It's National Sleep Awareness Month. What's keeping you up at night?
If it's noise or stress we may have a solution. I talked with Dr. Wei-Shin Lai, sleep specialist and inventor of SleepPhones which are a healthy alternative to sleep aids. Here's what she had to say about getting a good night's rest!
What are the biggest health risks associated with lack of sleep?
Dr. Lai: Lack of sleep leads to obesity. Without quality sleep, our body doesn't release a hormone called Leptin that controls appetite. So you are hungrier and will likely gain weight if you don't sleep enough. Being obese, of course, leads to problems with everything else - diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, even cancer.
How many hours should one try to sleep per night?
Dr Lai: Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Basically, the amount of sleep you need depends on how tired you feel. If you need nine hours of sleep to feel refreshed, then that's how much you need. But quality is just as important as quantity.
What are some tips to get a good nights' rest?
Dr. Lai: If you are frequently tossing and turning because you are a light sleeper, then white noise may help. Or if you have a snoring bed partner who keeps you up and wakes you up, you might consider camouflaging the snoring with other sounds. SleepPhones are comfortable headphones you can wear in bed to listen to relaxing music, ocean waves, white noise, or guided imagery to help you get to sleep faster, stay asleep, and sleep deeply.
Keep in mind that people who sleep at least seven hours each night live longer than those who do not. One more reason to get some rest!
Dr. Wei-Shin Lai
One night, after a 3 a.m. phone call from the emergency room, Dr. Wei-Shin Lai had so much trouble falling back to sleep that she decided she had to do something. Her husband suggested she listen to relaxing music, which was a nice idea – but there were no headphones on the market comfortable enough to sleep in. They put their skills to work and designed the first SleepPhones, a comfortable, innovative headphone solution designed to help people fall asleep. Dr. Lai would come home after work to sew headbands while her husband soldered the speakers on the kitchen table. By 2007, they’d created a website and sold the first 500 set of SleepPhones.
She has a B.S. with distinction in Cellular Molecular Biology from the University of Michigan. She graduated from the University of Virginia Medical School and went into family medicine. Dr. Lai loves being a mom and continues to work part-time at Penn State University's Student Health Center as the only Mandarin-speaking physician on staff.
Dr. Lai sleeps 7-8 hours a night on average, and her favorite music on her SleepPhones is a hypnosis track by her friend, Dr. Steven Gurgevich who teaches at Dr. Andrew Weil's Center for Integrative Medicine.
Learn more about Dr. Wei-Shin Lai's SleepPhones here: www.sleepphones.com.