Dr. Michael Breus: A Sleep Doctor's Advice On Fixing Your Sleep For Good [OPP 170]

In this episode of the Optimal Performance Podcast, we talk with Dr. Michael Breus.  Dr. Breus is THE guy for sleep; he's been on Dr. Oz, has worked with many high profile wellness professionals, doctors and researchers.

He has come up with these sleep chronotypes are (I happen to be a bear meaning I go to sleep at a standard time like 10pm and wake up at 6am).  This conversation dives deep into sleep quality, melatonin, CBDs and what effect they have on sleep improvement and we also talk about how sleep effects our performance. 

Common knowledge like the 8 hour of sleep rule?  A MYTH!

Once become aware of how you like to sleep, you can do things like get ready to sleep like blue blocking glasses, drinking water as soon as you wake up to feel more refreshed, and other life hacks to make your sleep the most revitalizing experience possible.

I think you're going to get a LOT out of this episode.


  • Intro [2:00]
  • Dr. Breus's Stack [4:30]
  • Did you always know sleep was your thing? [7:45]
  • Explaining the chronotypes [11:00]
  • When's the best time for sex? [16:00]
  • Where are most people getting their sleep wrong? [18:00]
  • What can you do if you can't start your day with the sun? [21:15]
  • Eye health [25:30]
  • 8 hours of sleep myth, sleep stages, and lucid dreaming [27:30]
  • Supplementaiton, GABA, banana tea and nightly routines [32:30]
  • Dr Breus's Banana Tea [35:30]
  • CBD Is Not Weed and Cannabanoid Sleep [38:30]
  • How to buy Melatonin [48:00]
  • What's your nightly routine? [51:00]
  • There's nothing wrong with falling asleep with the TV on [54:30]
  • The Chili Pad, Grounding Pads, Binaural Beats, Mattress Types, Sleep Trackers [60:30]
  • Outro [67:00]

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Official Podcast Transcript

Sean McCormick: You're listening to the Optimal Performance Podcast. The OPP is brought to you by Natural Stacks, makers of 100% natural, and open-source supplements designed to help you live optimal. For more information on how to build optimal mental and physical performance into your life, go to

As I customarily do before we jump into this episode of the OPP, is to talk about one of the products that I love. Today I'm going to talk about GABA Brain Food. You guys are probably already familiar with the four Brain Food lines that we at Natural Stacks carry, which is the Acetylcholine, the GABA Brain Food, the Serotonin Brain Food, and the Dopamine Brain Food.

And because this episode is about sleep, I'm going to talk about the GABA Brain Food. GABA is a really effective product for me that I take as part of my nighttime routine. I have a night stack that I do every single night, and that is magnesium, that is the MagTech product that we have. I usually take one or two GABA, and then I take the PreBiotic+.

And what I've found is the GABA helps me get into relaxation before I head off to sleep. What I love about it is about a half hour after I take it, I start to relax in my shoulders, in the back of my neck, and that is a signal for me that it's ni-night time.

As always, these products are made specifically to work with the other products. As the GABA Brain Food product was created, it obviously goes well with the MagTech and the PreBiotic+. So if you're having trouble with sleeping, or if you're listening to this you're probably interested in sleeping, try the GABA Brain Food as a nighttime supplement, I think you guys would really like it.

And always, use the promo code mac15, M-A-C 15, for 15% off your first online purchase. While you're there, stock up on some other great stuff because there is a plethorage of awesome products that we bring to you. It is my pleasure.

In this episode of the Optimal Performance Podcast 170, we talk with Dr. Michael Breus. Michael Breus is the guy for sleep, he's been on Dr. Oz. He works closely with lots very, very well-known, very high-profile wellness entrepreneurs and doctors and researchers.

This guy has come up with these sleep chronotypes, we all can take this free online quiz to find out what our chronotype is. I happen to be a bear, which is I go to sleep at a standard 10 o'clock, 10:30 and I'm up at six. But this conversation really ranges all over the place and we dive deep.

He does so many of these podcasts. He's really polished, really likable guy. We get into sleep quality. We get into melatonin a little bit. We talk about CBDs for a little bit, and what sort of effects CBDs can have to improve sleep. We also talk about how it affects how our performance. What does ... The importance of sleep, how much sleep we get.

You don't need eight hours, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, you don't need eight hours of sleep. It's a myth. Once you can become a little bit more aware of how you sleep, how you like to sleep, you can also do things to get ready for sleep through blue-blocking glasses, drinking water as soon as you wake up to feel more refreshed, just the entire universe of sleep is covered with this. We could have gone for another couple hours, but he's a busy guy, and I'm a busy guy. But I think you guys are going to get a lot out of this episode. Enjoy.

You're listening to the Optimal Performance Podcast, and I'm your host, I'm Sean McCormick. It's the OPP. I'm a performance coach, a wellness entrepreneur, a blogger, a speaker, a bio-hacker, and it's my privilege to bring to you the leading experts in the field of performance. So let's dig right in.

Okay, we've got Dr. Michael Breus today on the Optimal Performance Podcast. Dr. Bruce, welcome.

Dr. Breus: Thanks for having me, I'm excited to be here.

Sean McCormick: Nice. So one question that I ask every one of our guests, the first question I ask is, what's in your body? At the moment that you're recording this, what have you taken and consumed today?

Dr. Breus: So I had Matzo ball soup for lunch, so that's where it starts.

Sean McCormick: Nice.

Dr. Breus: I do, I have actually a pretty decent routine in the morning, I have a supplement routine. So I am big into omegas. I actually take three grams of omegas, three times a day, which is a ton of omega.

Sean McCormick: Wow.

Dr. Breus: There's a reason for that. I'm post-TBI. I had a traumatic brain injury six years ago, and so we're still tweaking around and trying to make sure that everything is copasetic up there, 'cause I definitely have had some pretty significant residual side effects from that.

So I'm on a specific omega for brain damage protocol. So I do that. I also take Vitamin D-3, 5,000 iu's a day. I also do CoQ10, and I do athletic greens. I don't know if you're familiar with that product.

Sean McCormick: Yeah.

Dr. Breus: I dig that product a lot. I don't know why. I tried it, and it just works great for me. I have it every morning on an empty stomach with branch amino acid chain. I do that before I work out. I try to work out most days, but traveling and whatnot, sometimes I can't. So that is what is in me today.

Sean McCormick: Nice. So your morning routine is some vitamins, the athletic greens, and then you kind of, I guess it's not really fasting, but then you fast till lunch, and then whatever's for lunch?

Dr. Breus: Yeah, usually that's exactly what happens. Usually I'm working out between breakfast and lunch, 'cause my chronotype is one of more of a night owl, what I call a wolf. So I'm terrible in the mornings. I have to get up at 6:30 to wake my kids up and I dread it. It's just the worst time of day for me.

I tell people all the time, the only thing I like less than mornings are morning people, because they're so damn chipper and it makes me sick. So I'm just not a great morning person, and I really have a hard time eating in the mornings. I just don't have an appetite, which is common for night owls, or what I call a wolf. So that's not particularly surprising.

I try to have a reasonable lunch. We had leftover Matzo ball soup, so you can't ever go wrong with leftover Matzo ball soup. And by the way, this has been driving me crazy. You know the big craze about bone broth that's been going on for the last two years?

Sean McCormick: Oh yeah.

Dr. Breus: Okay, Jews have had bone broth since the dawn of time. It's called chicken soup, right. That's what it is, it's full carcass chicken that's boiled, and then you put a fresh one in for the meat, and it's bone broth, right?

Sean McCormick: Yeah.

Dr. Breus: So it's always so funny to me how what's old becomes new again.

Sean McCormick: Right.

Dr. Breus: So that's my story is, I'm full of Matzo ball soup, vitamins and athletic greens.

Sean McCormick: Sounds like a true bio-hacker. Sounds like a true optimizer. I'm not surprised whatsoever.

Dr. Breus: Yep.

Sean McCormick: So this is all ... You're the sleep guy.

Dr. Breus: I am.

Sean McCormick: You're the guy. You're the dude. Did you know 10 years ago, 20 years ago, that you were bound for sleep ubiquity?

Dr. Breus: No. Sleep ubiquity, I like that. No, I didn't. I started practice 19 years ago. When I was in graduate school, I was actually interested in sports psychology, primarily. And there was a great residency at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and it was really a medical psychology residency. So I applied for it and got in.

There was an open rotation in sleep, for the first quarter, in the sleep laboratory. I was all excited to do sports psychology. I thought it was going to be the thing I was going to do. I was all juiced. It was going to be fantastic. They said, "Hey, we've got extra room on the sleep rotation, will you take it for us?" I'm like, "Sure, it sounds interesting. Could be fun. How bad could it be?" Right.

Literally by the third day, I absolutely fell in love with clinical sleep medicine. I knew that was where I wanted my career to be. I mean dude, I help people in 24 hours. It's crazy. If you can recognize and diagnose a sleep disorder in somebody and get them treatment that quickly, that doesn't happen very often in medicine. I just had tremendous respect for the doctors and thought it would be such a cool privilege to be able to identity and help people with their sleep as quickly as can be done.

Now don't get me wrong, insomnia might take a little bit longer. Apnea is very easy to identity. Narcolepsy, again, easy to identity. I've also been really, these last couple of years, looking at alternatives to the historic ways that we treat sleep disorders.

'Cause historically, for sleep apnea, and for folks out there who don't know what sleep apnea is, that's a situation where you stop breathing in your sleep. It's pretty significant, pretty serious. About 12% of our population actually has it, which is a large number of people. So when you start to look at things like sleep apnea, nobody takes into account inflammation, right, which is fascinating to me because I would just think, "Wow, you're obese. Your c-reactive protein is off the charts. Your cortisol is completely out of wack, and nobody bothers to look at inflammation?" It's just amazing to me that nobody's starting to look at those things.

I'm definitely on the path to look for more integrative and alternative understanding of the sleep disorders, because that might lead to treatment. Because, let's be really honest, while I get an opportunity to help people very quickly, and I feel very fortunate to do that, there are plenty of people I can't help.

That's really tough when you're a guy who, that's what you do. I go in and I fix people's sleep problems, and I'm pretty successful at it, but there are definitely some people that I don't know what's going on. So I'm very excited to be walking into the world of the microbiome, into supplementation, into diet and nutrition and really starting to see, how do those things affect sleep?

Sean McCormick: Right, right because everything ... What you're doing when you're not sleeping affects what you do when you are sleeping.

Dr. Breus: Absolutely.

Sean McCormick: [crosstalk 00:10:58] what you're putting in your body, how much do you move?

Dr. Breus: Oh yeah.

Sean McCormick: Well you mentioned one of the chronotypes. I took the quiz, when you first released the book.

Dr. Breus: Okay.

Sean McCormick: I'm a bear.

Dr. Breus: Bears are the best.

Sean McCormick: Bears are the best. You say that to all the bears don't you?

Dr. Breus: I do, because they are the best. Here's why it's great to be a bear. So for folks out there, I created these four archetypes, and you can take a quiz and learn which one of these archetypes you are, or chronotypes.

If you've never heard of the word chronotype before, don't worry, you actually have. If you ever heard of somebody being called an early bird, or a night owl, those are chronotype. And it turns out there aren't two, there's four.

So one of the ones that you're describing is the middle, not the early bird, and not the night owl, but the, what we used to call a hummingbird, but what I have changed to be called a bear. The reason it's the best to be a bear is because the world works on a bear schedule. Roughly 50% of the world is a bear, and then the other three are made up in that other 50%.

The way the whole world works is really on a bear schedule. Really, working nine to five is a bear schedule. Getting up at seven is on a bear schedule. Going to bed at 10 is on a bear schedule. So it's like it's great to be a bear because it's easier. 

I am a wolf. So I am a night owl. I'll tell you something, my entire life people told me I was lazy 'cause I didn't like mornings, I liked to sleep in. I'm much more of an introvert generally speaking. Bears have a tendency to be more extroverted. Everybody always thought I was lazy going through school. It was fascinating to understand that.

Once I started doing the book and really learning about chronotypes, I realized, "Wow, there's a lot of people out there that are suffering from this, that didn't realize that it's really just an issue of matching their chronotype to their life.

Sean McCormick: Yeah. And that begs the question too, because as much reading as I've done, not only to prepare for this conversation, but because I'm fascinated by sleep. Based on ... Well first, maybe name the other chronotypes.

Dr. Breus: Sure. So the early bird is, I call a lion. And I actually chose mammals, number one because I'm a mammal. I'm not a bird, and so I don't feel like I resonate to a bird. But I chose mammals that actually have these schedules. So lions actually wake up before dawn. Their first kill is usually before the sun rises. That's very advantageous for them. So they're my earliest creature that's out there.

Bears have a tendency to wake up when the sun comes up and go to sleep when the sun goes down. Wolves, like myself, we tend to be nocturnal in nature. And then dolphins is the fourth chronotype that I haven't mentioned, and dolphins are my problem children. These are the folks that have got insomnia and they can't tell what their chronotype is.

By the way, these chronotypes are actually genetically predetermined. So it's all based on your period gene and specifically the period three allele on that gene. The length of that determines our sleep drive. So how much sleep does our body require.

It turns out that wolves, or night owls, and dolphins don't require as many sleep cycles as bears and lions do. There's literally over 300 studies looking at these different chronotypes in different ways to understand what is appropriate for them on a scheduling perspective.

So if you're a lion, as an example, and you want to do an activity with somebody that's a wolf, when's the best time to do it, right? And that's what my book is all about, it's identifying which chronotype is yours, and I give you 50 different activities and tell you the perfect time of day to do any one of them.

Sean McCormick: To ask for a raise, to have sex, all of that stuff, yeah.

Dr. Breus: Yep [crosstalk 00:14:45] so ask for a raise, have sex, eat a cheeseburger, go for a run, do yoga, email, I mean literally it's everything you can think of.

Sean McCormick: Even though it's genetic, can one's chronotype shift as their life path shifts?

Dr. Breus: Yes, absolutely. So I call that chrono longevity. So it's really interesting. When you look at kids under the age of 18, their age actually determines their chronotype.

So as an example, if you remember back to the days when you were a teenager, I actually have two teenagers in my home right now. What they always want to do is they want to stay up until 2 o'clock in the morning, and they want to sleep 12 o'clock the next day. That's a classic teenage maneuver. That's a wolf's behavior. So almost all teenagers are wolves.

So we call our house the wolf pack, because I'm a wolf, my kids are wolves, and it turns out that my wife is actually a wolf as well. She and I, when we started dating, we never realized it, but we wouldn't finish our going out until 1 o'clock in the morning, every single time. And it was nothing, that was just, I didn't even pick her up until 8:30, that just was how we did things, and that worked out very well for us. So there's lots of really interesting aspects to it. People always ask the sex question too.

Sean McCormick: Yeah, when's the best time?

Dr. Breus: This has always been a, very interesting set of data on this. So it turns out that 74% of people have sex between 10:30 and 11:30 at night. This was a survey that was done. The reasoning behind that is convenience. You're there, your partner's there. You're not wearing a whole lot of clothes, "Hey, you interested?" "Sure why not?" And there you go, right? That's, generally speaking, how it goes.

But if you looked at it from a hormone perspective, there's five hormones that you need for sex, you need estrogen, testosterone and progesterone all to be high. You need adrenaline and cortisol to be high, and you need melatonin to be low, right. I'll give you one guess what your hormone profile looks like at 10:30 at night, when 74% of people are having sex.

Sean McCormick: Yeah, it's the opposite of what you want.

Dr. Breus: Exactly, right?

Sean McCormick: Right.

Dr. Breus: So when are you at the right hormone profile? Turns out, seven, 8 o'clock in the morning, really is the best time. So I'm giving everybody out there listening, the prescription, the next time you have sex, talk with your partner about it and see about having sex in the morning. You will be pleasantly surprised at the level of intimacy, connection, even performance is better at that time.

Now people always say, "But wait a second Dr. Breus. What if I'm an early bird, a lion, and my partner is a night owl, a wolf. How does something like that work?" Believe it or not, in the book I actually created a matrix where you can put in your chronotype across one side, they can put in their chronotype across the other.

I created multiple matrices, so for heterosexual couples, for gay couples and for lesbian couples, 'cause the hormones would be dramatically different in each one of those situations. So don't worry if you're not like me and you didn't marry another person of your same chronotype, or you have a partner, then you'll see that it'll work out just fine.

Sean McCormick: Yeah. And just so everybody knows, and of course, all of this will be accompanied by show notes and links and stuff like that, but the test is free, and you can take it on your site.

Dr. Breus: Yep.

Sean McCormick: Yeah.

Dr. Breus: Absolutely, yeah. If people go to, you can take it right now.

Sean McCormick: Where are most people getting their sleep wrong?

Dr. Breus: So the biggest thing that people do incorrectly with sleep, well there's two of them, one is they do not wake up at the same time every day. Now notice I didn't say go to bed at the same time every day. Wake up at the same time every day.

When you wake up in the morning and sunlight hits your optic nerve, it re calibrates an area called your suprachiasmatic nucleus, which is your biological clock, and it shuts down the melatonin faucet in your brain. That has to happen on an incredibly consistent basis.

So for me, it's between six and 6:30 every morning. My body naturally wakes up. I actually drink water and I get some direct sunlight, because that also helps get rid of that morning fog and eliminates any extra melatonin.

Also, people don't realize it, but you actually breathe out almost a full liter of water every night while you're just breathing from the humidity in your breath. So having a 12 to 16 ounce bottle of water next to you is always a good idea.

That's really what you should be doing, is you should be consistently waking up at the same time every day, including the weekend. So if you stay out, you go to Coachella, and you're up till 4 o'clock in the morning and you normally get up at 6:30, guess what, I want you getting up at 6:30. That's really what you need to do because it's that, that's the anchor for your entire sleep process is your wake up time.

You can go to bed whatever time you want. I will tell people, if you go to bed consistently at a very consistent time, it turns out you need less sleep. So people are asking me all the time, "Michael, how do I get eight in five?" Right, "How do I get eight hours of sleep mashed into five hours?" So first of all, it's possible.

There's what are called, polyphasic sleep schedules that are out there, some are better than others.  They're not the healthiest thing in the universe, just to make that clear to everybody. But, one of the ways I, so as an example, I sleep six and a half hours a night. I have most of my adult life, and it's because my sleep schedule is so consistent. My eyes are closed at midnight and I'm up between six and 6:30 the next day. My brain knows what to do, is the point I'm making here.

So by maintaining a consistent schedule, the thing that people mess up the most is that inconsistency. And again, more so on the wake up side, but if you can do it on the going to bed side, it's really going to be much better for you in the long run.

I would say the second thing that a lot of people do have sleep problems is go to bed too early. Now that's going to seem very crazy, right? Especially for my insomniacs, I'm telling them all the time, "By the way, you go to bed too early."

'Cause here's what happens, they're freaking exhausted. They've gotten home early, they can barely keep their eyes open. They shove a little food in their mouth and they're like, "I'm just going to bed at 8 o'clock and I'm going to catch up on all my sleep." And while they might be physically tired and have a lot of sleep drive, their circadian rhythm isn't ready to go to bed.

So they get in there and what happens? They either fall asleep for 30 minutes, wake up and then they're up for the rest of the night, or they can't fall asleep at all they just get pissed off and then they end up walking out of the bedroom. So the two big areas are consistency and don't go to bed too early.

Sean McCormick: Yeah. Man, there's so many good nuggets. You've done this before, haven't you?

Dr. Breus: I have.

Sean McCormick: When it comes to circadian rhythms, I've learned, and tell if I'm wrong.

Dr. Breus: Sure.

Sean McCormick: But circadian rhythms are endogenous.

Dr. Breus: They are.

Sean McCormick: And created within the body in our own natural cycles. So for those of us in higher latitudes, living here in the Pacific Northwest, we don't have the luxury, Michael, of waking up and going outside for sunshine.

Dr. Breus: Right.

Sean McCormick: It's just not a thing. So light obviously plays a major factor in it.

Dr. Breus: It does.

Sean McCormick: And I know that you're a proponent of using light as medicine.

Dr. Breus: Yes.

Sean McCormick: What can you tell us about things that we can all do if we can't start each morning with that dose of sunlight to drop our melatonin.

Dr. Breus: Sure, so first of all, we all can, even if we live in the North Pole. So you buy a light box. There are commercially available light boxes on Amazon. My favorite is called the Golite, G-O-L-I-T-E. I think it's less than 100 bucks. I take this with me when I travel. I do a tremendous amount of international travel, so this actually helps me cure myself of jet lag, and it also keeps me on my own circadian path.

So for many, many people, this is something I have recommenced. Let me just tell you something, it freaking works. If you do it when I tell you to do it, it works. So if right when you wake up, and it's not like you have to stick it right in front of your eyeballs, either. Is you set it on the table when you're having your morning breakfast, or you put it in your bathroom while you're getting ready in the morning. It just has to be within eye shot. But 15 minutes of sunlight through a light box will do wonders for you.

Also, the opposite is true at night. So this light that is in the light box really falls into the spectrum of blue light, which is a big category, big topic that people talk about. 450 to 490 nanometers.

People should be using blue-blocking glasses at night. I'm a big fan of blue blockers. I know they might look a little goofy for some people, but here's the thing is if you're really trying to tap in and you're trying to make it so that you can fall asleep quickly, stay asleep and then wake up with less sleep than what you would normally want to have these are a great tool to be able to utilize.

I will also tell you that I've got my kids using them, 'cause my kids are on computers all day long at school, and then sometimes into the night. So if they want to be watching their shows or whatever, while I like to look at the content of what's going on in their brains, I also like to make sure that we're not literally frying their brains with the blue light. So I've got them both wearing the blue blocker glasses. They're not bad looking. They're kind of fashionable, and they're in the house, so nobody really cares.

But using blue blocking glasses in the evenings is good. I also use specialty light bulbs in my bedroom that have melatonin blue light filters in the bulbs themselves. So there's a company called Lighting Science Group. I think their website is I think it's 20, 25 bucks, you can get great bulbs. And actually if you type in my name Breus, B-R-E-U-S, I think you can get a discount or something. We can find that out, put that in the show notes as well.

But you know, being aware of blue light at night, I think is something that's very positive. And look, use blue light as your advantage. I tell people all the time, if you're tired between one and three in the afternoon, don't take a coffee break, take a sunshine break. Walk the heck outside, and get some vitamin D, and get some sunshine in your eyeballs. Because number one, it'll stop making you feel tired.

Because that's the reason people feel tired between one and three in the afternoon, is there's a slight core body temperature drop, which releases melatonin in your brain. So if you want to get rid of that melatonin super fast, go outside in the sunlight, even a little bit before and you won't have that doldrum between one and three in the afternoon.

So you gotta look at those types of things, I think. That's really where we get people who can hack into their sleep, have better quality sleep, and actually have less quantity.

Sean McCormick: Yeah. 'Cause that's what we're all after, right?

Dr. Breus: Right.

Sean McCormick: Is we want minimum effective dose.

Dr. Breus: Exactly.

Sean McCormick: The title of the podcast is the Optimal Performance Podcast and all of our listeners are about getting the most out of the least. To that point of the blue blocking glasses, you know we're developing some eye health supplements and we're going to accompany that with a second version of some blue blocking glasses that we did.

Dr. Breus: Nice, absolutely.

Sean McCormick: Well, and I think everybody, even the night time filter on your iPhone, 'cause let's be honest, the way that everybody does it now is they work all day. They come home. They eat dinner. They take care of the chores. Hopefully they do their dishes, and then they sit in front of the TV.

Dr. Breus: Exactly.

Sean McCormick: Because Netflix has more cool content than you'll ever be able to watch in a lifetime.

Dr. Breus: Right.

Sean McCormick: And we're just dosing ourselves with massive blue light. And then for most people, they head upstairs and they bring their phone with them, and they lay in bed and they scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll through Instagram or Twitter or whatever.

Dr. Breus: Right.

Sean McCormick: Even with that light dimmer on your phone, it's just not enough, 'cause you're still [crosstalk 00:26:38]

Dr. Breus: So here's what's interesting.

Sean McCormick: Yeah.

Dr. Breus: RPI, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Rochester, New York did a study on the iPhone and this night shift thing. Doesn't do anything.

Sean McCormick: No.

Dr. Breus: Doesn't work at all.

Sean McCormick: Really?

Dr. Breus: Absolutely no effect on melatonin suppression whatsoever.

Sean McCormick: What about-

Dr. Breus: It's published, published study.

Sean McCormick: Dimming it must help a little bit, right?

Dr. Breus: It's a brightness thing versus a frequency thing.

Sean McCormick: Yeah.

Dr. Breus: Remember, if the light is bright or not bright, while it may have some effect on the rods and cones, what we're really interested in is the frequency, and that blue frequency, it's a very particular kind of cell in your eye called a melanopsin cell, and that's where the problem is occurring.

Sean McCormick: Yeah.

Dr. Breus: So it's really just about the frequency and the blue light. Even if you turn it down, brightness doesn't ... Turning down volume doesn't take away the bass. So if you're listening to music, the bass is still there, it's just lower.

Sean McCormick: Right.

Dr. Breus: So that's how you have to think about it is brightness doesn't really work. Brightness is like the volume knob for light. It doesn't actually increase the treble or decease the bass.

Sean McCormick: Right, yeah it's still there whether or not you feel it as much, it's still there.

Dr. Breus: Exactly.

Sean McCormick: So, eight hours of sleep is a myth.

Dr. Breus: Total myth.

Sean McCormick: Total myth.

Dr. Breus: Total horse shit.

Sean McCormick: Rubbish.

Dr. Breus: Yes, completely balderdash as [crosstalk 00:28:03] would say.

Sean McCormick: Why?

Dr. Breus: So I'll tell you why. So first of all, the math doesn't make sense. The average sleep cycle is 90 minutes long, and the average person has five of those. Five times 90 is 450 minutes, divided by 60 is seven and a half hours. So right there, if you are average sleep cycle and have the average number of them, you still wouldn't hit eight hours. So that's number one.

Number two, is again, the more consistent you are with your sleep schedule, the more your brain doesn't need certain stages of sleep. Stage one sleep only represents about 3-4% of the night. So it's really not that important. It's really the transition from wake to sleep.

Stage two represents 50% of the night. Don't get me wrong, there are things in stage two that are important, but you don't need 50% of your night to be stage two sleep. And that's where we can squanch that down and move you quickly to stage three, four, which is the deep physically restorative sleep. The easiest way to increase that is, turns out, is through daily exercise.

Sean McCormick: Makes sense, right?

Dr. Breus: Yeah, exactly. Physical restoration from daily exercise, that just makes sense to me. And that's, 'cause that's when human growth hormone is emitted. That's when we see most of our cellular repair, things of that nature.

So one of the things that everybody should think about it, look, just park your car further away and walk in to work, type of thing. Or go for a 20 minute jog. Walk the dog. Do something. Get outside.

First of all, the sunlight and the fresh air will do you some good, and second of all, exercise helps with sleep. It is probably the most consistent data finding that we know of, is that daily exercise helps with sleep.

Sean McCormick: Yeah, right I mean it makes sense. And if you're getting into that, that's where stage three and four sleep is so important, but then the REM sleep obviously is where we get that mental rest.

Dr. Breus: Yeah, and so REM sleep is our mentally restorative sleep, and we now know that we move information from our short term memory to our long term memory.

Stage three, four actually helps filter some of that information and then once it's filtered, REM moves it from our short term to our long term. And it creates this organizational substructure inside of our brain where we file pieces of information, and then each piece of information is linked to another one, so that it's easy to be retrievable.

Now that linking process, we think is dreaming. So that's why you've got all these weird things that happen in your dreams, is it's because a new piece of information is being linked to an older piece of information. So you walk into school and you haven't been in high school in 20 years and your third grade teacher is eating a bowl of spaghetti with your old dog and you're like, "What the heck is going on?" That's because there's some new piece of information that somehow or another got linked to those other pieces of information, and that's how your brain is interpreting it.

Sean McCormick: Dreams could be a whole nother podcast episode, right?

Dr. Breus: Oh yes. And there's lots of kinds of dreams. I'm actually working on a lucid dreaming project right now, if you're familiar with what lucid dreaming is. And then there are nightmares. Honestly, there are so many different types of dreams. There are stress dreams. There are nightmares. There are PTSD related episodes in sleep. The list goes on and on.

Sean McCormick: Yeah, have you dipped into the esoteric Carl Young dream analysis? Dream thinking?

Dr. Breus: I've never been a big dream analyzer, and I'll tell you why, is because nobody's really come up with the definitive aspects to dream analysis. You could analyze it and I can analyze it and we could both be right and we could both be wrong.

Here is what I tell people, if you want to do dream analysis, the truth of the matter is it's best to do it either on yourself, or with somebody who knows you really well. Because when you tell them, "Hey, I had this dream." They'll be like, "Oh, well that sounds like something that happened to you three days ago." Because you won't remember it, but somebody who knows you well might be.

So whoever your partner is, that's the type of person that you could talk about your dreams to them, and then start to walk down the path. But look, there's no dictionary that says if you're in water you hate your mother, or something stupid like that. It just doesn't work that way.

Sean McCormick: Yeah. Well there's the teeth falling out one that everybody has, right?

Dr. Breus: Yep, very common, the teeth falling out. That's usually a stress related dream. I've had that dream before.

Sean McCormick: Have you?

Dr. Breus: Absolutely, I have. And especially, I noticed that I had it more so when there was stress going around my kids than anything else. So it wasn't necessarily stress that was happening with me, but stress that was happening surrounding my children.

I had that dream where I was eating and my teeth just started falling out, and I was like, "What the heck is going on?" And then, it became a lucid dream, because I knew what it was. So it actually turned out to be fine, because I was like, "Oh, this is a stress dream."

Sean McCormick: Wait, wait, I have control of this. My teeth are not falling out, and I can fly.

Dr. Breus: Exactly, exactly. And I'm going to order a super model to fly with me, at any point in time that I so choose.

Sean McCormick: Exactly, absolutely. Orgies in the sky.

Dr. Breus: Right, exactly.

Sean McCormick: So let's talk a little bit about diets and supplementation.

Dr. Breus: Sure.

Sean McCormick: And I think that it pairs nicely with nighttime routines because I myself, and I assume you too, despite the fact of you flying back and forth across the country in the same week, I bet that there are certain things you do each night.

Dr. Breus: Sure.

Sean McCormick: There's also products that we carry, that I think aid, that we know aid to sleep.

Dr. Breus: Yeah.

Sean McCormick: GABA.

Dr. Breus: Absolutely, I'm a big fan of GABA.

Sean McCormick: Brain Food. Oh yeah?

Dr. Breus: Yeah, absolutely.

Sean McCormick: Tell me what you-

Dr. Breus: GABA are the brakes of the brain. So we produce a tremendous amount of GABA in our head. But sometimes we don't produce it at the times that would be most opportune for us going to sleep. So when somebody uses supplementation with GABA, that's what it does.

So the big thing with GABA is you need to be careful to make sure that the quality of your GABA is of good stead. There are actually many different types of GABA that are available in the marketplace.

I can tell you, historically, me personally, I've used the type of GABA called Pharma GABA, which is made by a particular company, and I'm very particular, so I go into the companies and I'm like, "Give me your purity standards. I want to see all of your ... 'Cause you have to quarantine these ingredients when they come in. You gotta make sure there aren't any parasites, there's a lot of stuff that you gotta do before you make an ingestible. So that's why I'm crazy about all that stuff. But I like Pharma GABA, there's some other forms of GABA that are good as well.

Sean McCormick: Yeah, so the three products that we really push for sleep are the GABA Brain Food, which also includes just for own edification and our listeners are going to maybe know this, maybe not. But L-Citrulline, Rosemary extract, Grape Seed extract. L-Citrulline is an amino acid. Rosemary extract is rosemary of course, and the grape seed increase nitric oxide production to help GABA pass through the blood brain barrier. But we have that one, and then we have magnesium.

Dr. Breus: I'm a huge fan of magnesium.

Sean McCormick: Essential, right?

Dr. Breus: Yep. It's a big deal, and so many people are magnesium deficient.

Sean McCormick: Right.

Dr. Breus: So many. Honestly dude, if you're not eating a bushel of kale a day, there's no way you've got enough magnesium. 'Cause our body doesn't produce it. We have to ingest it. So we have to get it from alternative sources. And a lot of it gets eaten up and pooped out, so not absorbed. So we have to think through that. Is it okay if I give everybody a recipe for a great way to get magnesium? Is that cool?

Sean McCormick: Please.

Dr. Breus: So I created this thing called Banana Tea. So it turns out that bananas are loaded with magnesium, but the peel actually has three times the amount of magnesium as the fruit itself.

So here's what I have people do is go out and buy an organic banana, wash it off, cut off the tip and the stem, cut it in half, leave the fruit in and the peel on it. Put it into about three cups of boiling water and boil it for about three minutes, until it turns brown. And then steep the water into a tea cup and drink the water.

It's loaded with magnesium. It is delicious. You gotta like bananas. It's a great alternative to chamomile tea, and you can actually give it to children, because you really ... There's a lot of these supplements that I would never give to kids, but this banana tea is perfectly safe for children.

Sean McCormick: Where did you come up with that?

Dr. Breus: Well, I actually was working on it on the Dr. Oz show. We were looking for a way to take good food and make it available for people at night. We were looking for ways, and magnesium turned out to be ... We knew about magnesium, and we were just like, "What would make sense?" So we tried a couple things.

Tart cherries have a tremendous amount of melatonin in them. So sometimes I have people who even include a little tart cherry juice in the banana tea. And then the other thing that's been, from a food perspective that's been pretty interesting, doesn't really fall into the keto line of thinking, or the paleo line of thinking, but raw honey is great for keeping blood sugar stable.

Sean McCormick: Yeah.

Dr. Breus: So one of the big questions that I get a lot is what happens when I wake up at 2 o'clock or 3 o'clock in the morning? Well, nine times out of ten when I ask these people, "When was the last meal you had?" They say, "Oh, seven." So from seven at night until three in the morning, is eight hours.

Your body has been fasting for eight hours and you might have moved through all your blood sugar. So what happens is your brain says, "Holy crap. There's no more blood sugar." So it increases cortisol, to increase insulin to find more fat to get to start to ... And guess what, when cortisol jacks in your brain, you wake up.

Sean McCormick: Right.

Dr. Breus: So super easy. Just a teaspoon of raw honey. It needs to be raw, not processed raw honey works really well as well.

Sean McCormick: What about apple cider vinegar?

Dr. Breus: You know, you're the third person to ask me about that. I don't know enough about apple cider vinegar to tell you. Some people swear by it.

Sean McCormick: Yeah.

Dr. Breus: I haven't seen any great data on it yet. And I'll tell you that the honey, the only data that I've seen on it is I haven't seen any real good scientific data on it, but I've used it with patients and an overwhelmingly large number of patients it has been working in. So while it's more anecdotal, I don't know much about apple cider vinegar, I'm sorry.

Sean McCormick: Yeah, no that's okay. So we have this ... 'Cause I know that your approach includes a holistic approach and including gut microbiome.

Dr. Breus: Absolutely.

Sean McCormick: You mentioned the banana. Green banana flour is this second ingredient in our PreBiotic+.

Dr. Breus: It's a great starch that will also keep people's blood sugar consistent as well.

Sean McCormick: Yeah. So that's ... So my nighttime routine is one that includes blue blocking glasses.

Dr. Breus: Awesome.

Sean McCormick: And then the GABA, our magnesium product, and then this PreBiotic+.

Dr. Breus: Yep.

Sean McCormick: Which is a drink that it's got Ceylon Cinnamon, and Trehalose, and green banana flour, and InulinFOS. Take that, I usually take that around seven or 8:30, so by the time 10, 10:30, because I'm a bear, I'm ready to go. I'm ready to go ni-night.

Dr. Breus: Yep.

Sean McCormick: Then it starts to work. Another thing I've been messing around with, and I'd love to get your opinion on it if you feel comfortable with it is CBD.

Dr. Breus: Yep, I love CBD.

Sean McCormick: Let's talk about it. Why do you love CBD?

Dr. Breus: So I've written several blogs on CBD and the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD. My most recent blog was called CBD is Not Weed.

Sean McCormick: Yes.

Dr. Breus: Because so many people out there are like, "You're promoting drugs Dr. Breus." No I'm not.

Sean McCormick: You're a pothead Dr. Breus.

Dr. Breus: Right, exactly. It's like, and we can talk about that part too, because lots of people use cannabis for sleep. There's different types and there's different ways you can do that very effectively.

Sean McCormick: Yeah.

Dr. Breus: But let's stick to CBD and we'll get to cannabis in a second. So CBD is one of the most potent anti-inflammatories there is. We actually have in our bodies, we have an endo-cannabinoid system that is only reactive to these cannabinoids and these cannabidiols and things like that. So there's an entire system in our body that's not being used, unless we actually put this stuff in is. So number one, somehow or another, I think mother nature intended it to be there and being used on some level.

Number two is, the antiinflammatory properties are tremendous. I mean you can't tell me that somebody for example, with sleep apnea, who's morbidly obese, high levels of c-reactive protein, doesn't have tremendous inflammation. Because by the way, that's why you have high level of c-reactive protein is due to high levels of inflammation.

Same holds true with my insomnia patients. I have lot of insomnia patients who have pain, who have fatigue, who have other things that are fueling their insomnia. The thing that people have to realize is there's a lot of flavors of insomnia. There's, "I can't fall asleep. I can't stay asleep. I wake up too early."

There's insomnia associated with pain, with anxiety, with depression, menopause, you name it. So what we have to start doing is dialing it in, personalizing our insomnia so that we know what supplementation to take in order to treat these situations effectively.

So when you're looking at nighttime routines, I can almost guarantee you magnesium is a good one, for 99% of people out there, 'cause so many people are deficient in magnesium. Your audience will probably also want to know about melatonin. We'll talk about that in as well.

But CBD, I like it as an adjunct to therapy. I actually have it in my line of supplements, which is going to be coming out soon, because it's so potent and it works so well in so many different areas, as an anti-inflammatory and an anti-oxidant.

Sean McCormick: Yeah, I've seen it help such a wide spectrum of people from my folks to people who just can't relax and can't sit still, to people that just feel uncomfortable in their own skin and they can't really tell you why, and it's because they have massive amounts of inflammation in their brain and in their body and in their blood.

Dr. Breus: Yeah.

Sean McCormick: I've seen it, just a dropper, a tincture.

Dr. Breus: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I use it on my dog.

Sean McCormick: [crosstalk 00:42:27] oh do you?

Dr. Breus: Yeah, so my dog was run over by an SUV, and he's only three pounds, he's a chihuahua, and he survived.

Sean McCormick: Jeez.

Dr. Breus: Yeah, and we rebuilt his whole back half. His legs and his spine and all this stuff. So there's a lot of places where there's scar tissue and inflammation and things like that.

We started him, we really thought he was not going to be with us much longer about six months ago. Somebody said, "Hey, have you ever considered CBD?" And I was like, "You know, I'm studying that for my patients. But I never thought about it." They actually make pet CBD.

I gotta tell you something, this dog's a different dog. It's like he's 10 years younger, or something. It's unbelievable. I've seen it work in so many different areas that ... I haven't seen any harm that's come from using it, as of yet. I haven't seen anybody overdose on CBD. And I haven't seen anybody have really bad side effects from CBD. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure it's possible.

Sean McCormick: Sure.

Dr. Breus: But you just don't hear about it a lot. I agree with you, it feels like it's one of those things that can work in a lot of different areas for people.

Sean McCormick: I personally, am an advocate for cannabis, in its various forms. I think that 10 years from now, when the big boys are involved and more people are taking, are developing products, both CBD and THC, for a wider consumption, we're going to kick ourselves for the last couple of hundred years of how it's been demonized because it really does work for everybody.

Dr. Breus: Oh yeah, it does. It does.

Sean McCormick: It's crazy.

Dr. Breus: And the good news is, is if you get CBD from the right source where there's zero THC in it, it's actually legal in all 50 states.

Sean McCormick: Right.

Dr. Breus: You know, so knowing and understanding your source of CBD. I get mine right now from a company called Ananda Hemp. They're out of Kentucky. They are ... The quality standards that they have are insane. It's just really good quality CBD. Their products are good. I've had a lot of luck with them. I've recommended them to patients as well.

Sean McCormick: Yeah, it's a whole nother can of worms, but yeah the hemp import, whether it's from Northern Europe or from China, what's the chain of custody were they come-

Dr. Breus: What pesticides were used? What soil was it grown in? Oh yeah, it's unbelievable the detail that you can get into it. But I would tell people, look for good CBD.

I live in California, so it's recreationally available here. So we can do whatever we want here, which is also another reason why I've started to understand more about cannabis and sleep, not just CBD. Can I talk a couple minutes about that as well?

Sean McCormick: Sure, please do.

Dr. Breus: So I've got, there's a large part of my insomnia population where anxiety is one of the things that fuels insomnia. I would argue almost 70 to 75% of the insomnia that I see is fueled by either anxiety or depression, okay?

Sean McCormick: Yeah.

Dr. Breus: So when you start to look at this, especially on the anxiety side. Not as much on the depression side. But especially on the anxiety side, cannabis can be a great tool for that.

Now people need to know, if they don't already cannabis is a lot like wine, so there's red and there's white wine, there's Sativa and there's Indica. You really want to stay more towards the Indica side of things, 'cause that's much more the relaxation, calming down, putting you into a different mood for insomnia.

So I look at Indica and Indica hybrids for my patients. So I'll go to the dispensary with them and say, "Alright, let's get in here. Let's figure this out for you." We look through all the strains.

Now it's actually getting much better. They're doing gas chromatographs on the strains. You know exactly how much THC versus CBD is in each one of these.

Right now the ratio that seems to be working well for sleep is an eight to one CBD to THC ratio. That's the one that I found with my patients has been the most effective.

Believe it or not, there's now even a product that's just called sleep. It's like a little pen and it's got a metered dose on it, which is the other big problem.

Historically you say to somebody, "Use cannabis." They're like, "Well how many joints do I smoke?" Or, "How many hits do I take?" We're well past that now. Now everything is edibles, it's metered doses. Nobody actually really smokes flower anymore, unless historically you just like it.

Most people are vaping it, so it's a lot healthier for you. So there's lots of ways to walk down that path safely and effectively and can work for sleep.

Sean McCormick: So you're actually going into the shops with people to try to help them figure out what's going to be the best for them?

Dr. Breus: Exactly, exactly. So I mean, and again, I can do that 'cause California, it's recreationally legal, right?

Sean McCormick: Yeah.

Dr. Breus: So anybody can walk in. As long as you have a driver's license, you can walk into one of these places. Whereas I think it's 26 states now that have medical marijuana that's legal. So a lot of times going in there and just talking with the people behind the counter can be very enlightening.

Now usually those people are pretty high at the time and sometimes you're not getting the best information. But if you really sit down and you talk with the owners, or people who are really knowledgeable, they know all of these strains very, very well and they can give you some really good ideas. But looking for that eight to one ratio seems to be a good place to start.

Sean McCormick: Before we get into a couple of other quick fire questions and topics, we were going to go back to melatonin as a supplement.

Dr. Breus: Yeah. So remember, melatonin is a hormone, right. And you wouldn't just walk out and go buy testosterone or estrogen. You shouldn't just go out and buy melatonin. Here's the bottom line here is 95% of melatonin is actually sold in an overdosage format.

Sean McCormick: Wow.

Dr. Breus: The appropriate ... Yeah, it's really messed up. The appropriate dose is between a half and one and a half milligrams. That data comes out of Dr. Wortman's data out of MIT. That's how much you need for plasma concentration levels in your brain to reach the point where it has an effect on sleep. You don't need more than that.

Most of it is sold in three, five and 10, which means we're overdosing on it, which can give people really crazy dreams, it can interact with blood pressure medication, things like that. So keep the dosage low, number one.

And number two, most people don't know, but it takes almost 90 minutes for plasma concentration levels to get there after you've ingested melatonin. So you don't take it like a sleeping pill. You don't take it before bed. You take it an hour, hour and a half before bed. That's the second thing.

The third thing is because it's not FDA regulated, I can make it in my garage and I can sell it at the local health food store, and that's a perfectly legal thing to do. So you really want to look at the quality standards of the melatonin that you're getting.

I like the melatonin from Twin Labs, and from believe it or not, Trader Joe's. So I went into Trader Joe's and they're the only people that actually have a half a milligram dosage. It's 500 micrograms, which is a half of a milligram, and it's chewable and it's right there on the shelf.

I use it for jet lag and trips. That's really where melatonin works its magic is when you're traveling from time zones. However, I will also tell you, I don't know how old the demographic is that listens, but once people reach my age, I just turned 50 this year, you'll start to see melatonin production will begin to drop off. So melatonin supplementation after age 50 might not be a bad idea.

A couple of warnings, melatonin can affect women's menstrual cycle, and can make birth control less effective. So those are things that they need to think about. Here's what's really weird is that high dosages, now I'm talking 30, 40 milligrams, melatonin is actually a contraceptive. Right.

Sean McCormick: There's a joke in there somewhere.

Dr. Breus: There is. There's lots of jokes in there somewhere. Like, we get somebody to fall asleep and then they can't have sex and all that.

Sean McCormick: Right.

Dr. Breus: Right, there's a joke in there somewhere for sure. But here's where the problem comes in is with children. So Dr. Oz and I did an expose on melatonin two years ago. We had thousands and thousands of parents write in and say, "I give melatonin to my daughter, or my son. Is that okay?" The answer is, no, that's not okay.

There are very, very few children out there that have melatonin deficiencies, and I can't think of anything worse than introducing a contraceptive into a young, female developing body, that seems stupid to me.

Sean McCormick: Yeah.

Dr. Breus: There is one caveat, and that is with children who are autistic or on the autism spectrum, we have seen at high dosages, three, four and five milligrams, it's extremely effective in that group. We don't know why, but it is.

Sean McCormick: Wow, interesting.

Dr. Breus: Yeah, it's cool stuff.

Sean McCormick: So what's your night routine? Let's just say you're not flying to New York and back in a day.

Dr. Breus: Yep.

Sean McCormick: What do you do in the evening times?

Dr. Breus: So my nighttime routine, we because I'm more of a night owl or a wolf, we have a tendency to have dinner a little bit later. So I usually don't finish dinner until about 7:30, 8 o'clock. I will admit, I'm a snacker before bed.

Sean McCormick: Shame on you.

Dr. Breus: No, I've got-

Sean McCormick: Shame on you.

Dr. Breus: No, I've got a good snack, I'll show that I've got here. So as a nighttime snack, this is the stuff that I like. It's called night food.

Sean McCormick: It's called night food.

Dr. Breus: And it's these bars, and they're specifically designed to help curb your cravings, and it's healthy. So it what was interesting was, is I met this guy and he told me this story and it was the same story that I have myself, he was like, "I snack at night, and I always snack on something salty, or something sweet." Right?

Sean McCormick: Oh yeah.

Dr. Breus: So chips, ice cream, cookies, whatever. He was like, "I was gaining weight." So what I decided was, you know what, I'll just snack on protein bars instead. Well, guess what happens when you eat protein bars at night? Number one, it's not great for digestions, number two, they give you energy. So it's hard to go to sleep when you're snacking on a protein bar. So they're really ... And you know, you could have fruit, but fruit is full of sugar at night. So that's not a great option.

So he developed actually a really tasty bar, it's called Night Food, people should check it out. I eat one of those almost every night. It curbs my cravings, it's fairly low calorie, I think it's less than 200 calories in a bar.

Sean McCormick: Does it taste like a chewy Chips Ahoy and a Doritos and ice cream all in one?

Dr. Breus: Not exactly.

Sean McCormick: Is it sweet?

Dr. Breus: It's 140 calories. It is sweet, and it uses cacao in it.

Sean McCormick: Perfect.

Dr. Breus: So it's not like terrible for you and any of that kind of stuff. I've been very impressed with it so far. This one is called cookies and dreams.

Sean McCormick: Nice.

Dr. Breus: You know, some cute marketing name or whatever.

Sean McCormick: Sure.

Dr. Breus: But I eat one of those, and depending, sometimes I like to shower at night. There's a lot of data to show that taking a hot shower or a hot bath at night helps with sleep.

I definitely am a television watcher. I wear my blue blockers. I like to catch up on sports or whatever the latest Netflix thing is. I've been watching, lately I've been watching this show called Lucifer, which is really good.

Sean McCormick: Cool.

Dr. Breus: It's this cool, murder, mystery thing. The devil has left hell and now he's on earth and he's solving crimes. I don't know why, but it's fun.

Sean McCormick: Nice.

Dr. Breus: You know, it's just a mind-numbing something.

Sean McCormick: Sure.

Dr. Breus: And then I actually try to meditate once I get in bed at night. So I have several different things that I can go through, whether it's diaphragmatic breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation or things like that.

I broke it down into what I call a power-down hour. So approximately one hour before bed I take 20 minutes to do shit that just has to get done. So that's the last email of the night. Usually it's getting my kids' backpacks together, finding shoes, things like that. 20 minutes for hygiene and then 20 minutes for some form of meditation, relaxation. And that can include a lot different things. By the way, there's nothing wrong with the television on. Let me repeat myself-

Sean McCormick: Wait a minute.

Dr. Breus: There's nothing wrong with falling asleep with the television on.

Sean McCormick: What?

Dr. Breus: Let me tell you what goes on in my house, okay. So I have a big king-size bed, I'm asleep and my French bulldog is next to me. My chihuahua is next to him. My wife is there, and then the cat is on top of her. Every once in a while a child will burrow in from the bottom and we don't even know that they're there until the morning. And there's a big screen TV, and it's on all night long.

Sean McCormick: Really?

Dr. Breus: Okay, so let me tell you, that's my world.

Sean McCormick: Wow.

Dr. Breus: Let me tell you how it happened. So when I met my wife, she said, "By the way, I sleep with the television on." I was like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm a sleep doctor. I'm going to fix that." If anybody out there has every tried to fix something in somebody that has become their lifelong partner, good freaking luck, okay 'cause it doesn't happen.

Sean McCormick: Yeah, totally got it.

Dr. Breus: So what I discovered was is that she wasn't actually watching television, she was listening to it. So what she does is she closes her eyes, we turn the brightness down for sure and she just listens to it. It's just enough of a distraction to turn off her brain. Because she's got monkey mind, she can't turn off her brain. That's the most common complaint that I hear. This is just enough of a distraction to allow her to do that.

The good news is, is that 95% of televisions have timers in the software. So you just set the timer and you turn it off. She might wake up in the middle of the night and then turn it back on. It doesn't ever bother me. I'm a decent sleeper. So again, don't go by any hard and fast rules.

One of the things we've been doing in this podcast is we've been breaking the myths, breaking the rules. That's important for people to understand that you can adapt almost anything to be able to make you work within your sleep and your sleep schedule.

Now look, if you decide that it's a great time to have your last cup of coffee 10 minutes before you go to sleep, obviously that's not going to be a great idea. So some things are universal rules, but generally speaking, whatever works for you, as long as it isn't hurting you or your bed partner, it's probably not as bad as you think.

Sean McCormick: Well, you just caused a point of controversy here at the McCormick house, because I'm a really heavy sleeper. I never wake up to pee, I never have.

Dr. Breus: Yep.

Sean McCormick: We'll talk about the waking up to pee thing in a second, but.

Dr. Breus: Sure.

Sean McCormick: I have been an advocate for no TV in the bedroom. The bedroom is for two things, and that doesn't include TV. I've drawn a hard line and I've stuck to it. And my wife, loves the TV in the bedroom and loves looking at her phone, just to again, just-

Dr. Breus: Just the detox.

Sean McCormick: Just the detox from the day and the kids and the to-do list and all that stuff.

Dr. Breus: Totally.

Sean McCormick: Man, oh man. I'm going to have her listen to this, or-

Dr. Breus: Or not.

Sean McCormick: Or not. But I'm asleep in five minutes. As soon as my head hits the pillow, I'm out. I'm a bear, or whatever.

Dr. Breus: Yep.

Sean McCormick: So when that time comes, it goes. The one thing I was excited to share, I learned this a long time ago, as we, as men age, our ability, our prostate suffers. So many of us, I'm 35, many of my friends who are 35, get up once or twice every single night.

Dr. Breus: Wow.

Sean McCormick: And the older you get, I know that that becomes more of a problem. This is a perfect time for me to share this. To be able to exercise your ability to stop your pee.

Dr. Breus: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sean McCormick: I've been doing this for the last two or three years to try to get out ahead of it, because I really value my sleep and the last thing I want to do is wake up to piss twice a night.

Dr. Breus: Right.

Sean McCormick: So what I do is every time I pee, about halfway through I stop the stream and hold it for three seconds to-

Dr. Breus: Oh, that's an interesting idea.

Sean McCormick: Right, to exercise that sphincter.

Dr. Breus: Right.

Sean McCormick: To be able to shut that off. And I think in doing so, I think that I've strengthened my prostate and I've strengthened off that sphincter in the peer.

Dr. Breus: Yep.

Sean McCormick: And then I've never, it's never been a problem for me and I drink tons and tons of water.

Dr. Breus: Right.

Sean McCormick: And I drink water at night with reckless abandon 'cause I know that, I mean when I wake up look out, but it's never been disruptive.

Dr. Breus: Right. Well that's interesting. Yeah, I mean you know I've got a lot of patients who wake up to pee, men and women. As we get older, we know that the sphincter on those bladders becomes looser and looser so it can give you a sense of urgency.

When people wake up in the middle of the night there's a couple cardinal rules that they should not do, number one, do not look at the clock because you instantly do the mental math and then you're pissed.

Sean McCormick: Yes, right.

Dr. Breus: You're like, "It's 4 o'clock in the morning, I've gotta be up in two hours. This sucks." And then you've got so much activation in your brain, you're not falling asleep anytime soon. So do me a favor, don't look at the clock. Turn it around. You don't need it.

You shouldn't even need an alarm clock, if you're going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time, within two weeks your brain will do it automatically for you. That's number one.

Number two, if you don't actually have to pee, do not get up to pee. So here's the thing that most people don't know is your heart rate needs to be at about 60 or below in order for you to enter into a state of unconsciousness.

If you go from a lying position to a seated position to a standing position, guess what, your heart rate aint at 60 anymore. It's much higher. In order because of gravity, you have to push the blood up and down.

So if you don't have to pee, continue to lie there and do deep diaphragmatic breathing. I like the four, six, seven method. Which is where you breath in for a count of four, hold it for six, breath out for a count of seven. You do that eight to 10 times your heart rate just drops, you fall right back to sleep very, very easily.

If you gotta pee, definitely go pee. But do yourself a favor, put some strategically placed nightlights along the way, so you don't have to turn on the light when you get into the bathroom, 'cause the second you do, you told your brain it's morning, and then you're screwed.

Sean McCormick: Right. No, that's such great information. That's perfect for people to hear. Okay, so a couple of fast questions here for you.

Dr. Breus: Yep, fire away.

Sean McCormick: What do you know about the Chilipad, do you like it?

Dr. Breus: I love it. So I think the Chilipad is really good, because it's great for menopausal women, because it can cool you down at night. It's the only device that I've seen that can reliably cool people down. I have one actually here at my home, and we all fight over it during the summer.

Sean McCormick: Right. Okay, what about a grounding pad, or grounding mats, do you like them or hate them?

Dr. Breus: I like them for people who are EMF sensitive. I am not EMF sensitive, and for a while I thought it was all total BS, until I met a patient who was truly EMF sensitive, and I said, "Do you want to try a grounding pad?" And it literally changed their life overnight.

Sean McCormick: Wow.

Dr. Breus: So I have, I probably have a half a dozen patients that it's worked on. But all of them have come to me a told me that they were EMF sensitive. I don't know how you determine something like that, but I feel like it can be an effective tool, again, for those types of people.

Sean McCormick: Well, I think that there's going to be more and more people that learned their general unrest and that ringing in their ears, and that irritability is directly associated with their cable, right?

Dr. Breus: Yeah, for sure.

Sean McCormick: All the wifi and EMFs in their house.

Dr. Breus: Absolutely, yeah totally.

Sean McCormick: How about binaural beats, or binaural frequencies?

Dr. Breus: So the science hasn't been super fantastic on this, however, there is some science that shows that it works. I wrote a blog all about the science of binaural beats, so if people want to check it out at, just type in binaural beats into the search and it'll pop right up.

There's enough data for me to tell you that I think it works. I would not say that we've cracked the code on exactly how to make it work yet. Or at least it's not available in those 99 cent tracks that you can buy at the iTunes store, or the Android store. I think there's a lot more technology that's involved in that.

I just started working with a company called Brain Tap, and that's one of the areas that they're very interested in. They've created headsets and eyepieces where they have lights and sounds together, where they've been able to basically get people into a meditative state in under five minutes. Which is pretty impressive for folks who just can't get there.

So I would say that the science isn't super clear on it yet, but we're definitely working in the right direction. I think there's something there.

Sean McCormick: How about, and this is another contentious debate at my house, bedding. Bed, mattresses, off-gassing, memory foams versus organic wool stuffed from sheep who got massages.

Dr. Breus: Right, exactly.

Sean McCormick: Where are you at with beds?

Dr. Breus: It's very similar to my thoughts on grounding pads and EMF sensitivity. There are some people that are just off-gassing sensitive. I'm not one of them. Look, I went into the plant where they were manufacturing Tempurpedics and I was there all day and I didn't have one ounce of a problem.

So I've been in and around foam for long periods of time. I had my own mattresses at one point in time. I get it. There is definitely something there that people are sensitive to it. The vast majority of people are not. Or, you could be sensitive and you don't know.

There was a great book a while back called The Toxic Bedroom. It's an older book, but it really did a good job of looking at the science then. I would love to find out if they have a newer version of that now, just to see what they're doing now. Because I think, again, I think there's some real data there.

Sean McCormick: Yeah. So it's case-by-case, if you think you might be sensitive, or you are sensitive to smells or off-gassing or plastics or something like that, then you probably should buy a $4,000 wool organic mattress with a cotton cover.

Dr. Breus: Yeah, just make sure you got a really good money-back guarantee on that sucker, because those beds, those super organic, non-off-gassing beds, and again, don't get me wrong if people like them, go for it. They're expensive. And the reason they're expensive is because the raw materials are expensive.

It's not like it's the same cost of the raw materials, and that's part of the reason why I think the industry historically has done that is because it's the cheaper materials that provide most of the off-gassing.

Sean McCormick: Right, yeah in my house, my four year old son sleeps on a more expensive bed than me, 'cause we bought him one of those organic beds.

Dr. Breus: Yeah.

Sean McCormick: While we're on beds, is firmness versus softness also case by case?

Dr. Breus: No, there are some general things we can say about it. So first of all, if you're of Asian descent, it turns out that Asians have straighter spines than Caucasians, so they like a much firmer surface. 'Cause you know we carry most of our weight through our torso, so if you have a soft surface you'll bend there, and it'll start to hurt your back. So firmer is certainly, generally speaking what people from Asian descent seem to enjoy more. Also people with low back pain will do better on a firmer surface as well.

I wrote a blog on how to pick a mattress based on your body type. If people want to check it out they're welcome to do so. But firmer is usually better, in most things in terms of mattresses, for sure.

Sean McCormick: Got it, okay. And then how about sleep trackers, during tech.

Dr. Breus: So here's the thing about sleep trackers is, who cares? It drives me freaking crazy when you look at this sleep tracker and it says, "You got 17 minutes of REM." Like I give a crap. What am I supposed to do with the data? Right?

Sean McCormick: Yeah, always.

Dr. Breus: And so that's been a frustration with me. I just started working with a company called Sleep Score. What's really interesting about them is they actually give you a comparative analysis. So I'm a 50 year old white male. They'll compare my sleep my sleep to a 50 year old white male. That gives me a little bit of a reference point, like, "Okay, I'm in line with people my age. Or I'm not."

Then what it does, which is one step further, which is what I like, it will give you personalized sleep recommendations based on your previous night's sleep. So if it noticed that I woke up four or five times, it might also notice, "Hey, the temperature was hot in your room. Need to turn the temperature down." I'll get that, and that's very valuable information to me. So Sleep Score Max does a really good job of that.

There's another one called Beddit, that Apple purchased that they'll probably ... I don't know if they're out in Apple stores or not yet. But Beddit is definitely a good one. Those two are the ones that I like the most as far as getting comparative analysis and what do you do with your data?

Sean McCormick: Cool, very cool.

Dr. Breus: Yep.

Sean McCormick: Well before we wrap this thing up, is there any ... What are you working on now? What should people be reading? What should they ... What's the hotness?

Dr. Breus: So right now, there's a lot of different things that are going on in sleep. The microbiome really is a place that people need to pay attention. I wrote a blog about the sleep gut connection and how the microbiome works on circadian rhythmicity and rhythms, and it's been very, very popular. I really think that is where we're moving.

I believe that light is medicine. I believe, just like there's junk food, there's junk light, and we need to pay attention to light. I think we need to pay attention to what we stick in our mouths. Nutrition, our body is a chemistry set, and nutrition matters.

So at the end of the day what I always tell people is, "Look, when you cross the finish line of life, you can either be in a car that's at max speed doing exactly what you want it to do and fly across that finish line. Or you can be in a junker that's got the radiator is blown up, you got four flat tires and you're barely making it across the line." One looks a lot more appealing than the other, to me at least.

I've been very fortunate, my grandfather passed away when he was 103 and 10 months. So I'm going to be here a while. So I'm going to be taking care of this as best I can. That's really what I would tell people is, "You cannot take care of yourself without taking care of your sleep." Don't take your sleep for granted. It affects every organ system, every disease state. Every single thing you do, you do better with a good night's sleep.

Sean McCormick: I think that's a great place to stop.

Dr. Breus: There you go.

Sean McCormick: Dr. Breus, thank you so much for joining us on this episode of The OPP.

Dr. Breus: Thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here, and I'm happy to come back.

Sean McCormick: For additional insights and practical lessons based on this show, go to The Optimal Performance Podcast is a Natural Stacks original. Our executive producers are Dennis Buckley and myself, Sean McCormick. Our producer is Christian Randall. OPP intro music by Odyssey. Additional music provided by, That New Jam, A Randy Mcrandell production.



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