081: Dr. Chris Winter, Bestselling Author, Neurologist & Sleep Specialist: Sleep Myths And Misconceptions That Keep You From Achieving Recovery And Great Sleep

Sleep disorders can have a profound impact on your health and well-being. The good news is sleep medicine has solutions to the laundry list of sleep disorders that plague so many of us! 

Dr. Chris Winter is a neurologist, sleep specialist, and author of the book "The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken And How To Fix It." And recently, Dr. Winter launched his excellent podcast "Sleep Unplugged."

Dr. Winter discusses topics about sleep that people often believe but aren't true—including a perceived “inability to sleep”. Dr. Winter also explains the benefits of having an accountability partner on your journey toward improved sleep and why patients must be 100% willing to discuss their sleep issues openly with their sleep doctor or specialist. 

If you're unsure what your symptoms are or think you might have a sleep disorder, it's essential to get tested by a sleep professional. Listen now as we talk about how to get a better night's rest and bust some myths about sleep.


Dr. Christopher Winter has practiced sleep medicine and neurology in Charlottesville, Virginia since 2004, but has been involved with sleep medicine and sleep research since 1993. Currently he is the owner of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine clinic and CNSM Consulting.
He is the author of The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How To Fix It as well as The Rested Child: Why Your Tired, Wired or Irritable Child May Have A Sleep Disorder--And How To Help. In addition to working with numerous professional sports organizations to help their athletes optimize sleep, he is the host of the podcast Sleeping Around with Dr. Chris Winter as well as the Sleep.com series Sleeping Around with Dr. Chris Winter.

In this episode, we discuss:

🛌 Dr. Chris Winter, the author of The Sleep Solution, narrates his book in the audiobook version

🛌 Addressing sleep disorders and misconceptions

🛌 To solve the problem, we must define the issue correctly. We must define it as not sleeping when I want to, not sleeping in the way I want to, or I don't feel good in the morning. 

🛌 Sleep medicine offers solutions to fix sleep disorders, as long as patients are willing to discuss their problems openly with their doctors.

🛌 What are Dr. Winter's thoughts on sleep tracking technology

🛌 Home sleep testing vs. lab sleep testing

🛌 What is Dr. Winter's routine for getting to sleep at night and waking up in the morning?

🛌 Hot flashes during sleep: Dr. Winter's recommendation

🛌 Finding the difference between not feeling your best and being dysfunctional


The information contained on this podcast, our website, newsletter, and the resources available for download are not intended as, and shall not be understood or construed as, medical or health advice. The information contained on these platforms is not a substitute

Mentioned Resources


Huge shoutout to our sponsor: Biooptimizers!
They are my nightly source for magnesium supplementation
go to www.magbreakthrough.com/sleepisaskill for the kind I use every night!

Website: www.wchriswinter.com

Instagram: @drchriswinter

Twitter: @drchriswinter


Guest contacts


Welcome to the sleep is a skilled podcast. My name is Mollie McGlocklin, and I own a company that optimizes sleep through technology, accountability, and behavioral change. Each week I'll be interviewing world class experts ranging from doctors, innovators, and thought leaders to give actionable tips and strategies that you can implement to become a more skillful sleeper.


Let's jump into your dose of practical sleep training.


Welcome to the sleep as a skilled podcast. My guest today is Dr. Christopher Winter, who has practiced sleep medicine and neurology in Charlottesville, Virginia, since 2004, but has been involved with sleep medicine in sleep research since 1993. Currently he is the owner of Charlottesville, neurology and sleep medicine clinic, and C N SM consulting.


He is the author of the sleep solution. Why your sleep is broken and how to fix it as well as the rested child. Why you're tired, why or irritable child may have a sleep disorder and how to. In addition to working with numerous professional sports organizations to help their athletes optimize sleep. He is the host of the podcast, sleeping around with Dr.


Chris Winter, as well as sleep.com series. Sleeping around with Dr. Chris Winter. As a aside really enjoyed this conversation. And I also highly suggest listening to Dr. Chris Winter's podcast, really, really great content. He does a really fantastic job of helping to break down complex topics in the world of sleep and make them.


Fun and bite size and understandable in a way that we can all really utilize in our day to day life, not just kind of lofty ideas, but a practical application. So I think you'll really enjoy that podcast as well as his books. Make sure you listen to those. I also really appreciate, I think I mentioned this on the podcast that he reads his own books, so I really appreciate that he takes the time to read those books himself, and I think you'll really enjoy the content that he delivers.


Day after day, both on the podcast, as well as his social media it's worth checking out. And my aim is that you get a lot of value out of today's conversation. So without further ado, let's jump. So I get a lot of questions around sleep supplements, and I'm very hesitant to just throw out a whole laundry list of possibilities.


One, I don't think it's the most responsible thing to do. I really do believe in testing to see what types of supplements make sense for you. And two, because I really truly believe that most of the things that you can do to improve your sleep are behavioral, psychological environmental in nature, and often don't cost a.


However, there is one supplement that I personally take every day and that I do feel quite comfortable with suggesting for most individuals to experiment with because of a couple of reasons. It's high safety profile and high rates of deficiencies in our modern society. Some put the numbers as somewhere around 80% of the population being deficient in this one area that is magnesium.


So magnesium has been called the calming mineral and some report that magnesium can increase GABA, which encourages relaxation on a cellular level, which is critical for sleep. Magnesium also plays a key role in regulating our body's stress response system. Those with magnesium deficiency usually have higher anxiety and stress levels, which negatively impacts sleep as well.


Now before you go out and buy a magnesium supplement, it's important to understand that most magnesium products out there are either synthetic or they only have one to two forms of magnesium. When in reality, your body needs all seven forms of this essential sleep mineral. So that's why I recommend a product for my friends over at bio optimizers, they have created something called the magnesium breakthrough and taking this magnesium before bed helps you relax and wake up, refresh and energize.


And while we don't recommend that you go two nuts on looking at all the sleep stage classifications on all your wearables. We'll share anecdotally that many clients have reported improvements in their deep sleep trend numbers. Again, I don't want you going nuts on the sleep stage classification numbers on your wearables, but I do wanna let you know about that because I know that many of you do reach out on questions of how to improve your deep sleep.


So I also love that bio optimizers offers free shipping on select orders and they offer a 365 day money back guarantee on all their products. Plus they have a customer satisfaction rating of 99. 3%. Very impressive. And you can get 10% off magnesium breakthrough. Again, this is the same magnesium that I use every single night.


And finally, you can get 10% off magnesium breakthrough. Again, that's the magnesium supplement that I use every single night by going to www dot mag. M a G so mag breakthrough.com/sleep is a skill and be sure to use the code. Sleep is a skill for 10% off. And welcome to the sleep is a skill podcast. I am beyond grateful for my guest, uh, to be joining us today, Dr.


Chris Winter, before even we begin. Yes. Hello. If anyone's watching, uh, the video recording. You know, this is such an honor for me. I feel like I know this individual, it just was sharing with him because I've had his voice in my ears at different points when listening to his fantastic books, uh, including the sleep solution, uh, was one that I was just revisiting recently.


And he has got among other books as well, but he also has a very exciting and must listen to podcasts, sleep unplugged. So thank you so much for taking the time to be. I appreciate that, Molly. That's more than generous and , I'm entirely sure accurate, but that was very nice. . Well, you know, a couple things, one, I think it's noteworthy the fact, and we were discussing this beforehand that you even chose to narrate your book, which I just think from a craftsmanship perspective is so cool because you could easily opt out of that kind of arduous task.


And I just feel like it speaks to what I have gotten from you of a sense of commitment to excellence and commitment to really getting. Really quality and clear and authentic and relatable and interesting information around sleep into the world. Yeah. I mean, that was a personal endeavor, writing that book.


I mean, I wrote it over a long period of time. It was never, I never really intended it to be a book. It was just sort of a collection of, you know, you get to a place in one's career, wherever you're at, where you're experienced enough to have some. Feelings or some original thoughts about something, but not six weeks from retirement.


So at some point, I just thought I wanna put down some things that seem to work for patients or resonate with them and just kind of have a log of them. And maybe I'll print it out on a piece of paper and hand it to a patient one day and just grew. And, and it included a lot of personal things and, and it just seems strange and disingenuous to have somebody else read.


You know, Patrick Stewart readings discuss, you know, that was kinda random. You, you know, sound great. And you know, my voice, I think is a little grading, but, you know, but anyway, it just, so when my agent said, you know, we got these voice actors and some of them are really good. I just asked, said, can I do it?


And they're like, well, you can, it's a lot of work and you have to try out for. Because if they don't like your voice, they're gonna say no, because they're paying for it. So I was fortunate enough to be chosen, to read my own book. So I liked it. And, you know, I just felt like I wanted it read in a certain way.


And, you know, anyway, it's just, like I said, personal stories in there, which I think are important to understand that I know something about sleep, but I also be an idiot too at times. And so putting all that in there and where I, how I came to sleep and my journey, I think it's always important when you're talking about a sleep expert, unlike a shoulder surgeon, Somebody's operating my shoulder.


I think I know what's going on with her. She went to college and then medical school and some surgical residency and she hasn't killed anybody yet. So she's feeling pretty good about fixing my rotator cuff. But when you say sleep expert, I think it's fair for somebody to understand how one came to that and what, what they're bringing to the table, so to speak.


So, yeah, I, I really enjoyed reading the book. It's I don't like listening to myself speak, but I did enjoy reading. Well, I enjoy listening to you speak. You've got lots of wisdom. And also to your point, I think it's so helpful that you do humanize this area and you're bringing some personal anecdotes and just making it really a fun topic to explore.


So I think it's really, really important and there are. So many directions we could go today. So we're trying to kind of hone down cuz you've got such a wealth of information. And yet one thing that really stuck with me was I felt like you've made a strong argument over the years on this distinction for people of the old saying I can't sleep.


I just can't sleep. I can't sleep. The kind of, these are different verbiage around this belief that there is no sleep available to certain individuals at certain times, or what have you. So I was hoping that you could help do your amazing work at helping us to understand why we need to think differently and really draw a line in the sand that we're not gonna speak in that way any longer and why that's important.


Sure. So, I mean, I think it's really important. That kind of talking is doing two things. One it's defeating somebody. I can't ride a bike or I can't swim. Well, I bet you can you just, maybe haven't learned it the right way or put enough time into it or something of that nature, but it also sort of creates a new reality, which is.


And you see it reflected a lot in the media. My podcast will reach a hundred people, you know, whatever, the little tiny number of people who don't listen to a sleep podcast is, but by the way, it's brand new. So if for anyone listening, please subscribe and follow this podcast. Really, really great information.


That's kind of you. So, but, but a New York times article that says. Why people can't sleep is problematic. Yeah. We get little doses of that all the time, which is what's so nice about your podcast, which is sleep is a skill. Aw, you're, you're, you're basically saying it's something that you can do something about it.


And I say that all the time, sleep's not a trait. I'm a bad sleeper. Well, what chromosome is bad sleep gene on. I'm not aware of that one. I, I read a bit, bit about sleep, so, but you know, when you believe yourself to be that and that little self talk is problematic and it can become. Incredibly malignant and problematic over time where it almost becomes that individual's identity.


Oh, he's a great cook. And she's an amazing athlete in yoga instructor and I'm the person who can't sleep and nobody can figure it out and no pills work on me. And so we always want to be empowering about this. The absence of sleep and a human is physiologically impossible. Mm. So when somebody comes to my clinic and this is a daily occurrence and says, well, you know, I'm Chris, what can I do for you?


I can't sleep. What do you mean by that? Mm, nine times outta 10 as well. I sleep, I just wake up a lot during the night. Because two sentences later, you're telling me on weekends, you're usually getting up around noon. Well, you can sleep. So why did, why was the first comment that you couldn't sleep? Because you're often sleeping until noon and one o'clock on a Saturday and Sunday.


So let's redefine that as I'm not sleeping when I want to, I'm not sleeping, how I want to or more commonly, I don't feel good during the. Therefore I clearly am not sleeping or not sleeping well. So there's a lot of things to unpack because defining the problem properly is the key to fixing it. If we always stay in the box of somebody not being able to sleep, we get into a lot of trouble.


Look at Michael Jackson. He couldn't sleep. I tried this pill. It didn't work, listen docs. These are these pills you're giving me are not working and I cannot sleep. I got a big tour coming up and I gotta rehabilitate my image and whatever else, Michael Jackson, the king of pop was trying to accomplish in his life.


I don't know. I don't know the guy. Yeah. All I know is that my field of MDs killed him because they started giving him propofol to help him sleep, which is this insanity. I've never heard of such a thing. Yeah. So, but that's all about a dialogue based on a false premise. Never getting corrected. So like I tell people all the time you're coming to me because you can't sleep.


You've got a problem. It's just not that you can't sleep. That's why episode two of the podcast was insomnia. It's not what you think it is. Yeah. Once people can get out from under the fact that it's not an inability to sleep. Like I said does not exist in nature. Mm-hmm  but it's something going on with your sleep that we're going to work on as a skill to make better or figure out the pathology and make it go away.


I mean, these are imminently treatable problems. That's, what's so wonderful about sleep medicine. We can fix the problem, but. You need a patient to kind of walk into it with an openness and it can sometimes be difficult to convince people, Hey, listen, I don't sleep. I don't care what you have to say. I don't care that the world record for sleep deprivation is 11 days, which was a sham.


I've gone six months at a time without sleep. And if you don't wanna listen to what I have to say, then. screw you, you can edit that out later on  that that's, that happens. And so that becomes a very difficult situation to, you know, maybe a nutritionist would, you know, Hey, I don't eat well.


What do you mean when you say I don't eat? I haven't eaten seven years. Well, you unlikely 10 pounds overweight. Like, yeah. I don't think that's the case. So yeah. How do you work on somebody who that fundamental premise? Is so deeply flawed that, that we need to. So I think that when we talk about can't sleep, can't sleep, can't sleep.


It just perpetuates this idea that there are those among us. One of my favorite things was NPR did an article many years ago about why 60 million Americans can't sleep. And then a few months later Forbes put an article, said why 70 million Americans can't say, and I remember thinking if you're one of those people you thought, oh my God, 10 more million Americans have been added to this, you know, zombie army.


So anyway, so I think that creating real dialogues about sleep through podcasts and articles are so important because people want help. And, but we've gotta make sure that they're understanding that the help is gonna look a certain way. Not let says bludgeon you with sleeping pills until you finally become unconscious.


That's that's not what we're looking for. Yes. And I so appreciate you distinguishing that. And also speaking of sleeping pills, just as a asterisk under that, I can't sleep declaration often. We'll see people that will have it, that because they're taking certain sleeping pills and this is our commitment here at sleep is a skill is to help, uh, discuss sleep and how to look at optimization.


But certainly we do not make any confusion around. We are absolutely very clear that anyone that is dealing with long time say benzodiazepine, use hypnotics, et cetera, that we do not, you know, kind of work with that. And that we kind of create a referral system. So from that place, when people are coming and are saying, well, now I've been on fill in the blank for 10 years, 15 years.


And so now fundamentally I've changed something. I've done something and now I cannot. Sleep without those things. I know that this is a big topic. And so I'm not meaning to open up a can of worms, but no, I'm wondering if you could speak to that. If anyone says, well, this isn't for me, or if you can share what you suggest for people of what path to go, to, to find a set of a team, even in some cases, to help them on this process, if they are exploring tapering or, uh, what that would all look.


All those things are very important. And you know what you're seeing a lot reflected in the primary care community is that at long last, they're kind of figuring that out that maybe Valium for the rest of this patient's life is not the best plan for their sleep. Yes. So a lot of doctors are starting to pull back and it's creating a lot of stress and anxiety within the.


Patient population of this. Doctor's been giving me this drug for 10 years. They created the Frankenstein that I've become. And now they're telling me they don't wanna write for the Klonopin anymore, the Valium or the  or whatever. Yeah. So I think it's important to understand that that's fine. That's the right thing to do, but we have to support people in terms of you've created.


Situation now you need to get out from underneath it. Now we're happy to help with that. So the doctor says, look, I've been giving this person Klonopin for 10 years. I had no idea how bad it was and how detrimental it was to all kinds of things. Yeah. Can you help us? Of course we can. And that's really what sleep specialists are for.


Yeah. And that starts off with this idea that I've been on this medication for a decade. I can't sleep without it. Sure. You. That's not a true statement. Yeah. Meaning that if we took that lab, that pill from you and put you in a lab and put some wires on your heads and video, you would sleep now, your sleep might be very disrupted, very strange.


And might take maybe anxiety that goes along with your sleep at the quant. There's all kinds of things. Go along with it. Yeah. We just wanna understand that. You're not in danger of not sleeping. Mm-hmm that's why it's really interesting. Sometimes if you can get a partner involved in the care that his or her perspective of the situation living with the patient will tell you, you know, there's many breakfasts when he, or she will wake up and say, I didn't sleep last night, but Dr.


When that's not exactly what I'm seeing. And again, we don't want to diminish it. It's not about proving somebody's, you know, telling the truth or not. It's about, Hey, listen, your perception is that you sit in bed for eight hours at night, not sleeping. That's rough. That's terrible. So it's not about proving.


Aha. Look, this videotape shows that you did sleep, which we see all the time. The first question I always ask a patient after a sleep study is. What happened? How was your night? What happened? Oh my God, Dr. Winter. How can anybody sleep with wires all over their head? Can you look at the video and I'll show patients, you slept a ton really?


Oh my God. Like, I mean, I had a judge, a circuit court judge watching her own video of her sleeping saying, Chris, this is, she said to me, I'll never forget. She said, I feel like somebody has taken the footage and you've put my face. On somebody else's body, because this is not at all. What I remember happening during the night, my opinion was, wow, I spent maybe 30 minutes.


She said like, I don't know, five, six hours. Wow. So this is a powerful, powerful sort of thing. So I think the short answer to your question is if you're in that situation, just described, get professional help. This is not something it's like, you've torn your rotator cuff. You're not gonna figure this out with some stuff you buy at CBS.


You need a orthopedic surgeon to team up with her and let her figure out a way to repair your shoulders. So it's functional again. I think if you're in that situation with your sleep, go see a sleep specialist. She specializes in insomnia and getting you off of these sort of malignant treatments, then a pathway to feeling a whole lot better.


I mean, it sounds like you've come out the other end of a very difficult situation. There's people, who've written books about it. I mean, you're not. Yeah, because the average doctor that's treating urine insomnia has no idea what he or she's doing. Right. Cause they never, they weren never trained. It's like me trying to live your Babys.


Not gonna be a pretty scene. I think I know some vague. I know where it's coming out of. I'm pretty good with that. But outside of that, I really don't know unless it's a perfect delivery. I'm gonna be very little use of, to you. I'll encourage you push. Yes.  have moral support. Yay. You're doing great. I dunno what I'm.


No, I completely get that. And it's so important. Do you often create a situation or recommendations for people to work with, uh, certain types of psychiatrists in the process too? Or, or do you have resources that you send people to a hundred percent? Cause we'll hear different people say, oh, well the psychiatrist is the one that got me on these or X, Y you know, lots of narratives.


So I'm wondering if you have any resources. Cause I would love to see kind of akin to what we see for functional medicine, aggregates, you know, sites that you can go to kind of search, to find certified people in the area. If there's something that you recommend for people to find holistic psychiatrists or people that are in this conversation to help that weaning and tapering.


Yeah, we absolutely do. And you know, in our community here in I'm in Charlottesville, Virginia. So in the middle of the state, you know, the university of Virginia, there's a wealth of, I mean, I think good mental health resources are scarce these days. So if you're having trouble finding that person, you are not alone ever since COVID, it's just been explosion of need, but not an explosion of.


Of resources. Yeah. But you know, one of the things that's been nice about being in this community for a long period of time is the partnerships you start to develop in both directions. Hey, I've got this person been treating for depression for a very long time. I wonder if they may have narcolepsy Chris, like they're just so tired, so sleepy all the time.


And so, and then vice versa. Hey, I've got this person who's was put on their, you know, little country primary. Doctor 20 years ago on Valium and we're trying to get them off. And yeah, I think there's degrees of anxiety that go along with not only their sleep, but just generalized anxiety disorder. So we're trying to get ahold of that.


And, you know, also just, you know, psychiatrists and, and professionals who are a little bit more versed and cognitive behavioral therapy. Yeah. It's, nobody's gonna be hooked on sleeping pills for 10 years and not have some emotional baggage that goes along with their sleep. Like I said, the second episode of our podcast we did was.


Insomnia. It's not what you think it is. That our upcoming episode is really about what it can be is trauma, traumatization. I mean, it is a lot of people sort of liken it to almost a PTSD. Yeah. So as this thing becomes more and more malignant, your approach to the bed is very different from the non insomnia approach.


I mean, it's sort of like, I think about going to bed, like I think about brushing my teeth. It. Nothing. It's, there's nothing there now. Yeah. I get nervous. If somebody says Chris, step into this basketball game for us, like I'm not a very good basketball player. I'm kind of conscientious of it. It would make me very nervous to be in front of a lot of people like dribbling a basketball.


That's why I wrestled in high school. Cause I was like, I'm terrible at basketball. So people are triggered by different things and for some people with insomnia. The idea of sleep, the idea of going to bed, the idea is just awful to them. Yeah. And, and, and that takes time to develop and we have to make sure we're providing people with resources that, yeah, I can sit here and tell you everybody sleeps.


I did an academic research, an academic lecture, one time on insomnia and I based it on reviews of my first book. And you can look at 'em on Amazon and you can even do the little thing where I wanna see just the five star reviews, or you can say, I just wanna see the one star reviews of Chris's book.


Yeah. And there's, and you can. Feel the trauma when you read those, this book is terrible. Don't waste your time. If I could give it zero star, as I would, he has no idea the hell scape that my life has become not being able to sleep. And he says not being able to sleep, it's no big deal. And he makes fun of, I mean, you can just feel, feel the unbelievable angst that this person is feeling versus the next review is like, this has changed my.


So, what is the difference between those two people? And my guess is it's it's level of trauma is one of the things, you know, some people, you know, if you look at a, an ENT, they might see a horrific accident and they go in there and help the people in this car wreck, and they just walk away from it. Other people.


It's been six months since the car wreck that I witnessed and I cannot get these images outta my head. I'm literally traumatized by it, even though I wasn't part of the accident, I just yeah. Witnessed it. I was, I was adjacent to the tr you know, so it's a very interesting situation. And I think that your point of having resources around you to deal with all these other aspects is important and it starts with a patient's open.


You know, when I mentioned, have you struggled with anxiety? Do you think you might be anxious if the person's like, well, yeah, maybe I am. I think I've thought about that a lot. That's probably a good indicator that they're gonna get out from underneath this very quickly. If it's, oh, don't try to paint me as being depressed.


This is not a mental problem. This is a fact that I cannot sleep. And so if you can't deal with that, I'm not telling you that you're crazy. Right? Listen, I'm, I'm anxious as they come, man. I'm a anxious. all over the place. And everybody in medical school school is too, you know, type a, makes the world go around until it becomes a problem.


So yeah, we're just kind of exploring the different characteristics and personality things that you bring that might be strengths, but also might be weaknesses and, and trying to give you support for those things. So. Great. Well, thank you for drawing that distinction and just the importance. Contacting professionals in this space when you are dealing with something to this level or not even to this level, if it's a it's problem repeatedly.


Yeah, absolutely. No life changing to reach out to someone like yourself. So, so one addressing that. Thank you so much for helping us to really unpack that. Cuz we can begin on making any changes if we don't believe that we can even make a difference. So there's no level efficacy. So the skill that's right?


Yes. Yes. A hundred percent. And I also know that you've got a lineup today where you're speaking with big sports groups and, and associations and what have you. Yeah. So I wanted to check in with you on the idea of the fact that you've been well versed in dealing with lots of different individuals, including athletes, including elite athletes in their field, and what we can learn about these groups, whether we're athletes or not, but why that might be an interesting kind of area to study and what we can extract from.


Yeah, no, I mean, I, so I've worked with athletes for over a decade. Yeah. I've probably worked with 30 professional sports organizations or specific athletes today where I'd set up, uh, zoom meetings with about four major league baseball players from a certain team. And, and what I like about, I'm not a huge sports fan.


Like I don't watch a lot of sports. Yeah. But I love the idea. Two things. Number one, if I can get Tom Brady or LeBron James or Kevin Durant to tweet something about how important sleep is to him or her. Yeah. They're gonna do my job for me because nobody care. Dr. Winter said sleep's important. So my God, we gotta do it.


Nobody cares about that. There's not a 13 year old. Who's like practicing their free throws and, you know, St Louis right now, who would hear Dr. Winter said sleep's important care. But if LeBron, James says it, yes. You know, and he's sitting there practicing for LeBron James socks on like, of course he's gonna, it's gonna resonate with him.


And, and what I love when I get a chance to talk to young athletes to want to get to that level, what can you really control? You can practice. You can eat well. You can kind of take care of mindfulness and sleep. That's it. Otherwise, my dad was the next football player, as you can probably tell I'm kidding.


um, but he used to always look at me. I was I'm I'm small MC. Eight. Um, and he said you can't coach big . So what we meant by that was you can practice and do all these things, but I can't coach you to be a six, five, you know, linebacker kind of person, which is crazy, cuz my sons are six, four and six, three, and my daughter's tall.


And so I don't know where, what happened there along the line. But anyway, I didn't quite get the gene for the Heights, but you know, so importantly to kind of create this expectation, that sleep is something that we can't optimize and, and for an athlete, it. Extremely important. And what's great about athletics is once we've optimized it or done something, we can measure an outcome.


Versus if you're a bunch of school teachers or I had the chance to stalk to all the national meeting of all the school nurses. Well, we could do things to optimize their sleep, but how do we know if it's working? What is that? You know, there's no such thing as like a. School nurse baseball card kind of


This is my favorite rookie card of this school nurse in, in, you know, Idaho that I really have. I've been a fan of hers ever since she started working as a school nurse and she's she had a great season last year. Wow. She was killing it with the asthma attacks and, and small cuts and abrasions of the kids in her elementary school.


You know, there is no, so, so it's basically, I feel better. I don't feel better, but with athletes we can go further. Yeah. And really sort. Kind of check ourselves, like I've been telling athletes to do X and that doesn't seem to work as well as when we tell them to do Y with. And so, well, there you go. It's kinda like battlefield medicine.


You kind of figure out the things that really work and move the needle and the things that don't, and there's tons of anxiety. They're just, everything's just heightened with them, you know? Yeah. It's just, but they're no different than you or me. Make a lot of money and they'll have a lot of time to talk to you  they won a lot, but have no time to, you know, tell me what to do, but can you do it for me?


Kind of thing. So God bless them. Absolutely completely hear that. Well, one, I love that you have this background of also bringing in this high performance piece and. Real quick when it comes to technology, cuz often ath athletics is kind of space are looking at what's the latest and greatest. So one I'm wondering if you have any call outs that you want to make or any ways of thinking about some of the technology that's on the market at the moment.


And then I have a second question in regards to technology, cuz in your book you had kind of drawn parallels about when it makes sense to have an at home sleep test versus actually go into a clinic and have an in person home test done. So from that technology umbrella, I know I'm asking you a bunch of questions, but yeah, just any insights there or anything to think about there.


So first and foremost, I like technology. I think the technology explosion is really interesting in terms of back when I was a undergraduate student doing sleep research in the early nineties, you know, we had the little Phillips actor watch, which was an actigraphy device that measured movement as a surrogate for sleep.


It had a little watch face painted on it at three o'clock, which I always thought was funny. So, you know, if you wore it in public people, wouldn't, you know, what are you wearing on your wrist there? You know, It's always three o'clock in your life. So it was actually, you know, ways we could. So we've been looking at graphy for many, many, many years.


Yeah. But the addition of the heart rate variability and the pulse socks and the body temperature and the sweating and whatever else that there is just incredible. So what you really see is this movement of the gold standard we have, and you've, well, it's a great monitoring system, but it's not a polysomnograph.


I think that the differences between what we do in an in lab study,  and what you might be wearing on your wrist or your forehead when you sleep at night is rapidly converging. You can hear the desperation in sleep doctors like, but our $3,000 test that we do in charge your insurance is much better.


Well, yeah, I'm sure it is, but for how long. So I think they're wrestling with this idea that you own a 20 bed sleep center. How much long. I mean, I do think that I will live to see the day where we're sitting around and I'm fat and bald drinking something with some friends. And like, man, remember when we used to bring people in and do sleep studies, we're $3,000.


Ah, you know, like now everything is, I mean, even just up till this point, I was showing a slide of me running a sleep studies when I was at Emory. So I used to run sleep studies at night and then go to medical school during the day, which was. Brutal and probably off my life, but thanks. But you look at the tech, it was this massive computer and this massive Pennine and amplifiers and all this stuff.


And now all that technology fits in something you can wear on your wrist practically. I mean, it's just unbelievable. So I'm a big fan. It's not perfect. Right. But when you look at a sleep study, it's not perfect either. Meaning that the sleep study. Looked at your sleep one random Tuesday night. This thing on your watch has been looking at your sleep for six months now every night.


So you may not get that sort of depth of quality, but you're getting this breadth of information that is equally important in a lot of ways, maybe more so mm-hmm  so I think we need to embrace it. Always be looking at ways where we can make it better, making sure people understand it. They might be good at doing this one thing, measuring how much you actually slept.


They might not be great at differentiating deep sleep from light sleep if you're only looking at graphy. So I think as people, as long as people understand that it's, it's important. When you look at. Home sleep testing versus in lab sleep testing. I don't really call it a home sleep test. It's really more like a home sleep apnea test in most cases.


Sure. So if somebody says, look, I'm kind of overweight, snor loudly. My partner says I stop breathing at night. I'm a little bit worried about that. Homes test is. Is wonderful for that. It's convenient, it's cheap and an in lab study could always be done afterwards. If somebody really didn't feel like they got the information that they needed.


But if you're really looking at trying to understand somebody's sleep at a deeper level, what is their deep sleep looking like? Are there things that are impairing their ability to get good sleep? It's a, the in lab study is still the best thing for that. So I always think about the home sleep testing or the home apnea testing.


Let's chop off all the people that, you know, after talking to them for 20 minutes, they've got terrible sleep apnea. Yeah. I mean, never said it's almost just like a pre well, let's just do this to confirm it, to make sure we're thinking about things in the right space and then we'll move forward with treating it.


And then if somebody's still having difficulties and they could do the in lab study. So it's just a nice thing. We used to do two sleep studies for everybody. You'd come in. You'd do your sleep study. It would show, Hey, you got sleep AP, which we already knew you had it. Yeah. Because your, your partner recorded you sleeping at night.


Like, oh my God, you went 30 seconds of breathing or whatever you just did. And then we would put you back in to put a C app on you and figure out how to titrate that. Well, now you can do a home study and the C P a P titrates itself. So you could literally get tested and treated for sleep. AP, you never stepped foot in a sleep lab anymore, which more people should know because they're scared.


They don't wanna do that. So if I could tell you, look, you don't even have to. In our lab, you can just do it all at home. That's huge and getting more and more people treated is really what we wanna do, but there is still definitely a place for that in lab study. For more specific information about somebody's.


Absolutely. So one, thank you for helping to distinguish all that. And two, I cannot wait for this next piece that we ask every person that comes on the podcast a little bit about how they are individually managing their sleep. So can't wait to learn from you. And the first question that we ask everyone is what is your nightly sleep routine looking like?


And I'm sure you, you travel and you do all kinds of things that might disrupt that, or make it look a little different, but what might we learn? Nightly sleeper routine when I'm home is generally a relatively early dinner. And then I, I usually work out right after my clinic as quickly as I can. Yeah.


Usually some degree of, uh, weight training. And then I run, uh, about two miles every day with my dogs. And they're wonderful. I encourage you. If you're struggling to exercise, get a pet that likes to exercise, cuz they're just sort of like, oh good. They don't care if it's fleet. Yes. You like, they're kinda like, well, when are we gonna run in the sleep?


We don't care. Um, so that's very, there's many days I would not exercise were not for them in the evening. I cut my caffeine off usually by nine o'clock. It should be earlier. I'm all about honesty at nine o'clock. If I'm thinking, oh, I'd love a little espresso or something. I don't do it if it's after nine.


Yeah. I'm a little television or reading right now. We're watching game of Thrones. Cause you just went to Croatia. I wanted to rewatch it before I went there. Oh, I was living Croatia. That was actually where I had where. So I was, uh, in split. Oh God. Amazing. When I say live, I was there for about like a month in change.


So wasn't like long time that's living. Yeah. Amazing. That's I would love to live for a month in split or we were in split into bro Nick, and they were just lovely. Beautiful. Right? Cause you want that kind of Venetian experience, great food, wonderful people. But you don't want the hoards of the tour groups with the little flags everywhere and it.


Yeah, that's great. Oh, beautiful. I watch a little bit of game of Thrones and then dim lights after dinner. I've got a little book that I like to read and then a little device that cools my bed and out cold. And then what I've really been trying to work on is when I'm traveling, I sometimes walk into the empty hotel room and it's like, oh, I could get all kinds of stuff done right now because yes, I don't have to worry about dishes or my wife wanted to go to bed.


Like, it's just, I've been really trying to be like, yep. But I'm still gonna try to hit the, hit the hay at 11 O'. Especially if I have an early flight. So good. I know you mentioned the cooling device. I think you and I both are fans of, uh, chili sleep. Is that right? Big time. Yeah. And I'm not just to be clear of no paid endorsement there.


I just. I think it's the number of people who've tried, something like that and have said, well, it just didn't work for me is I think zero. I know. Yeah. There might be people who describe, well, I had some technical issues with it. Um, I've always found that their return policy was great. I mean, yeah, the new one is so quiet.


So I actually, my little pro tip is I just leave my running 24 hours a day because I would always get frustrated if I forgot to turn it on. So I just leave it running. It runs on the electricity of about half a light bulb, so it's not a big, and so I just love that getting into bed and it's. Freezing freezing cold.


I love it. And then, oh my gosh, my wife can be however cool or hot. She wants to be on her side. We keep those sort of independence. So I I'm a big fan of it. Ah, big fan too. Well, chilly sleep. If you're listening you that's right. Better sponsor Dr. Chris Winters. Yeah, really a hundred percent. I mean, it's.


One of the things I really appreciate about them too, is that they do have tiered. I think a lot of people don't realize that they're tiered offerings too, and they have refurbished models, so that's right. We are struggling, you know, cause we do wanna be responsible about the fact that from this optimization of sleep perspective, it can get pricey on all these different things.


Absolutely mattresses and all kinds of you had it adds up. So I really like that. I came from no money, middle, nowhere main. And so to be able to at any. Price point. Hopefully it's still gonna be a little bit of investment. You can get some refurbished options or other things that you might be able to fit into your budget.


So, yeah. And I think that, you know, I always tell people, set the bar high. I mean, if you've been using it for a month and you're like, ah, I don't know if it's really helping me much at all. I would say send it back. Yeah. And just. This is you don't have, you're not stuck with it, but again, if you're asking me how many people have sent theirs back, because it didn't make them sleep better, it's very, very low.


Very. And when with menopausal kind of situations, hot flashes, it can be an absolute game changer for them. Yes, absolutely. So, anyway, I think it's an easy thing to explore, but yeah, they can be pricing. Yeah, so great nightly routine. And what would we see for your morning routine? We're making this argument that that can help impact your sleep?


I irritability is irritability part of a morning routine. I would say I ability, not a funny, uh, morning disposition. It's funny in one of my presentations, I talk about temperature and I've got a picture of Leo Bernardo de capo from the RevNet like wearing this bare skin in the middle of like a snowstorm.


And I make the joke. This is what my wife looks like at night, because she's a real morning person. Her body temperature drops early. So we're sitting there watching Jimmy Kimmel I'm in my underwear and dress socks, which is a lovely look. And she's like freezing because her body temperature drop, mine's still up.


Now. She said, I don't mind if you make that joke in your presentations, but you've gotta paint the picture of what you look like in the morning. Ah, the volume temperature comes up early. Mine hasn't quite started coming up when we get up. And she says, you look like a bunny rabbit. You walk around like a wounded bunny rabbit with your hands like this.


Talking cuz you're so cold cause your body. So I try to get warm very quickly. In fact, I love the new doc pro because I can set my temperature to rise. Yes. In that 30 minutes before I get up, which is a game changer, oatmeal overnight O is sort of my go-to morning, make my own latte with my little Breville device, which I.


God, I love that thing. If there's a fire, it's the first thing coming outta the house. Which one is that? Because actually we just, and we have to buy one it's mini espresso pro or something like that, or, okay. I'm writing that down. It's it's all the grind size and shot amounts and all the chemistry. It's so much fun.


Mini barista, barista pro or something like that. Oh, cool. Okay, great. I'll send it to you. What it is guys. Oh, thanks. And it went my shot for the Breville endorsement. It came to the moon bite. We're gonna do you all kind of sponsorship. That's right. I need. But it's important, you know, as a doctor, I'm trying to, you know, I ACHI sleep and I've, we've communicated cause I work with them a lot, but I'll try to stay away from so I wanna endorse, but that's something that nothing to do with sleep.


Like. Toyota there. We like that. So if Toyota, I would say yes to try to stay away from sleep. So when I say I like Chile, it's not always getting paid by chili, but anyway, no, no, a hundred percent appreciate that. Yeah. So, and then I go right to breakfast, try to get some sunlight, usually go out my garden.


I've got a big garden on my deck and clip dill and herbs and get my basal and then nice first patient at 9:00 AM. Wow. Well, I love the clipping of fresh herbs. You're the first person to say that podcast has very cool. Yeah, I love. Yeah. And then I keep my bird feeder and herbs, and those are two things like the, oh, I feel like you just go out there and just like clip around.


And in fact for father's day, you got this really cool herb plastic, like herb basket. Oh, did you go out clip things? All these little compartments, you can put your dill in here, your waist in here, your clipper Clippers right there. And yeah, I was found that dudes like a Buni tree. What, what a cool gift. I love that.


Amazing. And I love that cause. Often, you know, people will sometimes struggle to make this morning routine work where they're getting that morning sun. So activities that you can do during that, that's a new one and you can grow your own came meal if you're interested in that. So you go out there, you up your came, hang it up to dry and then get that is like a sleep Jedi right there.


You got your mint on top of your, uh, yogurt in the morning for kind of wake you up a little bit, your Camile growing right beside it to settle you down at. That is amazing. Okay. I love that. And then what might we see on your nightstand? Or maybe proverbial nightstand if you're traveling, you know, gadgets gives those apps anything to be aware of.


Yep. Lavender spray just stays in my bag. And so I spray it at night sure. At home. And when I get to the, you know, whatever, uh, DW, whatever Marriott situation. I spray it on that pillow. So it kind of, some people think lavender helps with your sleep. There's some studies that show that it might improve it a little bit, but also just like the idea of it's such an unusual smell, that when I smell, it reminds me like I'm sleeping at home and we, as a neurologist, we tie, smell most strongly to memory.


So it's a nice little routine of, so it's the same bottle on my bedside table is in. My Dopper kit. So that happens. I keep some, get some Zs tea. I usually like to have like a little bit of tea, or like I said, espresso, but when I'm traveling, I always try to keep it. So there's always a hot water thing in the room, so I can make some hot water and, and make some herbal tea or every now, and then make my own, bring my own little Sache of came meal that I've grown or something like that.


Just to kinda keep that little wind down routine of little bit of tea. Do some work on my computer, watch a TV show and then try to shut it all down by 11. I have a, when I travel with my family, I keep this little it's made by yoga sleep, but it's the wrong noise machine, just because a, I hate using my phone as a noise machine.


I want my phone away from my bed. And also I'm always nervous that if it's all night long, it's gonna run the battery down or something else and won't be able to hear my alarm or something. Yep. So definite essential. And then I always try to bring a book I've been on a kick of reading. Classic books. I think I'm looking towards my death now thinking I've never read catcher in the rye.


Like I can't die before we regain founder's masterpiece. So yes, I've read catcher in the rye, uh, heart of darkness. God, what's the other one. Um, reading catch 22 and clockwork orange all in this year. And I'm not huge. Non-science reader. I'm really excited about that. Although nobody, I keep waiting for it to come up in conversation.


That's amazing. Conrad's heart of darkness. He runs me that really what I agreeing fit this into conversation for months. Yeah. This river captain is a crest, like figure, you know, already for that conversation just hasn't quite happened yet. That's amazing. I love the, um, contemplating your mortality.


There's a great app that I love called we CRO and it. Supposed to the whole premise is supposed to be that five times a day. It reminds you you're gonna die, which can sound so morbid, but it's supposed to actually be coming from this, uh, thinking that in Bhutan, they there's this concept where monks would then contemplate their death five times a day on purpose to then actually be more grateful for the time.


Right. And it's weird. We talked about that with sleep too. Like, um, in the sense. You know, one of the things people say I'm, I'm nervous to go to sleep. Cause I had this terrible thing happen to me and always think about it. You know, when I go to bed, I don't think about during the day when I get in bed at night and it's quiet, I think about the assault or I think about the divorce or whatever, but if you can get somebody to actually intentionally run towards those thoughts during the day sure.


Your brain kind of tires. You mean in a weird way? Absolutely. So that's kinda the way you, so I like that idea that yeah. You just think about, and just that whole idea of gratefulness and, and where your brain is always struggling to put things in boxes. That's that's a fantastic idea. Yeah. I love that one.


And there was a great moment for me when I had to give a presentation and I was like, Overthinking in stressing out about it, whatever. And then that reminder popped up for me and it was kind of like, oh, it puts everything into perspective. Like, wait a minute, I wouldn't die. Like, this is not the biggest deal.


Right. The person canceled my haircut. It's not the biggest in the world. It's kinda brings you back to reality. Yeah. Will get rescheduled. I wonder if people in Baton. State to their, you know, friends and family, you know, Southern Baptist ministers in, in Georgia will often say like, wonder if that's just the thing.


Cause it's not so much more lofty when it's Inan. That's right. That's right. Yeah. It's exactly. Oh my goodness. Anyway, um, so one great callouts, great principles. And then. I am really excited to hear your answer to this question, which is what, in all of the course of your life, up to this moment, what has made the biggest change to your sleep game?


Or maybe the biggest aha moment in managing your sleep? No, it was probably medical school, residency fellowship. Sure. In a sense that I was always a good sleeper and I think I would've been otherwise. But one of the things that you hear people tell you is that, oh my God, I went to bed last night, slept for three hours, woke up.


I was up for an hour or two. Then I went back to sleep and I was dysfunctional the next day. What, some of those situations teach you? They're not healthy. We shouldn't be putting people through boot camps and law clerking 12 hours. And all the, my daughter's dating a guy who's kind of in business finance and some of their hours and expectations are kind of criminal.


Yeah. But one of the things that happens when you pop out the other side, Oh, well, I'm functional. If I get three hours, it may kill me early, but I can take your spleen out. If I get three hours of sleep, isn't that big deal like, you know, so it kind of sort of formulates this idea that I want to do my best with sleep.


I wanna do my best with nutrition, but if I eat half my Turkey and half my green beans and don't even touch my mashed potatoes. I'm not gonna be dysfunctional tomorrow. I may not be quite at my best, but I think some of those experiences teach you. Like if you talk to special forces people, oh yeah. You know, they don't have insomnia.


Right. It's just kinda like, oh, as long as I get four hours, I'm fine. Well, you're not, that's a different topic, but I'm glad you feel so confident about the fact that you can do the mission. And people say it all the time in my clinic. I'm just, oh God, I, the last two years, I'm so dysfunctional. Well, you got up, you got dressed, you looked great.


You operated a car, you navigated your Google maps and got to my office. You operate, you know, that's a far cry from dysfunctional. So again, that's self talk of, yeah. I don't feel my best. Is different from I'm dysfunctional. I don't think that my life expectancy will be as good as if I that's different than I'm not.


So I think those things kind of taught you. Oh, you can do it. If you're, I mean, we all pull all nighters. We pulled all nighters, like crazy in medical school and residency. And the, the call schedules we had now are legal back then are legal now, but we did it and hopefully didn't hurt anybody, but you know, the idea that.


You're not functional. If you get five hours versus seven is probably something we want to explore in our minds a little bit. So I think that taught me a lot. Oh, that's such a great one. And I'm glad I feel like we're almost kind of booking with this topic of that inner talk and how important that is very navigating this because we so often you can speak to this to huge lo uh, proportions.


The number of people that seem to go into this perfectionist tendencies with sleep. Yeah. And certainly I'm making a stand for sleep optimization and we can often be a very fine line between neuroticism and obsessiveness of course. And so, and some of them, those traits are awesome. If you're, if you're my neurosurgeon, if you're my financial planner, if you're my.


I kind of want you to be a little bit neurotic and type a and oh, we'll click the vessel. We'll do something with that tumor. I don't know, Chris, like, I don't want that. I want that. Right. This is what's gonna happen. We're gonna be perfect about it. And blah, blah, blah. Yeah. It's sometimes hard to turn those tendencies off.


So a lot of people that we've seen in our clinic are very successful, driven, high achieving people to be able to say, okay, but when you go to bed, I need you to be like the lazy. Guy that doesn't do anything besides watch TV and eat Cheetos on the couch. Like that's a hard transition to make and doing it is to some degree of a skill.


Boom. Yeah. Wow. Fanta. That was a fantastic way to wrap that up because one, you just provided so much amazing information. I know people are gonna wanna know, how can they learn more about you follow you read, listen to you. Highly recommend getting his books on audible. If you've not had. If you need more, if you need more, here's where you get more.


So the podcast is sleep unplugged, it's new, but we're having a lot of fun with it. New episodes. Every Monday, you can find it when you wear sleep podcasts or, or, or podcasts are provided. Looks are the sleep solution while your sleep's broken, how to fix it. And the rest of child, while you're tired, wired, your able child may have sleep disorder and how to help.


Terribly long titles, but those are the titles of the book they're available. Amazon Kindle audible. If you need that narration, it's there for you, baby.  by Twitter, Instagram and TikTok. If you're do not follow me on TikTok, I was putting it out there. You're gonna be sorely disappointed cause I don't dance, but they're all Dr. Chris Winter. So you can follow me on there. And I try to put information about sleep on there and then. If we refer to a study or a diagram or something on the podcast, we'll try to put a picture. You know, all those references. I was talking about this memory test that used alien pictures, and we put the aliens on that.


So you can find some little extras on there if you, if you wanna look so appreciate the follow and you can deem me on there anytime. Awesome. And we'll include all that in the show notes. So be sure to make sure you're following, get his books really get in this conversation. Cause he really does make it fun and interesting and relevant, but really life changing.


So thank you so much for the work you do. I really appreciate. Thank you Mollie, for having me on here and all the work you do too. Really appreciate it. Wow. Thank you. You've been listening to the sleep is a skilled podcast. The number one podcast for people who wanna take their sleep skills to the next level.


Every Monday, I send out something that I call Molly's Monday, obsessions containing everything that I'm obsessing over in the world of sleep head on over to sleep is a skill.com to sign up.


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