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Sleep disorders : Desjardins will offer a tested program on its employees


Alain Thériault

27 June 2017 07:00

Photo : iStockphoto

Approximately 1 800 employees from Desjardins Insurance are currently participating in a pilot project that will lead to the launching of a program for the treatment of sleep disorders.

In the framework of this pilot project, initiated in November 2015, Desjardins offers to employees targeted to benefit from a program of treatment for sleep disorders offered by health Solutions preventive HALEO. It will deliver its first results in June, announced Nathalie Laporte, vice-president, development, marketing and strategy, insurance for groups and businesses of Desjardins Insurance, in his presentation to the international Week of francophone health care and the quality of work life, organized by the Group Levia.

The company was founded in 2015 by Bradley Smith uses cognitive-behavioural therapy. In his eyes, prescribing this therapy is often more effective than medication, to treat sleep disorders.

At the conference, Ms. Laporte has revealed that 35 % of the employees of Desjardins Insurance have decided to participate in the pilot project, that is to say, initiate the process through an online questionnaire. The therapy may or may not be recommended based on the results of the survey.

«This is a summit for the response rate of 35 %. According to our research, the response rate in the United States for such programs hovers around 20%, » says Ms. Laporte. Some of the people who have agreed to be contacted in the course of our pilot project were able to see that they had no problem sleeping.»

Therapy mobile

Also a speaker at this event, Mr. Smith clarified that the participation in the program does not mean that employees automatically follow a therapy. Sometimes, they will simply go searching for an answer to their questions. Haleo offer a solution in three phases, in partnership with the Sleep Health Institute, an institute affiliated with the Brigham And Women’s Hospital in Boston.

In the first phase of awareness raising and screening, the employee follows a module of education and testing online. If the employee receives a notification of a risk at the end of its screening, HALEO accompanies toward a solution. If the third phase is necessary, the worker gets a diagnosis and receives appropriate treatment by health professionals and experts in sleep that use of mobile technologies. Change behaviors to improve sleep hygiene is an act reserved to doctors and psychologists, moreover, has insisted Mr. Smith.

In an interview to the Journal of the insurance in the margins of the conference, Mr. Smith said to provide, among other things, go and see the employer and send an e-mail to employees so that they can participate in the program, if they express the need. «We ask the person if she has a healthy sleep. Otherwise, we ask her if she wants to spend the diagnosis. If the diagnosis is positive, we can then move on to the treatment if it is sleep apnea, or therapy if it is insomnia,» he explained.

The apnea requires appropriate medical treatment, » said Mr. Smith. It results mainly from problems of overweight or blood pressure that is not able to address sleep hygiene. It will treat insomnia, with the help of medication according to the case, by addressing, among other causes related to behaviour. The therapy lasts from 5 to 6 sessions, one session per week, plus an additional session for assessment.

«Through the sessions, we will ask the person to fill out a log of his sleep in which it will record when problems arise or improvements. All of our sessions can be conducted by video conference, on computer, tablet or smart phone. They may need to be shortened to 30 minutes each,» said the president of HALEO.

Stress vs recovery

In all cases, Bradley Smith attempts to bring the person to create a separation between the stress and the need to recover, through the control of its stimuli. The bed should be used to sleep, otherwise, the person must leave, and go into another room, for example, read.

«We bring the person to work with his physiology of the body : you can spend 10 hours in bed, but sleep only five, and then you wake up and turn. We bring the person who lives this situation to reduce the time spent in bed. We start with six hours, then expand until you reach the ideal time to sleep seven or eight hours. We ask him also to practice relaxation techniques, including during the day,» Mr. Smith explained.

For its part, Ms. Laporte suggests to practice the nap, including the microsieste of five minutes (power nap). «In addition to stimulating the memory, a nap reduces stress and improves cardiovascular health», she said. Away from the computer, the tablet and the smart phone and the tv in the bedroom, » she said.

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