How A Leading Sleep Doctor Winds Down For Bed Every Night
As you will see from my nightly schedule, my sleep routine is very regimented. Discipline and consistency are two big factors for me, but there is a second part of sleep that is equally important: acceptance.
I can do literally everything correctly, and I still may not get a great night's sleep based on factors beyond my control. As an example, when my daughter has something that's upsetting her, I simply don't sleep well. Maybe that's just a parent thing—but there is usually something like that for everyone.
For me, having a general understanding that every night is not going to be perfect will lower any anxiety or pressure I put on myself (which of course would have prevented me from sleeping anyway!). So I follow my disciplined routine, and when or if it doesn't work, I accept it and move on.
I also believe in chronotypes and sleeping based on your genetics (check out this quiz to find out your type), and my sleep journey usually starts when I wake up. Many things I do during the day help set me up for good sleep at night, including daily movement/exercise, waking up at the same time every day without an alarm, daily breathwork and meditation, limiting caffeine, rare alcohol intake, and having a comfortable sleep environment (including a great bed, pillows, sheets, etc.).
- Average hours I sleep a night: 6.5 to 7
- Ideal bedtime: 11:30 p.m.
- Ideal wake-up time: Without an alarm, 6:30 to 7 a.m. with the sun
- Nightstand essentials: Glasses, water, book
- Favorite place I've ever slept: Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur. They have no TVs, a sleep program, amazing beds and sheets, and the temperature is perfect almost all the time... It's where I go to regenerate.
- Sleep bad habit: It doesn't happen regularly, but I do fall asleep on the couch with my dog on occasion
- Caffeine consumption: I don't drink caffeine daily. If I have a cup, it's done by 10:30 to 11 a.m.
- How I track my sleep: Oura ring
- The last product or habit that changed my sleep for the better: I don't change that much, as I have a routine
- The first thing I do when I wake up: Drink 20 oz. of water, give my dogs their medication, and go to the bathroom
6:15 a.m.: Wake up without an alarm, to the sunrise. Then, I take 10 deep breaths, drink 20 oz. of water, give my dogs their meds, and take them outside. While outside, I face the sun to get 5 to 10 minutes of direct sunlight while the dogs do their thing. If it's warm, take off my shoes and feel the earth.
6:45 a.m.: Back inside to feed my dogs
7:15 a.m.: I do a morning meditation for 10 minutes, and I might add the 5 Tibetan Rites. Then I walk dogs. When I come back, I'll play with them for a few minutes.
7:30 a.m.: I dress for the gym and leave the house for my workout.
10 a.m.: I'll take a 20-minute sauna and go about my day.
7 p.m.: If I'm home, this is when I try to finish dinner. Then, I'll watch TV or read until 10:30 or 11:30.
11:30 p.m.: Review my calendar for the next day
11:40 p.m.: Get ready for bed and say what I'm grateful for in my head.
12 a.m.: Lights out
Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., is a Clinical Psychologist and both a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine. He is one of only 168 psychologists in the world to have passed the Sleep Medical Speciality board without going to Medical School. Breus was recently named the Top Sleep Specialist in California by Reader’s Digest, and one of the 10 most influential people in sleep. He is on the clinical advisory board of The Dr. Oz Show and on the show (40 times). His topic of expertise is the science of sleep and peak performance.
Breus is the author of four books with his most recent with co-author Stacey Griffith called Energize: Go from Dragging Ass to Kicking it in 30 days (Dec 2021) This book has a unique program designed to deliver natural energy all day long (without caffeine). His third book The Power of When (September 2016), a No. 1 at Amazon for Time Management and Happiness and No. 28 overall, is a bio-hacking guide book proving that there is a perfect time to do everything, based on your genetic biological chronotype.
Breus has supplied his expertise with both consulting and as a sleep educator (spokesperson) to many brands, and has lectured all over the world for various organizations, hospitals and medical centers, product companies, and more.
For over 14 years he has served as the Sleep Expert for WebMD. He also writes The Insomnia Blog on his website, and can be found regularly on Psychology Today and Sharecare. Breus has been interviewed as an expert resource for major broadcast networks and digital media publications, where he has been interviewed about sleep disorders and sleep hacking for performance.
Breus has been in private practice for 23 years and recently relocated his practice to Manhattan Beach just outside of Los Angeles.