Podcast #37: Sleep Your Way To Better Health
Introduction: Hi and welcome to Excel Radio. This is your host and high-performance expert Dr. Nick Zyrowski. In this episode I’m going to be diving into the topic of sleep. Sleep is absolutely essential in order to maintain your health. Now, it’s not just about quantity of sleep but it’s also about quality of sleep. This is a big issue for many people. To be specific, it’s an issue for over 70 million people and so I’m going to be talking about my personal sleep struggle in this episode and how I overcame it, and then also how you can overcome some struggles that you’re having with sleep and also have more energy, focus, creativity, and more abundant life overall and even overcome health conditions by improving your level of sleep. I hope you enjoy the show.
Dr. Z: Hey everyone, welcome back to the show. I’m excited to share the topic of sleep with you and discuss this in full. Here with me today is Ashleigh.
Ashleigh: Hi everyone, thanks for having me back on the show. I hope everybody’s getting a chance to enjoy some of the beautiful fall weather. The temperature is finally cooling down here in Michigan and I’m looking forward to the color change soon and some apple cider from the cider mills and things like that, but what I’m most excited about is to talk about this topic of sleep. Now, sleep has been something you’ve talked about quite often, Dr. Zyrowski, on blogs and things like that. Why is sleep such an important topic right now?
Dr. Z: Well, I think that really what brought sleep to the forefront for me is, first of all, the type of people I work with. So, we’re working with that busy working professional, right? And this same busy working professional has a lot of moving parts in their life, so sleep is typically a little bit of an issue, right? So, I mean that’s one thing that has brought it to the forefront. Where I’ve always been interested in this topic, however, I didn’t have an overwhelming interest in this topic until this same issue was an issue of my own and so that is why I started just really diving into this topic so much and talking about it through blog posts as of lately and just talking about bits and pieces of it everywhere, but finally I was able to compile all that information and now we’re here talking about it and really sharing that message with you.
Ashleigh: Right, because you’re not alone in having a struggle with sleep, how many people would you estimate have sleep problems?
Dr. Z: Yeah, that’s a good question. So, it’s estimated that over 70 million people suffer from sleep problems. Of those 70 million people, about 60-percent of them suffer from a chronic condition, so it’s not by chance that they’re suffering from a chronic condition because of their sleep problems and so when you look at sleep and the problems that can come out of that, it is pretty vast. So, let’s think of sleep in general, you might think like, “okay, well you’re probably suffering from a lack of energy, okay, fatigue that makes sense that that can come out of it, can’t focus, right that makes sense,” but the things that people don’t associate with sleep and I mean big problems that people don’t associate with sleep are things such as heart disease, heart attacks, heart failures, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and the list goes on. It can be hormone dysregulation, or testosterone issues. How many people are having testosterone issues right now? I mean, you go to the doctors or you turn on the TV and they’re talking about low-t, and everybody has low-t, and you need to boost your testosterone. So, you know, there are so many issues that can come out of sleep and I really want to bring awareness to this topic and how important it is, but also all the issues that are associated with a lack of sleep. If you think about this and you start thinking about the high blood pressure and the heart attacks and strokes and all that, you know, if you go to the doctor and you’re having an issue, let’s say with diabetes which is linked to a lack of sleep or high blood pressure linked to sleep, well there’s a good chance that they’re going to look at you and they’re going to say, “okay, well..,” you know, they’re going to do what they do and they’re going to say, “high blood pressure, take this prescription drug for the rest of your life,” and that’s how they’re going to remedy the problem, however, the problem, I mean, the high blood pressure is a symptom but it’s not the actual issue. So, you can see how this person now could be put on a medication, have side effects from the medication, have nutrient depletion and have that medication which is hard for the liver to break down, so you can have all these side effects from the medication and really all it was- it was a simple side effect of the actual lack of sleep, so sleep is a big issue.
Ashleigh: Absolutely, well and then I mean, not just the resulting symptoms that some people just want to be able to fall asleep at night and shut down but they can’t, right? So, there are people who are just taking Nyquil just so they can finally shut their brain off and go to sleep, like why do you think that, now more than ever, people are looking to sleep aids to artificially help them sleep?
Dr. Z: Right, well people are looking for sleep aids because they don’t… it’s like one of those things where it’s like, I call it unconsciously incompetent, where you don’t know what you don’t know and so when people are not able to sleep at night there is a good chance that they don’t know why that issue is. We’re in a society where people want instant gratification, they want instant results, so what they’re going to do is they will take something, so there are a lot of issues that I think we should jump into in a minute here, but there’s a lot of issues that actually stop people from falling asleep. I mean, it can just be daily life but if you start looking at all the all the things that stop people from falling asleep, it’s huge.
Ashleigh: Great, great. Well, I know that you mentioned that you had a personal health struggle asleep and I know that I watched that happen, I saw what happened, but let’s explain to the listeners. What was your sleep struggle, how did that all come about and how did you really recognize that?
Dr. Z: Right, so my struggle with sleep is pretty interesting actually, and once again, this is what brought sleep to the forefront for me and just made me realize how much of an issue it is, and when I figured out that it was my issue, I started looking at statistics and it’s really overwhelming. So, for me it all started with, you know, I’m just a regular… like I said, I work with working busy professionals, and I’m the same person. So what happened with me is just it was daily life, so working a lot of hours and just having the normal stress and wear and tear of daily life, but one of the things that actually put me over the edge with my sleep issue, which of course I didn’t know it was an issue, but one of the things that started driving a bunch of health problems in my life was when we had our second child. So, when he was born, here I was going through life and I was able to handle the stress and everything that came at me, but after he was born it all became an issue and the biggest thing that happened is, first of all, I had some fatigue and I was tired all the time and I didn’t have the energy to focus during the day, that was a big problem, right? When you have a newborn, it’s self-evident they don’t sleep at night, they are up all night several times throughout the night, and I realized that my sleep was important, so I put in a little bit of effort in order to remedy the problem, but when things really became an issue for me is when I started having high blood pressure. My blood pressure started going through the roof, and I didn’t know why. Actually, when I figured out what my problem was, it kind of freaked me out a little bit. So, I started having all these different symptoms, I mean beyond the aches and pains, I was starting to have many different symptoms and then I realized it was from high blood pressure.
Ashleigh: And you’re a pretty young guy, you’re fit, you stay on top of your health, and you’re a doctor for goodness sakes, but all of these things were still an issue for you.
Dr. Z: Right, exactly. So, there are a lot of people who have high blood pressure out there, but as a young guy who’s doing all the right things? It’s very self-evident why the majority of people have high blood pressure. For me, it wasn’t too self-evident, so when I found out that I had high blood pressure, what I did… it was really strange to me that it even came up, I was like, “how is this happening,” you know? So, what do they do when they when they find out that you have high blood pressure? Well, what would someone like me do? So, we have to start looking at: Are you are you working out?
Are you exercising? Are you consuming too much caffeine, or are you consuming caffeine at all? Are you consuming a complete “garbage” diet? Are you consuming a lot of sugar? There are all of these variables that affect blood pressure in a huge way, however, when you looked at all those things, the only one that I was really guilty of was caffeine and it’s not that I was over-consuming caffeine, I was just consuming caffeine. I have coffee in the morning and maybe some tea or something in the afternoon, so here I was, I went in once I found out I had high blood pressure, and I started removing all these things from my life. Like I said, I was already working out, I was already supplementing and making sure my nutrient levels are good, I was already making sure that stuff was on point, but like I said, the few things that I could clean up, I did clean up, and from there I had absolutely no results and so I was kind of shocked. So, when I did all the things that you’re supposed to do to help lower your blood pressure if it’s an issue, I had absolutely no results at all. So, the one thing that I did know, is that I had good days and bad days, so what I had to determine is what made a good day and what made a bad day, as far as my blood pressure goes. Some days my blood pressure was through the roof and other days it was completely fine and there was really no rhyme or reason for it, so what I started to do, is pay attention to like every little detail in my life about what was happening, was going on, most likely I was assuming stress STRESS STRESS, right? The one thing that it came down to, when I was looking at good days from bad days, is my quality of sleep. Not the number of hours of sleep, but the actual quality of sleep, because you can lay in bed 10 hours a night but if you don’t sleep at all then it’s not good. So, for me, what I realized is that my blood pressure was very bad on days that I had very poor quality of sleep. I was tossing and turning at night. Let’s say… and I know that I definitely was getting less sleep just because of all the things going, new child in the house and all the things with work, I was getting less sleep, however, that really wasn’t a numbers issue, it was actually a quality issue because once I did increase the quantity of sleep and I was fully aware of that, I still was not really getting to the bottom of the issue. I was actually having some quality of sleep issues.
Ashleigh: Very interesting. How did you determine that it was the quality and not the quantity? How did you measure the quality?
Dr. Z: Well, for me, there are a couple things. So first of all, I just really started paying attention. Did I wake up at night? Did that alarm… I live in the city, so did that alarm, did that siren, did that thing wake me up?
So, I started to really pay attention to how much I was waking up at night and then when I was actually, once again, I was actually consciously looking for that, I realized I would wake up a lot at night. Now, there are other things such as sleep tracker, so the sleep tracker is telling me that I’m actually getting like five hours of sleep a night and even less than that in some cases, right? So, the average American sleeps about 6.8 hours per night and if that’s average, then that means there’s a lot of people sleeping way less than that, yet when we look at how much sleep you should get per night, we’re looking at about seven to nine hours. So, when I would look and see that for me, I was getting between about four to six hours of sleep a night on a consecutive basis, then I realized there was a serious issue there, so like I said, being consciously aware that I was not sleeping throughout the night and being aware that I was waking up and then also using sleep trackers in order to determine how many hours that they were estimating that I was getting good quality sleep.
Ashleigh: So then after you realized that there was a problem, can you swing the listeners what you really did to dive into hacking your sleep and figuring out how to get the best bang for your buck when you’re actually sleeping?
Dr. Z: Right, and that’s a good question. So, first of all, you have to tackle this issue. To me, like I said, I was just blown away that something like high blood pressure, on a guy who takes care of himself, was an issue. So, like I mentioned before, all of these different issues that come from it, I mean, it’s a 15.9 billion dollar problem. It’s estimated that in America, we’ve spent about 15.9 billion dollars on issues that stem from a lack of sleep and so that’s huge right there. Now that I’ve gotten off-track, what was the question again?
Ashleigh: What did you start doing to really hack your sleep and…?
Dr. Z: Right, okay. So yeah, I started jumping into all of the statistics, to research, and like I said, it shocked me that sleep could have even been an issue for me because I didn’t know that these serious issues and conditions stemmed from sleep, so I started to figure out the statistics on it and I started researching everything I could find in order to help get better quality of sleep. So, first of all, I bought some books on sleep and I just tore through several books trying to find some answers and what can be done because if you think you’re already doing everything, then you have to look somewhere else, because for me I was just like, “well I don’t really know”. I mean, here I am, I’ve had people that have even come on [this show] to talk to me about sleep, I have written articles about getting quality of sleep, and then here I am, suffering from a poor quality of sleep, and I’m like, “how is this happening”? So, once again, I thought that I knew what there was to know about sleeping, so then anyway, I had to go above and beyond.
Ashleigh: Journal articles, stacks of journal articles you were combing through, correct?
Dr. Z: Right, so looking at the research when it comes to sleep, looking at results other people have received from implementing other strategies to help them sleep better, but here’s the deal; when you go through, and this is the thing that’s frustrating and I guess that this is why the listeners have me, but when you start going in and trying to mastermind on how you’re going to get good quality of sleep and you start looking into all the strategies out there, what happens is, many of them don’t work, a lot of people put stuff out there that really doesn’t work. Sometimes there are just topics out there that are not really research-grade topics they’re not things that have been actually clinically tried, it’s just somebody had an idea and they put it out there.
Ashleigh: Well, there’s a lot of slick marketing out there too, like, “oh, these bamboo sheets are going to be the secret to better sleep”, and, “oh, if you just buy this pillow, you’ll never wake up again”, like it’s all going to go away.
Dr. Z: Right, exactly. If you actually went and spent all of the money it would actually take in order to buy all the little, better sleep hacks out there that were going to make your life better, you’d have probably like a whole new house, a whole new bed, a whole new everything. You’d have spent thousands of dollars, but like I said, the fact is that there are a lot of unreasonable things out there and then there are the reasonable things that you have to implement, and the things that actually move the scale and help you sleep better, so, that’s what I did. I found all those things and I started implementing all of them. I didn’t just find this one little slick strategy and then start implementing that. No, I actually started implementing all the things and then when I found this research that had compelling evidence that this is, let’s say, this XY and Z is an issue when it comes to your sleep, what I would do, is I would find a solution around that XY and Z and create a system in order to overcome that issue, basically.
Ashleigh: Right, absolutely, because there’s a lot of different components to getting a good quality night’s sleep, it’s not just about your diet, it’s not just about what your environment is like, it’s all of the pieces that work synergistically together, to get a good restful night of sleep.
Dr. Z: Absolutely, and it’s not straightforward, like I said, I’ve already written blog articles on this, I’ve put all kinds of information out on this, and it still wasn’t enough and that’s why when I had an issue, I became overwhelmingly convinced on what an issue this actually is and when I saw that it was 70 million people who had an issue with this, it certainly is fact that it’s not easy to just do a Google search or something like that, and just overcome the problem that you’re facing because, like I said, I was aware of these things and so I actually had to dive deep to figure it out, and if it was that easy, so many people would not suffer from it, so many people wouldn’t have conditions coming from it. So, health is a journey, it’s never straightforward. So, anyway, I took all of these different strategies and compiled them.
Ashleigh: So, when you compiled all this information, you’ve implemented it, you’ve tested it on yourself; you’ve been instructing patients for years on how to properly adjust their health, what was the final culmination of this research?
Dr. Z: Right, so finally what it came down to was a bunch of strategies. There’s not a magic bullet when it comes to health and there’s not a magic bullet when it comes to your sleep, as well, and so what I had to do is go in and I put all these strategies together. I actually wrote an e-book and that’s one of the reasons that I wrote this e-book is because of my own struggle and then once again, you see how many people are out there struggling with it, then I realized more people need help with it and so what I did is all of this information, all of this research that it’s very easy to get lost in, it gets very complicated, terms you can’t understand and just a lot of jargon that you get lost in because it’s hard to even know how you could implement the solution that they found into your life. So, what I did is, I put this book together and it’s just all easy-to-implement tips. I broke it down as tips, so there’s a whole bunch of tips in this e-book and it’s just talking about straightforward strategies on how you can increase your level of sleep because once again, you could go spend hours reading 200-page books, but then when it comes down to it, you read that 200 page book and you got about five things out of it, right? So anyway, for me being a busy professional and working with busy professionals, you know, we don’t have the time to go in and read books and dig through research. We just need the straightforward facts, so that’s what I did. I put an e-book together for people with all the straightforward facts and how they can increase their level of sleep by implementing the strategies and utilizing all the troubleshooting that I did on your behalf so that you can have better sleep.
Ashleigh: Awesome, so there’s only one of this e-book, how would they go about getting that?
Dr. Z: Yeah, so if you want the e-book, you can go to Nuvisionexcel.com/sleep and you can find it right there and all you have to do is click on that and you’ll be able to purchase it in our stores. It’s $9.99 and then you can go ahead and read that and implement it into your life and then you’re going to have a much better quality of life through the outlet of better sleep.
Ashleigh: Awesome, so the book is called Sleep Your Way to Health and it’s at nuvisionexcel.com/sleep and we’ll post that in the show notes below. So, when you’re talking about maximizing your sleep and really getting the health and the life of your dreams, how does sleep play such a major role in your health? What happens during sleep?
Dr. Z: Good question, so when you sleep, it’s really your body’s chance to recharge, it’s like putting your body on the charger. So, your hormones balance, your body detoxifies, your body just recharges, everything… it’s just a reset button for your body and so there are proper times that you need to sleep, right? Because there are certain hours that are very important for you to sleep during and if you miss those hours, then you missed your quality of sleep time frame and you can’t get that back, ok? So, that’s research-grade material, you have to make sure you’re sleeping the right hours, during the right hours. There are peak hours, so you have to sleep during that time and then it’s important to make sure you’re getting the right amount of hours, right? Then there are a lot of things that keep people waking up at night and tossing and turning and not getting that actual quality of sleep so that quality of sleep issue is a big deal.
Ashleigh: So, if people want to get this quality of sleep, what’s one thing that they can do right now that is going to make a big impact in how they’re going to sleep, even tonight?
Dr. Z: Good question. Okay so, let me think here because there’s a lot of strategies we talk about, and I’m trying to think of what’s going to be a good one and what is a major struggle for people.
Let’s go with this one here. So, one of the major ones is having your nighttime ritual, right? So how many people cannot actually fall asleep at night? They go go go, high stress, high strung, and who knows, maybe lie down and turn on the news and you sit there thinking, “I can’t sleep, why can I not sleep?” Well, a night time ritual that puts your body in a state that you’re able to sleep in is very important. I know that that happens to me, where sometimes I’ll stay up late working on things and then I just cannot turn off and it drives me crazy lying in bed because I know that I’m a lot of trouble the next day already because I can’t fall asleep that night. So, a nighttime ritual is very important and that’s one of the things I talk about in the book. So, what might a nighttime ritual look like? From the perspective of a guy with a family, with businesses, just running around from point A to point B all the time, it first starts with having a certain time at night where you dedicate that time to just turning off and that’s it. There’s no more laptop turned on, checking emails and things like that, there’s no more cell phone where you’re going to be jumping on social media. I know for us, social media is a big part of business, it’s a big part of any business, so a lot of working professionals are on social media, whether to figure out what’s going on in the news or figure out what’s going on business wise, or maybe posting for their business or something, so you have to have that time where you just shut down electronics, you unplug, okay? After you unplug…
Ashleigh: The other thing that we personally do, is we stop talking about work at that time
Dr. Z: Yeah, good point
Ashleigh: Because it’s not just you being connected to the outside world, it’s what you’re saying and what you’re thinking, that’s also driving that stress response in your body that you’re unable to shut down from.
Dr. Z: Yeah
Ashleigh: So, even for our personal life, we just stop talking about business and we just started talking about went on with our day, how is our family, talk to our kids, play with our kids and not just with sleep is this is this beneficial, but it’s really helpful for your family and your relationship-wise, to make sure you spend some quality time at night with undivided attention on each other.
Dr. Z: Right, so this whole topic here is just one tip out of the book, so this is one of those things where it comes down to what it takes to actually be a human being, right? How many of us are actually unplugged from what it actually takes to do, and feel, and be a human being in the things that we need and just the relationships and things like that, so like you said, making sure that you unplug, but controlling your mind in a way that you say, “at this time we’re done”, because I know that if somebody starts bringing up work topics and it sometimes is hard to control, I get calls at nine o’clock at night or something you’re like, “oh man, are you kidding me, you had to bring this up”, because you can’t stop it, your mind goes down rabbit trails and you can’t stop it. So, turning your mind off at a certain time and then just focusing on the day that has passed, whatever happened today is over. For me, I’m going to focus on my family, I’m going to unplug, or play with the kids. Now, for me too and for the average person out there, the only thing you have to do is you have to find that thing that relaxes you. So, finding things that are calming to you, so for me, I like reading, I like picking up something and it just totally takes my brain to another place, being able to just focus in on this topic that I’m interested in, whether it’s just brain candy type of reading or if it’s…
Ashleigh: Self-help books, even.
Dr. Z: Yeah, whatever it is. For me, I like reading a lot of self-help type of books, so you find that thing, for me it is reading. I like to sit down and read with a cup of tea, like a chamomile tea, something that is an herbal tea that helps relax you. So anyway, you go through these stages at night and you’re just prepping your body, you’re getting in state for sleeping and it’s just no different than if you’re going to go show up to a sales meeting or you’re going to show up to work and have some sort of, let’s say, presentation that you’re doing. You know you have to be prepped for it. The same thing goes for your health too, or even going to the gym. It sucks to go to the gym when you’re not in the proper state of mind, you might be like, “get me out of here, I can’t focus”, and the same thing is for when you’re going to sleep. You can’t just think that your body’s got this on and off switch, you’re a human being, you require the things that human beings require and that’s, for one, winding down at night. So, you’re looking at a cell phone screen that has that blue color or a TV that has that blue hue to it, it’s not good for you, it actually puts your hormones in a state of full awareness because your body thinks that it’s actually daytime by seeing that color.
Ashleigh: Messing up your circadian rhythm, which is your natural sleep cycle.
Dr. Z: Yeah, so anyways, shutting down at night, having a ritual, and this is probably a little bit more choppy as I talk about it right now. In the book, I present that tip very nicely so that you can actually just see my routine and…
Ashleigh: He gives it as his individual examples of what he does every night, including things like if you like to take a bath or shower, those are very relaxing things, incorporate that in, maybe use some essential oils in your bath. All of those things can help you to physically, emotionally, and mentally prepare for calming down and relaxing and going to sleep at night, so that when you do get in bed, you’re ready for it, your body knows what to expect and it’s ready for sleep.
Dr. Z: Alright, so just to recap, sleep is absolutely essential. If you’re someone who is listening to this and you’re like, “you know, my sleep is pretty good”, well let me tell you, there’s a good chance at some point in your life your sleep might really suffer. Because I never thought that would be an issue for me; waking up in the middle of the night, clenching my jaw because of the stress I have in my life, there are so many things that show up. So, you may be someone who has good sleep now, well, implement these things into your life so that you can maintain that good sleep. Now, if you’re someone who has poor quality of sleep, then this is your ticket in order to have a better life through the outlet of sleep. Sleep is absolutely crucial, it’s very important, and like I said, there are so many conditions that come out of poor sleep.
Ashleigh: Sleep is a missing nutrient in most people’s lives. The whole “sleep when I’m dead” philosophy, it’s no good. You need sleep now, you need sleep every single day to rest, restore, and just for your brain to process what happened that day. If you want to be fresh, ready to go and be productive the next day, you have to rest.
Dr. Z: Yeah, exactly. If you have a health condition, this is a good place to start right here, this is absolutely a good place to start. Like I said, this has just become really at the forefront for me and it’s going to be at the forefront for healing when I’m dealing with my patients now, to really make sure that we not only talk about the actual quantity of sleep, because that’s great if you think that you’re sleeping a certain amount, but the fact is that there’s a good chance that throughout the night you’re tossing you’re turning, you know, we have to track that and like I said, I talk about all of the ways to track that throughout the e-book. I give a whole bunch of tips, it’s all just straightforward. It’s not meant to be so that you’ll have to go do your own research. I just lay it out for you and it is all things that have come through my personal struggle with sleep.
Ashleigh: Awesome, so again, that book is called Sleep Your Way to Health, it’s at nuvisionexcel.com/sleep and that book is $9.99 and it goes on sale today, so make sure you go over and check it out. I think that you guys will really benefit from sleep and if you know somebody who is a busy working professional, maybe a mom who’s not getting the sleep she needs to get to be able to take care of her family, anybody that you know who is struggling with sleep, make sure you pass this on because there’s a lot of people out there that need this information.
Dr. Z: Exactly. You know about it now, so you’ll be sure to pass the message on, because let’s say is not an issue for you, you say, “this isn’t for me, I’m not doing it”, well, there’s a good chance that you know somebody that it’s an issue for and imagine how many people are out there suffering from high blood pressure, my goodness. Some of these things I think that they show up in my life just because I need to help more people with it or I need to be aware of it so that I can make a dent in the world when it comes to this topic.
Ashleigh: It gives you a responsibility to share, it gives you that responsibility that you need to teach others. I think that’s why certain situations come up in our lives for a reason.
Dr. Z: And the good thing is that I am really good at figuring out how to work with people with these issues, so unfortunately for me, I keep experiencing weird things like intermittent health issues and then I overcome it a certain way and then…
Ashleigh: You’re able to share that information.
Dr. Z: I’m able to share it, but it helps me understand it actually, that’s probably one of the biggest things, is helping me understand because when you look at healers, the best people out there in my opinion, from my experience, are the people who have actually experienced things. There are so many people out there, I watch them all the time and they’re sitting there talking about issues that they don’t even understand because they never had it, it’s never been an issue for them and they’ve never had a health crisis or anything similar. It makes me better at what I do, but anyway, this e-book is designed for you nuvisionexcel.com/sleep and you can go ahead and get a copy right now. It is available for you, so go ahead and get a copy and let other people know because I’m sure out of those seventy plus million people suffering from sleep, that you know some of them. So that’s all I got for you today.
Ashleigh: Alright, everyone, I look forward to being on here again soon
Dr. Z: Take care guys.