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How Did You Sleep?

Honolulu Neuroscience Can Help You Sleep Better!

Like talking about the weather or sports, asking, “how’d you sleep?” is a common question for friends and family. The answers are typically “like a log” or “tossing and turning.” Unfortunately, if someone is having trouble sleeping, these off-handed comments aren’t very helpful for understanding what’s going on.

Fortunately, Dr. Michael Russo, founder of the Honolulu Neuroscience Clinic, has devoted much of his life to the study and treatment of sleep disorders. He has three locations: Hilo, Kailua-Kona and his Honolulu office, which is the site for the Stanford Satellite Sleep Research Center. The quality of sleep is vital to our overall health and there are many factors that contribute to it. There are also conditions and disorders that rob us of the restorative properties that sleep provides.

An individual’s requirements for sleep will vary, but on average adults should get between seven and nine hours each night. Some qualities to look for are:

  • The amount of time it takes to fall asleep – 15 to 20 minutes from lying down is good
  • Sleep is continuous; if waking occurs, sleep returns quickly
  • There is a sense of feeling refreshed when waking
  • Awake time is typically alert and productive
  • People observing a sleeper have not reported snoring, pauses in breathing or restlessness

Dr. Russo wants everyone to experience restful, regenerative sleep and offers the following three aspects to consider when trying to improve sleep quality.

Environment – Having a tranquil environment is imperative. Noise, light, temperature and bedding can all play a role.


  1. Keep the room cool. A cooler room is best, but not cold, since trying to stay warm can interrupt sleep.
  2. Make the room dark. Exposure to light is a trigger for wakefulness. Making the room dark and avoiding the glow of electronics will help.
  3. Check bedding for wear and tear. A mattress should provide support and comfort. If it has lumps and sags, it may be time to replace it. Taking the time to find just the right level of support and comfort can make a world of difference.
  4. Shhh! Keep it quiet. The brain processes sound during sleep. For this reason, avoid sleeping with the television or radio on. Incorporating white noise can also help to provide an undisturbed environment.

Pain – Experiencing pain during the night results in poor quality sleep since it leads to staying in lighter stages and prevents reaching deeper levels of rest. It also leads to being more easily awakened during the night. People who experience chronic pain can also be affected by environmental factors—therefore correcting the environment can be helpful.


  1. Make sleep a priority
  2. Eliminate or limit caffeine
  3. Limit alcohol intake, particularly in the evening
  4. Incorporate relaxation techniques or guided meditation

Stress – Signs of stress include being unable to quiet the mind, having tense muscles or a racing heart. Being stressed-out makes achieving and maintaining sleep difficult. Even if sleep is achieved, deep restorative rest may not happen. Stress creates a vicious cycle, since lack of sleep adds to stress which adds to lack of sleep. To be able to fall asleep, the mind and body need to relax.

Recommendations: Bedtime rituals can help signal that it’s time to get some rest.

  • Avoid stressful topics before turning in
  • Take a warm bath
  • Have a cup of caffeine-free herbal tea
  • Listen to relaxing music
  • Practice meditation

The National Sleep Foundation has designated the week of March 11-17 as Sleep Awareness Week. Take this time to make getting a good night’s rest a priority.

Anyone that wants help with a sleep problem can contact Honolulu Neuroscience Clinic at 808-294-3332 to arrange a consultation.

Three Locations: 250 Ward Ave., Ste. 170, Honolulu; 1335 Kalanianaole Ave., Hilo; West Hawaii Community Health Center Kealakehe, 74-5214 Keanalehu Dr., Kailua-Kona. For more information, call 808-294-3332, or email Admin@HawaiiPacificDEEG.com. Also visit HawaiiSleepNeurologist.com.



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