By Dr. George Moricz

If you’re feeling groggier these days, it could be due to the spring arrival of daylight saving time.

The extra hour of daylight after work is great for the active Southwest Florida lifestyle. For many of us, though, losing that extra hour of sleep creates real problems with sleep deprivation.

Most of us know all too well that not getting enough sleep affects our energy level, even our mental comprehension.

Sustained sleep deprivation can also contribute to a host of other health problems, from memory loss and behavioral problems to increased risk of diabetes, coronary disease and even breast cancer.

With the time change still fresh, Naples Center for Functional Medicine visited ABC7 in Southwest Florida to discuss how to sleep right, every night – and feel 10 years younger every day. A transcript of that conversation follows:

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ABC7: So over the weekend, we all sprung forward in time. Daylight saving time is always a little difficult. Maybe you’re feeling a little tired still from losing an hour, but losing that extra hour of sleep creates real problems with our sleep and our health. This morning, we have Dr. George Moricz from the Naples Center for Functional Medicine back in the studio, getting us some more (information) on how we can get better sleep and feel younger hopefully while doing so. Thank you so much for being here.

Moricz: I appreciate it, Jen. Thank you.

ABC7: This is a subject that’s near and dear to your heart. You’re well aware as an M.D. about the problems with sleep and how it can affect you overall, not just mentally.

Moricz: Yes, and it personally affected me. Years ago, people used to ask me, “How is it that someone who had six years of poor sleep, what did I do about that? Six years of poor sleep made me rethink everything I learned in medical school.

ABC7: Ah, okay, so what changes did you make?

Moricz: Well, I had to save me – not out of selfishness, but self-interest. As a doctor at the peak of my success, behind all the smiles and happy moments of delivering babies, I was devastated by debilitating exhaustion.

ABC7: Oh my gosh. So you’re smiling through it and working through it.

Moricz: And I was pretty much enjoying what I did. But I had to figure it out. I had to overcome this adversity and so fast-forward. I took the little energy I had and I traveled the country and met with researchers. And I pretty much cracked the formula on what I think would help most people.

ABC7: OK, you piqued my interest. What exactly did you find out, because I love that it’s coming from you, a doctor who obviously has a very stressful job, and you somehow were able to find a balance.

Moricz: Well, what happened when I was suffering with sleep. So first of all, you have to have the opportunity to sleep. So any of our viewers, you know, you need the possibility of sleeping. But if you have the opportunity and you can’t get to sleep or you wake up in the night and you feel unrefreshed, well you may have a sleep problem. So what I had to figure out is how the sleep chemistry of the brain works.

Think of it like an orchestra – you have a conductor, and you have musicians. And what I was figuring out was that everything on the market was pretty much trying to play with a few chemicals to sedate you, but never get you into deep sleep.

Then I was able to crack the code on the musicians – the sleep chemicals in the brain. And then I started understanding, “Well, there’s certain conductors, there’s certain hormones and peptides that release them.” So I came up with my Ultimate Sleep Solution. I came up with a product after a lot of work. I know, first of all, it fixed me, and then I started helping my patients.

And if you really look at sleep disruption, it’s probably the cause of most disease. Whether it’s your immune system, whether it’s your metabolism, so all these people suffering out there, especially in the daytime, whether you’re munching on carbohydrates, using stimulants, 5-hour energy drinks… I mean, that’s really what it is.

But interestingly, when women came to me, you know, they started realizing it may have something to do with their beauty.

ABC7: Ah, okay, so beauty sleep is a thing?

Dr. Moricz speaking in an ABC7 interview

Moricz: The great screen actress Sophia Lauren said that sleep is essential for natural beauty, happiness, health and is critical for beautiful skin.

ABC7: Okay, and she certainly nailed that.

Moricz: And what she sort of understood was that there’s a function of sleep. So sleep is restorative – it restores your body. There’s a detoxification process that goes on. And then there’s things that we call elasticity in the brain.

In other words, memory, cognition – your computer, our computer resets itself, OK? So when people come in, they say in the daytime they’re sleepy, or they forget or, you know, their alertness is not off. You know, probably some of the processing in the brain is not right. I mean, there’s risks to that. And the worst example are people who do shift work night work.

You know, I’ve had pilots and newscasters, yeah. They wake up, they get up at 4 and they’re doing their work. And so anyway, I created a guide, which we’ll make available to our viewers, “From Beauty Sleep to Sleeping Beauty,” and you know, it’s all the things that I took and I’ve been using.

By the way, there are 70 million sleep sufferers in America – and probably the number’s underestimated since COVID. With the obesity epidemic, we know there’s disruption at night.

ABC7: It not only affects you physically, it affects your relationships, it affects everything surrounding you. What do you do if you have a stressful job or you are a shift worker and you’re not able to get that consecutive sleep or maybe, you know, your sleep isn’t being respected or allowed to happen?

Moricz: So the extremes are like what we know as phase or jet lag, when you’re speeding through time zones, but your internal clock doesn’t adjust. So you mentioned earlier our, you know, our savings times change as well. There’s the light day and then there’s the dark night and the back of the eye is sensitive to it. Animals like pets, you know, they’re even more sensitive around 9 p.m. They all seem to try to go to sleep. We’ve lost some of that connection in our evolution of our brain. So there needs to be some kind of sleep hygiene. So I usually start with people. If you’re going to bed at 11 or later, it’s very hard to help people with sleep.

ABC7: Does the sleep have to be consecutive? I mean, does it have to be you know, six hours all at once?

Moricz: So the studies show that if you’re on the extremes of very little sleep or too much sleep, there’s risk with it. The average is about seven hours, OK? And it depends a little bit on the quality of the sleep – so we have quantity and quality.

And as you get into the deep cycles of sleep, see every 90-120 minutes you go through these cycles, four or five of them, and it changes as we age chronologically. So what I tried to do is reset that, so you can get some kind of a sleep hygiene that gets you to bed on time and then correct the deficiencies that are not allowing you to sleep and that’s what I do in my customized, individualized work in functional medicine.

ABC7: So how can we get in touch with you? I know everybody’s going to want the guide – I know I do. Yeah, how can they get in touch with you and get that resource?

Moricz: When they call the number below, Naples Center for Functional Medicine, be sure that to mention that they saw us today talking about “From Beauty Sleep to Sleeping Beauty,” the sleep guide, and basically, we’ll show them how they can create their very own sleep supplement, customized for themselves. So they should request that. And once they register, we’ll get them a copy.

ABC7: Awesome. Thank you so much, Dr. Moricz. We really appreciate it always when you come in – very insightful. And I think about what I need to do when I leave here. We appreciate it. We’ll put a link as well on our website, which is ABC-7.com

As always, consult with your physician prior to making any substantial lifestyle, health or nutritional changes.

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Get on your way to better sleep today!

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