Fri, 10 Aug, 2018Over60

Oprah's sleep doctor shares his best sleep hacks

Oprah's sleep doctor shares his best sleep hacks

Oprah Winfrey's sleep doctor Dr Michael Breus has revealed the sleep hacks that really work and busted the myths that don’t.

Universally lauded as the world’s leading sleep doctor, Dr Breus has a PhD in clinical psychology, certified in clinical sleep disorders, and is a practicing doctor who treat sleep patients with apnoea, narcolepsy and insomnia. So, he knows what he’s talking about.

If you find yourself constantly tired during the day and need a quick pick-me-up, Dr Breus recommends a “nap-a-latte”.

It involves “taking a cup of black coffee, cooled down with three ice cubes and drinking it quickly”.

“Immediately take a 25-minute nap after drinking the coffee,” he told Daily Mail Australia.

“The caffeine then blocks the sleep-inducing factors and the little 25-minute nap will give you enough sleep to feel better.”

Dr Breus also advises you to get out into the sun for 15 minutes each morning “which helps to discontinue the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone”.

He explains: “You might not think that light first thing is what your sleepy body needs, but the internal body clock - the circadian rhythm - runs on a 24-hour schedule and functions best when you are exposed to a regular pattern of light and dark.”

If you struggle to fall asleep at night, Dr Breus recommends this simple trick: “Count backwards from 300 in increments of threes.”

“It's so complicated that you can't think of anything else, while it's so boring that you're out like a light,” he said.

The sleep expert also swears by a “banana tea” recipe for good sleep: “Take a chunk of organic banana, peel on, cut it in half and with the stem and trip removed, brew it in boiling water for four minutes.”

He explained that the water is “loaded with magnesium, which is very calming and is a great replacement for camomile tea”. 

As for sleep myths, Dr Breus said that it is completely false that you can make up for “sleep debt” on the weekends.

“Many people build a sleep debt during the week – a growing deficit between the sleep you need and the actual amount of sleep you get,” he said.

“Research shows that after sleep deprivation, weekend makeup sleep doesn't completely restore attention, focus and other measurements of cognitive performance.”

The other sleep myth the expert is keen to debunk is that you can get by on fewer than six hours sleep.

“Sleep needs do vary person to person, but nearly everyone suffers deficits to health, well-being and performance when they regularly get less than six hours of sleep a night,” Dr Breus said.

“Only a very small fraction of the population can function well and maintain good health on a sleep routine of fewer than six hours per night.”

Oprah's sleep doctor said that you should ideally aim for around seven and a half hours, which is the “sweet spot” for slumber.

“The average sleep cycle is 90 minutes long and a typical night of sleep includes five full sleep cycles,' he said.

“So, if we apply some simple maths, 90 x 5 is 450 minutes - or 7.5 hours.”