Keep a balanced diet — A diet filled with nutrients for your body makes it easier for your body to function as intended and creates less burden on your systems, which in turn helps improve your quality of sleep.
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. Sebastian Kverneland DC.
Dr. Sebastian Kverneland DC is the founder of the Scandinavian Health Institute in Los Angeles. He works with patients all over the world to find and treat the root cause of pain related to neck, back, and migraines. Dr. Kverneland holds a Doctorate in Chiropractic from Southern California University of Health Sciences and is a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner by the Institute of Functional Medicine. His work has been featured in publications such as New York Post, Martha Stewart, MSN, and Yahoo Lifestyle.
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?
Thank you so much. My background starts with a passion for fitness and wellness ever since my early childhood years in Norway. Being an active soccer player, I soon realized that I have to take care of my body to continue the activities that I love. Fast forward, I decided that I love helping other people improve their lives and health and so I decided to pursue the field of chiropractic and then later on functional medicine. This brought me to Los Angeles, where I am now the founder of the Scandinavian Health Institute and work with patients worldwide on finding and treating the root cause of their pain.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this particular career path?
It was a combination of interest in the career path and seeing how much my health impacted everyday life that led me to pursue the field I am in. I feel so grateful to help not only my patients but also my friends and family improving their health and quality of life.
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?
At the Scandinavian Health Institute, I recommend sleep and improving sleep hygiene to every single patient. Sleep is necessary for your body to repair itself and sleep deprivation is even linked to several types of cancer. Studies show, that if you sleep 6 hours or less you have a 200% increased risk of suffering a fatal heart attack or stroke in your lifetime. From my perspective, sleep is a therapeutic and preventative measure. Too many people, unfortunately, disregard the importance of a good night’s sleep when they should prioritize it.
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?
One book that especially stands out is the Stress of Life by Hans Selye. That book changed the way I look at stress and how it impacts the human body and why I make an active choice every day to avoid stress as best possible.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
Just because something is considered normal does not make it right. Therefore, my all-time favorite quote is “The dancing people were considered insane by those who could not hear the music.’’ Bringing a new way of thinking to any industry, especially health care, is challenging and requires hard work and determination. This quote reminds me to continue to do the things that may not be current industry norms and push my practice in the right direction for my patients.
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?
There is a difference, as the younger tend to be more active, they naturally need more sleep than when you are older. However, we all need a good night’s sleep, it should be well ventilated and uninterrupted, regardless of age. I recommend getting 8 hours of sleep every night, and the benefits are countless.
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 main criterion is the number of hours, but it’s also more natural for us to follow the circadian rhythm. So being exposed to daylight during the day and then the darkness at night time helps our body regulate sleep.
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?
This person should feel better and fresher and more rejuvenated, but besides that, some lab tests probably will show improvement in hormonal, immune, cardiovascular, and other biomarkers. It is incredible what sleep can do.
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?
Yes, sleep should definitely be a priority. Lack of sleep is tied to so many ailments and it has been proven that sufficient sleep is crucial for our overall well-being. This is why sleep hygiene and improving it, is almost always a part of my recommended treatment plan. Getting enough of the right kind of sleep is too important to ignore.
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?
This is a great question. I would say the top three blockages are our social environments, difficulty in changing habits, and lastly, patience with change. Many people who want to change their daily habits and health have to make changes that are not considered normal. This takes courage and many people are not able to do that. This is something I often train my patients in dealing with. Also, we humans are habitual and don’t like change. It’s hard to break habits and it’s hard to stay on track. The third blockage is often patience. Change doesn’t happen overnight. It can take up to five weeks for a new habit to stay put. So be kind to yourself and think long-term as opposed to overnight success.
Do you think getting “good sleep” is more difficult today than it was in the past?
In many ways, yes. Our lifestyles, including increased stress, more sugary diets and technology have made following our natural sleep pattern more difficult. Investing in your sleep hygiene will of course help overcome this.
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.
- Keep a balanced diet
A diet filled with nutrients for your body makes it easier for your body to function as intended and creates less burden on your systems, which in turn helps improve your quality of sleep.
2. Stay away from sugary food
Especially before bedtime, make sure to stay away from sugary foods to avoid giving your body signals to wake up as opposed to preparing for nighttime.
3. Stretch your neck and back
Having a good sleeping posture is important no matter what; it can be considered preventative medicine. So do yourself the favor of stretching your neck and back before going to bed.
4. Avoid blue screens late at night
Help your body prepare for sleep by avoiding blue screens before bedtime.
5. Stick to a sleep schedule
Great sleep comes from consistency so try to stick to the same sleep times. An easy way to do this is to schedule your sleep time in your calendar.
What would you advise someone who wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep?
Without knowing the situation of the patient is difficult to give one recommendation. But waking up in the middle of the night is linked to cortisol level increasing as opposed to decreasing when you sleep. When cortisol is not decreasing it tells you to wake up again. The cause of this imbalance is stress or the strain caused by stress. Anything to help stabilize this would be helpful. So stress management, meditation yoga workout anything social that calms the busy mind, and some supplements can also be of help.
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?
This depends. A short nap may be nice to get clarity and mental calmness after a busy day. If it’s too long it could affect your rhythm and make it hard to fall asleep later. However, if you find that a nap is absolutely necessary this might be a sign of poor sleep at night. Excessive snoring and poor oxygen uptake during sleep can result in heavy strains on your heart and make you tired during the day. And then you may find that napping becomes necessary, which I would recommend getting checked out.
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. 🙂
There are so many people I would like to meet that are doing amazing work. In general, I just love learning from other people working to push the science in health care and can talk at ends about what can be done to make preventative health care more accessible to everyone worldwide.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Head over to @drkverneland on Instagram and to drkverneland.com
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!