It’s time for America’s workforce to wake up. If you are one of the tens of millions of adults sleeping fewer than seven hours each night — the amount recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) — you are likely jeopardizing performance, increasing accident risks and putting everyone in danger during commutes. Getting enough sleep every night is key to improving productivity, safety and quality of life. Here are some tips to make sleep work for you.
(BPT) - It’s time for America’s workforce to wake up. If you are one of the tens of millions of adults sleeping fewer than seven hours each night — the amount recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) — you are likely jeopardizing performance, increasing accident risks and putting everyone in danger during commutes. Getting enough sleep every night is key to improving productivity, safety and quality of life.
Here are some tips to make sleep work for you.
Don’t burn the midnight oil
Working late nights might impress your boss, but restricting your sleep can lead to trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling emotions and more, severely affecting your productivity at work. The National Safety Council reports that workers who sleep fewer than six hours per night cost employers six days a year in productivity.
Sleep for safety
Workers who sleep less than six hours per night are also at higher risk for injury, according to the Sleep Research Society. Cognitive and motor performance impairments caused by sleep deprivation can be comparable to drinking alcohol. If you make it a daily priority to recognize the signs of fatigue before, during and after work, and refuse to drive drowsy, you can reduce the risk of serious injury for yourself and others. This may be especially true if you work a job that involves manual labor or heavy machinery.
Strategies for non-traditional work hours
Some of the more high-risk professions involve working irregular hours. Shift workers — who can be nurses, law enforcement officers, emergency responders, transportation operators and more — work overnight or early morning hours with irregular or rotating shifts, causing upheaval in the body’s circadian rhythm and natural sleep/wake cycle. According to the AASM, shift workers may sleep up to four fewer hours per night than those working traditional hours, increasing the risk for injuries, accidents and drowsy driving. The CDC reports that serious long-term health problems are a concern, too.
However, there are ways for shift workers to combat this problematic sleep schedule.
Tips for 'wake time'
* Avoid exposure to sunlight if you need to sleep during the day, and wear sunglasses if you must go outside.
* Use moderate amounts of caffeine in the early part of your shift.
* Use public transportation, rideshare or take a cab, or arrange rides from friends or family after a work shift.
* Take a 20- to 30-minute nap during a work break or before a night shift.
* Get help from a sleep specialist to reinforce your body clock with strategically timed bright light therapy.
Tips for 'sleep time'
* Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the hours before you go to bed.
* Plan for any major changes in your shift schedule by altering your sleep time a few days in advance.
* Try to keep the same schedule on workdays and days off and create an effective “wind down” routine before going to bed.
* Keep your bedroom at a cool temperature, turn off all electronics and only do relaxing activities like reading or journaling.
Use the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project’s bedtime calculator, which helps you find your ideal bedtime based on when you need to wake up for work — even if that’s in the middle of the night.
Getting at least seven hours of sleep isn’t just a matter of feeling alert for productivity and safety on the job; it’s a necessary component of good health and well-being. If you’re having trouble sleeping, you should talk to your doctor, who may refer you to a board-certified sleep medicine physician at an accredited sleep center for help. For more information go to www.sleepeducation.org.
Often, employees enroll in medical insurance plans for protection against unpredictable events, sudden illness or serious health concerns that may result in expensive medical bills. Getting the most from your benefits requires understanding coverages and deductibles, as well as taking advantage of voluntary benefits, like dental, vision and hearing, to stay healthy and save money.
4 Ways to Stretch Your Health Benefits
Avoid surprises. About 91 percent of adults in the United States are confused about what their benefits cover, according to a recent Harris poll. The best starting point is to review your plan so you understand the care and services covered. If you have a high-deductible plan, you will need to pay for most or a percentage of the health costs until reaching the individual or family deductible. Be prepared to pay any copayments or deductibles the plan requires before receiving care. Also, before scheduling appointments, ask for a cost estimate for the appointment, tests or service.
Preventive dental and vision. Many voluntary plans, such as dental and vision, offer preventive exams, such as routine cleanings and vision exams, that are fully covered. That’s because these preventive exams help to maintain and improve overall health and help reduce health costs. Voluntary coverage is affordable and many plans offer added incentives. For example, coverage for LASIK, dental, vision and hearing benefits can increase from one year to the next for those who continue to enroll and use their benefits. Members could earn monetary rewards to use for dental, vision, LASIK, orthodontia and hearing benefits, care materials and services simply by using their benefits and keeping the benefits paid out under a specified amount.
Medical screenings. Routine health screenings, such as mammograms, immunizations, colonoscopy procedures and prostate cancer screenings, which may be covered fully or in part by your medical coverage, can help you stay healthy and lower health care costs.
Get paid to save. Many employers encourage employees to save money by matching a percentage of the amount the employee contributes to the plan. If available, enroll in a Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account to set aside money to pay for health care costs.
Learn more about the questions to ask when reviewing benefit plans at ameritasinsight.com.
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