14 Tips For A Better Sleep From The “Sleep Doctor”

At the Bulletproof conference in Pasadena we were fortunate to be able to listen to a talk by Michael J. Breus, PhD, also known as The Sleep Doctor. He has been a guest on all the major shows including Oprah, Dr. Oz, Kelly and Michael, and The View. We learned new things about sleep as well as things we had heard before that he confirmed them to be true or false. It was a very informative talk and our sleep will definitely benefit from it.

Below are 14 tops tips we learned from The Sleep Doctor:

1. Having the television on to go to sleep is ok!

We were shocked to hear that The Sleep Doctor goes to bed with the TV on, we thought this was definitely taboo. He explained that having that background noise on with a sitcom (not the news or something stimulating) helps your mind to focus slightly on that story rather than thinking about a million different things in your mind. So if you are someone who has trouble falling asleep because you can’t stop thinking, having the TV on while you are drifting off to sleep actually can be helpful. Note: He did say to make sure you set a timer so that the TV will turn off while you are sleeping.

 2. Keep it cool

The sleep inducing hormone, melatonin, is activated by a lower body temperature. Increase melatonin production through the night by keeping your room cool anywhere between 65-75 degrees.

 3. Paralysis happens during sleep

If you ever wake up in the middle of the night and can’t move, it’s probably ok. Our body goes into a natural paralysis during REM sleep so that we won’t physically act out our dreams. There is actually a disorder where some people do not go into paralysis and start acting out their dreams in real life, not good!

 4. You don’t need 8 hours of sleep

How much sleep someone needs is highly individualized, some need 6 hours some need 9 hours, but 8 hours of sleep is not necessarily ideal for most individuals. You can determine the amount of sleep you need by starting with the time you must wake up by, or the “socially determined wake time”, counting back 7.5 hours and go to bed at that time. Then see if you are able to wake up naturally without an alarm at your socially determined wake time.

If you end up waking up too early then you need to go to bed a little later, if you sleep past your socially determined wake time then you need to go to bed earlier.

 5. Avoid blue light at bed time

Blue light turns off the natural production of the sleep inducing hormone, melatonin. Avoid blue light as much as you can an hour before sleep. Unfortunately blue light is everywhere, most notably on your phone, iPad, and even light bulbs. You can try finding bulbs that emit red light or getting glasses with red lenses to enhance production of melatonin. If anything, just dim the lights because melatonin is shut off with bright lights.

 6. Aromatherapy does help with sleep

Certain scents can  help to relax muscles which preps your body for rest. Scents that can help with muscle relaxation include lavender and vanilla.

 7. Sunlight to prevent sleepiness

Melatonin production can start in the afternoon and the best way to turn this off is by getting sunlight. Aim to get outside for a few minutes at lunch time or mid-afternoon to shut off this sleep inducing hormone.

 8. First cup of coffee 90 minutes from waking

Your cortisol (stress hormone) is highest first thing in the morning, it’s what wakes your body up. You want to avoid pairing a high caffeine beverage such as coffee with a high cortisol level. This combination will more likely cause you to feel jittery and not much more energized. Instead wait for the cortisol to dip which happens about 90 minutes after waking.


9. Prevent a hangover at bed time

Best proven ways to prevent a hangover include: one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage, drink coconut water before bed, take a magnesium and vitamin b complex supplement before bed (these tend to be depleted from alcohol consumption).

10. Fasted workout for fat-burning

A fasted state means no calories ingested from liquids or food. Doing a fasted workout 30 minutes from waking increases fat burning in the body.

11. Ocean sounds to induce sleep

The best type of white noise for sleep has been found to be ocean sounds. There are many apps on your phone that should have this feature.


12. Avoid Caffeine after 2 pm

Caffeine can stay in your system 6-8 hours after ingesting and can affect the quality of your sleep. This rule goes for those individuals who are able to fall asleep even just after drinking a cup of coffee. Even if you are able to go to sleep, the quality will suffer due to how caffeine interacts in the brain.

13. Eating turkey is not going to make you sleepy

Turkey contains the amino acid tryptophan, and tryptophan works in the brain to promote sleep. For this reason, the theory was that eating turkey makes you sleepy. However, you would have to consume an enormous amount of turkey to actually see a benefit from the tryptophan. If you are getting sleepy after eating turkey, such as with Thanksgiving, its probably from the carbs you are eating with it, not the turkey itself.


14. 1-3 pm is the ideal time for a nap

Your core body temperature dips at this time, and a lower body temperature is something that triggers melatonin release. This is also a good time for a nap because it is not too close to bed time because napping too close to bed time can throw off your ability to fall asleep at your normal time.

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