Sleep On It: Doctor’s Orders From Dr. Oz
Education and Advocacy Is your slumber knowledge accurate? Dr. Mehmet Oz gives us insight into lesser known sleep facts in this Q&A.
How important are bedtime routines?
“Falling” asleep is a misnomer. Instead, we need to glide to sleep and our sleep hygiene facilitates this process. Bedtime routines are important because they signal to the body that it is time to wind down for sleep. Relaxing techniques—like taking a warm shower, reading a book, or listening to soothing music—calm your mind and body before bed. By doing the same thing every night, your body will begin to associate the activity with sleep. Sleeping on a regular schedule also trains your body to cooperate with the plan.
Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, whether it’s the weekend or not. Finally, (for thousands of years) our bodies have been trained to respond to the setting sun. A couple hours after the sun goes down, our body wants to begin releasing melatonin to initiate sleep. If you stay up late this disrupts your natural sleep cycle, which is why the sleep you obtain prior to midnight is more valuable to sleep later in the evening. Watching television or working on your computer into the night further suppresses melatonin and thus your ability to sleep. Taking melatonin orally can actually help your routine, but remember to take a small dose of 1mg at least two hours prior to bedtime so the pill has time to be absorbed into the brain.
How does sleep factor into skin care?
Using moisturizers before you sleep can help reduce wrinkles and keep your skin looking young. Apply a moisturizer with vitamin A and peptides before bed to trap in moisture through the night and spur the production of collagen. To enhance moisture levels throughout the night, turn on a humidifier.
"Using moisturizers before you sleep can help reduce wrinkles and keep your skin looking young."
Your sleep position can also affect your skin. Sleeping on your back prevents your skin from sagging, and as you age, your skin loses the ability to bounce back to normal. As always, get at least 7.5 hours of sleep! Lack of sleep increases your cortisol levels which lead to collagen breakdown and more wrinkles.
How do you recommend getting over jet lag?
The most difficult and effective step is to maintain your regular sleep schedule—you’ll want to go to bed earlier, but don’t give in! Stay up until the time you would normally go to sleep. The same applies for waking up; avoid the temptation to sleep late. Also, don’t take long naps during the day, as they will only reinforce the jet lag. If you are really tired, try to limit naps to 30 minutes.
Caffeine can be helpful in the early afternoon for an extra boost, but drink it too late and you’ll have trouble sleeping. You can also try melatonin, which has been the subject of many studies and has been found to reduce the number of days it takes your body to adjust, improves sleep, and reduces daytime fatigue. Another way to cope with jet lag is to try to tackle it before traveling. Several days before your trip, begin to adjust your sleep schedule slightly by going to bed an hour earlier if you are flying east or an hour later if you are flying west.
Can you get skinnier in your sleep?
Getting skinnier in your sleep sounds like a dream come true—and it actually can happen! Sleep deprivation actually causes weight gain by increasing food cravings for high fat and high carb foods that even the most dedicated dieter will have trouble resisting. In addition, it throws off your hormone balance, increasing ghrelin levels, which stimulate your appetite, while decreasing leptin levels, which signal satiation. And it’s an endless cycle: by eating more, you’ll lose REM sleep, the stage of sleep where you burn the most calories. So, the answer’s simple: get more sleep!
If you increase your sleep just one hour a night, you can lose up to 14 pounds a year! Plus, make sure not to lie in bed for too long trying to sleep; you’ll lose three times more weight when you’re actually asleep than when you’re lying in bed.
What should all new parents know about babies and sleep?
Interrupted sleep is one of the most overlooked issues when it comes to pregnancy, birth and early childhood. It’s not unusual to hear a woman say that she’s never slept the same since she had her first baby. Up to 95 percent of women say they experience sleep changes during pregnancy including less REM sleep and more vivid dreams.
It’s also likely that toward the end of pregnancy you will experience frequent awakenings, which some experts theorize is preparation for postpartum baby care.
Once labour hits, odds are that by the time the baby comes (and in the few days afterward) both you and your partner will be exhausted. It’s a beautiful but stressful experience. Everything is new and different, and not necessarily on your terms anymore. You’ll find that your newborn sleeps in tiny chunks of just a few hours at a time. For new mothers, that’s really the only time you’ll be getting your sleep.
As many have said, when the baby sleeps, you sleep. To ensure you get needed rest, have your partner or someone else you trust to look after baby when possible. Do not think you can easily do this all by yourself.
As your little one develops into a toddler, his/her sleep cycle will become more like yours used to be, with longer spans of night time slumber (up to 12 hours straight is possible by six months of age). A key to restful sleep is a very dark room and a comforting sound machine. Still, expect night time awakenings. You’ll likely underestimate just how much sleep your baby needs, so ensure your baby also gets adequate naps, usually two to three a day.
If you don’t have a philosophy about sleep training, you’ll want to develop one. There are a range of approaches spanning from not training a baby at all, to letting a baby “cry it out” when he or she wakes at night. You’re going to want to be consistent, no matter what you decide, even down to the bedtime routine. Something else to keep in mind—postpartum depression can mask itself in sleepiness.
If you think you’re developing postpartum depression, it’s critical to see a healthcare professional. Remember, sleep is incredibly critical to the healthy development of your child, all the way into adulthood. Some experts think teenagers have developed a difficult reputation simply because they’re sleep-deprived. So, put an emphasis on sleep in your home and start as soon as you can.
How important is a good quality mattress?
A quality mattress in an incredibly valuable investment—after all, you spend about one-third of your life in bed! When looking for a mattress, make sure to select one that’s firm enough to evenly distribute your weight. If your mattress is creaky, it might be time for a new one, especially if you are sharing a bed.
Even the slightest moment on a creaky mattress can disrupt you or your spouse’s sleep. And ensure that your favourite down pillow is not worn out. Mites eat the down and their poop makes the pillow soft, but also leads to allergies, which awaken you from restful sleep.
How can you create a good sleep environment?
Creating a good sleep environment is an easy way to help ensure deep, rejuvenating sleep. You should focus on two things: your bed and your space. You sleep better when you’re cooler, so invest in a cold gel pillow, or turn down the temperature in the room.
You could even get a temperature-regulated mattress, which adjusts to fluctuations in your body temperature to keep you cool. Also, try to keep your pet out of your bed if you are already having trouble sleeping. If you have allergies, sleeping in a fur-covered bed isn’t going to help!
Next, focus on the space. Get dark curtains, or try an eye mask, to block out any excess light. A sleep machine is great if you are particularly sensitive to sound. Fill your room with cool, calming colors, like blues and purples. Avoid watching television in bed, or working on a computer. Finally, put your cell phone five feet away from your bed and put it on silent. If you need to talk on the phone an hour before bed, use a landline because a study found that the wireless signal from your cell phone can actually disrupt deep sleep.