Thursday, September 22, 2016

Feeling short-changed on shut eye? You're not alone.

Short-changed on shut eye? You're not alone, as more than 83 million Americans are now reported to be lacking sleep.

While some may be worried about "sleeping their life away," a new study finds that about one-third of Americans have the opposite problem, snoozing less than the recommended seven hours per night.

And while the resulting drowsiness can contribute to accidents, anxiety, depression and lost productivity, the less immediate health effects raise even greater cause for concern.

“Overtime, lack of sleep alters your hormones and metabolism, increasing your risk for diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease,” says Jeffrey Miskoff, D.O., a pulmonologist at Jersey Shore University Medical Center.

To find out where you and the sandman stand, try keeping a 10-day sleep journal. Be sure to log when you fall asleep and wake up, and include any naps as well. And don't forget to discuss your sleep habits with your doctor.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Healthy Sleep: First of Five 'Pillars of Health and Wellness'

We know that healthy sleep is one of the key components of integrative medicine, but at its essence, what does "integrative" health really entail?

Lori Knutson, RN, BSN, administrative director of Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine, recently stopped by  94.3 The Point to help answer that very question.

"When we talk about integrative health and medicine, we're talking about an umbrella term for all of the complimentary therapies that we bring into conventional medicine," Knutson says. "We call it 'integrative' because it's a combination of traditional Western medicine and other treatments such as massage, acupuncture, movement therapy, and more."

Sleep is one of the "five pillars of health and wellness" comprising the essence of Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine, along with nutrition, activity, resilience and purpose, according to Knutson.

Listen to Knutson's interview with 94.3 The Point to learn more about Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine and the five pillars of health and wellness.

Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine is a comprehensive health and wellness program designed to foster healthy alignment of body, mind and spirit. For more information, visit

Monday, July 25, 2016

Your Cell Phone: The Good, the Bad, and the Happy Medium

Keys? Check.

Wallet or purse? Check.

Personal, pocket sized, all knowing, all powerful super computer? Check.

If you’re like many adults in the U.S., you don’t ever leave home without your smartphone.

These mobile marvels can connect people all over the world, entertain them, and boost productivity into the stratosphere.

Thanks to the seemingly cosmic expansion of 21st century technology, we can now talk to anyone, learn anything and transport anywhere in what feels like the blink of an eye. 

However, because smartphone technology is relatively new, the positive and negative impact these modern marvels may have on long-term health is largely still a mystery, and this realm of seemingly superhuman connectivity could be coming at a price, gradually grinding away at some of our most fundamental human needs.

The Good

Smart phone apps can be global-positioning devices, music players, game consoles, and even pocket sized personal trainers.

Your phone may help you eat better. You may already have a favorite website or app for healthy recipes. But you can also use your phone to record the foods you eat — much like a food journal. It’s easy and convenient, and one study found that people who used their phones instead of paper and pen for this purpose were more likely to stick with their diet plan.

Your phone may keep you moving. You can use it to track your physical activity. Research shows such apps are quite accurate in their step counts and distance measurements. They can also motivate you with instant feedback and goal setting. What’s more, people who use their phones to listen to music while they exercise report liking the activity more.

Your phone may help lower stress. In just a few clicks, you can download soothing music or nature sounds. Or try some yoga. Its physical movements and breathing techniques may help you relax.

The Bad

Despite its seemingly superhuman capabilities, your smartphone may not always be good for you.

Your phone can be a distraction. Whether driving or walking outdoors, pack away your phone. You are less likely to pay attention to your surroundings when using it. And your reaction time won’t be as quick. You may want to skip it while exercising, too. Although music may energize you while working out, talking and texting have been shown to reduce exercise intensity and duration.

Your phone may make you anxious. Keeping up with social media, text messaging, and other alerts can be overwhelming. In fact, one study of a group of college students found heavy cell phone users were more likely to be anxious and unhappy. They also tended to have lower grade-point averages.

Your phone may disrupt your sleep. Just like a television or computer, your phone’s glowing screen may keep you up at night. Such artificial sources of light can mess with your body’s natural sleep cycle. Plus, constant alerts can interrupt your slumber.

The Happy Medium

With a small computer always in your pocket, it can be hard to disconnect. Too much phone time may cause physical problems, too. Try adjusting your phone use with these healthy habits:

Turn your phone off at night. Or at least put it on mute. Also limit the amount of screen time before bedtime. Playing games or texting may make it hard for you to relax.

Take frequent breaks.
Too much texting or similar activities can cause overuse pain in fingers and wrists. Your eyes can also become strained from looking at the screen too long.

Turn down the sound.
If you use earphones or ear buds to listen to music from your phone, a loud volume setting can quickly damage your hearing.

Plan some no phone time.
Nearly half of smartphone users say they can’t live without their phones.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Living with Sleep Apnea?

Lecture and Support Event

More than one-third of the US population reports having trouble sleeping. Poor sleeping habits, if left unimproved can increase an individual’s risk of cardiovascular problems including high blood pressure, heart attack, heart rhythm problems, and stroke.

Meridian Health’s Center for Sleep Medicine is at the forefront of clinical expertise when it comes to providing solutions for patients who experience abnormal sleep habits and struggle with falling asleep, staying asleep and getting a restful night’s sleep.

Please be our guest for the ‘Living with Sleep Apnea?’ lecture and support event to learn sleep apnea risk factors, treatment options, nutrition tips, relaxation techniques, and rules for creating a healthy sleep environment.

Thursday, July 14
6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Conference Center, Meridian Health Village at Jackson
27 S Cooks Bridge Road Jackson, NJ 08527

The event will feature:

• A presentation by Adrian Pristas, M.D. Sleep Medical Director at Bayshore Community Hospital and Riverview Medical Center
• Free sleep screenings
• Light refreshments
• An open group discussion

All attendees will leave with practical sleep tips from trained clinical professionals. There will also be sleep vendors in attendance to demonstrate the newest CPAP equipment and masks on the market.

To register, please call  1.800.560.9990

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

To Nap, or Not To Nap?

With 3 out of 10 U.S. adults now clocking in 6 hours of sleep or less per night, it makes sense that daytime napping would be a viable solution for recovering some of that lost slumber.

Sleep is essential for your mind and body. It keeps you alert and focused. It helps cement memories. It may even boost your immune system, protecting you from illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. Given the benefits sleep can impart, napping should be a no-brainer for better health, right?

Unfortunately, the research has doled out mixed results. For instance, napping may relieve stress and improve alertness. It may also be good for your emotions. One study found napping may thwart negative feelings like frustration and impulsiveness.

But daytime napping may have a dark side.

Some past studies suggest napping may shorten your life. That may be especially true if you nap for more than 1 hour a day. One possible reason for this connection: People who nap more may have an undiagnosed health condition. Napping has been linked to diseases such as diabetes and depression. Or people who nap may simply not sleep well at night — a serious hex on your overall health.

More research is needed to fully decide if napping is a boon or a bust for your health. But it still may not be the best way to make up for lost slumber. Why? Naps don’t give your body enough time in deep sleep. That’s the most restorative stage of sleeping.

Yet, many people all over the world enjoy napping on a regular basis. For example, siestas are a daily ritual in Mediterranean countries. And experts recommend naps for people who work the night shift, suffer from jet lag, or have narcolepsy — a sleep disorder that causes a person to fall asleep suddenly and unexpectedly.

If you want to take a daytime nap, here are some tips that will help you better catch that extra shut-eye.

Friday, March 4, 2016

From A to ZZZZZ: Dr. Ash Visits TODAY to Launch Sleep Awareness Week

In honor of the National Sleep Foundation's annual Sleep Awareness Week, a seven-day celebration of sleep health kicking off for 2016 on March 6, Carol Ash, D.O., Director of Sleep Medicine for Meridian Health, dropped by TODAY to help answer the question, "What's keeping you awake?"

According to Dr. Ash, upwards of 60 to 80 percent of Americans aren't getting the essential seven hours of sleep per night - the minimum needed to avoid long-term health consequences.

So what is keeping us awake at night? According to Dr. Ash, the answer could be right outside your window.

"There was a study recently done at Stamford, which looked at 16,000 people over eight years," says Dr. Ash. "They found that those living in communities of 500,000 people or more found it much more difficult to get the sleep they need."

So... what's the solution? Watch Dr. Ash's TODAY segment below to find out.

Friday, February 26, 2016

CDC Study Examines Social Patterns Among Healthy Sleepers

Featuring Carol Ash, D.O.
Director of Sleep Medicine
Meridian Health

Inadequate sleep has been linked to conditions that include obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, anxiety, and depression.

Now, with an increasing number of Americans stressing more and sleeping less, the need has never been greater for us to challenge traditional answers to an age-old question: What is really keeping us up at night?

According to a recent CDC report, 35% of U.S. adults are getting less than the essential seven hours of sleep, and 12% of Americans are sleeping less than five hours per day. The report includes a demographic breakdown of healthy sleepers in each of the 50 states — revealing patterns which beg further questions about the nation’s sleep epidemic.

These trends hint at deeper, social connections to this potentially life threatening health condition, and they are a further reminder that the difficulties that Americans struggle with during the day don’t simply disappear when the lights go out.

Key points from the CDC’s findings include:
· Lack of sleep is more prevalent in urban, densely populated areas
· Married and unmarried couples get more sleep than people who are divorced, widowed or separated
· People with a college education get more sleep
· The unemployed have the lowest average of healthy sleepers (51%)

“Look at the trends, and then ask yourself ‘Why?’ What’s the connection?” says Carol Ash, D.O. “When we’re fighting to make ends meet — whether it’s due to unemployment, poverty or problems with a spouse — it plagues our mental, physical and emotional health. People need stability, and when we’re struggling with economic and/or social turmoil, the stress, anxiety and depression can be overpowering, even when the lights go out.”

Dr. Ash believes the solution lies in a push toward education and an emphasis on every day, healthy minded practices. She credits groundbreaking research initiated in 1965 involving nearly 7,000 residents of Alameda County, California, which concluded that sleep was one of seven health habits, a.k.a. the "Alameda 7," revealed to be key determinants of good health and, ultimately, a longer life.

“The key is education on the importance of simple, everyday lifestyle adjustments, empowerment from the knowledge that, yes, you are in control,” Ash says.

Simple behaviors proven to have a positive impact on sleep include:
· Eat healthier
· Exercise. 30 minutes a day is optimum, but starting at even less is still a start.
· Mindfulness and/or breathing exercises
· Maintain a consistent bedtime and wake up time

Read the full CDC report here for more information.