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Sleep Better Tonight

Healthy Sleep

National and world events today are creating anxiety that makes it more difficult for many to sleep soundly. Combine this anxiety with poor sleep habits, and it is no wonder that people are feeling overwhelmed and fatigued. A National Sleep Foundation poll shows that 58 percent of adults experience symptoms of insomnia, which is difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep, at least a few nights a week. That adds up to over a hundred million Americans that may be struggling to function during any given day. Some people also have physical problems that awaken them repeatedly throughout sleep, such as limb movements, pain, or a disturbance of breathing.


Lack of Sleep = Poor Performance

Lack of sleep is a top reason for poor job performance and accidents. Polls show 51 percent report that sleepiness on the job interferes with their productivity and 57 percent have driven while drowsy. It is estimated that sleepiness is a factor in up to 50% of motor vehicle accidents, and daytime sleepiness is estimated to cost the economy up to 100 billion dollars per year. Sleep loss has been shown to activate inflammatory factors in the blood, and this may produce more than a feeling of soreness and fatigue. Current research is suggesting that these inflammatory factors might speed the development of conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and arthritic conditions. Good sleep will simply make you feel better, think more clearly, be more productive, and experience greater health.

“The good news is, there are a variety of techniques people can practice in order to sleep well,” says Dr. Ken Plotkin from Rochester’s new sleep clinic, Sleep Insights. “When utilized,” he says, “any of several techniques, including the ones mentioned here, can help your mind relax and enable you to fall asleep more easily.”

If you have difficulty getting to sleep, first try these easy steps recommended by Dr. Richard Shane, Ph.D., an affiliate with the Boulder Community Hospital in Colorado.

When you go to bed:

  • Let your tongue relax. Slightly separate your lower and upper teeth. Your jaw and throat begin to relax.
  • Gently be aware of your chest and belly rising and falling with your breath.
  • Notice the sense of comfort developing in your body.

There are many more steps to help people with difficulty getting to sleep. People with persistent problems should consider evaluation by a sleep specialist, to determine whether a physical problem during sleep is causing their difficulty. If they have a bed partner, or somebody who has watched them sleep, they should find out whether they snore or stop breathing repeatedly as they sleep, or whether they repeatedly move their limbs during sleep. If so, an overnight sleep study may be helpful to arrive at the right diagnosis, and therefore lead to the right treatment.

Chronic insomnia is best treated by behavioral sleep treatment, a combination of lifestyle adjustments and training to control the mind/body connection that gets in the way of restful sleep.

“Not sleeping well can be an extremely stressful experience,” adds Dr. Plotkin, “but rapid advances are being made in sleep therapies. There is a high likelihood an individual can be helped with simple relaxation techniques or by a combination of treatments after evaluation by a sleep professional.”



Tip of The Day:

Mediation: Rx for Healthy Relationships

The demands of everyday life can wreak havoc on relationships with family members, colleagues, clients, and others. Misunderstandings fester, stress evolves, and emotions escalate, resulting in avoidance tactics or explosive confrontations. Unresolved issues can lead to sleepless nights, upset stomachs, depression, and other unhealthy symptoms.

When managed well, however, disagreements and issues can be a catalyst for positive change, leading to closer relationships, interpersonal growth, and more effective communication skills. A greater sense of self-confidence, relief, and well-being are outcomes welcomed after a stressful and frightening period of time. Mediation provides this opportunity.

There are countless numbers of situations where mediation can be extremely beneficial in maintaining civil relationships while keeping emotional and financial costs to a minimum.

• Couples facing a marital intersection often use professional mediators to communicate more effectively, to help determine how to mend their relationship or proceed toward a marital separation. In uncontested matters, mediation can help spouses avoid costly legal battles.

• Adult children caring for aging loved ones can use professional mediators specializing in elder care issues. The mediator facilitates discussions about housing, respite and long-term care, finances, and decision-making. It can help families create a plan, easing loved ones’ anxieties about future care.

• Family members and unmarried couples can use mediation to resolve differences and create mutual understandings about behaviors and needs. Examples include prenuptial or palimony agreements.

• Consumers and homeowners dealing with business matters too large for small claims court, personal injury, insurance claims, or business conflicts with home construction contractors can use mediation. It is a more affordable way of having your day in court.

• Business owners and employers frequently use mediation to quickly ease tensions between people in the workplace. For both small and large businesses, professional mediators (often available through employee assistance programs) can help resolve issues involving contracts or other complaints between managers or business partners.

As a result of escalating costs of litigation, mediation is growing in popularity in many areas including: the insurance and securities industries, banking and finance, construction and consumer markets, and environmental, agricultural, labor, and industrial relations.