Blogterview with Michael Breus, the sleep doctor

drbreus.jpgDr. Michael Breus is a practicing Ph.D. in clinical psychology with a specialty in clinical sleep disorders. He is the editor of the Insomnia Blog and the co-founder of SoundSleep Solutions. His book “Good Night: The Sleep Doctor’s 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health” was published in 2006.

  • Why did you specialize in clinical sleep disorders?

In no other area of psychology could I help people change their lives so quickly. I can help someone in less than 48 hours some times and it is really rewarding.

  • What do you find the most common sleep problems among patients?

Without question Insomnia is the greatest challenge to sleeping, however Apnea has gotten “center stage” because it is easier to measure and treat.

  • What are your suggestions? How to sleep better?

If I had to pick just a few I would say:

1) Reduce the amount of light you are exposed to before bed: light tells your body to wake up not sleep. Put dimmer Switches in your bedroom and switch the bulbs to 40 watts, or use a book light.

2) Create a “Power Down Hour” this is a situation where you give yourself 1 hour before bed to do some very specific things: 20 minutes for mindless chores ( dish washing, light cleaning, getting ready for the next day) ; 20 minutes for Hygiene; 20 minutes of relaxation.

3) Go to bed on a regular schedule and when you are tired.

  • Is it important to dream? Does it mean a problem if we don’t dream?

Everyone dreams, we just do not remember it. Dreaming can occur in any stage of sleep but has the greatest likelihood of occurring during REM sleep. If you want to remember your dreams, keep a pad by the bedside and write down exactly what you were thinking about when you woke up. Give it a week and see what happens.

  • Please tell us about your book: Good night!

The book is set up in 3 parts:

1) Part I: This list the 6 culprits of poor sleep and what can be done about them right now. The 6 are Anxiety, Caffeine, being a female, being a parent, traveling, and your bed partner.

2) Part II: Tells you all the reasons why sleep is important: It helps with beauty, sex, exercise even loosing weight. This is where the really interesting science is located.

3) Part II: This is a 28 Night Program that gives you a step by step guide for 28 nights to better sleep.

  • What was the weirdest case in you practice?

I have had so many it is hard to say. In one insomnia case we found someone who actually had a brain tumor causing the insomnia, in one Apnea case we found a very rare problem where one half of the brain had formed outside of the skull and was pressing on the respiratory center, in an RLS case we found that the person was actually anemic from giving his very rare blood type twice each month. The list goes on and on.

Thank you for your answers!