TV often trivialises important issues

Last week I unwittingly became part of that. It’s a more complex issue so here is a more complete picture behind the scenes …

Channel 7 Sunrise approached me because they had heard about the $2 tape that helps people to get a better nights sleep.

They came to my surgery on Wednesday to film an interview, for a story last Friday. I pointed out the issue of sleep was more complicated than that, so they proceeded to film me answering some questions about sleeping and breathing. I was with them for a longer time but obviously, they can only show a small percentage of that.

I want to ensure everyone has all the information in context so I’m sharing this. I knew the segment would be short so I kept my responses to camera short, and it went something like this ….

* Why is sleep important?

Sleep is the most important part of your day. It’s your very own built-in life-support system. It helps build physical, mental and emotional resilience and positively effects every health measure. It’s been described as the ‘Swiss army knife of healthcare.

* 3 key questions we routinely ask our patients.

1. Is it easy for you to fall asleep? ( it should take 20-30 mins max).

2. Do you wake up at night to go to the bathroom?(there are many reasons for this but disordered breathing is one).

3. Most importantly, do you wake up refreshed? ( the consistent answer should be, yes).

* What is a good nights sleep?

A consistently good nights sleep is a function of quantity and quality. For 95% of the adult population that means 7-9 hours per night. As far as quality is concerned that is about how well you breathe while you sleep.

* What does breathing well mean?

There’s a difference between just breathing and breathing well. Breathing helps balance our body chemistry (acid/alkali) by balancing carbon dioxide in our lungs. Breathing slowly and gently is important.

Using the nose: Noses Are for breathing, mouths are for feeding. Noses warm humidify and filter the air before we take it into our lungs. Nasal breathing promotes nitric oxide production which improves circulation throughout the body and is an important body regulator. Using your diaphragm means you use more of your lungs, massages your internal organs and is good for your pelvic floor.

Listen: Dr. Ron Ehrlich interviews Roger Price. Post continues after audio.

* What if I can’t breathe through my nose?

Use the micropore tape diagnostically to see if your nose is really blocked. When you do this, there are 3 possibilities

  1. Your nose is not blocked.
  2. You thought your nose was blocked but once you put the tape on and the body chemistry was more balanced, your nose unblocked.
  3. Your nose is blocked so you may have a food sensitivity, be sensitive to household dust mite or mould or have a structural problem. You need to seek help from an integrative doctor, building biologist or ENT. )

* …. and finally if your nose is not blocked then using Micropore tape at night to promote nasal breathing may help with a better nights sleep.

This has been part of many breathing retraining courses including Buteyko and there is some interesting research emerging to support its use. here is the article

I have used it for many years as have many patients and found it helps sleep quality a lot.

Unfortunately, the Sunrise program only really made a story out of the last point. “a $2 piece of tape that guarantees a perfect nights sleep”….. ‘guarantee’ is a big claim and would be better to substitute that for ‘may help’. I’ll ask them to make the change.

I was disappointed that the more complete story wasn’t edited in, but it’s a reminder to me how media often deals with complex issues, and a reminder to me to be far more careful in what I agree to be part of.

I hope this clears up any confusion.

Be well,

Dr Ron.