Health · Sleep

Sleepless Nights? 20+ Sleep Experts Offer Their Top Sleep Tips

Sleepless Nights?  You’re not alone.  More than a third of Americans are battling sleep problems on a consistent basis.  Whether self-imposed or caused by a sleep disorder, it is imperative to get your sleep habits under control for your overall health and well-being.  While sleep aids are easily available, sometimes it’s better to turn to the experts.  Here we have gotten feedback from 20 Sleep Experts on their top recommendations for those battling occasional or chronic sleep deprivation.

Arianna Huffington

13925041_10154393335078279_6522831558064810222_n“My favorite tip is to treat your transition to sleep as a sacrosanct ritual. The most important part of that ritual? Banish your phone from your room at night. Before I go to bed, I gently escort my phone out of the bedroom and tuck it into the Thrive Global Phone Bed and Charging Station. Our phones are repositories of everything we need to put away to allow us to sleep — our to-do lists, our in-boxes, our worries, and anxieties. So putting your phone to bed as a regular part of your bedtime ritual makes you more likely to wake up as fully charged as your phone!”

Why You Should Follow

Arianna Huffington is the founder of The Huffington Post, the founder and CEO of Thrive Global, and the author of 15 books, including, most recently, Thrive and The Sleep Revolution.  In May 2005, she launched The Huffington Post, a news and blog site that quickly became one of the most widely-read, linked to, and frequently-cited media brands on the Internet. In August 2016, she launched Thrive Global, a corporate and consumer well-being and productivity platform with the mission of changing the way we work and live by ending the collective delusion that burnout is the price we must pay for success.

Rubin Naiman, PhD

Head shot 10 copySurrender Your Waking Self

In and of themselves, sleep tips don’t work.  For example, sleep hygiene, a list of sensible and empirically supported recommendations for good sleep, are necessary — but wholly insufficient. Research has found that following such recommendations alone is not helpful. They need to be accompanied by a simple but tricky shift in attitude toward sleep and ourselves. This begins with an essential realization that the part of us we call “I,” that is, our waking self or ego, is incapable of sleep. It can walk us to the shoreline of sleep, but it can’t swim. When “I” try to go to sleep, I inadvertently get stuck in waking. The secret to falling asleep is learning to let go of waking – of surrendering the waking self, of the part of me called “I.” It’s about getting that there is a deeper part of me, a serene sleeping Self that is always present in the background. Sleep is our default consciousness. Even when if we can’t sense it, like silence in a noisy room, it is always there. From the perspective of the waking self, falling asleep is an accident. And by definition, we cannot intentionally make an accident happen. Learning to truly rest — that is, practicing meditation, relaxation, contemplative prayer, yoga, etc.– makes us accident prone.

Why You Should Follow

Dr. Naiman is the sleep and dream specialist and clinical assistant professor of medicine at the world-renowned University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, directed by Dr. Andrew Weil.  He spearheads the development of integrative approaches to sleep, an approach taught in dozens of medical schools around the U.S. Dr. Naiman is director of NewMoon Sleep, LLC, an organization offering sleep services, trainings and consultation internationally. He is the author of groundbreaking works on sleep and blogs for HuffPost.

Richard L. Horner PhD

Screen Shot 2017-04-13 at 6.12.39 PM“Sleep problems fall into two general categories.  The first category is the primary sleep disorders such as breathing problems in sleep, insomnia, narcolepsy, and restless legs. If there is a concern with this category then the best course of action is to consult a physician.

The second category is life-style and occupational influences such as shift work, prolonged working hours, long commutes, and recreational activities especially nighttime computer or phone use, and late-night TV viewing. This category can be addressed with some personal choices to optimize sleep.

It’s rather easy to find articles with tips for better sleep. These tips include keeping a regular schedule, keeping the room dark, and keeping the bedroom for sleep rather than an all-purpose activity zone for things like texting, email, watching TV and the like. A top tip that is not always mentioned from general articles on sleep is to get exposure to natural sunlight during the day. These are all pieces of good advice (especially outdoor sunlight), but why?

To best optimize our sleep there are two factors that each of us need to recognize and work with. These factors are our natural ‘chronotype’ and ‘sleeptype’. When these two factors fit together then sleep, mood and performance are optimized.

Unfortunately, our ‘chronotype’ and ‘sleeptype’ are often mismatched because of living in a time crunch with variable schedules, and not recognizing the powerful influence of light. A mismatch of ‘chronotype’ and ‘sleeptype’ leads to insufficient or disrupted sleep with adverse consequences for mood, performance, and health.

People vary in their preferred times to fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning. This preference is strongly influenced by an individual’s daily cycle of alertness and fatigue. Where this cycle falls on the 24hour clock defines our ‘chronotype’, and whether we are an ‘early bird’ or a ‘night owl’ to a greater or lesser degree.

Our personal ‘chronotype’ is strongly influenced by our genes as well as our environment – of which light exposure has the strongest influence. Exposure to outdoor natural sunlight is the single most powerful synchronizer of our ‘chronotype’ and this synchronization stabilizes sleep.

On the other hand, prolonged time indoors with artificial light de-synchronizes our ‘chronotype’ and de-stabilizes sleep. Exposure to artificial light at night from light bulbs or portable devices can also trick our brains into thinking we are in a different time zone, causing a form of jet-lag without going anywhere (I call this ‘social jet lag’). This effect, for example, can prevent you from being sleepy at 11 pm when you may want to go to bed because of work the next day, and why you may feel groggy when you get up in the morning at 7 am when your body feels you would be well served with an extra hour or two.

Individuals also vary in their preferred sleep durations for optimal performance and mood. People can self-identify as being naturally ‘short sleepers’ or ‘long sleepers’ to a greater or lesser degree. Such differences between individual ‘sleeptypes’ is normal.

The trick for optimal sleep is to first recognize then work with your natural ‘sleeptype’ and ‘chronotype’. For example, if you are a natural ‘long sleeper’ (e.g., needing 9hrs for optimal performance and mood) and a natural ‘night owl’, then this combination may not work so well if you try to fall asleep at 11 pm and aim to get up at 7 am to work the next day. Night owls may not feel sleepy until 1 am so will experience insomnia beforehand. Working to become less of a night owl by resetting the body clock and bringing it back in time with exposure to natural sunlight during the day, and avoiding prolonged artificial light exposure at night, can do the trick. Resetting your ‘chronotype’ to naturally feel sleepy earlier in the evening may now allow you to better accommodate your natural preference of sleep duration, and so feel better refreshed in the morning – all without resorting to unnecessary and often problematic drugs to induce sleep. The same rationale applies to other combinations of ‘sleeptypes’ and ‘chronotypes’ to best optimize (drug-free) sleep for different individuals.”

Why You Should Follow

Richard Horner is the author of The Universal Pastime: Sleep and Rest Explained which can be found on Amazon or Apple iTunes.  Richard is also a Professor of Medicine and Physiology at the University of Toronto and a Canada Research Chair.  His research identifies mechanisms of sleep, sedation, and anesthesia. Richard leads undergraduate and graduate teaching in sleep science in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. Follow him on Twitter at @sleepscianceRH

Steven M Scharf MD., PhD

116958Abnormal movements and behaviors during sleep – things that go “bump” in the night.

Sleep is a time when our brains and our bodies are supposed to repair damage, recover from stresses, and consolidate memories acquired during the day.  As such, we normally lie relatively still, with only occasional interruptions to turn or respond to noise, or even occasionally wake up for a short period of time to perform needed bodily functions, like using the bathroom.  However, there are a number of sleep disorders that are characterized by abnormal, often repetitive, movements, or even abnormal behaviors, of which the sleeper is usually unaware.  These are the movement disorders or the abnormal sleep behaviors.

There are at least 10 distinct movement disorders characterized by usually repetitive movements of a part of parts of the body.  One of the most common of these is periodic limb movement disorder characterized by repeated contractions of the legs.  These may be very subtle and hardly noticeable, or dramatic.  The problem is that these are usually associated with arousals from sleep, which is the brain “waking up” for a few seconds.  Although the sleeper is unaware of this, sleep is in fact fragmented and poor quality and leads to daytime sleepiness.

The sleep behavior disorders include a list of sometimes bizarre behaviors, including sleep terrors and sleep walking, sometimes with strange consequences.  These disorders belong to the group called arousal disorders, or as I like to call them, “half in, half out.”  The patient is a little bit asleep but not completely.  These can actually be dangerous to the patient if he/she walks out into the street or even out of a second story window.  Patients are unaware of these. Children often sleep walk, or scream in their sleep – and this may be normal.  Most of the time, the behavior is resolved by puberty.  The point is that strange movements and strange behaviors at night are often triggered by another sleep disorder a partial “arousal” (brain waking up).  This fragmentation of sleep can be caused by other sleep disorders like sleep apnea.

Patients who exhibit strange movements or behaviors should have an evaluation by a qualified sleep specialist who can take the proper history, and order the proper sleep testing.  Treatment for the bizarre behavior is actually usually fairly simple and consists of treating any underlying problem (like sleep apnea) and, when needed, giving certain medications.  In the meantime, family members should make sure the patient is protected – like locking windows or the door.  Be careful about waking a sleep walker – this can sometimes lead to a violent outburst coming from the startle of waking up.

Why You Should Follow

Steven M. Scharf, MD practices Sleep Medicine in Baltimore, MD and currently practices at University of Maryland Sleep Disorders Lab. Dr Scharf is affiliated with University of Maryland Medical Center and University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown. In 2016, he was named a “Top Doctor” in the specialty of Sleep Medicine by Baltimore magazine.

Robert S. Rosenberg, DO, FCCP

Part 1.3

Within the past few years there have been several studies linking vitamin D to various sleep disorders. This connection is not surprising since vitamin D is involved in the regulation of calcium, phosphorous, and bone growth, as well as muscle function, immune regulation, and brain function.

There have also been studies linking vitamin D deficiency to sleepiness and enlarged tonsils in children, resulting in pediatric sleep apnea. Among the newer studies released, one of the most interesting studies is a new study, published August 2014 in the journal Sleep Breath titled The Effect of Vitamin D Supplements on the Severity of Restless Legs Syndrome, which links vitamin D deficiency to restless legs syndrome (RLS).

The study followed 12 subjects, all of whom were diagnosed with both primary RLS (meaning there was no other obvious cause) and vitamin D deficiency. All 12 patients were treated with vitamin D. After their levels returned to normal, they were reassessed. The severity of their RLS also significantly improved after treatment, causing the study authors to conclude that vitamin D deficiency may be associated with RLS.

This news comes on the heels of several other studies that have shown low levels of vitamin D in people with RLS.

There are many places in which you can find vitamin D. One source is our skin, which can produce vitamin D upon exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D can also be found in certain foods including:

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Oily fish (salmon, cod, and mackerel)

Low levels of vitamin D can be caused by dark skin pigmentation, limited sunlight exposure, pregnancy, abnormal intestinal absorption, and some medications.

As a result of these studies — and several other studies correlating vitamin D to restless legs syndrome, sleep apnea, excessive sleepiness, and nighttime muscle cramps — I intend to start checking my patient’s vitamin D levels more often. I am only sorry that I was not aware of this relationship before. Just a decade ago, most of us in sleep medicine would never have imagined that the same vitamin deficiency that can cause rickets and osteoporosis could be involved in sleep disorders. Modern medicine never fails to amaze or humble me.

Why You Should Follow

Robert S. Rosenberg, DO, FCCP is Board certified in Sleep Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine, and Internal Medicine. Dr. Rosenberg serves as the Medical Director of the Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley, Arizona.  His advice has appeared in O, The Oprah MagazinePreventionWomen’s HealthWoman’s WorldParenting, and Ladies’ Home Journal, among others.  Dr. Rosenberg is the bestselling author of Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day. His most recent book is The Doctor’s Guide to Sleep Solutions for Stress & Anxiety Dr. Rosenberg frequently appears on television & radio and is rated as an A+ guest. Learn more about Dr. Rosenberg by visiting AnswersForSleep.

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Michael A. Grandner, PhD, MTR, CBSM

grandner_headshot_grey_print“We live in a society that sees sleep as unproductive time. But this is a mistake. What if I told you that I had a workout routine that could not only help you manage your weight, reduce risk of heart disease, reduce risk of diabetes, improve energy levels and productivity, increase focus, improve mental health, and improve your relationships? Would you do it?

The most important thing a person can do to improve their sleep, in my opinion, is to stop seeing sleep as a cost — time spent — and see it more as time invested. Sleep is an investment in your health, an investment in your productivity, an investment in your mental clarity. Sometimes changing this perspective can help you realize how you may be able to make some changes in your lifestyle to promote healthy sleep. But some people can’t get healthy sleep, even if they give themselves enough of an opportunity. In that case, your first question should be whether or not you have a sleep disorder.

If you have an insomnia disorder or sleep apnea, all the sleep tips in the world are not going to do you much good. If it takes you more than 30 minutes to fall asleep, or if you are often awake for more than a half an hour most nights, or if you snore really loudly, or if you wake up exhausted and that feeling doesn’t go away after a few minutes, you might have a sleep disorder.

Stop searching for sleep tips online and talk to a sleep specialist. If you might have insomnia, you should ask your doctor for CBTI, which is the best treatment for insomnia and does not use medications. If your doctor doesn’t know about it, you can find a Behavioral Sleep Medicine provider in your area. If you have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder, you should seek out a board-certified sleep physician to get diagnosed and treated. Once you resolve any underlying sleep disorder, then you can look into sleep tips…”

Why You Should Follow

Dr. Grandner is the Director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona and Director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Clinic at the Banner University Medical Center in Tucson, AZ. He is a licensed clinical psychologist certified in Behavioral Sleep Medicine and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology, Medicine, and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Arizona. His research focuses on real-world causes and consequences of insufficient sleep and solutions for promoting healthy sleep. He has over 90 publications in scientific journals, is associate editor of the journal Sleep Health, serves on the editorial board for the journals Sleep and Sleep Medicine, is an elected fellow of both the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and American Heart Association, and has received awards for his research from the Sleep Research Society, Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine, Sleep Research Network, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and others. 

Jordan C. Stern MD

“In search of good sleep, or as part of the remedies for poor sleep, consideration to reflux is almost always overlooked!   Only recently have some medical research papers discussed the association between sleep disorders and reflux, particularly the association between sleep apnea and reflux.

Reflux can result in sleep disturbances by causing arousals every time a reflux episode occurs. In other words, reflux episodes occurring in the middle of the night, wake you up, and then, yes: your mind will start racing and falling back asleep can be very difficult.  Very few in the medical world are aware that reflux may be causing these symptoms, and often attribute them to anxiety, asthma, or heart abnormalities. Treating your reflux will certainly improve some aspects of your sleep.

Get a sleep study to rule out sleep apnea as an underlying cause of your persistent reflux, and possibly even a simultaneous acid pH testing with the sleep testing.  At home, avoid eating at least 3 hours before laying down, and have the head of your bed elevated.  Drinking enough alcohol will also cause reflux.”

Why You Should Follow

Dr. Stern is the Founder and CEO of the first BlueSleep center in New York City utilizing telemedicine to revolutionize Sleep Medicine.  He is also the best-selling author of Dropping Acid The Reflux Diet Cookbook and Cure, and producer of Music for Dreams a series of albums created to help those suffering from poor quality sleep.

Richard Shane, PhD

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 10.12.41 PM“You have likely come across recommendations of sleep hygiene tips that support good sleep. Here are a few of my favorites to start with.

Avoid caffeine (including chocolate and caffeinated sodas) six hours before bedtime.  Have your last full meal be several hours before bedtime to allow for digestion. Avoid spicy foods or foods that cause indigestion.  Keep your sleep environment quiet, dark and cool.  Slow down an hour before bed with a bath, reading something calming, or stretching.

Television, computer, cell phone and tablets emit a blue-white light that interferes with your brain’s production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Blue-blocking glasses help block blue light.  Stop using computers, cell phones, and tablets 30 minutes before bed and keep computers, TVs, and work materials out of your bedroom.  Limit bedroom activities to sleep and sex.

And now for something you may not have heard of:  When people feel stressed, they often press their tongue against the roof of their mouth, as a way of “bracing” against stress. People are often so accustomed to doing that, they usually don’t even realize they’re doing it. When your head is on your pillow, if thoughts or emotional discomfort seems to be getting in the way of sleep, notice if your tongue is pressed against the roof of your mouth. If it is, simply allow it to relax. It can be anywhere in your mouth, even lightly touching the roof of your mouth or your teeth—just not pressing. Your tongue is a “switch” in your nervous system so allowing it to relax begins to calm your neck, head, shoulders, mind and emotions, easing toward sleep.”

Why You Should Follow

Richard Shane, Ph.D., has been a psychotherapist since 1977 and a sleep therapist since 1994. He is the behavioral sleep therapist for New West Physicians, Colorado, with over 100 physicians and healthcare providers serving over 200,000 patients. From 2010 through 2014, he was the behavioral sleep therapist for Lutheran Medical Center Sleep Center in Denver.  For more of his sleep hygiene tips, visit his Blog!

Dana Obelman BA, B.Ed

Three Reasons Why Your Child Isn’t Sleeping

Babies need a lot of sleep, so it’s confusing for parents when their little ones won’t stay asleep for prolonged periods of time or spend hours crying when they’re placed in their crib. The most common reasons for these bedtime battles are…

Baby is overtired.  Infants (4-11 months) need between 12 – 15 hours of sleep a day, so bedtime should allow for at least 10 hours of sleep before they get up in the morning. An early bedtime (between 7:00 and 8:00 PM) is essential for preventing overtiredness, which can actually make your little one hyperactive and less likely to fall asleep easily.

Too much light.  Blue light, the type we get from the sun, has a natural effect on our circadian rhythm. After a few hours without it, our bodies begin to produce melatonin in preparation for sleep. However, blue light is also emitted from TV screens, phones, and tablets. Turning off the screens a few hours bed, and blocking all sources of light from baby’s nursery, will help immensely in establishing a natural, healthy sleep schedule.

Dependency on a parent.  Babies are creatures of habit, and if a parent has been rocking, singing, or feeding them to sleep, they quickly grow dependent on the external soothing, and when they wake in the night, are unable to get back to sleep without it. Learning to fall asleep independently will result in much longer periods of consolidated sleep, for them and their parents.”

Why You Should Follow

Dana Obleman, BA, B.Ed is a mother of three wonderfully rested kids, has been a pediatric sleep consultant for over 13 years, and has authored five books on improving sleep and parenting strategies. She is the creator of The Sleep Sense Program™ which has sold over 57,000 copies worldwide. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook at @sleepbabydana, on YouTube at Dana Obleman, and listen to her Podcast.

Martin Reed

Martin Reed

“As someone who works directly with insomnia sufferers, I see one crucial mistake many insomniacs make when it comes to sleep — they spend too much time in bed! Spending too much time in bed doesn’t help you make up for lost sleep or increase your chances of getting more sleep. Instead, it simply increases the amount of time spent tossing and turning, worrying about sleep, and thinking about sleep — all of which make sleep more difficult! To figure out how much time you should be spending in bed each night, take your average nightly sleep duration and add on one hour. So, if you normally get about five hours of sleep, you shouldn’t be spending more than six hours in bed each night. This method won’t reduce your total sleep time — but it should help increase sleep efficiency, reduce anxiety and stress, strengthen your sleep system, and improve your sleep.”

Why You Should Follow

Martin is the creator of Insomnia Land’s free insomnia sleep training course. His online course teaches insomniacs how to fall asleep and stay asleep without sleeping pills. More than 5,000 insomniacs have completed his course and 97 percent of graduates say they would recommend it to a friend. Martin can be also be found on Twitter: @insomnialand

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Terry Cralle, RN, CSE

017IMG_319334linkedInCopy.format_png.resize_200x“When it comes to sleep, too many people simply don’t seem to make the time for adequate amounts. When people think of their daily schedules, they often don’t think of scheduling sleep, and so sleep usually ends up on the bottom of their “to-do” lists—if it ends up there at all. Sleep is all too often the first thing sacrificed in our busy and hectic lives.

Yet this is a fundamental mistake. People erroneously believe they will do better with more waking hours. They worry that they will not get everything done or will miss out on something, or will have to give up something to get adequate sleep—which for most adults is 7–9 hours per night. What they fail to realize is that the quantity of our waking hours isn’t what is most important—it’s the quality of our waking hours that matters.

Sufficient sleep is necessary for peak performance and optimal functioning. A well-rested person performs at a higher level: they are more productive, more accurate, more focused, more efficient, more creative, more positive, more coordinated, and more organized, to name a few benefits. And even if a sleep-deprived person is able to complete a day’s work without sufficient sleep, the quality of that work, as well as that person’s overall performance, will likely be compromised. The tricky part is that the sleepy person has very limited insight into their own performance degradations—often thinking they are performing just fine when in reality they are not.

While making time in your daily schedule for adequate sleep may appear counterintuitive at first glance, consistently doing so will help you function and perform optimally—and become more productive and efficient—so you can make the very most of your waking hours. So put down that remote and hit the hay—and put sufficient sleep at the top of your “to-do” list as a non-negotiable part of your everyday schedule.”

Why You Should Follow

Terry is a credentialed and certified clinical sleep educator, providing critical information and guidance to a wide array of audiences. Terry is a recognized industry leader–speaker, consultant, and author including her book “Sleeping Your Way To The Top: How to Get the Sleep You Need to Succeed”  Follow her on Twitter @PowerofSleep

Catherine Darley, ND

Dr. Catherine Darley“Throughout time, human beings have lived in accordance with daily and seasonal rhythms – rhythms of daily temperature and light variation, and seasonal changes in temperature, light and food availability.  Now, in our modern world, we can control all these variables, and make them uniform throughout the day and across the seasons.  But should we?

It may seem surprising, but we know that light exposure during the day actually has an impact on sleep at night.  Melatonin is called the “hormone of darkness” and helps us feel sleepy and fall asleep at night.   The natural pattern in dim light conditions is to start to rise in the evening before bed, peak in the middle of the night then decline.  However, many people are not in dim light conditions in the hour or so before bed.  Instead, we are in well-lit rooms, looking at bright electronic screens from TVs to laptops to handheld devices.  This light suppresses our natural melatonin.  Then during the day, we are in offices, which are relatively dim compared to outside.

A powerful way to improve your sleep is to mimic the historic light conditions our ancestors lived in before electricity.  When you wake, get up and get outside for 30 minutes of bright light.  This helps suppress any lingering melatonin and synchronizes your body clock with the environment.  Then throughout the day, continue to get natural light exposure, at least 10 minutes every 2-3 hours.  Intentionally switch gears an hour or more before bed by turning lights low.  Turn off all your electronic devices, and do something relaxing in low light so that your melatonin can start to rise.  Even try candlelight or firelight for the hour before bed, the gentle light won’t suppress your melatonin, and it can be a relaxing soothing way to help you fall asleep.”

Why You Should Follow

Dr. Catherine Darley, ND specializes in improving sleep for individuals and groups.  She is the director of The Institute of Naturopathic Sleep Medicine, Inc in Seattle, WA.   In her private practice, she helps people of all ages who are struggling with insomnia, circadian rhythm problems, movement disorders and other sleep issues.  Follow her on Twitter @naturalsleepdr

Elina Winnel

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 6.58.16 PM“One of the biggest myths around sleep is that it is the hour before bed that determines our sleep. People underestimate how much their day impacts their night, and how what we do/think during the day influences the ease and quality of our sleep.  Our daily thought patterns are one example of this. We all have habitual thought patterns that can unconsciously play out through our day to day lives. For some, a habitual thought pattern may be to worry about what may go wrong in the future. Our thought patterns often create a set of undesirable chemicals to be released in our bodies, activating our sympathetic nervous system and holding our bodies “hostage” in a state known as fight or flight. By the time night arrives, although our minds may now be free from undesirable thought patterns, the chemicals can still be active in our bodies, causing us to still feel “on”, thus making it difficult to fall into a restful, deep sleep.

When we are “on” our brainwaves move fast in a beta pattern, which is the opposite end of the spectrum from the slow delta brainwave state that is required for sleep.

The good news is that we are not at the mercy of this domino effect. We all have the power to change our thought patterns to ones that are more conducive to our mind/body health and therefore sleep. Just like going to the gym to train our bodies, neuroscience shows that we can train and rewire our brains into favorable patterns.

Many of us are struggling to switch off at night and wake feeling refreshed and ready to embrace the new day. If you are one of these people, there is a good chance that you are suffering from the number one cause of sleep disturbances in the western world: the racing mind. Or you may be suffering from the impacts of silent stress, where it has become normal to live in a heightened state of stress without realizing it. If so, engaging with a professional to work through the root cause of your poor sleep, can not only restore your sleep but positively reverberate into all areas of your life.”

Why You Should Follow

Elina Winnel is the #1 most-recognized sleep and insomnia coach with a fresh, innovative and revolutionary solution to naturally treating sleeping difficulties.  Elina has become known across the world for redefining how sleep-related issues are perceived, treated and cured.  A revolutionary approach developed as a result of her own healing journey with chronic insomnia.

Kevin Bradley 

“I believe the most important factor for a good night’s sleep is consistency and acceptance for occasional inconsistency.  We’ve all heard the tips: go to bed and wake up around the same time every day, avoid bright screens before bed etc. etc.  It is important to keep these things as consistent as possible.  But it’s also important to not stress deviation every now and then! It’s okay to allow yourself that coffee after dinner, and that midnight special on TV.  I say this because as important as sleep hygiene is, you don’t want it to become the stressor that keeps you tossing and turning.”

Why You Should Follow

Kevin Bradley is a sleep researcher in the Department of Medical Neuroscience at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada. He is currently writing a book on the most unusual ways humans sleep entitled “Sleeping Like Superman: Extraordinary stories of sleep and dreaming.”  Follow him on Twitter @KevJbradley

Brendan Duffy, CSE

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“Training doesn’t start when you get to the gym.  Great athletes realize that sleep is the foundation that they rely on to compete at an elite level. Sleep is the beginning of their performance preparation, not the end.  Coupled with proper nutrition and exercise, these athletes are fully charged and fueled both mentally and physically to compete.

When it comes to athletic performance, a good night’s sleep will impact several areas that are critical for top notch performance. These include their cognitive, physical, and immune functions.  Sleep also plays a major role in athletic recovery! Athletes that sleep well have been shown to last longer both in competition, and as members of their professional teams and leagues.  It is no coincidence that star athletes such Tom Brady, Michael Phelps, and LeBron James often speak to their “sleep training” as being a major factor in their professional on field success!

There are several areas that can sabotage an athlete’s sleep performance and they include late night use of electronic devices, team travel, and a simple lack of information as to how sleep impacts performance.  Fortunately, most professional teams now incorporate sleep training as part of their regular training staff.  The sleep coaches review team travel schedules, assess sleep patterns, and look out for sleep issues such as insomnia and sleep apnea.

Some suggestions for athletes to improve sleep and performance would include limiting the use of electronics and hour or so before bed, practice calming and relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation prior to bedtime, and make sure the bedroom is dark and cool for best sleep conditions.  Also, teams should match up teammates that are of same chronotype so that the “early birds” are not dorming with those “night owls” and impacting sleep for both groups.  Proper use of pain and sleep meds are also a concern and should be monitored closely by the team trainers and medical staff.

In the future, sleep tracking will be even more natural and understood as athletes realize the importance – and see the results on the field!”

Sleep Well-Compete Best!

Why You Should Follow

Brendan Duffy is a registered sleep technologist and a certified sleep educator. He is a former travel baseball/hockey coach and has been employed in sleep medicine clinical settings for 20 years and has written several articles about sleep and athletic performance. He also speaks nationally on this topic to other medical professionals and to high school sports teams. He is currently the Athletic Liaison for the national nonprofit group Start School Later and the clinical manager of a 6 bed sleep center in Port Jefferson NY.

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Michael Gelb, MD

GELB IMG_2134“One of the most common reasons for sleep deprivation is a narrowed airway either in the nose or behind the soft palate and tongue. Unfortunately, when we lay down at night our airways tend to collapse due to gravity and a loss of protective reflexes.

One simple solution is to sleep on a wedge or with a few pillows or simply sleep on your side. Another easy fix are Mute nasal stents which can be found at many Walgreens which keep the nasal airway more patent and give more refreshed sleep.

In our practice we also recommend a sleep device which is worn in the mouth to prevent the tongue from dropping back at night. It is custom fabricated, comfortable and very thin.

Many dentists are now trained to manage airway and sleep disorders, and you can find a provider in almost any geographic area here.  The ideal sleep device should manage clenching, restless sleep and headaches. In the most severe cases CPAP may provide the best solution even combined with an oral device. Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS) should not go unaddressed.”

Why You Should Follow

Dr. Michael Gelb is a highly rated author and speaker on TMJ, sleep apnea, sleep disorders, and chronic headache treatments. With over 30 years of experience, the renowned specialist has written and co-authored numerous journal articles and book chapters to share his knowledge and best practices with other doctors, specialists, and dentists.

Eric J. Kezirian MD, MPH

Eric J. Kezirian MD, MPH

“If you snore regularly and loudly enough to wake up others, you should speak with your doctor or health care provider because it may be a sign of a more serious condition called obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea can lead to poor sleep quality, making you feel tired or have fatigue throughout the day. It can also contribute to health issues like high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. Many people have actually been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and are unable to tolerate the first-line treatment that is called positive airway pressure therapy (such as CPAP, BPAP, or APAP). If you have sleep apnea and are not doing well with positive pressure therapy, sleep apnea surgery may be an excellent option. There are surgeons who specialize in the evaluation and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea, and fortunately, there are new options that have improved results.”

Why You Should Follow

Eric J. Kezirian, MD, MPH is Professor of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC in Los Angeles, California.  He is one of the relatively few surgeons in the world specializing in sleep surgery, and he is a former President of the International Surgical Sleep Society, the world’s leading organization in the field.  Dr. Kezirian is recognized by colleagues as one of the world’s leaders in sleep apnea surgery, and he has performed important research to advance the field.  His goal is the development of targeted, effective treatment, performing the right sleep apnea procedure for each patient.

Mayank Shukla, MD

“Some causes of sleepless nights can be pre-existing medical conditions like asthma, nasal and sinus inflammation, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, high blood pressure, anxiety and clinical depression. Other non-medical factors include poor sleep habits, lifestyle factors, stress, and diet.

Sleep therapy machines like a CPAP machine or Winx machine help patients by using pressurized air to keep airways open for optimal breathing throughout the night. If you are not keen on sleep assistance through machines, there are also several noninvasive options available to treat your sleep disorder. Mandibular Advancement Device, Provent, and Inspire are such noninvasive options used in treating sleep disorders like sleep apnea. There are also several uniquely created pediatric sleep solutions for children as well.

Lack of sleep can cause stress, fatigue, and problems with concentration. Sleep disorders are conditions that must be treated. Risks can include various health problems like heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, obesity, and depression. It is important to identify your symptoms and treat the problem to avoid these negative lifestyle changes and risks.”

Why You Should Follow

For 15 years, Dr. Shukla has been New York’s top board certified sleep doctor. He treats over 5,000 adult and pediatric patients a year for sleep disorders including sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy, and parasomnia.  If you are in New York or the surrounding areas, visit Sleep MD NYC for the full night’s rest you’ve been waiting for.  Be sure to give him a follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for daily sleep disorder facts recommended treatment options, and more!

Els van der Helm, PhD

Els van der HelmAssociate your bedroom with sleep

Multiple research studies have found a strong link between the bed and sleep is necessary for high quality sleep. Therefore, your bedroom should only be for sleep (and love!). Our brain is very smart and creates associations easily.  Continuously pairing experiences and behaviors together. In order for the brain to form this association, sleep is the only thing you should be doing in the bedroom. This is quite easy to mess up, if you do other activities in the bedroom.

Activities you should consider eliminating from your bedroom include working, social media, TV, phone, exercise, and any stress inducing element.

If worries are keeping you awake at night

To maintain a strong association between your bedroom and sleep, keep yourself relaxed and not stressed. When our brains get stressed, it stimulates the release of hormones that make us feel alert and awake (and not sleepy!)

Remove your worries from the bedroom. Keep a pad of paper and pen by the bed to write the worries down. Read that list during a scheduled daytime, “worry time”, appointment with yourself. Ensure it’s not close to your bedtime. Follow it with a relaxing breathing or meditation exercise.

Sleep Environment

We spend a third of our life asleep, therefore our bedroom deserves some extra attention!  There are 3 important aspects to consider:

  1. The bedroom should be quite dark at night. Light is an important signal that tells your brain to stay awake, while darkness at night helps us fall asleep.  Get black out blinds to block external light or use an eye mask to keep the light out
  2. Keep the bedroom cool. Your core body temperature needs to decrease before you got to bed.  An Ideal bedroom temperature is around 18C or 65F.  Take a hot bath or shower 1-1.5 hours before bed, and lower the thermostat or open the window a few hours before bed
  3. The bedroom should be quiet. Sudden noises from the street or loud neighbors can make it difficult to fall asleep or worse disturb your sleep during the night.  White noise blocks out extraneous sounds.  Use a fan, ear plugs, or a white noise generator.

Why You Should Follow

Els van der Helm is the founder of Shleep – the sleep company which coaches businesses and leaders on how to improve effectiveness, health and engagement through better sleep management. Shleep offers sleep programs including a sleep coaching app, workshops, coaching and consulting.

Dr. Tyler Vachon & Dr. Anthony Duarte

“Sleep is like a gauge on your day-to-day routine. If you are still having trouble sleeping, it could reflect the stresses you encounter.  By having a positive, “I can do it!” attitude for all the enormous stressors you encounter throughout the day, you will find that over time, this will translate to better sleep. Join our Sleeper tribe to start your journey, and know that better sleep is just over the Horizon.

One important tool that can be used to help move sleepers from a stressful day to a restful night is an After Dinner Checklist. This provides easy-to-follow, sleep staging steps to check off each day between dinner and bed.

Lastly, it is important to note that there are some medical reasons for disrupted sleep – if you have trouble breathing while you sleep, possibly with loud snoring or chronic pain, please see your primary care provider.”

Why You Should Follow

Drs. Dugarte and Vachon of ORA Horizon have made it their mission to not only provide easy-to-use video tips and social media posts on a daily basis but to also deliver a free follow-up email sequence for their Sleeper tribe. Through the combination of teaching and encouragement, ORA provides the tools necessary for better sleep.  Follow them on Twitter @Orahorizon

Nancy H. Rothstein, MBA

Nancy-web-headshotOur biology has not changed but our behaviors have.  The two are not in sync causing a myriad of sleep problems for millions.  One such culprit is our addiction to technology.  It’s wonderful, but we can’t shut down and transition to sleep in peace.  We are wired to sleep when it’s dark and awaken to the light of day.  Yet, thanks to Thomas Edison, we brought light into the night and its only gotten more intrusive.  Those beautiful screens are telling our brains to stay awake, not to mention the barrage of stimulation they provide.  So, set your phone alarm about an hour before you plan to surrender to slumber.  Let that be your signal to put technology to bed.

So what do you do with this new free time just for you?  Talk with family or loved ones.  Take a relaxing shower or bath.  Read a printed book or magazine with dim lighting.  Practice a breathing or mindfulness technique.  Do gentle, soothing yoga positions.  The, get into bed and let your brain and body do their night work which will make your days all the better.

Why You Should Follow

As The Sleep Ambassador®, Nancy is dedicated to help people SLEEP WELL so they can LIVE WELL. Nancy consults and lectures on Sleep Wellness to Fortune 500 corporations, the travel industry, universities, schools, athletes and to other organizations, reflecting her dedication to education and raising awareness about sleep and sleep disorders. In 2014, Nancy partnered with CIRCADIAN® to become Director of Corporate Sleep Programs, recognizing their global leadership in providing 24/7 workforce solutions for businesses that operate around the clock.

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