Michelle Rupp: Joining us now is Jason Henry, senior director of ancillary services at Arkansas Heart Hospital, who is also over the sleep clinic there at the hospital. Hi Jason, thanks for joining us.

Jason Henry: Hello Michelle, nice to be with you this morning.

MR: It’s good to see you. Thanks. So, sleep. Oh my goodness. It’s what we crave and some of us get a great night’s sleep and some of us get a horrible night’s sleep. And now it’s dark all the time. How is this impacting our circadian rhythm?

JH: Sure. So that’s circadian rhythm you referenced. It’s like our internal clock and it’s influenced a lot by a lot of environmental cues most notably light and so when there’s more darkness and more light than we’re used to it can throw us off for sure. And you know our after work, after school events, P. T. A. Meetings, basketball games- they’re still happening at the same time. So you’ve got to really get a good balance and get accustomed to it. So, we kind of train ourselves to get in and re reboot ourselves when the time changes and we’ve got more darkness.

MR: There are definitely moments when I think my gosh it must be 8:30. No, no it’s 4:45. That’s a little extreme but you know. So, how are there ways to combat this, or to get ourselves kind of back right, and being able to fall asleep at more of a regular time that we’re used to. Not 4:45 because it is so much darker, so much earlier now.

JH: For sure. So, your goal, you’re looking for 7-8 hours of sleep at night. And that’s hard to do for a lot of people, especially when we’ve got active lives. So, I’m going to repeat this several times today, but consistency is the key. So, we’ve got to have a consistent schedule and if you’re jumping around and you’re going to bed at 11 o’clock one night and seven o’clock one night you’re going to have trouble getting in a good rhythm, because we still got to get up in the morning and go to work and take care of the kids and do everything we’ve got to do. So, consistency is the key you know, and part of that too is having a good schedule, [which] includes, you know, number one going to bed at the right time at the same time every night, but also setting yourself up for success for a good successful sleep. So, you know, cutting down on the electronic devices before you go to bed. And that comes down to light too, so, you know, the circadian rhythm as you were discussing is triggered, you know, by light. So if you’re sitting there staring at a phone when we should be going to sleep that’s light coming into our mind and our brain and stimulating us and so we’ve got to cut that stuff out. Also, just setting your room up to make sure it’s comfortable, make sure it’s cool and you know, your bed’s comfortable, obviously you want a nice comfortable bed too. If you’re sleeping on a rock, it’s going to be hard. Dimming the lights, I mean even before you go to bed. You know, turn the lights down in the evening, you know, get yourself, get your mind going in that direction to where, you know, hey, we’re needing to slow everything down and calm down. That’s a real key limiting alcohol too. So, a lot of people think, oh I’m going to have me a drink or two and I don’t make me go to sleep. And it might help you get to sleep, but it may, you know, it may not make for a good restful sleep. Exercise during the day, huge. So during the day and you know, we got, we got two parts of the circadian rhythm as you were asking, you were talking about, you got the nighttime in the daytime, So we want to enhance our daytime experience by getting outside, getting light, getting exercise and enhancing that part of the rhythm so that the other part is enhanced. So, you got two parts there.

MR: Let me ask- going back to screens and I know you mentioned about the cell phone and we’ve heard and read you know two hours before bed put the phone away or maybe an hour before bed put the phone away. What about Television screens? And what about having a television in your room if you’re used to going into your room and getting into bed and then watching TV for 30 minutes, does that play with that Rhythm as well?

JH: Exactly the same. So, it’s also stimulation too. So, I have a tv in my room. Everybody does. But if that’s a problem for you, get it out, you know get it out of there and eliminate that stimulation.

MR: Okay that’s good advice. And is it really true- two hours before bedtime? Get off your phone.

JH: Well, I mean it’s going to be different for everybody. But I mean at least 30 minutes. I mean you’ve got to turn that stuff off. Maybe you know, read. You know, a nice dim lamp next to you or something just to calm everything down. Meditation is an excellent tool to use to get yourself ready for sleep just to calm the mind down, you know, let go of the day, forget about all the stresses and the work. The work is going to be there in the morning. Just calm everything down, slow everything down. You know, because your body- when you sleep, you’re slowing everything down. The digestive system to the mind, everything shuts down. And so sometimes we have to help that and you know, get it started.

MR: Can we make up sleep?

JH: So, I mean the go-to for any and everybody is to take you a nap right? So, I’m tired. I didn’t get enough sleep last night. I’m going to take a nap- and the naps are good. They can be beneficial, but you’ve got to keep it to, you know, to a minimum, to a limit. 15 minutes, 20 minutes. And if you take a two or three hour nap in the afternoon- if I did, there’s no way I’d be able to go to sleep at night. So, set an alarm if you take your nap.

MR: That’s, that’s very good. What about apps and wearables? Different things that can, gauge our sleep and determine if we are getting into deep sleep and how important is it that we get into deep sleep?

JH: Sure. So, there’s lots of stuff, like you said, that monitor your sleep. There are apps that help you get to sleep. I think though, the apps that help you get to sleep can be definitely beneficial for people. And just think of it as meditation, I mean you’re focusing on that music, you’re focusing on that soft voice that’s relaxing you and calming your mind down so your mind’s not wandering off on that project that’s due tomorrow. Or you know you’re slowing everything down, focusing on one thing. So, apps like that, you know, they can be very beneficial in getting you, helping you get to sleep for some people. Now, the apps that you know that monitor your sleep and tell you how well you slept. I mean I would be careful with that because you can get focused on that and that can become a stressor for you and keep you from going to sleep. So, if you’re going to bed thinking oh I’ve got to get 30% deep sleep tonight and that’s all you’re thinking about. I mean that’s going to be a stressor that that would probably hinder your sleep.

MR: That’s a good point. What about some something warm to drink before you go to bed? Does that help or does it just depend on the person?

JH: Yeah. Well, I think so, yeah, but you would obviously avoid caffeine or any kind of stimulant. So, you know a nice herbal nighttime tea- you know, chamomile or something like that would be probably be good. But you want to be careful how much water you drink too. Some people, if you have trouble getting up and going to the bathroom frequently, you want to be careful how much water you drink, you know before bedtime?

MR: That’s right, because that’s going to wake you up and then you may have trouble falling back to sleep. Alright, Jason, is there anything else that we need to know as we’re all kind of wrestling to get those 7, 8, 9 hours of sleep?

JH: Well, the key is consistency, like I said, and slowing down. You know you’re at work during the day, do your work then. Or you’re exercising, you’re taking care of it, whatever you’re doing. Be present at night when it’s time to go to sleep, shut everything down and calm down and just focus, you know, relax and chill out.

MR: I love that advice- just relax and chill out. Jason, thank you so much for joining us today. A lot of very important information that we can put into practice starting tonight. Thank you so much.

JH: My pleasure

MR: And thank you for joining us. We will see you back here next week for more AFMC TV