“It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.”
~ John Steinbeck
How good are you in bed? And by that I mean, how well do you sleep and how refreshed are you when you wake up?
As far as I’m concerned, sleep is the most underrated health practice that we all need to embrace…for health, confidence, clarity, problem solving and just overall peace of mind.
The final installment of this Wellness Wake-Up Call is about waking up to better sleep habits. And, if you’re not prioritizing sleep, this segment is for you.
In this Work-Life Recharge I have a conversation with friend and Sleep Expert, Dr. Chris Carruthers about the 4 fundamentals of great sleep, its benefits to our health, and a wake-up call we all need to have around sleep. Wait until you hear what she has to say about that. Watch the video below, or read the transcript that follows, and get your zzz’s please!
Hey, Michelle Cederberg here with your weekly Work-Life Recharge and the final installment of my wellness wakeup call. I’m here today having a conversation with sleep expert, Dr. Chris Carruthers on location in beautiful Shades of Sleep in Calgary. Welcome!
Chris: Thanks Michelle.
Michelle: It’s true that sleep is probably one of the most underrated health practices that most of us need to embrace, so I want to cut right to the chase. What is a wellness wake-up call that people need around sleep?
Chris: Listen. People don’t understand, sleep is a daytime problem.
Michelle: A daytime problem?
Chris: It’s a daytime problem. What you do during the day is going to affect the quality, quantity, and timing of your sleep at night. So let’s pay attention during the day.
Michelle: So like what kinds of things during the day?
Chris: You know what, we need light and dark at certain times of the days. In the morning, throw your blinds open, let the light fall in. That’s going to cause Cortisol to surge in the body, get you raring to go. Don’t use the snooze button first thing. Don’t go back to bed. Don’t fall into the light stage of sleep. When you wake up, you’re gonna feel some sleep inertia, it feels lousy.
Michelle: I also believe that what you eat, and how much you eat during the day is going to impact…
Chris: Yeah, absolutely
Michelle: How well you manage stress…
Chris: Yeah, for sure.
Michelle: All those things. Let’s cut down to simplicity here. What are the fundamentals of good sleep that people need to know?
Chris: Listen, there’s four to think about. Your sleep environment, check out the environment here Michelle.
Michelle: Oh my gosh, great linens!
Chris: Look at the linens, the pillows…
Michelle: The right kind of pillow for your sleep…
Chris: Your sleep environment is everything. Cool, dark, quiet. Dark, dark, dark, dark.
Michelle: Yeah, that’s important because your body releases melatonin. Serotonin? Which one is it?
Chris: Melatonin at night.
Michelle: Thank you doctor.
Chris: The darkness hormone.
Michelle: So if you have a little bit of light creeping in, it’s a problem. What’s the second fundamental?
Chris: The second is to think about how you think about sleep.
Michelle: How you think about sleep? I hadn’t thought about that.
Chris: Totally. If you expect to sleep poorly at night, you’re probably going to sleep poorly.
Michelle: So if you go to bed saying “Oh my gosh I’m such a lousy sleeper, I’m probably going to have a crappy sleep…”
Chris: “I’m going to miss a meeting, I’m probably going to get divorced, I won’t be able to…”
Michelle: That all impacts what you do. So how do you change that?
Chris: Just decide to think differently, say “no matter what wakes me up tonight, I have the ability to get back to sleep quickly and I’m going to feel great tomorrow.” Talk to yourself about that.
Michelle: The way you think about sleep. What’s the third fundamental?
Chris: The third thing is to think about your daytime activities like…
Michelle: Which we’ve talked about…
Chris: Yeah, the daytime, no coffee after 2:00 in the afternoon…
Michelle: And you said that’s right from the moment that you wake up, you don’t hit the snooze, you get bright lights going right away, and then all throughout the day thinking about …
Chris: Yeah, absolutely
Michelle: Everything that’s going to help you have a… How much does digital play into that?
Chris: Oh my goodness, remember you talked about the sliver of light?
Chris: Light falling on your brain from your I-phone, or your computer late at night, says “wake up wake up.” Melatonin?
Michelle: It’s morning!
Chris: Not time for Melatonin, right? So, if you want Melatonin to gently surge, and get you ready for the darkness, electronics have to be off.
Michelle: So, TV, iPads, phones… There’s only two things that should happen in the bedroom, and digital and television are not among those things.
Chris: No, no.
Michelle: Ok, and what’s the fourth fundamental?
Chris: Ok, listen, there’s skills you can learn to fall back to sleep no matter what wakes you up.
Michelle: My God…like how many of us wake up in the middle of the night and lie there going, “Oh oh, it’s going to be a bad day tomorrow…”
Chris: You’ve got that monkey mind maybe?
Michelle: Oh my gosh.
Chris: So the trick to manage that, do a little bit of writing before you go to bed, get your to-do list out of your brain, your brain’s going to be calmer…
Chris: Decrease what we call that intrusive thinking, right? Breathe. So a trick I teach people is just count your breathing
Michelle: while you’re lying in bed
Chris: Instead of thinking about your to-do list. It just distracts that monkey mind, very easy to do. Another skill is that body scan, very easy to learn to relax the body, and be aware of the body, just get out of your left brain.
Michelle: And what I’m hearing when you’re saying that is that if you’re focusing on those things, you’re not focusing on the fact that you’re not sleeping or that you’re going to be so tired.
Michelle: Four fundamentals. Ok, so if we do get better sleep, what’s the benefits for our health?
Chris: Wow, when you think about how you can improve your health by sleeping, I want you to think about five things. Immunity, decreasing inflammation in the body, you gotta have sleep. Second thing is managing your weight. If that’s a challenge, you have trouble with…
Michelle: Better sleep, better weight management?
Chris: Yeah, exactly.
Michelle: That’s worth it.
Chris: There’s some key hormones in the brain that are managed and balanced during sleep that help you decide “I don’t crave that,” “I want that instead.”
Michelle: So if we’re tired, we make poor decisions.
Michelle: What else?
Chris: Learning and memory. Ever have that brain fog?
Chris: You need certain stages of sleep to help you manage that. To follow your memories, to sort things, to consolidate, that’s what happens at sleep. Last thing, so important, I don’t know if you’re clumsy, if you forget your keys…
Chris: Safety, accidents, sleep is important to that.
Chris: Alertness, psychomotor skills.
Michelle: And it seems sort of obvious but we tend to put sleep aside to get everything done during the day so if we’re still not convinced that good sleep is an important thing, what’s the one thing that you could tell people?
Chris: Ok, here’s what I want you to know. The research is diserging. You know what happens during certain stages of sleep? Deep sleep? It’s kind of like the dishwasher in our brain. Alright, so a lot of things happen metabolically during the night. In the nighttime, the channels in our brain open and then it’s like a cleansing system. So, when we’re not sleeping well, we see actual developmental changes in the brain. We need this glymphatic system to be working. It’s like our detox system.
Michelle: There’s so much to know. Sleep is so vital to health, and if you have any questions at all, do visit Chriscarruthers.com. She shares on there, “top ten tips to sleep well tonight,” and a whole host of other information that’s going to help you be great in bed.
Michelle: So until next time, I’m Michelle Cederberg helping you transform your work and your life, one recharge at a time. And remember, this stuff matters because we all want to be great in bed.
Chris: Thanks Michelle
Michelle: I just want to have a nap on all of this great stuff. Oh gosh, I’m so relaxed now. So good.
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