Sleep Difficulties? Here are 5 questions that will Help You Figure Out Why.

By Sally Santos

We all have gone through this. We have had a long day and we can’t wait to get in to bed to rest. But the moment you rest your head on the pillow you find yourself wide awake and staring at the ceiling. So then you ask yourself “why can’t I fall asleep?” Consider these 5 questions:

Do you take your phone to bed?

  • We spend all day with our phones tending to every notification that we receive. That can become a habit. So when you bring your phone to bed and you see your phones light up you are going to want to see what it is. So every night before you go to bed try to keep your phone away from your bed or at least set it on Do Not Disturb Mode. This ensures that your phone won’t ring for every notification

How much caffeine are you drinking?

  • If you are someone who consumes a lot of caffeine during the day and find yourself not being able to sleep at night consider consuming less caffeine or stop completely.

What do you do during the evening?

  • Avoid having a late meal. If you eat right before you go to bed that might keep you awake because your body is working on digesting your food.
  • If you are someone who works out try working out earlier because after you work out you may have increased energy and that may prevent you from sleeping at night.
  • If possible try avoiding difficult conversations before bed.

How are you using your bed?

  • If you are someone who works or studies in bed, you may be confusing your body. Instead of your body associating your bed as a place for rest it is associating it as a place of work.

Is there something specific that you are worried about?

  • Maybe you are going through a stressful situation and the thought of it is keeping you up at night. Try learning a relaxation method such as breathing gently or meditation.
  • If the situation is serious seek professional help you problem-solve the situation. You might be helped by relaxation techniques, hypnosis or sleep medication.



If you or someone you know is having sleep issues, speak with one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists. Contact us at our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 respectively to set up an appointment. For more information, visit


Why Do We Dream?

By: Stephanie Osuba

Dreams are one of the phenomena of the human experience in that we are still not sure why they happen. One proposed explanation is that is how the brain is able to process all the emotions, information, and memories that happened throughout the day; day-residue. In fact, there are numerous researches that indicate that most of our dream content is heavily influenced by our conscious state. Most of the characters in dreams are recognizable by name and autobiographical memories such as dreaming of pregnancy and birth while pregnant are just a few examples. However, this doesn’t always immediately happen. Sometimes there is a dream lag where something that happened a week prior comes up in a dream. This could be an important aspect of memory consolidation.

Dreams also allow us to confront things that are beyond our capability when awake. Cases in which people that are born paralyzed dream of running and swimming, deaf people reporting hearing, and other phenomena further prove that dreams can be a sort of virtual reality that promotes survival and growth. Dreaming can also be an outlet in which people who have experienced trauma and grief can come to terms with and process their emotions. These experiences are often replayed in dreams and manifest in a number of different ways (e.g. nightmares with PTSD and receiving messages from a dead family member with the bereaved).

Some common dream subjects include:

  • School (studying or test taking)
  • Flying
  • Falling
  • Being chased
  • Sexual fantasies
  • Being late
  • Dreaming of someone dead being alive and vice versa
  • Being physically attacked

Source: Breus, M. J., Ph.D. (n.d.). Why We Dream What We Dream. Retrieved from 

If you or someone you know needs help regarding sleep and dreams, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit

Effects of Sleep Deprivation: The Importance of Beauty Sleep


Regardless whether you consider yourself a morning person or a night owl, a good night’s rest is extremely important for everyone. With midterms around the corner, students often engage in all nighters to study and completely disregard their body’s need for sleep. When people get seven or less hours of sleep, the effects can be detrimental to both their body and mind. When you are sleep deprived, your overall cognitive abilities become impaired due to your brain becoming exhausted. When people become sleep deprived, they have a lot more difficulty learning new things and both their long and short term memory are negatively affected.

A common side effect of sleep deprivation is micro sleep—when a person falls asleep for a few seconds or minutes and does not realize it. Micro sleep is completely out of people’s control if they are sleep deprived, regardless of their caffeine consumption, and can result in life threatening outcomes when driving. If people’s sleep deprivation continues long enough they are at an increased risk of experiencing hallucinations. For those previously suffering from manic depression, sleep deprivation is also known to trigger mania. Other mental risks include depression, paranoia, and even suicidal thoughts.

Sleep is also necessary for a person’s immune systems to properly function. When people are sleep deprived their body will become more susceptible to catching viruses, developing respiratory problems, and will take longer to recover from illness. If you are sleep deprived for a long enough time, you are at a higher risk of developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Some studies have found that sleep deprivation is also associated with weight gain, and a higher risk for obesity. So before you decide to pull an all nighter for that exam, remember that your health and safety needs to come first!

If you believe that you or a loved one is suffering from chronic sleep deprivation, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment.

Visit for more information.


By: Margalit I. Herzfeld


Sleep Deprivation: What Inadequate Sleep Does to Our Body

By: Nicole Bieniasz

Are you sleeping eight hours every night? Consider yourself lucky! Our fast-paced environment has fooled us into believing we can successfully function with almost no sleep. What some people forget is that an adequate amount of sleep is necessary for maintaining positive mental and physical health because our bodies repair and restore themselves at that time. Interfering with this restoration by cutting back on sleep will eventually take a toll on an individual because the brain is not taking in new information or strengthening memories. Here are some examples of how shorter hours of sleep take a toll on our brains and affect functioning:

1. Slower Thought Process: Sleeping less than the 8 average hours necessary causes lower alertness and concentration, which impairs judgment. Making decisions and judging situations is very prominent and important in the workplace and at home.

2. Impaired Memory: When individuals do not allow their brains to restore during sleep, the nerve connections that are responsible for memories are not strengthened.

3. Difficulty Learning: Slower thought processing and difficulty learning restricts the individual from picking up any new information, which is essential for learning.

4. Problems with Mood: Lack of sleep not only hurts work performance and relationships, it is also capable of leading to problems with mood. Depression and anxiety are linked to poor sleeping habits.

To avoid these problems, here are some ways to get a good night sleep:

  • Keep a regular sleep/wake schedule
  • Avoid heavy meals before bed
  • Minimize caffeine intake especially 6 hours prior to sleep
  • Exercise
  • Minimize hot and cold temperatures, noise, and light when going to bed
  • Develop a regular bedtime

If you are concerned that you or a loved one may have trouble sleeping, the licensed professionals at Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can assist you.  Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.  Visit for more information.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – Bergen County NJ

PTSD symbol design isolated on white background. Anxiety disorder symbol design

By: Michelle Dierna

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder that follows experiencing or witnessing an extremely traumatic, life threatening event. Examples include; kidnapping, serious car accidents, natural disasters, violent attacks such as a mugging, rape, torture, being held captive, terrorist attacks, sudden death of a loved one, childhood neglect and sexual or physical abuse. People with PTSD usually have persistent startling thoughts and memories of the event that occurred then become emotionally withdrawn, especially with people they were once close to. PSTD was first seen in war veterans; however, it is not just a result of war. It can occur after any traumatic incident. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur in those who personally experience a disaster, witness it, or those who pick up the pieces later, including emergency workers and law enforcement officers. Certain events can lead to” trigger” thoughts that are linked to something that threatened the person’s life or the life of someone close to him or her.  Alternatively, it could be something observed, such as mass ruin after a car crash that can set off these” psychological triggers”. Most people associate PTSD with soldiers who have witnessed the death of friends (other soldiers) bombings and military combat while battling against the enemy. However, any overwhelming life experience can trigger PTSD, a disease which makes life very hard for the person suffering and their loved ones.

Thus, if you feel you are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and are constantly re-living the trauma through troubling memories during the day or nightmares that wake you up, it is important to get help. Usually, there is no way to tell whether a person suffering from PSTD will continue to experience these nightmares and reoccurring thoughts or whether the symptoms will eventually go away. The severity of the trauma and the sensitivity of the situation can influence the severity of the symptoms.

  • People diagnosed with PTSD usually have similar symptoms such as: sleeping difficulties, depression, feeling isolated or numb, and being easily startled /Paranoia. Some other behaviors that are noted in PTSD patients are loss of interest in things they used to enjoy, and having trouble feeling affectionate, warm and loving, instead, feeling short-tempered, more hostile and aggressive than before; or even violent. Seeing things that remind them of a particular incident that may be very distressing, which could lead to avoidance of certain places or situations that bring back frightening memories. As with any tragic event, the date of the incident is usually significant. Thus, anniversaries of the incident are usually very hard for someone suffering from PTSD.

PTSD manifests differently from person to person. While the symptoms of PTSD most commonly develop in the hours or days following the traumatic event, sometimes PTSD symptoms can take weeks, months, or even years to appear. Post-traumatic stress disorder can leave many feeling helpless confused and very depressed. It can cause strong behavioral changes that can disrupt your present life and the life you were nurturing before the incident occurred. Symptoms of PTSD can slowly start to control your present life strongly in a negative way if you don’t develop proper ways to cope.

If you or a loved one or one is experiencing any type of Post-Traumatic Stress symptoms, it may be beneficial to contact a mental health professional and receive therapy for your symptoms. If you are in Bergen County, New Jersey area or Manhattan, feel free to call our office to make an appointment with one of our own therapists, counselors, psychologists or psychiatrists.

Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920

More detailed information can be found at


“Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).”: Symptoms, Treatment and Self-Help. N.p., n.d. Web. 26