The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 1125: How Can You Find Your Sleep Solution? (Archive)

Are you getting enough sleep? If not, Dr. Chris Winter has a sleep solution that may help. Exercise and exposure to bright light early in the day can help reset your inner clock.
Dr. Chris Winter, author of The Sleep Solution
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How Can You Find Your Sleep Solution? (Archive)

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You may have read or heard that adequate sleep is a pillar of good health, like exercise and a healthy diet. Sleep affects blood pressure and heart disease, metabolism and obesity, the immune system, cognitive function and mood. But if you can’t get enough sleep, that information is more frustrating than helpful. What is interfering with your sleep, and how can you find the best sleep solution?

How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?

Babies sleep a lot, and sometimes the very elderly do, too. How do sleep needs differ at various ages? How can you tell if you are really getting enough?

Certain medications can make it difficult for people to fall asleep or stay asleep. Others may disrupt the normal stages of sleep. Which are the most common culprits, and what can be done about them?

Sleeping Pills:

People who frequently toss and turn at night may look to sleeping pills like eszopiclone (Lunesta), zaleplon (Sonata) and zolpidem (Ambien) as a sleep solution. What should you know about the benefits and risks of these medications? Other commonly used drugs such as trazodone and Seroquel have never even been approved for sleep problems. Over-the-counter sleep aids also have pros and cons. People who can’t turn off their thoughts might want to consider a device called a MUSE that can help practice meditation and quieting brain activity.

What Is Good Sleep Hygiene?

When experts recommend “good sleep hygiene,” what the heck do they mean? How much does it help to exercise early and take a hot bath an hour before bedtime? Find out about non-drug approaches to restless legs and other sleep problems.

This Week’s Guest:

Dr. Chris Winter is a board certified sleep medicine specialist and neurologist. He has worked with professional sports organizations including the Cleveland Indians, The New York Rangers and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Since 2008 Dr Winter has served as the Men’s Health magazine sleep advisor and he blogs for the Huffington Post. Dr. Winter owns Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine Clinic and CNSM consulting in Charlottesville VA.

Dr. Winter is the author of The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep is Broken and How to Fix It
His website:

Photo credit – Jen Fariello Photography

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The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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I have sleep apnea and continue to struggle with staying asleep. I have a chin strap for my harness and continue to struggle. Are there any tips that might help me to maintain sleep through the night? I also deal with SAD which I believe is contributing to my sleepless nights. Are there any ideas, thoughts or remedies for maintaining sleep throughout the night?
I am thinking a different type of head gear.

I avoid any product with triclosan, since it is an antibiotic and certainly not needed. I also read that excessive melatonin reverses its benefits. I also found that, when traveling East, on arrival, I sit outside and stay there until the sun goes down. This always resets my biological clock to local time immediately.

3 mg of melatonin works for me. Anyone else? No side effects either so FAR.

I listened to most of the broadcast, but not all. I didn’t hear any mention of sex. For many people sex is a very important for getting good sleep. Are we still so prudish?

Dr. Winters confirmed that Advil PM (and that class of OTC) blocks good cellular repair and interferes with neurons ridding waste that causes dementia – and prevent “deep sleep and REM sleep”. HOWEVER, you neglected to state if Ambien and similar “Z” drugs are also likewise harmful – you didn’t really say anything about Ambien and the like except vague “haven’t been proven to increase productivity”. You left out the most important discussion – that you falsely hooked listeners in on. What ARE the harmful effects of Ambien? ? ?

Why not try searching this website for Ambien or zolpidem to get some answers to your question.

I succeeded in weaning myself off Ambien by shaving a small amount off the nightly tablets a week at a time. My system made me able to get used to the minimal difference easily. At the end of 6 weeks I no longer took it and will never start again on that or any other addictive pills for sleep, prescription or OTC.

During the conversation on the show, the guest mentioned a device that played nature sounds with loudness in proportion to the activity level of the mind…providing help in quieting the mind. A pointer to more information about that would be helpful.

We don’t Know anything further about the Muse device he mentioned, but we did put a link to it in the show description. We’ll look into it further.

Has anyone had experience with Belsomera for sleep?

I have colitis and recently read that Triclosan found in toothpaste and cosmetics can lead to this diagnosis. Your input would be appreciated. Jane

My 80 year old mother has been on sleeping pills for decades. She always comments how it causes constipation, and would like get off them. I brought it up to her PCP. Her PCP asked her if she was still having trouble sleeping. My mom said yes. The doctor asked why then stop the pills. I asked the PCP if perhaps we could look into the reason my mom was not sleeping, such as perhaps anxiety, and perhaps look at yoga or other practices. The PCP said, “Sure, you can look into that.” But no plan was put in place to wean her off the meds.

Love this show! Did they mention how to avoid effects of too much screen time on sleep. If so, I missed it. I confess I’m a smart phone and TV addict. Using a blue light filter helps.

I generally don’t have trouble falling asleep, EXCEPT when my mind is racing. Exactly as you described in the program: “l can’t turn off my thinking.” Thanks for addressing this dilemma.

I don’t think enough time and effort is put in by doctors when we come to them with a sleep problem. The first thing they say is “do you think you have sleep apnea?” I don’t have that and I was told a sleep study won’t help if you don’t go to sleep during the study. I know I would not sleep. I’ve tried all the supplements and OTC stuff. Now even Benadryl won’t make me sleepy. By the time I do nod off it’s time to get up. I can’t seem to take a nap during the day either. Does that mean my 2 or 3 hours a night is enough???

What time is the air date for this program 6/9/18? Thanks.

It seems to me that one very effective treatment approach is routinely – if not always – ignored and that is hands on therapy from a skilled Osteopath who is adept at cranial osteopathy. This gentle approach is rooted in a profound understanding of cranial anatomy.

Unfortunately the AOA, the American Osteopathic Organization is derelict in promoting the value of traditional osteopathy which employs hands on manipulation that is gentle, subtle and often very effective. As an experienced massage therapist I have used a simplified version of these cranial techniques and I have seen radical success in working with head injuries, seizures and many types of headaches. When dealing with migraines I defer to osteopaths who specialize in cranial work.

Canada recognizes clinical applications of these approaches by non osteopaths who are extensively trained in the hands on work but the AOA and others will not open up approval in the U.S. What a shame. As more and more DO’s desert their training to behave like allopaths we are left with a vacuum in treatment options, especially ones do not depend on pharmaceutical intervention.

My doctor is saying my insurance company is getting after him about the sleeping pills. I was taking 0.25 mg of triazalam every night. After trying many others this is the only one that worked. I told him I didn’t think it was any of their business that I have insomnia issues and have for years. He said it is very much their business. He ask me to try cutting it in half. To my happy surprise, it worked. Does the insurance company really get after the doctor? Hard for me to believe.

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