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The Mental and Physical Effects of Sleep Deprivation

When was the last time you got a great night’s sleep? Chances are, it’s been a while. According to the Sleep Foundation, more than one-third of U.S. adults report getting less than seven hours of sleep per night. (Seven to nine hours per night is the standard recommendation for adults aged 18-64.)

Many different factors can cause sleep deprivation. Parents of newborns experience disruptions as they tend to their baby’s needs at all hours. Blue light from screen use can disrupt the circadian rhythm. Caffeine or alcohol use can keep us awake or diminish sleep quality. Busy work schedules may not allow for sufficient sleep.

But what does all this sleep deprivation mean for our health?

Why do our brains need sleep?

Experts have not yet completely answered the question, “Why do people need to sleep?” Sleep may have one big function, or it may serve multiple purposes.

A few of the possible reasons why we sleep include:

Preserving energy, since our metabolism appears to slow down during sleep
An opportunity for the body to restore and heal itself
Helping the brain organize information

Although scientists do not fully understand the role of sleep, they have identified plenty of effects from too little sleep.

What happens with too little sleep?

You probably noticed that you don’t feel as mentally sharp and clear when you haven’t had enough sleep. Even mild sleep deprivation can affect cognitive functioning, though you may not always notice until the deprivation has built up over time. These cognitive effects can include:

Lower alertness; slower physical or mental response time
Reduced ability to concentrate
Less stable moods
Feeling angry or irritable
Less attention to detail
Memory issues, including working memory and long-term memory
Hindered decision-making abilities

The American Sleep Association suggests that partial sleep deprivation may hinder thinking in the brain’s prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain controls higher functions like language and creativity.

Fortunately, there is no conclusive evidence that lack of sleep actually causes brain damage. Over time, with sufficient sleep and better sleep habits, a person can recover from even severe sleep deprivation.

However, persistent insomnia and sleep deprivation should be addressed as soon as possible. This is because chronic and severe lack of sleep is also linked to serious mental health conditions that require further intervention.

Researchers have found connections between a lack of sleep and:

Increased risk of suicidal behaviors
Individuals with depression, about 75 percent of whom have symptoms of insomnia
Worse symptoms and functioning in people with bipolar disorder
Worse symptoms in adolescents with ADHD
Symptoms of psychosis, including hallucinations and delusions

Improved sleep can have wide-ranging benefits for both mind and body. Sleep health should be a top priority for behavioral health providers and their clients. Treating insomnia in clients with other behavioral health symptoms may significantly improve their functioning and quality of life.

When tracking a client’s progress and outcomes, consider including sleep quality and habits in your data. BestNotes’ OutcomeTools feature can help you track these outcomes and administer and record standardized and custom questionnaires. Contact us today to learn how our solutions can help your behavioral health organization become more efficient and provide better value.

date:  Dec 14, 2021
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What is the best way to treat gambling addiction?

In this mini-series on problem gambling, we’ve covered some unhappy statistics about gambling and its risk factors. But what can be done about it? Are there effective treatments for gambling addiction? Let’s look at what experts are trying.

Current standards for gambling addiction treatment

Problem gambling affects people in different ways, and so do the treatments. The most commonly used treatment options for gambling addiction include:

Medications like antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and even narcotic antagonists may help treat compulsive gambling, although no medication has been approved specifically for gambling addiction
Cognitive behavioral therapy7 and other types of one-on-one counseling
Support groups, including 12-step programs like Gamblers Anonymous
Lifestyle changes that encourage better health and relationships, such as developing better boundaries and new social groups

Treating compulsive gambling often involves treating an underlying disorder, such as depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Many people may benefit from a combination of methods.

Telehealth for compulsive gambling?

Although remote behavioral healthcare and mental health apps experienced a burst of popularity during the Covid-19 public health emergency, these technologies are still in the early stages. Mental health experts aren’t sure about the long-term benefits of remote treatment for many behavioral health concerns.

Tennessee-based telemental health company Kindbridge has partnered with UK-based gaming technology company Playtech to launch the Kindbridge Research Institute. This partnership aims “to create an evidence-based teletherapy model for gambling and gaming disorders.”

The Center for Gambling Studies at Rutgers University will build this model. The institute hopes to analyze player data to better understand how disordered gambling develops and whether the Kindbridge approach is effective in treating it.

Other virtual options may help individuals who engage in compulsive gambling. Workit Health, founded in 2015, provides virtual services for users with addictions and co-occurring issues. The company’s approach uses a combination of online individual and group therapy and medication-assisted treatment. In October 2021, Workit announced a $118 million Series C led by Insight Partners, and that it has raised a total of $140 million in equity to date.

Researchers to consider ketamine for gambling addiction

Biotech company Awakn Life Sciences is recruiting participants for a new study that will investigate whether ketamine has potential for treating gambling addiction. Celia Morgan, professor of psychopharmacology at the University of Exeter and Awakn’s head of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy for addiction, will lead the study.

This study aims to explore whether ketamine’s effect on human memory could be used to alter the “superstitious thinking” common in problem gambling, or reduce the compulsive urge to gamble. This effect has already been shown to have potential in treating alcohol use disorder.

If you provide behavioral health and addiction treatment services, it could benefit your organization to understand the treatment options and research for compulsive gambling. Keeping up-to-date on research can help you stay on the cutting edge of treatment.

BestNotes EHR solutions, designed specifically for behavioral health and addiction treatment providers, can help your clients achieve the best outcomes with less frustration and cost. From admission to telehealth to outcome tracking to reporting, we cover the entire client experience and your business process. Contact us today to learn more about how can help your practice succeed.

date:  Dec 06, 2021
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Shining a Light on Better Sleep: Understanding Our Circadian Rhythms

It’s no secret that Americans are not getting enough sleep. The Sleep Foundation has found that more than one-third of U.S. adults report getting less than seven hours of sleep per night, on average. According to the CDC, more than two-thirds of U.S. high school students report that they get less than 8 hours of sleep on school nights.

One big reason why many of us don’t get enough sleep is because of disruptions to our circadian rhythm. Our circadian rhythm is like an “internal clock” that can dictate our energy levels. But what dictates that internal clock? Let’s find out.

How light affects our circadian rhythm

Many different factors can influence the circadian rhythm. However, light exposure is by far the most significant.

One way to use this to your advantage is to view natural sunlight within 30-60 minutes of waking. This helps stimulate the production of certain daytime hormones and makes you feel more alert. Take note, this works best when you are outside—seeing the sunset through your car windshield during your morning commute doesn’t count!

Whenever possible, repeat this natural light exposure again in the afternoon, before sunset. This can be a challenge in the northern U.S. in the winter!

Once the sun sets, however, it is time to rethink your light exposure. The blue-green light from screens can interfere with your circadian rhythm and prevent the production of sleep-related hormones like melatonin. Keep the lights in your home dim. Try to reduce screen time after dinner. If you must use screens at night, try some blue light-blocking glasses or install an app that has a similar effect on your phone or computer.

Most importantly, you should avoid light exposure between 11pm and 4am, even if you have trouble sleeping or wake up to use the bathroom. Research shows that a pea-sized section of the brain known as the habenula can be influenced by light.

The habenula is involved in many of our behavioral responses, including sleep, stress, pain, and reward. Light exposure may activate the habenula, disrupting our sleep and mood.

Encouraging your natural sleep schedule

What else can you do to encourage your natural circadian rhythm to get better sleep? Follow these steps:

Wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
Keep your bedroom cool and dark. Our body temperatures may actually need to drop a degree or two for optimal sleep.
Limit alcohol intake in the evening. While it may make you feel sleepy, it can actually reduce your sleep quality.

What about your caffeine usage? Caffeine can inhibit your body’s use of the chemical adenosine, which helps you feel sleepy at the end of the day.

Pay attention to how your body responds to caffeine, both when you drink it, and how much. Most experts recommend that you avoid caffeine less than 10 hours before bed. This allows adenosine to build up properly.

Sleep is a vital part of overall physical and mental health. This information could help your behavioral health clients and providers better understand their circadian rhythm so they can improve their sleep habits and related health outcomes.

Here at BestNotes, we understand the importance of tracking health outcomes. OutcomeTools, available with BestNotes, is a state-of-the-art delivery and analysis system that helps behavioral health providers track their effectiveness with outcome questionnaires. This helps demonstrate your practice’s value and provide better treatment for your clients, potentially increasing your referrals and revenue. Curious to learn more? Schedule a free demo today!

date:  Nov 30, 2021
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Who is at risk of a gambling addiction?

Many people enjoy playing at casinos, buying lottery tickets, and playing a friendly game of poker. According to, which promotes responsible gambling and offers help to those who may have a problem with gambling, about 85 percent of Americans in 2012 said they gambled at least once in their lives.

In fact, the American Gaming Association has found that a majority of Americans have positive attitudes toward gambling. Two-thirds believe that it benefits the economy and provides high-quality jobs.

Many people can participate in gambling, even with significant amounts of money, without developing an addiction. For others, however, gambling can become a costly, devastating habit.

Are some people at higher risk of gambling problems? What puts a person at risk of harmful gambling? Let’s take a look.

Are there risk factors for problem gambling?

Anyone who participates in gambling could potentially develop an addiction. However, certain risk factors may make it more likely.

A person who already struggles with another addiction may be more likely to develop problem gambling. Someone who is experiencing stress or anxiety in their life—for example, if they recently lost their job or a loved one—may use gaming as a coping mechanism and develop an addiction.

A person going through a normal, but stressful, life change may also develop a gambling habit. For example, a recently retired person may become addicted to gambling as a way to spend their new free time. This is a particular risk for individuals who live near a casino or who have a social group that participates in a lot of gambling.

Are men more likely to develop a gambling addiction?

Most research data show that men are more likely to develop problematic gambling. A survey by researchers at Prevention Insights, part of the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington, found that 6.9 percent of men in Indiana reported “pathological gambling,” compared to 0.5 percent of women.

However, there may be a rise in problem gambling among women. Research from Stirling University in Scotland found that more people began gambling online during the COVID-19 lockdowns, and that women are as likely as men to engage in gambling.

Chief Financial Officers may be at risk of gambling problems.

CFOs may have a higher risk of gambling addiction compared to other types of jobs, due to a variety of factors. CFOs have access to both company and personal funds, and their experience with finances and numbers may convince them that they have better chances of winning. Gambling-like financial behaviors, such as stock trading, can also trigger compulsive gambling.

The findings come from a recent survey by the National Council on Problem Gambling. Among 2,000 participants, those who traded in the financial markets at least weekly were twice as likely to have problematic gambling behavior.

As gambling, including sports betting, expands across many states, behavioral health and addiction treatment organizations should prepare to see an increased demand for treatment options. The right tools can help you serve your clients appropriately and see better outcomes.

BestNotes EHR solutions, designed specifically for behavioral health and addiction treatment providers, can help save you frustration, time, and cost. From admission to telehealth to outcome tracking to reporting, we cover the entire client experience and your business process. Contact us today to learn more about how can help your practice succeed.

date:  Nov 23, 2021
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How do our body’s chemicals affect our sleep quality?

Insufficient sleep can be harmful to your physical health as well as damaging to your mental wellbeing. From cardiovascular disease to bipolar disorder, lack of sleep has been connected to a wide variety of health conditions. This makes sleep a crucial factor to consider in your behavioral health clients.

Let’s examine some of the chemicals involved in the body’s sleep process. This may help you better understand their role in getting a good night’s sleep.

1. Adenosine

Adenosine is a chemical found in all human cells. It plays an important role in many functions, including digestion, respiration, heart function, and our central nervous and immune systems.

Adenosine begins to build up when we wake in the morning, slowly accumulating over the day. This makes us sleepy and signals our bodies to be ready for sleep. However, adenosine can be blocked by caffeine. Using caffeine too much, or at the wrong time, can interfere with this chemical.

2. Cortisol and epinephrine

The hormones cortisol and epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) have a major role in our sleep-wake cycle. The body starts to release these hormones when we wake up, helping us feel alert. Daylight exposure, particularly early in the morning, can help encourage healthy release of these chemicals.

However, these hormones are also known as “stress hormones.” When the body releases too much of them for too long, it can lead to chronic stress and insomnia.

3. Melatonin

Melatonin is another naturally occurring hormone. Our bodies release melatonin in the morning so that it builds up over the course of the day. (Cortisol helps signal the production of melatonin.)

Blue light from screens can interfere with melatonin production. This is why screen time late at night can harm your sleep quality.

Natural options for better sleep

Many people take supplements to help them sleep, but research on their use is limited, and they may not be appropriate for everyone. Here are some common supplements used for sleep:

Magnesium Threonate: Magnesium is important for many different functions in the body. Supplement companies offer different forms of magnesium, but the L-threonate form may be the best for sleep. Take 200-400mg about 30 minutes before bed.
Theanine: Theanine is an amino acid found naturally in tea leaves. It has a number of health benefits, and may help people feel calmer. As a supplement, try taking 200-400 mg to improve your sleep.
Apigenin: Apigenin is widely found in plants and may promote relaxation. It is found in chamomile, often used to make a relaxing bedtime tea. Try using 50 mg of the supplement version for better sleep.
Melatonin: Many people take melatonin as a supplement to help them sleep, but it may not be as effective as previously believed. Some studies have found that melatonin may suppress other hormones, including sex hormones, in the body. Experts are not sure what is the safest, most effective amount of melatonin to take.

The American College of Physicians recommends cognitive behavioral therapy as the initial treatment for individuals with chronic insomnia. Only if that does not work do they recommend medications or supplements for insomnia.

Want to make your workplace less stressful so you can better serve your clients and sleep well at night? It’s time to choose the right tools for your behavioral health practice.

BestNotes EHR solutions were designed so you can run an efficient practice with better client results, higher revenue, and lower stress. Contact us today to learn more!

date:  Nov 15, 2021
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