How to Sleep Better at Night Naturally with Dr. Michael Breus

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Sleep is something we all need, whether we like it or not. Almost everyone has questions about sleep and would love to improve it in some way.

As we all know, not sleeping well for even one night sets the tone for the rest of the day. We’ve all had such days, and many of us have experienced weeks, months, or even years of poor sleep.

Over time, this leads to emotional instability and physical issues. Good sleep is essential for both mental and physical health.

Yet, we live in an age where people are sleeping worse than ever. Sleep problems such as sleep apnea and insomnia are on the rise (Dr. Breus discusses these issues and solutions in our interview).

Globally, sleep quality has declined due to modern life, where finding quietness is difficult. Bustling cities, cars, planes, trains, roadworks, shift work, and early/late working hours have become part of our lives 24/7.

The world has become much noisier, yet our sleep needs remain the same as they were hundreds of years ago. So an episode on this topic is long overdue. 

I reached out to the one and only Dr. Michael Breus, the sleep doctor, to educate us, provide tips, and give advice about sleep so we can all enjoy some better sleep after the episode.

Websites:


Books:

  • – Intro 00:00
  • – Why Dr. Breus became a clinical psychologist and a sleep expert 2:57
  • – The Questions: Overrated/Underrated 8:18
  • – The use of mouth tape and if it works or not 9:10
  • – Sleeping in the same bed, overrated or underrated? 10:53
  • – A white noise machine, overrated or underrated? 14:30
  • – Morning people, overrated or underrated? 17:41
  • – The IPS Academy 24:33 Sleep disorders, overrated or underrated? 25:37
  • – How to solve insomnia and sleep apnea 31:25
  • – What Dr. Breus feels is overrated about sleep 34:20 µ
  • – What Dr. Breus feels is underrated about sleep 41:21
  • – Exciting advancements in sleep technology 43:54
  • – Connect with Dr. Breus 46:43
  • – The final question 47:37
  • – Outro 48:24
  • The IPS Academy 50:03

The transcription is, for the most part, AI-transcribed and is currently 85% accurate. We are still weeding out some minor errors.

Jellis Vaes
Hey, welcome here to another episode on the podcast of Inner Path Seekers. This project that I created back, well, some years ago, got created really because of my own struggles in life, because I felt that where was all this knowledge and information about topics that we just don’t learn anything about in school, like mental health, relationships, the body and brain, the mind, stuff that affect us all, but that we learn nothing about. I went out to create this project, started this podcast to talk with experts on these topics. And today we’re going to talk about sleep, which is a very important topic. We all sleep, and everyone knows that if they don’t sleep good, how much it affects their life. There’s plenty of people who sleep regularly. Not great. It tremendous effect, as you will learn in the interview. And for that, to learn more about this topic, I went out and searched for an expert, and I reached out to the one and only Dr. Michael Breus, who is the sleep doctor. Let me share a bit about Dr. Michael Breus. So Michael Breus is a diplomat of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a Fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

He holds a BA in psychology and a PhD in clinical psychology. Dr. Breus has been in private practice as a sleep doctor for nearly 25 years. He’s a sought-after lecturer, and his knowledge is shared daily on major national media worldwide, including today Dr. Oz, Oprah, and he has been the sleep expert on WebMD for 14 years. Dr. Breus is also the best-selling author of The Power of When, the Sleep Doctors Diet Plan, and Energize. And again, he’s here on the podcast. So I’m really excited for you to dig into this episode and to learn more about sleep. Now, to find any of the resources that Dr. Breus mentioned in the episode and also ways to connect with him, check out these show notes which are located in the description or go directly to theipsproject. com/podcast and search for Dr. Breus. Oh, yeah, and Finally, if you will enjoy this episode, don’t forget to leave a rating on whichever podcast app you’re using. Ratings really, really, really help out this podcast, any podcast in general, right? Because this allows me to invite more incredible guests like Dr. Breus. Having said all that, let’s dig into this interview now with the one and only Dr. Breus.

Jellis Vaes
Dr. Breus, a warm welcome here to the podcast. It’s a It’s a real pleasure to have you on.

Dr. Michael Breus
Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Jellis Vaes
The topic that we’re going to talk about is, I mean, your sleep, like you know, right? It’s a topic that, I mean, we all have to do it. It affects many people’s life, many people have a lot of questions about it. I thought an episode about sleep with an expert. You would be very interesting to do.

Dr. Michael Breus
Absolutely. Let’s do it. I’m excited.

Jellis Vaes
Before I’m going to throw some questions at you, I was actually very curious to just ask, what got you interested to study psychology, to be a clinical psychologist, and to become an expert, actually, on sleep?

Dr. Michael Breus
It’s a question that I get often. People wonder, did I have a sleep problem? Am I trying to fix somebody in my family? Or am I trying to fix myself? Actually, no, none of that happened. I didn’t wake up one day and I said sleep is the magic pill for everything, and I want to change my career at going to sleep. I’ve been in sleep since day one. What ended up happening was during a rotation that I did during my residency, I rotated first into the sleep lab. Within three days, I fell absolutely in love with clinical sleep medicine. And I can tell you why. It’s because I help people that fast. It’s unbelievable. In traditional clinical psychology, it might take weeks, months, even years before you see any form of treatment gains, like with depression or anxiety, things like that. I can literally change somebody’s life in 24 hours sometimes. The thing to remember here is when you change your sleep, you change your life. A lot of people don’t really think of it that way, but the truth of the matter is, is it affects every organ system and every disease state. Literally everything you do, you do better with a good night’s sleep.

And so whatever things that are going on during the daytime, a lot of people don’t think about, but they have a dramatic effect on your ability to sleep at night and your overall physiology, biology plays a role as well. So it turned out to just be one of those things that was super duper interesting. My wife says it all the time. You wouldn’t be nearly as interesting if you’d become a cardiologist. But if I go to a party and somebody there finds out I’m a sleep doctor, she just rolls her eyes and walks to the bar because she knows what’s about to happen is I’m going to get hit with a thousand questions about sleep. And I don’t mind it, to be fair. I like talking about sleep. I feel like it’s weird because most people would never speak to a sleep doctor unless they were in their office and had already been down the path of diagnosis. Very few people get a chance to just hang out with a sleep specialist and ask them general questions about sleep. That’s what That’s why I like the podcast format in particular because people can ask me a zillion questions.

We can get into some detail. I do a lot of television work, but unfortunately, I could usually only cover one small topic because of time and things like that. But with this format, it’s great. But I got involved in sleep primarily because I liked it. I help people really, really fast. And the other big thing, there’s always something new going on in sleep. I mean, not to say that there isn’t new stuff going on in psychology all the time, but literally every single week, there’s 10, 15 papers that get published in Sleep and sleep medicine that’s talking about all kinds of different things. And I want to be clear is as a PhD clinical psychologist, I am not your typical clinical psychologist. So a lot of people don’t know this, but I actually took and passed the sleep medicine boards. So I actually took the medical boards without going to medical school and passed. I’m one of 168 people in the world that have ever done it. And my perspective on insomnia is I take all the medicine that I learned for the boards and then all the psychology that I learned from getting the PhD, and I bring them together in order to treat patients more holistically, if you will.

I don’t use medication if I can help it, and I try not to even use a whole lot of supplementation if I can help it. It really just depends upon getting in there, understanding what’s going on with the patients, and it’s a lot of fun. I will also tell you this, that my patients are the most loyal patients in the universe. You change somebody’s sleep and they are your friend forever.

Jellis Vaes
That’s true. I can see that. Because like you said, you change their whole life, right? By improving their sleep, the moment that you wake up, it depends how good your day will on how well you sleep, basically, right?

Dr. Michael Breus
Yeah. Just the other day, I had a patient call me up who was a personal friend, and she started crying. And she was just like, I just can’t express to you how important the changes that you helped me make have turned out in my life. She was like, My marriage is better. My finances are better. My extra free time is better. Everything is better. And she really thought there was no hope. She had tried every medication. She had tried all this different stuff. And she was like, I know you’re You’re my friend, and I know you’re a sleep expert, and I know you’re supposed to be one of the best in the world, Michael, but you’re never going to fix me. And I was like, Challenge accepted. Let’s go. Let me see. And sure enough, within four weeks, we had her sleeping like a baby.

Jellis Vaes
Wow, that’s incredible. Wow. Okay, I’m excited to throw some questions around sleep to you. Sure, fire away. And I thought it to be a fun way to learn more about sleep, to play a bit of a game called Overrated, Underrated. To explain so everyone is on board, it’s very simple, right? I’m just going to say something, and you can say if you feel it’s rather overrated or underrated. And then please, you could also elaborate on why.

Dr. Michael Breus
No problem.

Jellis Vaes
I have a couple of more normal questions as well, but let’s start with a few of those. Let me start with a juicy one. I think it’s also one that you get asked a lot of times, but I think it’s quite important, and I’m curious.

Dr. Michael Breus
I’m going to guess. Should I guess what it is?

Jellis Vaes
Yeah, go ahead.

Dr. Michael Breus
Is it mouth tape?

Jellis Vaes
Oh, no, it’s not mouth tape.

Dr. Michael Breus
I’ve been getting a lot of questions about that lately.

Jellis Vaes
Interesting. Okay, you can… Really? Is that at the moment something that a lot of people are curious about?

Dr. Michael Breus
It’s all over social media. So a lot of people are using it to help with snoring and to help with open-mouth breathing at night. But the problem is, and there’s big issues with it. So the biggest problem is that there are a zillion companies out there who have decided now to sell mouth tape. And the big problem is if you have undiagnosed sleep apnea and you use mouth tape, it actually completely masks it and the disease persists. And so I tell people all the time, you got to get tested for sleep apnea before you start using mouth tape. Otherwise, you could mask the disorder and you could wake up two, three years from now and have rip, roar, and apnea and have no idea that you did.

Jellis Vaes
I’m going to go to the overrated underrated questions in a second. But since you get a lot of questions around this, is it actually useful in some way, though?

Dr. Michael Breus
It is. Absolutely. For people who don’t have apnea, who snore and sleep with their mouth open, it’s great. The other problem, though, is most people have got tape that you buy that goes horizontally all the way across the mouth. That’s really a terrible idea. It should be a small vertical strip that goes basically from right under your nose to the middle of your chin. You can go to the local CVS or Walgreens and get what’s called 3M micropore tape. So it’s skin tape that we use in surgeries or things like that. It’s very simple. A small piece this big, put it on, it costs three cents. Now, these other people, they’re selling these mouth tapes for, I don’t know, 50 cents, a dollar, three bucks a piece. Somebody’s making a fortune off of something really stupid.

Jellis Vaes
That’s how it always goes.

Dr. Michael Breus
All right, so what’s your first question? Sorry, didn’t need to jump the gun.

Jellis Vaes
Sleeping in the same bed, overrated, underrated?

Dr. Michael Breus
Yeah, yeah, yeah. As a Matter of fact, I did not sleep in the same bed with my partner last night. Let me tell you why. So this morning, I was on television for a Dallas channel. Dr. Phil just bought a new channel. It’s called Merritt Street Media. And I was on there this morning, and I had to get up at about 5:45, 5:50 or so in the morning to be on at 6:30. And I didn’t want to wake my wife up that early. Also, we have two dogs that sleep in our bed. And if I get up at that time, then the dogs get up, then the whole house gets up. And so I decided last night I was going to sleep in the guest room, and I got a great night’s sleep. I didn’t disrupt anyone, came in, did my interview, the dogs never even heard me. So I’m a fan of sleeping in separate bedrooms when it makes sense. So as an example, that’s a great example. Another example might be, let’s say two people have very different work schedules. Somebody has to get up at 4:30 in the morning. The other person doesn’t have to get up until a reasonable time, like 7:00.

What do you do? Maybe during the week, you are separated, and then on the weekends, you come together. Here’s where the big problem comes, is many, many people out there feel that the strength of their relationship is dependent upon whether or not they sleep in the same bed. That is a big misnomer. In fact, they also think that the frequency of intimacy is related to sleeping in the same bed because of basically proximity. You’re in there, it’s late, you got half your clothing on. Hey, you interested? Yeah, sure. Why not? And then you go, right? That’s what ends up happening. And people say, Well, if I’m not in the same bed, the frequency of that is going to go down quite a bit. Actually, the opposite occurs. In fact, people are actually more intimate because now they know when they should be, right? It’s like, okay, I’m not going to deal with anything during the week. You’re going to be here on the weekend. We’ll be intimate on the weekend. Then there’s no pressure. I can do what I want to do during the week. You do what you want to do during in the week, and it works out just fine.

New baby can also be another option where we have one parent who’s sleeping in a different space so that they can get some rest while one parent is taking care of new baby. That’s another option. So I want to be super, duper clear. There are a lot of options about how to sleep in a bed, whether or not you should sleep in a bed with a bed partner, or they should even be in the same room as you.

Jellis Vaes
So you say underrated or overrated?

Dr. Michael Breus
I think it’s underrated. I think it’s underrated. I think people should definitely try it and see how it goes. You would be so surprised because I have so many couples who are like, Thank God you recommended this, Michael, because I couldn’t say that to my partner, but I finally am getting three or four nights of decent sleep, and that makes me a better partner, and I’m more interested in that person. So let’s go.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah, because I feel like there’s a general stigma around sleeping not in the same bed. People immediately think like, Oh, there’s something wrong with you, too.

Dr. Michael Breus
Yeah, absolutely. Don’t forget, you’ve got people who snore, you’ve got people who like to sleep with animals, you’ve got people who have different temperature needs, like one person’s hot, the other person’s cold. There’s a whole host of different aspects that can happen. I really think it’s underrated to try sleeping separately. Again, it’s not like you have to do it forever. Try it for a month. Just do it three days a week and see what happens. You might be shocked at how well something like this works.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah. Okay. All right. All All right, the next one, a white noise machine, overrated or underrated?

Dr. Michael Breus
I think it’s overrated, and let me explain why. So white noise machines in particular, nobody’s insomnia is going to get fixed by a noise machine, okay? That’s just not how it works. What noise machines are good for is background noise or being able to cancel out a noise that might alert you in the middle of the night. So as an example, if you live in an apartment complex where there’s somebody above you and somebody below you, a white noise machine might be the perfect solution for what’s going on for you, right? Now, one thing that a lot of people say to me is they say, well, I don’t want to wear ear plugs because I feel I won’t hear my phone or my child or the smoke alarm. But I am comfortable with using a white noise machine if I got, let’s say, a noisy bed partner or outside noise or things like that. So I think it’s overrated for being used as an insomnia fixer, but I do think it works well. Now, to be fair, there’s a lot of different noise now. So it’s not just white noise. There’s pink noise, there’s brown noise, there’s green noise, and there’s purple noise.

And each one is a different part of the spectrum of sound. And there’s actually, believe it or not, data on some of those sounds sounding differently and helping people become more relaxed. Now, I want to be super clear. You don’t listen to a sound and immediately pass out, because if you did, I’d be the richest person in the universe by this time, okay? Because I would have found that sound and I would have been copy-written it and played it. So that’s really not how it works. But what does happen when you listen to music is you can have a relaxation response. And let me give everybody an example of the opposite of a relaxation response. Let’s say that you’re in the car and it’s traffic everywhere and you are just pissed off, and your favorite song comes on the radio. What happens? You crank the volume, your mood is changed instantly, and now you’re in a completely different head space.

Jellis Vaes
That’s true.

Dr. Michael Breus
That’s what we try to do in terms of avoiding things like loud noises and things like that. So we use the opposite, those noises that give us relaxation responses, those are the ones we would play. So we have happy noises that make us dance around in our car, and then we have relaxation noises that can help us. And the one that’s been the most well-studied, honestly, has been ocean sounds. So what I tell people is, look, if you’re really If you want to do this right, go on whatever, get an app, and you can find ocean sounds. And listen to ocean sounds before you go to bed. You’ll be shocked at how calming it is.

Jellis Vaes
A white noise machine or like, Ocean sounds or anything else in the background while you’re trying to sleep, does it disrupt the rem sleep or does it have any effect?

Dr. Michael Breus
No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t disrupt sleep at all. The only time it disrupts sleep is if the volume changes dramatically in the middle of the night. So you ever notice how when you’re watching TV and you fall asleep and the commercials are really loud, that’s the only thing that happens that would be disruptive is if the noise was quite loud. Okay.

Jellis Vaes
All right. All right, the next one, morning people, overrated or underrated?

Dr. Michael Breus
I think they’re overrated because I am not a morning person.

Jellis Vaes
Well, me neither.

Dr. Michael Breus
Yeah. So this gets into my whole idea behind chronotypes, right? And so chronotypes are permanent genetic sleep schedules that everyone has. It’s built into their bodies. And there are people who are genetically pre-programmed to be early birds. So for those people, I think it’s great. Unfortunately, they only make up about 15 % of the population. Many, many more people think they are early birds than they actually are. Let me tell you how you tell the difference. Early birds wake up between 4:30 and 5:30 in the morning without an alarm, ready to go every day. Those people are different. Okay? And to be fair, I think they’re weird. I don’t get up that early. I don’t understand why anybody gets up that early. I don’t like mornings. I don’t like morning people all that much. I mean, they’re so chipper all the time. You know what I’m saying? So I’m a night owl, right? And so I don’t want to get out of bed until 8:30, 9:00 in the morning because that’s much better time for me. So are morning people overrated or underrated? I would say that they’re overrated because everybody wants to be one.

And I would say, what is better to do is figure out what your actual genetic chronotype is. If you go to my quiz, sleepdoctor.com/sleep-quizzes/chronotype-quiz/, you can learn it in about, I don’t know, three minutes, and then you can actually figure out. And I actually give you your sleep schedule. So if you’re an early bird, I tell you when to go to bed and when to wake up. If you’re a night owl, if you’re in between, or in a fourth category, what I call a dolphin or somebody with trouble sleep. So I would say that that is probably the best thing that you can do is to figure out what your chronotype is first, then determine if you can get that All right, cool.

Jellis Vaes
For everyone listening, I will link that in the show notes, the quiz that you just mentioned. Yeah. All right. Because the whole society is basically made almost for more morning people, right?

Dr. Michael Breus
So here’s what’s fascinating is the real schedule is for people in the middle. So if you think about it, morning people don’t work well at night. So if you’re a morning person or what I call a lion, it’s great that you sent me five emails before 6:00 AM. But if we want to go out and have in a movie, there’s no universe that’s going to happen. You’ve been up since 5:00 AM. So there are balances that get to be played. In truth, the group that makes up the largest population of chronotypes are the ones in the middle, the ones that like to wake up around 7:30 in the morning and like to go to bed around 10:30 at night. I call them bears, and they have a tendency to be the largest group. And all of society works on their schedule. Like nine to five works perfect for a bear. For a lion, it doesn’t work well, or an early bird, it doesn’t work well because early birds, by about two o’clock in the afternoon, they’re exhausted because they’ve been up since 5:30. They’ve been running and gunning so hard. They’re like, I’m at the end of my day, man.

I’m toast. So finding that zone for you is going to be important.

Jellis Vaes
How do you call night owls then?

Dr. Michael Breus
So I call night owls wolves, and they have a tendency to stay up quite late and like to sleep quite late. Most of my wolf patients don’t go to bed before midnight ever. They just don’t. But they may have work consequences or life consequences, like a baby or a partner or what have you that get up early. And so that has a tendency to make things a little bit disruptive. So a lot of times I’m actually helping couples figure out what is the best sleep schedule for them as a couple. And again, this gets back to our very first question of in the bed or out of the bed, because a lot of people are very insistent. They’re like, I want to go to bed with my partner, and I want to wake up with my partner. Well, if you’re an early bird and your partner is a night owl, I got news for you. That isn’t going to work too well. And people always ask about intimacy. What do I do if I’m an early bird and my partner is a night owl? How is that going to work, Michael? We’ve actually done the studies to show people how to do it.

Jellis Vaes
How do you do it?

Dr. Michael Breus
So what we do is I actually looked at the different arousal patterns. And so all of these chronotypes are based on when your melatonin kicks off in the morning So early birds, melatonin starts around 4:30, five o’clock in the morning. People in the middle, it starts around 6:37. And then people who are night owls, like me, it starts around 7:38. There’s also a group of irregular melatonin-producing group that is what I call my insomnia group or my dolphins. And that’s how it plans itself out. Here’s where it gets so fascinating is once you know this, you actually have the cheat code for almost everything in your body. I can show you the right time of day to To have sex, eat a cheeseburger, ask your boss for a raise. Because let’s say you’re a lion, your hormones generate at a very particular level right when you wake up, and then it’s very predictable throughout the day. So I can show you, hey, three hours in, this is where you’re going to be most creative. Six hours in, this is where you’re going to need a nap. Better for you to have sex in the early morning time right when you wake up because you’re not going to have a problem, whether you’re male or female, your arousal and desire might be higher in the morning, things of that nature.

And so we were able to figure all that. That’s all based on research. There are over 220 studies in my book called The Power of When. So that’s where people can learn it all. But I recommend basically sex in the morning. Let me explain why. So you need five hormones in order to successfully be intimate. You need estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, and adrenaline all need to be high, and melatonin, the sleep hormone, needs to be low. I’ll give you one guess what hormones look like at 11:00 at night, which is, by the way, the time when most people want to have sex. It’s the opposite, right? All the things that you want raised are lowered and melatonin is high. So that’s hint number one. Hint number two is if you happen to be Having intimacy with somebody who is born biologically male, what do most biological males wake up with in the morning? An erection. If that isn’t Mother Nature telling you when to use that thing, I don’t know what is. So I give people two times, an early evening time and an early morning time for intimacy to see how it works. And what we’ve discovered is in my male patients or my biologically male patients, erections last longer and performance is better.

And for my female or biologically female patients, we see that a connection is better. Intimacy, that actual connection and feelings of emotion are closer when they’re having intimacy in the morning time or at the preferred time based on their chronotype. So it’s interesting.

Jellis Vaes
Wow, very interesting. All right, good stuff. Okay.

The IPS Academy
Hey, sorry to interrupt the interview here with Dr. Breus. This will just take a short moment. If you want to learn more from people who have been here on the show, you want to spend some one-on-one time with them, then check out The IPS Academy, where we have online courses with guests who have been here on the show. There’s already a bunch of courses out there. We’re working on many more. There’s one that we’re actually working on right now, which I’m really excited about. It is, of course, with a guest who has been here on the show. If you feel like you want to learn more, way more, about topics like mental health, relationships, the body and brain, the mind, then check out The Academy. In the description, I will put a link that will take you to The Academy, where you can just browse the courses that we have. Or you can also go directly to theipsproject.com/academy to find the on the same page. All right, having said that, let’s return back to the interview with Dr. Breus.

Jellis Vaes
Let me throw one more overrated, underrated question at you, and then I’m going to ask more a regular question. Sleeping disorders, overrated or underrated?

Dr. Michael Breus
I think they’re underrated because people aren’t really getting diagnosed at the rate at which they should. If you think about it, and you just looked at, for example, sleep apnea, and men in the United States, what you would learn is somewhere between 12 and 18 % of men have sleep apnea. That’s like one in five guys, okay? That’s a lot of people. There are 350 million people in the United States. So we’re looking at, I don’t know, maybe 70, 75 million people with sleep apnea. Only about eight % of that has been diagnosed. So there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done for diagnosing sleep apnea. And that’s just one of the sleep disorders. Second big one, insomnia, right? Roughly 10 % of the entire population has chronic insomnia, with 30 % being on occasion. So we’ve got roughly over 100 million people who occasionally don’t sleep well, and about 35 million people that don’t sleep well every night. Dude, this is a problem. And it’s not getting much, much better. On the apnea side of things, we’re starting to see society get bigger and bigger from a weight perspective. And we know that while physical weight isn’t the only factor that increases sleep apnea, there is absolutely a connection between them.

And the heavier people are, usually the more severe that sleep apnea is. We have an entire society now that, by the way, 75% of this is overweight and 50% is obese. If you think sleep apnea isn’t going to go through the route, you are sadly mistaken. On the insomnia side, can you think of a time that’s ever been more stressful than now? Because I can’t. I’m 56 years old, and I’ve never seen the divisiveness of what we see in society today. You can’t talk about politics. You can’t talk about almost anything. You can’t talk about how you feel about something. Maybe you’re afraid you’re going to be canceled because you don’t even know better to say something wrong, all that stuff. The stress, dude, is unbelievable. The number one thing that fuels insomnia? Stress. So I think that sleep disorders are underrated from the standpoint of, I think people People aren’t getting diagnosed because everybody seems to have one. It’s almost like a normalization. It’s like when I talk to new parents and I say, How are you sleeping? And they all start to laugh. Like, Sleep? What are you talking about? I have a new baby.

No new parents sleeps. Not true. There are plenty of new parents that sleep well when they get their kid on a sleep schedule. So it’s like people are starting to think, I’m just supposed to be exhausted. And in fact, you’re not supposed to be exhausted. That is not why you were put on this Earth and placed into society. It’s about having joy, and it’s about leading happy lives, and it’s about being healthy. And all of that is very possible. But so many people are like, I don’t know if I want to get a diagnosis. Then I’ve got a whole thing I got to go through. And to be fair, on the insomnia side of things, people don’t want to take prescription pills. And most doctors, that’s all they have to offer. So it’s not a great situation for a patient to be in right now, because sometimes it’s hard to diagnosed, broadly enough. So we’re in a really interesting spot. I will tell you that since COVID, it has gotten much, much easier to get a sleep study done now. Historically, you would have to go to your GP. They would send you to a specialist.

The specialist would send you to their lab, you’d spend the night in the hospital, you’d come back and get those results, then you’d go back for a second night, then come back and get those results, and then maybe get some treatment. Almost all of that is gone now. We have disposable units. They come in a box about, I don’t know, maybe this You put it on your wrist and you put a little thing that clamps to your finger, that’s the whole unit. You wake up, you push the button on, you wake up the next day, it sends the data to your phone. You take the unit itself and you throw it away. Bro, you throw it away. It’s crazy. And all of a sudden, you’ve got all this data. They do have a way that you can send it back to the company so it gets reused. So if you don’t want to throw it away, that’s cool, too. But it’s like it completely leveled the playing field. Anybody can get I’m going to get a sleep study done now. There used to be so many hurdles to get to that. It was almost impossible.

You could actually go on to my website, the sleepdoctor.com. You can order a sleep test for, I think it’s 190 bucks, right? And you can answer the question yourself, right? And so that’s what I think is new and interesting, and that’s been coming about is people are taking more responsibility for their health, and I think that’s really cool. And people are starting to get more interested in sleep. I will be very honest with you. I think my website, sleepdoctor.com, It has got some tremendous information in it for anybody that is a sleep nerd like me and really wants to learn about sleep. We go into all the details. I give like, summaries, too. So people, you don’t have to be a scientist or anything like that to understand what’s going on. But at the end of the day, I believe that an educated patient is a better patient and a patient that’s going to get better. I never have a problem if I’m in session with the patient and they pull out something they printed off the Internet from WebMD or wherever, and they say, But Dr. Breus, what about this supplement that I read about?

I’m like, great, let’s take a look and let’s see. And nine times out of 10, the science is pretty bad. I can usually figure it out pretty quick and say, Okay, well, I see where you’re going with this, but why don’t we try something that actually works? And we can And we can restear them and things like that.

Jellis Vaes
All right. People are listening. The website that you just mentioned will be in the show notes as well, of course. Wait, insomnia and sleep apnea. For insomnia, reducing stress would do a lot, and for sleep apnea, reducing weight?

Dr. Michael Breus
Yes, absolutely. If people could just do those two things, we would see dramatic reductions. No question about it.

Jellis Vaes
Okay.

Dr. Michael Breus
It’s just hard to do.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah, to motivate people to do that, or what do you mean?

Dr. Michael Breus
Well, it’s really about understanding short-term sacrifice for long-term gain. I’ll tell you what the biggest defender is, is weekends. Is everybody sleeps in on the weekends. They sleep later than they would during the week. And if people get one thing from our discussion together, just one, it’s wake up at the same time seven days a week. Do not, I repeat, do not go to bed early and do not sleep in. Keep your schedule as consistent as you can. Now, the wake up-time turns out to be more important than the bedtime Let me explain why. So when you wake up in the morning time and sunlight hits your eyeball, it turns off the melatonin faucet in your head. Remember, melatonin is that key that starts the engine for sleep. You got to have it. So when you wake up, sunlight hits your eyeball, no more melatonin. That’s awesome. But at that moment, a Timer gets set inside your head for approximately 14 hours later. So if you’re waking up at 6:00, at 08:00 PM, Timer kicks in, and melatonin starts again. By 09:30, you’re tired, you’re asleep by 10:00. But let’s say it’s Saturday, and instead of waking up at 6:00, you woke up at 08:00, 2 hours later.

Melatonin doesn’t start at 8:00 that night, it starts at 10:00. So as much time… So When your melatonin starts is directly related to what time you wake up, just subtract about 14 hours. So when you wake up at 8:00, now, guess what? Melatonin isn’t kicking off until 10:00. You don’t start to get sleep until 11:30. It’s Saturday night. You’re going to bed at 12:30, 1:00. All because you slept in for 2 hours in the morning time. Don’t sleep in. Number two, if you can, follow a chronotypical schedule, which you can get from the chrono quiz, because that actually fits in sync with your body, and it’ll feel so much better. The worst thing is to sync yourself into a schedule that’s outside of your chronotype. So like you and I are both night owls, if somebody told us, Hey, by the way, for the next 60 days, you have to wake up every morning at 5:30, that would suck, bro. That would suck. So find the schedule that works for you and then just layer on the consistency, and you would be shocked at how well your sleep goes.

Jellis Vaes
How are we in terms of time?

Dr. Michael Breus
We got about another 25 minutes.

Jellis Vaes
All right. So let me ask you, what is something that you feel is overrated?

Dr. Michael Breus
I’ll tell you what I think is overrated. Melatonin. Let Let me tell you why. So many people walk into the store and they just buy melatonin and they think it’s like a sleeping pill. Bro, it’s not a sleeping pill. Melatonin is not a sleep initiator, it’s a sleep regulator. Meaning it changes your bedtime schedule, but it does not actually make you feel sleepy. There are two separate systems in the brain. One is called your sleep drive, the other is called your sleep rhythm. The drive is what makes you sleepy. Melatonin has almost no effect on that unless you’re over the age of 55, in which case we have seen some data to suggest that melatonin supplementation makes sense at that time. But as a general guideline, most people don’t need melatonin, and they use it like they would take an Ambien, right? So they pop one, and then they close their eyes and go to sleep. Here’s the thing. Based on the format, if you take melatonin in a pill or a tablet, it takes almost 90 minutes for it to take an effect. So when you take it at 11, it’s not even kicking in until 12:30.

So melatonin is not what you would take. Melatonin is used for jet lag. Melatonin is used for shift work. So times when your body schedule needs to be changed. Like when you’re on an airplane and headed to Paris or when you’re working the night shift. Believe it or not, Even in some ADD and ADHD cases, we’ve seen melatonin be very helpful. But at the end of the day, melatonin is not a sleeping pill. Another big thing that I think is overrated is melatonin for children. I’m going to go on out and say This is dangerous. Most people don’t know this. Melatonin is by prescription only in most places outside of the United States. So you actually have to get a doctor to give you a prescription for this stuff because it’s a hormone. And by the way, in Europe, it’s used as a contraceptive. Yes, you heard that correctly. It stops birth. So it is a birth control pill in Europe. I can’t think of anything worse for a young female developing body than to institute melatonin when it’s completely It’s not necessary. By the way, most children produce four times the amount of melatonin that they need for sleep.

So all you’re doing is adding insult to injury here. There is, however, one group of children where melatonin is positive and does work, and that’s with children on the autism spectrum. There has been significant data to show, and a fairly high dosage is we’re talking four, five, six milligrams. Now, you notice what I said, six milligrams is a high dose. That’s the other big problem. 95 % of is sold in an overdosage format. The correct dose is somewhere between a half and one and a half milligrams per night. So most people are taking three, five, even 10-milligram gummies. And here’s how you know you’re overdosing. You get weird dreams when you overdose. By the way, most people don’t know this part either. Melatonin affects certain medication and makes it less effective. Antidepressants become less effective, diabetes medications become less effective, and blood pressure medications become less effective. I got to be honest with you, taking a supplement that makes all of those things less effective, if those are issues for me, is a bad freaking idea. So I tell people all the time, don’t just walk into the health food store or go down the supplement aisle, grab your melatonin gummy and think that everything is okay.

It’s not. That’s not what melatonin is supposed to be used for, and you’re using it inappropriately. I can find seven different things that can help you fall asleep better than melatonin probably can.

Jellis Vaes
Wow. I mean, if you know how many people are on a melatonin…

Dr. Michael Breus
Oh, I’ll tell you a crazy story. So I did a special on… We have a television show here called Dr. Oz, or at least it used to be on. You might be familiar with Dr. Oz. Definitely. And so Oz is an old friend, and we did a whole melatonin exposé where we talked all about this. Within three weeks, melatonin sales started to drop. It was amazing how many people are out there. I mean, we’re talking millions and millions of people are taking this, and it’s It’s really inappropriate to do. So I think that’s certainly something that’s overrated for sure. Other things that I think are overrated, a lot of the gimmicks that are out there, weighted blankets is a good example. We weighted blankets might work really well for somebody with anxiety, but weighted blankets aren’t going to cure your insomnia. You know what I’m saying? Thinking that there’s this panacea, end all, be all thing is probably not true. Oh, and I’ll tell you one more since you got me going. One thing that I think is overrated and dangerous are all of the medications that say PM attached to them. So Advil-PM, Tylenol-PM, all of them. Let me explain why.

The PM part is merely an antihistamine called Diphenhydramine, also known as Benadryl. So Advil-PM is basically Advil plus Benadryl, or something quite similar to it. Here’s the problem. There is now data, and it’s been around for a while, to show that if you If you take this every single night, it will lead to Alzheimer’s. No question. So you do not want to be taking antihistamines every single night, especially for sleep. And now people do take some antihistamines during the daytime for allergies and things like that. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about an every single night dose. It is not appropriate, and nor is it good for you. And to be fair, I’ve talked to some of the people over at the PM companies. They don’t care. They could care less. They just want to sell more All they want to do is sell stuff that makes you feel losey, that makes you go to bed, and they think they’ve become successful. And unfortunately, it’s just not the case. So melatonin, I’ve got some problems with. Now, I want to be fair. If you have a melatonin deficiency, get some damn melatonin.

I don’t have a problem with that. I just want you to use it appropriately. So many people come up to me and they’re like, well, what supplement should I take for sleep? I don’t think that’s really the right attitude. I think what we need to do is say, hold tight, let’s do some blood work and let’s see what your deficiencies look like. If you have a deficiency in vitamin D, in magnesium, in melatonin, in a certain type of iron called ferritin, guess what? You’re going to have sleep problems. Let’s fix that first before we start adding things like ashwagandha and things like that. I tell people all the time, I don’t think you have a deficiency in ashwagandha, so let’s hold off on taking some of those and let’s get your body up to the levels where we know there are no deficiencies and let’s see how your body works. We might fix it just by fixing your deficiencies, and that’s always the goal. Remember, less is always going to be more in these types of situations, because what we don’t want to do is substitute your Ambien prescription for an ashwagandha pill. You know what I’m saying?

Because that’s not doing anybody any good either.

Jellis Vaes
Okay. And what is actually something that you feel is underrated?

Dr. Michael Breus
Oh, yeah. Well, there’s a couple of things out there that I think are underrated that I think a lot of people may not think about. One thing I think a lot of people are starting to think about is cannabis and sleep. I think a lot of people- CPD oil? No, I’m talking about THC. I’m talking about straight-up weed, cannabis, marijuana, you name it, right? So there’s three reasons why people, I believe, go into a dispensary. And to be fair, everybody should know, I live in California, okay? Marijuana is legal here. It’s recreationally legal here. I have patients who take it all the time. So only if you’re in a legalized state does this information pertain to you. But the general information, I think, is important. And here’s what we’ve basically seen and discovered is if you use a cannabis product, your rem sleep begins to go down and your heart rate begins to go up if there’s too much THC. Now, I personally believe that if you have a small amount of THC, add some CPD and something called CBN, as in night time, that’s where the magic happens. I want to be super duper clear.

I’ve read through all the research on CPD and sleep as of right now. There is none that shows that CPD actually helps sleep itself. What the research does show is that CPD can help with pain and CPD can help with anxiety. If you have pain or anxiety that’s affecting your sleep, CPD might be a perfect type of solution. But I want to be very, very clear. CBD does not cause you to fall asleep faster or better. It lowers anxiety and may lower pain. Cbn, on the other hand, has been shown to do this. So I’m always educating my patients and saying, Hey, here’s something that you can think about. See if you can get a tincture, like a little bottle with CBN and just a small amount of THC, if you’re in a state where it’s legal. If you’re in a state where it’s not legal, then you can just get CBN and try it out. You may be very surprised at how helpful something this might be to lower your pre-sleep anxiety. That’s really what we’re talking about here is time before bed, you’re either upset, pissed off, you had a bad day, you just can’t settle your brain down, that stuff.

Jellis Vaes
Okay. All right.

Dr. Michael Breus
I’m covering all the topics for you.

Jellis Vaes
Perfect. Let me ask just the last question so we can round up. Sure. The future of sleep, you said in the beginning that it’s very exciting. What is something that you, in particular, are very excited about?

Dr. Michael Breus
Oh, that’s a great question. So I’m very excited about some of the new technology that we’re starting to see in sleep and some of the research that’s starting to come out. We’re starting to see that there may even be a pill for sleep apnea, as opposed to people having to sleep with a big mask on their face all night long. So there’s some very interesting research that’s going on there. I think also there are now dental appliances that will replace CPAP. So for folks who may not know what CPAP is, if you have sleep apnea where your throat closes at night, the gold standard treatment is to wear a mask that pushes air down your throat and opens up your airway. To be fair, it’s a little on the uncomfortable side, but it works. The newer advances that I’ve seen lately have been in dental devices where it’s like a mouth guard, but it’s an upper and a lower, and the lower brings your jaw forward, which opens up your posterior airway space, makes it easier to breathe. So I’m excited to see how some of those go. Actually, they’re making dental appliances now with sensors in the appliance itself.

So when you wake up in the morning, it’ll tell you how many apnea events that you actually had and how many had stopped, which is really cool.

Jellis Vaes
That is cool.

Dr. Michael Breus
So there’s some cool stuff. I also think that the future of tracking is going to get much better as well. We’re going to start to see more accurate tracking. I would argue that we will eventually see full sleep studies being done off of rings out in the field so that it’s even easier to do that. Also, So I think it’s going to be very interesting to see… Well, let me back up and say, I got asked an interesting question the other day, which is, is Ozempic the next sleep disorder treatment? So if you think about it, people with apnea are big. And so if we put them all on Ozempic and they lose all the weight, does that mean that we’ve treated their sleep disorder? So what I think is interesting is we’re looking at so many different areas of research outside of sleep and how it affects sleep, things like Ozempic and Wegovy and things of that nature, I think just makes sleep a fascinating field. I always love it because, again, there’s just something new happening all the time, and you really can’t get away from it. I mean, I’ve got a guy coming over today who’s going to show me a device that uses sound waves to push through your body and then relax your entire bodily state.

So it’s like, you just never know what’s going on out there. So I’m always trying to keep my hands in the good stuff.

Jellis Vaes
Amazing. All right. Cool. Dr. Breus, I had many more questions, but thank you already for answering these questions. And I mean, for the work that you’re doing because you’re doing some amazing work out there. I have one final end question that I ask all my guests. But before I ask that, what’s the best place for listeners to connect with you, to check out your work? Where do you want to send people to?

Dr. Michael Breus
So it’s super easy to find me sleepdoctor.com is my website. And feel free to take the Chrono quiz. It’ll It’ll be the best two minutes you ever spend. I promise you, you’re going to learn so much about yourself. And it’s free. It doesn’t cost a dime to do that. Also on social media, I’m the Sleep Doctor on everything you can imagine. So we put different tips in different social media. So check them all out, join. Also, I have a YouTube channel that we just started about a year and a half ago, and we’re up to 100,000 subscribers now. So we’ve got a lot of people. So we got over 700 videos over there. So if you want to learn a ton about sleep, go check it out. And if you wouldn’t mind, hit subscribe. It helps the algorithm.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah. Okay. So for people listening, I will put that in the show notes. The final end question that I have for you. It does not per se have to do anything with sleep. It’s however you want to answer It’s great. You can answer it as long or as short as you want. What is, from everything that you’ve seen, experienced, lived, and learned in your life, the one thing that you know to be true?

Dr. Michael Breus
Oh. There is one I know definitely to be true. The difference between intelligence and wisdom is time. Good one. That’s the one.

Jellis Vaes
All right.

Dr. Michael Breus
The difference between intelligence and wisdom is time. Absolutely. I know that to be true.

Jellis Vaes
Dr. Breus, thanks again for being here on the show.

Dr. Michael Breus
Yeah, thanks for having me. This was super fun.

Jellis Vaes
All right, that concludes this episode with Dr. Breus. I really hope that you learned more about sleep, that you gain some more insights on the topic. Now, to find any of the resources that Dr. Breus mentioned in the episode, check out these show notes, which are, as always, located in the description of this episode. Or you can also go, of course, directly to theipsproject.com/podcast and search for Dr. Breus. Thank you really for being here, because this whole project is made for people seeking to become a better version of themselves. If you’re listening, then that means that you are such a person. I value people like you so much. You’re not alone helping your own life, but with that, the whole world becomes a better place as well. So again, thank you for being you and for being here. And oh, yeah. Also, if you could take just a couple of seconds of your time to leave a rating and/or a review on whichever podcast platform that you’re using, that would help out this podcast so much, and it would allow me to have more incredible guests as Dr. Breus on the show. So with that, you’re also helping yourself, right? So thank you if you would take the time to do that. Okay, having said all that, I hope that I get the chance to welcome you again on another episode here on the podcast of Inner Path Seekers. Until then, this This is your host, Jellis Vaes, signing off. Bye.

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FOLLOW Dr. Micheal Breus

Clinical Psychologist and Sleep Expert

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