3 ways to a good night's sleep w/Vyga Kaufmann
Nexum bi-weekly podcast featuring the leading thinkers in change management.
Hosted by Morten Kamp Andersen
Nexum bi-weekly podcast featuring the leading thinkers in change management.
Hosted by Morten Kamp Andersen
A good night's sleep is the foundation of a healthy mind and body. You compromise your sleep at your peril. But although we all know this, we live as we have forgotten it. We have invited Vyga Kaufmann to this week's episode of What Monkeys Do, to remind us just how vital sleep is to our mental and physical health and to tell us how to get the best possible sleep.
Vyga Kaufmann is a clinical psychologist. She specialises in cognitive behavioural approaches to the treatment of sleep issues as well as anxiety, depression, and work stress. She believes sleep is the most critical measure in the treatment of those disorders. Nevertheless, all changes you want to make in life depends on mental health and flexibility. And good night's sleep is the foundation for both.
In case you don't have the time now, here are a few key takeaways from the episode. I hope it inspires you to listen to the full episode.
#1 Sleep is important. Sleep is probably the most essential part of a healthy mind and body. It can help you if you are suffering from depression and anxiety. Nevertheless, as Vyga also said, we all benefit a lot from quality sleep – both in terms of our physical and mental health.
#2 You can improve the quality of your sleep with three simple advice; a) only use your bedroom for sleep and sex, b) make sure to get up at the same time each day – your body appreciates consistency, and c) find your sleep ritual to prepare your mind and body for sleep. Don't expect that you can go straight from a busy day to switching the lights and sleeping.
#3 All other changes that you want to make in life depends on mental health and mental flexibility, and good sleep is the foundation for both.
Your opinion means a lot. Remember to leave a review or a comment, if you liked what you've heard. It is very helpful for our reach.
EP11 - Vyga Kaufmann
Fri, 12/4 7:46AM • 42:02
sleep, people, bed, insomnia, wake, asleep, called, disorders, night, stage, hours, piece, quality, precipitating event, metabolic waste, advice, hear, cognitive behavioral therapy, good night's sleep, deep sleep
Morten Andersen, Vyga Kaufmann
Morten Andersen 00:05
Hello, and welcome to What Monkeys Do. My name is Morten Kamp Andersen. And this is a podcast about what it takes to make a change and make it stick.
Morten Andersen 00:20
It says on page one of most health and wellness books and psychology books that you need a good night's sleep to be in good physical and mental health. But what is sleep? And how do we get that good night's sleep? Well, let's find out in this episodes of What Monkeys Do. About 25 years ago, I read a book about sleep. I can't remember the exact title, but it could have been called How to optimize your sleep and be more productive and have more fun. The idea of the book was that we work eight hours, we play eight hours, and we sleep eight hours each day. And the book suggested that we could optimize our sleep. So we only need to be in bed for six hours and get the same amount of quality sleep. And then we could take those two hours and spend one extra hours on work. So be more productive, and one extra hour on play. So have more fun. And I tried that for a week. But I found that I had actually less energy to work, and I was not much fun to be around. So I stopped. My guest today will be able to tell me if I just didn't follow the instructions well, or if it's not even possible to optimize our sleep in that way. She's a clinical psychologist specializing in cognitive behavioral approach to the treatment of sleep issues. She's earned her PhD from the University of Colorado in Boulder, where she's also teaching. She's the co founder of summit behavioral Sleep Medicine, a company that use an evidence based approach to address overall sleep quality. Welcome to you, Vika Kaufman.
Vyga Kaufmann 01:52
Hello, thank you for having me today. I appreciate the invitation.
Morten Andersen 01:55
Absolutely. So this episode is about sleep. And before we begin, I just want to know a little bit about your background, and how does one become interested in sleep. So what did you do to make that become your speciality?
Vyga Kaufmann 02:09
Well, I am a clinical psychologist and my licensed clinical psychologist, which means that in addition to teaching, I maintain a private practice treating different types of disorders such as anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder, phobias, panic disorder. And I also treat things like mood disorders, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder. And what those disorders all have in common is that behavioral elements play a big role in managing the course of the disorder. For some disorders such as specific phobias, we know that behavior therapy can cure them. And for other disorders, such as bipolar disorder, we know that the way people manage some of their behaviors, especially as it relates to sleep and wake cycles can really influence the course of mood episodes and even predict whether or not another mood episode is imminent. And what was interesting to me is that those were the first places that I saw the power of behavior change. And over time, what was discovered is that one thing in common to a lot of mental health issues is disturbed sleep. And the big question became, well, if disturbed sleep is the common thread for a lot of these disorders. What happens if you fix the sleep? And for a long time, insomnia and sleep disorders were thought to be a symptom of other types of disorders, what and it was thought that if you fix the cardinal or the parent disorder, that sleep would just kind of fall into place. And over time, I was really clear, that's not exactly how it works. Sometimes sleep issues even persists even when the parent disorder is managed or cared. And what we're seeing is that as I looked into, well, then how do we fix the sleep, it became really obvious that once again, behavior change, and a lot of the things that I had learned in terms of human cognition and human behavior actually result in physiological changes and biological changes that can drive people into consistent and better sleep. So that was really exciting. And once people start learning about sleep, it gets really exciting. And you can't really stop so to say.
Morten Andersen 04:19
So you, you see that people are depressed, and they also suffer from sleep, they don't sleep very well. And instead of treating the depression by itself, and then over time, they'll sleep better, you could actually treat sleep, and then that will help not fix but probably help go a long way to help the depression as well.
Vyga Kaufmann 04:40
That's right. I like to think of a lot of our interventions as kind of acting like a volume knob rather than, you know, light switch. It's not either that it helps or it doesn't help is to what degree so often, if somebody comes to my clinic and they have a sleep issue, along with some other mental health issue, I propose that maybe let's see if we can get some movement on the sleep and see how that influences overall health, but also mental health as well.
Morten Andersen 05:04
Okay, let's look into sleep. I go to bed at 11 o'clock, and I wake up at six next day I've been asleep. But I bet it contains a lot more nuances than that. So what is sleep? And what different types of sleep do we have?
Vyga Kaufmann 05:18
Your right sleep is not one thing, sleep kind of unfolds throughout the night in two different stages, these stages of sleep are best measured by the electrical activity of our brain. So when you hear about sleep stages, the way that scientists think about that is, what types of brainwaves are being generated. And what other types of physiological markers are there that would suggest that somebody is progressing through the different stages of sleep. So stage one sleep is a very, very light sleep. In fact, I like to call it beverage cart sleep, have you ever been on an airplane and you know, the beverage coming and yet you're very relaxed, so you kind of close your eyes. And you're like, well, but I want to say just alert enough so that when the beverage cart comes, the person will know that I would very much enjoy having a drink. But that is actually a stage of sleep, because you're not alert as you might be now. And yet, you might self report that that was a period of time when you were awake, and not asleep.
Morten Andersen 06:19
So you can actually sleep with your eyes open in that sense. I mean, that's first stage, you, you probably have your eyes open in a sense, and you would call it sleep,
Vyga Kaufmann 06:28
and your eyes would probably still be closed. And yet you would be in between the stage of being completely a word alert and awake now, rather than maybe capitulating and allowing yourself to fall asleep. So it's kind of like teetering on that edge of wakefulness and being completely more asleep, which is what people think of when they're sleep. So when they're stage two sleep, now you wouldn't notice maybe the beverage cart, your ability to detect external stimuli is diminished. But still, it would be relatively easy to wake you up. And when we're in stage two sleep, I could get your attention easily. And if I woke you up, you might even do a pretty good job estimating about how long you've been asleep. And then when we advanced down into deeper stages of sleep, when we think of deep sleep, what we're really thinking of is stage three, and deep sleep is this delicious restorative sleep, that when people are deprived of it, they might feel that accident didn't sleep very well. And that might be using experience, like I had perceived that I was unconscious for seven hours, or asleep for seven hours. And yet I don't feel quite rested. So there might have been something that had disturbed that that deep stage of sleep, and if you wake up in a deep stage of sleep, usually we're a little bit disoriented. So if you've ever woken up in a hotel and wondered, you know, if you've been kidnapped, where are you? How did you get there, it is very, very possible you actually woke up from from deep, deep sleep. And then we go into what most people are familiar with, which is REM sleep, which is where most of our dream sleep occurs, and the cycle begins. So we we cycles from stage 123, down to REM sleep, and we spend a different amount of time in each stage of sleep as the night unfolds.
Morten Andersen 08:13
Okay, so would it be fair to say that the better quality sleep if you spent more time in stage four, or three and four, or is it just that you cycle and and it's actually all four parts that are equally important?
Vyga Kaufmann 08:29
So what we know is that stage three sleep or deep sleep is especially conserved so that what that means is that if you get insufficient sleep a few days in a row, and then you have ample sleep opportunity that your body by itself will actually spend more time in stage three sleep and deeper stages of sleep. But that's recovery or an attempt for recovery. Really, we don't know enough about sleep to know what happens when you spend less time in each stage of sleep in favor of maybe more time and another stage. We have some clues, but for the most part, what it seems like is that having an adequate sleep opportunity and cycling through those stages, completely each night is certainly the healthiest form of sleep.
Morten Andersen 09:18
Okay, so there is something called a good night's sleep and a poor night's sleep. And a good night's sleep is the more time we spend in probably stage three, maybe even stage four as well during a night.
Vyga Kaufmann 09:31
I would say a good night's sleep would be defined by smoothly slept cycling through each stage uninterrupted. Okay.
Morten Andersen 09:40
That's the other piece is that we know that consolidated sleep is not only healthier for us, we're in a better mood and better able to concentrate so if you have seven hours of fragmented sleep, you might not feel as rested as somebody who has had five or six consecutive hours of sleep and this this the same folder People, so I'm just practically thinking. So for instance, whenever there is a noise outside of our house, I always wake up during the night, but my wife never wakes up, she never hear those noises. And I always do. Is that because I'm in a, I'm in a lighter sleep? Or do we just have different sleep patterns? Or do we have that our deep sleep level is different levels of deeper? Why would that be?
Vyga Kaufmann 10:24
What is most likely happening? I actually have a theory, this is funny that you just said that, because I don't have any data to support this. But it seems to me, deep sleepers are always paired with light sleepers. That you've just you've just added another data point to that observation. But I think what it might not have something to do with what stage of sleep that you're in, what it might have to do with is your proneness to hyper arousal, and how, what you're physiologically predisposed to noticing. So maybe your arousal threshold is simply lower in terms of being able to respond to what's happening externally from you, then your wives.
Morten Andersen 11:00
Yes. And we know that that kind of alertness is actually something which is hardwired in us as we're very different from each other. So what is the impacts and the benefits of having a good night's sleep, what's the health benefits other than if you're depressed, and then that can lead you out of a depression? What, what else is there in a good night's sleep?
Vyga Kaufmann 11:19
So we know that healthy sleep is extraordinarily good for our cardiovascular health. As we descend into different stages of sleep, and throughout the night, our heart muscle has an opportunity to rest and something that sometimes called the heart rate hammock where your your heart rate descends ever. So gradually, as you fall asleep, it kind of stays at a lower level throughout the night. And then comes back up as our cortisol awakening response or and as our as our sleep drive diminishes. And we wake up, our heart rate is back up to maybe what our typical resting heart rate is during the day. And it looks like cardiovascular break is very good for our hearts. So people who have a lifetime of sufficient sleep, tend to have better cardiovascular health. So from a medical perspective, that's one piece. We also know that sufficient sleep is good for our metabolic health. So in are attempting to manage their their body weight, in addition to their cardiovascular health, we know that having well time sufficient sleep can help regulate our hunger and fullness cues so that maybe we don't have to rely on our own willpower as much and can rely instead on our body's natural need for food and satiety. So there's another there's another piece there. And also for our brain, we know that one of the things that sleep is really good for is removing some of the metabolic waste that has accumulated throughout the day. So it looks like for for cognitive purposes, especially one devotee, and being able to remember things well and prevent certain types of dementia, that perhaps a lifetime of good sleep is beneficial. And for our mood. You know, I think a lot of times some of these distant type of health benefits are not quite motivating for people to prioritize sleep, when when we have guests in our home. And in the morning, when they wake up. What's the first question we ask how did you sleep and and so and we know that maybe we're asking that perhaps out of tradition, but also we know that getting a good night's sleep sets us up for a much better day. So it helps with our mood, it diminishes irritability, it also makes us more patient. And I you know, you mentioned you have you have kids. And so patience, being a big piece of parenting, and sleep sets up for that type of success. It also helps us with creativity, I think that we're starting to see more businesses really prioritizing well rested. Employees we know that increases productivity, we know that sleep, insufficient sleep actually diminishes productivity, and actually can be very costly to companies. So really prioritizing the the sleep of employees can increase productivity, creativity, my favorite measure of anything is just quality of life. And we know that sleep remarkably increases just day to day quality of life.
Morten Andersen 14:14
This is a wonder drug, it really has a lot of benefits. And I guess the downside, the only downside of it is that the investment is a fairly big investment if the investment is time. I am just anxious to hear about the book that I read 25 years ago, which would said that I could cram in eight hours of quality sleep in six hours if I just optimized it. I just want to hear is that possible?
Vyga Kaufmann 14:35
No. I think what's interesting is that sleep is a really hot topic right now. You are going to hear so much about lotions, potions, tinctures, oils, technologies, things that can optimize your sleep when even scientists don't even know what that means. So one example is I heard somebody saying that this particular medication increases the amount of time that people spend in stage three or deep sleep However, that's at the expense of other stages of sleep. And there's a reason that we go through these different stages of sleep. And humans aren't the only ones that do it. This is a highly conserved process across species. If evolution has conserved this particular behavior, it must be incredibly important. But what's interesting is that you said this is a tremendous investment. And yet, I do have to wonder if the return on investment is far greater than what one might imagine, you know, acutely that loss of and in people often want to go from eight hours to six hours, what is it two hours buying you?
Morten Andersen 15:40
Yes, yes, I actually fully agree. On one hand, it is an investment is like going for a run, you know, there is an upfront investment, so to speak, but the benefits is so much better. And I'm not even comfortable talking about investments when we will be talking about this. But on the other hand, I mean, people have known about the importance of sleep for years. I mean, when we even look at the ancient scripts, you know, there is advice about sleeping well, and the importance of sleep. On the other hand, we now can, you know, measure our brain in ways that was completely impossible just, you know, 50 years ago, what have we learned about sleep the last 1015 years, that is new.
Vyga Kaufmann 16:16
When we sleep, there, space between our neurons in our brains grows, so that means our neurons have to shrink in some way. Right. And what's called is that an increases what's called these interstitial channels, and cerebrospinal fluid is shunted through these channels in our brain, and it removes some of the metabolic waste that's been accumulated during the day. The good news is, is that it seems like the glymphatic system works kind of overtime as we are sleeping, but it also may work during the day as well. But some of the metabolic waste that it removes might be familiar to some of your listeners. So for example, beta amyloid plaque, we know that the accumulation of beta amyloid plaque is one of the markers of Alzheimer's type dementia. So it's the relationship between chronic sleep loss and dementia is still being elucidated. But it seems that when we think about what's the mechanism by which sleep deprivation might increase risk, or vulnerability to certain types of dementia, they're going fatik system and its ability to have the time to remove some of that metabolic waste might be one of those mechanisms. So the discovery of that which is still tremendous amount of data being collected is I think, one major advance that gives us a better understanding about sleep. I know, you know, in 2017, the Nobel Prize was awarded to scientists who discovered some of the genes that regulate circadian rhythm. So I think a lot of times, you know, we're talking a lot about sleep, and you know, the stages of sleep. An important piece of that is even the timing of our sleep and how that fits in somebody's own circadian rhythm. And then the question was, well, how's the circadian rhythm regulated? Anyway, we know that light is a major piece that in trains our circadian rhythm, but from a biological process, how does that happen? And so that was discovered, which was really exciting.
Morten Andersen 18:25
You mentioned just before that there was there was a whole industry that is targeting sleep, so you can get medicine, as you said, you can get lamps that wake you up with sunlight, you can get everything. And one of the things that is I think, very popular is watches, wristbands, or rings that can help you monitor your sleep. And my wife actually has one of those. And every morning, it tells her for how long time she has been asleep, how much of it was REM and light sleep and deep sleep, and she gets a score. And that score tells us overall score. How useful are those? That technology? Is it? is it accurate? And can I can I use that for anything? Would you recommend things like that?
Vyga Kaufmann 19:08
I think it depends on what you are doing with that information. So we love data collection, right? And we especially like to learn about ourselves. So those sleep devices, you know, they're accurate enough. I think that you know, there there are some there's some data that some of them overestimate time in asleep. Some of them underestimate but for the most part, it's good enough for what people might be interested in tracking. The the paradox here is that when people become preoccupied with the data, they actually can end up doing harm to their sleep. So there's a term that's been coined by a sleep researcher named Kelly Baron and she calls it ortho Samia. So you know this strive for perfection around sleep could have the paradoxical result of increasing anxiety about sleep. And striving for sleep perfection might actually impede people's ability to sleep. So one of the questions I'm often asked is, well, what do you think about these sleep tracking devices? And typically my response, which is tongue in cheek, but honestly, is why? Why do you need it?
Morten Andersen 20:16
And I think for most people, it is just fun. It is like tracking how many steps you're walking and things like that. And you're right, for what purpose? And actually, we discover sometimes that, you know, she would wake up and she said, Oh, I had a great night's sleep, and then the score wasn't as great. And then she didn't feel as good about as liebhard as she otherwise would.
Vyga Kaufmann 20:33
And, you know, there's there's some data to support her experience is that when you bring people into a sleep lab, and measure their sleep, and then in the morning, if you ask them, you know, how did you sleep if they slept? Great? There have been studies where they say, Oh, really, gosh, okay, well, good. You know, it seemed like through your your polysomnography, or the sleep measures that you actually didn't sleep that great, but good for you. And does it even if they had a great night of sleep, just being told that it was not a great night asleep, we call that the CBOE effect. Usually people know the placebo effect, which is thriving benefit from some sort of inner intervention, while the nocebo effect is a close cousin, which is negative side effects of an in art intervention. And I think sometimes sleep trackers end up doing that.
Morten Andersen 21:17
That's so funny. There are of course, some people who really suffers from poor sleep insomnia is is an example where people are really struggling to sleep. What is insomnia? And why do some people suffer from that
Vyga Kaufmann 21:31
the diagnosis of insomnia disorder has to do with the frequency and duration of sleep problems. And you can kind of think of it as a rule of threes is that if for three nights each week, you're not getting restorative sleep, and this is lasting, about three months, you might qualify for a diagnosis of insomnia disorder, and the question of how this happens, it just depends on the individual. So the it's thought that we all have some baseline vulnerability to developing sleep problems. And that vulnerability might be pretty consistent throughout our lives. So the question is, if we're all each have different vulnerabilities, most people don't report I've had insomnia from birth, right. So there must be some sort of precipitating event and the precipitating event can be virtually anything, it could be a stressful life event, like starting a new job and having new responsibilities. It could be you know, the loss of a relationship, and the birth of a child. And there's something that you know, might provoke, you know, hyper arousal in some, and some of these things also could be medical. So for example, a very common side effect of chemotherapy for cancer is disrupted. But the precipitating event isn't enough to maintain insomnia, we know that there are a lot of perpetuating factors. And those are things that keep insomnia alive. So let's take for example, something that we consider, you know, a biological precipitating event, which is somebody who's having chemotherapy, obviously, there's anxiety and stress of cancer, but also the effects of the drug. They might finish chemotherapy. And you know, five years later say, this is weird, like I've ever since I had chemotherapy, I'm unable to sleep. But if you were to look to see what might have been going on during that interval, you might see behaviors that unfortunately, while intuitively might seem like good ideas and up keeping insomnia live, and those are the things are like staying awake in bed, being awake in bed, creating that that learning experiences, repeated associations of bed being a place of arousal bed being where you plan your day worry, or just watch your mind race, you know, there's repeated associations can be very strong. That's something that perpetuates insomnia. Another is an irregular sleep schedule. So oftentimes people will say, you know, they don't get much sleep during the week, and then they sleep in on Saturday, and Sunday ketchup. Yeah. Well, yeah, they, the perception is, is that sleep hasn't caught up with. And oftentimes people report that Sunday night of sleep is their worst night of sleep. And the report would be well, I must be really stressed about becoming workweek and the things that I have to do, when really the their sleep drive might be disrupted from having slept in that, you know, some of the circadian rhythm might have been disrupted from a sleep schedule. So these are all things that can perpetuate insomnia that might have absolutely nothing to do with the initial cause.
Morten Andersen 24:33
I heard a couple of advice there. One was get a regular sleep schedule. So go to bed at the same time, get up regular, you know, at the same time, and also if you are struggling to sleep, get out of your bed and go outside and and take a break and then go back to bed again when you feel tired so you don't stay in your bed and create a learning experience of staying awake in your bed is is how things are
Vyga Kaufmann 24:57
correct. I think that not only is it that you're not creating a learning experience that the bed is where other things happen that over time, if people do this, they actually become precipitously more tired, went into bed because bed has been become a cue for, oh, this is where sleep happens and your body knows that that is a cue and it prepares itself and is more apt to to fall asleep more smoothly when you do that.
Morten Andersen 25:22
So when people come to you, and they are struggling with sleeping, you're using cognitive behavioral therapy as your tool for helping them Can you just help our listeners just a little bit about what is cognitive behavioral therapy and also how, why that is particularly helpful for this.
Vyga Kaufmann 25:41
When you say to a psychologist, well, I'm doing cognitive behavioral therapy, the nerdy psychologist will probably say, for what, because there are different types of cognitive behavioral therapy. So there's a system, cognitive behavioral therapy for major depressive disorder, versus panic disorder, or some specific phobia. So for sleep, we call it cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. And I think psychologists need some advice from marketing and branding people because we need to put our whole Methods section in the title. But so so cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia really leans on some very old behavioral theories. So one very important one being classical conditioning or Pavlovian conditioning. And I often joke that if people only use their bed for sleep, that I might be out of work. So if you are only using your bed for sleep, then it's not necessarily a conscious idea. Okay, I'm now going to sleep is that your body has created that association. So there's something called stimulus control. And the first rule of stimulus control is to use your bed for sleep and sex only. And I like to think that I've saved many marriages by removing sex out of the bed. And but creating, you know, the the bed being in the bedroom, really being a place that sacred for for sleep, and this takes repetition. This is not something that you know, someone will do for a week and say, well, it didn't work. Yeah. And there are other elements. So another element is something called sleep consolidation, which some people also call sleep restriction, and other people call it torture. So what what that has to do with is a lotting, the your sleep opportunity to match what the amount of sleep you're already getting. So somebody comes to the clinic and they you know, are tethering together or six hours of sleep, but it's taking them eight or nine hours to achieve that, then in collaboration with that person, I would say, Well, what do you think about creating a sleep schedule for the next week where you don't go to bed until midnight, and you get out of bed at six each morning. And that repetition also can increase sleep propensity or their sleep drive. But again, this is something that takes some repetition, but it's a it's a biological intervention, and that it increases what's called the sleep homeostatic sleep, drive, I like to even think of it as a sleeping pill, you know, is controlling that sleep in that way. But often people will say that they're grumpy. And while that, you know, their their sleep might be consolidated, they're still getting enough of it. So there are strategies to be able to increase amount of time in bed to be able to also better reflect the amount of sleep someone is actually producing or achieving. So there we have a behavioral we have behavioral components about when someone is in bed or not. But then there are also cognitive components. So the cognitive events have to do with people's beliefs about sleep, one of the first things that we typically end up talking about is how much sleep Does somebody want? And why? Hmm, so I think a lot of us grew up with this idea that, you know, we need eight hours of sleep. And that's true for some people. Some people we actually know now that most adults, a healthy sleep window would be between seven and nine hours. Those data are from population based studies to see what happens for adults who say they get less than fewer than seven hours versus more than nine hours and outcomes. So somebody might say I want eight hours of sleep. And we just have to wait and see. Because the best, the best measure of how well you're sleeping, is how you feel each and every day.
Morten Andersen 29:15
Okay, so I have a friend and he insists that he only needs six hours. I've been trying to say no, I don't think that's right. But what you're saying is that well, for most is actually between seven and nine. But there could be people where it is 10 and some way it is six.
Vyga Kaufmann 29:31
In short, yes, there could that type of individual variation probably exists. And and what I'm curious about is if your friend uses an alarm clock to wake up,
Morten Andersen 29:39
okay. So if he does, then it's probably
Vyga Kaufmann 29:42
that there's some debt being accumulated. But sure, no, I think your overall point is a good one is that, you know, there is some variation and maybe but for most people, for the majority of adults, seven to nine hours seems to be optimal.
Morten Andersen 29:56
I just need to make sure it's so are you are you suggesting that not having an alarm clock is, is good,
Vyga Kaufmann 30:02
correct? Yes, in fact, that's one of the was one of the ways that you I mean, because think about it, if you're using alarm clock to wake up, that means your sleep is being interrupted, and your body is not able to complete the sleep cycles that it wants to go through. So there is a very good chance that if you are habitually using an alarm clock that you are likely also carrying a sleep debt. And
Morten Andersen 30:24
I've never heard that before that it's actually really surprising to me, because I would not trust myself to wake up. I probably do wake up at about the same time every day, but I'm not sure I would trust myself to wake up. At the same time, especially if I have a meeting the next day is something interesting.
Morten Andersen 30:49
So obviously, most of us are not suffering from insomnia. But we are interested in having a good night's sleep. And I have to admit that I usually go to bed around the same time and I usually get up around the same time I feel I have a good sleep. But I'm not equally rested. Every time that I wake up. Sometimes I feel very rested. Very happy wellness is high. And other times I feel that I haven't quite slept enough even though that I know I have been asleep for seven and a half hours. Why is there difference in that and, and in this section, I would like to just know some good advice for a person who doesn't have what I would call sleep problems. But I would still like to know how to get a good night's sleep. What advice can you give me?
Vyga Kaufmann 31:35
Okay, the quality of your sleep vary from night to night people really tend to focus on, you know, I want the eight hours. But what is important as well is, you know, cycling through the sleep stages well, and you said that you are easily easy to wake up. So maybe there were some awakenings that you didn't even register that were different night tonight so that your seven and a half hours feels great most of the time, but then from time to time, it just doesn't feel the restorative.
Morten Andersen 32:03
So if I'm asleep for seven and a half hours, the quality may be very different. What can I do to improve the quality of my sleep?
Vyga Kaufmann 32:12
You mentioned that you go to bed around the same time each night and you wake up around the same time each morning so you are an overachiever. The piece that that we should mostly focus on is that your wake time is consistent. And the reason that the wake time seems to be the key is that and which is a topic for an entire other podcast is our circadian rhythm is best in trained with consistency, our bodies love consistency. And our circadian rhythm doesn't just govern what time we fall asleep and what time we wake up. it governs how the timing of our digestion it governs the speed of wound healing, we know that we wounds heal far faster if they happen during the day than if they happen at night. So our eating rhythm is very complex. And one of the things we can do to make it happy and to make us healthier is to actually have a consistent wake time which also includes exposure to morning light.
Morten Andersen 33:13
Vyga Kaufmann 33:14
when you you know we don't go overboard and go outside and go for a run or walk although Bonus points if you do but just simply you know opening the drapes and in the bedroom in the house and bringing light in so a consistent wake time is the first piece that I think is very important. The other piece I alluded to earlier which is use your bed for sleep only. And if you find that at the end of you know when you get into bed, you are planning your day around for tomorrow, just take that activity outside of that maybe that should be part of your nighttime ritual where you know before getting into bed, you know maybe a few hours before getting into bed you write down what are the types of things that I'm going to be doing tomorrow so that your brain doesn't have to do that work while you're luxuriating and appreciating being in bed and the feel of your sheets and the mattress and the pillow.
Morten Andersen 34:04
And I think that's probably one thing that that would be a new thing for me because I like to read before I go to bed and I do that in bed. I suspect many of my listeners would be watching a Netflix series in bed as well and you're suggesting all of that out of the bedroom.
Vyga Kaufmann 34:20
If you sleep well and you are reading in bed that seems like you know don't don't change a winning game. That's great. However, if you do have sleep problems and there are things that you are doing in bed that are not sleep, I would take those out of bed, watching Netflix and doing those types of things. anything involving you don't want to blast light on a sleepy brain. We know that light inhibits melatonin production and melatonin influences the timing of our sleep. Some people are very sensitive to that where once again if there is a problem and you have sleep difficulty I would I would take that out of out of bed.
Morten Andersen 34:56
So bedroom only for sleep wake time. consistent,
Vyga Kaufmann 35:01
I would add adding a buffer zone, and I would add sleep rituals that are very mobile. Hmm. So for people who have kids, we know that kids love ritual, they brush their teeth, put on their pajamas, get into bed, hear a story, and lights out. And that rhythmicity is really advantageous to kids, but also to adults. So what parents are doing by creating that sleep ritual is they're also conditioning their child, that child's body that you know, prepare for sleep, do the things that the body needs to do, to fall off to sleep and adults benefit the exact same way. It's interesting, I'll have clients come in who described their day, and they work Work, work, work, work, work, work, notice the time brush their teeth, get into bed, pull up the sheets, and then you know, close our eyes and hope that sleep will soon come. That's not the way our bodies work. bodies need just a little bit of a buffer zone. So I usually suggest creating a ritual, you can take anywhere, maybe 2030 minutes. And that can include, you know, brushing your teeth, and reading a book for a while. But you know, helping bring down that hyper arousal. When we fall asleep, our blood pressure goes down or heart rate goes down, our respiration rate goes down. So maybe having some of those things that increase the probability that will happen starting it outside of bed.
Morten Andersen 36:21
Okay, what about room temperature? Does that impact our quality of sleep in any way?
Vyga Kaufmann 36:27
Sure, yeah, we that we, our bodies like to have cool air in the room while we are asleep. So the typical recommendation is to bring the temperature down as cool as you are comfortable. And also to keep your room as dark as possible. So that's not possible because you know, your your bed partner doesn't want to get light blocking drapes in the room, then you could eyemask we all have different sensitivities to light. So So having a very dark room, and a very cool room is advantageous for promoting healthy sleep.
Morten Andersen 37:02
So sleep is, is a fascinating topic. And it's actually one of those things that if I meet a colleague at work, you know, he might want to excuse for being in a in a poor mood, he would say I didn't sleep very well. And sleep is a topic that we talk about, not as much as the weather, but it's probably quite close to that. And you're also suggesting that there are so many health benefits. For a regular person. like myself, you know, there are a lot of benefits. But also, if you are suffering from a mental illness, or depression or things like that, it can actually help you get back on track if you work on your sleep. And there are some really good sound advice here in terms of doing that. I have a feeling that people are not always following them, because they're trying to cram in other things during the day, they're not respecting the time, and the things that you need to do in order to get a quality sleep. What misconceptions do most often hear about sleep? So what do people most often think is right about sleep, which isn't true at all.
Vyga Kaufmann 38:02
A lot of people think that they are doing just fine getting by on less sleep than is recommended. Hmm. And a lot of the referrals to my clinic have to do with people's partners saying, You're not the same. Your presence isn't the same. You are not as happy you're you tend to you're trending towards irritability. I've observed this long enough. I think it's your sleep. And so some people arrive and say, you know, I'm only here because my wife sent me. And what's my favorite quote from somebody is, I was doing great. I am the CEO of my company, and I am a high achiever. And what I what has happened now that I've prioritized sleep is I've found a new gear, I realize that things are much more effortless now that I have sufficient sleep, I'm far more efficient, and getting things done during the day. And apparently I'm more fun to be around. So I think that a common misconception is, well, I'm doing great. I'm a high achiever. I'm doing well in my profession. I think I'm one of the outliers. I don't need a lot of sleep. And I would like people to kind of tinker with that and collect your own data and prioritize sleep for a few weeks and see see how that that changes your mood, productivity and patience.
Morten Andersen 39:19
Fantastic. I always finish a podcast with three do's and don'ts and in this case do so we have already talked about but maybe just say them again. So what what advice would you give our listeners to get a great night's sleep?
Vyga Kaufmann 39:36
three pieces of advice. Okay, number one, use your bed for sleep only. Hmm. Number two, no matter the quality of your sleep the night before, get up at the same time every day and try to get some light exposure as well. The third piece of advice is creating a buffer zone before bedtime. Create a routine that is sustainable and that you're willing to engage in night after night. And that will also help improve the physiological process of falling asleep and staying asleep.
Morten Andersen 40:10
Fantastic. Thanks a lot for those pieces of advice. And thanks a lot for this conversation we got that was really interesting. Thanks for your work, I think it's very important that we get to understand the field a lot better. So thanks a lot.
Vyga Kaufmann 40:25
No, thank you. I really enjoyed talking with you. This was really nice. Thank you.
Morten Andersen 40:28
Thank you. What a great conversation with the guy, I took three things. One, sleep really is important. The conversation with viga reminded me of a thing I knew, but I needed reminding off. And that is that sleep is probably the most essential part of a healthy mind. And it can help you if you're suffering from depression or anxiety. But as we also said, The health benefits are enormous and really are there for all of us to benefit to you can improve the quality of your sleep with three simple advice. A, only use your bedroom for sleep, be get up at the same time each day. And see, find your sleep ritual. So the things that you do each evening before you go to bed, and then follow that ritual. Three, all of the changes that you want to make in your life depends on mental health and mental flexibility. And a good sleep is the foundation for both of them. So sleep really a simple because made a great TEDx where she talks about how to treat insomnia, and what the basis is for a good night's sleep. And even if you now know the answer to both of those, I will encourage you to check that video out. It really is good. Enjoy. Until next time, take care