Sleep Better! Feel Better!
We often work on increasing our physical activity or making healthful eating choices, but how often do we focus on improving our sleep? The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night – yet, surprisingly, many of us find this goal hard to achieve. In 2017, less than a third of Emory employees reported getting seven or more hours of sleep each night during the week. The Sleep Better! Feel Better! campaign was recently introduced to give employees an opportunity to focus on their sleep while using resources available through Healthy Emory Connect.
As part of the campaign, employees can track their sleep, attend a webinar, and participate in the Be in Bed challenge. The Be in Bed challenge begins August 15, and participants are encouraged to improve their sleeping patterns to achieve seven or more consecutive hours each night (or day, depending on work shift) for 14 days. By tracking sleep, employees can earn 8,000 points each month in Healthy Emory Connect toward their Emory medical plan incentives.
“Sleep is very important to our physical and mental health,” explains Marisa Hutchinson, a wellness coordinator at Emory. “The sleep resources in Healthy Emory Connect really allow you to become aware of how many hours of sleep you’re receiving – or not receiving – and make changes for the better.”
As part of the campaign, employees can attend a webinar entitled “Sleep for Optimal Health,” presented by Nancy Collop, MD, Director of Emory Sleep Center, on Thursday, August 23. Dr. Collop will discuss what happens when you sleep, how much to get, and help identify possible sleep disorders.
“Sleep is a very complicated process in which various chemicals move in and out of different brain centers throughout the sleep period,” Dr. Collop discusses. “While we really do not understand all the functions of sleep, we do know it has a variety of critical functions including memory consolidation, mood regulation, and it is important for bodily functions, including metabolism and appetite regulation, immune and hormone function, and keeping our cardiovascular systems in tune.”
Consider these tips shared by Dr. Collop to improve your sleep:
- Count back 7.5-8 hours from your wakeup time to figure out when you need to be in bed to get the recommended 7 hours of sleep.
- Avoid caffeine-containing products at least 3-4 hours before bedtime. For some, it may be even longer! Caffeine can be hidden in some products, so read the label.
- Limit high fat meals close to bedtime. They are harder to digest and increase the risk of gastric reflux (“heartburn”).
- Regular exercise will help you sleep better but don’t exercise too close to bedtime. The quality of our sleep benefits from a falling, not rising body temperature to aid sleep onset.
- Make your sleep environment as quiet, cool, dark and free of disturbances as you can (that includes pets and devices that project stimulating light to your brain). Often, a ceiling or floor fan can cool and provide background noise to assist with sleep onset and maintenance.
- Make sleep a high priority.
Start focusing on your sleep today, so you can sleep better and feel better!
And, don’t forget. The last date to earn points toward your 2018 medical plan incentives is November 15. Learn more about how to earn points here. For questions, contact Healthy Emory at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-712-3775.