Get Your Zzzz’s: Sleep, Wellness and Your Benefits Accounts

Poor sleep health; sleep

Is this the stuff of nightmares? 25 percent of adults in the U.S. report poor sleep health. While it may not seem scary on the surface, a lack of good sleep can be detrimental to your overall health and well-being. Let’s take a look at poor sleep health, the related problems, and how your healthcare benefits account can help.  

What is poor sleep health?

According to the CDC, adults 18 years and older need at least 7 or more hours of sleep per night. School aged children need 9-12 hours, and teens should get 8-10 hours. However, there are lots of reasons why people don’t get their nightly amount of recommended sleep.

What causes sleep problems?

Many Americans like to “burn the candle at both ends,” staying up late and rising early in the morning. Then there are other issues like insomnia, the inability to fall or stay asleep, which affects up to one-third of adults at some point in their lives; and sleep apnea that affects an estimated 22 million Americans.

There are many factors that can impact people’s sleep, including:

  • Stress
  • Chronic pain
  • Prescription medication
  • Diet (heavy foods or late night eating)
  • Lack of exercise
  • Caffeine
  • Illicit drugs
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Irregular schedule
  • Pregnancy

A lack of sleep and your health

Just about everyone deals with poor sleep from time to time. Whether you are working late, studying for school, or have small children at home, these are common causes for the occasional lack of sleep and the consequent tired feeling the following day. The real problems begin when poor sleep becomes a chronic, recurring issue.

When you lack adequate sleep, your body and mind are impacted in numerous ways. A tired mind can cause problems like trouble concentrating and poor judgement which can lead to irritability, errors, accidents, and reduced productivity. A chronic lack of sleep has also been linked to more serious conditions, including:

  • Depression
  • Arthritis
  • Heartburn
  • Chronic pain
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Asthma
  • COPD
  • Heart failure
  • Thyroid problems
  • Stroke
  • Sleepwalking
  • Narcolepsy
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Parkinson’s

What you can do

If you’re dealing with chronic sleep issues, there is hope. 

First, make a journal of your sleep habits. Be sure to include your pre- and post- bed time habits. Include what you eat and drink throughout the day, medications you’re taking, what time are you going to bed, how many times are you waking up, do you read or are you on your phone before bed, how many hours do you get on average, etc. You may be able to identify small changes you can make to your habits that can help you get a better night’s rest, like not having caffeine after noon or laying off the midnight snacks. 

If you still have repeated issues with sleeping, the next step would be to see your primary care doctor. If you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) or Health Savings Account (HSA), you can use those to help pay for many out-of-pocket expenses (including the doctor’s visit) to help you get more rest.

FSA and HSA Eligible Expenses for Sleeping

  • Co-pays
  • Sleep deprivation treatments (non-medicinal)
  • CPAP machines and related supplies
  • Sleep masks
  • OTC sleep aids
  • Melatonin supplements (requires prescription)

Rest easy – there are many ways you can overcome poor sleep and improve your health. And if you have a healthcare benefits account, the cost won’t keep you up at night.