Archive for the ‘Your Sleep Health’

Sleep Better for Back to School Success

Back to school season means it’s time to move the family toward a more regimented schedule. Replace the relative free-for-all bedtimes with a more structured schedule and routine to optimize sleep time and boost school and work performance, energy, and happiness.

CONSUMPTION HABITS

  • Reduce technology use for 30-60 minutes before bed time, including phones, tablets, game systems, and TVs
  • Limit caffeinated drinks and sugary snacks in the evenings, and avoid heavy dinners to prevent sleep interruptions

NEW SCHEDULE

  • In the weeks leading up to the start of school, implement earlier wake up times in increments of 15 minutes
  • Set bedtimes to align with your children’s age group — the younger they are, the more sleep they tend need!

INCREASE IN ACTIVITIES

  • Good sleep leads to good grades and athletic performance; it’s also essential for physical and cognitive recovery
  • Practices can start early, extracurriculars can run late — make sure sleep doesn’t get lost in the shuffle

FAMILY DYNAMICS

  • Make time to relax and unwind, both as an individual and with the family as a whole
  • Scheduling is key — everyone will accomplish more if they’re happy, healthy and well rested

Insomnia: What is it? Why does it happen? How to fix it

A 2018 study by the University of Pennsylvania found 25% of US adults develop insomnia each year1. Poor sleep hygiene, or sleep habits, tend to be the reason for most cases of insomnia.

WHAT
According to the CDC, insomnia is “an inability to initiate or maintain sleep”2. Insomnia is not the same for each person. You may have no problems falling asleep initially, but you wake up randomly during the night and cannot fall back asleep. Your neighbour may struggle falling asleep for hours but may sleep soundly once they are finally able to drift off. Keep track of your patterns, they’re important!

WHY
Just as insomnia can manifest from many patterns, it also has many potential causes. Some medicines may directly impact your sleep while extra stress caused by work, home, school, the loss of a loved one, or general anxiety can also cause those restless nights. Insomnia also tends to show up with those that have physical pains and depression. Sometimes you’re able to notice a recent change in mood, routine, or stress that can be connected to your insomnia, but usually you need a medical evaluation and intervention if your insomnia does not go away.

HOW
Treating any underlying issues should be your first step towards improving your sleep. Physical pain or depression that causes you to wake up or keeps you from sleep needs to be addressed with your doctor. Most cases of insomnia can be fixed by consciously adopting better sleep habits such as don’t hit snooze, don’t drink caffeine or alcohol 2-3 hours before bed, don’t exercise too close to bedtime, kick that nicotine habit, and reduce unhealthy food consumption.

7-9 Hours of Sleep Reduces Human Errors & Safety Incidents

Sleepiness can make you less effective at work. Sleep deprivation is also linked to increases in preventable human errors, safety incidents, and workplace arguments.

FATIGUE
We all have felt physical or mental fatigue, from jet lag to a hard day of work, but many fail to understand the constant fatigue our minds and bodies suffer from poor sleep. Just one night of poor sleep increases the number of errors you make. While one email typo may not be the biggest hassle, a vehicle accident due to slow reaction time and muddled judgment can be deadly. Fatigue due to sleep deprivation has an easy fix – improve your sleep. If you have poor sleep habits (Sleep Hygiene) or think you may have a sleep disorder, SleepCharge can help.

WORKPLACE SAFETY
Several studies have shown there is a relationship between sleepiness and workplace safety incidents. The National Sleep Foundation1 reports “Highly sleepy workers are 70 percent more likely to be involved in accidents than non-sleepy workers, and workers with chronic insomnia (difficulty getting to or staying asleep) are far more likely than well-rested individuals to report industrial accidents or injuries”.

BETTER SLEEP = OPTIMAL BRAIN FUNCTION
High quality sleep is incredibly important to our brain functionality. Our brains are constantly active – one study shows our brains alone consume over 20 percent of all oxygen and glucose2! When we deprive our brains the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night, we are slowing down on a molecular level. Our neurons are not performing well and this leads to inefficient communication, reduced alertness and situational awareness, and poor problem solving.

Sleep & Mental Health: Cause & Symptom?

Sleep and mental health are tied closely together. Poor sleep can cause or be a resulting symptom of mental health illness. Research has shown a direct link between chronic sleep deprivation and depression, anxiety and stress, and bipolar disorder.

CAUSE
Sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy, and sleep apnea, can lead to the development of mood swings, grumpiness, irregular emotional reactivity, depressed mood and depression. Sleep deprivation affects the brain’s ability to properly control emotions and negative thoughts, and chronic sleep loss due to a sleep disorder leads to exhaustion and a wide spread of deadly health conditions.

SYMPTOM
On the other hand, mental health illnesses such as depression and bipolar disorder, can lead to poor sleep quality, or insomnia, which is when you have difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. In fact, while assessing the quality of your mental health, medical professionals will often ask about the state of your sleep quality for clues on how to help you manage mental health issues.

COEXIST
Matthew Walker, professor at UC Berkeley and author of Why We Sleep, wrote “sleep loss and mental illness is best described as a two-way street of interaction.” Fewer than 20% of mental health patients don’t suffer from sleep problems. Poor sleep and/or mental health tends to aggravate the other, while improving your sleep or mental health can improve the state of the other. To avoid the development or worsening of mental health illnesses, it’s important to be evaluated for any sleep disorders and tackle poor sleep habits.

How Sleep Influences Nutrition & Weight

Poor sleep can be a cause and result of excess body fat since sleep deprivation disrupts appetite-controlling hormones, insulin management, and blood sugar levels. Put a stop to poor nutrition and lead a healthier lifestyle by improving your sleep.

SLEEP INFLUENCES DIET

Just one night of poor sleep disrupts our leptin and ghrelin levels, two hormones that stimulate hunger and appetite, leading to a constant feeling of hunger, slower metabolism, and more stored fat. Poor sleep also tampers with stress hormone levels and our resistance to insulin, increasing the risk for developing type 2 diabetes and obesity.

DIET INFLUENCES WEIGHT

Studies show that what we eat, when we eat, how much we eat, and how often we eat, play a significant hand in how we manage (or struggle with) our weight. We all know that exercise is an important factor into proper weight management, but we tend to underestimate how important our diet is for proper weight management and loss. No amount of exercise can truly compensate for poor dietary intake. To reduce our risk for type 2 diabetes, obesity, and overall poor well-being, we should focus on sleeping well, eating well, and exercising for a minimum of 30 minutes each day.

IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP, IMPROVE YOUR WEIGHT

Sleep is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. Prioritize your sleep and aim for 7-9 hours each night. Exercise early in the day to boost metabolism and avoid heavy meals 3-4 hours before bed. Load up your plate with vegetables and fruit, lean protein, and a handful of grains, while limiting your daily intake of sugary, fatty, and processed foods. Proper sleep allows your body to prepare for the physical demands of the day while providing the energy you need to exercise and make healthy eating choices.

Spring Into Better Sleep

The benefits of better sleep far outweigh the work necessary to change poor sleep habits. Take the steps towards better sleep by understanding the science and value of sleep and practicing positive sleep habits.

THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP

Roughly half of the time spent sleeping is focused on physical restoration of the brain and body. Everything slows down, from heart rate and breathing to blood pressure and temperature, all to ensure cells can repair their daily wear and tear. Additionally, the body prepares for the next day by replenishing stores of energy, hormones, and neurotransmitters. The brain goes to work flushing out a variety of waste products, while also organizing
and archiving daily experiences.

THE VALUE OF BETTER SLEEP

To fully reap the numerous benefits of sleep, our body needs the recommended hours of high quality sleep. This ranges among age groups, but most adults need no less than 7 hours and no more than 9 hours of sleep each night. This helps us feel refreshed the next day and be fully charged to do our best, not to mention this also drastically reduces our risk for developing serious and deadly chronic health conditions.

POSITIVE SLEEP HABITS

One of the best ways to practice healthy sleep habits is to focus on changing one negative habit at a time. Start by setting a consistent sleep and wake time. Figure out when you need to wake up each day and then count back 7-9 hours from there. Aim for consistency, it’s the easiest way to form a habit that becomes second nature. Once you establish a sleep time, make sure you don’t drink caffeine or eat a heavy meal too close to bed. It’s also healthy to set aside 30 minutes before bed to practice mindfulness, or anything that
calms the busy mind, and don’t forget to exercise each day to keep the heart strong.

Sleep & Heart Health

Sleep is essential.

Sleep is essential for improving our overall well-being and performing at our best. This in mind, the most important benefit of sleep is also one of the most misunderstood. Sleep is crucial for reducing our risk of developing life-threatening diseases. Sleep literally saves lives.

BIOLOGY

When we sleep, our body goes into recovery mode – repairing cells, restoring energy, and releasing essential growth hormones. Each of these is incredibly valuable for positive mental and physical health. Too little sleep disrupts the time necessary to complete these tasks.

HEART HEALTH

Studies show that over time, poor sleep drastically increases your risk for cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease – regardless of your age, weight, or lifestyle habits. Poor sleep hurts our ability to regulate blood pressure and can easily lead to out of control hypertension. Poor sleep also hinders our ability to control glucose metabolism and increases our risk for developing diabetes and obesity, two health issues that worsen heart health.

TURN IT AROUND

We all could benefit from better heart health practices. The heart is one muscle we simply can’t live without. Take care of your heart by getting 7-9 hours of high quality sleep each night. Listen to your body when it shows signs of fatigue and exhaustion and practice good sleep hygiene.
Exercise daily, be mindful of what you eat, and make time for stress-reducing activities. Learn more sleep tips at sleepcharge.com.

New Year, New Sleep Priorities

New Year, New Sleep Priorities

Studies have shown that poor sleep can drastically increase your risks for developing deadly chronic conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Not to mention poor sleep wreaks havoc on your emotional and mental health, hindering your ability to focus, stay calm under pressure, and think rationally. Let’s make better health through better sleep a priority this year.

Tell Everyone

Just like a new resolution to lose weight or learn a new skill, having a support group is crucial for success. Tell your closest loved ones that you’re serious about making sleep a priority this year. Encourage them to join in since everyone could benefit from better sleep. Set a reminder each week to check in with your support group for some accountability and to share tips you learn along the way.

Keep Track of Your Habits

Better sleep hygiene is one of the easiest ways to improve your sleep. Keep a sleep journal near your bed and record your nightly routines and morning observations, you may be surprised by how much time you spend on your phone before bed, or how eating too close to bedtime actually caused you to feel sleepy throughout the next day.

Check In (or Checkup)

If you’re currently receiving sleep care, check in with our care team to discuss your progress and learn how we can make 2019 your best year for sleep health. If you’re new to sleep care, begin by taking the Sleep Checkup to determine your personalized DTQ, which is the first step that helps us identify where your sleep health is struggling.

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.