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Episode 487
The Doctor's Farmacy

Why Sleep is More Important Than Diet—Optimize it Today!

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Sleep is medicine, just like food is medicine, and may even be more important than diet. Sleep regulates your brain function, helps stabilize your mood, and is a time when the body heals. It’s absolutely critical for a healthy body. Sadly, over 70 million Americans don’t sleep well. This lack of sleep is degrading our health. We feel it in our energy level, it’s hard to focus, and it can even contribute to chronic illness.

In this episode of my new Masterclass series, I am interviewed by my good friend and podcast host, Dhru Purohit, all about sleep and why it’s essential for a healthy body. We discuss why sleep is so important, how we can get better sleep including tips to create your own sleep ritual, and answer a variety of questions from our community.

This episode is brought to you by Rupa Health and Athletic Greens.

Rupa Health is a place for Functional Medicine practitioners to access more than 2,000 specialty lab tests from over 20 labs like DUTCH, Vibrant America, Genova, Great Plains, and more. You can check out a free live demo with a Q&A or create an account at RupaHealth.com.

AG1 contains 75 high-quality vitamins, minerals, whole-food sourced superfoods, probiotics, and adaptogens to support your entire body. Right now when you purchase AG1 from Athletic Greens, you will receive 10 FREE travel packs with your first purchase by visiting athleticgreens.com/hyman.

I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
Mark Hyman, MD

Guest

 
Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman, MD is the Founder and Director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation of Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine, and a 13-time New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

 
Dhru Purohit

Dhru Purohit is a podcast host, serial entrepreneur, and investor in the health and wellness industry. His podcast, The Dhru Purohit Podcast, is a top 50 global health podcast with over 30+ million unique downloads. His interviews focus on the inner workings of the brain and the body and feature the brightest minds in wellness, medicine, and mindset.

Show Notes

  1. Sweet Dreams: How to Sleep Better, Lose Weight, and Live Longer
  2. Lights Out
  3. Dr. Hyman’s Sleep Master Class

Transcript

Speaker 1:
Coming up on this episode of The Doctor’s Pharmacy.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
We really have a crisis of sleep in this country, and we have a crisis of poor quality sleep, and that’s creating a secondary cascade of issues. Hi everybody. It’s Dr. Mark Hyman here. Welcome to a new series on The Doctor’s Pharmacy called masterclass, where we dive deep into popular health topics like inflammation, autoimmune disease, brain health, sleep, and much more.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And today, I’m joined by my host, my guest host, good friend and business partner, and host of The Dhru Purohit Podcast, Dhru Purohit himself. And we’re going to be talking about why sleep is so freaking important, and how the quality of our sleep dramatically impacts the quality of our overall health. Welcome, Dhru.

Dhru Purohit:
Thanks, Mark. It’s a pleasure to be here. And I want to start off with a pretty powerful statement that I’ll turn into a question. How much do you agree, disagree, and feel free to add in any nuances you want to, that often for many patients, sleep is more important than diet? So take that in any direction you want to?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, I think … I mean, diet’s important, for sure. Right? But sleep turns out is one of the most important things for regulating so many aspects of your biology, and repairing and healing, and regulating your mood, your brain function, your risk of heart disease, your risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s. It’s quite astounding how critical sleep is. And the problem is that 70 million Americans don’t sleep well. That’s a lot of people, and that’s why we see this plethora of sleep medications, over the counter, prescription medications. And it’s a really huge problem, so I feel like we have to sort of face this square on because it’s really degrading our health.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Historically, 100 years ago, we slept nine hours a night. Now we’re sleeping an average of seven or less on the population basis, and that’s not good. And it’s driven I think because of this over compulsiveness of our society, that sort of ever, ever present kind of flood of content coming at us. I think we have more content coming at us in one day as humans today than we had in our entire life 150 years ago. And it was watching movies on Netflix later, being on your phones, your screens, or letting life bleed into the places where it shouldn’t be bleeding at night to sleep.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So we really have a crisis of sleep in this country, and we have a crisis of poor quality sleep. And that’s creating a secondary cascade of issues. I remember, Dhru, reading years ago a book called Lights Out, which was a really interesting book about the phenomena of the light bulb and how the light bulb was responsible for so much chronic disease because rather than following the rhythms of the sun and the moon and the daily cycles, we actually would stay up late and disrupt our circadian rhythms, and end up out of balance. So I think this is a real problem, and I certainly notice for myself if I don’t maintain a certain strict set of practices around sleep that my sleep can get very dis-regulated because of all these inputs.

Dhru Purohit:
Yeah. It finally feels like sleep is getting the attention it deserves, largely with a lot of individuals out there really sounding the alarm, people like Matthew Walker, who you’ve had on your podcast before. And for many people that are listening, their diets are pretty good. But when your sleep is really off, it can hijack your entire life. So what are three things, Mark, that you think that people can do today, starting today, that could radically improve the quality of their sleep?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
There’s a lot. Right? So I think it’s one, your sleep environment. It’s two, your sleep hygiene and habits. And three, it’s what you’re consuming. So the first is your sleep environment. Your bedroom should be dark. It should have cool temperature, ideally 68 degrees. You should have quiet, so if you’re not in a quiet or dark place, earplugs and eye shades are the way to go. Keeping cool is also really important at night. You sleep better when it’s cool, so there’s the Chilipad and Ooler, and Sleep Aid, and a bunch of other technologies that actually can make you have a cool bed, which is a great thing.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The second is your sleep hygiene. You want to make sure you’re not on your screens at least a few hours before bed, two or three hours. You don’t want to eat late, three hours before bed. You don’t want to be drinking a lot of alcohol, caffeine late in the day. You want to make sure that your environment is good, take a hot bath, or take a cold dip, people are saying helps their sleep. There’s a lot of simple practices. And I’ve written lots of articles about this. I think you can link to them in the show notes about 20 things you can do to improve your sleep.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And the next bit would be what you’re doing in terms of your lifestyle. If you exercise late, if you drink coffee, if you’re drinking alcohol, if you’re eating late, all these things will disrupt your biorhythms. Ideally, keeping your blue light exposure low, that’s also really important at night because again, we’re so exposed to artificial light. We’re exposed to computers, and that’s disrupts our melatonin production, so those are just a few things that you just need to think about in terms of sleep.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
But the more people can focus on regulating their sleep with their rhythm and regular sleep hygiene and the right environment, and avoiding the things that we know screw up sleep. And people can often reset their sleep systems.

Dhru Purohit:
A lot of people don’t know actually what good sleep looks like. So talk to us about what good sleep should look like, or actually feel like, after you’ve had it. And contrast that with: What are signs that somebody might have poor sleep quality in their life? How does it show up with how they feel?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, I remember reading a study where they looked at sharpshooters in the military like snipers, and they found that if they slept eight hours, they’d be 99% accurate. If they slept seven hours, they would be maybe 95% accurate. If they slept six, they’d drop down to 60% accurate. If they’re under six, they’re less than 50% accurate. So it’s like a crap shoot, which is kind of astounding because these people are highly skilled people. But it’s been said that not getting adequate sleep is the equivalent of being drunk or driving drunk.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And I think that’s true. I have experienced a lot of sleep deprivation in my life because of working in emergency rooms, delivering babies, working as a doctor on call. It’s just a thing, right? And you get so impaired. I remember almost driving into a ramp on an exit ramp when I was falling asleep driving. So it’s really, really important. Quality sleep is important, so you need deep sleep. You need REM sleep. And there are now all kinds of sleep trackers, whether it’s the Oura Ring, or the Fit Bit, or the Apple Watch, or other trackers to see what the quality of sleep is. Are you waking up frequently? Do you have interrupted sleep? Are you getting enough deep sleep? Are you getting REM sleep?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So you can start to look at these things and actually get a good sense of what the quality of your sleep is. But you’ll feel if. If you wake up refreshed and energetic and your head’s clear, you bounce out of bed, well, you probably had a good night’s sleep. If you’re waking up constantly flipping and flopping, that is not going to lead to a sense of wellbeing and abundance and feeling good. So often, your body will tell you when you don’t feel good from lack of sleep. Getting good sleep is really the medicine that we need. Sleep is medicine.

Dhru Purohit:
What are the consequences of chronically not getting enough sleep? Is it just that you’re tired? Or are there deeper issues that can have almost permanent damage on the body?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Absolutely. I think we are just recognizing the dangers of sleep deprivation in terms of its risk for chronic illness, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, depression, anxiety, mood disorders of all sorts. So it’s a real thing. And I think if we don’t take it seriously, we’re going to be missing the boat on a very important intervention and helping to address some of these chronic diseases that goes far beyond diet or exercise.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The other thing that happens is your brain at night has a system of cleaning and repair. So you need to have what we call the lymphatic system working. The lymphatic system is like the lymph system for the brain. That’s recently been discovered, and it’s so important. Really, it’s activated at night, so if you’re not sleeping at night, you’re not clearing out the brain waste, and you’re going to have brain full of sludge and waste products that are metabolic waste and toxins, so important for that particular reason, to make sure you have adequate good sleep.

Dhru Purohit:
I know there’s a little bit of controversy around this and a lot of different opinions. But from your perspective, how many hours of sleep should we be shooting for in the evening?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I mean, it’s really individual. Some people do fine on six hours. Some people need nine hours. And you need to find out what your number is. Everybody’s different. But the amount of sleep where you can feel good and energetic, and your quality of sleep is deep. If you sleep six and a half hours and it’s a ton of deep sleep, a ton of REM, and really repairative, that might be enough for some people. Other people might need nine. I need about eight, or nine I love, if I can get it. But it really makes you feel much more vibrant and healthy and functional.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So I think it’s certainly more than seven, ideally, probably between seven to nine hours is a good amount. And again, as I said before, last century, about half of us … I mean, sorry. About the average number of hours of sleep a night was nine hours. Now it’s seven or less.

Dhru Purohit:
All right. Next question. What are commonly overlooked issues that drive poor sleep, unexpected things, things that people may not know that expand on that first list that you gave us when we were opening the episode?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. I think people don’t understand the role of their overall pattern of being and living. So first thing is when you wake up, you should get 20 minutes of sunlight without sunglasses on because it resets your pineal gland, which makes melatonin and regulates your circadian rhythms. So we want to keep our circadian rhythms in balance. The second thing is our diet plays a huge role. And particularity, if we’re eating a diet that’s high in starch and carbohydrate, we’re having fluctuations in blood sugar, we may actually even at night get hypoglycemia, and that can really disturb our sleep and get night sweats.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Men often get night sweats too, but that’s often usually about sugar. And then the cortisol spikes, and you get a spike in sugar in the morning. So that’s a real problem. I think the other thing is people are probably consuming a lot of alcohol, caffeine, sugar. All these disturb sleep. Chronic stress, if you’re not actually discharging stress, a lot of people go to bed tired and wired. And a lot of people have adrenal issues. So they’re pushing so hard in their life that they actually don’t have a chance to reset and relax their nervous system, and that leads to incredible amounts of cortisol production. Cortisol disturbs sleep. And if you take prednisone for whatever reason, it’s going to mess up your sleep. So stress plays a huge role.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Exercise, I mean, you don’t want to exercise too late in the day. And that can often activate you. So there are a lot of things that can drive poor sleep, lack of magnesium, which is common in this country. We don’t eat magnesium in forms of greens and beans, sorry, greens and beans, and nuts and seeds, that we end up with magnesium deficiency, which affects about 45% of the population, and people don’t sleep well when they have low magnesium. It can cause irritability and tension and stress. And then plus caffeine and chronic stress, smoking, a lot of other things will cause magnesium depletion, so you want to make sure you’re getting plenty of magnesium.

Dhru Purohit:
Talk about sleep in your life. What are the things that now at the age that you’re at, and your schedule, what are the things that throw your sleep off? And what are the effects that you notice in your performance the next day when your sleep is thrown off?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. It’s huge. If I’m traveling, I’m trying to stay in one place longer, but it depends on the bed and the pillows, the sound, the noise, the temperature. I can get messed up, and given all the years of screwing with my schedule and sort of staying up all night, I definitely have sleep issues. But I’ve learned how to actually mitigate them by making sure I do a bedtime wind down ritual. I try to take my bedtime supplements like magnesium, little melatonin. And if I don’t get quality sleep, I notice in the next day, I can’t focus. I can’t think. My brain is distracted. It’s hard for me to be present with other people. It’s hard for me to feel motivated to do anything. I notice I get a little depressed. But I know I’m not depressed, I just know it’s the lack of sleep.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So I think I’m very attentive to sleep, but I think sometimes it’s hard when you’re out with friends and you’re traveling, you’re on vacation. It’s a little tricky. But mostly, I’m pretty good about getting to bed by 10:00, 9:30, 10:00, sometimes a little bit later, and try to sleep, read a little bit. I have a light, which is a reading light that’s kind of an amber light that has no blue light in it. So I don’t have the light bulb on, on the bed. So I try to calm down from the light. I have blue blocker glasses at night I use. That really helps. And so that all benefits me.

Dhru Purohit:
Talk to us about how conventional medicine typically treats poor sleep when a patient is going through it, and contrast that with functional medicine, and how a functional medicine doctor would look at addressing poor sleep quality with a patient.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So from a traditional medical point of view, there are reasons for people’s lack of sleep that a conventional doctor will look at, whether it’s sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome. There’s sleep studies that doctors do that can be very revealing. A lot of people have undiagnosed sleep apnea. At the Ultra Wellness Center, we now have a home sleep study kit, which allows people to get tested and do it at home, which is great.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
However, often there’s really very little to do from a conventional perspective, other than recognize basic sleep hygiene. And then there’s a CBT sort of approach, cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps people deal with sort of the mental aspects of insomnia. It can be very effective. Cleveland Clinic has an online program called Som Rest, which is available. So there’s a lot of really useful conventional approaches to help people reset their sleep.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
However, there may be a lot of other causes from a functional medicine perspective for sleep disruption. Traditional medicine just says, “Well, do therapy, or take these sleep pills, or practice better sleep hygiene.” But they don’t really say, “Well, why is your sleep disturbed in the first place?” This is why we’re so effective in functional medicine because we don’t want to know just what you have, insomnia, we want to know why, why you’re not sleeping. Is it because your thyroid’s not working? Is it because you have chronic stress and adrenal burnout? Is it because you have low magnesium? Is it because your microbiome is inflamed and causing inflammation in your brain? Is it because you might be hypothyroid, which can cause a little bit of sleep disruption? Or is it because you have a bad sleep environment, or because your sleep habits are terrible? We go through all the underlying root causes.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And then we address those, whatever they might be. It’s amazing to me, Dhru, I never would’ve thought this was the thing. But when we put people on the 10 day detox diet, when we put people on the elimination diet and get rid of processed food, sugar, dairy, gluten, greens, et cetera, it’s amazing how many people report, “Oh, my sleep got so much better. I’m sleeping so much deeply. I feel so much better.” I’m like, “Well, wow. I don’t know about that.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
But I think what happens is there’s inflammation in the brain, and the inflammation will interrupt sleep. And when you start to life an antiinflammatory life, you actually will end up with a much better sleep quality.

Dhru Purohit:
Little anecdote is that my dad many years ago, when we put him on a version of the 10 day detox, and he had been eating bread his whole life because he grew up vegetarian, and still was a vegetarian when he was doing the program, one interesting thing that he noticed is that when he cut bread out of his diet, he noticed this chronic back pain that he had at night, that would make it harder for him to fall asleep, went away because the inflammation went away. And that then made it easier for him to fall asleep, and so he got a better night’s rest.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
There you go.

Dhru Purohit:
Talk to us about another patient and a case study that you can think of, where sleep was the missing link that allowed them to get into a better state of health. Anything that comes to mind?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, I have two. One was this guy who was very smart, editor of a major, major sort of Sunday kind of magazine, newspaper. I mean, you all know what it was. And his team was like, “He’s just falling asleep all day in the office.” I’m like, “That’s terrible.” He’s not able to function well. It’s annoying. He’ll fall asleep at meetings. I’m like, “Well, tell me about your life.” He says, “Well, I drink 12 Cokes a day and have 12 cups of coffee a day.” I’m like, “Oh, okay. Well, maybe caffeine is a problem.” So we got him off of caffeine and we put him on an antiinflammatory diet. And it was amazing, he just completely turned around and was able to be able to function again.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
There’s another case I remember, young, well, not young, he was about a 50 year old. It’s young to me now. But 50 seems very young to me. It’s all relative. And he was a lawyer, and I’m like, “Well, tell me how you’re doing.” He’s like, “Well, I want to lose weight. I’m kind of overweight.” He had a big belly and pre diabetes. And I’m like, “Well, tell me about your life.” And he says, “Well,” I said, “Do you sleep okay?” He goes, “Well, yeah, but during the day I use a stand up desk,” this was before stand up desks were a thing, “Because if I sit down, I’ll fall asleep while I’m working.” And I’m like, “Wow. Okay. You probably have sleep apnea.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So I said, “Let’s test you for sleep apnea.” And he sure enough had sleep apnea. We put him on a CPAP machine, which is a breathing machine, just sort of stop CPAP. He literally lost 50 pounds just like that and felt so much better. And we corrected his underlying issues around sleep and metabolic health. The thing is, if you don’t sleep, you also crave carbohydrates. You crave sugar. You crave all the junk that’s going to make you gain weight. And we know this even from studies on young, healthy adult college males who are not overweight. When they deprived them of two hours sleep a night compared to the control group, the ones that had the two hours sleep deprivation ended up having higher levels of ghrelin, which makes you hungry. PYY was lower, which was the appetite suppressing hormone.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And so they had hormonal changes that made them crave more carbohydrates, eat more food, be hungrier, gain more weight. And so really, the key to often healthy metabolism and weight is actually sleeping.

Dhru Purohit:
A lot of people at night notice that their mind is running, and it just won’t get quiet, and that impacts their sleep. I know you have a lot of experience with meditation and different protocols that you’ve used either personally, or recommended to people in the past. But is there something that you could suggest that those individuals could try when it comes to winding down at night and getting ready for bed?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Absolutely. When you think about it, it’s kind of silly. We go, go, go. We’re answering emails at 11:00 at night. We’re looking at our screens. We’re engaged in all kinds of stressful, emotional, psychological things with work or whatever. And then we like, “Okay, lights out. Boom, go to sleep.” And people are exhausted, but they often fall asleep, but then often wake up frequently because they got the stress hormones going in their body.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So I think really having a sleep ritual at night is so important. For me it’s very important to get off screens at least a couple hours before bed. I often will take a hot bath with Epsom salt and lavender, which calms my nervous system down. I’ll put the little kind of amber light that has no … It’s a reading light that has no blue light. I turn all the other lights off. I’ll read a little bit in bed. And the reading and the calming down just calms me down.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The other thing I can do often is I’ll write a little before bed. So I’ll literally dump out what’s ever in my head. I’ll just write it all out, and I’ll just completely purge anything that is a negative thought pattern in my head, and my worries for tomorrow, what happened that day, whatever, whatever. And I just try to let go. And the other thing you can do is a little yoga stretching before bed, a little deep breathing exercises before bed, get a little massage before bed. All those things can help.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
If you have a partner, you can rub each other’s feet. That’s a very relaxing thing to do. I have a Theragun, I’ll often use that to kind or relax my muscles and nervous system. You have to find what’s right for you, but it really requires some level of decompressing and unwinding before you get into bed because if you just plop into bed after running 100 miles an hour, you’re not going to fall asleep. Or you’ll fall asleep because you’re exhausted, and then you’ll wake up because you’re under chronic stress.

Dhru Purohit:
You chatted about this earlier, but talk about your morning routine and how crucial it is for you to set up your circadian rhythm for the rest of the day. What are the things that you do that you’ve found work well in the morning, that end up helping you have better sleep at night?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I think the key is I tend to meditate in the morning for 20 minutes. I’ll have a cup of tea, maybe I’ll have coffee. And I’ll do a journaling, writing, and just sort of get myself grounded for the day. And then I’ll often try to take a walk or be outside in sunlight for 20 minutes without sunglasses on, to reset my circadian rhythms. And then I’ll have a very low starch, sugar breakfast, mostly protein and fat, either avocados, eggs, olive oil, or I’ll have a protein shake that I make with fat in it. That really helps me sort of set up my system for the day, so I’m not craving the wrong foods, so I’m not going off the reservation because I’m actually keeping my system in balance.

Dhru Purohit:
All right, Mark, this is the part of the episode where we go to some questions from our community. And let’s jump in with the first one. Is going to bed at the same time every night important? How do you discover what sleep timeframe is right for your body?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Historically, we used to go to bed with the sun and wake up with the sun. That’s probably a good thing. And I think the advent of the light bulb, and work schedules, it’s kind of screwed us up. So historically, if you really want to look at proper sleep hygiene and the way to set up a good sleep rhythm is to go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day. And generally, the sleep you get before midnight is much better. So I would say 10:00, at least 10:00, maybe 9:30, into bed, asleep by 10:00. Get up at 6:00, 6:30. That will often help you sleep much better, sleep much deeper than if you sort of stay up until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
But there are people whose circadian rhythms are shifted, and they may be better as night people versus morning people. That’s okay. But in general, I think it’s really key to sort of establish a good morning routine to get yourself set up for a good night’s sleep the rest of the day.

Dhru Purohit:
All right. Next question. Is there a particular reason that we wake up intermittently as we age? And there’s two sub questions underneath it, which are: Is it normal to wake up and go to the bathroom every night? And the second question: What should I do if I’m going to bed early and still suffering from frequent wake ups throughout the evening? So this is all a question around waking up at night, especially it increasing as we age.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So as we age, a bunch of things happen. Right? We tend to have more belly fat. We tend to have loss of muscle. And when that happens, you get higher levels of insulin, more fluctuations in some blood sugar, and lower growth hormone. And the reason that kids sleep so much, and babies sleep so much, they have huge amounts of growth hormone. But when you lose muscle, you lose growth hormone, and you get higher cortisol, and you get higher insulin. Cortisol will prevent you from sleeping. So when you lower growth hormone and raise cortisol, through the aging process, you will actually have disrupted sleep.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The reason that we do that is because we’re not active enough. Our diets aren’t good. And so we’re eating a high starch sugar diet, we’re not weight training and strength training. But the truth is, at any age, you can maintain your muscle mass. I now have way more muscle mass than I did 10 years ago or 20 years ago. And it’s possible if you know what to do. So I’m very focused on maintaining my muscle mass, which helps growth hormone, which helps my testosterone, helps cortisol stay low, very, very important.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I think if people are waking up frequently, even if they go to bed on time, there may be something else going on. There may be metabolic issues around blood sugar. There may be chronic stress that’s not really being fully addressed. There may be other factors that cause frequent wakening. As far as urinating at night, it depends on when you drink, how late you drink, how much you drink, if you have a prostate issue or not, if you have irritable bladder or not. Normally, people can go through the night without peeing. Sometimes you get up once to go pee, it’s not terrible. People can go back to sleep.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So I think but if you’re going a lot more than that, it’s worth getting checked out because you could have prostate enlargement if you’re a man, or cystitis if you’re a woman. And it’s good to make sure you get that checked because unless you’re … If you’re getting up two, three, four times a night to go pee, that’s a problem.

Dhru Purohit:
All right. Next question. Can a person catch up, so to speak, from a previous night of poor sleep?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I think yes and no. I think people anecdotally will say, “Look, if I didn’t sleep six hours, and I sleep 10 the next day, I feel better,” so I think people will feel better. But the basic medical opinion is that, no, you really can’t catch up on lost sleep. You’ve got to just keep sleeping and then putting sleep in the bank, and actually over time, you’ll feel better. But you really have to make sure you’re not creating a lot of sleep debt, and that you’re actually sleeping more when you need to. But realize that’s not necessarily going to fix all the sleep that you’ve had. So it’s not great to say, “Well, I’m just going to stay up, and six hours a night, or five hours a night during the week, and I’ll sleep 10 hours on the weekend.” It doesn’t work like that.

Dhru Purohit:
All right. Next question. Does Dr. Hyman use a sleep tracker? And if so, which one?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I use a lot because I’m kind of skeptical about these things because I do three different sleep trackers, get three different results. So I use frequently, I have an Oura Ring, I’ll use an app on my phone called Sleep Cycle. There’s one called Sleep Watch, it’s with my Apple Watch. I’m kind of amused at how variable they are, and how I don’t really know how accurate they are. I think the Oura Ring is probably the most accurate. It measures heart rate variability. It measures REM sleep, deep sleep, breathing, and so forth, movement. So there’s benefits to it, and it’ll give you a sense of what’s happening.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
For example, I know that for example, I have not been drinking alcohol much at all. And the other night I had, somebody ordered a bottle of wine at the table. I had a glass, maybe I had a glass and a half of white wine with dinner. And I noticed that night that my heart rate didn’t lower. My temperature didn’t lower. And my sleep was more disrupted. And I’m like, “Was it really worth it?” I don’t really know if it’s worth it. I don’t really like drinking that much. I prioritize my sleep, so it’s a really important thing.

Dhru Purohit:
Does Dr. Hyman have any tips for moms to help maintain their health while enduring sleep deprivation?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I mean, yes, have a good partner who can spell you to get some more sleep. Take a nap when your baby’s napping. That’s what I recommend. And do the best you can to take care of yourself within all that, because your quality of parenting is regulated by the quality of your energy and your presence in your family. And if you’re sleep deprived, you’re not going to be very good company and able to really function at a high level. So prioritizing sleep is important, and figuring out the support you can get at night, whether it’s your spouse, or your partner, to help spell you at getting naps when your baby’s napping, and taking that time is really important. But it is a tough period, and I encourage people to sort of do the best they can, but know it passes.

Dhru Purohit:
All right, next question, which is actually about napping. Do you practice napping? Are there some days where you will embrace napping? And any recommendations for people who find napping difficult to do?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. I mean, I used to be able to nap pretty well. Lately, I just can’t nap so well. If I’m really tired, I might be able to nap. And napping is fine to do. I think it’s fine if you like to nap. I think it can be … You don’t want to overdo it, 20 minutes, half an hour. If you sleep for long periods of time, it can make you really groggy and it can affect your nighttime sleep. But I think that people who feel like they can and want to nap, it’s so fine. And I think people can often just go down, and they wake up 20 minutes later, and they’re refreshed. And I think that’s a very good thing. I tend to meditate. For me, meditating is like taking a three hour nap sometimes. I just close my eyes for 20 minutes. I wake up completely refreshed.

Dhru Purohit:
All right. Supplements and sleep aids, there’s a few questions about them. Are there any supplements that you recommend? What are your thoughts about melatonin or other things that people might be using at night to help them get better sleep?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. So there are a lot of things you can do to help improve sleep through supplementation. So magnesium is my first go to. A lot of people are low on magnesium. That can cause insomnia. I think melatonin, anywhere from half a milligram to up to three milligrams can be a great adjunct to sleep. There’s other amino acids like GABA derivatives and theanine from green tea that can also help. There’s adaptogenic things like ashwagandha, rhodiola, there’s other herbs that can help as well, valerian, passion flower, magnolia, all these, lemon balm. All these can be very helpful for sleep, so I encourage people to try different things.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
People should not probably use chronic sleep aids like benzodiazepines or Ambien. Occasional is fine, like if you’re traveling and you want to sleep on a plane, I’ll use it, but really rarely. And I think it’s important for people to sort of know that these can cause long-term cognitive issues. It can cause long-term health consequences. Not getting sleep is also a problem, so it’s kind of a fine line to figure that out. But I encourage people to sort of try some of these alternative things. And I think I wrote an article years ago about the 20 tips on how to get better sleep, including a lot of the supplements, the doses, where to get them, and so forth.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Also, we have a sleep masterclass that we created. And people can access that. I think it’s free. Right, Dhru? So maybe we can just get to the sleep masterclass and learn more about what to take, what to do, and how to regulate their sleep. It’s really important.

Dhru Purohit:
Fantastic. What about CBD? Do you like it? And who would you recommend or not recommend try using it?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, CBD’s a derivative of marijuana plant. And people are using combinations of CBD are CBD plus THS, which is basically pot. And that can be very effective. Often, when many other things don’t work, people can take capsules, or caplets, or even smoke, vapor, or actual marijuana cigarette. And that can actually help with regulating sleep and help getting to sleep, deep sleep. It helps relax them, decrease anxiety. And I’ve found that very helpful as well. So I think there’s room for that as a therapeutic tool. There are questions about what’s the long-term consequences of CBD, THC on the brain. But in the meantime, I think it’s a very simple, easy intervention that you can do, that can help with mitigating a lot of sleep issues. And I recommend it to a number of my patients. It can be very effective. It doesn’t work for everybody, but it can be very, very good.

Dhru Purohit:
So Mark, that was great. Those were all our community questions. Take us through the conclusion of today’s episode, maybe even some recaps that the audience can walk away with.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. So number one, I think that sleep is incredibly important. It’s not just an annoying loss of time. And I encourage people to create a very comfortable sleep environment. Get the right mattress. I love, for example, the mattress that is from Sleep Aid, or the one that’s from Essentia Mattresses, which is a latex foam, and that’s so important. Get the right pillows. Make sure you have darkened shades for your room. Make sure you have earplugs and eye shades so you can block out sound and light. Make sure you don’t have a lot of EMFs in your room. Don’t leave your phone plugged in. Maybe you want to unplug wifi at night. That can make a big difference. Make sure you don’t eat three hours before bed, that you wake up in the morning, you get bright sunlight exposure. Try to take extra magnesium, a little melatonin. Try unwinding, decompression at night. Watch out for alcohol, caffeine. Just common sense stuff.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
If you think you have a serious sleep problem, you might want a sleep study to look for restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea. That can be very helpful. So we know a lot of sleep. Matthew Walker wrote a good book about why we sleep. There’s many other books about sleep. So I think it’s important for people to actually focus on the things that we know now that can help them re-regulate their sleep. So sleep is critical, and I think people underestimate the value of sleep and its importance, and the importance of focusing on creating quality, deep sleep.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So that’s it for this week’s masterclass. If you liked this episode, please share it with your friends and family on social media. Leave a comment. How have you hacked your sleep? Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and we’ll see you next week on The Doctor’s Pharmacy.
Speaker 1:
Hi, everyone. I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode. Just a reminder that this podcast is for educational purposes only. This podcast is not a substitute for professional care by a doctor or other qualified medical professional. This podcast is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services. If you’re looking for help in your journey, seek out a qualified medical practitioner. If you’re looking for a functional medicine practitioner, you can visit ifm.org and search their find a practitioner database. It’s important that you have someone in your corner who’s trained, who’s a licensed healthcare practitioner, and can help you make changes, especially when it comes to your health.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

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