Sleep Better to Live Better

Posted Apr 7, 2020

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This webinar describes the consequences of sleep deprivation and provides tips to promote sleep.

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Stan Pelham: Hello and welcome to today’s webinar titled “Sleep Better to Live Better.” My name is Stan Pelham and I will be the host for today’s webinar.
 
Our presenter today is Kris Hooks. Kris Hooks is a licensed professional counselor, a marriage and family therapist, a certified employee assistance professional, and a certified wellness coach.
 
Kris has provided and managed employees in the behavioral health field for 30 years. She has written and facilitated seminars and webinars for hundreds of organizations and many Fortune 500 companies.
 
We are pleased to have Kris with us today, and without further delay, I will turn things over to Kris.
 
Kris Hooks: Stan, thank you so much! So I want all of you to look at the picture of the gentleman on our opening slide. He looks like he is sleeping like a baby. If I ask you, how are you sleeping these days? My guess is you are having some struggles or you wouldn't have chosen to join this webinar.
 
I want to start by putting sleep in perspective. Dr. Oz said it very well of The Dr. Oz Show, this is a quote from him, “Sleep is the most underappreciated health crisis in America.”
 
Did you know that better sleep helps you live better in multiple ways? Sleep is biologically absolutely necessary. It's essential for good physical health, good mental health, good cognitive functioning, emotional functioning. We have got to have enough sleep to be able to treat people the way we really intend to treat them so that our fuse is not too short.
 
We need to sleep well to function emotionally well and we don’t often stop and think about it, but sleep is critical to our functioning at work, our productivity, our job performance, even safety is at risk if we are not sleeping well.
 
So for today’s webinar, let's look at Learning Objectives, what we are going to talk about. So really stop and talk in more detail about why sleep is important.
 
I want you to by the end of this webinar think about sleep differently and actually value sleep, instead of thinking about sleep is, only do that because I have to. I feel like I am not getting things done when I am asleep. Let me see how little I can sleep and still function pretty well. That’s a game that a lot of us play, and not the one we need to play for our health.
 
To be able to think about yourself, and as I go through the material, I want you to make this very practical and real for you. I want you to be thinking about that second bullet, why are you not getting enough sleep.
 
What are some of the consequences of walking around with a sleep debt, being sleep deprived? We are going to do a checkup on your sleep behavior and a checkup on your sleep debt, and I will be describing what a sleep debt is. 
 
And then the part that is really most important from today's webinar, what are some practical strategies, some tips and tools, things you can do immediately to help you sleep better. 
 
All right! Let's dive into why is sleep important. We are going to start here because I want to increase your motivation for getting adequate sleep.
Not only does proper sleep ensure better quality of life, let’s look at all this bulleted list of benefits. For our brains to function well and for our emotional well-being to be at a high level, we have to get adequate sleep. When we are not sleeping well, we are foggy and grumpy. I think all of us know. If you add hunger in there, we can get hangry in a heartbeat. 
 
So what about executive functions like cognitive skills and performance? This is not physical performance, but it's a performance that would include problem solving at work, being able to meet deadlines. It depends on you and your job kind of what your role is, but to be able to knock it out of the park at work, you have got to have adequate sleep to be able to do that.
 
When you think about it, if we are not sleeping adequately and we are expecting ourselves to solve pretty intense problems or brainstorm or think at a high level, we may not know where our car keys are or where we parked our car. Yeah, that can be a problem. 
 
How about your workplace productivity, absolutely, we need to have adequate sleep to be able to be productive, engaged at work.
Restorative properties at place during sleep. Sometimes people think of sleep like oh, I am just checked out and my body is like on a vacation, just like, OK, I am getting blank space in my head. That is not what's going on with sleep. That is part of what goes on during some parts of sleep, but Rapid Eye Movement, REM sleep is essential. That and deep sleep absolutely help us consolidate memory. They help us process information. It helps us be able to learn and convert things into a place where we can remember them long-term. So critically important, absolutely! 
 
Let's look at the top of the next column. If you heard like—if something is bothering you or you have got a problem to solve or you just don't quite know what to do about something, sleep on it. Do you know sleep on it really is helpful many times. If I could see you I would ask you to show me your hand, if you have ever in your sleep worked out a solution or come up with some ideas when you are faced with a challenge in life. Most of us have had those opportunities, where while we were sleeping on it, good things happened and we woke up not only refreshed, but with some ideas for how to make things better.
 
Sleep facilitates learning, memory consolidation. What about your immune system? Do you know for us to have repair take place in our bodies, healing to take place, if you have ever had an accident or surgery, what medical professionals tell us to do is we need to make sure we are resting adequately, because it's during that sleep portion of our lives that things get repaired, muscles and tissues and bones. It stimulates growth and development for us and we are able to build up energy for the next day.
 
The flip side is also true. If we are really chronically sleep deprived, we get sick much more easily, and if we have genetic tendencies towards some chronic conditions, it's a little scary, but sleep deprivation may set those off. 
 
So what about weight loss? There are lots of people out there who are like I just want to lose a few pounds or I want to eat healthier. We really focus a lot on food we are taking in and on physical activity, like exercise, when we are working on being healthier. 
 
What is foundational, even before what we are putting in our pie holes in the way of nourishment, or how much we are moving around in the way of physical activity, the foundation of that and the basis is good solid sleep.
 
Ghrelin and leptin and two hormones. Ghrelin is the cookie monster hormone. It makes us think we are hungry all the time and leptin is the thank you, I have had enough. When we are not sleeping adequately, ghrelin goes into overdrive and we think we are hungry all the time and leptin really doesn't register and we are not registering fullness. So we may be eating late at night when what we need to do is actually get more sleep. 
 
So some additional things about why sleep is important, it decreases our risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and premature aging. Does that do it for you? 
 
It also promotes physical health. Our blood sugar is better regulated when we are sleeping adequately and it can help prevent, if we have got those genetic tendencies towards something we really don't want to have develop in our life, it provides some insurance and hopefully those are not tripped as easily because we are getting enough sleep.
 
So let's look at, what about you, why are you not getting enough sleep? And I know a typical answer is some version of there is not enough for me to go around. I have got a lot of responsibilities; all of you joining the call certainly have busy full-time jobs, and hopefully you have a life outside of work too, it depends on where you are in your life, what that life looks like and what might be pulling on you where it feels like you don’t have enough minutes in the day. 
 
In that place, where we don’t feel like we have enough minutes in the day, we prioritize all the things we want to get done and sleep gets pushed down on the bottom, where we are like, OK, I will sacrifice sleep so I can get more done.
 
And listen, I know, I have been there. I have the benefit of having a lot more years under my belt now and I do value sleep in a way I didn't use to do, because I was the person who was like, I can get by on six hours sleep, probably five hours sleep and I will do pretty good. And I am able to do da, da, da, da. 
 
You know what, what the National Sleep Foundation tells us in terms of what is enough sleep, would any of you venture to guess? They actually recommend based on research 7-9 hours of sleep a night. 
 
I am going to talk sleep debt, because I know some people are like well, I get that if you work Monday through Friday, I get that on Friday night into Saturday morning and Saturday night into Sunday morning, but then the workweek starts and I am not getting the sleep I need. That’s a pretty common situation.
 
So what about undiagnosed or untreated sleep problems and disorders, things like sleep apnea; we are going to talk more about these coming up. I want you to know that sleep disorders are diagnosable and treatable. You always want to start with a medical professional. They now have sleep studies that can be done at home, they are less expensive and you don't have to go to a sleep center.
 
If you have concerns and you wonder if you have a sleep disorder, consult with a medical professional, see a specialist, check on your insurance, you certainly want to make sure things are covered before you assume they are, but definitely get more information.
 
What about poor sleep habits? What might that look like? It might look like that when I named on about not valuing sleep or viewing sleep as a luxury, I just do that on vacation. 
 
Believing that you can catch up on the weekend and catching up on the weekend is better than never catching up, but the true catch up, it does not leave our bodies in the same way as it would if we slept adequately all nights of the week.
 
What about too much screen time, might that be a poor sleep habit? Sleeping with that cell phone or that iPad, is the television on, have you got stuff going with light that can really interfere with your ability to fall asleep, stay asleep, go through the sleep stages in a restorative way.
Texting, social media, are you are on Facebook and Instagram at night? Yeah. One of the techniques that you might already start to think about if you feel like electronics are part of the reason you are not getting the sleep you need is to take care of electronics before you get in bed and then when you get in bed, it's an electronic-free zone. That may be something you work toward.
 
OK, what about caffeine, nicotine and alcohol, any of those part of your poor sleep habits? Alcohol, caffeine and nicotine all mess with our sleep. 
Alcohol, I know people will say, I go to sleep better after a glass of wine or just this and I sleep better. Well, you might fall asleep more easily, but in research, after people have had alcohol, alcohol robs people of REM sleep. The restorative stages we do not get into and stay in in the way we would had we not had alcohol in our system. 
 
What about shift work, jet lag, those rhythms, the biorhythms that are inside of us. Night work, if any of you happen to change shifts that you are working or you consistently work a second or a third shift, that can really play havoc on your sleep schedule. When you are younger, it might not bother you as much, but as you get older, it can be much more difficult. 
 
For years jet lag was like ah, it’s just all in your head. What we know is completely true that it’s not all in your head. Our bodies having a natural biological clock when we travel to different time zones or complete different parts of the world, we can really be challenged.
 
Trying to work on adjusting your schedule, especially if you are skipping over two or three or six or ten time zones, where days become nights, nights become day, if it's possible to try to work toward where you are going before you get there or to stay awake an extended period before you show up, those are tips that may be helpful.
 
What about environmental disruptions? What might those look or sound like? Or if you happen to live close to noise, there could be noise outside the bedroom where you are sleeping, depending on who you are sleeping with, there can be environmental disruptions coming from the other side of the bed; a snoring partner, a partner who has sleep behaviors that might involve electronics that are bothering you or light, or you might have a child or children that come and want to climb in your bed, or you might be sleeping with a pet, or in the beginning of the night the pet is not there, but during the night, then the pet is there, and all of those—any of those can cause disruptions in our sleep.
 
Additionally, health, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, any of those can cause us to have interruptions with our sleep. If you have gone through something very unexpected; grief, loss, changes in life, one of the red flags is changes with sleeping, changes with appetite, changes with concentration, kind of holistic look at how you are functioning.
 
So why you don't get enough sleep, that’s an important question for you to be asking yourself, and what you are doing later at night that’s keeping you from going to sleep, might you be able to work more efficiently or let some things go where you think of sleep in the same way you think of brushing your teeth, going for physical checkups, making sure that you are as healthy as possible. Sleep is foundational, just like those other things. 
 
So what are some of the consequences of sleepiness? Impaired judgment and memory, absolutely! We do not function as well when we are sleep deprived. Our decision making is not as good. Our memory doesn’t function as well. We will make more mistakes, both at work and outside of work. We have difficulty remembering both short-term and long-term in terms of retrieval, difficulty concentrating, lot of trouble with productivity. 
 
Our reaction time can be very slow. There are safety risks and we are more accident-prone. According to the National Sleep Foundation, moderate sleep deprivation produces impairment that is like having a blood alcohol level of intoxication, like a .08, which means if you were pulled over and your blood alcohol level were .08, you are legally drunk and you are going with the police officer. None of us want to be in that position in life for sure.
 
Being awake for 18 hours or long, and think about it, if you slept six hours a night and the next day comes, you are awake 18 hours, and if you are driving at the end of that 18 hour period, the way you react in the car with drowsy driving is like being legally drunk. That increases our risk for safety issues behind the wheel, crashes.
 
Most people are totally aware of the dangers of drinking and driving, you just might not realize that drowsy driving can be just as fatal. Sleep exhaustion, again, I am going to hammer it home, slows reaction time, decreases awareness, impairs judgment, increases risk of crashing.
Don’t drive if you are inclined to drowsy driving and if you are having difficulty focusing, if at a red light, you feel like you are dozing off, if you have trouble remembering the last few miles you have driven or you kind of look around and go wow, I don’t even know how I got here, that's a huge red flag.
 
OK, moving along, what about irritability. When we are sleep deprived our threshold for patience drops down really low. If you are breathing, I promise you that happens to you, it happens to all of us, we will be more impatient. That can impact us in relationships both at work and outside of work. We will say and do things that we are like oh, shouldn't have said that, shouldn't have done that, that’s not good.
 
Our immune system, like we have talked about. Did you know, it’s not bulleted here, but even our life expectancy can be lower when we are chronically sleep deprived? 
 
OK, we have got three more bullets about consequences of sleepiness. Cortisol is the stress hormone. When we are tired we have higher levels of stress hormone inside of us even if we haven't had a terribly stressful experience. It's like our baseline gets raised up and we already are in a bit of a fight or flight tendency.
 
Mood disorders; this is things like depression, anxiety, irritability. When we are really tired those things can happen to us. And we increase, like I have talked about, the chance for medical conditions to be triggered. There is a greater risk with sleep deprivation for chronic obesity to be developed or heart disease or diabetes. Again, it hormonally creates havoc in our bodies.
 
OK, if you are not depressed from this, let's look at sleep debt. So what the heck is sleep debt? So if you think about sleep like a bank account, and whatever amount of sleep you need, somewhere between seven and nine, and I know that's more like the bell curve from the National Sleep Foundation. And what they say is most people, the majority of people need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night to function at their best.
 
You may be able to get by on six-and-a-half hours of sleep and function at your best. I have read and believe if you are physically active, exercising, you may sleep more efficiently. You may get into REM and deeper sleep quicker and stay there longer. Maybe that's just rationalization for sleeping a little bit less, but it could work that way.
 
You may be a person who needs more than nine hours of sleep a night. Let's say whatever amount that you know yourself you need, you are not getting it from Sunday night through Thursday night, because your wake up time beginning Monday morning through Friday morning is bright and early and the amount of time you are falling sleep at night is past your “bedtime.” You are going into the weekend with a bank account that is in the red for sleep. That is a sleep debt.
 
So can you sleep off your debt on the weekend? Some, but what sleep researchers tell us, the long-term effect really can't be reversed by just sleeping more on the weekend. Let me make sure I didn’t miss any bullets here.
 
Yeah. Each hour that you lose sleep adds to your sleep debt. And what we really want to do is keep the sleep we need and the amount we are getting close to equal most nights of the week. And I know things happen, it’s not possible all the time, but we at least work toward that. And we are going to talk about some tips or ways to get that going and keep it going in your life.
 
It can only be reduced by getting extra sleep and the best is get it to a place where it's better and then sleep consistently, like I am talking about.
Just as I mentioned, it may not be possible to completely reverse the long-term effects of sleep deprivation. The larger the sleep debt, the more likely you are to experience microsleep. Do you know what this is? This is like at the red light, where all of a sudden my eyes are drowsy. 
 
Or you are in a meeting and someone is talking and let's say it's a face-to-face meeting and you really need to be attentive, you need to be making eye contact and possibly taking notes, and all of a sudden you realize hey, my eyelids are so heavy. I don't even know how long they were closed. 
Or you are on a conference call, where no one can see you, and all of a sudden you are like, oh no, it's my turn to talk, I don't even think I was with the call here. I think I kind of nodded off.
 
All of those are microsleeps. Those are unintended episodes where you lose attention. It can last for a few seconds up to a couple of minutes.
This can cause you issues. Think about at work, if that's happening, your reputation is at stake, you are not going to be seen the way you want to be seen by your coworkers, your manager, your customers. Relationship issues; if someone near and dear to you is talking to you about something important to them and you are nodding off, it looks like you are not interested. Even if you really are interested, but you are just so tired. 
 
Safety issues are huge, like I have talked about. I had the privilege of working internally in oil and gas for a couple of years, and one of the—it was in health services and one of the things we worked so hard on was to help employees understand the critical nature of adequate sleep to be able to function safely in a high risk oilfield kind of environment.
 
And that not only applies if you are in a job that requires a hard hat, that applies just when you are walking around or driving your car, because we can have accidents when we are sleep deprived in places like that too.
 
Alright, we are going to shift gears and talk tips. So, what are some strategies for getting adequate sleep, so you can have a better life and better health? So I want you to just think about yourself, and before I even start going through the bullet from the slides, think out what you do on nights that you get better sleep? How might you be able to get those things going more consistently in your life?
 
OK, so what do you with young children when you are trying to train them to be able to sleep on their own? You do a bed time routine that is not like, OK, you are going to be in bed in minute, come on, let’s go! You have to help them unwind, you have to help them have a routine and a ritual that helps them get in the zone of it’s time to go to sleep.
 
Adults are no different, now we shouldn’t be eating, you know, high calorie heavy food right before bed that depending on your gastrointestinal system that may cause you heartburn or other issues. You know, things like liquids and how that affects you, I know as people get older sometimes how much liquid they have had in the evening can affect them getting up to go to the bathroom in the night, getting more sensitive to that with age and then the ability to go back to sleep might be really hard.
 
Now, really, what about worry? You know, you have things on your mind before bed time that are dumping extra cortisol in there and making it really difficult to unplug. You know, one tip, if you find that you have worrisome thoughts, you know, write them down before you get in bed and say,
OK, I have captured them there. Some people are like, oh no, if I write them down then I am really thinking about them, that wouldn’t be the goal.
The goal is to write them down and tell yourself I have got the things that are troubling me captured, I will think about them tomorrow when I feel more refreshed when we shift gears here, and then you work on cognitively being able to shift gears, so we will talk more about how to do that coming up.
 
What about those electronics? I mean, this can be part of a sleep ritual. I know what’s happened this day and time. Most people are sleeping with electronics, there are at least -- many times we use a cell phone to wake us up in the morning so we kind of need, you know, the cell phone close, but all of a sudden then the cell phones is in the bed and then you are looking at, you know, things online, and then all of a sudden, you know, you look at the clock, and it’s like, oh no, I was trying to go to sleep 30 minutes ago and where did the last 30 minutes go, you were playing games, all of that. Tweeting, Instagram, the list goes on and on.
 
Think about your own ritual, your nightly routine and tweak it up. You want to minimize noise, you want the light and temperature to be really right for sleeping. You know, there are apps that play light noise, some people sleep with a fan because of the night that it makes, try to make the room as dark as possible; again, it depends on where you live and what the environment is like outside of your bedroom, but the darker and the more comfortable the temperature can be. And it’s a little colder recommendation from the National Sleep Foundation. I am going to make sure I mention this to my husband when he says I am freezing him out.
 
Yeah, what you say the temperature should be? Again, this is according to the National Sleep Foundation is 60 to 67. I know most people like that is freezing me. So just think about yourself but don’t make it too warm or you wake up hot. And use sheets that feel good, you know; whatever you sleep in make sure that feels good; blankets at a level as far as what’s covering you where that feels good. Yeah, all of those things really do matter.
 
You can look at websites and apps for music, you know, that helps induce sleep, sometimes a hot bath can help calm your body, you know, listening, doing some meditation, practicing mindfulness, some light stretching, deep breathing, a little yoga, you know, really getting your mind in a place of thinking about rest and getting recharged, even taking a vacation in your mind can be part of a nightly routine where you close your eyes and think about a relaxing scene. You know a place that you have been or a place you dream of, that can be incredibly helpful.
 
When I was in college I had a lot of trouble sleeping and I was in a dorm with my good friend, Marian, in some nights Marian had no trouble going to sleep and I would lay there and lay there. And some nights I would say Marian and most of the times she would answer, she was a light sleeper, even though she was a good sleeper and she go, yes, it seems you are awake, and sometimes she go, well, I am now. And so, I can’t sleep, and this is a joke now we have been friends our whole life, and she would tell me to think of black velvet. Black velvet can be part of your nightly routine. There is something about the softness and the darkness of black velvet if you can visualize that, if it’s harder to visualize a relaxing scene, that may be part. I know I am giving you a lot of ideas under this nightly routine.
 
A gratitude journal, you know something that if you have children many times we want them depends on, you know, your belief system, spiritual belief, religious practice, all of that, but to think about things in life that you are grateful for can really help change a brain chemistry and can help if you have that dump of cortisol going on.
 
Even to write those things down, you know, keep a gratitude journal that can be very helpful and to write in that before bed time, you know, sunlight, I know if it’s not a night time routine but to get some natural sunlight again, wear sunscreen, don’t end up with consequences of being in natural sunlight too long. But go rays from sunlight can be very helpful in getting our biological ribbons more regulated.
 
Try to keep, look at the bullet on the second column, first one. Regular sleep schedule, regular waking schedule including weekends, I know, many people are like, yeah, I got that with my brain, but it’s really hard to execute that in my life. Do it as much as you possibly can. I know once a woman in a sleep class years ago said, I use my cell phone, and I am like, yeah, most of us use our cell phone to wake up. And she goes, no, no, no, I use my cell phone to go to bed, and I noticed recently on, I happened to use Fitbit. On the Fitbit app it’s got an icon that will help with establishing your bed time routine, you tell it how many hours you need to sleep, what time you are going to get up and it will help prep you for when you need to get ready for bed. Isn’t that awesome? Technology at its best.
 
Alright, do you think do you know are there any other really good sleep tips that we haven’t talked about yet? I have got one more slide, full and of course, I am going to add and elaborate on some of these.
 
So restful place to sleep. Yes, just like I talked about, the conditions matter, darkness, quietness, and I know I might mention and I am not really picking on my husband although maybe I am a little bit.
 
So he was in emergency services for 31 years, he has now retired, but during that time even when he was a supervisor he had to monitor radios even when he would try to rest at night and try to get some sleep, and something happened in his brain during those years of sleeping with all that racket that man cannot sleep without noise, he sleeps with ear-buds and some kind of noise going in his brain all the time.
 
Now, he has in the last few years not felt as rested and there are a lot of reasons for that, but I know that one of the issues is light and noise which from his iPad and his ear-buds, that’s going on, on his side of the bed and I like dark and quiet. So I am 38 years into this, I am like, hey, can you just pull the cover over your iPad and you and your iPad snuggle up over there, so on my side it’s dark and quiet?
 
And he is really accommodating and kind about that, and what I really wish for him and I even remind him, I have actually written sleep curriculum and I am an health and wellness coach and I can totally straighten him out in the area of sleep if he would just let me in, but he tells me he relieved him and hired me.
 
So, when you are sleeping with someone and their idea of what the environment should be like doesn’t match yours, just make it work for you, find a time and a way to communicate about it and make it work as much as possible.
 
How about exercise? I don’t recommend to keep your treadmill right next to your bed or your elliptical and you go, go, go, go and get really good cardio in and then it’s like 5 minutes to bedtime and then you are like trying to get in bed and go to sleep.
 
There is an endorphin rush that happens with physical activity, cardio that can make it difficult for us to fall asleep.
 
You know, I mentioned caffeine, nicotine and alcohol to make sure and different people have different levels of sensitivity to caffeine. Caffeine and nicotine are both stimulant. I know some people and I happened to be one, I really shouldn’t do caffeine after about noon.
 
If I drink coffee in the afternoon or in the early evening or even if I have too much ice tea, I can feel that. I’m just very sensitive to caffeine. Know yourself and try to unplug from stimulants. There is not a person who’s using nicotine who doesn’t know that’s not good for them. There are all kinds of reasons that make that hard to stop, but by all means just know that smoking, chewing stimulates your body and makes it difficult to then move into a zone of falling asleep, and we’ve talked about alcohol.
 
What about napping? It’s interesting. There are two schools who’ve thought about napping. Now, I doubt unless you are at a company that’s very progressive and has a nap room, but most Corporate America companies do not have napping rooms to stay in time. I know some are getting them.
 
Sleep research tells us for some people a 15- or 20-minute nap can actually be very recharging. You have to know yourself. What is not recommended is that you nap and this is more a weekend thing that can happen. You nap and sleep a long time during the day and then you have difficulty going to sleep at night. So, yes, you are rested from the nap, but the disruption that causes on the upcoming night with your sleep, it’s like it’s not really worth it.
 
So like we do with young children, keep yourself on a schedule. You know a short nap is helpful, make sure you wake up and it doesn’t become a nap that goes on too long. Use your bedroom. You shouldn’t be paying your bills. You know, on your bed, all the other electronic stuff I’ve mentioned, bedrooms are for sexual activity and for sleep. Keep that in mind.
 
All right! What about medical help, EAP help for stress? Yeah, I will give you the EAP preview now. If as we are going through this you’re like, I think I know what’s interfering with my sleep the most. It’s stress, and I’m worried or anxious or depressed or I’ve had those life changes, you know, or I am just done overload, there’s not enough for me to go around. EAP is a great place to go, to help sort out what is going on and do some problem-solving sessions about how to make things better as quickly as possible.
 
If medically you feel like there could be an issue, again, like I mentioned earlier, check with your doctor, go to a sleep specialist. Sleep disorders are diagnosable and treatable. What we don’t want to do is just be medicating those with things like there is a gazillion pain medications that now include sleep medication and have PM on the end of them that you can buy over-the-counter. And I know people who may use those occasionally, they can, there is a dependency that can develop with those medications.
 
Again, I am not a sleep specialist, but I would say just beware and talk to your medical professional. I also know that Ambien, Lunesta, Sonata and other sleep medications are addictive and what you don’t want to do is start with one of those, not understanding that your body can become dependent on that, and then months down the road it would be like, oh no, I can’t sleep at all without this and I need more of it. That’s a problem. So, you can talk to medical professionals and seek help.
 
Medication, I forgot to mention this earlier. In terms of under the umbrella of medical issues if you are on medication, check with your pharmacist or your doctor or actually read the pamphlet that comes with the medication to see if interference with sleep is one of the side effects.
 
Different people respond differently, but medications can have side effects. If you are not sleeping well and it is probably because of the medication you are on, check with your medical professional to see if there might be another medication that wouldn’t have that side effect of insomnia that could still give you medically the benefit you need from a medication like that.
 
All right! If you do wake up, there are two schools of thought here. This bullet says, don’t get out of bed. You know, don’t turn on the light. Don’t grab your cell phone. Don’t read. Don’t stimulate your brain. Lay there in pink or black velvet or do visualization or deep breathing and try to get your sleep. Don’t look at the clock, because when you are like, oh no, now it’s 2 a.m. and I’m still not asleep, and then you feel worse and then it just gets cranked up inside you.
 
Don’t look at the clock, lay there, do the relaxing things we’ve talked about. That is more the school of thought yet I have also read for some people to get up from bed and read a little bit, may help them be able to go back to sleep.
 
You need to know yourself. The goal is not to over-stimulate your brain or get your brain cranked up with when you have difficulty going back to sleep.
 
So, what are some of the most important things that we’ve talked about? Well, it’s not even listed separately on a bullet, but I would want you to think about yourself and think about what your challenges are with sleep. Hopefully, you are now fold on the first bullet that sleep is a basic biological need. We cannot deny it. It is critical to our overall health and functioning in life; our performance, our safety, the quality of our life, really virtually every aspect of our life is affected by how we’re sleeping.
 
Sleep deprivation got some serious negative health consequences. You know, we’ll get sick more easily, we’re at higher risk for mood disorders, things like depression, anxiety, there is an enormous safety risk like I’ve talked about.
 
You know, adequate sleeps helps. A person can be exercising, they can be eating where in the formula of how many calories am I taking in, in terms of nourishment, how many am I burning with exercise, activities of daily living and resting metabolic rate. That formula, if it’s working adequately, if you are burning more than you’re taking in, you are going to be losing weight.
 
If you are burning more than you’re taking in that you are sleep-deprived, your body is going to hold onto weight. How crazy is that formula! Don’t you wish that weren’t true but it is and in same I might add for not being adequately hydrated although this is not a class on water. Make sure you’re getting the liquid and water—water is different than Diet Coke. Get water in your body.
 
So adequate sleep and drinking enough water helps maintain healthy body weight and can help with appetite queues, appetite control, healthy choices and with physical activity.
 
Establishing healthy sleep practices helps prevent health problems and promote optimal high-quality sleep. So again, just like you would with a child help get your bedtime routine and your sleep schedule together and pick and choose from the tips we’ve gone over for what seems like it will be most helpful for you.
 
So let’s now look at your EAP. So I’d like to say there is no problem too small or too big for your employee assistance program. All of you by virtue of joining the webinar have EAP benefits through Beacon Health Options. You have a toll-free number and a dedicated website that you can find through your company because every company has a very specific toll-free number and dedicated website. So, look there to find out details about your benefit. EAP will help you proactively in life. If something good is coming up in your life, let’s say you are getting married or adding your child or getting a promotion and you really want to plan for how to make the very smoothest transition. EAP can help you with that.
 
If you have health goals, personal goals, professional goals and you want to talk those over with someone, help identify obstacles, how do you overcome those, kind of set yourself up for success, that’s another benefit with EAP that many times people don’t think about.
 
We think more about the other end of EAP when traumatic things happen; you know, grief and loss, or depression and anxiety, you know, unexpected things in life, relationship struggles, EAP is there to help. Those can be at work, those can be with couples, that can be with children, any relationships in our life, EAP can help with.
 
Addiction, you know, any type of addiction. EAP can help with assessment and make treatment recommendation. Work-life balance issues and believe me there’s no Nirvana with work-life balance. It’s something we’re striving for, “synergy” is a better term. We want to have meaning in purpose in all areas of our life. It depends on what benefit package your company has chosen. You may have financial and legal consultation available at no cost to you. You might also have child and elder care referral. You can even have some concierge services.
 
So, just check with your company to see the specifics about your benefit. So 24x7 there’s not a minute of any day of any week, month or year that EAP is not available. Real people answer the phone, even at 3 a.m. and even on holidays and they are trained professionals. They will problem-solve with you and help get you to people who can help. The company may have telephonic EAP if they have chosen that option.
 
Things for you to be assured about, EAP is confidential. Your company does not know if you contact Beacon Health to access your benefit. The benefit is also extended to members of your household and your eligible family members even if they don’t live in your household.
 
So, just note, there will be a certain number of sessions that are covered, and typically, the way the benefit reads, it’s a certain number of sessions per person, per issue, per year. So it’s an awesome benefit. And many times, a well-kept secret, so I would encourage you to use it.
 
Another well-kept secret is your Beacon Health Options website. Typically, it is achievedsolutions.net and then a Slash (/) with something to do with your company, but you may have a dedicated site that is named differently.
 
Things to know about that website, there is a plethora of information. It is an award-winning website. Quick search engine, articles, assessments, other webinars, news releases, I would encourage you, spend a little time, the return on your investment of time will be great.

 

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By Kris Hooks, M.Ed., L.P.C., L.M.F.T., C.E.A.P. ©2019 Beacon Health Options Source: National Sleep Foundation Reviewed by Jessica El Dakkak, L.M.H.C., C.A.P.

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, assessments, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical or health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2019 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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