Manhattan Beach’s Michael Breus, PhD, wants you to get a good night’s sleep

The ABC’s of zzz.

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  • Written by
    Laura L. Watts
  • Collaged by
    Christine Georgiades

Michael Breus, PhD, knows the benefits of sleep. As a clinical psychologist with a specialty in sleep disorders, Dr. Breus has been published in numerous medical and psychology journals, has given hundreds of presentations to professionals and the general public, and has made extensive media appearances on TV shows like Oprah, Today, The Doctors, CBS This Morning and The Dr. Oz Show, where he is on the clinical advisory board. He has written several books and writes The Insomnia Blog at Dr. Breus has been in private practice for 16 years.

We checked in with the Sleep Doc to learn about his lifestyle in the South Bay and why we all need our beauty rest.

Tell us about life in the South Bay.

I live in Manhattan Beach, and everyone here is unbelievably nice. My wife and I moved here just a little over three years ago from Scottsdale, Arizona, with our two kids. We have made some great friends and hope to make more. We love being near the ocean, and we walk our dogs there regularly. I usually run on The Strand weekly as well. We spend our time volunteering at our kids’ school (Chadwick), and we like going out to dinner in Downtown Manhattan Beach (Pitfire Pizza, Izaka-ya, Gelato and Angels, Simmzy’s and Homie are our favorites).

What do you do to maintain your own health?

I run—usually a 5k two or three times a week—and work out for about an hour with my trainer at Afterburn Fitness after the run. I also watch my food and try to eat as clean as possible, but nothing too crazy. (I still love gelato!)

Was there an experience that led you to choose clinical sleep medicine?

I have been a sleep specialist for my entire 20-year career. I was on my third day of residency training on a sleep lab rotation, and we had gotten up extra early (which was kinda normal) to go in and read the sleep studies before people woke up. I remember feeling a little anxious about talking to the patients since it was only my third day. I distinctly remember walking into the room of an elderly gentleman who had just tried CPAP [continuous positive airway pressure therapy for sleep apnea] for the first time. He turned around with a HUGE smile on his face and said it was “a miracle” that he slept well and woke up feeling like himself again. I heard that same story during that rotation at least 100 times, and I was hooked.

How many hours of sleep do we need nightly?

This is different for everyone. This can be based on age, genetics, medical history and medications. Your job or lifestyle may determine the timing of your sleep (for example, if you are a shift worker, stay-at-home mom, etc.). I have created a “Bedtime Calculator” available for free on my website:

Is the biggest challenge falling asleep or staying asleep?

Insomnia has not just one but several symptoms: trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, experiencing unrestful or unrefreshing sleep, waking too early.

In what specific ways can lack of sleep be harmful for us?

Emotionally: We all know that lack of sleep makes you irritable, short-tempered and testy. Sleep deprivation also makes you more emotionally reactive. You have a more negative outlook. You worry more about the future.

Physically: Sleep deprivation can also interfere with your physical health. You gain weight because sleep deprivation causes changes to hormones that regulate hunger and appetite and changes what foods you’re most interested in eating—creating more intense cravings for fat and sugar-laden foods. Your risk for accident and injury goes through the roof. You don’t heal as quickly from illness and injury. You look and feel older. I call sleep nature’s Botox.

Can sleep deprivation hurt my relationship?

I’ve saved more marriages as a sleep specialist than I ever would have as a marital therapist—just by getting people to sleep better. When you’re not getting enough sleep, you have less sex. You feel less connected to—and thankful for—your partner. Attending to the core problems that are leading couples to consider sleeping apart would result in better sleep—and more sex.

Do you recommend sleep supplements?

I have my own line of supplements that I recently launched called Active Sleep Booster—a proprietary blend formulated with years of experience and research history, infused with 200mg of hemp-derived CBD. It is as easy as three to seven sprays under your tongue as you head to bed in a convenient oral spray to fall asleep and stay asleep.

5 Tips for Better Sleep

  1. Know your bedtime and stick to one sleep schedule.
  2. Eliminate all caffeine starting at 2 p.m.
  3. No alcohol within three hours of bedtime.
  4. Stop exercising four hours before bed.
  5. Get outside in the sun every morning for 15 minutes.