Drs. Vong and Yancey, featured in House Calls Magazine

House Calls Magazine, a publication by Alachua County Medical Society,

features articles by SIMEDHealth Neurologists Drs. Vongxaiburana and Yancey; 

An overview of multiple sclerosis by Dr. Vongxaiburana, and Update on Parkinson's disease by Dr. Yancey.

Scroll down to keep reading.


Alzheimer's Awareness with Dr. Justin Yancey

Alzheimer's disease disturbs cognitive abilities and makes simple tasks difficult.


We interviewed SIMEDHealth Neurologist, Dr. Justin Yancey, to get the facts about Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disease affecting behavior, thinking, and memory[1]


If you cannot view this video, click here.



What are the main indicators for someone who might be developing Alzheimer’s disease?

  • Forgetting important dates and appointments
  • Repeating stories
  • Asking the same questions
  • Relying on memory aids, like writing things down on sticky notes
  • Common tasks become difficult, like remembering what to get from the grocery store
  • Getting lost while driving the same route
  • Misplacing items like keys
  • Difficulty word-finding during conversations


Can someone be prone to Alzheimer’s based on genetics, environment or lifestyle?

“Yes, although complex, it’s usually a combination of all three” said Dr. Yancey. “The biggest factor is age, the risk doubles every five years after the age of sixty-five. There is a small increased risk for those who’ve had family members diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. However, there are some risk factors you can manage to lower your risk, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, previous strokes, and history of head injuries. “

Are there ways to prevent Alzheimer’s?

”Living a healthy lifestyle, mentally and physically can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s, as well as maintaining a social life and interacting with friends and family.” “Control your risk factors,” Dr. Yancey continued, “eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, and avoid heavy alcohol use. Some studies have shown the Mediterranean diet might be helpful.  This is a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats.”

If one develops Alzheimer’s, what can they do?

“There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, but there are ways to help someone suffering from the disease” Dr. Yancey reported “Some helpful things include reviewing finances, legal issues, driving, daily care, bathing, dressing, future planning and looking into long term care options. As the disease progresses, patients will begin wondering and leaving their home, so looking out for their safety can also help.”

If you or loved ones notice new changes in memory, speak to your primary care doctor or see a neurologist. You’re not alone, there’s testing and medications that can help.


[1] What is Alzheimer’s disease? , Alzheimer’s Association


Living with Multiple Sclerosis

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, nearly 1 million people are living with MS in the United States. Back in March for Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, we talked to SIMEDHealth NeurologistJustin Yancey, MD and he answered some of our questions about MS. MS Awareness Month aims to bring attention to MS research and bring awareness for people living with the condition.

1. What is multiple sclerosis (MS)?

Dr. Yancey says, “It is a neurological disease where the immune system attacks the protective coating around nerves in the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. This causes communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body. When these nerve coatings get damaged, the messages dictated by the central nervous system are altered or stopped entirely.”

2. What are its symptoms?

“Symptoms of MS may include sensory changes in limbs, vision loss, double vision, weakness, vertigo, walking/balance problems, and bladder dysfunction. These symptoms can be highly variable among different individuals with MS.,” says Dr. Yancey.

3. Can you explain what relapsing-remitting MS is? Is this something all people with MS have?

“Relapsing-remitting MS is characterized by clearly defined MS attacks (also known as relapses) with full or incomplete recovery (also known as remissions). There is generally minimal progression in symptoms during the periods between relapses. Symptoms during attacks usually peak in days to weeks and are followed by a remission period. Relapsing-remitting is the most common form of MS and accounts for about 80-90% of cases at the onset.” says Dr. Yancey. Most people with Relapsing-Remitting MS are diagnosed in their early 20’s and 30’s.

4. What causes MS?

“The exact cause of MS is unknown,” says Dr. Yancey. “The most widely accepted theory is that MS begins as an inflammatory, autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system attacks the nerve’s coating.”

5. What does the treatment options look like?

Dr. Yancey explains, “An acute MS attack is typically treated with steroids. Medications are also used to help prevent attacks. There are several different options, including injections, infusions, and oral medications. No cure is available for MS, but these medications help reduce relapse rates and reduce disability progression.”


If you have questions about MS, click here to schedule an appointment with one of our qualified neurologists at SIMEDHealth.

Do You Know What Happens During A Seizure?

More than 200,000 people are diagnosed with epilepsy every year in the United States. November is Epilepsy Awareness Month, and we talked to SIMEDHealth Neurologist Dr. Kraiyuth Vongxaiburana (“Dr. Vong”) about epilepsy and what treatment options are available for patients.

1. What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes reoccurring unprovoked seizures. Unprovoked seizures are those not triggered by an apparent metabolic abnormality. A patient is diagnosed if they have more than two seizures in 24 hours, or they've had one unprovoked seizure, with the risk of another seizure is more than 60% over the next ten years. Dr. Vong says, "Electroencephalogram (EEG) and MRI tests along with the history of the first seizure help determine the risk of having recurrent seizures. Persons having a seizure that was triggered by a source such as extreme hypoglycemia, drug abuse, or low sodium levels, had a provoked seizure, and this patient isn't diagnosed."

2. What is a seizure, and what happens during it?

 Dr. Vong explains, "A seizure is an abnormal, excessive surge of electrical discharges in the brain that disrupt normal brain wave patterns. There are several types of seizures, but the main types are generalized tonic-clonic seizures and complex partial seizures."

 During a generalized tonic-clonic seizure, abnormal electrical activity affects both sides of the brain. The person will typically lose consciousness, become stiff, and then start to shake. The seizure can last a minute or two. The person can bite their tongue, experience urinary incontinence, and be very confused for a few minutes after the seizure.

 During a complex partial seizure, the abnormal electrical activity is localized to only a portion of the brain. These seizures are much more challenging to spot. "For example, a person could lose focus, and appear awake but not respond to external stimuli appropriately. They also might talk or move without conscious thought or intention. The patient may make repetitive movements with their mouth or hands, fiddle with their clothes or the buttons on their clothing, or smack their lips. A complex partial seizure typically lasts a couple of minutes but may last longer.", says Dr. Vong.

3. What are the causes of epilepsy?

 In many cases, the cause remains elusive. Dr. Vong states, "In older patients, a previous stroke may be the source of their epilepsy. Other reasons could be an abnormal collection of blood vessels, congenital brain abnormalities, brain tumors, or scarring or loss of neurons in the temporal lobe. A history of head trauma with loss of consciousness also may predispose someone to have seizures. Genetics also play a role. If a parent has idiopathic epilepsy, there is about a 10% chance that their child will also have epilepsy."

4. There is no cure for epilepsy, so what can doctors do for patients with this disorder?

 Patients are treated with antiepileptic drugs. Medications decrease the risk of future seizures. "Typically, around 60-70 percent of patients will remain seizure-free on antiepileptic drugs.", says Dr. Vong. In those patients with intractable epilepsy or epilepsy that isn't controlled with medications, a portion of those patients may be surgery candidates. For instance, if it is determined a patient's seizure originates from only one part of their brain, it may be possible that removing that part of their brain might cure their epilepsy or at least reduce the frequency of their seizures.

5. Are there long-term effects of seizures on the brain? If so, what are they?

 Dr. Vong says, "Some patients may have a few seizures per year, and their cognition may be unaffected. However, in some patients, repeated seizures can lead to worse memory and cognition. One particularly troubling complication of epilepsy is status epilepticus." Status epilepticus is seizure activity that lasts for more than 30 minutes. Status epilepticus is a medical emergency and can lead to permanent brain damage or death. Forty-two thousand deaths per year may be due to status epilepticus. If someone has a new-onset seizure or if someone with known epilepsy has a convulsion that lasts for more than 5 minutes, then they should be taken to the hospital immediately.

 "Another rare complication of epilepsy is SUDEP, Sudden Unexpected Death of Someone with Epilepsy.", Dr. Vong explains the cause of SUDEP is unknown though some feel that a seizure may trigger a cardiac arrhythmia leading to the sudden death. Luckily, SUDEP is relatively rare as it occurs in only about 1 in 1,000 epileptic patients.


If you want to learn more about epilepsy and treatment options, click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Vong.

How to Spot Early Warning Signs of Alzheimer's Disease

Half of the people aged 85 and older live with Alzheimer's disease. September is World Alzheimer's Month, and Saturday, September 21st is World Alzheimer's Day. We talked to Gainesville located neurologist, Dr. Justin Yancey about this neurological condition and what some early warning signs look like. 

What is Alzheimer's?

Dr. Yancey says, "Alzheimer's is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior." Symptoms typically develop slowly, get worse over time, and eventually become severe enough that it interferes with daily functioning. He also adds, "The prevalence of Alzheimer's disease is expected to rise over the coming years. Extensive research is currently ongoing, looking at earlier diagnosis, new therapies, and prevention. Patients with suspected Alzheimer's or other dementias should go to a neurologist for additional care."

What are the early warning signs of this disease?

Some possible early signs of Alzheimer's include difficulty completing familiar tasks, confusion, memory loss that disrupts daily life, and trouble finding the right words. Dr. Yancey states, "It is essential to know that not all of these may show in a person with Alzheimer's. As well as having some of these does not mean that person will develop Alzheimer's disease."

Is there something that triggers it?

Many factors contribute to the development of Alzheimer's disease. "It is likely a complex mix of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors," explains Dr. Yancey. Increasing age is the most important known risk factor, and the disease doubles every five years beyond the age of 65. Some possible modifiable risk factors include high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes.

It is common knowledge that there is no cure, but there are treatments for symptoms. What are those treatments?

There are two types of medications prescribed for patients with Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Yancey describes, "They aim to help reduce memory loss modestly over time. Other medications can be used symptomatically to help with mood and behavioral issues."

What is the difference between Alzheimer's and dementia?

Dr. Yancey answers, "Dementia is an overall term used to describe symptoms that affect memory, thinking, and communication abilities. Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia affecting about 5.8 million Americans and about 60-80% of dementia cases."

Click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Yancey!

Everything You Need to Know About Brain Injuries

An estimated 2.8 million people suffer from brain injuries annually, and 282,000 of those injuries need hospitalization. March is Brain Injury Awareness Month so we sat down and talked with our newest neurologist, Dr. Justin Yancey about how brain injuries occur, the different types of brain injuries, and what steps are taken to fully recover.

What sort of injuries could be classified as a brain injury?

Dr. Yancey says “Anything that causes injury to healthy brain tissue.” For example, concussions are the most commonly known brain injuries, but lack of oxygen, strokes, and tumors can also be categorized as a brain injury.

What is the difference between a traumatic brain injury and a non-traumatic brain injury?

Non-traumatic brain injuries are not related to a blow to the head but rather an illness or condition within the brain/body. So, while strokes and tumors are brain injuries, they would be non-traumatic. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are caused by falls, sports-related hits, gunshot wounds, or explosions as just a couple of examples. TBI’s come from an active hit or injury to the head that is outside of the body.

What is the process you go about to diagnose a brain injury?

To properly diagnose a brain injury there needs to be a medical evaluation by a neurologist. The neurologist will also need to know the patient’s history and will perform a detailed neurological exam. This exam is crucial to determining how big of an effect this brain injury will have on the patient.

After diagnosis, what are treatment plans?

Dr. Yancey says that the treatment plans are dependent on how severe the injury is. If the injury is very severe, it may require surgery if there is brain swelling or blood in the brain and a long term stays in the hospital. If the damage is mild, the patient can just be observed at home. Though patients and their caregivers will be briefed to look for headaches, confusion, vision problems, vomiting, weakness, or an inability to awaken when the patient is taken home.

Also for mild concussions, Dr. Yancey recommends a rest period after, at least 24 hours but possibly longer for some cases. It is important to avoid strenuous mental and physical activity plus the activity that caused the injury as to not make it worse.

Is it possible for someone with a head injury to recover completely?

The good news is Dr. Yancey says it is possible for patients with mild concussions to recover fully, and they typically do. A more severe TBI does, on the other hand, make take longer and be a more complex problem. He also says to try not to get more than head injury because that can cause more permanent effects.

What else do you treat at SIMEDHealth Neurology?

  • Seizures
  • Memory Loss
  • Headaches
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Strokes
  • MS

If you have more questions about head injuries, and treatment click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Yancey today!

Video: Get to Know Our New Neurologist Dr. Justin Yancey

Dr. Justin Yancey joined the SIMEDHealth family on July 30, 2018. He recently sat down and gave us some more details about himself. This includes his passion for helping others recover from their neurological conditions ever since his grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Check out the video below to learn more:

After growing up in Alabama, Dr. Yancey received his bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Alabama. Then he received his doctorate of medicine from the University of Alabama’s School of Medicine. He was most recently in North Central Florida after completing his residency in Neurology at the University of Florida. While here, he served as Chief Resident. Shortly afterward, he achieved his fellowship in movement disorders from Augusta University in Augusta, Georgia.

In the midst of completing his doctoral training, Dr. Yancey has been involved in numerous volunteer activities including the Special Olympics, university mentorships and the American Red Cross Tornado Relief among others. In his free time, Dr. Yancey enjoys getting out on the water and spending time with family and friends.

Dr. Yancey is able to diagnose and treat a variety of neurological conditions. These conditions include Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, tremors, headaches, seizures, and multiple sclerosis. He is available to see patients in ours. To schedule your appointment with Dr. Yancey, please call SIMEDHealth Neurology at (352) 374-2222 or Click here to request an appointment.

If no video is shown, click here.


Dr. Justin Yancey joins SIMEDHealth Neurology

SIMEDHealth is excited to announce that Dr. Justin Yancey, M.D. will be joining the neurology department beginning July 30th, 2018.

After receiving his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Alabama, Yancey received his doctorate of medicine from the University of Alabama’s School of Medicine. Dr. Yancey was most recently in North Central Florida after completing his residency in Neurology at the University of Florida, where he served as Chief Resident. Shortly afterward, he achieved his fellowship in movement disorders from Augusta University in Augusta, Georgia.

In the midst of completing his doctoral training, Dr. Yancey has been involved in numerous volunteer activities including the Special Olympics, university mentorships and the American Red Cross Tornado Relief among others.

Dr. Yancey is able to diagnose and treat a variety of neurological conditions. He is available to see patients in our Gainesville office location. To schedule your appointment with Dr. Yancey, please call SIMEDHealth Neurology at (352) 374-2222 or click here to put in an appointment request.

Epilepsy: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

Brain with lightning running through it with fact about how seizure medication does not help everyone with epilepsy graphic

For Epilepsy Awareness Month (November), we interviewed SIMED Neurologist Dr. Kraiyuth Vongxaiburana (Vong) to find out what epilepsy is and how it’s treated. But, to understand epilepsy, you must first be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of a seizure.

What is a Seizure?

A seizure is a surge of abnormal electrical discharges in the brain that disrupt normal brainwave patterns. Seizures can manifest in different ways, and Dr. Vong discussed two of them: a generalized seizure and a complex partial seizure.

Generalized Seizures

The most obvious manifestation is a surge of abnormal discharges throughout the brain. The patient loses consciousness and has a convulsion. They may become really stiff at first and draw their arms up. Then, they might begin to shake. The convulsion could end up lasting a minute or two. During that time, the person might lose control of their bladder or bite their tongue. To bystanders, the seizure should be obvious.

Complex Partial Seizure

This type of seizure is less obvious. The abnormal electrical activity is localized to one part of the brain and not generalized. The person might not have convulsions but might instead stare into space and have an oral or manual automatism. They might make repetitive movements with their mouth or hands, like fiddling with their clothes or the buttons on their clothing and smacking their lips.

What they’re doing might look semi-purposeful. Because their eyes are open, you might think they’re awake, but they don’t respond and aren’t actually aware of what’s happening. They might smell a smell that isn’t there or experience a rollercoaster sensation in their stomach. They might also feel a sense of déjà vu. If the seizure starts in one part of the brain and spreads to other parts, it can lead to a convulsion.

Epilepsy Infographic with seizure informationWhat is Epilepsy?

About 9 to 10 percent of people have a seizure in their lifetime which is about the same amount of people who are left handed, so it’s pretty common. But having a one-time seizure doesn’t diagnose epilepsy. Epilepsy is usually diagnosed if someone has more than one unprovoked seizure. Someone could also be diagnosed with epilepsy if they have one unprovoked seizure and have high risk for another, a brain tumor, or a brain abnormality.

Unprovoked seizures are not caused by external factors, like low sodium, meningitis, or alcohol withdrawal. If someone had multiple triggered seizures resulting from another factor, they would not be diagnosed with a seizure disorder or epilepsy. Dr. Vong estimates about 3% of people will be diagnosed with epilepsy at one point in their lifetime.

How is Epilepsy Diagnosed or Monitored?

When someone has a seizure, doctors look for a provoking factor. Doctors check for abnormalities in the bloodwork like low sodium and evidence of drugs as drug withdrawal could provoke a seizure.

The individual might get imaging done on their brain including an MRI or a CT scan that could indicate previous strokes or a brain tumor. An EEG, which is a test that monitors brainwaves, can indicate abnormal activity and discharges that would provoke a seizure. People might also get additional tests depending on their situation. Testing can indicate if a patient is at higher risk of having another seizure.

What are the Causes of Epilepsy?

Some forms of epilepsy are genetic and tend to run in families. Other times, people might have abnormalities in their brain or their brain can be formed differently.  Abnormal areas in the brain can initiate seizures, and temporal scarring can also trigger them. If patients had a stroke in the past, they have a greater risk of getting epilepsy.

How is Epilepsy Treated?

If a patient is diagnosed with epilepsy, they are put on antiepileptic or antiseizure medications. The medications decrease risk and prevent those individuals from having another seizure. About 60 to 65% of people on the medication can successfully control their seizures with the drugs; however, about 35% of people still have seizures despite taking the antiepileptic drugs.

What if the Medication Does Not Work?

Patients who do not respond to the drug have stubborn or intractable epilepsy. If someone has a seizure that isn’t controlled by medicine, they might have other forms of convulsions. For example, if the person has been under a lot of stress they might have a pseudoseizure, a convulsion that looks like a seizure but isn’t. Instead, the action is more of a psychological response to stress.

Determining whether or not the individual has a seizure is important because if they do not have a true seizure, they should not continue to take the seizure medication. Instead, they could see a psychologist who might help tease out the person’s stressors.

Another reason people adverse to the medication should be monitored is to indicate whether the seizures can be prevented with surgery. If you can see on the EEG that the seizure starts at the same place in the brain every time, the person might get seizure surgery which could cure them of their epilepsy. Most patients won’t need surgery and can be controlled with seizure medication, though.

What is the Difference Between a Stroke and a Seizure?

A stroke results from damage to the brain that blocks blood flow to the brain. In contrast, a seizure is an abnormal electrical event in the brain. Strokes can increase the risk of seizures and sometimes even cause seizures. Seizures can also mimic strokes. A specific type of seizure makes one side of the body weak.

What Age is Epilepsy Most Commonly Diagnosed At?

Epilepsy is diagnosed in all ages from infancy through adulthood. While the reasons people have seizures might differ, epilepsy can affect anybody.

Have you had a stroke, a seizure, or multiple seizures in the past? Speak with your primary care doctor or call SIMED Neurology in Gainesville at 352-224-2338 to get tested for epilepsy.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Vong or another SIMED neurologist, call 352-374-2222 or request an appointment online.


Sleep Tips for a Better Night's Slumber

Woman sleeping peacefully in her bed while smiling

November is National Sleep Comfort Month, and sleep comfort has become more important than ever as many people today struggle with sleep related issues.

But how can you get a more restful sleep or recognize the signs of a sleep problem? We talked with SIMED Neurology and Sleep Center Dr. Kraiyuth Vongxaiburana (Vong) to find out everything you need to know to get a better night’s sleep!

How to Recognize if You Have a Sleeping Problem

A common symptom of most sleeping problem is waking up and not feeling refreshed or feeling tired. If you feel tired, something might have gone amiss while you slept. Not sleeping well could mean you have insomnia or other issues like sleep apnea.

Another indicator is if you have trouble falling asleep or wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. Sometimes, people might wake up often to use the restroom and think they have a urinary problem, but they really have sleep apnea. Snoring also might indicate that you have sleep apnea.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is very common. More than 18 million people in the United States have sleep apnea. 

If you wake up and feel tired, if you snore loudly, or if your partner notices that you stop breathing at night or snore very loudly, you could have sleep apnea. Overweight people are more likely to have sleep apnea because when you’re overweight, your airway can relax and close, obstructing your breathing. The obstruction can cause you to snore loudly and stop breathing or not get a full breath of air.

When you have sleep apnea, your oxygen levels drop and you can wake up for short periods during the night without realizing. Waking up from sleep apnea can leave you unrefreshed in the morning and make your sleep fragmented. Even when you do get sleep, you might still feel lousy and like you haven’t slept. You can have trouble getting out of bed.

How Do You Diagnose and Treat Sleep Apnea?a man sleeping on a sofa with information about sleep apnea and the symptoms

You can participate in an overnight sleep study to find out if you have sleep apnea. SIMED performs overnight sleep studies which allow physicians to monitor your sleep patterns and determine your problem.

If you were diagnosed with sleep apnea, you might be prescribed a breathing machine called a CPAP. CPAPs have a mask that goes over your face and blows continuous air pressure into your airway to keep it open for more oxygen. Using a CPAP generally leads to decreased arousal, and people with sleep apnea feel more refreshed.

Why Should You Get Treated for Sleep Apnea?

Feeling more awake in the morning isn’t the only reason you should get treated. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to increased risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and cardiac arrhythmias. Waking up throughout the night ramps up adrenaline and increases risk of many dangerous medical problems. It can even cause insomnia.

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is another very common problem. About 30 to 40% of people have insomnia, and women tend to be more affected than men. Insomnia is when people have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.

People can have insomnia due to many different reasons. They might be uncomfortable or anxious and unable to sleep. Their circadian or sleep rhythm might be off. Patients might also have psychophysiological insomnia, meaning they are anxious about getting to sleep so they worry about sleeping and stare at the clock which makes sleeping even more difficult and creates a cycle where they’re more and more anxious and have increased difficulty sleeping. Breaking the cycle can be difficult, but working on good sleep hygiene can help.

10 Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

If you have insomnia or trouble falling asleep, here are 10 tips for improving your sleep comfort.

1. If you have anxiety, write down everything that worries you. You don’t need to write everything down right before bedtime, but if you make a list a few hours earlier, you can get your worries out of your mind and into a journal.

2. Avoid stimulants like caffeine too close to bedtime. Don’t drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks past midafternoon.

3. Don’t constantly check the time. If you don’t fall asleep or have trouble falling asleep, after 30 minutes of trying, don’t stare at the clock. Instead, get up and do something calming for 10 minutes. For example, you could drink a glass of milk or read a book. Then try to go back to bed.

4. When in bed, try not to do other activities than sleep. If you’re working in bed or watching TV in bed, you train your mind to do other things than sleep in bed which can lead to your brain being more active at bed time.

infographic with 10 tips for a better night's sleep to help with sleeping problems

5. With smartphones, avoid screen time. You can easily answer your phone or check emails at night, but when you do, you train your mind to do other things at night besides sleeping and can end up resetting your sleep clock. The bright light can reset your circadian rhythm and make getting to sleep more difficult.

6. Avoid sunlight in the evenings. Especially in the summertime, try to get bright sunlight in the morning instead of the evening because it will make you feel more awake.

7. Exercise. Exercise in general has been shown to help people get to sleep and stay asleep. Some people find that exercising before bedtime can make sleeping more difficult, so exercise earlier in the day or whenever works best for you.

8. Set a good sleep schedule. Go to sleep at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every day. You should get 7 to 8 hours of sleep, and some people may even need 9 hours of sleep. Try not to take naps during the day to avoid throwing off your schedule. Create a good bedtime routine (like you might for your children) that includes turning off the TV, dimming the lights, and avoiding stimulation a couple of hours before bedtime. Some people might even take a warm bath.

9. In the bedroom, keep everything cool and comfortable. Keep the room as dark as possible, and keep noise to the minimum.

10. Use a mattress that works for you. Some people like more firm mattresses, and some people prefer softer mattresses. Experiment to find what works for you, and if you have sleep apnea, elevating the front of your bed can help because gravity won’t be working as much against you. If someone is sleeping flat, their airway can close. Sleeping on your side or elevating your bed can help open it. You can get a wedge to put under your mattress or get a mattress that elevates the head.

What about Sleep Aid Medications? Are They More Harmful or Helpful?

Over-the-Counter Medications

It’s okay to use sleep medications once in a while. A lot of over-the-counter antihistamines can help people get to sleep and feel better in the morning, but some can end up blocking acetylcholine which can affect memory. Older people should try to avoid antihistamine sleep medications and instead try medications containing melatonin. While some people can get addicted to sleep medications like Benadryl, most people won’t be addicted to over-the-counter medications.

Prescription Medications

Try to avoid prescription medications, specifically the addictive ones like ambien and restoril. For some, they are needed, but for others, the medication can work for a while, but when people get used to it, they build up a tolerance. Non-addictive medications like trazodone should be tried first to help with sleep before something with more potential tolerance for addiction.


If you use sleep aids, you can also practice good sleep hygiene and try out cognitive behavioral therapy with a therapist or psychologist. We can have difficulty sleeping because we’re anxious and set up a cycle where we worry about things which can make it more difficult to sleep. A psychologist would help tease out abnormal thoughts

Also, a psychologist could help people in a cycle of bad sleep realize getting a bad night’s sleep would not be the worst thing in the world. Those people might not worry so much about it and get a better night’s sleep.


If you have trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about getting a sleep study done or contact SIMED’s sleep center at 352-224-2338. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Vong or another SIMED neurologist, call 352-374-2222 or request an appointment online.