AlaskaCare Wellness News | July 2017

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July 2017

Adopting a Healthy Sleep Routine

sleeping man

Getting too little sleep or not sleeping well can have a negative impact on your health. Lack of sleep is linked to depression, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Did you know that a third of U.S. adults don’t get enough sleep? But there is good news! You can get better sleep by making some simple changes to your daily routine.

Create a healthy sleep environment

  • Keep your bedroom quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a cool, comfortable temperature.
  • Remove electronic devices from the bedroom. The light from televisions, computers and smart phones stimulate our brains and make it harder to fall asleep.
  • Use the bedroom for sleep only.

Create a bedtime routine

  • Be consistent with bedtime. Go to bed and rise at the same time, even on weekends.
  • Avoid large meals, caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine a couple of hours before you go to bed.
  • Take time to relax before bed with a hot bath or practice relaxation techniques like meditation and deep breathing.

Prepare for sleep well before bedtime

  • Be physically active for at least 30 minutes each day.
  • Try to spend some time outside every day.
  • If you need a nap, try to limit it to no more than 20 minutes and take it earlier in the afternoon.

Try using a sound machine

Background noise like dogs barking, doors slamming, and sirens outside the window disturb our sleep. They can cause us to wake up throughout the night, even if we don’t remember hearing the sounds. If you have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep, you can try turning on a white noise machine or a fan in your bedroom. These will create a consistent, smooth sound that blocks the noise and helps you stay asleep.

Keep a sleep journal

Always yawning? Find yourself drinking coffee all day to stay awake? Despite your best efforts, you may not be getting enough sleep. You can learn a lot about your sleep habits by keeping a sleep journal. Record your activities from that day, such as your exercise, caffeine intake, stress levels, alcohol intake, and the times that you fall asleep and wake during the night. You may begin to notice a pattern that certain lifestyle habits are either positively or negatively impacting your sleep. Many people find that they sleep better on days that they get more exercise and sleep less when they have had a few cups of coffee. Keep your sleep journal beside your bed so it is accessible before you go to bed and when you wake up.

Active Health is presenting the "Shh...Good Night...Sleep Well" webinar on July 18. Attend one of three sessions to learn how you can improve the quality of your sleep. Register today...


CDC: Getting Enough Sleep?

NHLBI: Strategies for Getting Enough Sleep

CDC: How Much Sleep Do I Need?

CDC: Sleep and Chronic Disease

    Shift Work Sleep Disorder

    construction workers at dawn

    The long daylight hours can be challenging enough for getting to bed routinely and staying asleep long enough. But did you know that shift work can sometimes set you up for shift work sleep disorder? Here are a few tips for how to spot it and what you can do about it.

    You may be one of those who works night shifts or maybe even rotates shifts regularly. If you have trouble sleeping during the day or just aren’t feeling rested, you may have shift work disorder. It’s really a problem for those working the night shift, when your body naturally should be sleeping. Not everyone has trouble getting good sleep who works shifts or rotate shifts. But if you find that over time, your sleep doesn’t improve, it may be time to take some action.

    Keep a sleep journal

    Before you see your provider, it will help to track your sleep for a week or two. Journal things like when you sleep, how much you sleep, and how you feel upon waking. Your provider may then want to do other tests, maybe in a sleep lab, or have you wear a special device to monitor your awake and sleep times.

    Shift work and your health

    Shift work can increase stress, which may make you more likely to get sick. Lack of sleep can increase the chance of car accidents and on-the-job accidents. Your concentration and job performance may also suffer. Some experts think the shift work and the disrupted sleep cycle affects how much melatonin your body makes. This hormone controls sleeping and waking cycles and is mostly made when it’s dark. Working at night in artificial light may cause your body to make less melatonin than it needs. This can possibly make you more likely to get sick or have other health problems.

    Sleeping better with shift work

    Some sleep problems can only be fixed by switching to regular work hours. But working shifts and getting good sleep is possible. You’ll need some strategies to control your environment and take good care of yourself.

    • Use a sleep mask or blackout drapes
    • Cover bright digital devices
    • Wear earplugs
    • Use “white noise” for distraction
    • Keep the temp at around 65°F
    • Eat healthfully
    • Limit caffeine and alcohol
    • Exercise regularly
    • Nap if needed



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    Aetna's EAP Program: What Is It, And What Can It Do For Me?


    An employee assistance program (EAP) is an employee benefit program offered by many employers. EAPs are intended to help employees deal with personal problems that might adversely impact their job performance, health, and well-being. AlaskaCare EAP offers a confidential counseling service free of charge to AlaskaCare members and their dependents. It provides assessment, treatment and referral services. It is geared to provide assistance with difficulties that you might encounter at work, emotional problems, stress, family and relationship problems, and drug and alcohol abuse.

    Resources are Available

    Additional information, self-help tools and other resources are available online at the above links. Or call for more information, help and support. Counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide confidential assistance at no cost to you.

    AlaskaCare EAP, administered by Aetna, provides responsive, caring and effective services to help balance your personal and professional life.

    Some of the areas the EAP can help with include:

    • Personal balance
    • Emotional wellness
    • Marital/relationship issues
    • Family issues
    • Communication skills
    • Stress management
    • Alcohol and drug issues
    • Work-related issues
    • Grief issues
    • Financial and legal concerns

    Find more information about AlaskaCare EAP on the AlaskaCare website or call (855) 417-2493.


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    Benefits of Condition Management

    Want to stay healthy and feel your best? Now you can—at no extra cost! The Condition Management program provided by Active Health Management, available to you through your AlaskaCare plan, can help you manage chronic health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or coronary artery disease.

      Health coaching is all about putting you in control and giving you the help you need to feel your best. Active Health registered nurses are available to help you manage chronic health conditions and avoid further complications. Active Health registered nurses and registered dietitians work with members with chronic health conditions to help them take control of their health and avoid further complications. We support 41 long-term health conditions.

      This one-on-one support does not replace a doctor, but many people find they benefit more from their regular doctor visits because of the information and coaching they received from Active Health.

      The nurse coach will work with the participant over the phone to:

      • Help understand the condition
      • Answer questions about medications and side effects
      • Explain the tests a doctor orders and what the results mean

      Digital coaching supports participants between coaching sessions and provider visits. Your team of ActiveHealth registered nurses is available by phone Monday through Saturday to support you. Call today (877) 749-6995 to set up an appointment with a registered nurse. You can also visit the website and utilize any of the digital coach self-management programs from your computer or smartphone.


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      Exercise of the Month: Biceps Stretch


      This biceps exercise is simple and effective for training biceps muscles. You can perform it at home or in the gym.

      Try it out...

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      Vitamin D and Your Health

      Vitamin D salmon

      Vitamin D is important for strong bones and may contribute to overall good health. Alaskans should select foods that are high in vitamin D, such as Alaska salmon, and should talk with their health care provider about vitamin D and the risks and benefits of supplementation.


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      Recipe of the Month: Alaskan Ceviche with Mango

      Alaskan Ceviche with Mango

      This dish is mostly made up of fresh fruits and vegetables, with Alaskan fish and Alaskan spot prawns thrown in. Pair it with whole-grain tortilla chips and low-fat milk to balance it out for a healthy meal.

      Get the recipe...

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