Over the past decade, there’s been an emerging focus on the importance of sleep. Thousands of books and articles have been put out which drive home just how central sleep is in our mental and physical health. This emphasis on sleep has had the positive effect of motivating people to better prioritize it. But, there’s been a downside to all this sleep talk as well: people are getting more stressed out if they’re not getting the kind of sleep they think they’re supposed to.

My guest today says that ironically, stressing about sleep may be exactly what’s hurting your sleep. His name is Dr. Chris Winter, and he’s a neurologist, a sleep specialist, and the author of The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How to Fix It. Chris and I begin our conversation with why we get sleepy, and how people sometimes confuse fatigue with sleepiness. We then get into the real dangers of sleep deprivation, but how you probably shouldn’t worry about them if you have common problems with falling and staying asleep. We then talk about how many hours of sleep you actually need, how you may be stressing yourself out trying to get more than is necessary, and why it’s best to compare your varying hunger for sleep to your varying hunger for food. Chris unpacks what insomnia is, and how it’s not just an inability to sleep, but your response to that inability, and the extent to which insomnia is rooted in fear. From there we turn to the disparity that often exists between the perception and the reality of how much sleep you’re getting, and the fact that there’s a good chance you’re actually getting more sleep than you think. We then discuss creating a plan for what to do when you can’t sleep, which may involve spending less time in bed, or in fact relishing the time you spend lying in it awake. We end our conversation with when you should and shouldn’t nap, and when you should see a sleep doctor about your sleep problems. 

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Show Highlights

What is it in our body that makes us sleepy at night?What’s happening when we think we feel sleepy, but end up feeling awake once we get into bed?Fatigue vs. sleepiness and how to tell the difference between the twoWhat is true sleep deprivation? What are its harmful effects? How is it different from insomnia? How much sleep do people really need at night? Is there a clear answer?The ways we make problems out of sleep that don’t really exist The fear around sleep and insomnia Differences between sleep perceptions and sleep realities What does good sleep hygiene look like? What’s the deal with sleep drugs?

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

The Old Fashioned Secret to Better, Healthier SleepHow to Fall Asleep in Two Minutes or Less22 Ways to Get a Better Night’s SleepWhat Every Man Should Know About SleepWhat to Do When You Can’t SleepNap Like Salvador DaliWhy I Tape My Mouth Shut at NightThe Napping Habits of 8 Famous MenUnleash the Power of the NapHow to Stop Your Snoring

Connect With Dr. Winter

Dr. Winter’s practice

Dr. Winter on Twitter

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