sleep-questions

The glamorization of sleep deprivation is deeply embedded in our culture. Everywhere you turn, sleep deprivation is celebrated, from "You snooze, you lose" to highly burned out people boasting, "I'll sleep when I'm dead." But perhaps those who equate sleep with laziness or lack of dedication can be convinced of the benefits of sleep by looking at what's going on in a world that is the ultimate in pragmatism, where performance and winning are everything: sports. Take Michelle Brooke-Marciniak, an All-American collegiate basketball player at the University of Tennessee who was once named the Final Four's MVP. She went on to play in the WNBA, and then brought her understanding of the link between sleep and performance to the world of business, co-founding the sleepwear and bedding company SHEEX in 2007. In answer to my questions, she shared her insights on how being an athlete has informed her experience as an entrepreneur.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Jennifer Aniston, who is not only one of our most gifted actors but a lifestyle icon for millions. In a conversation that touched on a range of well-being topics, I couldn't resist asking her about the one that happens to be one of our shared passions: sleep. From her bedtime ritual to her favorite dry shampoo, she shared some of her struggles as well as some of her tips for powering down and getting the sleep she needs.
Kat Duff is the award-winning author of The Alchemy of Illness and The Secret Life of Sleep, which both set out to illuminate experiences often dismissed as private and off limits. In answer to my questions, she shared her insights on sleep in ancient cultures, changing attitudes toward sleep over time, and how (and especially how not) to wake someone up.
Gretchen Rubin's new book, out today, is Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits -- to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life. In answer to my questions, she shared her insights on how habits can free us, the importance of understanding ourselves, and the 21 strategies we can use to make or break habits -- and in doing so, begin to live the lives we want, not the lives we settle for.
Dr. Michael Breus is a clinical psychologist and author of The Sleep Doctor's Diet Plan: Lose Weight Through Better Sleep. In answer to my questions, he shared his thoughts on the major obstacles to getting a good night's sleep, the steps you can take to improve your sleep, and the future of sleep technology.
Fotini Markopoulou is a theoretical physicist and hardware tech designer. She is co-founder of Team Turquoise, a wearable tech company that uses research in psycho-physiology to create technology that changes how we perceive, feel and behave. In answer to my questions, she shared her insights on new developments in wearable technology that can help us lead calmer, focused and productive lives.
Mathias Basner is an assistant professor of sleep and chronobiology in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine, and the deputy editor of the journal SLEEP. In answer to my questions, he shared his insights on the effects of sleep deprivation, the relationship between work and sleep, and the small steps anyone can take to improve their sleep immediately.
Kelly Bulkeley is a dream researcher and visiting scholar at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. In answer to my questions, he shared his insights on the practice of dream incubation, the phrase "sleep on it," and connection between sleep and wakefulness.
Dr. William C. Dement, a professor at the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine, is considered the father of sleep medicine. In answer to my questions, he spoke about his early interest in sleep studies, the scientists who inspired him and how the study of sleep has evolved over half a century. Here is a transcript of our conversation.
Roger Ekirch is a professor of history at Virginia Tech and a leading scholar on segmented sleep -- the idea that for much of history people slept into two separate chunks separated by a waking period. In answer to my questions, he shared his insights on "normal" insomnia, how technological advances have changed the way we sleep, and why in many ways we're living in a golden age of sleep.
Ever since the Seattle Seahawks' victory in Super Bowl XLVIII put a national spotlight on the benefits of performance-enhancing practices including yoga, mindfulness and sleep, I've wanted to learn more about how the team has made sleep a part of its culture. So I contacted head coach Pete Carroll, who connected me with Sam Ramsden and Michael Gervais, who lead the Seahawks' sports science team.
James Proud is the founder and CEO of Hello, the maker of Sense, a bedside device that tracks your sleep and your sleeping environment. In answer to my questions, he shared his insights on why what you keep in your bedroom matters, the link between sleep and decision-making, and the potential of new tech tools can improve our lives.
Daniel Lee is a co-founder of Hush, the earplugs that block out sleep-disrupting noises while remaining wirelessly connected to your smartphone so you don't sleep through your alarm. In answer to my questions, he shared his insights on why such a product is needed, how poor sleep can affect our most important relationships, and the future of wearable technology.
Dr. Richard Schwab, a professor of medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, has used innovative imaging techniques to study the development of sleep apnea. In our conversation, he shared his insights on the high prevalence of the disorder, how obesity and alcohol can cause sleep apnea, and the resulting cardiovascular problems.
Dr. James J. McKenna is a professor of anthropology and the director of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame. He is a world-renowned expert on infant sleep -- particularly the practice of bed sharing in relation to breastfeeding. In our conversations, he shared his insights on co-sleeping and bi-phasic sleep patterns and offered tips for new parents.
Anjan Chatterjee is a neurologist and cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of The Aesthetic Brain: How We Evolved to Desire Beauty and Enjoy Art. In answer to my questions, he shared his insights on cosmetic neurology, the potential of so-called smart drugs to harm our health and our sleep quality, and the habits that are truly good for our brains.
Rakesh Bhattacharjee is an assistant professor of pediatrics at The University of Chicago's Divisions of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine. In answer to my questions, he shared his insights on the link between breathing and sleep health, social factors that can affect children's sleep, and the importance of teaching your children healthy sleep habits.
Gregg Jacobs is an insomnia specialist at the Sleep Disorders Center at the UMass Memorial Medical Center and the author of Say Good Night to Insomnia. In answer to my questions, he shared his insights on how human sleep patterns have changed over time, healthier and more effective alternatives to sleeping pills, and how to reverse our worst sleep habits and behaviors.
Patrick Fuller is a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School's esteemed Division of Sleep Medicine. In answer to my questions, he shared his insights on the importance of good sleep hygiene, how our brain's clock is connected to our overall well-being, and the problem with sleeping pills.
How does the brain change as we age, and what steps can we take to help our brains stay healthy as time goes by? In answer to my questions, Claire Sexton, a post-doctoral research assistant at the Oxford Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain, elaborated on some of her latest scientific findings and offered some tips on how to improve the quality of our sleep.