Archive for the ‘Health and Safety’

4 Principles for Healthy Driving

Have you been spending a lot of time on the road this summer? Remember that making healthy choices can make covering long distances easier and more enjoyable. If you aren’t careful, eating the kind of food you find within a mile of the interstate and spending an extended time in a seated position can be unhealthy. There are also ways to ensure that you get enough fresh air and sunlight and safely deal with the mundane nature of long-distance driving, which can dull your alertness. Fortunately, you only need to keep a few principles in mind in order to safely, and healthfully, enjoy your time on the road.

#1: Eat Well

It’s easy to succumb to the lure of road food. It tastes good, it’s right next to the interstate and you don’t even need to open your door! But beware, fast foods generally contain lots of salt, fat and sugar, which are all terrible for your health. Given the effort required to digest them they’ll also leave you feeling sluggish and sleepy once the initial burst of energy wears off. Plan ahead and find a convenient grocery store on your route; you’re much better served by eating complex carbohydrates and protein found in lean meat, vegetables and whole grains as they provide a much longer-lasting energy boost. You can often find healthy snacks like yogurt, nuts and whole fruits at most travel centers. Make water your beverage of choice and add a daily multivitamin to your first meal; now your nutrition as a whole has been optimized to allow you to not only arrive safely at your destination but to enjoy it as well.

#2: Stretch & Exercise

Sitting for extended periods of time, whether driving, at the office or just watching TV, has been linked to an increased risk of back problems and obesity. Being sedentary for long periods of time also slows and restricts your circulation, increasing the risk of blood clots and allowing fluid to accumulate in your legs. This fluid buildup is redistributed when you lie down at night, pooling near your airways and making it more likely that you’ll experience sleep apnea. Though the problem is serious, the solution is very simple. Breaking up your drive by stopping to stretch and take a brief walk every hour or two goes a long way towards reversing the damage done by extended sitting sessions. These short bouts of movement get your blood flowing, preserve muscle tone and release endorphins to elevate your mood. Once you reach your destination, throw in a more rigorous workout and you’ll be well on your way to meeting your body’s exercise needs.

#3: Get Outside

It’s important to make time for fresh air and sunlight as you drive. While recycled stale air is usually better than the exhaust fumes of the vehicles in front of you, your lungs will appreciate some clean fresh air. Visit a rest stop or take in a scenic view somewhere along your route and breathe deeply. Since vehicle glass filters out ultraviolet light, you’ll also be giving yourself some much-needed Vitamin D by soaking up the outdoor sun.

#4: Stay Alert

Those healthy snacks you brought along will benefit your long-term health while also limiting your risk of getting into an accident. Although sugars and fats can help you power through the last half hour of your drive, relying on them all day results in huge blood sugar spikes and drops that can keep you from being alert. The frequent stretches and walks you’ve worked into your itinerary will also invigorate your brain, helping you stay sharp and on the lookout for the mistakes of other, less healthy, drivers. Remember that everyone has a limit to the amount of time they can remain alert, and, if you think you’re too sleepy to drive, you probably are. The safest thing to do if you’re concerned about your ability to drive safely is to stop driving! Get a room for the night, or at the very least take a nap. Staying hydrated, listening to upbeat music and letting in some fresh air can also help break up the monotony of long-distance driving and bring you back to a state of alertness.

Having Trouble Sleeping?

These strategies will make your journey more relaxing and leave you feeling better and healthier as you enjoy your destination. If you think sleep issues may be impacting your ability to travel safely, speaking with a sleep professional or taking a sleep health risk assessment is a smart next step to determine your risk of having a sleep disorder. Should you have any questions or like any assistance on your path to better sleep, contact the FusionHealth Participant Resource Center at or 1-877-615-7257.

Men’s Health
Trucker’s Report

How Sleep Impacts Chronic Health Conditions

While it is recommended that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep each day, it is estimated that 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep deprivation. A lack of sleep, especially on a regular basis, is associated with long-term health consequences, including persistent conditions like diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. Click play on the video below to see Dr. Jeffrey Durmer, Chief Medical Officer at Fusion Health, discuss how poor sleep can increase the risk of chronic disease.


Research has found that even a single night of sleep deprivation can increase resistance to insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar levels. This influences the way the body absorbs glucose, the high-energy sugar that cells use for fuel, damaging the pancreas and kidneys while contributing to the development of type 2 diabetes. Numerous epidemiological studies have revealed that adults sleeping less than five hours per night have a greater risk of having or developing diabetes. In addition, researchers have correlated obstructive sleep apnea with impaired glucose control similar to that seen in diabetic patients.

Heart Disease

Sleep is also essential for a healthy heart. Researchers have found that people who do not get enough sleep have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease – regardless of age, weight, smoking and exercise habits. A study published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology showed that good sleep makes healthy behaviors even more effective. Participants in the 12-year study who paired at least 7 hours of sleep with healthy behaviors (not smoking, proper diet and exercise) were 65% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease and 83% less likely to die from heart-related issues.


People who sleep five hours or less a night may be at higher risk of developing hypertension or further elevating existing high blood pressure. Blood pressure levels naturally rise and fall in a circular pattern throughout the day. The levels tend to peak in the middle of the afternoon, and reach lowest points in the middle of the night during one’s deep sleep. High blood pressure, particularly at night, is one of the risk factors for heart disease. Studies have found that a single night of inadequate sleep in people with existing hypertension can cause elevated blood pressure throughout the following day.

How to Reduce the Risk of Chronic Conditions

The good news is that getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night can help to prevent chronic health conditions or, if an individual already has a chronic condition, can help to improve their condition. Making simple behavioral changes such as establishing a consistent sleep/wake schedule, avoiding caffeine late in the day and limiting exposure to light at bedtime can improve your ability to sleep well.

Having Trouble Sleeping?

If you have any questions or need more information on how sleep can help you be the best version of yourself, please contact the FusionHealth Participant Resource Center at or 1-877-615-7257.

Harvard Medical School
National Sleep Foundation

How Sleep Impacts Your Weight and Overall Fitness

Obesity rates have nearly doubled since the 1960s and more than one-third of adults are now classified as obese. The overall health and fitness of our country is a real issue, but fortunately measures are being taken to help us live healthier lives.

When considering how to improve fitness, many first think only of nutrition and exercise. While those are important, if you take a day off from exercise or a day off from a nutritious diet, you’ll probably be alright. On the other hand, taking a night off from sleep could be detrimental. Sleep plays a significant role in weight, recovery, performance and overall fitness. In fact, the three pillars of health are considered to be sleep, nutrition, exercise. Prioritizing sleep gives you the energy you need to feel like exercising and to make the right nutritional choices.

The Connection Between Sleep & Weight

Getting the ideal quantity and quality of sleep is important for overall health, but also helps us keep off extra weight.

A study conducted by Weill Cornell Medical College and the University of Bristol found that participants in the study who experienced weekday sleep debt were 72 percent more likely to be obese. A lead researcher on the study, Professor Shahrad Taheri, said, “As little as 30 minutes a day in sleep debts can have significant effects on obesity and insulin resistance.”

This issue isn’t true just for adults, but for children as well.  Research suggests that children have 58% increased risk in becoming overweight when they do not get enough sleep. Investigators believe this is because insufficient sleep results in lower energy levels coupled with a biological drive for high-calorie foods.

For example, two hormones the body creates that have a major influence on energy balance are leptin and ghrelin. Sleep deprived individuals have more ghrelin in the body than leptin. Ghrelin tells the body it needs more food. Leptin tells the body it has enough energy and does not need food. Therefore, simply by sleeping well, your body will naturally suppress the desire for unneeded food, which could lead to weight loss.

Sleep for Recovery and Performance

In addition to sleep supporting weight management, it also allows us to recover. During sleep our bodies create growth hormone. This is the hormone that helps our bodies repair muscles. Athletes in physically demanding sports require even more sleep to recover, but each of us needs adequate sleep for our bodies to recover and perform the next day.

In a recent video, Dr. Jeffrey Durmer, Chief Medical Officer at FusionHealth states, “Fitness is completely dependent on your body’s ability to recover and restore function. This is exactly what sleep does for you.”

Once you have a good night’s sleep, you’ll be more awake, alert and ready to take on the activities of the day – couple that with healthy eating and regular exercise and you’re well on your way to your ideal level of fitness.

How to Maintain Fitness & Health

  • Eat Nutritious Foods – Fueling your body with healthy and nutritious food, especially by replacing the highly processed foods with greens and garden vegetables, gives us the nutrients to thrive.
  • Exercise Regularly – Getting your heart rate up daily doing some form of exercise as well as workouts at least a few times a week keeps your body moving for a lifetime of performance.
  • Get Ideal Sleep – When you get the adequate quality and quantity of sleep, your body produces the hormones to help regulate weight, recover from the day and perform at your best.

Should you have any questions or like any assistance on your path to better sleep, contact the FusionHealth Participant Resource Center at or 1-877-615-7257.

Dr. Durmer

The Importance of Sleep for Treating Type 2 Diabetes

In 2014, an estimated 21 million (9.3%) Americans were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Additionally, approximately 8.1 million more went undiagnosed. While many know that poor diet and exercise play a significant role in the development of type 2 diabetes, fewer realize how much poor sleep may also be contributing to this health problem. As it turns out, some evidence points to sleep deprivation as causing prediabetes in some individuals based on the natural insulin resistance resulting from a lack of sleep.

Insulin is responsible for helping the body convert sugar to energy. When individuals don’t get enough sleep, their body fails to produce enough insulin or to use insulin effectively and this leads to higher blood sugar levels within the body. What’s more, sleep-deprived individuals are more likely to crave sugary foods and less inclined to make good food choices. Eating dense carbs or complex sugars found in comfort foods like pasta, pizza, cookies, etc. is a danger to sleep deprived individuals and type 2 diabetics because these foods are less likely to be broken down effectively and more likely to lead to increased blood sugar levels. Deep, restorative sleep allows blood glucose levels to reset at night and prepares insulin receptors to perform optimally during the day.

In following video, Dr. Durmer demonstrates the role of sleep in addressing type 2 diabetes and how getting deep, restorative sleep can enable your body to maintain a regulated environment where insulin and glucose levels remain in balance.

Here now are 3 important recommendations for individuals concerned about or having already been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes:

Recommendation #1: Eat for Your Best Sleep
It’s important to maintain a well-balanced diet in order to manage diabetes. Also, be certain not to eat right before bedtime so that your blood glucose has adequate time to reset itself and your body isn’t working through the night trying to digest the food.

Recommendation #2: Schedule Exercise Appropriately
Similar to food, exercising right before bedtime is not optimal. It stimulates your brain and wakes up your body, which can make it harder to fall asleep. Instead, allow adequate time after workouts for your body to cool down and unwind before sleep.

Recommendation #3: Reduce Stress
Limiting stress allows your mind to quiet down before bedtime and makes it easier for your body to fall asleep. Meditating before bed can be a great way to help reduce stress levels.

Whether you suffer from a sleep condition or just have an ongoing sleep issue, it’s important to address the problem in order to prevent long-term health issues. For those diagnosed with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, it’s especially important to manage sleep because without proper sleep, the body cannot properly function and that can worsen the impact of type 2 diabetes.

Having  Trouble Sleeping?

If you are having trouble sleeping and would like more information on how sleep can help you be the best version of yourself, please contact the FusionHealth Participant Resource Center at or 1-877-615-7257.

Being Your Best for Yourself, Your Job and Your Family

For many women in the United States, getting enough sleep is one of the last things on their priority list. With the demands of work, family, etc., women often try to balance it all, which can result in sacrificing a healthy sleep schedule. In some cases, it may feel like a badge of honor to be able to get everything accomplished each day even if that means getting just 4 hours of sleep. The problem with this is even if they’re able to complete all the day has to offer, the lack of sleep could cause them to perform below standards, get distracted easily, and feel unmotivated through tasks. To top it off, many women even identify the need for sleep as a sign of weakness, when in turn, getting the recommended daily amount of sleep actually helps boost performance altogether. As it turns out, sleep is needed for both physical and mental recovery in order for women to be the best versions of themselves in all aspects of their lives.

Addressing Sleep Problems in Women

In more serious cases, there may be a greater sleep issue preventing women from getting the sleep they need. Some women may be suffering from a sleep condition known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Research has shown that approximately 4% of women experience symptoms of sleep apnea at least once to a few times per week. These symptoms include waking up abruptly from not getting enough air, or mild-to-moderate snoring. While these issues may be pointed out by a bed partner, it’s usually harder to self-identify this condition. For some women, sleep apnea may not even look like sleep apnea because the symptoms are not apparent, and the only way to discover the condition is undergoing a sleep test. In these cases where signs of OSA are not apparent, monitoring daytime fatigue and drowsiness levels may help identify the underlying problem. Feeling constantly fatigued and tired prevents anybody from putting their best foot forward, so it’s important to get ahead of the problem before it escalates into a much greater issue.

While getting a sleep test done is the best way to determine if there is an underlying issue, there are other ways to start getting better sleep. Here are 5 helpful recommendations for improving sleep:

#1: Take time for yourself – Women are often considered the caregivers, so it’s important to not forget about your own care and health. Schedule time to relax and treat yourself — put it on your calendar or to-do list.

#2: Get everyone on the same sleeping schedule – For women with families, it’s beneficial to get everyone in bed and waking up at the same time.

#3: Reduce daily stress – Whether it’s work or personal stress, do mindful activities to bring stress levels down because heightened stress can greatly affect sleep quality. Go for a walk, listen to calming music, or meditate.

#4: Ask for help – Some women take on more than their plate can hold, and it’s okay to ask for help. As tasks add up, valuable sleep time is reduced, so divide and conquer where you can.

#5: Stick to treatment – If you’ve been diagnosed with OSA, be sure to stick to treatment and consult with your healthcare professionals if issues arise.

“My husband was worried for a long time, because he saw that I stopped breathing in my sleep. Now, that I am on treatment, I don’t sleep without it. I know that I am healthier when I use the device.”
-Michelle T.

Seeking Help

Whether sleep problems are caused by external factors like stress at work or a greater issue like sleep apnea, addressing the problem is crucial. Without a healthy amount of sleep on a regular basis, performance suffers, mood deteriorates, and cognition declines. After all, sleep is critical for recovery and everyone needs it to be the best for the different aspects of their lives.

If you have any questions or need more information on how sleep can help you be the best version of yourself, please contact the FusionHealth Participant Resource Center at or 1-877-615-7257.

Sources: National Sleep Foundation, Dr. Durmer, WebMD

Why Feeling Well Means Sleeping Well

Research has shown that the quality and quantity of sleep a person gets is directly linked to his or her emotions. Healthy sleep has a positive impact on overall mood, whereas a restless night can lead to an increase in negative emotions the next day. Anyone who has experienced a tough night of sleep can attest to this fact. As it turns out, sleep plays a central role in regulating the hormones and neurochemicals that affect mood and emotion. When a person is not getting enough healthy sleep, these neurochemicals become imbalanced. In fact, consistently getting less than the daily recommended amount of healthy sleep can lead to anxiety disorders and depression.

In this month’s sleep education video, Dr. Durmer connects the dots between poor sleep and our emotions. The video highlights the tie between certain mood disorders such as depression and mania and the frequency of sleep disturbances in individuals with these conditions. Dr. Durmer explains that while mood conditions were once thought to cause sleep disturbances, recent research indicates that poor sleep may instead play a significant role in causing mood disorders. These points and others emphasize the importance for those individuals with certain types of anxieties to carefully manage their sleep in order to minimize the severity of their symptoms.

By remaining well rested, individuals can feel better and more successfully manage their moods and emotions. Here are three important facts about healthy sleep and our emotions to be aware of:

FACT #1: The brain uses the time during sleep to refresh itself and regulate all of the neurochemicals needed for positive emotions.
FACT #2: Poor sleep can actually be a precursor to certain mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
FACT #3: People have much better control over their emotions, especially the negative ones, when they are well rested.

Sleeping well often means feeling well. Sticking to a consistent sleep schedule that allows for the right amount of quality, restful sleep is an important component in leading a healthy and positive life.

The Impact of Screen Time and Electronics on Healthy Sleep

Today, electronic devices are seemingly all around us in the form of TVs, computers and portable devices. They have become so ingrained in modern life that for most individuals it’s hard to imagine a single day without them. While the accessibility to these devices has its benefits, the constant usage is taking a toll on the quality and quantity of sleep most people in the U.S. are getting each day.

This is because most electronic devices emit blue-green light, and studies have shown that this type of light interferes with brain waves responsible for signaling to our bodies that it’s time to rest. While it may be tempting to check emails or watch TV in bed, this behavior can inhibit the brain from transitioning the body into sleep mode. As Dr. Jeffrey Durmer explains in the video below, limiting the use of electronic devices in the bedroom is important for promoting regular, healthy sleep.

In the video, Dr. Durmer mentions several important concepts, including the principle of protecting the bedroom as a sleep sanctuary. Consider trying the following three bedtime routines to help your body prepare for sleep:

  1. Unwind Before Bedtime – Calming exercises like reading or meditating can prepare the body for sleep
  2. Limit Exposure to Blue-Green Light – At least one hour before bedtime, try to reduce activities like watching TV or using a smartphone
  3. Remove All Electronics from the Bedroom – This will help limit temptation in using these devices if they’re not available when it’s time to go to bed

As Dr. Durmer reminds us, the bedroom is not just a place for a bed; it is the place designated for vital sleep and recovery. Taking time to wind down before bedtime, removing electronics from the bedroom, and limiting exposure to blue-green light can help increase the quantity and quality of your sleep.

If you have any questions or need more information on how screen time affects quality sleep, please contact the FusionHealth Participant Resource Center at or 1-877-615-7257.

Keeping Your Family Safe on the Roads

Summer is a time when the kids are out of school and many families plan vacations. Often times these vacations include road trips. There’s a lot of preparation that goes into planning the perfect trip, but even with all of that planning, many forget to account for fatigue.

In this month’s sleep education video, Dr. Durmer explains that when families take to the roads, the chances of the driver falling asleep on the highway during long, monotonous trips increases. Research has shown that over one-third of people have driven while drowsy. For some trips, driving periods may extend late into the evening or even through the night. Operating a vehicle while tired can result in a lack of focus, slower reaction times, and a greater potential of being involved in an accident.

For the safety of traveling families and everyone on the road, drivers must strive to remain alert and attentive. Before embarking on your next family road trip, please consider these helpful recommendations:

  1. Start the Journey After Quality Sleep – It may be tempting to avoid traffic by driving odd hours, but it’s best to begin your trip when you feel most awake.
  2. Make Time for Breaks – Plan for a 15-20 minute break every two hours throughout your drive.
  3. Avoid What Makes You Tired – Don’t take medication which may cause drowsiness. Stay away from soft, calming music that could cause you to daydream.
  4. Increase Wakeful Stimuli – Play upbeat music, drive with the windows down, or engage with other passengers in the car.

These recommendations will help you avoid drowsy driving. However, even if you’ve taken the necessary precautions, it’s still possible to grow tired during long drives. A split second of nodding off can be just long enough for an accident to occur. So, if you do start to feel yourself dozing off, go ahead and find a safe place to pull over and refresh. Stretching, walking around, and taking a snack break are great ways to recharge the body and brain for another stint of driving.

Taking steps to maximize wakefulness in order to stay alert can save your family from a road trip accident this year and insure your vacation memories are good ones. After all, road trips are best when everyone reaches the destination safely.

If you have any questions or need more information on healthy sleep while traveling, contact the FusionHealth Participant Resource Center at or 1-877-615-7257.

The Essential Connection Between Healthy Sleep & Fitness

Summer is coming and that means it’s time to put away the winter clothes and pull out the shorts and bathing suits. It’s a great season to make sure you are at your peak level of fitness to enjoy all that summer has to offer.

Being fit not only includes physical fitness, but also mental fitness, so you feel great every day as well. There are three components that make up fitness. Most people think of the first two, diet and exercise, but many are now becoming aware of the importance of the third component, sleep.

Dr. Jeffrey Durmer, Chief Medical Officer at FusionHealth states, “Fitness is completely dependent on your body’s ability to recover and restore function. This is exactly what sleep does for you.” Learn how by watching the video:

The three components of fitness are:

1. SLEEP – How we allow our bodies to rest, recover and repair
2. DIET – How we eat and what we eat to fuel our bodies
3. EXERCISE – How we move our bodies to build cardiovascular endurance, power and agility

Many elite athletes are realizing that sleep is the key to peak performance. At night, when we sleep, we are not only getting the rest we need, but during deep sleep, our bodies are making growth hormone, also known as somatotropin. It’s this growth hormone that allows us to repair muscles and tissues so that they can recover and be ready for the next day.

Regular sleep also maintains hormonal balance that maximizes performance. Those who are sleep deprived have higher amounts of the hormone, ghrelin. Ghrelin, often called “the hunger hormone,” is produced by the stomach and leads to the person feeling hungry and eating high-calorie foods. On the contrary, those with ample amounts of sleep have lower amounts of ghrelin and higher amounts of the hormone, leptin. Leptin is produced by the fat cells and helps to regulate energy balance by inhibiting hunger. Therefore, with good sleep, you will not feel as hungry and can make healthier food choices.

So remember, when you are looking to improve your fitness for the summer, make sure getting a good night’s sleep is part of your plan.

Should you have any questions or like any assistance on your path to better sleep, contact the FusionHealth Participant Resource Center at or 1-877-615-7257.

Strengthening Your Family Through Healthy Sleep

A majority of the U.S. population doesn’t get enough sleep, and those who experience the effects of this the most are families. Stories of sleep deprivation are not uncommon to hear about when you think of all the exhausted parents with newborns, or the tired teens juggling school, after school activities, and the hours of homework each night. Unfortunately, the fast paced, caffeine-dependent nature which American families have grown accustomed to can have very harmful effects. Sleep is a biological need that keeps the body functioning properly. There are plenty of plans centered around the family to help ensure everyone is getting proper nutrition and exercise to stay healthy. Including healthy sleep as a part of those regimens is important.

In this month’s sleep education video, Dr. Jeffrey Durmer, Chief Medical Officer at FusionHealth explains the importance of sleep consistency in families and highlights ways to create a sleep-friendly, family environment. As Dr. Durmer states, “When you have one member of the family sleeping poorly, it’s likely that no one else is sleeping well either.”

Without enough sleep, families suffer. When children do not get enough sleep, their bodies have difficulties developing properly. Poor sleep can lead to children developing behavioral issues and ADHD-like symptoms, as well as physical problems such as an elevated body mass. For children and teens in school, lack of sleep can contribute to poor performance in class. Sleep deprived children often experience difficulties staying focused; have a harder time contributing; and struggle to process and synthesize what is being taught. Regardless of age, sleep is crucial to healthy development and overall wellbeing.

Various stages in life require differing amounts of sleep. Infants and toddlers need the most at 12-16 hours a day. Sleep is crucial to proper development which explains the need for an increased amount in early stages of life. As children reach the ages 3-12, they require a little less sleep, approximately 10-12 hours a night for healthy development. When children transition into teenagers, they require around 8-9 hours of sleep. For adults, the requirement becomes 7-9 hours of sleep a night in order for the body to function properly.

Here are three helpful suggestions for ensuring your family gets the restorative sleep it needs:

  • Ensure Children are Getting the Sleep They Need: Children and teens require the most amount of sleep, and it’s important to establish set times to go to sleep and to wake up. Everyone in the family should strive to be in bed, ready to sleep at certain designated times and wake up at the same time every day. By creating specific windows, you increase the opportunity for all family members to get enough sleep.
  • Limit Activity Close to Bedtime: Families are very fast-paced because they’re managing multiple schedules and activities. High levels of activity close to a designated bedtime interfere with the brain’s ability to prepare for rest and recovery. This is why it can be challenging to fall asleep immediately after quitting tasks which require heavy brain activity, so it’s important to find options that wind down the brain and prepare the body for bedtime.
  • Remove Smartphones and Tablets from the Bedroom: Children are showing up to school tired then underperform due to sleep deprivation, and the culprit is often due to smartphone or tablet usage after “lights off”. The same can also be said for parents who use these devices well into the night for work or entertainment. By removing phones or tablets from the bedroom, the body can naturally adjust to falling asleep without interferences.

If you believe that you or a member of your family may be suffering from a sleep disorder, help is available by contacting the FusionHealth Participant Resource Center at or 1-877-615-7257, option 1.