The Neurology of Sleep
Sleep is one of our favorite things, yet most of us don’t get enough sleep every night! But why?
On this episode of Calm, Cool and Connected, we are joined by Dr. Meredith Broderick: a triple boarded sleep doctor, and the perfect person to guide us through the science of good sleep.
Key Takeaways from Liz’s chat with Dr. Broderick:
All of this and more, on this episode of Calm, Cool and Connected.
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[00:00:00] Now more than ever. We have an opportunity to be a positive force in the world to help heal the divide, to treat each other and ourselves with respect. Well, there's so many tools out there from meditation to physical training, proper nutrition therapy, and so many others. We all need a little help navigating all the options.
Join us as we share in-depth information, insights and thought provoking discussions that will help answer your questions about how to stay calm, cool, and connected. During these times. Welcome to calm, cooling, connected your guidebook to peace of mind.
Dr. Fredrick: Hello, and welcome to calm, cooling, connected. I'm your host, Dr. Elizabeth Bedrick Haas
Dr. Broderick: sleep. What a
Dr. Fredrick: wonderful thing. How many memes do we see on the daily about how sleep is all of our favorite things yet? Somehow none of us are getting enough for whatever reason. Most of us are not getting an adequate number of sleep each night.
And if we are, there's often some concern with the. Our next [00:01:00] guest is a neurologist and a triple boarded sleep doctor. She's here to talk to us about why many of us struggle with sleep and what we can do about it. Hi, Dr. Broderick. Welcome.
Dr. Broderick: Hi, how are you today? Thank you so much for having me. Thank you so much for joining us.
Dr. Fredrick: excited to talk with you today. So first and foremost, can you tell us a little bit about your background and what you currently do in the.
Dr. Broderick: Sure I am a sleep medicine physician. So I'm a medical doctor. I actually trained as a neurologist and as a subspecialty of neurology, I specialize in sleep disorders.
So I specialize in sleep disorders and neurological diseases. But I also see a wide range of patients with anything from insomnia to sleep, walking, to sleep apnea, pretty much you name it. And I have my own private practice here in Bellevue, Washington, which is a suburb of Seattle, but I also have tele-health services.
And I see clients also in California and [00:02:00] Alaska as well as Washington state. Wow.
Dr. Fredrick: Okay. So you stay very busy because a lot of us struggle with sleep. So that's keeping you busy. Tell us why sleep is. I mean, we know that sleep is important, but help us to really understand why, like, what is the value that sleep provides to our lives?
Dr. Broderick: Sleep is the main way that our brain restores itself. So like everything else, you know, just like needing to reboot your computer or have your car serviced every year. Our body also. To restore itself from the cell metabolism and the waste products that are generated and sleep is the main way that our body achieves that function.
And especially for our brain, our, the waste products in our brain, from the cells doing work and storing memories and learning, that's how they rebalance themselves. So it's really this critical physiologic function.
Dr. Fredrick: And in regard to our mental health, what, what is the value that sleep has on even mood states or emotional [00:03:00] regulation?
Dr. Broderick: Yeah. So I like to think of sleep as being a mini therapy session because especially our REM sleep, it does help us rebalance our mood and it helps us sort of process all the day's activity and then feel more rested and more, you know, not as irritable and more balanced when we have had that good night of rest.
Dr. Fredrick: there a. Optimal number of hours of sleep each night. And like what, what would that range be?
Dr. Broderick: Yeah, the optimal range for most people is going to fall between seven to nine hours. But. There are these rare people who are what we call short sleepers who need a little bit less. And then there are people who need a little bit more, maybe they need nine or 10 hours.
And what I tell people is, you know, if you feel rested in the morning and you feel alert throughout the day, you're getting enough sleep. Even if it is only six hours. So don't worry so much if you're not in that. You know, seven to nine hour range, but most people are going to fall into that range.
Dr. Fredrick: And are there [00:04:00] gender differences when it comes to amount
Dr. Broderick: of sleep?
Yes, there definitely are. Women need more sleep than men, and that's true, but you know what makes sense in a way, because you know, women have babies sometimes and women sometimes, you know, studies show have more domestic responsibilities. And especially nowadays where women are working full-time jobs and doing that domestic work, then it sort of makes sense in a way.
But I think physiologically we're just. Wired that way that we do need more sleep than men. Absolutely. And we
Dr. Fredrick: commonly talk about not getting enough sleep, but is there actually a number of does sleep become too much at a certain point? And not necessarily from, we know that that can commonly be like a depressive symptom, but even that it has an impact on like that reverse impact on being more sluggish or lethargic during the day.
Is, is there any oversleep.
Dr. Broderick: Yes, absolutely. [00:05:00] So there are definitely some diseases where it's really a kind of a, you know, physiological thing where people are too sleepy, but behaviorally as well, there is a point where when people sleep too much, their sleep becomes lower in quality. So when you get too much, then you start to start compromising on the quality of sleep you get.
And so we see that as well.
Dr. Fredrick: Okay. So, yeah. And that makes a lot of sense. What do you think are some modern or what are you seeing even in your practice that are some modern day issues of why? Most of us are not getting enough.
Dr. Broderick: I think the most significant one is the amount of light that we get. And also that we're not synchronized to the light, dark cycle of the sun anymore as a function of electricity.
And that's been shown that compared to our ancestors a hundred years ago, on average, we all sleep about an hour less than our ancestors did a hundred years ago. And that's probably because of electronic. [00:06:00]
Dr. Fredrick: Interesting. And so even if people are falling within the seven to nine hours, what is the impact on quality?
Are, are most people getting quality sleep? And if not, what do you think are some of the barriers to that?
Dr. Broderick: Yeah, I think some people are, I mean, not everybody has sleep issues, but I think a lot of us do. You know, light is definitely an issue. So not being synchronized, not having your circadian rhythm, being regular and then trained.
But I also think that being on our phones and having the sort of dopamine surge all day of like scrolling down Facebook or Instagram or whatever it is I also think we all just are very motivated to like, get everything we can out of life. And sometimes we, you know, Yeah, this momentum in the evening, it's hard to shut down and then people are sleep deprived.
Dr. Fredrick: absolutely. I agree. That's I talk with my, a lot of my clients about that. Have, you know, what is their evening routine? What is [00:07:00] the bedtime wind down routine? Cause I think you're absolutely right when we're in engaging in social media or electronics late at night. It's the light and the dopamine, right?
So it's. Duel impact. Let's talk a little bit about insomnia. Can, can you provide just a brief description of what qualifies as insomnia?
Dr. Broderick: Well, as a medical doctor, we have a very specific definition of insomnia. So insomnia means you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at least three nights a week and for at least three months.
So it has to be, and then it has to cause some dysfunction, meaning distress during the day, anxiety trouble concentrating. Maybe I'm not. Feeling like I'm worth my work is as good as I want it to be. I'm having trouble at home, getting things done. So those are kind of the things as a medical professional that I would define insomnia.
At what point
Dr. Fredrick: do you suggest that people reach out for help? Is it if it falls into that category of the three nights per [00:08:00] week and the three months?
Dr. Broderick: Yes, for sure. There's also a really simple, easy. Validated questionnaire called the insomnia severity index at seven questions. And it will give you a scale of whether it's significant or not, and should be, you know, she'd be looked at what is the
Dr. Fredrick: most common sleep disorder that you see in your practice?
Dr. Broderick: It's probably insomnia and sleep apnea. Those two are, I would say like, you know, probably 75% of what. And
Dr. Fredrick: when we talk about sleep apnea, are there, so those symptoms you described for insomnia what are some of those initial onset symptoms for sleep apnea that you suggest people seek help? If they're seeing,
Dr. Broderick: The most common one is daytime sleepiness.
So just not being able to stay awake until bedtime for women, that's a little different for women. It can manifest as insomnia, especially that I can't get all the way through the night. Not so much trouble falling asleep, but staying. Okay.
Dr. Fredrick: Yeah, that would make sense. So what are some tips? What's some [00:09:00] advice that you give to your patients to improve quality of sleep?
Let's say just a couple of handful of pieces of feedback that you get from.
Dr. Broderick: Well, I definitely would always go back to the sleep hygiene rules, which I think probably everyone has, has heard about, but those are really important. They're kind of the foundation. Also I think the most impactful thing you can do just for yourself is to keep a sleep diary.
You can found, find one on the national sleep foundation website. You can find one. On my website and basically what you want to do is just track your sleep. At the time you're going to bed the time you're getting up, how much sleep you're getting, how much you're napping, you can also add caffeine and alcohol in there.
If you do use those and just get a sense of where you are and how you feel. And sometimes by doing that a couple of weeks, you can see. Well, I did this this week and I felt great this week. Not as well. And it kind of helps guide you where kind of your ideal should be and that's something you could do on your own.
Dr. Fredrick: Okay. Yeah. That's a great idea. Do you usually recommend people use the watch or the ring or anything like [00:10:00] that? That's providing the biofeed.
Dr. Broderick: You know, those are a double-edged sword. And for some people I feel like they're really helpful. And for others, they really can cause a lot of anxiety I find in general with the aura ring and the Fitbits and things like that, they tend to underestimate sleep for some people.
And that kind of makes people feel more. Worried. So sometimes they can be a little bit of a double-edged sword that way. What kind of get in their
Dr. Fredrick: head with that, and then maybe get anxious, which then impacts sleep and creates a vicious cycle for sure. Can you tell our viewers where they can find more
Dr. Broderick: information about you?
Sure. The best place is probably my website sound sleep guru.com. I'm also on Instagram at sleep. Dr. Mayer and yeah, please reach out if you have any questions.
Dr. Fredrick: Perfect. Thank you so much, Dr. Broderick.
Dr. Broderick: I appreciate you. Thank you so much for having me
Dr. Fredrick: and thank you all for tuning into this episode of calm, cool and connected.
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