A common complaint I hear from many of my patients is that they’re not getting enough sleep. That’s very understandable. I have trouble getting enough sleep myself. There’s so much to keep you awake these days. Social media, work, emails, to-do lists, kids, too much coffee, and the list goes on and on and on. But we can’t underestimate the importance of sleep and how it affects your overall health. So in this episode, we break it all down for you and show you how to get a good night’s sleep.
My first guest’s story is similar to mine. Dr. Demosthenes Lorandos is a psychologist who treated patients with sleep issues. Then in his new career as an attorney and author, he found himself suffering from insomnia.
He was a trial lawyer, working a lot, moving around different time zones, and it began to interfere with his sleep. If you’re a road warrior, you think that you’ll be able to keep this up. But it eventually catches up with you in the sense that it damages your body over time. It affects your sleep, it affects your immune system, it affects your entire body. And what happened to Dr. Lornandos, was that he gained weight, became grouchy, and began to self-medicate. Then he found Deirdre Conroy for cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (my next guest). And during our discussion, he shares how he got his sleep back.
Dr. Deirdre Conroy is a sleep psychologist from the University of Michigan. She treated Dr. Lerandos’ sleep issues.
When she first met Dr. Lorandos, he was in a tough spot. He was not sleeping well, he was busy. He was using some sleep aids to get himself back to sleep and felt quite overwhelmed by a number of issues in his life. He had developed patterns over time that Dr. Conroy felt could be corrected. She thought the best choice for him would be a program called cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. This basically means changing thoughts and behaviors over time to improve sleep. Dr. Conroy sees a lot of people like Dr. Lorandos. People can be overextended. Not only is there travel, but we often take our work home with us too. There’s no off switch. And when we have our world in our pockets and our phones, there’s no time for bedtime and we often don’t prioritize the importance of sleep. So what can be done? That’s exactly what I asked Dr. Conroy and she shares three good practices to help folks with sleep issues get a better night’s sleep.
Dr. Sylva Dvorak is a practitioner for integrative healing, which focuses on the connection between the body, the mind, and the spirit.
Dr. Dvorak explained that it is so important to get sleep because our brain really needs it, just like we need to eat and exercise for our health. There are very important functions that happen in our brain during sleep, which includes memory consolidation. Dr. Dvorak explains that “during sleep, memory linkages are made and consolidation is made so that we can better remember information the next day.” So if you have lack of sleep, this will not help when it comes to memory retention. The other thing that sleep helps us with is our motor skills. So if you want to improve performance, with your racket swing, ball swing or golf club swing, then it’s important to get a good night’s rest. And one of the most important functions of sleep is that it helps to flush toxins from our brain. Dr. Dvora explains more about this and also shares some great tips, especially for those who find themselves with racing thoughts and struggle to fall asleep.
Patty Jacobs helps parents teach their children not only how to go to sleep, but also to sleep through the night. I personally needed her help a couple of years ago. Patty is an infant sleep consultant with degrees in psychology and counseling. Her business is called Baby Sleep All Night.
Patty was lucky as a new mom. Because her mother came to help after her first son was born. Patty is one of seven children so her mother had a lot of experience raising children. Patty says her mom taught her the importance of “putting that baby down drowsy, but awake, and not introducing any kind of sleep crutches, like rocking to sleep or a feeding to sleep.” She explains that if you’re trying to feed the baby to sleep, when your child naturally comes to semi-consciousness during the sleep cycle at night, then they’re going to need to be fed to sleep or rocked back to sleep because that’s what they’re used to. Whatever happened at the beginning of the night, is what they will need in the middle of the night. So it’s really important that they learn to sleep independently. Patty shared many other important tips with us.
Karen Brody is a women’s wellness expert. She says, “Yes, you can turn things around and go from worn out to well-rested.” Karen founded a program and wrote a book that is called Daring to Rest.
Karen created the program for people who really are worn out, where they could learn how to rest. She says that many folks have actually forgotten that lost art, the art of lying down. She says, “We live in times where you really need bravery, you need to be daring to rest. Our circuits are overwhelmed, we are constantly being pulled into the computer, the inbox, all of these things that take us to the place where we never take the pause.” Karen tells us about a technique that can help: “With Yoga Nidra meditation, you’re guided from waking, to dreaming, to deep sleep, and then to a fourth state of consciousness that you can’t get with sleep….Yoga Nidra meditation takes you to a place where you’re thoughtless, literally. Because of that, your whole body reboots and recharges.” Karen says that a lot of people with insomnia have found it incredibly helpful. She talks more about how this and her program can help with rest.