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The Mastery of Sleep is a Mindvalley course available from Mindvalley, an online platform for personal growth. They have classes that teach anything from mind expansion, fitness, self love and entrepreneurship through their “Quests”. Each Quest is taught by a world class teacher with other classmates – and you have the ability to communicate and discuss each class with your “tribe” (or class). Mindvalley offers free courses in addition to courses that you have to pay for. In this course that I’m reviewing today, Dr. Michael Breus helps us to discover how to get the best sleep for us with a customized program you’ll develop over the course of 28 days. This program helps you get the sleep you need without the help of medicines. This is the perfect course for people who suffer from insomnia and other sleep disruptions and let me tell you guys that this course covers it ALL! You can choose to take just this course from Mindvalley or you can opt for Mindvalley all access where you can access each Quest that Mindvalley has to offer. NAT received this course at no cost for review purposes.
Mindvalley Course Review
Dr. Michael Breus is a clinical psychologist and lovingly referred to as the doctor of sleep. He’s written books that help people understand not just the hows of sleep but the whens as well. He implemented the sleep chronotype system and uses it to guide people through their sleep journey. He teaches this course with not just helpful tips but he also backs it up with science and always mentions the why’s that we might ask (which I personally like). At the end of each video (typically they’re just 10 minutes a day) Dr. Breus gives you tasks or actions to complete to move you closer to getting that optimum amount of sleep.
Before you ever start the course you can opt to do a “Warm Up”. This consists of meeting Dr. Breus, preparing for the Quest, tips on how to succeed in this Quest and how to determine the difference between sleep disorders and disordered sleep.
The first day of our course goes through the various benefits of sleep
- without sleep you’ll have slower reaction time, slower thinking processes, poor decision making, irritability and sleep debt
- lack of sleep is linked to 40 different medical conditions
Our task for this day is to reflect on the price that you’ve paid for the lack of sleep in your own life.
Moving on to day 2 we go over the Science of Sleep. This was really the most interesting part for me. I’ve had trouble sleeping most of my adult life and so my interest is understanding why I feel so betrayed by my body.
Some interesting facts:
- Adenosine is a hormone that makes you sleepy
- Caffeine blocks the effects of Adenosine
- Your circadian rhythm or your sleep rhythm follows your core body temperature (the cooler the better)!
- Once your body is cool it releases Melatonin
We also learned on this day about the 5 Stages of Sleep
- Stage 1 is transitioning into sleep and accounts for about 2% of your nightly sleep
- Stage 2 is where the regulatory maintenance of your bodies systems takes place. This takes up about 50% of your nightly sleep
- Stage 3 and Stage 4 are the two parts of sleep that help you to feel refreshed when you wake up in the morning. Physical restoration happens during these stages
- Finally is Stage 5 or REM sleep. This is the mentally restorative sleep that helps convert short term memories into long term memory and where dreams most likely occur. This is also the stage of sleep that people experience sleep paralysis as your body keeps your from acting out said dreams.
Your body also goes through “Sleep Cycles”. You have about 5 sleep cycles a night each lasting about 90 minutes. Waking or missing sleep cycles contribute greatly to feeling like you didn’t get enough sleep and particularly missing REM cycles lead to memory loss.
Your Dreams tell you a lot about how you are feeling. Stress dreams indicate that there is a stressor in your life and nightmares may be scary but will go away with good quality sleep.
On this day our Action is to begin with our sleep tracker. This will help you to monitor your progress throughout the program by having you record the number of hours that you slept, how long it took you to fall asleep, sleep time consistency, how many times you woke up and how long each incident was, naps you’ve taken, wake up time consistency as well as your energy levels in the morning, afternoon and evening.
Day 3 walks us through various myths about sleep
Our tasks for this day are to write down our own limiting beliefs about sleep and replace them with positive sleep affirmations. And as we will everyday in this course we update our sleep tracker.
On Day 4 Dr. Breus shares with us the “Power Down Hour”. This is the hour before we go to bed where we do three things in a sequence of 20 minutes each. First we take 20 minutes doing things to prep us for the next day. Then we use 20 minutes for personal hygiene and finally we take 20 minutes to relax.
The hope is that once we get to bed it takes us only about 15-25 minutes to fall asleep and Dr. Breus is clear that there is a huge difference between falling asleep and passing out. Some tips we get are wearing blue light blocking glasses the last hour you are awake and using the 4-7-8 breathing technique. In this we inhale and count to 4, holding our breath for 7 seconds and then exhaling to the count of 8. You’ll repeat this sequence 5-15X.
Our task for this day is to set an alarm to remind us when to begin our power down hour. We should also inform our sleep partner of our new sleep routine and also complete our sleep tracker for the day.
On day 5 of this Quest we begin to go over our daily routines. Again Dr. Breus reiterates how important the distinction between falling asleep and passing out are. Alcohol makes you pass out and keeps you from the deeper stages of sleep. Optimally you wait one hour for each alcoholic drink you’ve had before going to bed. We should also cut out caffeine by 2 pm and wait until you’ve been awake for about 90 minutes to drink any (I know crazy right but you have enough adrenaline in your system at this time to cover you for a bit).
On day 6 Dr. Breus talks about sleep aids and items we use to help us fall asleep. He also talks about both their pros and cons (mostly cons).
In this category we have
- Anti Depressants
- Non Benzodiazapene Hypnotics
- Over the counter medicines
Day 7 is used for review. So basically you’ll go over your sleep tracker and see if you’ve made progress and Dr. Breus tells us at this point we should be using only 1 snooze each morning and that our bedtimes should be within 30 minutes of each other over the course of a week to be consistent.
Day number eight was another really fascinating one. On this day we talk about sleep chronotypes. Your chronotype is your master biological clock and originally there were three different sets – the Early Bird, Hummingbird and the Night Owl. Dr. Breus tweaked this as it wasn’t exactly right and broke into even further down to lions, bears, wolves and dolphins.
Dr. Breus also talks about sleep drive which determines how much and how deeply you need to sleep. This is genetic and falls into one of three categories.
Low Sleep Drive – You wake easily and wake up feeling unrefreshed
High Sleep Drive – You sleep deeply yet still feel unrefreshed
Medium Sleep Drive – You sleep well and feel refreshed
Our task for today is to take the Chronotype Quiz. Not surprisingly I’m a wolf. Meaning my clock runs later.
Apparently for Day 9 I forgot to take a screenshot but nevertheless that doesn’t make this days lesson any less important. Today we go over our morning routine. Interesting fact is that sunlight resets your circadian rhythm.
In the morning we have a few necessary tasks:
- get sunlight
- cool shower (it’s funny how many of these task mirror themes in the Longevity Blueprint)
- drink coffee and eat breakfast
Our task for the day is to watch our customized chronotype video for personalized morning routines.
In mine I learned
- That I should be setting 2 alarms. 1 to wake up and 1 for 20 minutes after that and sleep or doze those minutes. I was unwittingly doing this – my husband gets up and takes a shower for about 20 minutes and these are my favorite minutes of sleep! I get to snooze some more and I’m always so grateful for it. My ideal wakeup time is about 730 (unfortunately with kids that’s just impossible but maybe one day).
- I should be drinking 12 ounces of water once I get up (around 8 am ideally)
- At 830 -930 I should eat breakfast – optimally protein
- Then it’s on to outdoor movement from 930-1030
- I felt as though this list was really accurate because it’s takes me sooo long to get up and go in the morning but at around 1030 – 11 I should begin gathering my thoughts which is EXACTLY what I do. Not to mention that I workout from 9-10! This is the point of the day where I begin prepping myself for any work I have to do
- Finally at 11 I can have coffee (frankly, this does not mirror my own life but maybe one day right?)
Day 10, 11 and 12
The following three days are days where we “makeover” our bedrooms in three different ways. The first day we talk about our pillow and mattress and what will work best for you. Then on Day 11 we talk about lighting. Because blue light prevents the production of melatonin Dr. Breus gives us some alternatives to blue light:
- blue light bulbs
- blue light glasses
- blackout curatains
- eye masks
Our task for both of these days in addition to our sleep tracker is to improve our bedroom in the ways suggested
On day 12 we talk about the sounds and smells in our bedrooms.
Dr. Breus goes on to give advice for snorers or people with sleep partners that snore (admittedly I snore)
- using Saline spray
- elevating bed or pillow
- creating a pillow wall
- sound machine
Dr. Breus also covers the right types of alarms and he talks about how it’s okay to have a TV in the bedroom.
For scent Dr. Breus suggests opening your windows once a week to get fresh air in there! He also touches on bedroom humidity and how it plays a role in your sleep. It affects breathing so you may want or need a humidifier or a dehumidifier. Lastly, he goes over aromatherapy and how these can be helpful in making us feel more restful.
Day 13 goes over sleep debt or the cumulative lack of sleep you feel over time
Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation are
- daytime sleepiness
- slow thinking
- slower reaction time
- and possibly weight gain
If you can fall asleep anywhere or within 5-10 minutes you are most likely sleep deprived.
Getting some extra sleep can help. Try taking naps or sleeping in. Naps should be from 1-3 pm but only 25 minutes or less.
A really interesting thing Dr. Breus recommends for naps is a nap-a-latte. This is drinking a cup of coffee and laying down for a nap. By the time the coffee affects you, you should be waking up from your quick power nap with the effects of the caffeine in full force. This is actually a really neat idea!
This is a review day and also has a Q+A with Dr. Breus
On day 15 Dr. Breus goes over the Pros and Cons of coffee
- Caffeine gives you improved strength and endurance
- Caffeine improves alertness
- Improved cognition
- Greater reaction time
- Caffeine can increase anxiety
- Caffeine can cause stomach upset
- caffeine can cause sleep disruptions
The affects of caffeine are determined buy the amount, timing, your own caffeine sensitivity, tolerance and metabolism.
2 -3 cups of coffee a day is ideal. Anything more and you risk excessive caffeine intake.
Guarana is an ingredient that acts the same as caffeine so be on the lookout for that.
The process of caffeine fading is cutting caffeine intake with limited withdrawals by slowly decreasing your intake each day.
Caffeine withdrawal symptoms are
Our actions for this day are to assess our caffeine intake and to think if caffeine fading might be a good idea.
Continuing on our journey Dr. Breus goes over Sleep Foods. Primarily he discusses the effects of sugar on sleep. Because sugar stimulates the appetite and increases inflammation which is connected to sleeplessness it’s best to avoid around bedtime.
The Best Foods for Sleep
- Fibrous Carbs
- Fats (keto diets are great for sleep and there is a special section Dr. Breus dedicates just to them)
- Vitamin B – 1, 9 and 12
- Magnesium (if you’ve read my blog for any considerable amount of time you know I’ve been singing the praises of magnesium forever)
Dr. Breus also talks about Tryptophan (yep the stuff in turkey). This chemical helps to create seratonin and melatonin.
Then we discuss dinner times. Ideally you should eat 3-4 hours before bed and if you snack at night it should be kept between 250-300 calories. Great snacks are apples and peanut butter, crackers and cheese, bananas with peanut butter and oatmeal with bananas and milk.
Our actions for this day are finding a sleep friendly snack
On the final day that I’m sharing with you guys (I mean go sign up if you like it that much – there’s still 11 days to go) Dr. Breus talks about Weightloss and Sleep. When we are sleep deprived cortisol increases and so does our appetite while our metabolism lowers. Gherlin increases our feelings of hunger and Leptin gets produced and keeps us from feeling full. This all amounts to increased fat storage.
Our actions for this day are write down the correlation between our sleep and our hunger levels.
Mastery of Sleep from Mindvalley 0+
Improve your sleep one day at a time
If you are striving to improve the quality of your sleep come along as Dr. Breus gives you a 28 day course on how to improve not only your sleep times but your sleep quality!