Archive for the ‘Your Sleep Health’

How to Get Better Sleep While Traveling

How to Get Better Sleep While Traveling

All the hard work we put into our sleep can easily be undone if we don’t take extra precautions to handle the disruption of traveling. Here are several tips to achieve quality sleep while traveling.

Internal Factors

Dehydration, too much (or too little) food, new foods, and high caffeine & alcohol intake, can easily throw us off balance and cause us to suffer from a restless night. While driving or flying, especially long distances, drink plenty of water and limit the caffeine and alcohol you consume to avoid dehydration. Do your best to eat at your normal times and limit introducing your body to too many new foods, to avoid late night hungry pains or indigestion.

External Factors

Dress comfortably while you travel and while you sleep. Bring your favorite pillow and pajamas to help with any new place jitters and wear comfortable clothes while driving or flying. It’s extremely important you keep your bedtime routine, this will help your brain trigger the appropriate time to wind down and will keep you from having to re-adjust once you get back home.

Mentality

Travel fatigue and jet lag can quickly escalate and add unnecessary stress to your plans. Avoid the temptation of taking a nap or going to bed after a long flight. Book your first day with exciting plans to keep you out of the hotel room, this way you’ll quickly adjust to the new time change, saving time and energy for the rest of the trip. If you’re feeling sluggish, take a quick shower or change your clothes once you arrive, this helps you feel refreshed and ready for your adventures.

Holiday Stress & Sleep

Manage holiday stress by making sleep a priority

With temperatures dropping and leaves falling, the holidays must be right around the corner, and with them the excitement and joy of family time and memories as well as social pressures, deadlines and stress. Manage the holiday stress by making sleep a priority and following these quick tips.

Press Pause

The holiday season is fast-paced and filled to the brim with social engagements and to-do lists. Attempting to multitask while juggling dinner parties, gift shopping and entertaining the kids on their breaks, one can easily burn out and spend the season with a short fuse. When you begin to feel overwhelmed, press pause and take a step back. Take a few deep breaths to stay level-headed and calm.

Get Some Sleep

Don’t let the endless to-do lists keep you awake at night. Recognize you’re only at your best when you feel well and have energy- two benefits of quality sleep. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night during the holiday season to manage stress and to reduce the impulsive reactions we tend to act on when dealing with a short fuse.

Consider The Positives

What are you thankful for? Consider the positives in your life and in whatever stressful situation you are faced with during the holiday season. If your kids are pushing your buttons or your co-workers are relaxing a bit too soon, remember they’re usually not trying to make your life more difficult. Take time to enjoy the moment and holiday stress will be much easier to manage.

Mental Health + Sleep

How Mental Health And Sleep Depend On Each Other

The quality of sleep you get each night heavily affects, and equally depends upon, the state of your mental health. Think of your sleep and your mental health as yin and yang, two seemingly contrary forces that are dependent on one another.

Maintain Balance
When proper sleep duration, quality or timing are impaired by a sleep disorder, the end result is a direct assault on mental health, and as mental health symptoms continue, so does the decline of your sleep quality. Maintain a healthy balance between the pair by making sleep and mental health a priority in your life.

The three fundamentals of sleep- Duration, Timing, Quality (DTQ)- are the building blocks for a well balanced sleep health journey. Simple put, DTQ is:

Duration = how long you sleep
Timing = when you sleep
Quality = how well you sleep

See The Signs
A disturbance to our sleep cycle leads to our body straining under the attempt to adjust, causing mood and cognition changes that aggravate mental health. Develop healthy sleep hygiene in order to sleep in sync with your natural circadian rhythm.

High levels of stress and continued sleep deprivation lead to depression and anxiety, symptoms and predecessors to unstable mental health. Take time to relax and enjoy life to reduce stress and anxiety.

Seek Treatment
Whether mental health issues are the cause or effect of poor sleep, attempting no treatment, or following the wrong treatment, can only lead to further health complications. Seek medical evaluation and follow the appropriate treatment to target the underlying source of any mental health and/or sleep issue.

SleepCharge
The SleepCharge Program is tailored to identify and resolve sleep problems with personalized therapy, dedicated care managers, and sleep education and training. Treatments are designed to specifically target the underlying source of sleep deprivation to help participants regain their well-being and vitality.

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.

Sleep Right, Eat Right, Feel Right

We tend not to think about sleeping and eating as being interconnected; except for maybe that post-Thanksgiving “food-coma” in November. It turns out that every interaction your mind and body have with food is impacted by how well rested you are. From your mood and motivation to eat, to coordinating brain chemicals that trigger hunger, sleep not only plays a part in eating, it orchestrates it.

Hunger Hormones

The balance between 2 hormones largely determines how hungry you feel. Concentrations of the appetite-suppressor, Leptin, and appetite-enhancer, Ghrelin, are radically altered when you’re sleep deprived, and not in the way you might want. In fact, a single night of sleep deprivation can cause a huge increase in food consumption.

Evaluating Food

Perhaps even more nefarious is the impact that sleep loss has on the brain’s perception of food. Sleep loss alters the daytime activity of specific brain regions related to reward prediction, emotional reaction and the drive to consume food. High-calorie junk foods appear more attractive relative to healthier alternatives, putting even well-intentioned diners at an immediate disadvantage.

Sleep and Metabolism

In a chronically sleep deprived person, reduced production of Growth Hormone, and increases in circulating levels of Cortisol, which is also linked to feelings of stress, promote insulin resistance. Insulin resistance, in turn, contributes to high blood sugar, obesity and diabetes.

Sleep Disorders and Metabolic Disease

People with OSA, which can interrupt breathing hundreds of times each night, not only have to deal with the effects of serious sleep loss, but also with frequent drops in blood oxygen and spikes in brain activation that, together, increase inflammation throughout the body. These conditions conspire to drive obesity and diabetes much faster than sleep deprivation alone.

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:
Brody School of Medicine
Grenoble University
University of Chicago

Take a Moment to Appreciate Sleep

March is a great time to ponder the importance of sleep. World Sleep Day occurs March 16th and Daylight Savings Time starts the morning of March 11th – giving us all an unwelcome added dose of sleep deprivation. It turns out that there is a well-known week-long spike in car and workplace accidents following our collective “spring forward”, and a higher number of heart attacks and strokes as well. You might wonder, how does moving schedules forward by just 1 hour cause so many problems for so many people?

Why Do We Sleep?

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Hypertension itself rarely causes symptoms but does make the heart and blood vessels work harder until years of wear and tear cause a serious event, like a heart attack or stroke. The good news: everyone can reduce their blood pressure, starting tonight, by getting healthy sleep.

What Happens When We Sleep?

Roughly half of the time spent asleep is focused on physical restoration of the brain and body. Everything slows down: heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, temperature and blood sugar all drop as tissues repair the damage caused during the day. Next, your body prepares for tomorrow by replenishing stores of energy, hormones and neurotransmitters. The brain’s specialized army of cleansing cells, a recently discovered network known as the glymphatic system, goes to work flushing out a variety of waste products. During REM sleep, your brain disconnects from your body and enters a highly active state, producing dreams that are thought to organize and archive the day’s experiences.

Sleep is Fundamental

Quality sleep is necessary for a strong body, healthy cells and tissues and a clear mind to guide everything. Communication skills, appetite, personality, judgment and even the way you perceive the world around you are all dependent on sleep. Even better, a commitment to regular quality sleep has been shown to prevent all manner of health problems while helping you feel your best every day in the process.

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
Mayo Clinic
World Obesity Federation

Sleep Smart for a Healthy Heart

When people think of heart health, they probably picture someone jogging or eating a salad. While proper exercise and diet both do their parts, most people don’t realize just how important healthy sleep is to the cardiovascular system.

Sleep and Hypertension

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Hypertension itself rarely causes symptoms but does make the heart and blood vessels work harder until years of wear and tear cause a serious event, like a heart attack or stroke. The good news: everyone can reduce their blood pressure, starting tonight, by getting healthy sleep

Healthy Sleep Leads to Lower Blood Pressure

Blood pressure usually falls during deep non-REM sleep, a phase of sleep known to repair cells and replenish chemicals. So do levels of cortisol, a very potent stress hormone. While people who slept less than 6 hours per night had higher blood pressure and cortisol levels, so too did people who slept 7-8 hours but reported poor quality sleep. Not only is getting enough sleep important, it’s also necessary to get uninterrupted, high quality sleep.

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:
University of Chicago
University of Pittsburg
Harvard Medical School

Use Sleep to Fulfill Your New Year’s Resolutions

After dealing with the holiday stresses of traveling, gathering and wrapping up end-of-year work obligations, most of us make at least one New Year’s resolution. Despite our good intentions, the vast majority of these pledges are abandoned by February. Surprisingly, the best way to reach your goals may be to add another resolution to your list.

Success Starts With Sleep

  1. Schedule time for 8 hours sleep each night, no excuses.
  2. Use blackout curtains to make your bedroom as dark as possible.
  3. Sleep with a fan or other source of white noise.
  4. Go to bed and wake up at the same times every day.

Sleep for Motivation

Let’s face it, changing and creating habits can be very difficult. The key to success is to stay motivated. Healthy sleep refills your willpower reserves, making it more likely that you’ll make the right call when presented with a challenge to your new diet or exercise schedule. Sleep deprivation hinders your ability to properly evaluate risk, which can be a big obstacle if you’re trying to quit smoking, cut back on alcohol or just walk past that box of muffins in the break room. Tired at the office? You’ll have trouble performing well and communicating, which could derail your resolution to get a raise, master a skill or climb further up your corporate ladder.

Sleep for Results

Sleep also enhances the payoff you’ll receive from working hard on your other resolutions. Healthy sleep preserves your body’s ability to properly manage blood sugar and makes it easier to choose quality foods over high-calorie junk, two factors that can have an outsize influence on the success of your new diet. Sleep also enhances the benefits of exercise. The production of Growth Hormone, which mediates muscle gain and helps set you up to burn more fat, occurs during deep sleep. Trying to cut stress? Sleep lowers levels of cortisol, the hormone most tied to feelings of stress and tension.

Sleep for Health

We generally make resolutions in order to live a longer and healthier life. Poor sleep, especially when caused by a clinical sleep condition, can raise your risk of a number of serious chronic health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke and depression. Even short term sleep deprivation can significantly raise your risk of being involved in an accident, both on the road and on the job.

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:
University of Chicago
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Harvard Medical School

How to Determine the Health of Your Sleep

The daily pursuit of a happier, more satisfying life depends on your wellbeing, and multiple factors help to determine wellbeing, particularly your nutrition, stress relief, exercise and sleep. Some things are easy to keep up with if you’re paying attention such as how many calories you consume, how relaxed you feel, how often you socialize with friends, and how many times you hit the gym or go for a jog. Sleep can be tricky, though. After all, if you don’t really remember it, how do you know if it’s working well or not? The SleepCharge Program by FusionHealth can give you some insight into how you can improve your sleep by looking at three important factors: Sleep Quality, Duration and Timing.

Factor #1: Sleep Quality

Your Sleep Quality reflects the amount of undisturbed rest you get. Ideally, you should be cycling through all the stages of sleep in order to fully refresh your body and mind. This allows you to spend time clearing out waste, producing the hormones and neurotransmitters you need to function well, organizing your memories and processing emotions from the previous day. Sleep disturbances, which range from tossing and turning to clinical sleep disorders, like sleep apnea and insomnia, interrupt this process and prevent you from realizing all the benefits of deep sleep.

Factor #2: Sleep Duration

Your Sleep Duration looks at the amount of time you spent asleep. For most, the nightly goal is to achieve 4-5 full sleep cycles that include all the stages of sleep. We can predict how much sleep time you need in order to meet this goal based on your age, gender and personal sleep history.

Factor #3: Sleep Timing

In a perfect world, you should go to sleep and wake up at about the same times each day. The regularity of this rhythm is called your Sleep Timing. A consistent rhythm allows your body and mind to prepare for and benefit from sleep much more than if your bedtimes and wake times vary from day to day. Think about how you feel the morning after you “spring forward” for daylight savings time – your body hasn’t been able to adjust to the new wake up or sleep time. In fact, vehicle accident rates spike on the Monday following daylight savings every year, reflecting a disturbance in the timing of everyone’s sleep.

Based on the latest sleep research, we know that these three factors influence the overall value of your sleep in different ways. Our SleepCharge algorithm looks at each component individually and weighs their impact on your sleep so you can track your rest over time. You’ll also see where there may be room for improvement. Is your Sleep Quality low? Think about your bedroom environment and how well you’re controlling any sleep disorders. Is Sleep Duration a problem? Look at your daily schedule, habits and sleep routine. Is your Timing off? Focus on hitting the pillow at a regular time, avoid naps that segment your sleep and soon you’ll find you no longer need that snooze button in the morning.

Try Our Sleep Calculator

How healthy is your sleep? Find out now with our simple, interactive sleep calculator: sleepcharge.com/sleepcalculator

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:
National Sleep Foundation
Stanford University

4 Aspects of Well-Being That Improve With Sleep

We’ve all heard that sleep is important, but what does that really mean? Turns out poor sleep affects every aspect of your health and well-being – slowing your mind, damaging your body and unsettling your emotions. If you’re missing out on healthy sleep, or only getting poor rest, many things will improve when you commit to making sleep a priority.

APPEARANCE

You’ve heard the term “beauty sleep.” Your appearance communicates, at a glance, your overall health. Good sleep provides essential maintenance that optimizes your well-being and, thus, the way you look through a variety of mechanisms. During sleep, your body increases blood flow to the skin, removing waste products, stimulating production of proteins like collagen and facilitating the generation of new skin cells. Sleep deprivation causes drooping of eyelids and the corners of the mouth, eyes that appear redder, swollen and more sunken, paler skin and more defined wrinkles. Healthy sleep habits can reverse the damage done by late nights; in one study, the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea resulted in patients appearing more alert, youthful and attractive to their peers. So consider getting plenty of sleep to give your skin a chance to rejuvenate itself and allowing your body the rest it needs to keep you looking your best.

PHYSIQUE

Good sleep also helps you maintain a healthy physical appearance. Quality sleep balances the hormones that are associated with feelings of satiation and appetite. Poor sleep leads to overeating and, eventually, a higher body mass index. What’s worse, sleep deprivation causes your brain to prefer higher calorie junk food over more nutritious alternatives. This effect, as well as the increased inflammation tied to chronic sleep loss, raises the risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity. Committing to healthy sleep can reverse the short term metabolic effects of poor sleep and, in some cases, treatment of a chronic sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea can actually lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Quality rest is tied directly to the biological processes that control your weight and appetite as well as physical performance and recovery. Restful sleep is an essential component of any fitness program.

MIND

The benefits of sleep extend to your mental performance as well. If you’ve ever felt foggy after a poor night of sleep, or maybe required an extra cup of coffee to get going in the morning, you’ve experienced the effects of sleep loss on your mind. Good sleep allows the brain’s waste disposal network, referred to as the glymphatic system, to clear out the byproducts of metabolism, keeping your grey matter fresh. Even a single night’s lost sleep can limit your ability to perform basic arithmetic and impairs your reactions times just as much as alcohol intoxication. A habit of good sleep preserves your ability to pay attention, make sound decisions and deal with complex concepts. Indeed, your working memory, the short term storage you tap for immediate tasks, is limited by chronic sleep loss, as is your ability to organize and form long term memories. These impairments in memory make it harder for you to learn new things, impacting performance at school, work, and even in sports. By getting enough sleep, you give your brain the chance to clean up and organize, leaving you sharper and quicker every day.

PERSONALITY

Sleep supports that part of you that makes you unique, without it you aren’t really yourself. Sleep naturally reduces levels of cortisol, a potent stress hormone, making you less anxious in general and preventing you from overreacting to daily obstacles. Getting enough sleep helps you keep your cool and navigate the daily personal and professional obstacles in your family and work lives. Good sleep also helps you recognize moral (and immoral) behaviors in others and, more importantly, yourself. You’ll also be more likely to pick up on subtle facial and behavioral cues while also boosting your nonverbal communication skills. Taking time to rest makes everything easier!

These 4 factors impact every aspect of your life. If you aren’t already in the habit of maximizing the potential of sleep, it’s not too late! Focus on making time to sleep, avoiding the things that keep you up at night. If you think you may have a sleep disorder, consider seeking treatment now. If you’ve been diagnosed, recommit to your treatment plan. Once you add healthy sleep back into your life you’ll see improvements everywhere you look.

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.