Dr. W. Chris Winter, MD, renowned sleep specialist, author of The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How To Fix It, and founder of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine (cvilleneuroandsleep.com), delivers a delightfully interesting overview of humans and our sleep patterns, including some practical advice on how to fix our sleep problems.
Dr. Winter knows sleep, so much so that celebrated journalist and media personality Arianna Huffington dubbed him “The Sleep Whisperer.” With over twenty five years in the field, Dr. Winter has been fully devoted to assisting people, helping them attain better sleep via his clinic, as well as private and/or group consultations. Dr. Winter is an in-demand sleep expert who has been contracted by professional athletes and noted personalities all over to assist with sleep, which is vital for our good health. His book, The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How To Fix It received rave reviews around the globe, considered by many to be an extremely helpful guide to understanding sleep and figuring out how to correct sleep issues. The book received the sought-after accolade badges of ‘#1 New Release’ and ‘#1 Best Seller’ for sleep books on Amazon.
Dr. Winter discusses his early interest in sleep research that developed back during his undergraduate days. From university sleep studies, to studies centering on circadian rhythms and light, to how sleep affects astronauts traveling to Mars, etc., there are so many possible areas of study, diverse and interesting, and Dr. Winter states he has great interest in all of them.
Dr. Winter acknowledges that insomnia is not really an inability to sleep, but in fact is a state of hyperarousal or hyper fear. Patients with insomnia, as Dr. Winter explains, have a sense of this hyperarousal or fear as they move closer to the time for sleep. They may doubt their ability to sleep or feel aggravated, and worry about the possibility that they will simply just lie there and not experience sleep. However, biologically speaking, insomnia is theoretically impossible, for the body will force sleep onto individuals, at least 5 or 6 hours per 24-hour cycle. Dr. Winter speaks about reframing the problem from a different perspective in order to solve it, and he details the various types of so-called insomnia that people report. Regarding insomnia, Dr. Winter explains that there has been an exponential explosion of writing on the subject of neuroscience and the importance of sleep. He discusses the current high-energy world we live in and how it impacts our sleep, and our ability to get the kind of sleep we need.
Dr. Winter discusses the media’s understanding of sleep issues and how there is a lot of confusion out there regarding the subject. And he states that many of us don’t truly understand how we sleep or have a sense of the kind of sleep we are getting. The sleep doctor states that consistency is what our brains enjoy most, so the idea that everyone needs to sleep from 11pm to 7am is fallacy. Regardless of our sleep schedule, as long as it is consistent and regular, the brain can process that in a healthy way. It is the constant changing of sleep schedule, such as staying up late some nights, but going to bed early others, and doing that on and on, that can create a problem.
The sleep expert talks about the importance of understanding how we feel each day, to get a sense of how sleep is impacting our overall feeling. He discusses fatigue and why it is different from sleepiness. Thus the concept of ‘more sleep’ is not the answer; fatigue is the issue often. He cites specific examples from the many people he has helped, and discusses how some are simply given drugs by their physicians to help them sleep, but that the problem is not being addressed at its core. And he debunks many of the trendy sleep theories that do not follow scientific findings.
Dr. Winter outlines ways that people can take 20 or 30 minute rest opportunities during their days. Putting away the devices, turning out the lights, and finding a horizontal position are the basic steps toward inserting a rest break into our day. And as Dr. Winter states, whether you sleep or just lie there during these breaks, it doesn’t necessarily matter, for it is still a period of relaxation in which you are giving your body an opportunity to sleep if it wants to.
The sleep doctor relates some of the book reviews he has received, and how even the occasional bad review is something he appreciates, for his expectation is that those reviewers might mention his book to their doctor and that will start a dialogue that just might get them on a track to finding better sleep in their lives.
Dr. Winter is board-certified by the American Board of Sleep Medicine. Additionally, he is board-certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (under the American Board of Medical Specialties) specifically as a sleep medicine subspecialist. And he is a prominent member of multiple sleep and sleep research societies, and respected groups. Dr. Winter is an Echols Scholar graduate of the prestigious, University of Virginia and received his medical degree from Emory University. Upon graduation, Dr. Winter completed his neurology residency at the University of Virginia. As Chief Resident, he won a national American Academy of Neurology Teaching Award. Finally, Dr. Winter completed his Sleep Medicine fellowship at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.