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Rafael Pelayo: How to get a good night’s sleep

A sleep expert offers insight into why so many of us are not getting enough zzz’s, what the consequences are and, above all, how we can sleep better.

An unmade bed by a window with the blinds half open

What are the consequence of losing so much sleep? | Unsplash/Mitchell Griest

COVID-19 is changing how many scientists, like Stanford sleep expert Rafael Pelayo, MD, view their field.

First off, the shift to telemedicine is providing Pelayo, author of the new book How to Sleep, an unprecedented glimpse into the sleep environments of his patients. “I’m making house calls for the first time,” he says.

Second, surprisingly, some of his patients, unburdened of long commutes, say they are sleeping and dreaming more than ever. But, others are not so fortunate, reporting increased trouble sleeping and more nightmares. Pandemic-induced or not, the consequences of lost sleep are universal and readily apparent in the country’s diminished productivity, in the rates of stroke, heart attacks and car accidents, and in the pervasive irritable mood many can’t seem to escape.

To get a better night’s sleep, Pelayo says, put the screens away, consider that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine if you snore (it could save your life, he says), and find a way to create a personal sleep environment even if you share a bed with someone you love.

Join us as Rafael Pelayo and our host, Stanford bioengineer, Russ Altman, talk sleep on this episode of Stanford Engineering’s The Future of Everything podcast. Listen here, and subscribe to the podcast here.