Archive for the ‘Sleep and Family’

More Sleep, Less Risk

Life moves pretty fast. Accidents, errors and other unanticipated circumstances can arise quickly and, if not handled correctly, can just as quickly ruin your day, or your year. There is, however, one simple thing that everyone can do to help them anticipate, identify and react to risky situations: sleep!

The Dangers of Sleep Deprivation
We’ve all had to sacrifice sleep for one reason or another. Most people don’t realize, though, that relatively common levels of sleep deprivation can drastically raise the risk of car accidents. According to AAA, your car accident risk doubles if you’ve gotten 5-6 hours of sleep the night before. Getting less than 4 hours? That increases crash risk by a factor of 12. Been awake for just 21 hours straight? You are as functionally impaired as you would be with a blood alcohol content of .08, the legal limit for drivers in most states. Most workplace accidents are also related to poor sleep in some way, and for the same underlying reasons.

Poor Sleep on the Brain
Sleep deprivation impairs several brain networks that control cognitive function, resulting in reduced alertness, difficulty directing attention and, ultimately, in very short periods of sleep during waking life. These microsleeps, which can occur when someone is in the middle of a routine task, often go undetected but have an unpredictable impact on information gathering and processing. A chronic lack of sleep also directly impairs short-term and working memory, which often results in a failure to adapt established problem-solving strategies to new situations, even when these strategies are no longer optimal or even practical.

The Sleep-Deprived Personality
Beyond cognitive function, falling behind on sleep can alter your personality and behaviors as well. The abilities to recognize and respond to threats, estimate the difficulty of future tasks and evaluate the severity of consequences when making decisions are impaired when sleepy. Sleep deprivation increases the perceived value of potential gains while decreasing the perceived value of potential losses, leading to risk-taking behavior. Moral judgement is also perturbed, which leads to corner-cutting and a lack of consideration for the needs of others. Interpersonal skills are impacted as well, due to the misinterpretation of both verbal and nonverbal cues as well as a tendency to miscommunicate.

So, healthy sleep supports your decision-making, reaction time, concentration and ability to identify danger. It keeps your brain working correctly and ensures that you feel and act like yourself. By getting the right amount of sleep, you can drastically reduce your chances of being involved in an accident, or committing an error, while improving your health and setting yourself up to live a longer and happier life.

How Healthy is Your Sleep?
Find out using our simple sleep calculator: sleepcharge.com/sleepcalculator

Having Trouble Sleeping?
Contact the SleepCharge Participant Resource Center at sleep@fushionhealth.com or 1-877-615-7527.

Sources:
University of Pennsylvania Medical School: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3564638/
Harvard Medical School: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780444537027000075?via%3Dihub
Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2016/02/theres-a-proven-link-between-effective-leadership-and-getting-enough-sleep

Back to School Sleep Tips

For most children, summertime means enjoying a more flexible schedule, staying up later than normal, sleeping in and extended play. However, as we approach the new school year, letting your little ones stay up later than usual can come with a price. For many children, this means sleepy mornings and increased irritability for the first few weeks of school as parents struggle to get them to bed on time.

So, let’s be proactive and create a better sleep environment and situation for our entire family. It starts with the transition to get your child back into a bedtime routine. By starting the transition now (even before your back to school shopping) you can ensure that your child, and YOU, are prepared for an earlier bedtime, an earlier wake up time and a refreshed body and brain for a full day of learning.

Here are eight simple tips to help your child ease into his or her school-time sleep schedule and to maintain healthy sleep habits throughout the year:

  • About two weeks before school starts, work with your child to return to a school appropriate sleep schedule.  Every night, set an incrementally earlier bedtime, and every morning, an incrementally earlier wake-up time. Make sure that when school starts, he or she has enough sleep for the day based on their age group (https://sleepfoundation.org/excessivesleepiness/content/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need-0) and their personal needs.
  • Maintain a successful sleep schedule. Once your child’s sleep schedule is established, stick with it!  Don’t use the weekend to “catch up on sleep” and remember this is a health habit, not just a “bed time”.
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. Before bedtime, start a “quiet time” to allow your child to unwind. The routine should include relaxing activities, such as a bath and a bedtime story (for young children) or a reading time (for older children).
  • Limit television, video games, and other electronic distractions at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Avoid big meals close to bedtime. A heavy meal may cause activation of wakefulness and prevent your child from falling or staying asleep.
  • Avoid caffeine. Sodas and other caffeinated drinks should be limited after noon, and especially at night. A good rule of thumb is to avoid any caffeine six hours before bedtime, as the caffeine can interrupt your child’s natural sleep patterns, making it difficult to fall asleep.
  • Maintain a peaceful bedroom environment. A comfortable bed, dark and cool (68 degrees or lower) room all foster sleep. Electronic distractions like smartphones, television, computers, or video games should be removed from your child’s room and moved to a different location.
  • Be a role model. Set a good example for your child. Establish your own regular sleep cycle and behaviors. Maintain a home that promotes sleep as a major factor for health, wellbeing and success.

The sooner your child readjusts their sleep-schedule to cope with school, the better he or she will feel, and the better they will learn and perform. Feeling fully rested and excited for the day, your child (and your family) will have the best year yet!

If you have any questions or need more information on how to establish a sleep schedule, please contact the FusionHealth Participant Resource Center at sleep@fusionhealth.com or 1-877-615-7257.

Sources:

“Back to School Sleep Tips”; National Sleep Foundation; sleepfoundation.org/sleep-news/back-school-sleep-tips-0

This Summer, Limit Screen Time to Improve Healthy Sleep for Your Family

Temperatures are climbing and school is officially out. What does that mean for your family? For many families that means children will more than likely be spending more time on electronic devices; watching more TV, playing more video games and spending more hours on the computer. However, the effects of electronics don’t just impact children, they impact adults as well.

Today, electronic devices are seemingly everywhere, and they have become ingrained into the modern family. In fact, it’s hard for us to imagine a single day without them. While the accessibility of these devices has its benefits, the constant usage of them can take a toll on the quality and duration of sleep that your family experiences.

Most electronic devices emit blue-green light, and some studies show that this type of light can interfere with our brain signals for rest. It’s not just our children that need “screen time” limits, adults should also understand the risks associated with the overuse of electronic devices. 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. According to the Chief Medical Officer at FusionHealth, Dr. Jeffrey Durmer, “Eliminating or severely limiting the use of electronic devices in the bedroom is critical for promoting regular, healthy sleep. Given all of the “connectivity” of modern life, the bedroom really needs to be protected from daytime influences; it should be a sanctuary for sleep.”

Here are three simple bedtime routines to help you and your family prepare for sleep:

  1. “Downshift” Before Bedtime – Calming activities like reading or meditating can prepare the body and mind for sleep. Help younger children relax too, by reading to them, engaging them in meditative breathing exercises, or even using their imagination to remember a peaceful place or caliming person. Older children can benefit from the same exercises as well as journaling thoughts and experiences of the day.
  2. Limit Exposure to Blue-Green Light – At least one hour before bedtime, try to reduce activities like watching TV, computer and smartphone use, and try a more natural light source like candles, a fireplace or lower frequency orange/red lighting.
  3. Remove All Electronics from the Bedroom – This will help you limit the temptations associated with the ever-present smartphone, computer or other daytime device.

As Dr. Durmer reminds us, the bedroom is not just a place for a bed; it is the one place designated for vital sleep and recovery. Creating a short “down-shift” period before bedtime, removing electronics from the bedroom, limiting exposure to blue-green light and finding sleep-friendly alternatives for your evening are small steps that can help you and your family realize the daily health and functional benefits that only sleep can provide.

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

A Simple Way to Prevent Overeating During the Holidays

It’s an annual tradition. The holiday season invites us to gather with loved ones, and many times, eat big meals. This, in turn, tees up the conventional New Year’s fitness resolutions. While we’re all familiar with this yearly cycle, recent studies cited in the publication, SLEEP from the Sleep Research Society, demonstrate that a single, simple strategy can help us keep those holiday pounds from accumulating in the first place: sleep!

Sleep Influences the Way You Perceive Food

During one study, researchers used a specialized MRI technique to determine how sleep loss shapes the brain’s response to food by showing images of food to individuals who regularly slept less than the recommended 8 hours per day. The researchers then repeated the experiment after those same individuals had received extra sleep each night for more than a week. In the end, the study showed how specific areas of our brains respond more strongly to food when we’re sleep deprived than when we’re well rested, which tends to cause us to overeat.

Sleep Loss Impacts Metabolism

Another study including more than 160,000 subjects over 18 years looked at the relationship between average sleep time and the development of metabolic disorders. They found that sleeping less than 6 hours per night was responsible for, among other things:

  • 18% greater risk of developing obesity
  • 8% greater risk of high blood pressure
  • 9% greater risk of elevated triglycerides

Give Yourself the Gift of Sleep

Not only does sleep loss act on your brain to make you more likely to overeat, it also impairs your body’s ability to efficiently process those extra calories. To prevent this issue, both studies showed that sleeping at least 8 hours per day can reduce, and often even reverse, the damage done by poor sleep.

How Healthy is Your Sleep?

Find out using our simple sleep calculator: sleepcharge.com/sleepcalculator

Having Trouble Sleeping?

Contact the FusionHealth Participant Resource Center at sleep@fushionhealth.com or 1-877-615-7527.

Sources:
National Institute of Mental Health (Japan)
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

How to Help A Family Member Suffering from Poor Sleep

While it’s easy to perceive the many effects that poor sleep has on our own waking lives, it can be more difficult to appreciate the impact that our poor sleep has on those around us. This is especially relevant for close family, who have no choice but to cope with effects of a loved one’s sleep problems on an ongoing basis. It’s important to remember that, with some thoughtful consideration and teamwork, the entire family can pull together to identify sleep issues and offer support. At the end of the day, by working as a team, everyone can get more rest.

The Effects of Sleep Conditions on the Family

BED PARTNER – A sleep condition can add stress to a relationship, especially if the person with the condition is in denial or doesn’t think it is important to address the issue. Many conditions will awaken the bed partner more often than the sufferer, leading to a disagreement over how severe the issue actually is.

FAMILY SCHEDULE – If one member of a family has a sleep condition, it makes them less likely to plan and participate in family activities. Besides cutting down on family time, too many sleepless nights can lead to changes in mood, heart disease and obesity, with long-lasting effects on family life.

CHILDREN – In a young child, a lack of sleep can lead to tantrums, feeding problems and, in severe cases, even growth and cognitive impairment. Infants require 12-14 hours of sleep per day, while children need an average of 10 hours per night and teens need more than 8. Sleep deprivation in older children results in mood swings, impulsivity, anxiety and poor performance in school.

OLDER ADULTS – Some of the most common sleeping problems faced by older adults include insomnia, sleep apnea, periodic limb movements and cramps. An underlying medical problem can result in trouble sleeping, and vice versa. It is important to remember that hydration, nutrition, mental and physical exercise, as well as regular daily light exposure can all have a major impact on sleep quality in this population.

Identifying a Sleep Condition

Family members should be on the look out for the following indicators of a sleep condition:

  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Excessive snoring or routine dry/sore throat
  • Daytime fatigue or sleepiness
  • Memory or attention problems
  • Irritability or low threshold for anger
  • Lack of concentration or engagement
  • Depression or anxiety

How Healthy Is Your Sleep?

Find out using our simple, sleep calculator: sleepcharge.com/sleepcalculator. Should you have any questions or like assistance on your family’s path to better sleep, please contact the FusionHealth Participant Resource Center at sleep@fushionhealth.com or 1-877-615-7527.

Sources:
National Institutes of Health
American Psychiatric Association
National Sleep Foundation
National Sleep Foundation
American Family Physician

Managing Sleep and Stress for Back to School Success

With summer vacation drawing to a close, it’s time to move the family toward a more regimented schedule. Replacing the looser itinerary that may have developed over months of family vacations, sleepovers and compromised bedtimes with a more structured and regular daily agenda can be difficult. With the CDC estimating that at least 60% of schoolchildren don’t get enough sleep during the school year, it’s necessary to start now. By skillfully handling this transition you’ll be minimizing stress for every family member while ensuring that your children achieve peak performance at school and preserving your effectiveness on the job. Where do you start? By making sure everyone is well rested and ready to hit the ground running.

Back to School

As you begin to strategize, it’s important to keep in mind that, because of the way our bodies acclimate to schedule changes, you’ll need to begin making adjustments at least 2 weeks before school starts. Start with wake times; slowly shift the time that children are expected to be out of bed in the morning and earlier bedtimes will follow naturally. Pay attention to things like caffeinated soft drinks, which can hinder sleep if consumed after lunchtime, and eating a large dinner less than 4 hours prior to bedtime. Start to cut back on television and video games, replacing electronic distractions right before bed with whatever’s left on the summer reading list. Most importantly, don’t forget to practice what you preach! Not only is it important for you to be ready to deal with the new family schedule, you’ll also be setting a good example.

New Schedules and Activities

Getting enough sleep is essential for academic achievement; the effort you put into ensuring that your young scholars are well rested will pay off once report cards come home. It’s even more important to start tackling sleep schedules if your kids are gearing up for fall sports and the early morning practices that can be required. Remember that athletic performance and recovery from exercise are also closely tied to healthy sleep. You’ll want to make sure your family is prepared to deal with after-school sports and extracurriculars, especially with many school districts now pushing back start times.

Family Stress

At the end of the day, and probably at the beginning of the day as well, getting thrown into a new routine is going to be stressful for everyone, regardless of how well you prepare. Don’t forget, amidst all the hustle and bustle, to make time for relaxing hobbies, both as an individual and for the whole family to enjoy together. Scheduling is key; designate a night to spend time together and coordinate with your partner to ensure that everyone is getting some regular “me time.” It’s easy to get stretched too thin and, all things considered, you’ll all accomplish more if everyone is relaxed, happy and well rested.

Having Trouble Sleeping?

Managing all these moving parts is easier said than done. If you think sleep issues may be impacting your ability to keep everyone organized and on task, speaking with a sleep professional or taking a sleep health 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 sleep@fusionhealth.com or 1-877-615-7257.

References:
The Atlantic
CDC
Huffington Post
Fortune

Tips for a Safe and Relaxing Summer Vacation

Now that class is out of session for the year, it’s time to start nailing down travel plans and adjusting to a daily routine that doesn’t include school. This time of year offers opportunities for families to spend time together, take in the sights and establish a new routine. It also brings new challenges related to long-distance driving, travel across multiple time zones and the maintenance of healthy sleep schedules for vacationers of all ages.

For families looking to maximize fun and minimize risk during their vacation, sleep is a very important consideration. Besides keeping you safer on the road, proper sleep management allows parents and children to fully engage in, and enjoy, whatever activities are on the agenda while preventing conflict and ensuring that the whole vacation isn’t spent oversleeping, napping, or stumbling around in a fog of exhaustion.

Road Trips

AAA estimates that 80% of American families will take a road trip this summer, a figure that’s up 10% from the summer of 2016, despite slightly higher gas prices. More vacationers means more traffic, and more traffic means longer travel times. How do you get to your destination quickly and safely? Consider your sleep. It seems obvious to start your drive as early as possible but beware of starting so early that the driver is groggy and has difficulty paying attention to the road. Don’t just rely on caffeine; drivers can prepare for early morning departures by waking up earlier and earlier for a few days or a week before the trip. This will allow your body and brain to adjust to the earlier wake time, making you more alert and less prone to errors on the road while giving you some time to get out of town before late sleepers start clogging up the roads. If possible, switch drivers regularly, making sure the person behind the wheel is fresh and allowing for naps.

International Travel

But what if you’re flying halfway around the world? While you can’t fully prepare for a European vacation by training yourself to wake up earlier, you can manage your family’s sleep in order to get the most sightseeing time out of your grand tour. Get the kids involved by setting their clocks to the time of your destination about a week before departing. No need to drastically alter bed or meal times but, if everyone’s up for it, you can also start nudging the family schedule toward that of your destination. The night before your flight, go to sleep early and avoid caffeine and alcohol until after you’ve spent your first night at your destination. While traveling, eat when you feel hungry, sleep on the plane if you feel tired, and drink as much water as you can; attending to these basic needs will ensure your body has everything it needs to cope with the stress of adjusting to a new hemisphere. Most importantly, transition to local time. Stay up until, or even slightly after, your standard sleep time. Get up at your normal time, avoid naps and stick to your normal schedule – you’ll feel adjusted within a couple days of your arrival.

Sun and Energy

You can use the sun to your benefit as well. When you wake up, get outside immediately and soak up the sunshine. Whether you’re leaving early for the beach or enjoying a leisurely breakfast on your terrace, exposure to sunlight will wake you up and help you adjust to your new routine. Starting early not only puts you in the front of the ticket line at museums and amusement parks, it ensures that you’ll pack the day full of activities and that you, and the kids, will be tired enough to sleep easily at the end of the day. A full day of fun is the best way to get everyone on the same schedule while getting the most bang for your vacation dollar to boot. Making sure everyone is well rested will also limit conflict, ensuring that your family is creating as many happy memories as possible.

Having Trouble Sleeping?

While these strategies can make your travel plans more enjoyable, memorable and productive, what should you do if you’re getting ready to tackle a big vacation but already have trouble getting enough sleep in your regular life? If you are having sleep issues, 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 condition.

If you are suspicious that you may have a sleep condition and would like assistance on your path to better sleep, please contact the FusionHealth Participant Resource Center at sleep@fusionhealth.com or 1-877-615-7257.

Promoting Healthy Sleep Schedules for Students

As the end of summer draws near and children and teenagers begin preparation for the upcoming school year, it’s important for parents to consider upcoming changes in schedules as classes and after school activities begin. It is common for students today to fill up their free time with homework, sports, and other interests outside of school. These activities can not only minimize free time, but also impact bedtimes and reduce the amount of healthy sleep children receive; sleep that is essential for their growth and development.

Establishing a Routine

The important role of protecting students’ sleep schedules is the responsibility of parents. Children and teenagers need more sleep than adults, so establishing a consistent routine that maintains at least 9-10 hours of sleep each night for students is essential for promoting their physical health and success. Poor sleep, and inadequate amounts of sleep can be detrimental for students over the long run as built up stress and anxiety can make them more susceptible to illness and injury and hamper their ability to perform.

In this month’s sleep education video, Dr. Durmer emphasizes the importance of adequate rest and recovery for students and how parents can help to protect the vital sleep their developing children need.

Monitoring & Adjusting

To ensure children are getting enough sleep each night, parents should monitor extracurricular activities to determine when enough is enough. A full day of classes, homework and activities can become overly demanding, causing students to push their bodies to the limit. Enforcing early bedtimes is a good way to the provide structure necessary to maintain healthy sleep. Napping can be a healthy way for students to recharge their brains and bodies on days when schedules simply did not allow for optimal sleep. Additionally, if the balance of sleep and activities becomes consistently unbalanced to the point where sleep is neglected, it may be time to reevaluate which activities can be removed order to fit in the necessary time for sleep.

Getting a head start on establishing sleep routines is a wise way for students and parents to prepare for success for the upcoming school year. The health, productivity, and vibrance of your students will be positively impacted by your commitment to their sleep.

Questions?

If you have any questions or need more information on creating healthy sleep schedules for your family, please contact the FusionHealth Participant Resource Center at sleep@fusionhealth.com 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 careteam@fusionhealth.com or 1-877-615-7257, option 1.

Identifying Sleep Apnea in Children Can Improve More Than Just Sleep

According to San Antonio’s KSAT ABC 12, sleep apnea in children can result in behavioral and health problems such as hyperactivity, aggression, difficulty in completing tasks, and inability to stay awake. As a result of these symptoms, children with sleep apnea may be misdiagnosed with ADHD. Children that have poor sleeping routines and behavioral problems may benefit from sleep therapy programs. FusionHealth can connect you with the help your family needs to get a good night’s rest.

See the full article at KST ABC 12.