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Figure Skater Peggy Fleming Teams With HealthSaver: Healthy Sleep Tips for a New You in 2008

NORWALK, Conn., March 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Sleep is as essential to our well- being as food and water, yet more than 25 percent of Americans do not get enough sleep, according to the U.S. Department of Health.

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"Sleep keeps many essential body functions in order," said Peggy Fleming, Olympic figure skating champion and HealthSaver spokesperson. "Without proper sleep, the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression may increase."

Sleep allows your body and mind to receive the rest each requires. "One study found that sufficient sleep may even help fight cancer," said Brad Eggleston, vice president of HealthSaver. Read on to learn more about how you can get the most out of your night's sleep.

Sleep Smart

-- A lack of sleep can lead to serious health problems, not just daytime

drowsiness. The American Heart Association reports that adults who

sleep five hours or less each night nearly double their risk of high

blood pressure.

-- Insufficient sleep also disrupts mood. A study by the National

Institute of Mental Health found that sleep deprivation causes the

emotional centers of the brain to be 60 percent more reactive.

Without enough sleep, you may also become irritable, in part because

sleep deficit puts the body in a state of high alert.

-- Naps can be a great way to rejuvenate. But don't nap for more than 30

minutes, or you may disrupt your sleep-wake cycle.

Why We Sleep

-- Studies show that insufficient sleep decreases the body's ability to

manage blood sugar, increasing the risk of diabetes. Adults who sleep

less than seven hours each night are also more likely to be obese,

because of changes in appetite and the storage of carbohydrates.

-- Without sleep, bodies lose the opportunity to conduct many vital

functions that maintain health. For example, during sleep our bodies

produce hormones that help fight infection and repair cells and tissue.

-- The nervous system and immune system will not function properly without

sleep. Neurons also use this time to shut down and adjust back to

working order.

-- Even our memory is affected by sleep. The part of the brain that

maintains memory is in fact very active during non-waking hours.

Sleep-wake Cycle

-- In order to keep your sleep-wake cycle in order, it is best to go to

bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends. If you

lose sleep during the weekends, you develop a "sleep debt" that

eventually will need to be repaid.

-- To alert your body that it's time to go to bed, follow a consistent

nighttime routine. Prepare your body for sleep with such relaxing

activities as reading or listening to soothing music.

-- Not everyone requires seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Some

people require only five, others 10. To find out how much sleep your

body needs, assess how you feel after different amounts of sleep. Pay

attention to your energy level, productivity and general well-being.

Make Changes

-- Lifestyle factors play a major role in sleep quality. Among them is

regular exercise, which helps provide deeper sleep. Exercise will also

help you fall asleep quicker, leaving you rested and ready for your


-- Mental health and sleep have a great effect on one another. An

estimated 65 percent of Americans lose sleep because of stress.

Depression, in turn, can also lead to insomnia.

-- A proper sleeping environment is a quiet, dark room free of

interruption. Abnormally high or low temperatures will reduce your

ability to regulate body temperature, which can lead to an increase in


What to Avoid Before Bedtime

-- Leave your cup of coffee for the morning, not the late afternoon.

Caffeine should be avoided at least eight hours before you go to bed,

because it makes it more difficult for people to both fall and stay


-- Nicotine is also a stimulant. It is not only a bad habit, but also

leads to difficulty falling asleep and waking up.

-- Though often viewed as a sedative, alcohol actually makes it more

difficult for people to enter the deep sleep that their body requires.

When to See a Doctor

-- If you encounter sleep problems three nights a week for more than a

month, and have already eliminated stimulants and regulated sleeping

patterns, see a physician for treatment.

-- Waking multiple times throughout the night may be a sign of a sleep

disorder. Common disorders include sleep apnea, which interrupts

breathing, and narcolepsy, which causes fatigue regardless of how much

you sleep.

-- Because of side effects such as memory impairment, over-the-counter

sleep medications should be taken with caution. Examine your daily

sleep routine before taking such antihistamines.

We spend approximately one-third our lives in bed. Optimize your health by treating sleep as a priority. A proper night's sleep is often the best kind of medicine. Rest well and your body will thank you for it!

HealthSaver, an emerging health care discount program, offers savings on prescriptions, vision care, complementary and alternative health care treatments, vitamins and supplements by mail and more than 1,500 fitness clubs nationwide, including select Bally Total Fitness, World Gym and Ladies Workout Express locations.

About HealthSaver

HealthSaver offers discounts of 20 percent on vision care, as well as discounts of 10 to 50 percent on prescriptions at participating pharmacies, 20 percent off complementary and alternative health care treatments and fitness club benefits. HealthSaver also offers discounts of 10 to 35 percent on dental care services at some 42,000 participating provider locations nationwide, including routine cleanings, X-rays, fillings, orthodontics, and even popular cosmetic dentistry procedures such as teeth whitening. Members can also save from 5 to 50 percent off vitamins and supplements by mail. Discounts are based upon reasonable and customary costs or manufacturers suggested retail price (MSRP) and are only available from participating providers. HealthSaver is not an insurance product or service. More information about HealthSaver is available online at or toll free by calling 1-800-7HEALTH (1-800-743-2584). A one month trial membership in HealthSaver ( or 1-800-743-2584) costs $1 and can be canceled anytime during the trial period. Unless the member calls to cancel during the trial, membership will be extended automatically and billed to a credit card number at the $149.99 annual fee. Members may call toll free to cancel at any time and receive a refund of the unused portion of their current year's fee. HealthSaver is offered by Affinion Group, a leader in the membership, insurance and loyalty marketing businesses, providing products and services that touch the lives of millions of Americans.

About Affinion Group, Inc.

As a global leader with nearly 35 years of experience, Affinion Group ( enhances the value of its partners' customer relationships by developing and marketing valuable loyalty, membership, checking account, insurance and other compelling products and services. Leveraging its expertise in product development and targeted marketing, Affinion helps generate significant incremental revenue for more than 5,300 affinity partners worldwide, including many of the largest and most respected companies in financial services, retail, travel, and Internet commerce. Based in Norwalk, Conn., the company has approximately 3,300 employees throughout the United States and in 10 countries across Europe. Affinion holds the prestigious ISO 27001 certification for the highest information security practices, is PCI compliant and Cybertrust certified.
Available Topic Expert(s): For information on the listed expert(s), click appropriate link. Peggy Fleming

SOURCE HealthSaver
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