Archive for the ‘Your Sleep Health’

Hit Reset On Your Sleep

A poor night’s sleep can hinder your day before it even begins. A well-rested mind and body is more prepared for the demands of work, school, and life in general while also helping you keep moodiness, fatigue, and physical health risks down. Here are four tips to hit reset on your sleep clock and start getting those well-earned hours of sleep.

SLEEP WELL TIPS

Pair these sleep habits with healthy lifestyle behaviors to maximize your sleep benefits:

  • Aim for 7-9 hours of restorative sleep each night.
    • Determine when you need to wake up in the mornings and work backwards to figure out what time you should get into bed.
  • Wake up and lay down at the same times, including weekends.
    • Sleep schedules rely on consistency, so keep to a regular wake and bed time. Don’t sleep in over or stay up more than an hour past your normal times.
  • Adopt a proper diet and daily exercise routine.
    • Proper diet and exercise allow our bodies to better regulate hormones, decrease stress, and get our heart rate up to help you fall asleep faster (and stay asleep).
  • Resist the temptation to take naps.
    • This is incredibly important, especially while you work to reset your sleep schedule. If you must, take a quick nap—but no longer than 20 minutes to avoid problems later.

Sleep Well During the Holidays

Don’t let the holiday season throw your sleep out of whack. Our bodies require sufficient time asleep to properly handle the demands of each day without serious consequences, especially during the busy and often hectic holiday season.

HOLIDAY SEASON
Staying healthy during the holiday season can be difficult, from the increase in family gatherings to all those extra sweets seemingly at every corner. The idea of getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night seems just about impossible, but it’s more important than ever.

Poor sleep throws off your stress and appetite-controlling hormones, which can lead to high emotions and overeating (a dangerous combination). Do your best to maintain a sleep schedule and get those 7-9 hours each night — your holiday season will be brighter and loved ones will be thankful!

SLEEP WELL TIPS
Pair these sleep habits with healthy lifestyle behaviors to maximize your sleep benefits:

  • Aim for 7-9 hours of restorative sleep each night
  • Keep a regular routine around bed and wake time
  • Avoid heavy meals or intense exercise before bed
  • Adopt a proper diet and daily exercise routine
  • Keep alcohol and nicotine use to a minimum

How Does Poor Sleep Affect Men Differently?

Losing sleep is not a luxury we can afford. Our bodies require sufficient time spent sleeping to properly handle the demands of each day without serious consequences. 7-9 hours of sleep for the average adult should be treated as the necessity it really is instead of a luxury we can’t afford.

Unique to Men

  • Did you know that health issues unique to men, such as an enlarged prostate, are common sleep disruptors (too many frequent night time visits to the restroom sound familiar?)
  • Men are at much higher risks for sleep apnea than women, with snoring the most common indicator. Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder, but it often goes undiagnosed and treated.
  • Untreated sleep disorders and chronic sleep deprivation can impact testosterone and oxygen levels, which can lead to erectile dysfunction (ED).

Key Takeaways

While the physical and mental consequences for men and women may differ, the best way to treat poor sleep is consistent for both genders:

  • Aim for 7-9 hours of restorative sleep each night
  • Keep a regular routine around bed and wake time
  • Avoid heavy meals or intense exercise right before bed
  • Keep alcohol and nicotine use to a minimum

Sleep’s Role In Women’s Health

Several studies have shown that sleep deprivation affects women differently than men, from greater risk of depression and mood disorders to elevated risks for heart disease – sleep impacts women differently based on a few factors such as age, gender-specific hormones, and how our brains process anxiety and stress.

UNIQUE TO WOMEN

  • While we all may struggle with how we handle poor sleep, studies have shown that women are impacted more by sleep deprivation. Women report more anger, depression, and hostility than men when they don’t get enough sleep.
  • One study completed by neuroscientist Jim Horne found that women on average need 20 more minutes of sleep than men, reasoning the tendency to multi-task and the more active use of the brain.
  • Women have higher incidences of insomnia, citing work and family stress as the main culprits of sleep loss.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Aim for 7-9 hours of restorative sleep each night to lower your risk for heart disease, more easily manage weight, reduce stress and anxiety, and simply feel better the next day.
  • Keep a regular routine around bed and wake time, avoid heavy meals or intense exercise right before bed, and keep alcohol and nicotine use to a minimum.

Sleep’s Impact On Your Physical Health

METABOLISM & HORMONES
Sleep deprivation impairs our ability to appropriately maintain well-balanced glucose levels, significantly increasing our risk for type 2 diabetes.

A sleep-deprived metabolism throws hunger hormones off, leading us to overeat or indulge our sweet tooth too frequently, leading to weight gain and a higher risk for obesity.

Sleep deprivation in children has been shown to limit crucial growth hormones from being properly secreted (these hormones naturally secrete during a specific interval in our sleep cycle).

IMMUNE SYSTEM & HEALTH CONDITION
Just one night of poor sleep puts our immune system at a disadvantage to properly combat against illnesses, a risk that increases the longer we go without a proper night’s rest.

Sleep deficiency has been linked to many chronic health conditions, from diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), and heart disease, to kidney disease, obesity, and stroke.

The good news: most, if not all, physical health side effects of sleep deprivation are reversible – get more sleep! Adults need 7-9 hours of high quality sleep each night. SleepCharge helps improve quality, timing, and duration of sleep for our participants. Discover more at sleepcharge.com/learn.

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.