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Expert tips for a better night’s sleep

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When was the last time you had a good night’s sleep?

For many, sleep doesn’t come easy. Up to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy and restless legs syndrome. Nights are spent staring at the walls as insomnia takes control, or frequently waking from snoring or gasping for air due to untreated obstructive sleep apnea. Fortunately, achieving the recommended seven hours of healthy sleep and managing a sleep disorder is possible with help.

“Sleep should be a restorative experience, but sleep disorders are notorious for robbing us of that nightly pleasure,” said Patti Van Landingham, chair of the American Alliance for Healthy Sleep (AAHS). “Whether recently diagnosed with a sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea, or just noticing warning signs, such as snoring, choking during sleep or fatigue and daytime sleepiness, people need to seek support so that they can experience the joy of sleep again.”

However, where do you start and what resources are available? The AAHS, a patient-focused membership organization made up of health care providers and patients with sleep disorders, shares the following three tips to manage your sleep better:

Talk to your doctor — As a society, we often deprioritize sleep issues despite a patient’s need to address a lack of sleep. Many patients do not proactively talk to their primary care physician about their sleep during routine exams, mainly due to a perceived high cost of treatment. By asking the right questions or finding an accredited sleep center for testing and consultation, you’re one step closer to a good night’s sleep. A sleep physician can help outline a treatment strategy that can last a lifetime, helping you take back control and reduce the cycle of the frustration of losing valuable sleep.

Connect with others — Another way to improve quality of life if you suffer from a sleep disorder is to identify a one-on-one peer support group. Mentorship provides long-term support to patients who are newly diagnosed by connecting them to patients who have experience managing their sleep disorders. Patient mentor programs, such as the one offered by the AAHS, allow experienced patients to share their stories and use their firsthand experience to help guide others. For example, a newly diagnosed narcolepsy or sleep apnea patient is connected with an individual who was diagnosed with the same disorder at least two years prior and is managing his or her sleep disorder with an evidence-based treatment option. The result is a support system that offers encouragement and a new perspective on sleep at a peer level.

Stay up to date — It’s an exciting time in the sleep field, and advancements are on the horizon. From new sleep monitoring technology and more comfortable positive airway pressure machines, researchers continue to focus on new ways to provide high-quality patient-centered care. By joining together, patients and their family members can learn more about healthy sleep, access exclusive news affecting the sleep community and ultimately be a part of a collaborative discussion that furthers the success of the sleep disorders community. Together you can advocate for increased and improved care for patients and rally for more significant research funding to improve the understanding and treatment of sleep disorders. To learn more about improving your life through healthy sleep, visit www.sleepallies.org.

Health & Wellness

5 tips to make the most out of your workout routine

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Whether you’re hitting the gym to get healthy, tone up or improve your overall well-being, there’s no denying that seeing results can be one of the most satisfying feelings. Noticing even the smallest change in the way you feel or look is reason enough to lace up your sneakers for another sweat session. However, when results seem to plateau or schedules get busy, you might begin to question your commitment to a fitness routine.

Whatever you do, don’t give up! Keep the below tips in mind to help maximize your fitness routine and stay on track.

1) Find a workout buddy

Instead of flying solo, bring along a friend so you can encourage each other during your workouts. Exercising with a buddy can breed a healthy form of competition, but it’s also a great way to hold you accountable. To help maximize the impact, try to pick a partner that is on the same fitness level as you and shares similar goals — you will want to be able to increase your intensity level and challenge each other as a team.

2) Fuel up

An active lifestyle requires proper nutrition — period. When regularly exercising, your body needs fuel for optimal performance and proper recovery. Before a workout, opt for healthy and easily digestible carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa, whole-grain bread and pasta, fruits and vegetables to give you energy. Afterward, try a protein-packed snack like Emergen-C Protein Fuel and Superfoods. With 15 grams of organic plant-based protein and two full servings of 14 superfoods, the protein and superfood powder blend can help you make the most of your active time by providing the wholesome nourishment you need, along with supporting your natural defenses with a high potency serving of vitamin C.

3) Head to the weights

If your fitness goals include improving body composition and losing weight, you may want to introduce strength training into your regimen. While exercises such as walking, running and cycling can do wonders for your cardiovascular health and help burn calories, strength training with weights can elevate your metabolism for a longer period — meaning your body will continue burning calories even after a workout. Plus, strength training can target and tone those hard-to-reach muscles, improve balance and help protect your bones.

4) Switch it up

After a while, bodies can grow accustomed to the same exercise routine, often leading to stalled results. If you find yourself breezing through a workout, it’s time to switch it up and push your limits. Varying your exercises can challenge your mind and body, help burn more calories and prevent boredom. If you like to run long distances, try implementing sprint intervals. At the gym? Try out new equipment or vary your reps. Challenge your body and you may be surprised by the results.

5) Take a break

The last way to maximize your fitness routine has nothing to do with the gym at all. In fact, it requires you to skip the gym. Exercise provides many health benefits, but too many high-intensity workouts can backfire, potentially causing injury from overuse and hindering your results. Be sure to allow your body enough time to heal before hitting the gym again and try to work active rest days into your schedule, such as going for a light walk or bike ride.

Keeping these tips in mind can help you make the most of your fitness routine and magnify your efforts in the gym, on the track, in the pool or wherever you choose to exercise. Above all, don’t hesitate to ask fellow gym-goers for help or to make modifications when something feels off.

For more information about Emergen-C, visit www.emergenc.com.

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Good Health for Men Often Depends on Wellness Awareness and Early Screenings

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The statistics for men’s health are alarming. For men, life expectancy is 76.3 years; for women, it’s 81.2 years. The Kaiser Family Foundation points out that nearly 71 percent of men are at risk of being overweight or obese, compared to 59 percent for women. Far more women than men are likely to go to a physician office visit, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

These statistics may be worrisome for men and their loved ones, but many of the health risks men face can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle and getting recommended and timely preventive health screenings.

“It’s important for men to take charge of their health,” said Dr. Chad E. Bittner, a chief medical officer of OptumCare. “And there are a number of things men can do to get and stay healthy.”

Bittner offers the following tips to help men improve their health and well-being:

Physical activity: Regardless of gender, Bittner said he gives people the same general health advice, although men often need more reminders. One focus area for patients is physical activity. Regular physical activity can control weight, reduce risks of developing heart disease and some cancers, and can improve overall mental health and mood.

Nutrition: Another important priority is nutrition. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every day, and limit foods and drinks high in sugar, salt, saturated fat and alcohol.

He points out other important reminders for men:

Sunscreen: Don’t overlook the importance of using sunscreen. Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the United States.

Prescriptions: All patients need to work with their doctors to get a full understanding of the purpose and side effects of the prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs and supplements they take.

Depression: It’s important for men and those close to them to be aware of the warning signs for depression.

If you or the men in your life are not making positive health choices, now is the perfect time to take charge of your health.

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Expert tips to reduce workplace stress for better health

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Feeling stressed at work? If so, you’re not alone. A recent Gallup Poll on stress, worry and anger revealed that 55% of Americans said they experienced stress “a lot” during the day, up from 46% in 2006.

In the workplace, stress can affect your attitude, relationships with colleagues and work performance. Although a modest amount of stress is normal, high levels of stress can be dangerous to your health and may contribute to serious health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, anxiety and depression.

But there are ways to help manage stress. Ann Marie O’Brien, R.N., national director of health strategies, UnitedHealthcare, shares the following tips that may reduce your workplace stress and get you back on a healthy track performing at your usual best.

1) Talk to your boss. Consider having an open discussion with your boss about the stressors associated with your work responsibilities. Ask if there is an opportunity for additional skills training, or possibly even restructure your job to make it more manageable and better aligned with your interests and skills. Also, check if your company has an employee assistance program (EAP), which may provide available counseling and online resources.

2) Brush up on your time-management skills. We’ve all had days when it seems impossible to get everything done. In some cases, poor time management is the reason we feel this way, which then may trigger stress. For your next work assignment, talk with your supervisor before getting started to plan realistic goals, priorities and deadlines.

3) Take advantage of workplace well-being programs. An increasing number of employers are offering well-being programs through their health plan and are making healthier food options available in the workplace. Some employers offer gym reimbursement programs such as UnitedHealthcare’s Gym Check-In, have onsite workout rooms, offer stand-up desks, and encourage walking meetings and well-being challenges like taking the stairs. For your physical and mental health, combine exercise with a well-balanced diet, O’Brien said.

4) Grow your support network. If you have a close colleague at work, talk with that person and explain your work stressors and brainstorm possible solutions. If you don’t, then reach out to friends and loved ones. It’s important that you don’t isolate yourself after a stressful event.

5) Focus on yourself. If you’re feeling stress, a simple treat such as going to a movie, enjoying your favorite meal or just getting away to take a brief walk can give you time to unwind and recharge. If you cannot get a handle on your stress, talk to your doctor. She or he may recommend a counselor who could help you find other ways to help reduce or manage the unhealthy stress in your life.

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