Webinar: Better Sleep Tonight!
Facilitator Libby Wright interviews Dr. Jamie Wright who discusses the role of sleep in weight loss with participants of the Your Best Weight online education program. Dr. Wright is a board certified physician with a Masters Degree in Metabolic and Nutritional Medicine. The webinar last for 29 minutes and addresses questions submitted by the program participants.
Webinar Text Transcription
What follows is the text transcription from the webinar for those who would like to read it. You can also view or download a PDF of the discussion slides.
Hi! My name is Libby Wright and I'd like to welcome you to our webinar on sleep. We thought this week we would change things up just a little bit and bring in an expert to interview and have a discussion about our sleep patterns and all the questions that you all have put forth to us this week. So I'd like to introduce to you today one of my favorite people in the whole world, Dr. Jamie Wight. He also happens to be my husband. He's a board-certified physician. He has a master's degree in metabolic and nutritional medicine, and I'm very glad to have him on today to talk with us about the very important topic- that's sleep.
I just like to remind you. My name is Libby Wright. I'm one of the founders of SupplementRelief.com. And as always, we have lots of great recommendations for you, but we always ask that you pass those by your physician or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about a new regimen or things you're doing with your health.
So with that we wanted to actually go in and just talk this week about the specific questions you all put forth to us about sleep. So we're just going to dive right in.
I try to get at least 5 hours of sleep at night, but sometimes I just can't seem to get to bed. What should I do?
Dr. Jamie Wright.
All right, well it's nice to be here as well and it's always a pleasure to do fun things with you honey. We definitely know about the importance of sleep because we have four children who usually sleep through the night now, since our youngest is 9. Our first who is now 17 actually today-Happy birthday Joel- was never a good sleeper. What was it 18 months before he slept? I was in medical school school during that time and then we had a second during medical school and then I went into residency, and my residency was in Obstetrics and Gynecology so, therefore, I never slept and, I would do these 36 hour long shifts, and it was sort of like the badge of Badge of Victory or honor in OBGYN&mdas;who stayed up the longest, and who did the most deliveries, and the most surgeries during that period of time. Still a-lot of crazy, crazy attitudes because really what was going on is we were sort of destroying our health systematically every day. Then I went on to practice OBGYN as a solo practitioner and was basically on call 24 hours a day 7 days a wee-most of the time and so my sleep would get interrupted once or twice a night with a phone call or a delivery.
Within three years of practice, I was pretty miserable for a variety of reasons, as well as the health challenges we were experiencing with Libby's health. So I have to tell you all that I love to sleep, and it's been five years since I left OB-GYN, and I have, for the most part, slept every night pretty thoroughly during that five years and I think it took me three years to catch up, although, I don't believe you can probably actually completely catch up. But as a metabolic medicine expert, especially in the corporate Wellness space, it's a big challenge to convince clients and employers how important sleep is. As you know, working, you know doing the programming we've done with the manufacturing space and the challenges that those employees face attempting to get you know, five or six hours of sleep.
Yeah, one of the program's I did a couple of years ago with a group, a couple groups from Florida. I just was talking to them about sleep and teaching one day and on a whim I said, I just want to know, on average, how many how many hours of sleep a night do you get? I was really surprised to learn that there was hardly anyone that got more than five or six hours of sleep at night and it was impacting so many different areas of their lives, and will actually get into that a little later with another question. But I was just amazed at how much people really believed that sleep was optional for them, and just how much it was wrecking their health.
Yeah, that's an interesting word there-optional. None of us, if we went to, say a local Chinese Garden, you know where they have the Horticultural Society doing they're beautiful things in the garden, and if that Garden look terrible and we started asking around why, and I said well, I don't know just yeah, what do you water it? What no. No, we don't we don't water it, you know. We would we all know from common experience that there are certain things that must occur. They're not optional. To grow healthy plants or healthy animals. Yet somehow we've disconnected this, these same principles of life form our own health and well-being in this concept of trying to get at least 5 hours of sleep. I don't know whoever wrote that-five hours is just simply not enough. Period. And virtually no one feels good with five hours of sleep.
You know, there's some very rare people, one or two percent of the population, that don't need much sleep at all. I haven't seen a lot of research about those people. I almost wonder if it's sort of an urban myth, but I'm sure they're out there. I also wonder what kind of quality of life they really have. What their overall health status is like. Their mood, relationships. Everything is impacted by sleep and it's because this. Sleep is how your immune system in your brain, like literally regenerates.
So how much sleep do you think people need to have every night?
Well, let's go to, I'm probably jumping ahead with some of the questions here, but let's talk around a concept called inflammation. So every chronic disease that, some of which you'll be teaching about during these webinar series, and during our programs as we roll these out, is-every chronic disease is linked to chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is driven by the immune system.
Well, what we know from the literature is, one night of sleep deprivation increases inflammation in the human body. And that's because the immune system has not been able to to go through the sort of regenerative stages that sleep takes it through. Now your brain is essentially architecting your sleep, and it's your brain that is directing the immune system, and the other organ systems and other cellular systems in the body, to go through their restorative processes. And that takes seven, or eight hours, or nine hours, or 10 hours, or 12 hours of sleep a night, primarily depending upon your developmental stage / your age.
So one of the things that we did really badly as a parents of our first two children, was we did not let them sleep. We put our kids down when they were tired. What we learned, what I learned personally by my fourth child Noah. If I thought, here's a tip for anyone out there who has young children, if I thought hmm, I wonder if he's tired? Now this is when he was a baby. I just went ahead and put him to bed. And he appeared to be wide awake. I put him to bed wide awake and I'd listen to him play in there, kind of hit things and talk to himself, you know, jibber-jabber, and then half hour later he's dead asleep. And he is our healthiest, best sleeper. Healthiest child. Most stable mood. You know this goes for adults as well. Very few people feel good with less than seven hours or eight hours of sleep.
So I really like the fact that you talked about inflammation because it really ties into our next question.
Falling asleep and staying asleep. How do we do that and why do we need to do that?
We talked about the inflammation, but sometimes people, you know, maybe they fall asleep okay, but maybe they just can't stay asleep. And, you know, I've talked to a lot of people who have, you know, maybe chronic insomnia, or small bouts of insomnia. What do people, what can people really do to keep that inflammation at babe? Especially, you know, if you could, in addition to talking about falling asleep and staying asleep, talk to those people who just get into those bad habits of not being able to care for themselves. Because that's when the inflammation starts triggering bad things like weight gain, like inflammatory disease, like chronic disease. So talk to us a little bit about falling and staying asleep.
Well, I think the key word there in your question was habit. And in the medical world, we call this sleep hygiene. I sort of break this down in a couple ways. I'm just gonna throw some out. I'm not like a sleep expert here. The mumbo-jumbo that's in the traditional medical world around sleep isn't really helpful practically. So I think of sleep from a metabolic standpoint and a behavioral standpoint as intention to sleep. Meaning, do you intend to sleep? When do you intend to sleep? Do you believe it's important, your preparation to sleep or the routinization of sleep, and then the actual sleep itself. This also sort of leads me to think of things like, in that intention to sleep, if you don't have an intention to do something it's just not going to happen.
So if you don't have an intention to build wealth or to eat well or to exercise your body or to mow your yard, these things just they don't happen. Right? So this is just as a purely behavioral thing. Now, we live in a world where we can perpetually stay up. Well beyond our natural biorhythm. In our natural biorhythm, it basically says within about 30 to 60 minutes of it getting dark you will notice that you want to sleep, and within about, you know, when the Sun goes down, you're probably going to notice a downward shift in your mood and energy. Just a little bit as some people might think this is a negative thing. It's really not. It's just your body your body your brain signaling that okay. It is time. I intend to move into sleep.
What we do is we stimulate our brain with certain wavelengths of light that come from a television or sound from the radios or LED screens, LED backlit screens, like computers and smartphones or even alarm clocks or light coming from a night light. I think a night light is one of the worst things that humans could have invented. Light coming in off the street and on a full moon. Yeah, if you've noticed it's hard to sleep well during the full moon. And it's because of the wavelengths of light coming through.
Another thing I would kind of segue here is the World Health Organization has classified light pollution as a class 2 carcinogen. So excess light reduces the amount of brain hormone called melatonin that comes from your pineal gland that's made. Melatonin modulates or induces sleep it also has antioxidant properties in the body and anti-cancer effects. So there's a lot going on with sleep.
So you should I just talk about some simple kind of how to stay asleep, fall asleep stuff, real like a no-brainer stuff? Sure. We can do that. Let's let's circle back around to that at the end of the time if we can. We have a couple more questions we want to get to and I think you can talk about specific sleep hygiene habits at the end of our time if that would be all right with you. So if we can get back to the next question:
True or False: Is there really a link between good sleep and weight loss?
That's an absolute, you know no-brainer. Let me just tell you the best study that I've found and, it's almost impossible to know the world literature and metabolic stuff. So the best study I found on sleep and weight was this- a pretty good-sized study. I can't remember now how many years old it is. It's I think it's less than 10 years old. It basically illustrated that they looked at categories of people and who was obese. Now this isn't just overweight. This is frankly obese.
And obese is a medical term right? Tell us what obese means.
Obese just means you're you have a body mass index of greater than 30. A body mass index is a height, a weight to height mathematical. Not highly relevant except in research, but nonetheless, so when you're obese, it's certainly linked to more health problems than just being overweight. Shorter lifespan, lower quality of life, etc.
So basically here's what the research showed. If you took a hundred people and they all said I sleep less than five hours a night. 70 out of those hundred people in that group would be obese. But if you took another hundred people, and they all said I sleep between five and six hours per night, about half of those people would be obese. And then if you had a third category of a hundred people who said I sleep more than seven hours a night, only 24 percent of those people would be obese.
So that's sort of indisputable evidence that the number of hours of sleep is directly linked to body weight. Now, some people might say well you're just awake more so you eat more. That's not it. It revolves around this concept of inflammation, chronic inflammation and what that's doing to your body. It probably also plays a role in hormone health and human growth hormone production, but I don't know that for sure and then I haven't looked at literature. But human growth hormone production is key to regeneration of your body's systems, and lean body weight, and maintaining kind of an energetic body, more muscle mass, better hormone production etc.
Okay, great. So if, let's say someone, this was an interesting question to me in our program.
I don't need to lose weight. So why should I sleep? Why does it matter to me? Can you give us some other reasons why sleep is really key to health and good life?
Yeah, I think one study that pops into my mind was published a little bit earlier this year in the last two or three months. They looked at time zones. So if you're at the Eastern side of a time zone, the sun rises a little bit earlier and if you're at the Western side of the time zone, the sun sets a little bit later. So if you're on the western end of the time zone, you, it's light a little bit longer in the day.
But everybody has to get up at the same time in the morning, right? like if it gets light about a half hour later in your time zone they don't say well, just come to work a half hour later.
Well, and we experience that living in Michigan versus living on the East Coast because we would get we would get light a lot later in the morning and yet you know work still starts at eight o'clock if you're in the Eastern time zone.
So they looked at, I think this particular study looked at, Alabama and Texas with the time zone issue. What they found was that, with the people who the sunset a little bit earlier in the day hours, had about I think a 5% increase in average income.
So sleep was linked to, more sleep was linked to more income. Wow. Yeah. So, now again, this is, I'm sure that if you if you study this you're going to see different factors, is a multifactorial issue, obviously economics, but nonetheless, it's interesting. So little things, that are the right kind of things, can have a big impact, and sleep is one of these.
What I'll often do for people who are non-believers in this is, I'll just I'll just ask them to begin observing, and become aware, of their sleep habits and why they often will resist going to sleep. What kind of shenanigans are going on in their lifestyle. A lot of times people are just wasting time watching the news. They've developed these habits that their brain sort of gets locked into.
Yeah, and you know, so one step maybe-my husband always has to watch the news. News. Okay. Well, where's the TV while right now? In the bedroom. Okay, take it out. Well, you know you got five TVs in your house. So yeah, you would need to take the TV out and stick it in a closet. Do it for a week. Just see what happens.
You know, turning the clocks around so that the light isn't facing your face. Or going to an old, you know, one of those old-timey, you know clocks that we had back in then the 80s when I was a kid. Like the winding and the hands and stuff? Maybe that or you know, I just remember the one that had that set up to it, the mechanical motor, you know, that had the glowing face.
You know, getting better light shades to keep the street lights out.
I use my phone as an alarm clock to because that way the light isn't shining all the time, but the phones right by my bed if I need to check the time, and it won't light up until it's morning. So it keeps that darkness. So a simple way to change things.
Well, actually I can speak to that. That's probably not a great idea honey, because, here's the deal with with brain and the melatonin a hormone production in the brain. Sneaking a look at your phone, with the LED backlight one time in the middle of the night, will shut down your melatonin production. So you really need an absence of light the entire time you're asleep. Especially these wavelengths of light that come off the backlit screens.
You know, and I'll need speak to that one more time. What I, what I've had my kids do and I've done this with my computer as well, is there's some applications you can get that change the colors emitted from, or the wavelengths of light emitted from your screen so that it doesn't disrupt your brain biorhythm, or your brain hormone production in the night. I don't know that there's any science around it actually working, you know outcome-based, but it certainly makes good sense from just a purely physiologic standpoint.
Okay, great. So one of the things you've been talking about over and over again, and this is one of our last questions, so I wanted you to have have some time to develop this out a little bi-talking about sleep hygiene and I kind of laughed when I thought about hygiene because you know, you think about as a parent, okay brush your teeth, comb your hair, you know wash behind your ears. And the first time I heard the term sleep hygiene, it just kind of struck me as funny but then I realized it just made a lot of sense because hygiene is just habits. Good habits that we cultivate to take good care of our bodies. And so sleep hygiene is good habits that we cultivate to help us to get to bed and stay asleep, and it's something that we've really implemented as a family with a lot of success.
And so I just like you to speak to that and also talk a little bit about melatonin as a supplement as part of the sleep hygiene routine that people can use as they're trying to get their bodies into that good rhythm.
What are good sleep habits?
So I think I spoke to sleep hygiene quite a bit already through number one here, your intent to sleep. You know some rules of thumb that I use are the first time that, I'll just kind of speak a little bit more generally here. This is about common sense care for your body.
The first time you think I gotta poop you should go and find a bathroom. The second time you think I got a pee you should go pee. The first time you think I need to sleep you should start heading to bed, and you should be in bed within 30 to 45 minutes, maybe 60 minutes of that first sense of I need to sleep.
Most of us have very poor habits around this and, if you're listening to this and you're thinking there's no way I could do that, well there is a way. It's maybe many steps away from where you're at right now. So what you can begin to do is kind of the journey that I took recovering from my chronic sleep deprivation as a Gynecology GYN. You just start where you are and try to start eliminating some things from your life like the television and the radio. Get some protected sleep time reading and little bit of a novel before you go to bed. Don't have LED lights in your bedroom and commit to leaving the the phones outside of the room. These are really good starters.
You can use some supplements like a little bit of liquid melatonin under the tongue. There's even some Doc's that I know, and I don't personally prescribe this to my patients, but in using some of the supplemental shakes, they'll have patients use a little bit of liquid melatonin in their supplemental shakes during the day. It seems to help people reduce their sense of stress.
Another thing that I found really improved the quality of my sleep is taking two supplements routinely. So what I did when I first started out, this is like six or seven years ago when I was an exhausted OBGYN, I would take two MultiMedica for Men and two Corti-B Plex in the morning and then the same thing around five or six o'clock in the evening. That really helped me from an all-around alertness and quality of sleep, because good sleep comes out of good health. So it's a natural part of the cycle of a day.
So basically you are feeling energized during the day and you felt like you could rest comfortably at night.
I was energized at night in the right way, which means your brain is moving into the patterns of sleep and restoration. So again, it's a yin and a Yang so to speak. I mean you have to have both. They're both equally as good and they're both productive and necessary for quality of life.
One other thing before I pass this mic back to you since I'm feeling talkative today, many people experience brain chatter. One supplement that may help quite a bit for brain chatter is called L-Theanine. And I know that I don't know. I think you're talking about that. But I just wanted to throw that out there because a lot of people do struggle with that kind of brain chatter.
Well, thank you. All those supplements that Jamie just talked about are available on the SupplementRelief.com website so be sure and check those out if you want a little further information about them.
Just to give you a few other tips from my perspective on some things that have helped me sleep through the night better is, you know, setting my intention a lot sooner. A lot of times I didn't do my bedtime routine like pajamas, brushing my teeth, not eating. All those I kept, you know, every night when I was trying to change. I would just move it back every 15, you know, 15 minutes, a night or every other night to just be able to give it a little bit more time. So, you know putting those pajamas on they would just kind of tell me okay, I'm really going to settle down and rest and committing to at least two hours before I went to bed. I would not have any screen time and it worked well for me.
It's worked well for my kids and it's actually been a really great thing to do as a family. It allows us to have some reading time and some quiet time as a family, because, you know when you're watching TV or having loud music or lots of light, it really just gets things wound up and can really create a lot of stress in the home. A lot of times stress is one of the key factors in people having a hard time falling asleep. So by reducing and eliminating that stress before bed, it's going to be a lot easier to fall asleep. Also for me, my brain seems to go a million miles a minute when I'm trying to fall asleep. So having a sheet of paper and a pencil next to my bedside to be able to write down any thoughts or things that I can't forget before, you know when I get up in the morning, will just help me to be able to relax and rest because I'm not trying to hold something in my brain all night to stay awake.
So one thing I'd like to say first of all, thank you Jamie so much for joining us today and for sharing your wisdom. I'd also like to encourage you all as our listeners to post in our discussion forum what your what your goal is from this week's lesson. I know most people don't sleep perfectly and there's usually some room for improvement. I would also really encourage you to check out those supplements and and see what we can do to help you out. So with that we'll sign off. We hope you have a great week. Thank you.
Libby Wright, mother of four who homeschools, is an original founder of SupplementRelief.com in 2010. She suffered through challenging diseases including Interstitial Cystitis, Graves and Lyme. After years of little progress with traditional medicine, she pursued integrative medicine, applied what she learned, and got healthier. She became passionate about wanting others to experience the same "relief" she had come to know, and SupplementRelief.com was born. She is now managing her illness with a lot of prayer, a lot of nutrition/supplements, and a little prescription medicine. She has been able to resume her normal life and, while there is no cure for her particular conditions, she is able to cope, enjoy every day, and encourage others.
Learn more about Libby Wright.
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