Insurance Update
March 2014
Issue No. 44   
In this issue
Sleep-wake cycle
Get to know yourself -- take the Well onTarget Health Assessment
How much sleep do we really need?
Long-Term Care Insurance
ThyroidSleep-wake cycle

Each time you go to sleep, your body starts to journey along a sleep cycle. Take an in-depth look at each of these phases in the guide below.



About Us 

Insurance logo 

 A not-for-profit ministry of
Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust Inc.

Church of the Brethren Insurance Services provides ancillary coverage for ministers and other employees of congregations, districts, and camps.
Medical and ancillary plans are available to Brethren-affiliated employer groups.
Long-Term Care Insurance is available for all members of the Church of the Brethren, their family and friends, and employees of Church of the Brethren-affiliated agencies, organizations, colleges, and retirement communities.  
Contact Us 
1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120



Marching into spring will bring relief to those regions that were hit hardest by winter storms this year. We're glad to see you've made it to the other side!


How healthy are you? No, really. How healthy are you? Sure, a doctor can provide a more official response to this question, but the Well onTarget Health Assessment offers a detailed picture of your health. Simply answer a series of questions about your physical and mental state, and the system will create a Personal Wellness Report that can help you connect with online programs to help you where you need help.


Perhaps the Personal Wellness Report will reveal that you, like so many Americans, aren't getting enough sleep. But how much sleep do you really need? Find out below, and learn more about the different steps of your nightly sleep cycle by clicking on our monthly health guide to the left.


We provide these resources in our steadfast effort to be your partner in wellness. May you find guidance in them. 


SignaturesScott, Tammy, and Connie 
onTargetGet to know yourself -- take the
Well onTarget Health Assessment
Consider taking your health seriously. If you are a Brethren Medical Plan member, you can make use of the Well onTarget Health Assessment to help you do that.  In just a few minutes, you can offer a few personal details -- how you eat, how you sleep, how you live your life -- and get a personalized map to your best health. You can know your risks and your best options to avoid them. Your customized Personal Wellness Report can tell you how to go from good to better.


The health assessment can help you answer questions like --

  • How ready are you to make a change in your habits?
  • How well have you been making health choices until now?
  • Do you have any health risks because of how you live?

The new Health Assessment consists of nine modules that can be completed all at once or by section. These modules include questions regarding your --

  • Diet
  • Tobacco use
  • Physical activity
  • Emotional health
  • Health at work and on the road

What will I need?

It would be helpful to have a few more personal details on hand when you begin the HA --

  • Current height and weight
  • Systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number) data from your blood pressure reading
  • Total cholesterol level
  • HDL cholesterol level
  • Triglyceride level
  • Blood sugar level
  • Waist measurement in inches

You will begin by answering a set of basic questions. Your answers will help tailor the LiveOn portal for you with programs that will help you reach your health goals. After completing the HA, you will receive a confidential Personal Wellness Report, which will show you how you are doing and give you healthy tips. You can also print a Provider Report to share with your doctor. When you know your risks, you can choose your best options to avoid them. When you know your strengths, you can decide to build on them.


To begin filling out your health assessment, simply log in to your account at (click on the "Log In" button and enter your information), and then click on "Health Assessment" in the box on the right side of the screen (labeled "Quick Links").   



Note: This feature is only available to Brethren Medical Plan members.  

sleepHow much sleep do we really need?  

Sleep needs vary across ages and are especially impacted by lifestyle and health. Thus, to determine how much sleep you need, it's important to assess not only where you fall on the "sleep needs spectrum," but also to examine what lifestyle factors are affecting the quality and quantity of your sleep, such as work schedules and stress. To get the sleep you need, you must look at the big picture.



Though research cannot pinpoint an amount of sleep needed by people at different ages, the preceding table identifies the "rule-of-thumb" amounts most experts have agreed upon. Nevertheless, it's important to pay attention to your own individual needs by assessing how you feel on different amounts of sleep. Are you productive, healthy, and happy on seven hours of sleep? Or does it take you nine hours of quality rest to get you into high gear? Do you have health issues such as being overweight? Are you at risk for any disease? Are you experiencing sleep problems? Do you depend on caffeine to get you through the day? Do you feel sleepy when driving? These are questions that must be asked before you can find the number that works for you.


How long should I sleep? Research says there is no "magic number"
Not only do different age groups need different amounts of sleep, but sleep needs are also individual. Just like any other characteristics you are born with, the amount of sleep you need to function best may be different for you than for someone who is of the same age and gender. While you may be at your absolute best sleeping seven hours a night, someone else may clearly need nine hours to have a happy, productive life. In fact, a 2005 study confirmed the fact that sleep needs vary across populations, and the study calls for further research to identify traits within genes that may provide a "map" to explain how sleep needs differ among individuals.


Another reason there is "no magic number" for your sleep results from two different factors that researchers are learning about -- a person's basal sleep need (the amount of sleep our bodies need on a regular basis for optimal performance) and sleep debt, the accumul ated sleep that is lost to poor sleep habits, sickness, awakenings due to environmental factors, or other causes. Two studies suggest that healthy adults have a basal sleep need of seven to eight hours every night, but where things get complicated is the interaction between the basal need and sleep debt. For instance, you might meet your basal sleep need on any single night or a few nights in a row, but still have an unresolved sleep debt that may make you feel more sleepy and less alert at times, particularly in conjunction with circadian dips, those times in the 24-hour cycle when we are biologically programmed to be more sleepy and less alert, such as overnight hours and mid-afternoon. You may feel overwhelmingly sleepy quite suddenly at these times or shortly before bedtime or feel sleepy upon awakening. The good news is that some research suggests that the accumulated sleep debt can be worked down or "paid off."


Though scientists are still learning about the concept of basal sleep need, one thing sleep research certainly has shown is that sleeping too little can not only inhibit your productivity and ability to remember and consolidate information, but lack of sleep can also lead to serious health consequences and jeopardize your safety and the safety of individuals around you.


For example, short sleep duration is linked with --

  • Increased risk of drowsy driving and motor vehicle accidents.
  • A greater likelihood of obesity due to an increased appetite caused by sleep deprivation.
  • Increased risk of diabetes and heart problems.
  • Increased risk for psychiatric conditions including depression and substance abuse.
  • Decreased ability to pay attention, react to signals, or remember new information.  

"Currently, there is no strong evidence that sleeping too much has detrimental health consequences, or even evidence that our bodies will allow us to sleep much beyond what is required," says Kristen L. Knutson, PhD, Department of Health Studies, U niversity of Chicago. "There is laboratory evidence that short sleep durations of 4-5 hours have negative physiological and neurobehavioral consequences. We need similar laboratory and intervention studies to determine whether long sleep durations (if they can be obtained) result in physiological changes that could lead to disease before we make any recommendations against sleep extension."


To begin a new path toward healthier sleep and a healthier lifestyle, begin by assessing your own individual needs and habits. See how you respond to different amounts of sleep. Pay careful attention to your mood, energy, and health after a poor night's sleep versus a good one. Ask yourself, "How often do I get a good night's sleep?" If the answer is "not often," then you may need to consider changing your sleep habits.


If you or a family member is experiencing symptoms such as sleepiness during the day or when you expect to be awake and alert, snoring, leg cramps or tingling, gasping or difficulty breathing during sleep, prolonged insomnia, or another symptom that is preventing you from sleeping well, you should consult your primary care physician or sleep specialist to determine the underlying cause. You may also try keeping a sleep diary to track your sleep habits over a one- or two-week period and take the results to your physician.



Most importantly, make sleep a priority. You must schedule sleep like any other daily activity, so put it on your to-do list and cross it off every night. But don't make it the thing you do only after everything else is done -- stop doing other things so you get the sleep you need.


This article provided by the National Sleep Foundation.
 LTCILong-Term Care Insurance
Here's  something to keep in mind: the younger you are, the lower your premiums will be for a long-term care insurance policy. And getting a policy when you're young isn't  a bad idea -- nearly 40 percent of those who need long-term care are under the age of 65.

Brethren Insurance Services is here to help you. We offer Long-Term Care Insurance for all members of the Church of the Brethren, their family and friends, and employees of Church of the Brethren-affiliated agencies, organizations, colleges, and retirement communities.


If you are interested in obtaining this coverage, contact Brethren Insurance Services at or 800-746-1505 for a free, no-obligation proposal or click here to request more information