Living Well

5 ways to adjust quickly to Daylight Savings Time

Daylight Savings Time (DST) is when we welcome longer days of sunlight, but prepare to lose an hour of sleep when we move the clocks forward. It's a double-edged sword for sure, and without the necessary preparation, it could leave you feeling off for days after the time change.

This year, go into Daylight Savings Time with a plan! Here are a few of our favorite tips to adjust to the time change from

  1. Alter your routine in advance

The best way to get a jump on the time change is to plan ahead of time! A week before turning back the clocks, make an effort to go to bed and wake up a half hour earlier than usual for 2-3 days, before making the switch to a full hour at the conclusion of the week. When March 12 finally arrives, you'll already be adjusted to the time change and can hit the ground running.

  1. Adjust your home's lighting

The infusion and exclusion of light in your bedroom can make a major difference in helping you attain a restful sleep and rising in the morning feeling refreshed. As DST draws closer, make an effort in the weeks before the time change to dim the lighting in your bedroom in the evening to help the body adjust to sleep, while letting natural light in during the morning for a wake up boost.

  1. Prepare for hunger pangs

One of the side effects of being off your sleep and eating schedule is that you can resort to sweets and other unhealthy foods when you're feeling sluggish. Don't give into this temptation and instead plan ahead of time with healthy snack foods that will provide a source of energy and leave you feeling full. Veggies, lean proteins, nuts and complex carbs can provide the boost you need as opposed to poor nutritional choices.

  1. Stay Hydrated!

During the week of transition that follows DST, being stressed and feeling off your game may force normal, healthy behaviors to fall to the bottom of your to-do list. Staying hydrated throughout the day is important at any time of the year, but ensuring that you're drinking enough water can help you stick to a normal sleep schedule and stay alert during the daytime. Additionally, avoid caffeine and alcohol as these can dehydrate the body and interfere with the sleep cycle.

  1. Skip the mobile devices

The light that emanates from mobile devices, laptops and TVs can interfere with the body's cool-down period before sleep, so if you haven't already eliminated these from your nightly routine, DST is the perfect time to start! Make an effort to get off your devices at least an hour before bedtime to allow the body to adequately prepare itself to achieve a deep, restful sleep.

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Living Well

Improve your sleep cycle during National Sleep Awareness Week

National Sleep Awareness Week (March 5-12, 2017) is held each year by the National Sleep Foundation in anticipation of Daylight Savings Time (March 12, 2017). While this awareness initiative encourages Americans to adjust their sleep schedule before switching their clocks back, it also sheds light on the importance of a proper sleep schedule and strategies to overcome the most common sleep disorders.

If you have a flexible spending account (FSA), your benefit covers a huge range of qualifying medical products and services that can improve your sleep cycle. Make National Sleep Awareness Week the catalyst to deep, restful sleep throughout 2017. Let's explore the most common sleep disorders and the ways that an FSA can help you get the shuteye you need to stay healthy.

  1. Snoring

As many as half of American adults snore during sleep, which occurs when air flows past relaxed tissues in the throat, causing them to vibrate during sleep to create the harsh sounds that could disturb your partner's sleep. In addition to being a nuisance to your sleeping partner, snoring can also be the sign of an underlying health problem like obstructive sleep apnea or another major medical issue. It is recommended that you visit your doctor to find out the underlying source of your snoring, but in most cases snoring can clear up by living a healthier lifestyle by losing weight, quitting smoking and avoiding alcohol before bedtime.

  1. Sleep Apnea

It is estimated that more than 18 million Americans have some form of sleep apnea, or about 1 in 15 adults. This condition causes breathing pauses during the sleep cycle due to obstructed airways, which can lead to other problems such as high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke over time. In severe cases, surgery is an option, but most cases of sleep apnea are controlled through specialized CPAP breathing machines and masks, mouth guards and other devices that are worn during the night. These products and accessories are FSA-eligible and could be a solution for various forms of sleep apnea.

  1. Insomnia

Most adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep each night, but those who suffer from significant sleep issues called insomnia may have trouble coming close to this pivotal number. Short-term insomnia (which lasts days or weeks) can be caused by stress or a traumatic event, while long-term insomnia could last for a month or more and could be the sign of an underlying medical condition. In addition to FSA eligible over-the-counter sleep aids and prescription medications, FSAs can also cover the cost of cognitive behavioral therapy, sleep studies, acupuncture and many other treatments that could alleviate insomnia.

  1. Bruxism

Bruxism is a surprisingly common disorder that involves the grinding of the teeth during sleep that can lead to tooth damage, as well as contributing to other sleep disorders like snoring, jaw disorders, headaches and other problems. In most cases, Bruxism does not require treatment unless it is severe, in which case dental surgery, therapies and medications are the most common course of action. Overnight dental mouth guards are the most common over-the-counter remedy, which keep teeth separated to avoid the damage caused by clenching and grinding.

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Living Well

5 Methods to Improve Sleep

Struggling with a good night's rest? Learn about 5 methods to improve sleep from

Did you know that adults should aim to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night? How close are you to reaching this goal? A poor sleep schedule won't just leave you feeling groggy and slow each morning, it could have some very real health risks. Sleep disorders and chronic sleep loss can lead to an increased risk of heart attack, hypertension, stroke, diabetes and other potential health issues.

Of course, if you don't want to rely on sleeping pills and other prescription sleep aids, various lifestyle and behavioral changes can make a major difference.

Here are a fewtips on how you can transform your sleep schedule from

Pre-sleep relaxation

Before heading to bed, we may have a tendency to catch up on our favorite TV shows or surf the web on our mobile devices - but this will dramatically inhibit the body's ability to wind down and achieve restful sleep. Photoreceptors in the retina sense light and dark and regulate the body's circadian rhythms that allow us to be alert in the morning and wind down in the evening. Various studies have shown that light emitted from digital devices can interfere with the sleep cycle, so it's advisable to read or relax for an hour before bed to allow your brain to wind down and prepare for sleep.

Regular exercise

We all know that joining a gym or setting aside time each day to exercise can be a major boost to your health, but it can aid your sleep regimen as well. Releasing some of that pent-up energy during the day can help you achieve a deeper, more restful sleep. However, be sure to avoid exercising too closely to bedtime as physical activity can be stimulating and you may be too energized to fall asleep quickly. Aim to complete all physical activity 4 hours before hitting the sack.

Reorganize your master bedroom

Is your bedroom as conducive to sleeping as it could be? Your master bedroom should be a space where the primary aim is to promote relaxation and eliminate outside distractions. First, the room should be at a cool temperature, between 60 to 67 degrees, as well as including blackout shades to eliminate any light filtering into the room that could interfere with sleep. Experiment with humidifiers, ear plugs, eye masks, white noise machines and anything else that can benefit your sleep schedule.

Regulate caffeine intake

Most of us can't imagine getting through the day without a morning cup of coffee, or even without the 2 pm cup to push through late afternoon fatigue. However, caffeine is a very strong stimulant that can stay in your body for hours, which can prevent you from entering a deep sleep or falling asleep altogether. Doctors advise against caffeine intake for at least 8 hours before going to bed to achieve optimal sleep.

Watch what you eat

Heading to bed when you're hungry or completely full can also interfere with your sleep, as the discomfort of either state can keep you up. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time between dinner and bedtime to fully digest, and if you do decide to have a late snack, stick with foods that combine carbohydrates, as well as either calcium or a protein that contains the amino acid tryptophan. These foods can boost the body's production of serotonin, which brings about a state of calm that can help you sleep. Cheese, crackers, yogurt, milk or peanut butter are great options to eat an hour before bedtime.

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