Dr. Awad: [00:00:00] Hello, my vibrant friend. Either you're listening on the podcast today, or maybe you're watching us on YouTube. I'm thrilled to have... A sleep expert on today, we're going to talk about many things sleep, about your eating, about menopause all the things that you who are listening want to know about.
And I'm thrilled to have a sleep expert with us today. Dr. Funke Afolobi Brown is here and thank you for being here today.
Dr. Funke-Brown: Thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to talk about sleep. That's my passion.
Dr. Awad: Yeah, that's so good. So Dr. Brown is a sleep expert and coaches people online, is a speaker many conferences and other arenas to share her expertise with people, and then also sees some people by telemedicine.
So, could you just tell the audience a little bit about yourself, Dr. Brown?
Dr. Funke-Brown: Yes, yes, absolutely. So, you know, I have Restful Sleep MD is the name of my company [00:01:00] and really our mission is to bring sleep care to as many people as possible. So my passion is really helping moms, especially high achieving, busy women, and their kids with prioritizing sleep. And I do this through, like you said, speaking. I also do it through my coaching program where I coach women with sleep issues. And then I have my practice, which is the Restful Sleep Place that really focuses my clinical practice and telemedicine practice that focuses on children and young adult with sleep issues.
So there are several ways to work with me. That's the bottom line.
Dr. Awad: And people can find you virtually and we'll make sure, we'll talk about this in the end as well, but just so people know that. All Dr. Brown's contact information is in the show notes, so. So, why don't we just start generally, why, why is sleep important?
Dr. Funke-Brown: Yeah, so you know, sleep is not just a luxury, which has often [00:02:00] been the misconception. It's not just something we do as a cure for sleepiness. And it's not a nuisance, it's a biological necessity. So, sleep is important for so many reasons. You know, brain function and brain health is really related to sleep.
The ability to cleanse our brains of any waste products actually occurs with sleep. And then when we talk about our metabolism, so regulating hormones even our immune function is related to sleep. And so also our mental health and our mood. As well as memory consolidation and the ability to take on new memories.
All those things are related to sleep. So I think there's so many levels to this. And so, you know, I always think of sleep as it's, it's medicine. If you think about all the different [00:03:00] systems in your body that is affected by sleep and that can potentially go wrong when you don't sleep well. So again, sleep is just really, really key.
It's so fundamental. And you know, you know, when we talk about Pillars of health, the three broad pillars, right? Nutrition, exercise, and sleep is the third pillar. But I always say that when you think about the impact that sleep has on nutrition and metabolism, and when you think about the impact that sleep has on, on exercise, on recovery, on, you know, your growth hormone, tissue repair, Sleep is actually the fundamental on which all these other systems actually are based.
Dr. Awad: that's so true. I, you know, I, I, I'm glad that people are talking about this more now, because it's, I don't know if everyone doesn't notice this, but I've always been someone that really noticed, even from high school on, how terrible I feel if I don't get enough sleep. So I, I [00:04:00] don't know if people ignore that, or if, or why they
Dr. Funke-Brown: don't pay attention to that.
I think it might be that we just overlook it. And just say, well, there's so many other things that are more important. And so it just doesn't make its way to our list of priorities. And you know, if you think about it, you may just feel like, oh, you don't feel that great when you don't sleep, but you kind of sort of get through the day.
But then when you step back and this becomes a chronic issue where you're chronically exhausted and you're wondering why you're so cranky or you're getting sick a lot or having difficulties with losing weight, then you're like, wait, oh, actually. What I thought was just a little bit of tiredness is actually affecting my entire well being, right?
And so I think now, like you said, we're getting to the point where we're having those conversations and I'm just really happy that we are. Yeah,
Dr. Awad: that's terrific. But let's talk about food. So how does poor sleep or not enough sleep Kind of cause trouble with your eating and [00:05:00] food.
Dr. Funke-Brown: Yeah. So, you know, like I mentioned that with our metabolism, that's something that can be affected by food.
So I think to start first is, you know, the timing of food can affect our sleep, right? So if you eat too late, if you eat a full meal just before bed, if you eat a if you eat spicy foods just before bed, you're going to have discomfort. You might have reflux. You might have just the fullness of your belly mimic.
Your sleep quality poor. But even beyond that, we also talk about the hormones that help with regulating our appetite and our food intake. Those get affected by sleep. So there are two main hormones we usually talk about. One is called leptin, that's what we call the satiety hormone or the fullness hormone that lets you know, okay, I've had enough, I'm okay.
And then the other one is called ghrelin, and that's a hormone that's sort of like the hunger hormone that sends response signals to our brain to say, okay, I'm probably hungry around now. [00:06:00] And so you want your sort of leptin to be a little on the higher side. So, you know, you in, in that sense, and then the ghrelin to be lower, but then with poor sleep with insufficient sleep, it's almost like you get a reversal of those functions.
So that leptin. is decreased and the ghrelin is increased. And so then you may start to realize that you feel really hungry and you just want to keep eating. So that sense of fullness, you don't really appreciate it. And you know, if you think about it, when you're sleep deprived, it can also affect our Decision making abilities, such that your decision on the background of your stomach growling and saying you're hungry may be off such that you may go to the fridge and you're going to grab another carrot, right?
Maybe a carrot cake, right? So you may then find that you're consuming more of the high calorie you know, high sugar kind of [00:07:00] diet. And so what will that then, what would then happen? This is. This might be in the evening. So then you have more poor sleep, which increases your inflammation and then can affect your insulin production.
And so if your insulin production is affected over time, that can lead to diabetes, not to mention things like weight issues or overweight, obesity and things like that. So you then start to see that trickle, trickle effect as a result of just impaired metabolism.
Dr. Awad: I'm glad you talked about all that because a lot of the listeners are at midlife and beyond, and so it's a good time to look and say, am I standing on this path that Dr.
Brown is talking about? Am I somewhere in there and, and maybe I want to get off this path and pay attention. So how, how much sleep is, is a good amount for an adult?
Dr. Funke-Brown: That's a great question too. So, you know, the National Sleep Foundation has recommendations on how much sleep we're to get, [00:08:00] which varies.
by age. So our young ones may sleep much more, like for instance our newborns may sleep like 14 to 17 hours, and then our school age kids about 9 to 11, our teenagers usually 8 to 10. And adults, they say about seven to nine hours, but you can see there's such a wide spectrum of two hour difference, right?
So really what I recommend is finding the amount of sleep that you need as an individual that helps you feel rested, helps you feel more refreshed and restored. And so the way you can figure that out is just kind of find how much sleep you need. Maybe like on vacation when you don't have to wake up to an alarm clock, right?
When do you naturally tend to wake up? I think that's always a good way to test. And so I'll see people who are so used to waking up at six. I'm sorry, who are so used to sleeping six hours, then say, Oh, wait, when I did that, I noticed that I, I typically need about eight [00:09:00] hours of sleep. So then if you do that, if you see when naturally you would go to sleep, when naturally you would wake up, you find out that you're probably in that window of seven to nine hours.
Dr. Awad: That's, that's cool. I haven't heard that before. That's a really good idea. Yeah. So if someone is saying, okay, I go to bed at this time though and I get up at this other time. I need to get up at this certain time at night. I'm not sure how I can actually, in my schedule, get more sleep in. What, what, what do you tell people?
Dr. Funke-Brown: Oh, that's a, that's a great, that's, that's one of the things I coach women about. It's like, okay, yeah, I get it that I need more sleep, but there's so many other things that are going on. That there's not even enough time for that kind of sleep opportunity. And one of the things I say lovingly is that if you are too busy to get enough sleep, you're too busy.
And so it's really about making it a priority. And that starts with a change in our mindset. And being able to [00:10:00] unapologetically set boundaries, because if you think about it, usually most people tend to get most of their work done, you know, during the day. And so, if we can create systems, delegate, set boundaries, ask for help, you know, try to be more focused and effective, we should be able to have that ability too.
At least have that amount of time for sleep. And, and this may take, you know, being creative, this may take being resourceful. But it's really important to first see that sleep is a priority. And when we think about the consequences of not having sleep on our health, on our wellbeing then it's something that we do have to say, okay, how can I, not just so much of, I don't have the time, it's.
How can I create more time that will give me the opportunity I need? And then when you do that, ideas start to come up, you're like, Oh, wait, you know what, this volunteer [00:11:00] thing I join every night that runs till 10 PM, it turns out this may be the time I need to let go of it, or, you know, see if somebody else can take it over.
It may, you may need to be, to make some of those kinds of radical decisions. Wow,
Dr. Awad: that's beautiful. Yeah, that, that's those are great things to look at. Well, let's do talk a little bit about the sleep disturbances of menopause, because there are so many things that come up and and, you know, many people that I've talked to, you know, sleep great, great, great, great, great, and then 40s, 50s,
Dr. Funke-Brown: not so much.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So that's you know, that's, that's definitely a common problem that I see a lot of people, a lot of my clients encounter as well. And there are many things that go on that can affect our sleep. First is the sort of the hormonal changes, right? Because of that, you may [00:12:00] notice like the hot flashes sometimes the palpitations, the dry mouth, you know, those symptoms that seem to be related to those, So, changes in, in, in menopause.
And you know, there's some practical strategies that we can put in place to kind of minimize those vasomotor symptoms as well as sometimes we may need to discuss with your provider about Hormone replacement therapy. I mean, there's some natural supplements as well that can help or just even practical things like making sure the bedroom environment is cool, making sure you don't have those heavy beddings, there's breathable fabric that could be for your PJs and for your bed sheets, you know, those kinds of things.
So there's that category. And then there's also the categories, I kind of moved them into sort of three main buckets. So the first would be More of the medical sleep issues that are contributing to your sleep. So yes of course, symptoms around [00:13:00] menopause is one of them, but it could be things like sleep apnea.
Especially with women about that age, sleep apnea starts to emerge and that's when you have pauses in breathing during sleep. And many times we just ignore it because you're like, Oh, well, it's men that have sleep apnea. No, no, no. Women also, women around menopause also have. So that's a big one that you definitely want to address.
Then it could be, you know, Restless Leg Syndrome it could be, you know, other medical problems. I've had people, I had a client who was diabetic. Was she diabetic or had hypertension? She had a medical condition and where she was taking her diuretic in the evening. And she just was waking up, you know, frequently at night to use the restroom.
And so sometimes it's something like that could be medications we're on, right? So all those things can contribute to sleep issues in women in the menopause period. And then the second bucket would be more of Behavioral [00:14:00] factors. So this is where, you know, you're not able to sleep. What are you doing?
You're grabbing your phone because your mind is racing and you're trying to use that as a way to distract yourself. Or, you know, you're drinking caffeine before bed because you're so tired, right? Or you're drinking alcohol. Alcohol is a frequently used sleep aid, which is what people, especially people that have insomnia, they tend to say, okay, you know what?
I take my glass of wine and I could...
And then you know, again, things like are there behaviors we're doing in bed that's not sleep promoting? So doing your, bringing your laptop into bed, bringing your, you know, your phones into bed with you worrying in bed, eating in bed, watching TV in bed. All those are kind of, so behavioral factors and those things, many of them are modifiable.
Or taking naps. So naps are great, but the timing of the nap is really important. So are you, are you taking a nap at 5 p. [00:15:00] m.? Of course, you're not going to be able to sleep at night if you do that. So again, those are behavioral things that can contribute to sleep issues. And then the third category is sort of the things that are present during the day that also have their manifestation at night.
So if you have anxiety or depression or stress, all those things are present during the day. You may not have had enough time to process those thoughts. But then at night they really now start to surge because now you're, you're more, you know, you're, everything is quiet, everything is dark, those thoughts start to make your mind race.
So that's also another category of you know, sleep issues that we see in women within the menopause period. Wow, there's a lot there. Yes, there is. So
Dr. Awad: there are a lot of things people can do to look at behavioral issues that they can modify and see if that makes a difference. But there are many things that would be helpful to go see a doctor about as well.
I, you [00:16:00] know, in my program, you know, I'm working with midlife women and I, and that's one of the things we say, I tell them at the beginning, I'm like, if your sleep isn't good, It's time to go see your doctor and find out what's going on there.
Dr. Funke-Brown: Yeah, that's so important. Yeah.
Dr. Awad: Well, thank you so much. I appreciate you coming and sharing all this.
There's a lot there. So I, I hope that people will reach out to you. And your work to find out more because there's a lot to unpack here.
Dr. Funke-Brown: Yeah, yeah, thank you. Thank you so much for having me. I think I want to also say that like, it feels like a lot, right? I mean, but I think hopefully this kind of sheds a light into what's, what's going on.
So you don't feel like it's all sort of in your head or you're just supposed to. And the beautiful thing is that. There are solutions to this, you don't have to struggle with your sleep as just your lot in life, right? You don't have to be the bad sleeper. There's [00:17:00] help addressing the stressors, addressing anxiety, focusing on what can I do to help with this You know, either the vasomotor symptoms, that's making my sleep worse, and then practicing healthy sleep habits.
Once you put all that together, it definitely can help you a long way. And then if you need help, if you need to see an expert, then don't hesitate. Definitely reach out. I think we
Dr. Awad: heard you talk about just taking small steps to like try to go to bed just 15 minutes
Dr. Funke-Brown: earlier. Yeah, yeah, yes, yes, exactly. So, you know, one of the things I say is, okay, so depending on where you are, right?
So we say seven to nine hours, how do I get seven to nine hours? Well, don't just focus on the number. You also want to focus on the quality of sleep. So there are ways you can improve your sleep quality. So we talked about like alcohol will make your sleep quality poor because it fragments your sleep. So alcohol may help you fall asleep quickly, but then it now.
[00:18:00] Once it gets metabolized, especially through the liver, it's metabolized relatively quickly. Then you'll, you start to find out you may be waking up a lot, you wake up tired. So avoiding alcohol before bed is very important. Caffeine, usually caffeine has a very long half life. And so what that does is it creates this increased sort of arousal, right?
And alertness. And so if you take it too close to bedtime, that same alertness effect is carried over and you may notice that you're waking up frequently or you're not really getting into deep sleep. So you want to avoid caffeine. I usually will say avoid it after about 12 noon to 1 pm because it has a long half life.
So that will at least give you time to make sure it's kind of out of your system. And then, you know, things like exercise. Physical activity, all those things improve your sleep quality. It improves your mood. It's, it's just so, so good for our health and our wellbeing. And then another thing I would say is [00:19:00] consistency.
You know, like wherever you are right now, if you're going to bed at 12 midnight and waking up at 6am, even though you're only getting six hours. Try to make sure you're as consistent as possible. And then you then take the next step forward, which would be like, how can I, again, it's that back to how can I, how can I increase my total sleep time?
If you're going from six hours, it's going to be hard to just jump to nine hours, right? But maybe you can add an extra 15 minutes. So start with that. So say, okay, right now I'm not able to get to bed till 12 midnight. So I'm going to say over the next week, I'm going to go to bed at 1145. And then after that, I didn't do too badly.
I'm going to get, go to bed at 1130. Guess what? You just hit seven hours, right? And so, and then, and then listen to your body because seven hours may be where you need to be or seven and a half hours may be where you need to be or eight hours. So if you're like, Oh, well, I feel better, but I think I still feel a little bit tired.
Then you add a little more. So again, just go give yourself [00:20:00] grace, like as cliche as it sounds, and then just approach this in a stepwise manner. So you don't feel frustrated.
Dr. Awad: I wanted to ask you two, what do you think about the all the things people wear on their wrists that tell, tell them whether they slept well or not?
Any, any thoughts on those?
Dr. Funke-Brown: Yeah, the sleep trackers I've taken over. There's so many different ones. I think a lot of them show us maybe you know, patterns and rhythms with our sleep. But many times what I end up seeing is that it leads to a lot of frustration for patients where they're like, Oh, well, you know, my tracker said I didn't get enough deep sleep.
Now I'm very frustrated. A lot of times. I mean, the, the algorithms they say are getting better, but we really don't know how that adds up, especially if you are someone who otherwise seems to be doing okay. And so if it's starting to cause a lot of stress for you, I say stop, don't even measure it. And, [00:21:00] you know, maybe if you're going to use it, use it to measure like, Oh yes, I slept for eight hours.
I slept for seven hours versus, Oh, I had 20 percent deep sleep or I had 5 percent REM sleep. Right? So I think it's what, what are you using it for and what impact is it having? Is it helping your sleep or is it harming your sleep? And if it's harming your sleep, which it does for many people, then just, just stop using it.
Dr. Awad: Thank you. That's super helpful. And what do you say to the person who says, I have relatives who will say, you know, I wake up and I feel so good, but my tracker says that I didn't have good quality of
Dr. Funke-Brown: sleep. Yes, exactly. Put that tracker away and listen to your body. Very important because again, we don't, what does that mean that you had poor quality sleep, right?
So listen to your body. And if you, if you feel like, Oh yeah, I feel, tired and my tracker says I didn't get good quality sleep, then yeah, have that checked out because that might be sleep [00:22:00] apnea, it might be restless leg syndrome, it might be a sign of something else. So it's really just being careful about what we do and how we interpret that data.
That's key. Great.
Dr. Awad: Thank you so much for all this. You've answered all my questions.
Dr. Funke-Brown: Awesome. Awesome. I'm happy to hear that.
Dr. Awad: Well, tell us, yeah, like I said before, we will have your information in the show notes, but please tell everyone how they can find you and, and, and we're in real life and like, and
Dr. Funke-Brown: online.
Yeah, absolutely. So I'm, I'm here in Pennsylvania, so if you wanna come visit, let me know. , but I'm also [email protected]. I'm on Instagram at Restful Sleep md. And again, I offer one-on-one coaching for women. So even though, even if I'm not licensed in the state, you are and you have sleep issues, you need someone to advocate for you, you, you maybe need someone to just kind of look things over like.
In terms of improving your sleep health overall, then I offer this my, my coaching program for that. But if [00:23:00] you are in the Pennsylvania, if you're in the New Jersey or California area, and you have a child who has any sleep issues, then they could definitely schedule an appointment to see me at the Restful Sleep, at restfulsleepmd.
com and just schedule that appointment so we could get them sleeping and also get you sleeping.
Dr. Awad: Well, thank you again, and I sure appreciate you being here. I know everyone has a lot of questions about sleep.
Dr. Funke-Brown: Thank you. Thank you for having me.