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It’s Sleep Awareness Week: Be Sure You Get Your Zs

sleepSleep is a vital indicator of overall health and well-being. We spend up to one-third of our lives asleep, and the overall state of our “sleep health” remains an essential question throughout our lifespan.

Join the National Sleep Foundation in celebrating its annual Sleep Awareness Week, March 11 to 17, 2018. This year’s theme, “Begin with Sleep,” highlights the importance of good sleep health for individuals to best achieve their personal, family, and professional goals.

A good night’s sleep can depend on:

How much sleep do you need to be your best self?

Most of us know that getting a good night’s sleep is important, but too few of us actually make those eight or so hours between the sheets a priority. For many of us with sleep debt, we’ve forgotten what “being really, truly rested” feels like.

To further complicate matters, stimulants like coffee and energy drinks, alarm clocks, and external lights—including those from electronic devices—interfere with our “circadian rhythm” or natural sleep/wake cycle.

Sleep needs vary across ages and are especially impacted by lifestyle and health. To determine how much sleep you need, it’s important to assess not only where you fall on the “sleep needs spectrum,” but also to examine what lifestyle factors are affecting the quality and quantity of your sleep such as work schedules and stress.

Check out the Bedtime Calculator, which can help you plan your sleep.

sleep chart

Make Sleep a Priority

To begin a new path towards healthier sleep and a healthier lifestyle, begin by assessing your own individual needs and habits. See how you respond to different amounts of sleep.

Pay careful attention to your mood, energy and health after a poor night’s sleep versus a good one. Ask yourself, “How often do I get a good night’s sleep?” Like good diet and exercise, sleep is a critical component to overall health.

To pave the way for better sleep, follow these simple yet effective healthy sleep tips, including:

If you or a family member are experiencing symptoms such as sleepiness during the day or when you expect to be awake and alert, snoring, leg cramps or tingling, gasping or difficulty breathing during sleep, prolonged insomnia or another symptom that is preventing you from sleeping well, you should consult your primary care physician or  find a sleep professional to determine the underlying cause.

You may also try using the National Sleep Foundation Sleep Diary to track your sleep habits over a one- or two-week period and bring the results to your physician.

Most importantly, make sleep a priority. You must schedule sleep like any other daily activity, so put it on your “to-do list” and cross it off every night. But don’t make it the thing you do only after everything else is done; stop doing other things so you get the sleep you need.

Here’s what to do if you get sick with the flu

No one wants to get the flu. The contagious respiratory illness can range from being mild to severe and can cause you to miss work or school. It also can lead to hospitalization — or even death.

The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each year.

In the unfortunate event that you get sick with flu symptoms, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most people with the flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs. If, however, you have symptoms of flu and are in a high risk group, or are very sick or worried about your illness, contact your health care provider.

The CDC recommends you follow these steps if you get sick:

Take Antivirals Drugs, if prescribed by a doctor. Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) and are not available over-the-counter. They can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. It’s very important that antiviral drugs be used early to treat people who are very sick with the flu (for example, people who are in the hospital) and people who are sick with the flu and have a greater chance of getting serious flu complications, either because of their age or because they have a high risk medical condition.

 Take everyday precautions to protect others.

  • Limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them. Call in sick from work and stay at home from school if you must; your coworkers and classmates will be thankful.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

Stay home until you are better.

  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. When you return to work or school you should no longer need medicine to reduce your fever.

Visit the CDC’s website for more information for people who are sick.