SLEEP IN A COOL ENVIRONMENT- We all want to be comfortable, and that’s especially true when it comes to temperature. But most of us don’t realize that that means having our home temperature be different at night than during the day. That’s because our body temperature gradually rises throughout the day and then drops at night, which is a signal for your body to sleep. And we can do things that help or hinder this internal sleep mechanism. A bedroom that is too hot will definitely be a hindrance to good sleep, whereas a cooler bedroom will help facilitate better sleep faster. If you have temperature controls in your bedroom, try turning it down to 65–70 degrees overnight. If not, use fans, open windows, and/or opt for lighter blankets to help keep you cooler at night.
Getting a good night’s sleep has so many physical, emotional, and mental benefits. Yet with all of the distractions that demand our attention, going to sleep on time and getting enough rest has become extremely elusive to many of us. Why is sleep so important and how can we make it a priority?
In this interview series called “Sleep: Why You Should Make Getting A Good Night’s Sleep A Major Priority In Your Life, And How You Can Make That Happen” we are talking to medical and wellness professionals, sleep specialists, and business leaders who sell sleep accessories to share insights from their knowledge and experience about how to make getting a good night’s sleep a priority in your life.
As part of this interview series, we had the pleasure to interview Dr. Candice Seti.
As a therapist, author, speaker, coach, and former yo-yo dieter, Dr. Candice Seti is committed to helping others achieve health and wellness while gaining self-confidence, stopping self-sabotage, and achieving their goals.
Dr. Seti maintains a private practice in San Diego, California, where she works one-on-one with individuals, helping them understand their maladaptive behaviors and thought patterns while replacing them with a healthier perspective that allows them to overcome self-sabotage and thrive in their lives. Dr. Seti helps her patients understand their barriers and achieve success through behavioral lifestyle and cognitive changes. Her goal is to help people achieve psychological and physical wellness.
Known as “The Weight-Loss Therapist” and “The Insomnia Therapist” online, Dr. Seti is a licensed clinical psychologist, certified nutrition coach, certified weight management specialist, certified expert life coach, certified personal trainer, and certified insomnia treatment clinician. She is the author of Shatter the Yoyo, and The Self-Sabotage Behavior Workbook. She is also a featured contributor to numerous blogs, including MyFitnessPal, Aaptiv, and Beachbody, and has appeared on FOX 32 Chicago, Las Vegas Morning Blend, CBS 8 Morning Show, NBC Palm Springs, and eHealth Radio Network. Find her online at meonlybetter.com.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to ‘get to know you’. Can you tell us a bit about your background and your backstory?
Sure! I grew up in the suburbs of New York City and knew from a very young age that I wanted to pursue a career in helping people. I immediately choose psychology as my major in college and moved to California to pursue my graduate work in clinical psychology. I settled in San Diego where I opened a private practice. I live here with my husband and our adorable, but crazy puppy! While my practice is physically located in San Diego, I work with individuals all over the world, thanks to the technology of video communication! ☺
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this particular career path?
When I first started out as a clinical psychologist in private practice, I specialized in self-esteem and body image issues, and eating disorders. Then, as a result of my own experience with weight loss and weight management, I shifted my focus to include this as a specialization. I realized that the dieting world sets us up for failure and there needed to be another way! I started working with chronic yoyo dieters to help them break their dependence on diets and learn how to manage their weight sustainably by understanding their thought patterns and implementing simple lifestyle and behavioral changes. Sleep in a crucial part of behavioral change around weight management, so I really wanted to advance my education in that area. So, a few years ago, I became a certified insomnia treatment clinician.
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the sleep and wellness fields? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
Unlike a lot of clinicians in the sleep world, I am not an MD simply looking to address sleep disorders. I am a psychologist looking at sleep from a holistic perspective. I am interested in sleep as in pertains to overall wellness, both psychologically and physically. Sleep is a crucial component in any self-care plan, including a healthy weight management plan. Good sleep is vital to healthy hormonal regulation, appetite management, focus and energy, self-perspective, and overall wellness!
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker is a really fascinating look at sleep and all of the recent research on its purpose and process. I learned so much from reading and have been able to integrate much of its content into my work with individuals struggling with insomnia.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
Oh wow, there are so many! I focus on self-care a lot in my practice and there are a lot of life lesson quotes around that. One I really like is “Self-care is giving the world the best of you instead of what’s left of you.” It’s so important to understand the value of putting yourself and your self-care first, whether that’s with sleep, work, relationships, or simply taking time out for yourself.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Let’s start with the basics. How much sleep should an adult get? Is there a difference between people who are young, middle-aged, or elderly?
Sleep needs are different for everyone but the ideal is somewhere between 7 to 9 hours a night for more people. When we are younger, we tend to need more sleep at night and as we become elderly, we often need less sleep overnight but make up for this by napping during the day. The best way to determine if you are getting the right amount of sleep for your body is to take the SATED questionnaire which can be found online.
Is the amount of hours the main criteria, or the time that you go to bed? For example, if there was a hypothetical choice between getting to bed at 10PM and getting up at 4AM, for a total of 6 hours, or going to bed at 2AM and getting up at 10AM for a total of 8 hours, is one a better choice for your health? Can you explain?
The most important thing is not when you sleep but being consistent with that sleep schedule. Your body thrives on routine and the more consistent you are with your sleep schedule, the more favorably your body will respond. By going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning, your body will learn when you wind down and when you amp up. It will also fall asleep easier and get you into that deep and restorative sleep faster so that your sleep ends up being even more beneficial!
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for our readers. Let’s imagine a hypothetical 35 year old adult who was not getting enough sleep. After working diligently at it for 6 months he or she began to sleep well and got the requisite hours of sleep. How will this person’s life improve? Can you help articulate some of the benefits this person will see after starting to get enough sleep? Can you explain?
Improving your sleep has SOOOOO many benefits! The obvious ones are that this person will feel more energized during the day, be better focused, and have more motivation. But this person will have more regulated hormones and a more powerful metabolism. They will have more creativity and insight, along with more capacity for learning and memorization. They will lower their risk for numerous diseases including stroke, congestive heart failure, anxiety, and depression. Their immune system will be stronger, reducing their risk of infection. Their capacity to handle psychological issues will be better, reducing their overall stress level. Like I said, there are just so many ways that things improve when your sleep improves!
Many things provide benefits but they aren’t necessarily a priority. Should we make getting a good night’s sleep a major priority in our life? Can you explain what you mean?
Absolutely for all of the reasons I just mentioned above! Prioritizing our sleep is one of the few things we can do to achieve such a massive list of benefits. The only other things I think have as much value are reducing our stress levels, and improving our overall nutrition. All things that we should make a priority in our lives!
The truth is that most of us know that it’s important to get better sleep. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives? How should we remove those obstacles?
- Not prioritizing ourselves- We tend to put others’ needs above our own which means giving so much of ourselves. This drains our resources and our time. And something has to give — -often times it’s our sleep. Prioritizing ourselves and our self-care means protecting our sleep and making sure we’ve always got time and space for it.
- Habit- We are all creatures of habit and, even though we know something intellectually, we may not put it into practice if it goes against our habits. So, we default to doing things the way we’ve always done- if we are used to staying up late for no particular reason, we may continue to do so, simply out of habit.
- Technology- Because we have the world at our fingertips now, we are so incredibly overstimulated. At any given point in time, we can be watching television, using a tablet and checking out messages on our watches! This means there is always something going on ‘out there’ and we often are driven to put our sleep aside to pay attention to everything happening everywhere else.
Do you think getting “good sleep” is more difficult today than it was in the past?
Absolutely! This goes back to my last point about technology. The world around us never shuts off and we have the technology to access it 24/7. So, we are constantly stimulated and we didn’t have that exposure and that level of stimulation in the past.
Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share “5 things you need to know to get the sleep you need and wake up refreshed and energized”? If you can, kindly share a story or example for each.
- CUT OUT BLUE LIGHT AT NIGHT- We want to suppress melatonin in the morning. But we also want it to come back into play in the evening. This is something that will happen naturally in your body unless we do things that intervene with this process. The biggest intervening culprit is blue light! That pesky blue light from your TV, phone, computer or tablet is actually suppressing the natural rise of melatonin that you need to fall asleep easier. So, I encourage people to consider stopping electronic use an hour or two before bed. If you must use electronics, enable ‘night mode’ or a blue light filter or use blue light blocking glasses.
- SLEEP IN A COOL ENVIRONMENT- We all want to be comfortable, and that’s especially true when it comes to temperature. But most of us don’t realize that that means having our home temperature be different at night than during the day. That’s because our body temperature gradually rises throughout the day and then drops at night, which is a signal for your body to sleep. And we can do things that help or hinder this internal sleep mechanism. A bedroom that is too hot will definitely be a hindrance to good sleep, whereas a cooler bedroom will help facilitate better sleep faster. If you have temperature controls in your bedroom, try turning it down to 65–70 degrees overnight. If not, use fans, open windows, and/or opt for lighter blankets to help keep you cooler at night.
- SLEEP IN A DARK ENVIRONMENT- Melatonin production in the evening will help you fall asleep. But we also need it to sustain throughout the night to keep us sleeping well. One of the biggest ways we prevent that is with LIGHT. Even the smallest amount of light can signal the brain to stay awake and prevent the continued production of melatonin throughout the night. So, you want to make sure that you are sleeping in the DARK- I mean the I-Can’t-See-Anything kind of dark! Assess your bedroom at night and remove any light sources. Plugs, clocks, phones, windows. Consider removing or blocking any light sources or simply use a sleep mask. If you have to get up in the middle of night, try to avoid turning on lights or use red light bulbs in fixtures that are often turned on at night (like the bathroom light).
- LOVE YOUR BED- Your bed should be a place you absolutely love- an oasis that you just can’t wait to crawl into at night! How is your mattress? Is it super comfy and supportive in the way you want it to be? How about your bedding? Does it feel great against your skin? Do you enjoy both the look and feel of it? And your pillows? Are they just the right amount of support? Does your head feel fabulous resting on them? You want to truly love everything about your bed as you probably spend significantly more time there than anywhere else in your life! So, if your mattress, your bedding, or your pillows don’t make you ridiculously happy, consider replacing them with ones you absolutely love!
- WAKE UP AT THE SAME TIME- For good sleep, it is important to keep your sleep hormones balanced to set your body’s circadian rhythms up correctly. One of the easiest ways to do that is to be consistent with your sleep schedule. Having a regular wake-up time is the simplest way to get your body clock balanced and running smoothly. Most of us do this (or at least try to) during the work week and then we sleep WAY later on the weekends. This sets us up for Sunday night insomnia because our sleep schedule has been way off. It’s really valuable to have a consistent wake-up time on weekdays AND weekends! If you must sleep in on weekends, make sure it is not more than an hour later than your usual wake-up time to ensure you don’t throw off your internal body clock.
What would you advise someone who wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep?
GET OUT OF BED! Yes, you want to love your bed, but not so much that you never want to get out of it! You see, you have these internal sleep and wake systems that are subject to conditioning by pairing them with certain behaviors. So, you want your bed to be a STRONG cue for sleep. The way this happens is by associating it with sleep — -and nothing else. The more you use your bed for other things (TV watching, work, conversations, etc.), the more your bed will become a cue for being awake- something you definitely don’t want! Make sure your bed is used for sleep and sex ONLY! Any other behaviors should take place elsewhere.
What are your thoughts about taking a nap during the day? Is that a good idea, or can it affect the ability to sleep well at night?
Naps are wonderful! Grabbing a quick nap offers many health benefits. It can reduce fatigue and improve relaxation. It has been shown to help improve your mood and increase alertness. It may even lead to improved performance and memory. But the timing of your nap is quite important. If you nap later than 3 pm, then you run the risk of interfering with your regular bedtime and getting you oh-so-important sleep at night. For that reason, you will want to make sure to get that nap in sometime prior to mid-afternoon, with a hard deadline of 3 pm. For the same reason, you also don’t want your nap to be too long. Though it may sound tempting to snooze for a couple of hours, a proper nap is short and sweet. You will want to aim for somewhere between 15 and 30 minutes for your mid-afternoon nap. Author Daniel Pink has written about sleep and coined the term “nappuccino”. This is based on his recommendation to brew and drink a strong cup of coffee prior to your nap. After 20 minutes of rest, that caffeine will help wake you so you can finish the day. Once you wake up, give yourself a moment before returning to any activities that require a fast, sharp response.
Wonderful. We are nearly done. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I would love to have a conversation with Michelle Obama. After reading her book, I felt even more inspired by her and her struggles and her drive to help and reach others.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
If you want to learn more about my insomnia treatment: www.TheInsomniaTherapist.com
Books on Amazon:
The Self-Sabotage Behavior Workbook- https://www.amazon.com/Self-Sabotage-Behavior-Workbook-Step-Step/dp/1646041321
My website and online program information: www.MeOnlyBetter.com
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!