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Many of us wish we could sleep more…others sacrifice sleep in order to “do more” for fun, school and work. It’s a dangerous precedent glamorized by many celebrities and successful business people. What’s so bad? Poor sleep harms every organ system in the body, causes weight gain and increases the risk for cancer. The best performers actually make sure they get more sleep. As Dr. Michael Breus explains in this edition of the Bottom Line Advocator Podcast, “Every single thing that you do, you do better with a good night’s sleep. You think faster, you react faster, you’re less emotional, you make more logical decisions, and you perform better.” Listen in as Dr. Breus joins Bottom Line president Sarah Hiner to discuss the misconceptions about sleep and Dr. Breus’s favorite tips and strategies to ensure a consistent, restorative good night’s rest.

For more from Dr. Michael Breus, visit his website, or check out his latest book, The Power of When.

Be sure to subscribe to the Bottom Line Advocator Podcast on Apple Podcasts!

Full podcast transcript:

Sarah:               I’m Sarah Hiner, president of Bottom Line Inc., The number-one provider of expert-sourced, expert-vetted, expert advice that empowers your life. I’m thrilled to be talking today to Dr. Michael Breus. His website is TheSleepDoctor.com, but I call him Dr. Sleep. He’s a clinical psychologist, diplomat of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and fellow of the American Academy of Sleep. He’s also the author of several books, including The Power Of When, and you’ve probably seen Dr. Bruce in one of his many appearances on television, including on Dr. Oz and The Doctors. You can learn more about Dr. Breus and his work at TheSleepDoctor.com. So I’m probably not the first person to call you Dr. Sleep, am I?

Dr. Breus:         You’re probably not. I’ll give you that.

Sarah:               Clearly, I need more creative material. So, all right, well let’s see if we could do something more creative in our podcast at least if I don’t have original names for you and I’ll come up with something new.

Dr. Breus:         Fair enough.

Sarah:               All right. So I want to talk about what I’ll call the stigma of sleep and try to inspire people to sleep because Americans walk around, as I say, wearing their sleep deprivation as a badge of honor. Has anyone ever described that that way? So, and given that we’re so proud of our sleep deprivation because we think that it’s an honor to sleep so little, which means you’re working so hard, and even though there’s an insomnia problem and people complain about their lack of sleep, they also don’t want necessarily to sleep around and make it look like they’re lazy, etc. So what I want to do is inspire people, including me, who’s a late goer-to-bedder to understand your body’s working when you’re sleeping and what is it that we need to know is great stuff about sleep to assuage the guilt, if you will?

Dr. Breus:         Well, so I think there’s a lot of different things that we can sort of think through this as an idea. But the first one is everybody needs to remember that sleep is healing. And so when you’re not sleeping enough, your body is not healing enough. Every single day, things happen to our bodies that require a period of time where there’s cellular repair. There’s all kinds of things that are going on in your body, immune system function, things of that nature. And when we don’t allow our body to have the amount of time that it needs to do that, all we’re doing is setting ourselves up for disaster.

Dr. Breus:         A perfect example is weight loss. So in my second book, The Sleep Doctor’s Diet: Lose Weight Through Better Sleep. I talk about how sleep deprivation impedes the metabolic process. So if you’re one of these people who, as you said before, wears the badge of honor of sleeping for five hours a night and they’re super-tough and can get it all done, my guess is, is that you’ve probably got some extra pounds around your middle, and if you’ve been trying to get rid of those, it’s been extremely difficult to do so.

Dr. Breus:         There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that sleep affects almost every organ system and every single disease state. At this point, we now know that if you’re sleep-deprived, cancer cells multiply faster. Period, end of story. It doesn’t get much more serious than that. So if you have any type of medical situation going on in your life at all and you’re not getting rest, you’re just making your situation worse.

Sarah:               Then it’s interesting actually, because I also heard you talking about that sleep chemotherapy is more effective when you take it at night.

Dr. Breus:         Yeah, it’s interesting. So you can actually time your chemotherapy to the point in your circadian rhythm where it will be most effective and you get to use less chemo. It’s unbelievable. Sloan Kettering is looking at this now, and believe it or not, the Nobel Prize in Medicine this year was won by circadian sleep researchers. So this is on the forefront of everybody’s thinking for sure.

Sarah:               Well and again with lights, with screens, with travel—all of our body clocks are so off that we’ve kind of lost our connection to our basic, as you say, circadian rhythms…our kind of animal schedules.

Dr. Breus:         Well absolutely, and so when we look at our circadian rhythms, historically we’ve seen them described as early bird and night owl. OK, and that’s sort of the vernacular or the construct that many of us have thought about and then came along the idea of a hummingbird, which was somebody that was kind of in the middle.

Dr. Breus:         My take on the literature is a bit different. I believe that insomnia is also represented by these different chronotypes, and a chronotype is a genetic propensity for circadian rhythm. So your genes actually dictate what time you go to sleep, what time you get hungry…they dictate immune function…all kinds of things. Your microbiome, your gut flora, everything you can imagine runs on a circadian rhythm. And if you know what your circadian rhythm is—early bird…in the middle…night owl…or insomniac—and I’ve given them different labels, you can actually schedule things in your day to be able to do them a little bit more proficiently, but certainly more productively.

Sarah:               OK, we’re going to do that topic another day. I actually accidentally sent us right down a well hole into the wrong topic. So let’s come back to what I really wanted to talk about, which was helping people be excited to go to sleep, right, and understanding all the work that body does. So what’s the biggest misconception that people have about sleep? Do they have a misunderstanding about the process of it?

Dr. Breus:         I think they do, yes. So what I would argue is most people focus on sleep quantity, not sleep quality. So most people are thinking, I got to get my eight hours, I got to get my eight hours. So believe it or not, eight hours is a myth. And so if you just look at the math behind it, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, right? So people need to understand that getting better-quality sleep makes more sense…that the average sleep cycle is 90 minutes long and the average person has five of those. That’s 450 minutes or seven-and-a-half hours. So people need to stop focusing on how much sleep they’re getting, but do things to increase the quality of the sleep that they’re getting.

Dr. Breus:         And by the way, that’s not a hard thing to do. Every single person who is listening right now can improve the quality of their sleep in 48 hours or less and start to feel better, start to be more productive. And let’s be honest, every single thing you do, you do better with a good night’s sleep. You think faster, you react faster, you are less emotional, you make more logical decisions, you perform better. I could go on and on. Just looking at athletes, every single major sports team in the country now has a sleep specialist associated with them for their athletes to perform better.

Sarah:               And aren’t your cells regenerating overnight while you’re sleeping as well?

Dr. Breus:         That’s the healing process. That’s where we start to see cellular repair, cellular regeneration. All of these things have to happen during a period of time when the body is not out and about and doing all these different things and accepting stimuli. It has to be during a period of time when the body is quiet and calm and can focus in on that healing and repair.

Sarah:               Right. And then again, including the immune system where…

Dr. Breus:         Absolutely.

Sarah:               It builds your immune system. Those who are sleep-deprived have a weaker immune system and are more vulnerable to all sorts of illness.

Dr. Breus:         Well, there’s no question about it, but I’ll give you an easy one. Let’s look at the flu shot, right? So we’re wandering right into flu season coming up and lots of people decide, oh, should I get the flu shot? Should I not get the flu shot? Here’s what was interesting is for people who were interested in getting the flu shot. They did a great study at the University of Chicago and what they discovered was when they gave people the flu shot and then deprived them of sleep and then exposed them to the flu, they all got the flu.

Dr. Breus:         So what we’re finding is that just being up for a significant period of time or just being sleep-deprived, it actually reduces the effectiveness of the flu shot. That’s a big deal if you’re a senior—you don’t want that. First of all, I don’t know if anybody else has gotten the flu, but it’s terrible. It’ll knock you on your butt and it’s definitely at least one of those things that will keep you out of commission for a good seven days. And all you need to do is make sure that you sleep well. It kind of makes a lot of sense.

Sarah:               So what is it with the mind game and I’m just as bad about it. I’m like a six-and-a-half hour person, but…

Dr. Breus:         What’s wrong with that?

Sarah:               Nothing’s wrong with that. But I have this…It’s like I have guilt, I can’t nap. I feel like…

Dr. Breus:         Oh, I see what you’re saying.

Sarah:               That sleep is, I’ll call it, a waste of time relative to being productive. I grew up with a high-productive-expectation father. I grew up with, What have I done today? What have I done today? So somehow going to sleep and being, that in my mind, I’ve associated with slovenliness or sloth or something.

Dr. Breus:         Laziness or something along those lines.

Sarah:               Yes, exactly right. So, and I’m guessing, I know I’m not everybody and I’m not normal all the time, but I’m not the only one out there because we have so many people running around proud of their four hours, five hours of sleep. So what is it that we need to release and understand that it’s OK? Like that sleep is good…it’s OK, let go of that guilt.

Dr. Breus:         Well, it’s interesting to me because I don’t find… People who show up in my office don’t feel guilty about sleeping too much. People who show up in my office wish they could sleep more. I’m an actively practicing sleep specialist and so when I talk with people about feeling better. about getting more sleep, unfortunately in my mind, it just seems so terribly obvious. But the easiest way I can put it for people is this—we know that sleep deprivation causes mistakes, right? Whether it’s driving mistakes, cognitive mistakes, emotional mistakes…and those mistakes are very, very costly.

Dr. Breus:         So if every time you make a mistake, you can probably look back and say, Wow, I didn’t make that decision, you know, the way I should have. And it was probably based on a lack of sleep. So every single thing again that you do, you will do better with a good night’s sleep. There’s no reason to feel guilty for getting more than six-and-a-half hours of sleep. But by the way, six-and-a-half hours of sleep is not a bad amount of sleep. That’s what I get, and I’m the sleep doctor.

Sarah:               Well then apparently I’m doing it perfectly.

Dr. Breus:         Well, it just depends. It’s different for different people at different times in their lives. It’s different for different genders. It’s different based on medical conditions. Here’s how you figure it out—everybody has a socially determined wake-up time. In my house, I have to be up at 6:30 to let the dogs out and get the kids out. That’s just my thing. That’s what I do.

Dr. Breus:         And so I figured out what time I need to go to bed? Well, I took those 90 minutes sleep cycles and I counted back seven-and-a-half hours from 6:30 in the morning, and that was 11 o’clock at night. So I went to bed at 11. Well, I did this experiment and it failed miserably because I went to bed at 11 and I woke up at 5:30. I went to bed at 11 the next night and I woke up at 5:30.

Dr. Breus:         My body doesn’t want more than six-and-a-half hours of sleep, so now I go to bed at midnight. I wake up at 6:30 and everything works perfectly. Your body will tell you how much sleep it wants. I haven’t used an alarm clock in close to 20 years. I look at the clock, I say I want to be up in six-and-a-half hours, and that’s what time my body gets me up.

Dr. Breus:         Once you are locked in based on the consistency of your schedule, you actually don’t require as much sleep because you’re getting better-quality sleep the more consistently you can go to bed. But most specifically, if you wake up at the same time, even on the weekends, you’re going to have a better night’s rest.

Sarah:               So are those 90-minute cycles always 90-minute cycles? No matter how long you sleep. Here’s where I’m going. In some people, might it be a 75-minute cycle? Because as you adjust your sleep, is it the cycles that adjust as my time of sleep requirements adjust?

Dr. Breus:         Well, yeah it is. And it’s the amount of…and by the way, not all cycles are created equal. So cycles at the beginning of the sleep event or the sleep evening have more stage-three-four sleep, cycles at the end have more REM sleep and those do very different things in the body. Stage-three-four sleep is actually physical restoration, whereas REM sleep is actually mental restoration. So very different things will occur depending upon when you are. And yes, people have very different sleep cycles and those sleep cycles can be different based on your chronotype. Like I said before, early bird, night owl. It can be different based on your medical condition. It could be different based on medications that you’re currently taking, your age, your gender, where you are in your menstrual cycle, if you’re pregnant—the list goes on and on, and so people need to stop thinking that everybody needs the same amount of sleep because it’s simply not true.

Sarah:               And I assume there’s nothing that I could do to control the cycle lengths of my sleep.

Dr. Breus:         That’s not 100% true. You could actually do some things to control your cycle length. As an example, my cycle lengths used to be much longer—closer to 90 minutes—and what we discovered was that I am having five cycles, but my cycles are roughly 78 minutes. Now how did I figure that out? Well, number one, I work in a sleep laboratory, so it’s not that hard because I’ve got all that equipment lying around, but number two is the consistency of my bedtime and my wake-up time allows my brain to get into deep sleep faster than other people would normally do that and it’s all based on how incredibly consistent my sleep schedule is.

Sarah:               Got it. OK. Let’s take a quick break and we’re going to come back and talk about some of those tricks for managing your sleep time and sleep quality.

Sarah:               I’m talking to Dr. Michael Breus, one of the foremost experts on sleep. Dr. Bruce says everything you do, you do better with a good night’s sleep. But sadly, Americans are struggling to get that good night’s sleep and it is affecting their mood, their health, their family and even their job. Michael has been providing Bottom Line’s readers with tips to improve their sleep for many years. His insights appear regularly in our flagship publication, Bottom Line Personal, which is filled with information from America’s leading experts on not just overcoming insomnia and the importance of a good night’s sleep, but on all aspects of your life, including living a healthy life, travel, insurance, retirement planning, smart tax strategies and so much more. Bottom Line Personal has been helping people lead more informed and vibrant lives for over 40 years with our actionable and double fact-checked advice. Subscribe today and get a free bonus book, Bottom Line’s Best Bets, full of some of the greatest tips from our experts of all time. Just go to BottomLineInc.com/BLP. That’s BottomLineInc.com/BLP.

Sarah:               We’re back with Dr. Michael Breus, and we’re talking about the benefits of sleep because there’s something about Americans wanting to be proud of their sleep deprivation because we feel like it makes us more productive. But in fact, sleep heals the body. So before the break, Michael, we were talking about quality versus quantity of sleep. So then people focus way too much on quantity. So let’s talk about the quality. What do you mean about it and how can I control it? Once I’m asleep, I’m asleep.

Dr. Breus:         It is interesting, right? So some of the things that you are doing during the day can have a direct effect on the quality of your sleep at night. There are three different areas that I’d like to discuss—caffeine, alcohol and exercise. As we all know, caffeine is a stimulant. Most people don’t know, but it has a half life of between six and eight hours. So if you can stop caffeine by about 2:00 pm, at least half of it will be out of your system by 10-ish, which is about the time that most people start thinking about going to bed.

Dr. Breus:         And so again, I’m sure there’s a listener out there who’s thinking in their head, Huh, sleep doctor, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I can have a cappuccino after dinner and fall right to sleep. This may be true, but if I attached electrodes to your head, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that caffeine is a stimulant and it will actually keep you in the lighter stages of sleep.

Dr. Breus:         While you may be able to fall asleep, the quality of that sleep is going to be significantly worse than you might have imagined. So if you can stop caffeine by 2:00 pm, you’re in great shape. And notice I didn’t say stop caffeine. I just said stop it by 2:00 pm. You want to have your morning cup of coffee? No problem with me. The second area is alcohol.

Sarah:               Wait, before you move on to alcohol… Question, how about those five-hour energy drinks?

Dr. Breus:         Same deal. I find that those, because they all have about a cup’s worth of caffeine in them. And for the ones that say that they have no caffeine in them, look at the ingredient profile. They usually have something called guarana, and guarana is about three times more potent than caffeine depending upon what kind of guarana you’ve got in there. So all of them have got something that’s stimulating in them. So I would argue that all of the energy drinks fall into that category as well.

Sarah:               And how about caffeine from tea, which they always say is not as spiky?

Dr. Breus:         Yeah. Green tea is good for you for a lot of different reasons. But at the end of the day, if you can’t stop caffeine at 2:00 pm, you’ve got a problem on your hands, right, and the problem is that you’re probably not sleeping well. And so I’d rather you look at what could be causing your sleep disruption then decide, “Oh can I have just another cup of tea at four o’clock in the afternoon?”

Sarah:               No, I was really more just trying to be out there so that not just coffee drinkers… because there are a whole lot of people that are tea drinkers, and they think, Oh it’s just tea. It’s not the same deal…but caffeine is caffeine.

Dr. Breus:         Yeah, caffeine is caffeine no matter how you slice it.

Sarah:               OK. Now you may talk about alcohol.

Dr. Breus:         All right, let’s talk about alcohol, one of my favorite topics. There’s a really big difference between going to sleep and passing out, OK? Alcohol is the number-one sleep aid in the world. More people use alcohol to help them fall asleep than anything else. And quite frankly, it’s really not a great idea.

Dr. Breus:         What we know about alcohol is, while it does make you feel sleepy, it keeps you out of the restorative stages of sleep—stages three and four sleep, where that physical restoration occurs. In fact, almost half of what you experienced in a hangover is the lack of deep sleep. The other half is dehydration because alcohol is a diuretic. It makes you have to go to the bathroom. We know that when you’re drinking alcohol, if you’re not drinking water with it—so a glass for a glass, every time you have an alcoholic beverage,  you should be drinking a glass of water.

Dr. Breus:         If you’re not doing that, you’re going to bed dehydrated, and that’s not good because sleep actually is not as effective in a dehydrated state. So there’s lots of reasons not to drink right before bed, but the guideline is basically this—for each drink that you have, give yourself one hour for your body to digest it. So if you have two or three glasses of wine with dinner and dinner stops, let’s say, at 8:30, then you’re going to go to bed two-and-a-half to three hours later, so that way the alcohol is out of your system. It’s pretty simple, pretty straightforward.

Sarah:               Got you. Let’s talk about exercise.

Dr. Breus:         Yeah. The final area is exercise. The single biggest way to improve the quality of your sleep is daily exercise. Now, I’m not saying you have to run a marathon here. OK. I’m talking 20 minutes. Park your car at the other end of the parking lot. Go to the mall, and walk around if it’s too cold to be outside. Do something to get your body moving for roughly 20 minutes a day.

Sarah:               Does it have to be highly aerobic? It can be just walking, just movement?

Dr. Breus:         Absolutely, absolutely. But I will tell you that the more aerobic it is, the better it is for your sleep. Again, I don’t want people overdoing it. Make sure that you’ve spoken with your doctor to make sure you’re capable of doing this exercise. But exercise, without question, increases the quality of your sleep.

Dr. Breus:         A little caveat here is, be careful. Some people get a lot of energy when they exercise, so be careful about exercising too close to bedtime. I usually tell people…give yourself about three or four hours after you’ve worked out in order to have that quality of sleep not be disrupted because some people get too jazzed up from exercise.

Sarah:               Got you. OK. Can we cycle back for a second? I want to go back to the attitude toward sleep and the positive attitude toward sleep…and whether or not parents are helping or hindering…or if there’s anything in particular they should do for their kids in terms of teaching children about sleep early or sleep hygiene…and then with teens also about them knowing that sleep’s OK and not being… Teens want to stay up all night long. So let’s talk about kids first.

Dr. Breus:         OK. So when we talk about kids, we have to put them into two different subgroups. We have to talk about teenagers and then we have to talk about all other children because teenagers are very different. So it turns out that teenagers have a biological clock that wants them to stay up late and sleep late. If you remember back to when you were a teenager—I know it was true for me—I never wanted to go to bed before 1:00 in the morning and I certainly could sleep until 2:00 in the afternoon without any problem.

Dr. Breus:         This is a biological function. This is not kids being lazy. So number one, educate your children. The biggest problem that we have with teenagers right now, well there’s two of them. One of them is the devices that they use at night—cell phones, tablets, laptops—all of them emit blue light. It’s not the color blue-

Sarah:               Before we go to blue light, let’s stay on the parents for a second because I think there’s a really important element for them to think about that. So parents’ attitude is, Kid, you’re being lazy because you’re sleeping all day, right? So the parents have to also not just educate their kids and not just shift that, the parents have to shift their own point of view and “judginess” that their kid is a loser.

Dr. Breus:         Well, absolutely. And by the way, their kid might have some issues that they want to focus in on, but you can’t fault a child because their biology is telling them to sleep, OK, it just doesn’t work out very well. Walking into your kid’s room on Saturday morning at 9:00 and saying, “You’re sleeping the day away,” does not make sense from a biological standpoint. And so absolutely parents need to shift their viewpoint, if you will.

Sarah:               Because we’re giving those powerful messages. Again, why am I, 58 years old, and obsessed about if I sleep too much, I’m being lazy? Because somewhere along the way, a long time ago, I got this productivity, productivity, productivity message into my head.

Dr. Breus:         I think that’s true. But I would also argue that that is not true for the majority of the population. I think it’s a smaller group of people, but yes, they are driving their children in a different direction.

Sarah:               So when do they know that it’s not normal? Like when should a parent know that it’s not a normal level of teen sleep?

Dr. Breus:         That’s a tough question. I have two teenagers. I have a 15-year-old and a 16-year-old, and on Saturdays, I leave them alone. I let them sleep as long as they want and that could be until 2:00 in the afternoon. I don’t let them stay up as late as they want, but I do let them sleep as late as they want. So when is a teenager sleeping too much? If your teenager tells you that he can’t wake up for school on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays—that kind of thing—then you’re probably letting them sleep in a bit too much on the weekends because their whole circadian rhythm has shifted. That would be one thing.

Dr. Breus:         If you’ve got school refusal, that would obviously be an area of concern. You’d want to bring somebody to a doctor. Also right around the teenage years is when something called narcolepsy can rear its ugly head. And so when you’ve got a child who’s not just sleeping for seven, eight, nine hours, but kids who are sleeping for 10, 11, 12 hours, you definitely want to bring them to a doctor and figure out what’s going on.

Sarah:               And what’s too late? You said that the teens’ sleep schedule—their circadian rhythms—have shifted and they naturally want to go to bed later. Is later midnight or is later? 3:00 in the morning? And again, is that OK because you have to go with the individual’s schedule?

Dr. Breus:         So it’s different by kid and by age and by developmental status. I can’t give you a blanket answer that says, “Hey, if you go past 10 o’clock, that’s a problem,” because it’s going to be different per child.

Sarah:               And then how about again, for the kids who are all very proud of themselves, “I stayed up till 2:00 in the morning,” needing to shift them off of that pride of late sleep.

Dr. Breus:         So what you have to do, what I do with my kids and with the patients that I see, is I start educating the child himself so he doesn’t feel a big bravado from staying up until 2:00 in the morning. There are a lot of type-A personalities out there who think that’s in a really important thing. You don’t find that nearly as much in teenagers.

Dr. Breus:         And so many of them are not saying, “Hey, I can stay up until 3:00.” What they do is they play video games, they’re watching YouTube videos, they’re on Facebook chatting, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram, what have you. And so it’s very simple—you just limit their exposure to those things. If my kids want to read a book after midnight, I don’t have a problem with it. But if they want to be on Instagram, I do.

Sarah:               Right. So I cut you off before. Let’s talk briefly about the screens and then we’ll talk about messages for younger children.

Dr. Breus:         Sure. So when we talking about screen time, there is a light that is emitted from all screens. Now it’s called “blue light,” but it isn’t actually blue in color. It’s on the blue part of the spectrum— between 450 and 480 nanometers is the wavelength of light. When it hits your eyes, it turns off the melatonin faucet in your brain. Remember, melatonin is kind of that key that starts the engine for sleep.

Dr. Breus:         And so when kids are looking at a phone that’s 18 inches from their eyeballs and the phone is telling their brain, “Don’t go to sleep,” it’s a problem. Now here’s a bigger issue. How do you get the phone out of your kids’ hands? It’s really easy for me to say, “Oh, OK, no problem.” So let me tell you what happened in my house. I decided I was going to get the phones away from my kids. So I said, “Hey, I need everybody to turn in their phones at 10:30.” Well, that never happened.

Sarah:               Shocker.

Dr. Breus:         So then I went around trying to collect the phones at 10:30, and I got more refusal than I think I’ve ever had about anything in my life at that point. So I said, “OK, here’s what I’ll do. I’ll just turn the router off in my house.” Right, I’m like the evil dad, right?

Sarah:               Data, Dad.

Dr. Breus:         So I turn off the router—you’d have thought there had been a mutiny in my home. And so I said, “OK, I’m not going make it happen this way.” So instead my children wear blue-blocker glasses starting at around 8:30 at night. What this does—blue-blocker glasses are glasses that are specifically designed to block the blue wavelength of light. These are very, very effective. You can find them on Amazon. And what they do is they filter out that 450 to 480 nanometers wavelength. And then my children can watch their videos without being exposed to blue light and then they can turn them off around 11:30 and go to bed.

Sarah:               OK. Love it. All right, so now what do parents need to do in terms of children to help them learn at an early stage that sleep is a good thing and sleep is healthful and to have positive attitudes toward it?

Dr. Breus:         It’s all about how you serve the sandwich, right? And so when you’re dealing with small kids, some small children are not great sleepers. They’re just born not good sleepers. Most children, however, 75% to 80% of kids out there actually would like to sleep. But the thing about sleep that has always fascinated me, especially with little kids, is when kids get tired, they don’t say, “Hey Mom, I want to take a nap.” They act rambunctious and they look like ADD and ADHD kids.

Dr. Breus:         What’s really fascinating is if you dig into the literature, 25% of kids who are currently diagnosed with ADD or ADHD actually have an underlying sleep disorder. And when we fix the sleep disorder, all the ADD symptomatology goes away. So education can’t be any more important in my mind. And then you got to start young, start with bedtime. When you’ve got a bedtime routine with your children, especially when they’re itty bitties—it’s bath time…it’s story time…it’s say your prayers and go to bed or whatever your routine is.

Dr. Breus:         Keeping that routine and explaining to your child, “Why do we have a routine? Here’s what your routine is. Here’s what Mom and Dad’s routine is.” Everybody has a routine because sleep is not an on/off switch. It’s kind of more like pulling your foot off the gas and slowly putting your foot on the brake, and education becomes paramount at the younger ages.

Sarah:               Yeah. Got it, OK. Perfect, so think to remember. Thank you, Dr. Michael Breus. Sleep is a helpful thing. Sleep is…our bodies are actually working hard during sleep. The better our sleep habits beforehand, the better our bodies will be able to function, heal at night and function in the day. All right. Dr. Michael Breus, TheSleep Doctor.com. Thank you.

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