Dr. Michael Breus – or ‘The Sleep Doctor’ as he is widely known – is the one of the world’s most preeminent sleep experts. A clinical psychologist and Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep medicine, Dr. Breus is celebrated across the globe for his unrivalled understanding of the process and power of sleep.
Known as America’s ‘go-to’ authority on sleep related issues, Dr. Breus is regularly called upon by Fortune 100 companies to help improve wellbeing and productivity. He has appeared on the Dr. Oz Show a staggering 39 times and is a regular contributor to leading media outlets including CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Oprah and the New York Times. Alongside his consultative work he continues to act as a principle researcher for ground-breaking grant funded projects and clinical trials.
With this background in mind it is no surprise that Dr. Breus has chosen to team up with leading Swedish bedmaker Hästens, whose mission to enable better sleep dates back through six familial generations. The duo combined creates a powerful alliance in the fight for quality rest and, as a result, a fuller and more productive life. Together, Hästens and Dr. Breus will educate people on how sleep can become a secret weapon for maximal performance and personal fulfillment based on science and data.
Dr. Breus says ‘sleep quality effects every organ system and disease state’ and, when peer-reviewed research papers have consistently demonstrated that sleep is a key to the optimal immune system function, the partnership between these two innovators is more timely than ever.
The Sleep Doctor believes that sleep is a skill set and performance activity, and to perform this most vital of tasks to the best of our ability we need two crucial components: the most appropriate equipment and the right education. When we bring the unbeatable quality of Hästens’ beds, duvets, pillows and linens together with the knowledge Dr. Breus imparts the results can change the course of our health and happiness for life.
Hästens owner Jan Ryde sat down with Dr. Breus to discuss how extensive the impact of the right equipment coupled but the best education really is.
What is good quality sleep?
Good quality sleep is just like bad quality sleep; it effects every mental and physical aspect of life. Everything you do, you will do better with quality sleep: your thoughts are clearer and your memory functions at greater capacity; you will be physically faster and you will be in an emotionally stable position.
What is the importance of a good bed?
As I have said, sleep is a performance activity, which requires the right skill set. It’s no different to a runner performing better with the best trainers, outfit and equipment. Sleep is just the same, if you have the right tools your body will perform better. But at the core is the mattress – this is a fundamental priority for everyone.
What should you look for when buying a new bed?
Comfort and support are the two key factors, but don’t make the mistake of thinking they’re the same thing. The goal is to provide your body with sufficient support to bring the spine into alignment and allow your muscles to relax during sleep, without sacrificing comfort.
Waking up with pain and stiffness is a clear sign that you’re not getting the right amount of support, regardless if you felt comfortable or not.
A great mattress is literally the foundation on which great sleep is built. With some up-front effort and a willingness to invest, you can help ensure many restful nights. Whether a super firm or soft mattress is the best for you, support comes from a well-constructed mattress, made with high-quality materials. A lower-costing mattress most likely won’t deliver sufficient support for as long as a higher-priced piece, meaning you’ll have to replace it sooner. There is no piece of furniture that you will spend more time in than your bed.
What implications does poor sleep have on our health?
When we don’t get enough sleep our bodies reduce the release of leptin, a hormone that helps to supress appetite and encourages the body to use energy, which has implications on weight. Researchers believe that poor sleep throws the body’s hormonal balance off and leads to less control over appetite and metabolism.
Hand-in-hand with this is the relationship between poor sleep and diabetes. Type Two diabetes is more common in those suffering from sleep deprivation. Older adults who don’t get enough sleep are twice as likely to be diagnosed with Type Two diabetes – sleep helps regulate glucose and a lack of sleep can lead to a spike in cortisol, which can make cells more resistant to insulin.
Like the rest of the body, the heart needs sleep to function at its best. Several studies have shown that poor sleep contributes to factors leading to heart disease. Just last year a study of 4,000 healthy participants showed that those who slept the least had the most harmful build-up of plaque in their arteries, which is an early sign of cardiovascular disease and increases the risk of a heart attack. Interestingly, this was true of participants of any age, weight or fitness level.
Immune function and sleep are very much linked. Poor sleep reduces the production of cytokine – a protein that helps the immune system respond to threats. Sleep deprivation means the body isn’t able to act as quickly to counter problems it may run into.
What does sleep mean for our ability to function?
Memory is directly connected to sleep habits. When we receive new information our brains need time for it to ‘stick’. This process is called ‘memory consolidation’, where what we have learned shifts from short to long-term memory. Research has shown that sleep aids this process. Brain scans show the cerebellum, which controls short-term memory, is more active when sleeping; this means that getting a full night’s sleep offers more time to reinforce new learnings. Research suggests we retain 40% less information when sleep deprived.
Not only does sleep support memory, but it also improves focus. Billions of neural cells are at work in our heads, helping us make decisions, process information and focus. Sleep deprivation hampers the brain cells’ ability to work together. REM sleep – or the ‘rapid eye movement’ stage – is also known to be key to creativity. This is the period in which we start to think abstractly, when acetylcholine – a chemical that acts as a messenger between cells – floods the brain.