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EP4: Hacking Your Sleep

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In the fourth episode of the Best Life (Coach) Podcast, we are discussing hacking your sleep.

  • Sleep Apnea
  • How to get the best night’s sleep
  • Tools we use to hack our sleep

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Video:

 

Transcript:

Melissa Byone  0:00  
Welcome to the Best Life (Coach) Podcast where we’re on a mission to inspire and share tools you can use today to optimize your body, your relationships, your career, and ultimately, live your BEST life. I’m one of your hosts Melissa Byone accompanied with Stephanie Nelb and Sarah Mae., and we are the co-founders of the Best Life Coach Collective. This week, we have a really awesome podcast for you guys. I will kick it off to Sarah to share how she’s been living her best life this week and what she’d like to discuss first. 

 

Podcast Intro  0:33  
Intro (music by DJ Aly Abji)

 

Sarah Mae  0:51  
Hello, everyone. Thanks for the introduction, Melissa. Living my best life this week. It’s been a busy week, doing big things for the Best Life Coach Collective. But what really stands out for me is I got the results of my sleep study that I did a couple weeks ago, and found out that one of the reasons why I’m tired all the time is that I actually have mild sleep apnea. So I can get into that a bit later. But that’s been my kind of highlight knowing that there’s something wrong and having a way to maybe correct it is exciting for me. Steph, what have you been up to?

 

Stephanie Nelb  1:39  
Yeah, so for those that don’t know, I live in the Boston Massachusetts area, and we just got a huge snowstorm. So I had about two feet of snow to shovel over the last couple days. But I also went skiing and it was about zero degrees Fahrenheit. So embracing the cold and yeah, just enjoying being outside. Melissa, what about you?

 

Melissa Byone  2:09  
This week, I got to hang out in Hilo on the Big Island and just so calming and relaxing there. It’s just a quick 30 minute flight from Honolulu. Complete opposite of you Steph! It was beautiful. I got to just look at the ocean and the badass volcano that had snow on top of it. It’s just like a mind blown a moment to see the ocean, see a volcano, and see snow craziness. But it was great just getting to experience like this interesting place in the world.

 

Stephanie Nelb  2:51  
I’m a little jealous. 

 

Sarah Mae  2:53  
Yeah, just a little travel so bad. 

 

Melissa Byone  2:57  
Well, I still had to work you guys. It’s not all fun. So Sarah, would you like to tell us a little bit more about this sleep diagnosis that you got for sleep apnea? 

 

Sarah Mae  3:13  
Sure. Yeah. So I bought myself Oura Ring a couple years ago. And I tend to try and look at the trends of what it is showing, more then the data because, or the specific day data, because it’s a little bit iffy as to how, how correct that is, and how reliable is. So what was really standing out for me is that it gives you a restfulness score and over the course of about two years, I never had a restful sleep. And I was like, well, maybe there’s something wrong if it’s NEVER. So I, a year ago, I asked my doctor if I could see a sleep specialist and it took a year to get an appointment. And once I talked to them and went through all their questions that they asked trying to figure out like if you’re someone who might have any sort of diagnosable sleep disorder, and he determined that I do. One of the two of the key things that he got out of me were that one I fall asleep really easily if I’m bored. So a lot of times, doctors will ask like do you fall asleep, or like to take naps and stuff throughout the day and a lot of people busy people probably will have no time for that. But what he highlighted and he’s asked me, do you fall asleep in the car if you’re a passenger? And I cannot stay awake in a car. If I have a passenger, within five minutes of being a passenger in a car I’m out. And he’s like, yeah, you should be able to stay awake even when you’re bored out of your mind. So it’s a pretty big indicator. And also I have a really small mouth, which means that my normal-sized tongue actually takes up a lot of space in my mouth, which can really lead to a blocked airway. So he sent me for a sleep study where I got hooked up to all these crazy gadgets and wires all coming into my head and everything. And then they monitored with like a camera for the night how I slept. And I woke up feeling awful and, funnily enough, my Oura Ring telling me that I’d had the most restful sleep ever, which is a good indicator of why you want to look at the trends and not the daily data. But then a week later, he called and we talked it through and I found out I stopped breathing about seven and a half times an hour, which is mild sleep apnea. There’s a threshold that you have to meet for it to count as an episode of stopping breathing and just below that threshold, I actually wake up a couple more times. So he said, if you take into that, like those, like, almost at the threshold amounts, I probably stopped breathing about 10 to 15 times an hour, which is quite significant. So and not only that, I don’t stop moving, he was shocked that I literally move nonstop. And my husband has really bad sleep apnea, he stops breathing like 54 times an hour, which is crazy. So he never noticed that I am constantly moving. So that was really interesting. So I’m starting a CPAP trial in a couple weeks and hopefully that will get me some some rest so that I have energy more energy throughout my day that I have. Now. I’m tired speaking right now. 

 

Melissa Byone  6:55  
What is the place where you sleep? Like, where they are monitor you?

 

Sarah Mae  7:01  
Yeah, it’s a, it’s kinda like a private hotel room with a [less comfortable] bed, it’s nothing fancy. The little lamp and it’s a little bit annoying, because if you know that, like junk lights really not go for your sleep, like they have like the fluorescent lighting and everything on until they finish putting all of this stuff on. So they have to do that, like you’re going to go to bed, probably within an hour of them doing all that so you’re sitting while they’re doing it with all the fluorescent lighting on. And then they put the little bedside table lamp on and you’re like, well, that’s definitely going to affect my my night’s sleep. So they, but they take all those things into consideration, and they monitor everything, they can tell like every time you twitch, which side you sleep on, if you’re grinding your teeth at all, they monitor everything. It’s it’s super intense. 

 

Melissa Byone  7:56  
Was it hard to sleep knowing there’s a camera on you? 

 

Sarah Mae  8:02  
No, I, at first I thought it was going to be weird. But I mean, I knew who was watching. So there’s that. Like, I met the girl that was the one that was the overnight nurse that was monitoring everything. What was weird is whenever like, so they put a thing on your finger to miss it and measure your oxygen I guess. And whenever that would come off, she’d have to come in and put it back on. So like in the middle of night she’d like come in and be like, I’m just putting this back. That was weird. Yeah, so… You had one too, right? Stephanie

 

Stephanie Nelb  8:41  
Yeah, so I had one a few years ago. And similar to you. I had many disruptions throughout the night, whether it was someone coming in to check and adjust something, or, you know, the light that was on the camera, just a little led to show that it was on those little lights throughout the room just had me not as ready to get a restful night’s sleep as if I had been at home. But to your point that kind of take that into account. I also have very mild sleep apnea as a result of that, but I do just find it so funny that they put you in this [hospital] like space, and it’s really not the best environment to get a great night’s sleep. So it’s almost like if you end up doing a sleep study, are you guaranteed to have some sort of sleep problem? I don’t know. But it’s an interesting experience for sure.

 

Sarah Mae  9:37  
Yeah, I guess what I was thinking when it comes to like the reliability of it, is it because they test for a lot of things but when it comes down to the fact that you’re stopping breathing, I mean that’s not a normal thing to do, no matter where you’re sleeping right? So that that is a good indicator and they also look for Restless Leg Syndrome. I talked toss and turn a lot, but I don’t have Restless Leg Syndrome, so they know specifically what they’re looking for, which is interesting. 

 

Melissa Byone  10:07  
So that’s all really interesting. I just did a quick Google search. And it looks like 50 to 70 million US adults have a sleep disorder. And obstructive sleep apnea is one of the most prevalent sleep disorders, like two to 5% of women have this. So it’s pretty common. I mean, that’s decently common, if you have to, like do have to go and get a sleep study to be diagnosed is that kind of like how it works? 

 

Sarah Mae  10:31  
Yeah, you need to do the sleep study to be diagnosed and women are like the most underdiagnosed for it, because the common things that you look out for it are like being very obese male is like this, the stereotype of what it is. And so even if you’re like a thin male, you might, there might be an underdiagnosis there. And then if you add on a woman, the stereotype just makes it a very undiagnosed disorder. Which is a shame, because I mean, it’s not good to be going around tired all the time. 

 

Stephanie Nelb  11:16  
Even more than that, you know, what I first had this done and was looking into sleep apnea and I came across that same research that said, you know, thin women tend to be one of the under-diagnosed segments that have sleep apnea. And what’s scary about that is sleep apnea can actually lead to heart conditions. So if you don’t have it diagnosed at an early enough age, it could be causing just terrible problems down the road.

 

Sarah Mae  11:46  
Sleep is so important. It’s really also undervalued, I think in, in our culture generally. 

 

Melissa Byone  11:56  
Yeah, I definitely agree. And there’s a lot of people who just don’t go are taught or don’t know, like, best practices for great sleep. I know, one that’s really kind of changed, the way that I sleep is knowing it’s better to be in a super, super dark place. Like where it’s cold. So basically, like you’re sleeping in the cave, which totally makes sense. You think like, we’ve all evolved, sleeping in a cave is a safe place to be thousands and thousands of years ago. So yeah, are there any other things you guys know of that can help lead to really get sleep? 

 

Sarah Mae  12:43  
What you were just saying reminded me, you know how there’s a lot of sensory deprivation tanks that are pretty popular. And that is one of the reasons because when you go in there, you can get a really good sleep in. Right, cuz you have no no light, no sound, nothing, nothing to disturb you. So that is essentially and preparing for the night, giving your brain time to unwind a bit from the day, getting rid of the technology that’s going to stimulate your brain keep it awake. And I mentioned before like staying away from junk light, I actually have, I wear these (Tru Dark Red Glasses) before bed, they’re not the most attractive, I have to wear them over my glasses, but they block out all blue light completely. So that really helps. If I need to be on my phone or anything, I can still do it. I still try to avoid it because still isn’t great. But at least I’m not getting the effects of the blue light from the phone affecting my sleep. 

 

Melissa Byone  13:54  
For our listeners that don’t know what junk light is, can you just kind of elaborate what you mean by that? 

 

Sarah Mae  14:00  
Yeah, so the light bulbs that we have now really emit blue light and blue light disrupts your circadian rhythm, because that’s the light that we get from, like the sun. So if we’re getting that, at 10pm at night, you’re making your body think that it is the middle of the day or first thing in the morning. And that’s going to make it really hard to get yourself calm and in a restful state for sleep. So there’s different blue light blocking glasses that aren’t red and crazy like that, that just block the blue light from this technology that we’re looking at all the time. I have a yellow pair that I wear later in the day, because they just block out a little bit more and then the red ones block it all out. So kind of as the day progresses, I use different types of glasses for it.

 

Melissa Byone  14:57  
So I know you mentioned fluorescent lights during the sleep study, is that also a type of junk light? 

 

Sarah Mae  15:07  
Yeah, that’s what was kind of silly about it is that it has these like, ridiculous lights that are definitely going to affect sleeping. So I, I was wearing my yellow glasses before I went to sleep, but I still, I, you have to take them off, well, they put everything on. So I’m like sitting with my eyes closed, trying to see the crazy lights. But it affects more than just your sleep too, because my husband is very sensitive to it. And if he’s not wearing his yellow glasses, in the evenings, he just could feel he feel sick. And especially if we go to like grocery stores and stuff and he’s not wearing them, he can feel it in his body starts to make him feel a bit nauseous. And when you don’t know it and you become desensitized to it, you don’t realize that that is harming your body. So it’s something that’s worth looking into and experimenting with.

 

Stephanie Nelb  16:10  
You know, one other thing I find interesting, I was doing some reading lately about junk light. And what stood out to me is now there’s some research that not only is it the blue light, specifically, that is not good for you when you’re trying to focus on getting ready for bed and making sure that you’re getting good sleep. But it’s also the brightness itself. So you could be, you could have a red light on, I have a couple red lights in my home that I’ll use in the evening, but if it’s not dim enough for the time of day or time of night, then that can affect your sleep as well. So I have a filter I have on my phone that adjust to just black and white at night. But even the brightness from that is just too much for the evening.

 

Sarah Mae  17:00 
That’s really interesting. I have the Hue bulbs that change color, and I set them to red at night and oftentimes it’ll just I’ll go into the bedroom and it will be fully bright red and I feel it, right, I’m gonna turn that brightness down, it’s still red but you can feel the difference when you change the brightness of the red for sure. 

 

Melissa Byone  17:25  
So are those. what, is there a difference between incandescent and LED? 

 

Sarah Mae  17:33 
Yeah, an incandescent light bulb is way more expensive to run, they’re actually a heat source more than they’re a light source. So they’re producing a ton of heat and infrared. So they’re way more expensive to run, which is why like most people, even though they’re more, they’re cheaper to buy, they cost more to run. So most people don’t buy them anymore.

 

Stephanie Nelb  17:55 
They also don’t last as long as LEDs these days, but yeah, definitely better for your health as far as junk like goes.

 

Melissa Byone  18:04 
Okay, so if we’re designing the perfect going to bed situation. Where do we start? 

 

Sarah Mae  18:14 
As far as lighting goes, I would say having a red light in the bedroom is for it’s like multiple multiple persons purpose, right? Because it reduces if you just have the red light spectrum, which is like it’s fine for sleeping, it’s kind of similar to what you would have if you were looking at a fire. It doesn’t affect your sleep. So you have that gotten rid of the junk light but also within your bedroom. You can be like kind of sexy, so it has that dual purpose. 

 

Melissa Byone  18:44 
I like this fire cave sexy, so great. Okay, so what okay are our rooms red, red light, red light. It’s not not at peak height, in the mid to low range, red light. It’s cold, cold, 

 

Sarah Mae  19:03 
No other lights have blackout curtains.

 

Melissa Byone  19:06 
blackout curtains, and covering up those little dots that are on all of our tech 

 

Sarah Mae  19:14 
or turning the tech off, not in the bedroom. You definitely shouldn’t have like, like removing TVs in the bedrooms, TV. Having a TV in your bedroom is a terrible idea. The amount of energy that comes from TVs, I mean, if you have to have a TV in your bedroom, then like unplugging it at least.

 

Stephanie Nelb  19:33 
And for your phone. If you are one of those people that charges your phone next to your bed, I would recommend not doing it. But I know how hard that can be. So if you are one of those people that charges your phone by your bed, then put it on airplane mode or turn it off completely at night. Because cell data is something that can actually surprisingly disrupt your sleep as well. So that’s something we can get into on another episode but something to consider

 

Melissa Byone  20:02 
Alright, so just to recap, perfect sleep environment: red light, low, dark, blackout curtains, cold. That’s five, are those our top five?

 

Sarah Mae  20:20 
And comfortable. Like if you’re even really uncomfortable bed and pillow setup, and you’re, yeah, that’s obviously going to affect your sleep. And old pillows and stuff, too. That’s a terrible idea. All the dust mites. And so people like tend to have pillows forever and not wash them, which is gross. So yeah, a pillow that supports your head. It’s clean. 

 

Melissa Byone  20:48 
Yeah, I feel like I used to be one of those people who didn’t see the value in having a good sleep environment, like having an nice comfortable mattress like, semi newish pillows from this decade. Comfortable sheets and a nice comforter, that it kind of like, puts some weight, and then wanting to use it – so being in a cold place. Making your cold.  

 

Sarah Mae  21:22 
Yeah, I think those are all great tips for. And if you think that you have any kind of sleep disorders, seeing your doctor and getting a sleep to sleep study, and doing it sooner rather than later, because it took over, over I think a year for me to finally get my sleep study done. And my my doctor kind of just tried to play it off, like, oh, just take some melatonin and she tried to give me some other thing too, that had a bunch of crazy side effects and wasn’t even like, traditionally used. I don’t remember, I wish I could remember what it was. But it was something that was traditionally used for depression, not for sleep. And I was like, I’m not taking this. I’m just saying I’m having bad sleeps. And then just tried to tell me just take 10 milligrams of melatonin. And well, melatonin can be a great thing to use, like once in a while if you’ve been traveling or something, consistently using that can mess up your sleep as well. And doesn’t. What I think is the real problem is it doesn’t get at the heart of the issue of what’s actually going on. So I pushed to get a sleep study and found out I actually do have a sleep disorder. So it’s I think it’s important to play an advocate for yourself as well. When you when you know something’s wrong.

 

Stephanie Nelb  22:42 
I’ll second that quickly as well because when I knew I actually read a book by a dentist, I believe, who has a lot of experience with sleep apnea, you can see it if you know you’re grinding your teeth, your dentist can call that out that’s a sign of sleep apnea or can be. And so I was reading this book, and as I read it, I realized, wow, I think I definitely have sleep apnea based on all of these different symptoms. And so when I went to my doctor and said, “Hey, I think I have sleep apnea, you know, I need to do a sleep study”. She didn’t believe me, she just kind of wrote it off just like your doctor did to you. And she gave me this quick little test where I had to fill out, you know, one to five, how likely are you to fall asleep if you’re bored, or driving like Sarah happened to you. And as I filled this out, I just had to fudge the numbers just to make sure that I skewed to the side that was guaranteed to get the sleep study because I knew it needed to be done. But you know, you really do have to be the advocate for yourself.

 

Sarah Mae  23:48 
Yeah, yeah, that’s what I felt really lucky that I got to sleep doctor that like really understood that some of those questions really are very ambiguous and don’t tell the whole picture. Like, lhe said, you should be able to be bored, sitting in a car and not fall asleep. So just because you don’t fall asleep throughout your day, doesn’t mean that you don’t have sleep apnea or sleep disorder of some sort. 

 

Melissa Byone  24:19 
I want to third this be your own advocate always. You know, it’s best for you over anyone else because you experience your body like no one else does. 

 

Sarah Mae  24:30 
And the idea I think that if you like read something and now you’re what a hypochondriac because you think that maybe, maybe it’s you. I feel like that can be a form of gaslighting yourself as well. So I think being careful and realistic and think it through and reflect on like, how is this what part of this is affecting my life, and yes, it’s easy to read something on the internet nowadays and think oh, I probably have that but I mean a lot of times, if you might think, oh, at first glance, yeah, I have all this. But maybe if I think about it a lot more, probably not. But I think that you’ll know, if it’s really affecting your body in those ways, and it’s better to say something and get tested and find out then wait till it’s a problem like the medical system seems to like to do 

 

Melissa Byone  25:22
Completely agree. Wow, this is all been really, really interesting. I feel like we’ve had a really great conversation around sleep and the things that we can do to have better sleep and advocating for ourselves and our own sleep health. Do you guys feel like this is a good place to end this week? 

 

Stephanie Nelb  25:43  
Yeah.

 

Sarah Mae  25:43 
Sure, yeah.

 

Stephanie Nelb  25:45 
Absolutely. 

 

Sarah Mae  25:45 
Yeah. It’s a good conversation. 

 

Stephanie Nelb  25:47 
Thanks for bringing this to us today, Sarah. 

 

Sarah Mae  25:50 
Yeah, thanks for talking about it with me.

 

Melissa Byone  25:53 
Yeah, thank you for sharing what you’re going through. I hope that you get some better sleep in the very near future. Me too. All right. With that we thank you guys for joining us. Be sure to subscribe and tune into new episodes on the first Thursday of every month. Again, this was the Best Life (Coach) Podcast. And we’re on a mission to inspire and share with you guys everything that we’re learning on our journeys. Thank you and we’ll see you next time. Bye. 

 

 

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Episode Resources

Sleep Tools:

https://ouraring.com/
https://truedark.com/

Studies:

https://medicine.at.brown.edu/article/why-is-sleep-apnea-underdiagnosed-in-women/ 

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