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How To Get Better Sleep As You Age, with Dr. Shane Creado

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

Recent studies have found that your hormone levels play a major role in regulating your melatonin levels, thus helping you get a good night’s sleep. So how can improve your sleep health as you age? In the final episode of a series with sleep specialist Dr. Shane Creado, he and the Amens give you some helpful tips to help you stabilize your circadian rhythms to sleep soundly through the night, no matter your age.

For more on Dr. Creado’s new book, “Peak Sleep Performance for Athletes” visit: https://www.amazon.com/Peak-Sleep-Performance-Athletes-Cutting-edge-ebook/dp/B085YFP9YW

For more on Dr. Creado’s online course, “Overcoming Insomnia”, visit: https://brainmd.com/overcoming-insomnia-course

Read Full Transcript

Daniel Amen, MD:

Welcome to the Brain Warrior’s Way podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel. Amen.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And I’m Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.

Daniel Amen, MD:

The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.

Welcome back. We are still here with our friends and colleague Dr. Shane Creado one of our Amen Clinics doctors, amazing doctor, also a sleep specialist. So you’re board certified in sleep medicine, correct?

Shane Creado, MD:

Yes, that’s right.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And the course, I love the course about sleep that we have on Amen University.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Overcoming insomnia.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Yes. And your book is amazing. So-

Shane Creado, MD:

Thank you.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Sleep Performance: The Cutting Edge Sleep Science That Will Guarantee a Competitive Advantage. He also helped us develop, Put Me To Sleep. I just love, I think one of the best supplements we’ve ever designed. We actually have a special going on with Put Me To Sleep and Happy Saffron. And I don’t know if I told you about we’re starting a new study on female sexual function and Happy Saffron because we now have four testimonials that it’s basically Viagra for women. So we’ll see. That’s why you have to do these studies. In this episode, we’re going to talk about middle-aged people, hormones and insomnia. What can you do? And-

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Besides progesterone, I would be on the evening news if I did not take progesterone, but not everybody can take it.

Daniel Amen, MD:

So what many people don’t know is… People think of 50 and menopause, but about 10 years before women go into menopause-

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

[inaudible [00:02:22].

Daniel Amen, MD:

Progesterone starts to wean. Progesterone is the brain’s natural Valium and it calms things down but women don’t know that it’s the progesterone issue. And so they start drinking more alcohol as a way to manage it.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Because you’re agitated.

Daniel Amen, MD:

They go to the family doctor and end up on an SSRI, an antidepressant, or they’re taking Xanax or they’re getting a prescription for Ambien to help them sleep. And I know, Shane, you’re a really big fan of Ambien.

Shane Creado, MD:

Hardly.

Daniel Amen, MD:

It’s so funny. The pain doctors are not fans of opiates and the sleep doctors are not fans of the most commonly prescribed sleeping pills. What is this?

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Because they know, [inaudible [00:03:24].

Daniel Amen, MD:

No. It’s just like-

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Ambien made me depressed.

Daniel Amen, MD:

… knowing the research is not getting to the primary care physicians.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Not only was I going through my divorce and I couldn’t sleep. I was very anxious and agitated. The doctor gave me Ambien. I took it for two nights and I realized it was making me super depressed and teary, emotional. I was like, “What is happening right now?” It was very weird.

Shane Creado, MD:

The benzodiazepines that are used for sleep can increase your risk of dementia and it’s like medicating with alcohol. The over the counter sleep medications can increase the risk of dementia again because of the anticholinergic properties and worsen restless leg syndrome, cause weight gain, which leads to more risk of sleep apnea and further insomnia. So all those meds are just prescribed without really understanding the underlying biology and how it damages people’s brains and health in the longterm, which is what’s so tragic about the whole thing.

Daniel Amen, MD:

So what can people do? And I imagine, although I don’t know this for sure, so this is a question, when testosterone starts to go low, because it also starts to go low in your 40s, does it affect sleep?

Shane Creado, MD:

Testosterone is an anabolic hormone. It helps you build muscle. And when you are sleep deprived, your testosterone levels will decrease. Studies have shown that men who get less than six hours of sleep at night, the testosterone levels are equivalent to someone 10 years older than them. So if you’re 40, you’ll have testosterone levels like the guy who’s in his 50s. If you’re 50, testosterone levels of someone in their 60s or 70s.

So testosterone levels will reduce and estrogen progesterone levels too. So actually being chronically sleep deprived will bring on earlier menopause in people and cause further hormonal disruptions. And not only that, cortisol levels will increase. Stress hormone levels will increase. Everything you consume will turn into fat. And we know the fat cells in our body convert testosterone to estrogen, which further fuels weight gain.

The hormone leptin, which regulates your appetite is disrupted and you’ll have more needs to consume calories. So you’ll feel hungrier, you’ll gain more weight. It will cause further sleep fragmentation. So testosterone levels will decrease if you get chronically less sleep but the good news is, if we use external factors to synchronize our rhythms better the older we get, we can keep and maintain those hormone levels. We can reduce inflammation and we can boost our outcomes.

The older you get, more sleep problems you will have because you’ll have more pain syndromes, more weight gain, higher risk of sleep apnea, more inflammation. People are on medications, more and more medications, which cause further sleep disruptions depending on what those medicines are. And in the elderly, if they have eye problems or cataracts, it might affect their circadian rhythm, the light and the melatonin response.

So providing things like a good quality supplement that helps heal the brain rather than sabotage the brain like Put Me To Sleep or light therapy in the morning to suppress the melatonin and get you ready for the day and improve your energy, having regular sleep schedules, whatever they might be, that’s going to really be very important in maintaining those gains.

So yeah, people assume sleep fragmentation is a natural consequence of aging. It does not have to be that way because we’ve seen on SPECT images, people are sleep deprived. The same areas that are affected in chronic dementia are also affected. So if you do get better quality sleep and maintain it, it’s one of the best modifiable strategies to prevent dementia in the longterm too.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

If I’m hearing you correctly, it’s sort of a vicious circle. Your sleep is affected by your hormones, but then that affects your hormones and your weight, which then affects your sleep.

Shane Creado, MD:

Exactly.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Correct? Yeah.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And so what can women do? I mean for men too, but menopause, perimenopause, hot flashes, sleep disruption. So you could work with one of our integrative doctors with bio identical hormone replacement. But from your standpoint as a sleep physician, you’re dealing with someone 40, 50, they’re not sleeping, they have hot flashes. What do you recommend?

Shane Creado, MD:

50% of them will have middle of the night wakenings, around one quarter of them will have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. So what do I recommend? Fixed wake up times, fixed bed times. If you can’t fall asleep within 20 minutes or so, get out of bed, read a boring book, calm your brain down, then get back to the bed. Keep your wake up time same time every day because even if you woke up in the middle of the night and you’re partially sleep deprived, by the time night comes around the next day, you’ll want to go to sleep on time and your brain will be making up for that lost time. So you slowly start consolidating your sleep and your wake cycles.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

So I know we’ve talked before about keeping the room cool for me at this stage where the hormones are wacky and can’t stand it. And then on top of that, having high thyroid. So I have to keep the room at like 68, 69. So he has to dress like a polar bear to go to sleep, but it really helps my sleep a lot. And I know there are things, cooling blankets and things like that, that I’ve heard a lot of women say just are lifesavers.

Daniel Amen, MD:

What about cooling pillows? That’s a thing, right?

Shane Creado, MD:

I haven’t heard of cooling pillows, that should [crosstalk [00:00:09]:21].

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

[inaudible [00:09:23].

Daniel Amen, MD:

Yeah. No, I’ve heard of them. Well, this is just so helpful. And any other tips before we leave our second go round and sleep week?

Shane Creado, MD:

Just start working on it now. If you don’t have a sleep problem, now is when you consolidate your sleep and maintain it so that you reduce the risk of developing a sleep problem. And if you do, it’s going to be less severe and you’ll know what you need to do to boost your sleep. So just as we work with our athletes and nutrition and mental conditioning coaching and training, we need to work with every single person on sleep optimization, whether or not you think you have a sleep problem. So that it’s going to be one of the best buffers against sleep problems in the future, boosting work performance and maintaining your mental health.

Daniel Amen, MD:

So I just had this crazy idea that we should actually do one month for each of the 11 bright minds risk factors, because clearly we should have a month focus on sleep. It is so important, but all of the risk factors are important. And if you don’t sleep, you have lower blood flow to your brain. So that’s the B in bright minds. It prematurely ages your brain. That’s the, R, retirement and aging. It increases inflammation in your body. It turns off 700 health promoting genes. So the G is genetics. If you don’t sleep, you’re much more likely to have a head injury. You’ll be more likely to consume toxic products like alcohol and marijuana, because your decision making will be poor. You’ll have more mental health issues. You have more diabesity, it turns off your hormones.

Basically, if you don’t sleep, it affects all of the bright minds risk factors and so please, if you’re having trouble sleep, pick up Shane’s book Peak Sleep Performance, you can get it on Amazon. We’ll have the link on The Brain Warrior’s Way website, his course overcoming insomnia. If you struggled with it and it just hasn’t worked, please don’t take Ambien, take the course. And he’s also the co-creator of Put Me To Sleep the supplement at BrainMD. Shane, we loved you.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Such a pleasure.

Daniel Amen, MD:

We love having you part of our family. We are just so grateful for our friendship and collaboration. Thank you so much for being on The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast. And if you learn something from Dr. Creado, please post it on any of your social media sites. Take a picture of that and send it to us. Also, leave us a comment, question or review on www.brainwarriorswaypodcast.com. We’ll enter you into a drawing for either a copy of The End of Mental Illness or The Brain Warrior’s Way cookbook. We just went over 8 million downloads for The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast. We are so grateful to all of you who listen and share.

Shane Creado, MD:

Thank you so much for having me. It’s always a pleasure and hope to see both of you soon.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Same.

Daniel Amen, MD:

All right, my friend. Bless you.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

If you’re enjoying The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe so you’ll always know when there’s a new episode and while you’re at it, feel free to give us a review or five star rating as that helps others find the podcast.

Daniel Amen, MD:

If you’re considering coming to Amen Clinics or trying some of the brain healthy supplements from BrainMD, you can use the code podcast 10 to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at amenclinics.com or a 10% discount on all supplements at brainmdhealth.com. For more information, give us a call at 855-978-1363.