New York Times best-selling author, trailblazer in functional and integrative medicine and founder of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center, Dr. Frank Lipman says health is more than just the absence of disease -- it is a total state of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social wellbeing -- and that includes sleep. Lipman is the creator of Be Well, a lifestyle and wellness brand dedicated to helping people lead their healthiest lives. In his latest book, How To Be Well: The 6 Keys to a Happy and Healthy Life, Dr. Lipman focuses on eating, sleeping, moving your body, protecting your body from toxins, unwinding and connecting as a circular system of six rings that really work to improve and strengthen your resilience, functioning, and overall health.
We asked Dr. Lipman about some of the most pervasive myths around sleep, both quality and quantity. Here's what this sleep expert told us about how much sleep you need, how sleep and age correlate, your circadian clock and how to get better sleep.
Q. How many hours of sleep should the average person get?
A. "Sleep needs vary, but most adults need 7- 8 hours of sleep a night. Everyone has a different rhythm, though, so some people can function and thrive with a little less sleep, while others need a little more."
Q. Do you need less sleep as you get older?
A. "This is a myth. Often when you get older you put less priority on sleep, but ultimately you are doing yourself a disservice by skimping on sleep."
Q. Is it true that getting adequate sleep is more important than exercise when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight?
A. "Yes. Under sleeping disrupts metabolism and hormonal balance, and creates fat accumulation."
Q. If you only get 5-6 hours of sleep per night during the week, can you "make up" for it by sleeping in on the weekends?
A. "Ideally, you should prioritize going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. A consistent routine helps your body know when it is time to sleep. You can 'catch up' on sleep, but get back to your internal clock routine as soon as possible. If you miss out on sleep, meditation is useful for a nice 'refresh,' as meditation can lead to changes and benefits in the body that are similar to sleep."
Q. Can a long-term night owl change their ways and become an early-to-bed/early-to-rise person, or is it healthier to just follow your natural sleep rhythms?
A. "It is best to follow your natural sleep rhythm."
Q. If you are a night owl and have a hard time winding down, what are some suggestions for falling asleep faster?
"Avoid alcohol and caffeine, keep your room quiet and dark, do an electronic sundown and avoid screens later in the evening, and develop a bedtime routine, for example: baths, meditation, music."
Q. If you wake up a lot during the night or have a hard time staying asleep, how can you remedy that issue?
"There is often an underlying condition that is triggering this issue that should be addressed. It is key that people suffering from fragmented sleep practice good sleep habits, but if necessary seeking a doctor to help is beneficial in most cases."
Q. If you move around a lot in your sleep, how can you improve your 'sleep posture' to rest in one comfortable, healthy-for-you way through the night?
A. "It is important you have a proper pillow for your mattress, as well. This can help with sleep posture."
Q. There are so many mattresses out there now, can you tell us one mattress out there that's golden for everyone or is it truly an individual choice?
A. "Best to find a mattress that works for you -- of course, ideally one that is non-toxic."
Q. What's the No. 1 biggest sleep myth?
A. "Your body and brain can function with minimal sleep ... wrong!"
Q. What's your No. 1 best sleep tip?
A. "Listen to your internal clock and don't cloud it with stimulants or depressants."