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Is falling asleep, getting deep sleep, staying asleep… or anything to do with sleep something that you think about? I know that I’m obsessed with getting good, quality sleep so I was thrilled to speak with Stanford-trained sleep specialist and psychologist, Yishan Xu to learn more.

Dr. Xu is the founder of Mind & Body Garden Psychology and has her own podcast called Deep Into Sleep. She provides fascinating information about how sleep quality plays a role in mental health. This enlightening discussion may help you think about your sleep in a new and helpful way.

Episode Highlights:

  • A fun fact about Dr. Xu is that she once ate a bowl of scorpions.
  • She thinks about the role of the psychologist as similar to that of a gardener.
  • Everyone is unique and has their own strengths and weaknesses, just like different types of trees or plants.
  • If we don’t sleep as much as our body and mind needs, then we will experience a lot of difficulties.
  • Sleep loss and insomnia are different.
  • People with insomnia tend to be more irritable and anxious about sleep.
  • Preoccupation with sleep can limit the space to process other things efficiently.
  • Clinically insomnia is either difficulty going to sleep, staying asleep, or you wake up far too early. You must experience these symptoms over a period of time to be considered an insomniac.
  • Sleep loss is when you don’t give yourself enough opportunity to sleep.
  • Sleep loss and sleep deprivation are interchangeable terms.
  • Many of us have sleep debt built up from day-to-day.
  • There used to be many experiments that purposely deprived people of sleep. When scientists realized the harm of that, they stopped doing those kinds of experiments.
  • If we can change our mindset about how we view sleep, we have the choice and the power to make some adjustments.
  • The quicker we try to make up the sleep we can get a little bit back, but the long-term harm is still going to be there.
  • It is important to overall health to prioritize sleep.
  • Many people will sacrifice sleep first in relation to other things in their lives.
  • In order to form a healthy sleep architecture, there is a need to have all the stages of sleep in certain percentages.
  • Sleep looks very unique for everyone.
  • The most important thing is for us to have an easy mind about sleep. Don’t get too caught up in how you sleep.
  • We need to trust our bodies that we are actually able to sleep well.
  • The key for having a better night of sleep is being less anxious.
  • Sleep trackers are not very accurate and people misinterpret the data.
  • Sleep trackers can be helpful if we have a more relaxed mindset about sleep.
  • Don’t compare or put too much emphasis on the data you’re getting from trackers.
  • They discuss common sleep recommendations.
  • If we go to bed around the time we feel sleepy and wake up without an alarm that will help us understand how much sleep we need.
  • Her patients often tell her how many hours of sleep they want to get. This is often just an idea in their mind.
  • As we age, sleep changes.
  • We need to change our ideas about sleep along with our age.
  • Your eating habits impact your sleep.
  • People think if they drink alcohol at night it will help them fall asleep but halfway through the night, the alcohol will be metabolized by the body and harm sleep quality.
  • Similarly, using sleep medication or other external approaches to control sleep can be problematic.
  • If you are looking to seek help for your sleep, see a sleep specialist or talk to your primary care provider about your concerns.
  • Dr. Xu was shocked about how much she didn’t know about sleep when she was studying at Stanford.
  • When we look into our health we really need to incorporate all aspects. They are all connected.

Resources Mentioned:
● Dr. Yishan Xu’s Website: Mind & Body Psychology
● Podcast: Deep Into Sleep
● Web Resource: National Sleep Foundation
● Recommended Books: The Sleep Solution | The Nocturnal Brain
● Life Stuff 101: lifestuff101.com | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook
● Mio Yokoi: Registered Psychotherapist

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