Episode 63 | Dr. Michael Breus, Ph.D. | New Formula for Deep Sleep

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Do you lie awake in bed thinking about your never ending to-do list and those upcoming deadlines. Or, maybe you keep replaying a conversation where you wish you would have responded differently. Perhaps falling asleep isn’t the issue, but STAYING asleep is your achilles heel.

Joining me in today’s episode of OnHealth is Dr. Michael Breus, also known as  “The Sleep Doctor”. He is a clinical psychologist with a specialty in sleep disorders.

In his latest book, The Power of When, Dr Breus helps you understand your personal inner clock…from the best time for you to work out, eat, and even go to sleep. Getting in sync with your own circadian cycle can help you live a more healthy, energetic life.

You may have seen him on CNN, Oprah, “The View” and so many times on “Dr. Oz.” In his clinical practice, he treats and inspires everybody from athletes to celebrities…plus he trains other sleep doctors and consults with organizations in order to to explore what’s underneath sleep challenges and begin to resolve those issues.

In this episode, you’ll discover… 

• 5 Cardinal Sleep Sins that you may be breaking on a daily basis and could be preventing you from getting a good nights rest.

• The importance of waking up at the same time of every day…yes, even on the weekends…and how that affects your circadian rhythm.

• Is it a myth that the popular CBD oil can help you get some shut eye?

• The scary effect that lack of sleep can drastically have on your hormones.

• How to find out what your sleep chronotype is…are you a bear, lion, dolphin, or wolf?

Connect With Dr. Michael Breus, Ph.D.

Website | Quiz | Book |

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Kathy Smith: Michael, welcome to the show. 

Michael Breus: Thank you so much, Kathy. I’m excited to be here. I’ve been a big fan of yours for a long time. 

Kathy Smith: Well, we have a few things in common. Thank you very much. We both have Southern California first of all. I lived there, go back there. You’re down in that area. Plus, you write books on sleep, and I love to sleep. And I interviewed Dr. Oz when he was in Park City a few months ago, and I know he’s a big fan of yours. As a matter of fact, he wrote the forward of the book I was just mentioning. He really applauds you for helping people understand their relationship between circadian cycles and kind of how to structure your day. So why don’t we jump in? Just explain this idea of what is a circadian cycle and why should we be concerned about it? 

Michael Breus: Sure. We’ve all been dealing with our circadian cycles whether we knew it or not. Go back to– folks out there have kids. Go back there to when your child was first born. Infants are really early birds, right, as we know. Sometimes too early. They go to bed very early, and they wake up very early.  

Then once children kind of hit kind of the three, four age range, they kind of move into sort of normal sleepers. They’re going to be around 7:30 and waking up around 7:30 hopefully. 

Then when they hit the teenage years, everything seems to change. I’m in the middle of that right now with two teenagers myself. They want to stay up late, and they want to sleep late. So they become night owls.  

Those are the rhythms that I’m talking about. But I’m not talking about them for kids. It turns out that once you hit age 18, you settle into one of those three rhythms. And believe it or not, there’s a fourth rhythm out there, which is a rhythm of insomnia. These are all, believe it or not, genetically based. If you went to one of those websites where you can send them your genetic material and they could give you a report, you can actually look up, genetically speaking, if you are an early bird, kind of a middle-of-the-road, or a night owl, or if you have these genetics towards insomnia. That’s what the newest book is all about.  

So if you don’t want to go and send your genetic material in and things like that, you can go take my quiz online. It’s 35 questions; it’s pretty quick. And it puts you into one of these four buckets.  

Now, I’ve named the buckets a little bit differently. So from early bird, I now call these people a lion. Let me tell you a little bit about them. They are my COOs of a company. They’re getting up at 4:30, 5:00 in the morning. They are firing off 50 emails before 7:30 type of people. They’re pretty militant in their thinking, kind of type A personalities. But socially, they have a problem. Because dinner and a movie is out for them, because these people have been awake since 4:30 in the morning, right? So they’re not really too interested on the social side of things. 

The middle people are what I call bears. It’s actually the best to be a bear. Only 15% of people are lions or early birds, and about 50% of people are bears. It’s actually the best to be a bear, because the world works on a bear’s schedule. This is the typical go to work at 9:00, leave at 5:00, get up at 7:30, go to bed at 10:30 kind of lifestyle. These people have a tendency to be a little bit more outgoing, have a tendency to be the worker bees. These are the folks that get stuff done. Our lions have a tendency to be better managers than actual workers believe it or not. They’re very outgoing people. They are the people who invite you over for dinner or buy you a drink at the bar, that kind of thing. 

The night owls I’ve changed to wolves. We know wolves are nocturnal creatures. I happen to be a wolf myself. I rarely go to bed before midnight. I’ve always been this way my entire life. Wolves have a tendency to be a bit more introverted. We are the creative. So this is where I find my actors, my musicians, my authors, people like that. Oftentimes, my entrepreneurs are in this category. Unfortunately for us, health is a big concern. People who are genetically wanting to stay up late and sleep late actually don’t have great genes for health. So we have a greater likelihood for illness, for cancers, for mental health disorders, drinking problems, that kind of thing. 

Our insomniacs, which I call dolphins, make up about another 10%, 15% of the population. These are people who are a lot like the lions. They get up very early. They’re very type A personalities, but they really have not slept well. Oftentimes, they’re self-diagnosed as insomniacs, and they have just enough obsessive-compulsive disorder to make it so that it’s difficult for them to finish a project, get things done. But if anybody else looks at their work, they think it’s amazing.  

Once you fall into one of those four categories, then I know exactly what your hormone profile is at any given time. Think of it like this. If you’re a lion and you wake up at 5:00 in the morning, your melatonin stops and your cortisol starts. But if you’re a wolf like me and you don’t wake up until 8:30, that’s when your melatonin starts and stops. So people are on a very different hormone schedule. 

Believe it or not, these hormones are incredibly predictable. So once I know your hormone patterns, I actually can tell you the time of day where your hormones are naturally up into the range for any particular activity. I can actually tell you the best time of day to have sex, eat a cheeseburger, ask your boss for a raise. You name it and it’s actually hormonally balanced. 

Kathy Smith: Well, I’m going to have you play my psychologist. I happen to be a bear. I took ThePowerofWhenQuiz.com. You guys out there, I’ll put it in the liner notes so you guys can take it. Very fascinating, because some of the questions, you’re going, “I wonder why he’s asking me this?” I’m a bear with a little lion in me, but I’m a bear. What happens if you are dating a night owl? This is huge. Or married to a night owl or whatever. How do you manage that? 

Michael Breus: That is tough. I’ll tell you the story of what’s kind of gone on with me. With my wife, it was interesting. When we first started dating, I said, “Lauren, what time do you want me to get you?”  

She’d say, “Pick me up at 8:00.” We’d get to the restaurant by 8:30. We’d be done with dinner by quarter to 10:00. We might go to a movie, get out midnight, go for a drink. It was nothing for us to get home at 1:00 in the morning. It didn’t bother either one of us, because she’s a night owl too. Quite frankly, life was very easy when you’re dating someone that’s the same chronotype.  

But if you’re married to somebody or dating somebody with a different chrono schedule, if you will, then it can be a little bit more on the difficult side. The good news is that the book actually goes into this depending upon what activity it is you want to do. Everything from being intimate to having an important discussion to even talking to your children. There are different times of day that you can find overlap. So what you’re doing when your partner is not of the same chronotype as you is you’re looking for those points in the day where there’s overlap. The book highlights that quite frequently. 

Kathy Smith: So I imagine the two of you ran into a few problems once you started having children. 

Michael Breus: Yes, we did. The good news though was both of our kids were great sleepers. Not a big surprise there. They were actually late sleepers, which actually worked out great for us. 

Kathy Smith: If somebody is, let’s say, a bear, a certain chronotype, does this ever shift? Does this shift through the years? 

Michael Breus: Great question. It’s interesting, when we get older, everybody seems to shift a little bit more towards being a lion or dolphin. That seems to occur simply because people become either medically more complicated and that’s where the dolphin comes in. Or once again, just like our biological clocks shifted when we were teenagers, there’s a second shift that occurs when we are adults. Usually above the age of 50, 55, we start to see people going to bed earlier and waking up earlier. 

This has to do with the decrease in overall melatonin production that occurs around age 50, 55. For some people, it can also have to do with the fact that as our eyes age, we do not let in as much light in our eyes, and light is actually the thing that affects our circadian rhythm the most. It’s actually the driver of our circadian rhythm. 

Kathy Smith: Interesting. So do you have certain light bulbs in your house? 

Michael Breus: I sure do.  

Kathy Smith: Tell me. 

Michael Breus: I have these special– they’re called biological lighting. There’s a great website that I’ve done some work with. It’s called Lighting Science. If you just want to get the bulbs and you don’t want to learn all the science behind it, if you just go to Google and you type in the goodnight light bulb, this is a specialty light bulb. I’ve tricked my children. They don’t know that I have it in their rooms. It filters out the blue light, which is awesome. Because a lot of times, they’re up using their devices late at night, watching TV, Netflix, what have you, and so they’re getting a big dose of blue light at night, which is not so great when you’re trying to fall asleep.  

Kathy Smith: Explain a little bit more about the blue light so we understand. 

Michael Breus: Every form of light that is emitted, whether it’s from your phone or a tablet or even a lightbulb next to your bed, has blue in it. Now, it’s not actually the color blue. It’s part of a spectrum. 

So when we look at light, there are different frequencies, and they’re measured in these things called nanometers. When you’re looking between 450 and 480 nanometers, that range is called blue. That specific frequency affects these very particular cells in your eyeball called melanoxin cells. When that frequency hits those cells, it sends a signal to your brain to stop melatonin production altogether.  

This is great if you’re waking up in the morning. But it’s terrible if you’re trying to go to sleep at night. This is one of the reasons why oftentimes you hear recommendations of don’t use your phones as you’re trying to fall asleep. Because again, what you’re basically doing is giving a boost to your circadian rhythm by turning off that melatonin. 

Kathy Smith: Okay. So that’s one of what you call “cardinal sleep sins”. What are a few of the other sleep sins that you see people engaging in? 

Michael Breus: The biggest one, if everybody wants to take one thing from my lecture and talk today with you, it’s really that keeping a consistent sleep schedule is probably the biggest, most important thing that you can do to increase the quality and the quantity of your sleep. By consistency, I don’t always mean your bedtime, but more so your wakeup time. 

When you wake up in the morning and you get a little bit of sunlight in your eyes and it shuts off that melatonin faucet in your brain, the more consistently you have a wake up time, the more your brain knows when to sleep and wants to sleep and actually gets into sleep faster.  

As an adult, I sleep roughly 6 1/2 hours a night. I go to bed at midnight, and I wake up at 6:30. I’m so consistent with this schedule that my body not only falls asleep very, very quickly, but it gets me into deep sleep quickly, which is why I don’t know the characteristic seven to eight hours that most other people need. 

So if people are out there trying to think, “Hey, I’d love to get a little bit less sleep, but I don’t want to lose the quality of the sleep that I’m getting,” the more consistently that you wake up, which means waking up at the same time – I hate to say it – but on the weekends, it’s going to really be helpful for you.  

I get it if you want to go out with some friends and have a nice meal or something like that on Friday and Saturday night. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do that. What I am saying is, you still need to get up at your same weekday time on the weekends in order to maintain that level of consistency. 

The second thing I tell people about has to do with caffeine. It turns out, caffeine is the single most abused substance, I think, in the universe. People don’t realize that caffeine has a half-life of between six and eight hours – hours. So what we try to get people to understand is that if you stop caffeine by 2:00 p.m., then that gives you enough time to get at least half of it out of your system, which will then allow for you to be able to fall asleep much easier. 

Now, I guarantee you, Kathy, there’s somebody listening who’s thinking to themselves, “Sleep doctor? He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I can have a cup of coffee at dinner and be just fine to fall asleep at night.” 

Number one, different people have different caffeine sensitivities, which is certainly something to consider. But even if you don’t have a major sensitivity, but you have caffeine late in the evening, you may fall asleep. But if I put electrodes on your head, I guarantee you that you’re not getting the quality of the sleep that you’re looking for. So stopping caffeine by 2:00 p.m. or going decaf by 2:00 p.m. is really probably a great idea in general for your health but also especially for your sleep. 

Step number three has to do with alcohol. 

Kathy Smith: Can I [overlapping speech 00:18:53] just about that one? Because what I notice for myself, and I’m very caffeine sensitive, many times we just think coffee. I don’t drink coffee, but what I started drinking was matcha. And matcha’s very strong. What I notice if I drink matcha late in the day or else the other thing, which I love my deep, deep dark chocolate. But if I have too much chocolate late as a dessert or late at night, that’s also very disruptive. So we also have to be careful where we’re getting our caffeine from. 

Michael Breus: We do. Absolutely. But here’s the one thing about chocolate that I want to add a little caveat, if I can, is my wife eats chocolate every single day. This is just part of who she is. I have learned to accept it. She told me a long time ago that if I ever tell people that they cannot have chocolate that we will get divorced. So I’m here to let you know that you’d have to eat a lot of chocolate for it to have– unless you’re again very sensitive to caffeine like you are– you’d have to eat a ton of chocolate for it to have a big effect.  

But matcha, interestingly enough, you’re the third person to tell me today that people don’t drink caffeine but drink matcha. And that can definitely have an effect on sleep for sure. 

Kathy Smith: I also want to go on record that I have chocolate every single day. So I love it. I interrupted. We’re back to number three. 

Michael Breus: Step number three has to do with alcohol. It turns out that alcohol is the number one sleep aid in the world. There are more people that use alcohol to help them fall asleep than any other sleep aid. More than Benadryl, more than Tylenol PM, you name it.  

One of the things that we have to be careful with is because there’s a really big difference between going to sleep and passing out. What don’t want is we don’t want people passing out. That being said, it takes the average human body approximately one hour to digest one alcoholic beverage. So if you have two glasses of wine with dinner and you finish dinner at 8:00, you want to have two glasses of water and wait two hours before lights out.  

So you see what I did there? I add one glass of water for each alcoholic beverage and one hour for each alcoholic beverage until lights out.  

So if you know what your bedtime reasonably should be– like with me, I go to bed at midnight– if I’m going to have a couple of beers with dinner, my dinner and drinking needs to be done by 10:00. That way, I can enjoy my meal without having the major effects of alcohol on my sleep. 

Kathy Smith: I know I want to jump into this in a second about other supplements. But is there anything when you’ve had that drink and you’re going home, is there anything that you put in that water to help liver, or help absorption, or help processing? 

Michael Breus: Yes. I’ll tell you my super-secret trick that I’ve just learned about.  

Kathy Smith: I love that. Okay. 

Michael Breus: Coconut water. I don’t know if you like coconut water, but alcohol pulls a tremendous amount of vitamin B out of our systems and we need vitamin B desperately. Coconut water is loaded with it. So the last glass of water that you have, you should grab a coconut water and drink that, because there’s at least two studies to show that it can be very helpful in reducing a hangover. So something to think about for sure. Do you want step number four? 

Kathy Smith: Yeah, let’s go to four. 

Michael Breus: Step number four has to do with exercise. The best way to improve the quality of your sleep is through exercise. It’s a good one. What we like about exercise is that not only is it a stress reducer, but it’s a sleep quality improver. However, there are some people who get a little too revved up from their exercise. I know that there are some people who relax more after exercising and kind of get mellow, and there are some people that get revved up. 

If you’re one of those people that gets revved up, you probably don’t want to exercise too close to bedtime. So give yourself about three to four hours after your workout if you get revved up. If you don’t, you can exercise well up until about two hours before bed.  

Then the final step has to do with sunlight. Every morning when you wake up, you should drink a bottle of water. The reason you should do that is most people don’t realize it, but just from the humidity of our breath – breathing out at night – we lose approximately one liter of water every night. We need to replace that water as quickly as we can every morning and we need to get 10 to 15 minutes of direct sunlight.  

Sunlight, remember, is just like blue light and it helps turn off that melatonin faucet. So to get rid of that brain fog in the morning, I’m always asking my patients, drink a full bottle – 12 to 16 oz bottle of water, number one. And number two, get 15 minutes of sunlight. Don’t put on your sunglasses. Walk outside, grab the paper, have your morning breakfast outside, take the dog for a walk. Do something. Go by the window. Do something to get that sunlight because that’s going to be critical in your overall sleep health.  

Kathy Smith: Well, it’s one of the things I do every morning. I actually open the door, get my glass of water, walk outside, and just actually take a few moments, deep breath, look up at the sun, look around.  

Getting back to the exercise, and as sex is a bit of exercise, some people get very invigorated after sex, and some people get very, very relaxed. Have you seen any patterns there with when to have sex? 

Michael Breus: I have. First of all, let’s be super honest here. Men fall asleep after sex, and women are wide awake after sex, generally speaking. That’s just how it goes. The question becomes, is that a good thing, is that a bad thing? How does that work, and when is really the best time for sex? 

In my studies, I actually found the exact answer to this question. It’s quite fascinating. In order to be intimate, you need five hormones. You need progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone, and cortisol, and adrenalin all to be high, and you need melatonin to be low. That’s kind of what your hormone profile should look like if you want to become intimate with somebody.  

Now here’s where it gets interesting. 74% of people become intimate between 10:30 and 11:30 at night. I’ll give you one guess what your hormone profile looks like at that period of time. 

Kathy Smith: Your melatonin is starting to rise, which is making you more tired, and your testosterone and some of the other ones you mentioned is probably starting to drop a bit? 

Michael Breus: Exactly. It’s the opposite of what you want to see it have happen, number one. Number two, most of us know that when we wake up in the morning and you’re a male, you usually have an erection. Here’s the deal. What do you think your hormone profile looks like in the morning? 

Kathy Smith: Aha. Melatonin is starting to drop and all those other hormones are on the rise.  

Michael Breus: Exactly. People should be having sex in the morning. Number one, it’s a great way to start off your day. Number two, if you’re a woman and you do get energized from it, now you’ve got great energy for the day. If you’re a man and you become a little sleepy afterwards, honestly what ends up happening is you just become a little bit more mellow. You don’t actually become sleepy. And it’s a great way to start off your day. It works really, really well even from a performance standpoint for folks out there who have performance issues or may have libido issues. Once again, morning time makes sense. 

Let’s be honest. Mother Nature would not have men having erections in the morning if they weren’t supposed to use them.  

Kathy Smith: Exactly. I love this. We’re going to start checking this trend.  

Now, let’s tie it into this weight loss. People talk about sleep and weight loss and how it relates to hormones. Can you explain why it’s important to have sleep so that we can maintain our weight? 

Michael Breus: Sure. In my second book, which is called The Sleep Doctor’s Diet: Lose Weight Through Better Sleep, it was all about the relationship between sleep and the metabolic process. It can get pretty complicated, but I can make it very straight forward.  

First of all, when we are sleep deprived, meaning that we’re not either getting the quality or the quantity of the sleep that we need – remember, that’s individual – here’s one of several things that happen.  

Number one, your cortisol increases. The reason your cortisol increases is because it’s going to increase your appetite. And the reason it increases your appetite is your brain is saying, “Hold on a second. I’m awake when I should be asleep, because I’m sleep-deprived. I need more resources.” So it increases your appetite so you will eat in order to bring resources in.  

The second thing that happens is your brain says, “I need to slow my metabolism down.” Your slowing your metabolism down to conserve the resources that you’ve already got inside your system. Right away, we have high appetite and low metabolism. You can already tell which direction this is going when you’re sleep deprived.  

But it gets worse. When we look at the hormones, specifically ghrelin – spelled g-h-r-e-l-i-n – this is a hormone that I call the go hormone, and this is the hormone that controls hunger. Now, in your brain when you’re looking at this from a neurochemical standpoint, appetite and hunger turn out to be two different things. So now, we already know your appetite is high. Now, ghrelin increases and hunger is high.  

There’s a second hormone called leptin. Leptin is the hormone that makes you feel full. This decreases by about 15%. So just in summary, you’ve got high cortisol which increases your appetite, you’ve got high ghrelin which increases your hunger, you’ve got low leptin which is telling you that you’re full, and you’ve got a low metabolism.  

Honestly, I don’t know if it gets much worse, but in fact, it does. Because there’s one more thing that happens which is your food choice changes. It’s pretty fascinating, but a great study out of the University of Chicago which showed when we gave sleep-deprived people two tables full of food, one with healthy alternatives on one side and one with cakes, and cookies, and pies on the other, what do you think they jumped for? 

Kathy Smith: Well, I know what I do. Whenever I’m tired, I always go for the sweets and the carbos. 

Michael Breus: Exactly. But here’s why you do it. It’s because that level of cortisol has been high for so long and your brain doesn’t like it, so it brings in comfort food. Comfort food, or high-caloric, high-fat calorie food actually produces serotonin in your brain to calm that cortisol down. So it’s the natural way of comforting yourself, which is why we call it comfort food.  

Now, you’ve got a crazy, messed up metabolism, and you’re choosing food that’s not very healthy for you. It’s really a disaster. 

Kathy Smith: Everybody knows now that we need a good night’s sleep. Let’s say that we’ve checked off– we’re not committing the cardinal sins, we’re not having too much caffeine too late, we’re not working out too late, we don’t have too many of the blue lights, we’ve replaced our lights with your biological lighting system, which I’m going to go to, and we still can’t get to sleep. 

I know you talk about supplements, and I know a lot of supplements, people talk about, I want to get into. I want to start out with one that I just hear a lot about right now, which is magnesium.  

Michael Breus: I’m so glad you asked about magnesium, because it’s my favorite supplement for sleep. First of all, everybody out there, there’s a high likelihood that you are in fact deficient in magnesium. Your body doesn’t produce magnesium. You actually have to eat it. And even if you ate a bushel of kale a day, you still wouldn’t get enough magnesium because our soil has been so over-farmed that the plants that derive these nutrients from the earth and these minerals from the earth aren’t even getting them. Really, the best thing that you can be doing these days is to be supplementing with magnesium. 

I personally take almost 1,000 milligrams of magnesium in the evening. This is something that I’ve done for a while. It’s also really good if you have high blood pressure, or any heart conditions, or things like that. By the way, for any supplementation, make sure you talk with your doctor. Because some supplements will interact with other medications, we want to make sure that we don’t make something bad happen by trying to make something good happen.  

But I love magnesium for many different reasons. For sleep in particular, we know that it has a dramatic calming effect on the nervous system. Most people who have sleep difficulties, one of their biggest issues is they can’t turn off their brain. Magnesium does a great job of helping with that.  

Also, as we get a little bit older– like, I just turned 50 this year– I noticed and actually had tested that my melatonin production has started to decrease. So right around age 50, 55 is when we start to see, generally speaking, melatonin reduction in terms of production levels. So considering a melatonin supplement in the evening is not a bad idea for folks. 

Now, you’ve got to be careful with melatonin in particular. The appropriate dose is between 1/2 and 1 1/2 milligrams. That’s number one. Most of it is sold in three, five, and ten milligrams. So if you’re looking for a good one, my favorite one, believe it or not, a house brand at Trader Joe’s comes in 500 micrograms which is half a milligram or the house brand at Whole Foods I understand comes in one milligram. So either one of those would probably be a good place to start. 

Also, if you’re taking melatonin in pill format, it takes 60 to 75 minutes for it to reach plasma concentration levels, so you need to take it about an hour, hour and 15 minutes before bed unless you’re doing a dropper under the tongue and being able to do it sublingually or in a tincture. At that point, you can actually do it about 25 to 30 minutes before bed so it will be effective. 

The third supplement that I’m always harping on with people– well, actually two of them is vitamin D in the morning for energy and Omegas at night. Most people don’t realize it, both vitamin D and Omega 3s have a dramatic effect on your sleep cycle. So making sure that you’ve got quite a bit of that in you is going to be very helpful for sleep as well. 

Kathy Smith: Interesting. I always do my Omegas more during the day. So at night, you’re saying. Okay. 

Michael Breus: They don’t have to absolutely be at night. I take them at night because I take them with my magnesium. To be honest with you, some people don’t digest Omegas well and so they can get loose stool or diarrhea from it. So when you take it at night, at least for me, it has a tendency to not cause that as an issue. You can actually take your Omegas almost any time. 

Kathy Smith: By the way, I feel like the magnesium– also if you have any problems being regular, magnesium really helps that.  

Michael Breus: Yes. No question about it.  

Kathy Smith: Bonus. 

Michael Breus: By the way, people need to be careful. The dose that I’m on which is 1,000 milligrams a day or evening, I had to build up to that. I couldn’t have started in that. If you do, then you absolutely can get diarrhea, loose stool, things like that.  

Kathy Smith: Yes. Okay, so the last one which I’m– because I know we’re running short on time– is everybody, the big trending topic right now is CBDs. CBD delivered in various forms and CBDs to reduce anxiety but to help you sleep better. For those that don’t understand CBDs, can you give a quick overview of what CBD is? 

Michael Breus: Yeah. Inside medical marijuana, there over 200 different constituents. The ones that have been the most studied are THC, which is the cycle active I think that makes you feel high, CBD, which is cannabidiol which is the largest anti-inflammatory marker in marijuana, and CBN is the third one. That too has a great deal to do with medical marijuana and the ability to use it for sleep. 

When you go into the dispensaries if you happen to live in a state where marijuana is either recreationally legal or medically legal, you can actually purchase a type of marijuana that is higher in these constituents. And it can be very helpful for sleep. For people who have not had a great education in the medical marijuana world, let me just give you a brief primer.  

If you’ve ever had wine – there’s red wine and there’s white wine – there’s actually two main types of marijuana. There’s something called sativa and there’s something called indica. Indica originally comes from India. Sativa actually comes from Northern California. Sativa is more of an uplifting energy kind of high. Indica is more of a relaxing high.  

For sleep, you want to stay closer to the indica side of things. So you want to have an indica plant with a high CBD ratio to it. About eight to one is what you’re looking for. Believe it or not, now you can actually walk into many of these dispensaries and you can say, “Hey. I’m having a hard time sleeping,” and they know exactly what direction to point you in. Because quite frankly, there’s 40, 50 different strains of marijuana in these places. Sometimes it’s a little confusing. 

Kathy Smith: For everybody out there, there’s places obviously where marijuana is legal like Colorado, and Nevada, and California, Oregon, places like that. Then there’s also places where CBD, I understand, is legal even though marijuana is not legal. Is that correct? 

Michael Breus: That is correct. CBD is actually legal in all 50 states. It comes from the female hemp plant, which does not contain THC. The male plant actually does contain THC. What’s interesting is you can actually buy it online or you can buy in many stores, and you’ll probably all start seeing it in your local grocery stores, drug stores, even cosmetic and beauty stores as they’re introducing CBD into many products. They’re really doing it for the anti-inflammatory properties. The swelling kind of goes down in people when they take this stuff. It turns out to really work out very, very well in many, many cases. 

Kathy Smith: Yeah, it’s interesting. We have a lot to learn about it. But I have played around with it and what I find– I know we talked about it earlier– that you kind of have to be careful where the source is, where you’re buying it because it could have some THC in it. And if it does, you might have some of that feeling a little high.  

But also just the potency – I think that’s where we’re finding how the regulatory system is working to make sure that what– just like with any vitamin, that what you’re buying is actually in there. So I think you probably have to go to a good place, a good source.  

I’d love to have you back on the show. We can talk probably a whole show about this at one point. Right now, I just want to say, you are amazing. If I think about the take-aways right now, this idea of getting more shut eye and whether you have to deal with chronic pain or it seems like a lot of the psychological stuff that we go through, through our lives. You get hit with a divorce, you get hit with some financial issues, you get hit with teenagers, you get whatever it might be that the tape starts playing in your head.  

Then we start to develop some of these habits that you mentioned about not getting enough exercise perhaps, not waking up at the same time, drinking too much caffeine to get us through the day, or drinking too much to go to bed at night.  

So I guess, just as a goodbye here, if there is one thing because I know we’re throwing a lot out at the people, would you say kind of what I do with exercise, start with one of these things we discussed today and then add on? 

Michael Breus: Yeah, absolutely. Getting back to my five-step program. Step one is to have one wake up time seven days a week. That’s where everybody should start, and then if you can, turn that into one bedtime seven days a week.  

Next step is to stop caffeine eight hours before bed. Next step is to stop alcohol three hours before bed. Next step is to stop exercise four hours before bed. And next step is to get sunlight 15 minutes every morning while you’re drinking water. If you do those five things, I guarantee you your sleep quality will improve dramatically.  

Kathy Smith: I love hearing that. I love guarantees. Once again, you are the best and I look forward to seeing you and getting some sunlight and maybe some exercise when I’m down in Southern California. 

Michael Breus: Absolutely. Next time you’re down here, we’re going to go for a run together, we’re going to have some fun, talk sleep, have a good time.  

Kathy Smith: Okay. Thanks so much, Michael. Appreciate it. 

Michael Breus: Thank you.