Archive for the ‘Sleep Issues’

Breathe Easy This Spring

Ah, spring! We all know someone who spends this season fighting allergies and asthma. While there are plenty of ways to find daytime relief, we tend to neglect breathing problems that occur during sleep. In fact, allergies, asthma and smoking increase the likelihood of an entire group of conditions known as Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB). SDB can make your body, and brain, feel just as miserable as during the day as asthma and allergies do. Worse even!

Sleep and Breathing

Because the body and mind require quality, uninterrupted sleep to repair tissues and replenish chemicals, the feeling of rest that we depend on in the morning depends itself on how well we were breathing the night before.

Don’t Ignore the Snore

Your upper airway, which runs from your nose to your voice box is largely held open by muscles during the day, which prevents you from snoring while awake at work. When you’re asleep, and especially when dreaming, these muscles relax partially, resulting in airway collapse. A mild collapse results in snoring, an increase in the effort required to inhale and direct stress on the heart, lungs and large arteries of the chest and neck.

Sleep Apnea

Full collapse of the airway can prevent all breathing for a short time as the body struggles to inhale. As the amount of oxygen in the blood drops, the brain rouses itself from deep sleep in order to restart a normal breathing rhythm. This can occur hundreds of times each night. Eventually, this lack of deep sleep, and extra wear and tear on the body, can add up. The result? A number of serious medical issues, including diabetes, obesity, dementia, stroke and cardiovascular disease.

Symptoms of Sleep Disordered Breathing

  • Pauses in breathing during sleep
  • Loud snoring, choking or gasping during sleep
  • Memory, learning and concentration problems
  • Mood swings, irritability or depression

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@fusionhealth.com or 1-877-615-7527.

Sources:
Brigham & Women’s Hospital
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Harvard Medical School

How to Manage Pain & Discomfort to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Is pain preventing you from sleeping? According to the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep in America poll, 57% of Americans experience chronic or acute pain on a weekly basis. Pain, stress and poor health can all impact your sleep by making it more difficult to fall or stay asleep. The result is a downward spiral of increased pain and worsened sleep. By focusing on good sleep habits and recognizing sleep quality issues, like snoring, restlessness or even just daytime sleepiness, you can reduce pain and get the rest your mind and body need.

Acute Pain and Chronic Pain

Americans with chronic pain experience, on average, 42 minutes of sleep loss per night and those who suffer with acute pain average 14 minutes of sleep loss per night. Pain control medications and activities, such as heat or cold treatments and massage therapy, can make it easier to get restorative sleep. No matter what, it is essential to establish sleep habits and routines that support the transition from wake to sleep. Here are some suggestions:

  • Go to bed and wake up at about the same time each day
  • Use a relaxing “wind-down” routine to prepare yourself for sleep
  • Exercise regularly during the day, but not within 1-2 hours of bedtime
  • Avoid light and stimulation from smartphones and computers 1-2 hours before bedtime
  • Keep your bedroom quiet, dark and cool
  • Limit alcohol 3 hours before, and caffeine 7 hours before, bedtime

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

RLS is a central nervous system condition that results in uncomfortable sensations or urges to move the legs, arms or any part of the body while at rest. It affects approximately 10% of adults, but is commonly unrecognized or misdiagnosed. In most cases, RLS can be controlled by a sleep specialist using a combination of vitamins, minerals and medications. You can treat RLS symptoms when they occur by following these strategies:

  • Take a quick walk around the house
  • Try rubbing or lightly massaging your legs while in bed
  • Engage in mentally stimulating activities, like a crossword puzzle
  • Use heat, cold or compression for relief

How Healthy is Your Sleep?

The National Sleep Foundation and Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. While your quantity of sleep is essential, it is just as important to have high quality sleep and a regular sleep schedule. Find out how your sleep measures up with our simple, interactive sleep calculator: sleepcharge.com/sleepcalculator.

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

Sources:
National Sleep Foundation
National Sleep Foundation
Mayo Clinic
Johns Hopkins University
University of Brussels
Sydney Children’s Hospital

Do Sleep Aids and Boosters Actually Improve Sleep?

According to the Institute of Medicine, 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from a chronic sleep or wakefulness disorder. Inadequate sleep can stem from a variety of causes. It may be due to underlying issues, such as stress, depression, chronic pain or anxiety. It may be due to our modern environment of round-the-clock work schedules with constant access to technology and blue-light emitting devices at all hours of the day. Or, in some cases, it could be due to underlying sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea or insomnia.

Sleep deficiency leads to an increased risk of motor vehicle crashes and workplace accidents. In addition, habitual sleep deprivation increases the risk of chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, mood disorders and obesity.

The CDC has recognized the importance of sleep to the nation’s health and has paid more attention to sleep-related behaviors in recent years. Additionally, the Institute of Medicine encouraged collaboration between CDC and the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research to support the development and surveillance of the U.S. population’s sleep patterns and associated outcomes.

Sleep is clearly important, but can we “make up” for lost sleep? Do sleep aids and boosters, such as naps, medications and devices really make a difference?

Power Naps

Naps do not necessarily make up for inadequate or poor quality nighttime sleep, but a short nap of 20-30 minutes can temporarily improve energy, mood, alertness and performance. A longer nap could leave you feeling groggy and can interfere with your nighttime sleep. If you have insomnia or poor quality sleep at night, pay careful attention to your napping habits; they could be doing more harm than good.

Medication

Some people find it helpful to use medication or supplements to help them fall asleep, sleep longer during the night, wake up less frequently or just improve the overall quality of sleep. These sleep aids may be worth considering if you’ve tried behavioral changes and other non-medical treatments that have not addressed the issue. Over-the-counter options should only be used for very short terms and not as a regular component of your sleep routine. If necessary, prescription sleep aids can work better and more specifically target your sleep issue.
Remember, while medications can be helpful in providing initial relief, most doctors agree that they should not be used indefinitely.

Wearable Devices

Wearable devices have gained incredible popularity in recent years and can provide great first indicators of issues. While a sleep wearable device will not make you feel more rested or help you fall asleep, it can be a useful tracking tool. They can help you determine whether your fitness, health and life habits are affecting your sleep. However, if you find yourself stressed out because you’re not meeting your goals or you think about your device’s sleep data while you struggle to fall asleep, it could be helpful to discontinue wearing the device overnight.

What next?

While power naps and medication can help in the short term, and a wearable device can make you more aware of your sleep, what should you do next? 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 disorder. By combining clinically validated sleep health risk assessments with a team of tele-sleep health professionals, you can quickly be on your way to better sleep.

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.

Sources:
CDC:
Institute of Medicine
Mayo Clinic
AHealthierMichigan

A Mindful Approach to Reduce Stress & Improve Sleep

Each new day presents new opportunities. If we’ve slept well, we benefit from renewed energy, stamina and focus. But what happens when we don’t sleep well? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than a third of American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis. Many report suffering from insomnia – an inability to fall or stay asleep often due to stress, environment or health-related factors. According to a New York Times health report, approximately 60 million Americans are impacted by insomnia each year. Those struggling with insomnia are often caught up in a vicious cycle of stress and anxiety that prevents sleep. This lack of sleep leads to further fatigue which in turn, increases stress and anxiety that once again prohibits natural sleep.

Today we live in a fast paced world powered by technology and twenty-four hour access to stress-inducing developments affecting our work, families, health and finances. Even as we try to minimize their intrusion, social alerts, emails, texts and phone calls somehow break through and demand ever-increasing amounts of our attention. And it’s not only government health organizations taking notice; U.S. employers are also concerned. In fact, a 2016 workplace survey conducted by Willis Towers Watson reported that 75% of U.S. employers say stress is their number one workplace health concern. So, what then can be done to minimize the stress and anxiety inhibiting proper sleep and recovery?

PREVENTING THE STRESS CYCLE

As a rule, most individuals require an average of 7-9 hours of healthy sleep per night for optimal recovery. Setting the optimal environment for sleep can help prevent stress build-up and disruptions and allow the body make the most of its resting hours. As noted in our recent article, The Impact of Screen Time and Electronics on Healthy Sleep, it’s important to allow the brain to unwind before bedtime. This is supported by removing electronics from the bedroom (including TVs and smartphones), whereby creating a sanctuary free of distractions. Once the stage is set, mindful exercises can assist in the peaceful, stress-free transition to sleep.

Consider adding these four mindful techniques to your bedtime routine:

  1. Reflection – Keeping a journal is a great way to reflect on the day, process feelings and track personal developments.
  2. Gratitude – While much of our day is spent addressing challenges, taking time at the end of each day to focus on the positive aspects of our lives can help to balance our minds.
  3. Meditation – A singular focus helps to empty the mind of distractions and slow down the speed of mental processing.
  4. Reading – Enjoying a good book (preferably a physical one) can provide a positive mental break, helping the mind unwind and even fall asleep.

If you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep and would like to enlist the help of sleep health professionals, please contact the FusionHealth Participant Resource Center at sleep@fusionhealth.com or 1-877-615-7257.

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 sleep@fusionhealth.com 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 sleep@fusionhealth.com 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.

It’s Not Magic, It’s Sleep

What if your doctor told you that you had an increased risk of high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, diabetes, memory problems and heart failure? That you could be looking at losing years off of your life, having to give up your favorite foods and finding yourself unable to participate in activities that you and your family enjoy. Your options? A variety of pills and surgeries as well as an increasingly limited diet or, as an alternative, a renewed focus on improving a part of your daily life. To do something you already do, but better. By making minor changes in your routine, and forming a new habit or two, you can not only avert these problems, you can reverse them. You can easily, and passively, give yourself a longer, more active, life, with a healthier body and a sharper mind, and feel better every day in the process. The solution may sound too good to be true, but it is real. It’s not magic, it’s just sleep.

A Simple Problem

The problem is deceptively simple. It can be hard to go to sleep, or to stay asleep, or maybe sleep just doesn’t work for you the way it used to. A variety of sleep disorders can plague your body’s efforts to rest, some of your bedtime routines and daily habits could also be working against you. Regardless of the cause, the results can be devastating. Even short bouts of poor sleep interrupt the natural ebb and flow of your appetite, suppress your immune system and harm your appearance while also impacting focus, emotional control and memory by damaging brain tissue. Your brain responds to sleep deprivation by skewing your perception of the world. Psychological studies have shown that fatigue dampens your ability to identify and respond to dangers, interact with others and make good decisions while disturbing your judgement of morality, consequence and risk. Chronic sleep problems limit cellular repair, preventing the natural restoration of tissues and organs and promoting the inflammation that leads to obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, dementia and vascular disease. A habit of unhealthy sleep results in a quadrupled risk of stroke, for example, and those sleeping, on average, 5 hours a night have a mortality rate 4 times greater than those who average 7, regardless of age. The consequences are clear and, as new research continues to uncover the clear links between sleep and disease, we know bad outcomes are avoidable.

A Natural Solution

The return of deep, restorative sleep is elusive to those who suffer with undiagnosed sleep problems. Many sleep disorders prevent the natural daily recovery that sleep provides. Treatments can focus on the elimination of the physical, psychological and behavioral barriers that often prevent healthy sleep, and in the process create lasting improvements to your overall well-being. Sleep disorders can prevent you from falling asleep, remaining asleep, or feeling refreshed from your sleep. In the short term, regular healthy sleep boosts your immune system, normalizes appetite and heart function, and rejuvenates your mood and appearance. Improved mental acuity and risk reduction for all types of accidents quickly follow as the brain benefits from the cleansing properties of deep sleep. Studies have consistently shown that many of the physical and mental effects of chronic poor sleep can be reversed by habitual quality sleep. For example, studies show that obstructive sleep apnea can cause a loss of tissue in select brain areas that is reversible after just 12 months of treatment. High quality sleep controls blood pressure, returns blood sugar levels to normal and reduces circulating stress hormones. The benefits of treatment are just as clear as the repercussions of inaction.

FusionHealth is here to guide you through the process of identifying your sleep issues and working with you to ensure that your treatment is convenient, effective and addresses all of your needs. We won’t rest until you do. Take advantage of our expertise, contact us at 1-877-615-7257 or email sleep@fusionhealth.com.

References:
Harvard Medical School
American Academy of Sleep Medicine
University of Pennsylvania Medical School

Sleep Apnea Treatment Can Delay Mental Decline

People who suffer from sleep apnea and heavy snoring may be more prone to cognitive issues earlier than those without sleeping problems. However, a recent study has found getting treatment for sleep problems can delay memory problems. The study cites that sleep apnea and heaving snoring affect 53 percent of men and 26 percent of women, but is frequently under-diagnosed.

If you’re not satisfied with the quality of your sleep, you may suffer from a sleep disorder. FusionHealth is the leader in diagnosing and treating sleep issues, including sleep apnea, for a variety of populations within companies.
Reference

Ricardo Osorio, M.D., research assistant professor, psychiatry, Center for Cognitive Neurology, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York City; Sam Gandy, M.D., Ph.D., director, Center for Cognitive Health, Mount Sinai Hospital, New York City; April 15, 2015, Neurology, online

Treating Sleep Apnea Improves Outcomes for an Irregular Heartbeat

There’s good news for people who suffer from both obstructive sleep apnea and a common type of irregular heartbeat, known as atrial fibrillation (AF). According to newly published meta-analysis, patients have far fewer recurrences of AF when they use positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy to treat their sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea affects approximately 18-20 million Americans. The condition causes the back of the throat to collapse hundreds of time during sleep, blocking the airway and causing people to wake up gasping for air.

Sleep apnea comes with added risks of high blood pressure, heart failure, stroke, and diabetes, all significantly impacting healthcare costs, quality of life, as well as safety and productivity at work. The effect of sleep apnea on the heart is well known—from causing heart failure and vascular inflammation, to over activity of the sympathetic nervous system that drives heart rate, blood pressure, blood glucose and stress hormones.

AF affects up to five million Americans—a number that is expected to rise to 12 million by 2030—and is characterized by uncomfortable palpitations, shortness of breath and can result in heart failure and stroke. Treatments include medications to thin the blood and/or control the heart rhythm, as well as surgery to remove faulty electrical pathways within the heart.  Despite the notable symptoms of AF, it often goes undiagnosed and even with treatment can recur without warning.

In a new study, Dr. Larry Chinitz of NYU Langone Medical Center compiled and evaluated the results of seven previous studies affecting more than 1,000 patients who had both AF and sleep apnea. The results show that individuals with sleep apnea who use PAP therapy can dramatically decrease the recurrence of AF.  Patients with sleep apnea treated for AF with medication and/or surgery who also used PAP saw a 45% reduction in AF recurrence when compared to those who did not use PAP treatments.

Both sleep apnea and AF can negatively impact the productivity and effectiveness of those who suffer from these conditions, but with PAP, their quality of life and overall health are significantly improved.  Since 80+% of people with sleep apnea are currently undiagnosed, all AF patients should be screened for sleep apnea to assess if PAP treatment is an option.

FusionHealth is the leader in diagnosing and treating sleep apnea and other sleep disorders while providing sleep health solutions that deliver lasting results to employees, their families and their companies.

*Reference:
Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Clinical Electrophysiology, online April 20, 2015.
JACCCEP. 2015;1(1):103-104. doi:10.1016/j.jacep.2015.03.010