Most, if not all of us have suffered from a sleepless night here and there, especially when stress is at an all time high or we’ve enjoyed a few too many caffeinated beverages before bed. I’ve struggled with bouts of insomnia the last few weeks since dealing with a few family health emergencies, and it’s been a real struggle! Thankfully, The Sleep Doctor also known as Dr. Michael Breus was kind enough to join me for an interview from the Sleep Technology Summit at Health 2.0 to share some simple tips on how we can all get a better night’s sleep and he also dished on some innovative new tech products that will help you sleep longer, wake up rested and even produce melatonin!
Candace Rose: What causes insomnia?
Dr. Michael Breus: “There’s a lot of different levels of insomnia. Insomnia can be caused by anything from anxiety to depression to stress, medical conditions even medications can have a pretty big effect on a person’s ability not only to fall asleep but also to stay asleep.”
Candace Rose: What can we all do to get a better night’s sleep?
Dr. Michael Breus: “It’s hard to say there’s one singular thing that people can do to get a better night’s sleep. I would tell you that consistently going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time seem to have a great effect on people’s overall level of being able to sleep. Right now I’m at the Sleep Technology Summit at Health 2.0 (this has been sponsored by the National Sleep Foundation). I’ll tell you what, being here, I have seen some pretty amazing pieces of technology and innovation that are teaching us more and more about how to get a better night’s sleep and I’d love to share some of these products with you.
The first one is something called an Energy Pod by a company called Metronaps. This is a really interesting device, it’s almost a futuristic looking chair that can be placed in a place of employment and then there’s a visor that you can swing around. The lights go dark and you can take a 20 minute power nap, wake up and feel rejuvenated, refreshed and ready to be productive. It’s a pretty amazing device.
The second one is a Beddit Sensor. This is a ribbon-like strip that goes underneath the sheet and mattress and it can measure the depth of your sleep, the quality of your sleep, whether you fall asleep, stay asleep, wake up – those kind of things. Beddit is now going to be available across the country at Apple stores.
Next is a company called Misfit Wearables. They’ve got three different products here today – one is the Shine, the other is the Flash. They are wrist worn activity monitors. They can actually talk with the Beddit, and you can actually learn how activity during the day is affecting your sleep at night. They also have a lightbulb that can be turned on and off at particular times and even give a particular wavelength of light that can actually make you feel sleepy or make you feel awake.
The Withings Aura is a really interesting product. This is a product that also has a pad that goes underneath the sheets that can measure sleep quality and sleep quantity. Then there’s also a bedside unit and this actually produces these wavelengths that can help produce melatonin or stop the production of melatonin, which is pretty amazing. There’s also a speaker system in here and something that measures temperature. The speaker system is actually hooked up to Spotify. There are literally millions of songs that people can fall asleep to or wake up to, and this is really more of a total sleep solution. Withings has a baby monitor, an air purification system, a scale – you name it and you can really learn about how that’s going on in your life.
The final piece of technology that I think is quite fascinating is the Rest Bed. This is the responsive surface technology. In the surface itself, there are literally thousands of sensors. These thousands of sensors monitor pressure all night long, and in the human body as pressure increases, we see that the bed which has air chambers inside it can either inflate or deflate to allow for a more comfortable as well as more supportive sleeping surface.
When you combine all of these great technologies, there’s some really interesting innovations to help us sleep better.”
Candace Rose: What would you say it is about songs or white noise that helps people sleep better?
Dr. Michael Breus: “When you look at white noise, I think it’s more the distraction of any other meaningful noise that can be quite helpful. There’s even some data to suggest that ocean sounds in fact can help people fall asleep.”
Candace Rose: Is it true that if you exercise late at night it can affect the quality of sleep that you get?
Dr. Michael Breus: “First of all, remember that exercise affects sleep in a positive way by giving you better quality sleep. However too close to bedtime, yes, you have identified the fact that exercise too close to bedtime can in fact disrupt your ability not only to fall asleep, but to stay asleep too. You should stop exercising four hours before bed.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share with us?
Dr. Michael Breus: “If people want to learn more about sleep they should go to the National Sleep Foundation’s website at SleepFoundation.org. I also like to always tell people that sunlight turns out to have a major effect on your ability to wake up and fall asleep. Getting 15 minutes of sunlight every morning can be a real eye opener.”