You know people always ask me where do you get your energy from? Like, you’re crazy. You’re all over the place. You’re having a good time. You’re so into it. Honestly, I think I was one of those born educators. I get so much energy from interacting with people. I think that has been kind of my secret weapon if you will, it’s really getting a lot from helping people and kindness.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael J. Breus, PhD at the 2021 Global Wellness Summit in Boston, Massachusetts.

Michael Breus, Ph.D — The Sleep Doctor is a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and one of only 168 psychologists to pass the Sleep Medical Specialty Board without going to medical school. Dr. Breus is a sought after lecturer and his knowledge is shared daily in major national media worldwide including Today, Dr. Oz, Oprah, and for fourteen years as the sleep expert on WebMD.

In his new book “Energize!” Dr. Breus and Stacey Griffith have teamed up to teach you how to get your groove back. Using the scientifically proven core principles of chronobiology and your biological body type, they offer an easy-to-understand, personalized program of small, daily movements, sleeping and fasting on schedule, and mood hacks that will give readers incredible energy, promote happiness, and fight off fatigue for good.

Thank you so much for doing this interview. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Becoming a sleep specialist is certainly a unique pathway that a lot of people don’t get the opportunity to go down. My journey was different than most. So for most people out there who are a sleep specialist, usually they have an MD and then usually they sub-specialize in something like, pulmonology, neurology, cardiology, and then they do a secondary within sleep and sleep disorders.

I took a little bit of a different pathway. So I actually have a PhD in clinical psychology, yet I am medically board certified. So now you’re probably saying to yourself, hold on a second. He just said that he didn’t go to medical school. How did he become medically certified? So I am one of those crazy people who took the medical specialty boards without going to medical school and passed. I’m one of 168 people that have ever actually done that.

And I’ve been actively practicing as a sleep specialist for 23 years and so my path is different. I’m more interested in the whole human. A lot of folks that are in sleep medicine, they just treat sleep apnea, or they just treat narcolepsy and restless legs, things like that. I’m really more interested in the entire human condition and that’s why the PhD in clinical studies made so much sense because we know that psychology has so much to do with our sleep, with our energy, with our focus, with just about everything that we do. So, it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve definitely had some different aspects to my career. I was a cut and dry clinician, 30 patients a day, 15 sleep studies, a night type of thing for about seven or eight years.

Then I was very fortunate. I was in a small company at the time. A much bigger company called WebMD picked me up and I was their sleep specialist for 15 years doing articles, answering questions and then that’s kind of where some of my media came from. If you were early in the days of WebMD, then a lot of people knew you and asked you to be on their shows or asked you to be interviewed and so we did a lot of that. I’ve been very fortunate that the media loves sleep and loves to report about sleep. It’s kind of one of those evergreen topics that’s out there because it seems like nobody’s getting either the quality or the quantity that they’re looking for.

To be really honest with you, right now is one of the most important times I think to be a sleep specialist because so many people are hurting. I mean, not to get too serious, but we’re in the middle of a fricking pandemic and nobody is sleeping well because of it. We’ve seen alcohol consumption is up 21%. Caffeine consumption is up 17%. These are surveys that we did on our website. There’s over a 20% increase in sleeping pills, prescriptions and an antidepressant medication, new prescriptions.

That’s telling, that lets us know that there are people out there who are just not getting the sleep that they need either quantity or quality wise. You’re not just worried about your health anymore. You’re worried about your family. You’re worried about your friends. You’re worried about your boss. You know, like everything is kind of at play now. So I think we’re at a very unique time to be a sleep specialist, especially one that has the good fortune of having friends like you, who are shouting out about the work that we do and getting people to sleep better. So it’s been a great time so far.

What are your “3 things I wish someone told me when I first started my career” and why?

Number one, I wish somebody had told me to take 20% of your paycheck from your first job and stick it into a savings account every single month. That would’ve been awesome. That is one thing I absolutely wish would’ve happened at the beginning of my career.

The second thing would be that it is important to feel like it’s okay to break a few rules. You know, in medicine, you’re always very careful. You don’t want to hurt anybody; do no harm is our number one thing.

But there’s so many new things that are coming out about sleep and sleep medicine these days. I’m excited about some of the new aspects and even though some aren’t necessarily making it through the FDA or things of that nature, there are people who are hurting that we can try things on in a safe way. It’s certainly different than when I first started doing things because everything had to be FDA approved with prescriptions.

As an example, there was no tracking technology. So now I’m telling people it’s okay to track your sleep because then we’ve got more data in a more unique way. So I think some of those aspects are really important.

I guess the third thing that I wish I would’ve learned is to watch myself and to get the sleep that I need. So many of us on the front lines of healthcare have foregone our health to help so many people who are in such need right now. Part of the reason that I wrote the book Energize!: Go from Dragging Ass to Kicking It in 30 Days quite honestly is just before the pandemic, I had a cardiac event. I was burning the candle at too many ends. I was in great shape or so I thought, and all of a sudden I went to a restaurant one day and I was on the floor and it scared the crap out of me, my wife, the two doctors that I happened to be with at the meal. Thankfully there were physicians with me.

When you’re starting out on this path, you never do that. You think, oh, I can work. I can handle it. It’s all going to be good. But make sure you get a good night’s sleep.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

There are several people that I’m very grateful for. The first person I’m grateful for is Dr. Patrick O’Connor. He was my major professor at the University of Georgia who helped me get my PhD. And Dr. Ileana Arias, who is formerly the executive director of the CDC. She and Dr. O’Connor helped get me through graduate school and allowed me to get that PhD.

I have a lot of big thanks to my very first boss, Dr. Tom DeMarini and his practice manager, Linda Scortia. They taught me how to be a doctor. You know, it’s one thing to go to school and get all the learning, but it’s another thing to actually practice and have a wonderful mentor who cares about their patients. So he was a really important person and she was an important person in my life.

And John Walton was a big part of my life. Before John passed, he had asked me to help him run a new sleep company and so we were working together and tragically we’d only been working together for about four months before he passed in a plane crash, believe it or not.

So I’ve had some really interesting people along the way help me out.

Oh, another shout out to Tony Robbins. Tony put me on his stage with 12,000 people in the audience. That was pretty cool. That was certainly a big boost for me. I’ve been very fortunate.

Dr. Mehmet Oz took me under his wing, and had me on his show over 40 times. So I’ve had many what I would call benefactors in my life.

I’m glad you asked about that, because nobody’s actually ever asked me about some of the important people in my life, because it wasn’t all me, brother, not even close. I had lots of people help me out along the way.

Do you have a favorite book or quote that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?

I like Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. During hard times Eckhart had some really great philosophies, but one of my favorite things that I learned from his book was always expect the answer that you don’t want. Always expect the rejection and have something ready for that, and know that’s coming so that you don’t have this big emotional response to it. It just glides past you because you’ve already got three different reasons why that rejection shouldn’t happen to you. I always felt that was one of those things that was really interesting, and impressive.

The only other one I would have to say is, oddly enough, Will Smith but it was a video, not his new book. Will Smith has a really unique take on failure and he talks about how you have to fail in order to learn and you have to fail fast and have a comfort level with failure. I think those two people in particular were very inspirational.

How has wellness played a big role in your life?

After I had that cardiac event, it had to play a big role in my life. So I changed a lot about who I am and what I do.

One of the things I did — I had done this before, but I took it a lot more seriously — I joined a men’s group that I became part of and had an all male influence in my life, which turned out to be really awesome. I’ve learned more spirituality in my men’s group than I would’ve ever imagined. They taught me about meditation. They taught me about breathwork, about consistency in my exercise and so now every single morning I have a routine. I wake up, I spend a little bit of time with my dogs because there’s nothing wrong with a little unconditional love in the morning and then I have four meditations that I do. Then I feed the dogs and then I do breathwork with about 40 guys on Zoom every morning from my men’s group.

So we do a Wim Hof in and out breathing kind of thing. Once I’m done with that, all of the guys wish each other a great day. Then I do my physicality, my exercise, take my cold shower and I’m ready to roll.

Can you share with our readers what innovations you are excited about in the health and wellness industries?

In the area of sleep apnea, there is something brand new called eXciteOSA. This is a unit that you wear on your tongue, as opposed to a mask that you have to wear on your face that nobody likes to do. This is truly revolutionary in the sleep apnea treatment space. It actually helps shrink your tongue by a very small amount to keep open up your airway.

There’s another really cool innovation that I like, it’s called Napjitsu. Believe it or not. I know that sounds like a crazy one, but this is really cool. So this is a group that has a napping product. So it’s two pills. You take one and it helps you fall asleep for about 25 minutes. It’s got a little magnolia bark, a little valerian in it, not nothing too sedative.

Oura Ring I would argue is also another good one. They’ve really innovated by using the ring form factor to get us much more accurate data. Now we ‘ve actually been doing head to head studies and they’re actually ahead of almost everybody in terms of accuracy. So for folks out there who are interested in sleep tracking, that’s been very innovative.

I could go on and on, like, I’ve got 10 more I could list for you because sleep is such a new discipline that we see new research coming out all the time, which makes it really interesting.

Some of the interesting data we now know is that sleep affects your ability to lose weight or gain weight. A lot of people didn’t know that and that’s hyper innovative. We’ve got all kinds of things, but I will tell you the most innovative thing that I’ve seen lately is my book Energize!: Go from Dragging Ass to Kicking It in 30 Days.

As you know, COVID-19 changed the world as we know it. Can you share some examples of how health and wellness companies will be adjusting?

It’s been quite interesting to start to look at that number. A lot of people don’t have people at work anymore, right? So just not having that work environment is a huge adjustment and I think a lot of companies are starting to look at ideas like how do we teach people how to have a home office that doesn’t take over their whole life?

So many people are like, well, my home office is the kitchen table and my laptop, and it can always be on and I can always be working and quite honestly, that’s just not healthy. I know that companies are looking into new, innovative ways to help teach people when it’s time to work and when it is time to not work. I know that’s something that’s big.

Also another thing people are talking more about is sleep. So many companies are talking about things like how do we look for better health for our employees; sleep is really an important aspect to do that with. One of the companies that I work with called Timeshifter has created an app for 24 hour shift workers. So people who work the night shift, how do you deal with all of the problems that come from that.

I guess that might fall into that category of innovations, but also falls into the category of new stuff that seems to be going on in the healthcare space where companies are now adopting this because they realize people who are working that third shift are unhealthy, have higher rates of cancer, higher depression, all of these issues. Companies are now really keying in on how to make that work.

Then of course sleep is probably the biggest influence to your immune system that you could possibly have, so lots of companies are coming to me saying, Hey, Michael, how do how do we tell our customers about better sleep? How do we get better sleep? Because we all want to survive through this.

In my work as a Board Certified Wellness Coach who caters to the cancer survivor community, I have found the theme of “second chances” to be a powerful motivator. What keeps your spirit still firing?

That’s a great question. You know people always ask me “where do you get your energy from?” Like, you’re crazy. You’re all over the place. You’re having a good time. You’re so into it.

Honestly, I think I was one of those born educators. I get so much energy from interacting with people. I think that has been kind of my secret weapon if you will. It’s really getting a lot from helping people and kindness.

You know, one of the things we talk about in the book Energize! is what you do when there’s an emotional vampire in your life? These are the people that kind of suck you dry from your energy. So one of the things that I teach people about is kindness, this is a great energy sucker solution.

Two other big things that I like to talk about with people are laughter and music. If you want to really turn your energetic component around and do it fast, you can’t think of a better way to do it than your playlist. I have a playlist called the “new funky.” So every time I feel like I’m in a lower funk, like in a downward spiral, I play the “new funky” and literally in 30 seconds, I’m bopping around having a good time. So I think the way to keep your energy up and to keep yourself moving and going is to know your low energy times and know when you’re gonna have those with certain people or certain situations and have some solutions in your back pocket that you can utilize to avoid them.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Well, with the very nature of what I do. I help people sleep and I would argue that probably one step closer to world peace, is world sleep. I have a theory that if for one night, if everybody got a good sleep, can you imagine how cool the world would be the next day? Like if nobody was cranky, everybody got a good sleep and everybody was charged and ready to go. That’s the goal.

So, for me, I feel confident that by educating, by helping people sleep, writing things like my new book Energized! I feel like that’s really how I’m contributing to the wellness of the world which really needs it right now.

I’m not alone in this pursuit. I have thousands of sleep researchers and sleep doctors around the world who are with me in this fight to educate and get people more interested in sleep.

How can our readers follow you online?

I’m super easy to find online.

Also I wanted to mention that my co-author Stacey Griffith, founding trainer at SoulCycle, has put a tremendous amount into the book, teaching us different movement schedules and things like that. So if people want to learn more, if you go to, you can learn all about the book and if you just wanna learn about sleep, you can go to

This was very meaningful, Michael, thank you so much!


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.