Dr. Breus: When I was working with Rosie O'Donnell from the television show "The View", she too had obstructive sleep apnea. We talked about it nationally on television with her, and she stopped breathing in her sleep over two hundred and fifty times in a night.
Kevin: Wow! Then how do you know that it's happening? They don't know that it's happening!
Dr. Breus: They have no idea. And that's what's so scary about this situation with sleep. It's you wake up and you don't feel so hot, but you have no idea what was going on.
Dr. Breus: So there's multiple ways to get at that. Sometimes it's going for a formal sleep study. Sometimes it's even easier than that. Sometimes it's just asking your bed partner "Hey, have you heard me snore?" or "Have you heard me stop breathing in my sleep?", or things like that. Because again that can be a really big factor. But all of these different things - whether it's a sleep disorder or disordered sleep - cause sleep deprivation.
Dr. Breus: And that's the real big kicker here. It's not necessarily stopping breathing in your sleep that's not so great for you, even though, believe me, having low oxygen levels isn't good. Because it can cause stroke and heart attack and things like that.
Kevin: Mm hmm.
Dr. Breus: But what happens is this - your brain says "Holy cow! There's no oxygen." And it wakes you up. And it's like an alarm clock going off all night long.
Kevin: Two hundred times.
Dr. Breus: [Every] five or ten minutes.
Dr. Breus: I mean, think about that. If an alarm clock went off every five minutes all night long, how good would you feel the next morning?
Kevin: [Laughs] Terrible.
Dr. Breus: Right, you'd feel pretty crappy.
Dr. Breus: Well, every time you do that - from either sleep apnea or insomnia or restless leg syndrome or what I call disordered sleep - it causes sleep deprivation. And sleep deprivation affects several different areas. The first area that it affects is cognition or thinking in creative process. You know when we're at work, or we're at home, or we're trying to problem-solve or come up with new solutions, we have a real big problem if we're too sleepy to do it. You know what I'm saying?
Kevin: I'm pretty sure there's a lot of callers on the line right now have experienced that.
Dr. Breus: Yeah. There's no question about it. Another big area is reaction time. So how quickly do we react to external stimulants?
Kevin: Mm hmm.
Dr. Breus: Turns out to be a major factor, from sleep deprivation. So, what does that mean? Driving a car, big factor. Here's a great example - Daylights Saving Time. We all just experienced this, the spring forward aspect. What we lose - approximately one hour of sleep -
Kevin: Right. Dr. Breus: Well, did you know that the two days after Daylights Saving Time are the number one and two days for car accidents?
Kevin: Get out of here. That's incredible.
Dr. Breus: Yeah.
Dr. Breus: And that's from losing one hour of sleep. Now you'd think "Oh so what I lose an hour. It's not that big a deal.". The truth of the matter is, it turns out to be a bigger deal because we are a sleep deprived nation. The average individual gets approximately 6.9 hours of sleep per night. But what we're finding is when we really look at that a little bit closer ( cause that's what they report ) it's about 6.9 hours, which you see now, seven hours of sleep. That's not so bad.
Kevin: Mm hmm.
Dr. Breus: When we actually study them in the lab, it turns out they're getting closer to 5.9 hours of sleep.
Kevin: Really? And the difference is ...
Dr. Breus: About an hour's worth of sleep, and then when you're talking about people who are getting six hours worth of sleep verses seven, that's almost a full sleep cycle towards the end of the night, which can have a tremendous amount to do with memory, reaction time, creativity, you name it.
Kevin: Yeah. Well, without getting too detailed, can you go into a sleep cycle?
Dr. Breus: Sure. So what happens when you go into a sleep cycle? First of all, people should know, that sleep is not just an on-off switch. It doesn't work that way. You don't just walk into a room, turn off the light and boom you're asleep. It's more like pulling your foot slowly off the gas
Dr. Breus: Multiple things have to be released and multiple things have to occur in order for that switch-over to happen. But once [you actually], your body does settle down and calm down enough to fall asleep, that's when things start to get interesting. So we measure sleep in multiple different ways, but primarily through brainwaves, or what we call EEG. Now people have probably seen it on you know, "[Grey's] Anatomy" and, you know, "E.R.", normally thinks we see the line flipping across the screen,
Kevin: Mm hmm.
Dr. Breus: Well, there are different wave forms that we can identify that will tell us which stages of sleep people are in. And that has to do with how quickly information is moving across your brain. So right when you close your eyes, you have alpha wave, which is a calm, sort of bio-feedback situation where you're relaxed just somewhere between seven and nine [hertz], so seven to nine cycles per second of your brain moving back and forth. After that, you move into Stage One sleep. and Stage Two sleep. Now, Stage One and Stage Two sleep are kind of hard to tell apart. There are a couple of different landmarks, and we don't have to go into all the specifics of it. But basically, Stage Two sleep occupies almost fifty percent of your night, as an adult.
Dr. Breus: But as a child, it only represents about twenty percent of your night. And as an infant, it [laughs] almost doesn't represent any of your night.
Dr. Breus: So, if I take a baby and I hook him up to an EEG, it's almost all deep sleep, which we as adults are lucky if we get eighteen to twenty percent [of our night hour]
Dr. Breus: And that's the wake-up-and-feel-great sleep. That's the "Wow! I feel recharged. I feel refreshed. I feel ready to meet the day" sleep.
Dr. Breus: Okay. Infants also have a much larger bit of R.E.M. sleep, or rapid eye movement sleep. Now, a lot of people say "Well, Micheal, isn't that the sleep where you dream?". Well, yes and no. You have a greater [preponderance] to dream during R.E.M. sleep. But you can actually dream at any stage of sleep, believe it or not. Most people don't know that. And the way you can prove that to yourself is if you ever fall asleep on the couch, and you've had a dream, you'll know that you probably want to sleep that long. The average person, it takes them between eighty and a hundred and twenty minutes to get to R.E.M. sleep.
Kevin: Well, okay.
Dr. Breus: So it turns out to be quite a big difference there. So, again, it's not necessary that you're only going to dream during R.E.M. sleep. You have a greater tendency to dream then, but you can dream during any stage of sleep.
Dr. Breus: Let's get back to some of the facts of sleep,
Dr. Breus: Provision on health. It also affects how we heal. One of the things we know is that research studies shown here, hospitals show that individuals who have better sleep in hospital actually heal better. We know that people lose weight better when they're not sleep deprived and when they're... going into the specifics of that in a little while.
Kevin: Mm hmm.
Dr. Breus: We know that we defend against disease. There was a fantastic study that showed that individuals who take the flu shot actually find that they are less effective when they are sleepy. I mean, think about that. Think about all the people who go out and get flu shots. And if they are sleep deprived, they're doing themselves no good. You know what I mean? Depression is a whole other factor. One of the things we're starting to learn about now, is that individuals who are sleep deprived have a greater tendency to have depression. And people who have a genetic propensity for depression, they can kick off in the bed, just like being sleep deprived.
Dr. Breus: So it's pretty serious stuff. When we look at just women, in general, there are some pretty amazing statistics here as well. Seventy-five percent of menopausal women experience hot flushes, alright. Hot flushes will affect your sleep. Forty percent of menopausal women have sleep problems caused by hot flushes. So, what we're talking about now, is we're talking about roughly thirty- five percent of all menopausal women are having disrupted sleep. And all women go through menopause.
Dr. Breus: So, that's a pretty tremendous section of the population who're going to have sleep problems, just from the life hormonal changes.
This interview is an excerpt from Kevin Gianni's Fountain of Youth Summit, which can be found at fountainofyouthworldsummit.com. In this excerpt, Dr. Michael Breus shares on obstructive sleep apnea, the affects of daylight savings time and more. Dr. Michael Breus is the author of Good Night and Web MDs sleep expert.