Written by: Tricia Brouk, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Being able to support speakers in using their voices for impact is a privilege and I had the pleasure of sitting down with Dr. Meghna Dassani to talk about the importance of getting enough sleep.
Dr. Meghna Dassani is passionate about helping adult and pediatric patients with sleep-disordered breathing get the treatment they need to live healthier, happier lives. Throughout her career, she has gained invaluable insight into what it takes to implement those services into the practice and currently shares her knowledge and experience in her role as a speaker. She is an international speaker that strives to leave audiences with the knowledge and skills necessary to deliver sleep apnea treatments. Before attending the Goldman School of Dental Medicine at Boston University, Dr. Dassani operated a successful dental practice in Mumbai. For the past 18 years, she has been practicing in Houston, Texas where she continues to share and enhance her knowledge of obstructive sleep apnea treatments.
Meghna, you run a robust practice, you speak all over the world and you have a family. How does getting enough sleep play into your productivity?
Getting enough sleep is essential for both productivity and a healthy personal life. We all know that sleep plays a critical role in restoring and rejuvenating our bodies and minds, which allows us to function at our best during the day.
In terms of productivity, getting enough sleep, healthy sleep, improves cognitive function, memory, and concentration, all of which are critical for performing well at work and how we show up as leaders. With proper rest, we are able to approach tasks with a clear mind and improved decision-making abilities, making us more efficient and effective.
Lack of sleep can cause irritability, mood swings, and decreased energy levels, which can negatively impact our relationships and overall well-being. I know I show up as a much better mom to my girls when I am rested. Healthy, restful and good quality sleep can improve our mood, reduce stress levels, and increase our ability to cope with daily challenges, leading to more fulfilling personal relationships and a better quality of life.
Truly, getting enough sleep allows us to perform at our best and enjoy our daily lives with energy and enthusiasm.
What are the biggest challenges people have with getting enough sleep?
There are several challenges people face when it comes to getting enough sleep. Some of the biggest challenges I see are:
Busy schedules: Most people lead busy lives, whether it is with work, family, or even social obligations. All of these take up a significant amount of time and can make it difficult to find enough time for sleep, especially if they prioritize other activities over rest.
Technology: The use of electronic devices, such as smartphones and laptops, later in the day can interfere with our sleep patterns. The blue light emitted from these devices upsets our sleep cycles by stimulating our brains and suppressing the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep. This can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.
Stress and anxiety: Stressful situations and feelings of anxiety are known to cause racing thoughts and make it difficult to relax and fall asleep. In turn, lack of sleep can exacerbate stress and anxiety, creating a vicious cycle.
Poor sleep habits: Poor sleep habits, such as irregular sleep schedules, consuming caffeine or alcohol before bed, or eating heavy meals late at night, can disrupt our sleep patterns and make it harder to get a good night's rest.
Sleep disorders: Some people may suffer from sleep disorders, such as insomnia or sleep apnea, which can make it difficult to get enough quality sleep despite their efforts to do so.
Overcoming these challenges and prioritizing rest can lead to better health, productivity, and overall well-being.
What are your thoughts on naps in the middle of the day? And how long is the perfect nap time?
I’m a huge fan of naps. Napping can be a helpful tool for boosting productivity and improving overall well-being, but the ideal length and timing of a nap will vary depending on an individual's needs and preferences.
Napping in the middle of the day can be beneficial for some people, especially those who struggle with getting enough sleep at night or experience a midday slump in energy levels. A well-timed nap can help boost cognitive function, improve mood, and increase alertness, while leading to improved productivity and overall well-being.
Let's talk about how long that nap needs to be. Generally, naps between 20-30 minutes are considered optimal, as they provide enough rest to boost energy levels without causing sleep inertia, a feeling of grogginess or disorientation upon waking up. Longer naps, between 60-90 minutes, can be beneficial for some individuals as they allow for a full sleep cycle, including deep sleep and REM sleep, leading to improved memory consolidation and creativity.
However, napping for too long or too late in the day can interfere with nighttime sleep, making it harder to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night. I truly believe it's important to experiment and find a nap routine that works best for each person while prioritizing nighttime sleep as well.
Lots of people fall asleep, but they don’t stay asleep. Can you speak to this?
There are more reasons for why people may fall asleep but struggle to stay asleep throughout the night than we might think. Some of the more common reasons include:
Stress and anxiety: Stress can make it difficult to relax and fall asleep. Additionally, stressful situations or worries may wake people up during the night and prevent them from falling back asleep.
Poor sleep habits: Poor sleep habits, such as irregular sleep schedules, consuming caffeine or alcohol before bed, or eating heavy meals late at night, can disrupt our sleep patterns and make it harder to stay asleep throughout the night.
Sleep disorders: Some people may suffer from sleep disorders, such as insomnia or sleep apnea, which can cause them to wake up frequently during the night.
Medications: Certain medications can interfere with sleep and cause people to wake up during the night. For example, some antidepressants or medications for high blood pressure may cause nighttime awakenings.
Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as chronic pain or restless leg syndrome, can interfere with sleep and cause people to wake up frequently during the night as well.
What I have found is that identifying the underlying cause and addressing it through lifestyle changes or medical treatment can help improve nighttime sleep and overall well-being.
What is the leading cause of constant fatigue and sleepiness?
Constant fatigue and sleepiness can be caused by a variety of factors:
Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, insomnia, or restless leg syndrome, can interfere with the quality and quantity of sleep, leading to constant fatigue and sleepiness during the day.
Certain medical conditions, such as anemia, hypothyroidism, or chronic fatigue syndrome, can have fatigue and sleepiness as symptoms.
Poor sleep habits, such as irregular sleep schedules, consuming caffeine or alcohol before bed, or eating heavy meals late at night, can also disrupt our sleep patterns and lead to feelings of fatigue and sleepiness during the day.
Certain medications, such as antidepressants or antihistamines are known to cause drowsiness as a side effect, leading to constant fatigue and sleepiness.
And then there is lifestyle. Lifestyle factors, such as lack of physical activity, poor diet, or excessive stress, can also contribute to feelings of constant fatigue and sleepiness.
I truly cannot stress enough how essential it is to identify the underlying cause and address it through lifestyle changes or medical treatment to improve overall well-being.
Who is the biggest risk for sleep deprivation right now?
The biggest risk for sleep deprivation right now is, in my opinion, shift workers, such as healthcare workers, emergency responders, and transportation workers, who may have irregular or overnight schedules. This population is at a higher risk for sleep deprivation due to the disruption of their natural circadian rhythm, the internal biological clock that regulates sleep-wake cycles.
Additionally, students and young adults may also be at risk for sleep deprivation due to the demands of school, work, and social obligations, as well as the increased use of electronic devices that are known to interfere with sleep patterns.
Finally, individuals experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety, or those with medical conditions that interfere with sleep, such as insomnia or sleep apnea, may also be at risk for sleep deprivation.
What are treatment options and who can help?
Treatment options for sleep deprivation depend on the underlying cause and will vary from person to person. Some treatment options include:
Lifestyle changes: Improving sleep hygiene, establishing a regular sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, and creating a relaxing sleep environment, go a long way in helping improve sleep quality and quantity.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of therapy that focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors that may be contributing to sleep deprivation.
Medications: In some cases, medications may be prescribed to help treat underlying sleep disorders or to help manage symptoms of sleep deprivation. However, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any sleep medications.
Medical treatment: If sleep deprivation is caused by an underlying medical condition, such as sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome, medical treatment may be necessary to improve sleep quality.
Healthcare professionals who can help with sleep deprivation include:
Primary care physicians, Sleep specialists to help diagnose and treat underlying conditions that may be contributing to sleep deprivation.
Mental health professionals, such as psychologists or licensed therapists, can provide cognitive-behavioral therapy and other therapies to help manage stress and anxiety related to sleep deprivation.
Dentists can play a role in helping patients with sleep deprivation if the cause of their sleep deprivation is related to a dental issue, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
OSA is a sleep disorder characterized by repeated episodes of partial or complete obstruction of the upper airway during sleep, which can lead to loud snoring, gasping, or choking. One common cause of OSA is a narrow airway or misaligned jaw, which can be addressed by a dental professional.
Dentists can work with sleep physicians to provide oral appliances, such as mandibular advancement devices, to help treat OSA. These appliances work by repositioning the lower jaw and tongue to keep the airway open during sleep, reducing the severity of symptoms and improving sleep quality.
Additionally, dentists can help identify other dental issues that may be contributing to sleep deprivation, such as teeth grinding or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). Treatment for these conditions can improve sleep quality and reduce symptoms of fatigue and sleepiness during the day.
Tricia Brouk, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Tricia Brouk is an international award-winning director. She has worked in theater, film, and television for three decades. Tricia founded The Big Talk Academy where she certifies speakers in the art of public speaking. She was the executive producer of Speakers Who Dare and TEDxLincolnSquare and now The Big Talk Live. She is currently being featured in a new documentary called Big Stages, which highlights the transformation of her speakers. Tricia’s commitment and devotion to inclusion are a priority as all of her shows, events, and communities are diverse. She curates and hosts the Speaker Salon in NYC, The Big Talk, an award-winning podcast on iTunes and YouTube. The Influential Voice: Saying What You Mean for Lasting Legacy was a #1 New Release on Amazon in December 2020. She was awarded Top Director of 2019 by the International Association of Top Professionals and Top Ten Speaker Coaches in Yahoo Finance in 2021. Her documentaries have received critical acclaim—winning Best Documentary Short at The Olympus Film Festival and Los Angeles Movie Awards. Tricia has spoken at Forbes, Pride Global, New York Public Library, I Heart My Life Live, and The National Organization for Rare Disorders.