When I was at my worst with my insomnia, the doctor I saw in Croatia didn’t speak English and scribbled a quick prescription for sleeping pills. Unfortunately, this practice is all too often the first step. And considering the fact that the all-cause mortality rate of sleeping pills, hypnotics, specifically, logs in at 4.5x higher than nonusers by some reports, it’s vital that we explore alternative routes. Which leads me to this week’s guest…
The Sleep Is A Skill Podcast, 016: Ellen Vora MD, Functional Medicine Psychiatrist, Provides A Modern Approach to Mental Health & Sleep Beyond Pharmaceuticals 🩺Mental health & sleep. It can often be a real chicken and the egg question around what comes first; either way; they are undeniably interconnected. One thing was clear for me when my anxiety was at it’s highest; my sleep was at it’s lowest. What is so unique about our guest, Ellen Vora, is that despite being a board-certified psychiatrist with degrees from Columbia and Yale, she is challenging the status quo by taking a functional approach to mental health. You’re going to love what she has to say about sleep, sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medications, mood, and what to do about it.
Guest Bio: Ellen Vora, MD, graduated from Columbia University medical school, received her B.A. in English from Yale University, and she’s a board-certified psychiatrist, medical acupuncturist, and yoga teacher. Dr. Vora takes a functional medicine approach to mental health–-considering the whole person and addressing imbalance at the root, rather than reflexively prescribing medication. In addition to her private practice, Dr. Vora is also a writer, speaker, and consultant for healthcare startups.
In this episode, we discuss:
🩺How Dr. Vora came to create this new approach to mental health.
🩺Outlining how she approaches the topic of sleep with her patients and why it’s one of the first places that she begins in her patient assessment
🩺A thorough breakdown of her process including initial sleep screenings, sleep habit rundown, and an overview of the fundamentals.
🩺Dr. Vora’s thoughts on CBT-I (Insomnia) and beyond.
🩺Her ancestral mindset and approach to sleep
🩺Thoughts on sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medications for sleep
🩺Applying testing from a functional medicine perspective to mental health
🩺Dr. Vora’s online small groups around mental health
🩺Discussions on the topic of anxiety, depression, bipolar and light’s connection to them all
MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES
️♀️Resource: Article, WebMD, Sleeping Pills Called "as Risky as Cigarettes"
️♀️Resource: Website, Sleeping Pills Could Shorten Your Life: Chapter 1 of The Dark Side of Sleeping Pills, an ebook by Daniel F. Kripke, MD An entire website literally called “The dark side of sleeping pills”!
️♀️Resource: App, BetterHelp, I like to call this a “Therapist In Your Pocket,” and it was beneficial for me when dealing with mega-anxiety while traveling internationally and struggling with my sleep.
️♀️Resource: Technique, Ujjayi, Can’t Sleep? Try this Ujjayi Breathing (Video Included) and Sleep Deep
️♀️Resource: Technique, Box Breathing, Box Breathing Exercise | TAKE A DEEP BREATH | Pranayama Series This one is the easiest to remember since you’re basically creating a visually “box” by breathing in for 4 (some people do 5), holding for 4, exhaling for 4, and holding for 4.
️♀️Resource: Gadget, Heartmath, Inner Balance This gadget truly is OG, it’s been around for ages, but it proves effective for many in training your HRV and heart rate coherence.
️♀️Resource: Product, Dry Farm Wines, Keto-Friendly Wine And for when you’ve just had enough and are a demand to go to alcohol...try this brand for a low sugar alternative. This is truly has been dubbed the crown of all the ‘biohackers’ wine. I’ll be having Todd White, CEO of Dry Farm Wines on the podcast shortly, as well, if you have any questions for him, let me know!
SLEEP SCHOLARS (Source: You!)
Resource: Article, Vice, Talking with a Man Who Takes Nine Grams of GHBEvery Night to Treat His Narcolepsy
Resource: Article, Breakfast Criminals, 5 Best Coffee Alternatives To Wake Up
Resource: Article, Semantic Scholar The dawn phenomenon and the Somogyi effect — two phenomena of morning hyperglycaemia Blood sugar and nighttime wakeups!
As always, please send me your thoughts on this week’s obsession or your current fascinations.
P.S. Fed up with your sleep? Here are four ways I can help you transform your sleep:
1. Subscribe to The Sleep Is A Skill Podcast
Get guidance from experts on all things sleep! We’ve got you covered from light, darkness, temperature, sound, meals (type & time), exercise, gadgets, etc.
2. Take our Free Sleep Assessment
Receive personalized feedback on where your sleep is at and what it will take to turn it around
3. Check out the Sleep Is A Skill Sleep Resource Recommendations
Inspired to transform your sleep but aren’t clear what sort of resources will help? These will help.
4. Book a 15 minute Call
We have something for everyone, no matter where you’re at with your sleep. Book a quick call to discuss what the next best steps are for you.
P.P.S. Want to know the bare minimum sleep stack that you should have, no matter what, in 2020? Get the Oura Ring (no affiliation), Chilipad (Ooler, ideally), use this link and promo codes for a hookup sleepisaskill15 – 15% off OOLER or sleepisaskill25 – 25% off chiliPAD, and a reliable pair of blue blockers like TrueDarks
(must be amber or red for the nights).