Sleeplessness is not a joke. Becoming parents already taught us that, but we wanted to know more about healthy sleep patterns, especially with Daylight Savings hitting our families this weekend. We consulted with Dr. Michael Breus (“The Sleep Doctor”), a world-renowned sleep expert who discusses how the body and mind react to unusual patterns and what can be done to alleviate some of the negative effects of sleep deprivation and its overall effects on our overall health.

  • Tell us a little bit about “The Power of When,” a book you wrote about sleep.
    It turns out that each of us has a unique bio-time for our circadian rhythm often referred to as your Chronotype. You may already know about two of these: the early bird and the night owl, but there are also two others, which are in between early and night, and those who suffer from insomnia. These types are hard-wired into our genetic make up. There is new, cutting-edge research for how to get back in sync with our body’s natural rhythms to achieve maximum health, happiness, and productivity. When we stop focusing on the “how” and “what” of our lives and start focusing on the “when,” we reveal our body’s natural schedule and unlock our hidden potential. Making small tweaks to your daily schedule—such as when to have the first cup of coffee, when to answer emails, when to nap—will nudge the rhythm of your day back in sync with the rhythm of your biology, and then, everything will start to feel easier and flow naturally.

 

  • How is a person’s body affected by Daylight Savings? Think jet lag here. Like crossing a time zone to either gain or lose an hour. Recently we lost an hour, so everyone is losing an hour of sleep. When the body loses an hour, this can be quite detrimental to an already sleep-deprived body. We also know that car accidents and heart attacks increase on the day in Spring when that hour of sleep seems to get lost. Generally, the body will adjust in about a day for each “time zone” crossed, so all effect should be less in about a day. It is especially nice that it is on a weekend when an hour of time is lost.  It seems to effect kids more than adults, especially young kids (I do not have any data on that, just an observation).

 

  • Does gaining an hour of sleep really affect one’s mood? I think it can, some people say they are happier when they gain an hour, and others say they feel a little more groggy. This could be due to the fact that if they are sleeping 60 min longer, they may now be waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle (cycles are 90 min long). The hour lost usually ends up in moodiness.

 

  • Parents have such a hard time in their children’s younger years getting proper sleep. What can you recommend for them? When looking at a time change like this, keep the kids on a consistent schedule. Don’t tell them they will gain or lose an hour. Keep everything in the schedule consistent, so whatever the bedtime routine is, keep it going.

 

  • With cumulative sleep deprivation, what can happen? Sleep deprivation effects every organ system and every disease state. It slows reaction time, cognition, and dampens mood. In fact, there is data to show that sleep deprivation over time can lead to lowered immune function, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, increased pain, accelerated cancer growth, weight gain, sexual dysfunction, lowered reaction time, increased stress, poor decision making, poor marital satisfaction, and lowered testosterone.

 

  • What is the ResMed Study? The ResMed study is the first of its kind to give out (1000) or have people purchase ($50) a very accurate sleep monitor, and advice engine. So not only does this monitor your sleep, to a very high standard, but it gives tips to improve your sleep, that are customized for the individual. The study will acquire about 1M nights of Data over time, and we will release the results of these data at CES in Jan of 2017. This data is meant to be a “wake up call” to everyone to determine sleep habits, sleep deprivation, etc.

For more helpful posts (many having to do with parenting) about the importance of sleep, here are many written by Dr. Breus.