How to get the best night’s sleep

Thursday, 12 October 2017, 11:08:55 PM. DR MICHAEL Breus knows sleep.

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TWAM 26 AUG 2017

DR MICHAEL Breus knows sleep.

He knows sleep so well that he’s called the ‘Sleep Doctor’ and has appeared as an expert on shows including Oprah and Dr Oz and websites like The Huffington Post.

But he’s also happy to admit when he’s flying blind.

“Here’s the truth of the matter,” he says. “We don’t 100% know (why sleep is so important). We know what happens when the body doesn’t get sleep. But we don’t know why literally everything you do you do better with a good night’s sleep.”

This includes your immune system, your concentration, your decision making and your reaction time.

“But sleep is not an on/off switch,” Dr Breus says.

“You don’t just go in and immediately get a good night’s sleep. It’s more like slowly pulling your foot off the gas and slowly putting your foot on the break, there’s a process that has to occur.”

And here are some of his tips to help you get a good night’s sleep.

THE WORST THING TO DO BEFORE BED

Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not getting on your smartphone.

“Here’s the deal, there’s definitely data to show that blue light, which is emitted by telephones and ipads and whatnot, definitely has an effect there’s no doubt about it,” Dr Breus says.

But he says that watching a TV show that relaxes you into sleep is a lesser evil than banning your mobile phone and stressing about it. It’s the path of least resistance.

“It’s not necessarily the light coming from the device but the content,” Dr Breus says. “Watching television across the room, and your eyes are closed and your kind of just listening to it, that’s a very different situation to trying to get your high score on candy crush, reading Facebook or emails. It’s about the emotional content of what you’re doing right before sleep.”

Instead, Dr Breus counsels against having “big emotional discussions” with your partner or someone else right before bed.

“It sets off this whole level of autonomic arousal, you’re angry, you’re upset, and you can’t stop thinking right before bed,” he says.

WEIRD, BUT IT WORKS

Dr Breus’s strangest sleep hack for when you’re exhausted by need to get shit done is called a “nap-a-latte”.

You take a cup of black coffee, cooled down with three ice cubes. Drink it quickly and then take a 25 minute nap immediately after drinking the coffee.

“25 minutes (works) because I don’t want (my clients) to go into a deep sleep,” he says.

The caffeine then blocks the sleep-inducing factors and this little 25 minutes will give you “four hours (of productivity), guaranteed.”

Another recipe that Dr Breus swears by is “banana tea”. Basically, it’s a chunk of organic banana, peel on, cut in half and with the stem and the tip removed, steeped in boiling water for four minutes.

“Drink the water,” Dr Breus says, “it’s loaded with magnesium which is very calming and is a great replacement for camomile tea. You gotta like bananas though.”

Finally, Dr Breus’s “favourite little trick that might sound crazy” is that he gets his clients to count backwards from 300 in increments of threes.

“It’s so complicated you can’t think of anything else and it’s so doggone boring that you’re out like a light,” he laughs.

HACKS THAT DON’T WORK

Something that you should ignore when it comes to sleep hacks are anything involving the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan. That includes the old wives’ tale that you should eat a turkey sandwich before bed to help you get to sleep.

“You’d need to eat a 20kg turkey in order to feel any difference,” Dr Breus laughs.

The same is true of a glass of warmed milk, also because of the trace amounts of tryptophan. You’d need almost six litres of warm milk, “which sounds disgusting,” Dr Breus says, in order to induce sleep.

“But the reason that warm milk might work is because your mum or grandma might have given you warm milk as a child, and its that memory or experience that helps relax you.”

HOW TO BEAT JET LAG

“There are a lot of different factors to consider,” Dr Breus says.

“How many time zones are you travelling? And what direction are you travelling in? it turns out East is least and West is best when it comes to jet lag. When I’m travelling Westerly I’m only asking my body to stay up later. But asking my body to go to bed three or four hours earlier is a challenge.”

Dr Breus is in Sydney as the sleep expert for Princess Cruises, for whom he has designed a world-first customisable bed to ensure its guests have the best possible night’s sleep.

He travelled from Los Angeles to Sydney and, courtesy of a few hacks, managed to beat jet lag in its tracks.

The first trick is melatonin, the hormonal supplement that regulates sleep. He took about a half a milligram on the flight to ensure he had a good night’s sleep.

He also advises travellers sleep as close to — but not in — the exit row, as this places you near the fuselage and reduces turbulence.

In-flight, use a rolled-up jumper or throw blanket as a pillow, and swivel your neck pillow around, so the cushiony bulk supports the front of your neck.

“That’s because your head tends to bob which will wake you up, and by rotating the pillow it stops your head from bobbing,” he told news.com.au.

Once you land, it’s a matter of “a little bit of caffeine” and direct sunlight.

“Schedule your naps, take melatonin, get some sunlight and a cup of coffee and (you can) reduce your jet lag to a day.”

Why do you sleep better on holiday?

“The biggest factor that impacts sleep is stress,” Dr Breus says.

Which explains why, when the stresses of life are removed from the equation when you are on holiday you often get the best night’s sleep of your life.

It’s a combination of giving your brain time to switch off and your choice of holiday destination. “Some people take an adventure holiday when they’re on the move, and those aren’t very sleep-inducing vacations,” Dr Breus says.

But a relaxing retreat, like an island destination visited on one of Princess Cruise’s trips, can lead to a good night’s sleep that give you energy to enjoy your holiday the next morning.

This article originally appeared on Whimn.

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Advice from sleep expert Dr Michael Breus

  • 05 Oct 2017

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    Article How to get the best night’s sleep compiled by www.news.com.au