps refer to taking a nap when you’re feeling low, in an effort to boost your mood. But it might not necessarily indicate a serious problem. “It is important to realize there is a very big difference between feeling tired, sleepy, sad, and depressed,” Dr. Dimitriu says. “A lot of times it can be hard to know your own feelings, and too often in my work, people with fatigue end up thinking they are depressed.”

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This Is What Your Brain Does During Sleep

By Gary Greenberg, December 2020

“Sleep is essential for the brain, which is the most metabolically active organ in the body,” says Alex Dimitriu, MD, founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine in California. “Like a house after a wild party, the brain needs a complete shutdown for a thorough clean-up after each day.”

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The truth about Weight Watchers

By K.M. Langevin, Dec. 30, 2020

“Dieting alone is part of a much more complex system,” Dr. Alex Dimitriu, psychologist and sleep specialist, told Health Digest. “Behavioral change, with the aim of overall health and sustainability, can lead to much better outcomes.” That bodes well for WW, as it offers training and tools to help people change behaviors associated with weight gain (via WeightWatchers.com). In meetings and provided online content, they teach members to make mindful nutritional and meal choices, manage stress and other emotions without a reliance on food for comfort, and put yourself first as you become more confident and assertive in meeting your needs.

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