We spend one third of our lives in a state of sleep, yet the reason we do so is still illusive.

Despite its clear importance, sleep seems to be one of the first things we sacrifice when the going gets tough.

Are you sleeping properly? Are our modern habits interfering with this essential life process?

How can we maximize the benefits of sleep to insure greater health and vitality?

All these topics and more will be discussed in today's Health and Wellness show. Also included will be Zoya's Pet Health segment.

Running Time: 01:24:00

Download: MP3

Here's the transcipt of the show:

Jonathan: Welcome to the show everybody. My name is Jonathan. I'll be your host for today. Joining me in our virtual studio from all over the planet we have Doug and Gaby today, so a limited crew, but we're going to do our best to cover the topic at hand. Today we're going to talk about sleep.

We spend one third of our lives in the state of sleep, but the reasons are still elusive. Despite the clear importance of sleep it seems to be one of the first things that we sacrifice when things get rough, so we're going to talk about whether or not you're sleeping properly, about modern habits and how they interfere with the essential light process and sleep patterns and how we can maximize the benefits of ours sleep to ensure greater health.

So we're going to go over a few things in that regard; what are the negative impacts of not getting enough sleep and how can you ensure that you get more through some general practice and things like supplementation as well? We'll start off today with a little bit of connecting the dots, just some items from the news, from the Health and Wellness section on SOTT this week.

I have an article here that I found pretty interesting from Yahoo News: Pollution Blamed for Nearly 10,000 Deaths in London in 2010. Clearly air pollution was the cause of early deaths of almost 9,500 people in Britain's capital city in 2010 according to research by King's College London. The study showed for the first time the impact of nitrogen dioxide from exhaust fumes and the cross-fumes in fossil fuel burning and showed that the problem is far greater than previously thought. In 2010 there were 3,537 premature deaths in London due to particulate matter and 5,879 due to nitrogen dioxide.

Those are quite impactful figures. It says here "These figures suggest that every year six times as many people are killed by air pollution in London as are killed in road traffic accidents across the entire country" which is pretty wild as well.

Doug: Yeah.

Jonathan: Some people may know or have heard of the heyday of London during the industrial revolution and how every house was burning a coal or wood fire and the city was extremely dirty and they pointed to that as the time when a lot of people died from air pollution or got lung disease. But it seems to be pretty much the same now, as far as these numbers indicate. But now we're not just looking at things like coal burning. We're looking at particulate matter from all sorts of industrial processes, stuff that has built up over many years.So that's from London.

Doug: It's kind of interesting because regarding the smog thing, 10 or 20 years ago there were always these problems with smog. You'd see images of a city and there was just a haze over it. I think that that seems to have decreased a bit, but I think that's only the visual aspect of it. It's like they found a way to make it a little bit more invisible. All the toxic stuff is still there. Some cities are still really bad for smog, but it seems like the actual visual aspect of it has lessened. So it seems like it has gone out of peoples' minds. People don't tend to really think about how polluted their environment actually is.

Jonathan: Sure.

Gaby: Yeah. They think just because they don't see the smog it's fine because there are more controls now for car smog or stuff like that, but obviously the studies show that it is not the case. Thousands and thousands of people are dying from industrial toxicity. Then people usually concentrate on passive smoking and the effects of that on peoples' health problems when actually you don't need smoking in order to be suffering seriously from industrial pollution.

Doug: I find there's a lot of movements that people take part in to think that they're making things better. They'll use these compact fluorescent bulbs and are instituting all these smoking bans and there's the electric cars and things like that, but really that doesn't even make a dent in the situation. Industrial pollutants are the worst part of it. So you give these people the perception that they're able to help in some way. They take reusable bags to the grocery store and think that they're making this big difference, but it really doesn't even make a dent in the situation.

Gaby: A case in point about invisible toxicity is, as we've discussed on previous shows, is electromagnetic waves pollution, how it affects our health and we don't even see the stuff.

Doug: Yeah, exactly.

Jonathan: Anecdotally too I think, anyone who lives in a rural area has experienced this when visiting the city. I know the last time that I drove through Chicago you could smell the city as you were coming up onto it. It was just completely different, just the smells. So that's an anecdotal indicator. I've had a similar experience when I've gone to other places like Detroit or Los Angeles or anywhere where there's a high population density, just the concentration of fumes that's really indicative.

Doug: Definitely. I can relate to that. I used to live in California for a while. I was on the coast where it was all fresh air because you've got the wind coming in off the ocean so there was no pollution out there to speak of, really. But then anytime you took a trip into the city it was a huge difference. I remember coming back from LA and this gets a little bit gross, but the stuff I was pulling out of my nose was black. That didn't happen when I was spending the day on the coast. So there's a huge amount of pollution in these cities, for sure.

Jonathan: Well speaking of the invisible pollution, Gaby did you want to talk for a minute about cell radiation? You're going to cover some of that.

Gaby: Yeah, this week Sayer Ji from published an article titled Brain wave warping effect of mobile phones. He basically covers a recent study published on PLoS One, a journal and he goes through the research on the electroencephalographic changes due to experimentally induced 3G mobile phone radiation. They found that there were significant radiation effects from the use of mobile phones. There were changes in the electrical register of your brain and it was associated with mobile phone usage and the effect was dependent on side of placement. So this is more data which support the fact that the mobile phone is not only a carcinogenic, radiation-emitting device, but may alter the structure and function of the brain, including the brainwave activities that are intimately connected to cognition, mood and behaviour.

I try to pay attention to this research because we've spoken on previous programs on how electromagnetic wave pollution can weaken our health and we can become chemical sensitive or electromagnetically sensitive, we tolerate less and less toxicity. But I think the problem is much bigger than that. Using our smart phones we are literally changing the way we think. There's data to support this theory. It's pretty frightening, specifically with 3G mobile phones. That's what they used in this study.

Doug: There's no real reason to think that 4G or LTE or any of these other ones are any better.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Gaby: They could be much worse.

Doug: It might be. It's funny how much this research is ignored throughout the world. People don't really want to know this. Everybody has become fairly dependent on their smart phones and their iPads and the Wifi, all this kind of stuff, and nobody really wants to know that this stuff might actually be harming them. It's too bad because I think if people actually were more aware of it and more incensed by it, maybe people would start looking for alternatives. There might actually be a way to have a smart device that doesn't fry your brain, but we won't know if we don't accept the fact that these things are harmful.

Jonathan: Right. It would take some research and some changing of patterns and habits for sure.

Doug: Exactly.

Gaby: I'm kind of old school. People are relying too much on their smart phones for data, phone numbers. I think this must be the new paradigm as well. People are getting literally dumb because they've stopped memorizing phone numbers or data like birthdays because everything's on the smart phone. If they lose their smart phone it's like they lose their head literally. That's pretty sad and pathetic.

Doug: Like an external brain. You store all your data there.

Jonathan: Yeah. I've fallen into that trap myself a number of times. I hate to admit it, but if you're in a discussion and something isn't clear, just pull up the phone. "Oh I'm going to Google it and then I'll find out."

Doug: Yeah, exactly. It's funny too, behaviourally you see the difference. I was sitting there waiting for the bus the other day and everybody standing there waiting had a phone in their hand and were glued to it. You even see the people walking down the street aren't really watching where they're going because they're so glued to their device. It really has, in such a short period of time, changed human behaviour so much, even aside from the radiation exposure. Socially there are definitely consequences to this as well I would say.

Gaby: It makes people stop paying attention to their reality in the sense, for example, in medicine a lot of doctors rely on applications on smart phones to pull up clinical data or detail to make a clinical judgment. I realize that it makes people even stop seeing the patient in front of them. "Look at the patient", you know, and think! Increase your knowledge and your critical experience. I see that every time people are pulling more and more data from smart phones to make clinical judgments that are then literally robotic in a sense. Hard data is useful to a certain extent. I think I'm very old school but I think that still. You have to use your mind.

Doug: It kind of brings a new definition to the idea that machines are going to take over. It's not going to be like a Terminator-style thing where these robots literally enslave humans. It's like "no, we're just taking over willingly". We just completely give ourselves over to our technology instead of using our brains anymore. It's very easy to get lazy about thinking when you have these devices.

Jonathan: There's a great book on that topic called Alone Together by Sherry Turkle.

Doug: Oh, Sherry Turkle, yeah!

Jonathan: If you haven't seen that I recommend checking it out. I'll put a link in the chat here; why we expect more from technology and less from each other.

Doug: Interesting. There was an interesting book - it's a bit old now, it pre-dates the smart phone revolution - but there one called Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman. It was on a similar theme, this idea that we've got these buttons that we press over and over again, like our monkey mind just wants to be constantly occupied by these different entertainments or information or whatever, and that we end up ignoring our reality at large.

Gaby: That is so true. Going on the Metro I see people playing mindless games and pressing buttons and these are adults! People 40 years old pressing buttons! What?!

Doug: They're just playing Candy Crush.

Gaby: Scary.

Jonathan: Was that Neil Postman, Doug?

Doug: Yes it was.

Jonathan: Amusing Ourselves to Death-Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business.

Doug: Yeah. It was that one. Like I say, it's a bit dated now but I think his points are valid even today.

Jonathan: Well let's slide into our topic. Doug you had an article too that you were going to cover briefly about sleep and preparedness.

Doug: Yeah. So this one was published on Wednesday on the Health and Wellness section of SOTT. It's called Got sleep? 7 Reasons the well-rested prepper will prevail. A lot of the article goes into a lot of the stuff we're going to cover today so I won't go into too much of that, but I just thought it was interesting that the author draws a parallel between preparedness and having adequate sleep, or the right kind of sleep. His point is that people make all these preparations for things; they've got food, they've got money saved up and goods and things like that in the event there is any kind of scenario where you've got economic collapse or a man-made disaster or natural disaster.

But what everybody seems to sacrifice is sleep. We always prioritize sleep last. "Oh, I just want to do one more thing and then I'll go to bed". Or "I just want to read this last article or get this one thing done." Our priorities seem to be backwards on that because if you don't have sleep, you don't think as well, you're not as healthy, your immune system is down. So you're taking all these steps to be prepared; and that even covers general health and wellness. People will work out, they'll make sure their diet is good, that they're healthy, but then they'll sacrifice sleep.

So I just thought he made a pretty interesting point there because you can't consider yourself prepared for anything if you aren't getting enough sleep. And he makes a couple of points like sleep restores the body, sleep reduces stress and in any kind of disaster scenario, reducing your stress is key because if you're too stressed out, then you're not able to see the situation clearly and you won't be able to make the proper decisions. If you're in sympathetic/fight or flight mode, your higher thinking faculties aren't accessible to you. So you might just be reacting from a place of stress and not really being able to see the situation from a calm perspective and be able to see the wider view and maybe come up with some solutions that you wouldn't be able to in that stress situation.

He also says that sleep reduces illness. Sleep improves memory, another major thing. You need to have your memory to be able to connect dots and have more abstract thinking possibilities. Sleeping produces physical and mental acuity and increases reflex response. It helps maintain positive outlook, which is obviously key, and he says sleep is a great healer, which is true. There's a lot of situations where you're sick or injured in some way and sleep actually will increase the rate at which you can heal from these things.

Our immune system is actually busiest while we're sleeping. So if you're not sleeping, then your immune system is not functioning at top notch.

Jonathan: I've worked in the computer industry for a while - not in hardware but in software - and a big part of that culture is staying up late. I've been a night owl for many years and it makes me think of the phrase "I'll sleep when I'm dead". A lot of people would say that as kind of a mark of pride. "Ah, I'll sleep when I'm dead". Okay, I'm starting to realize that you're going to be dead sooner than you want to be if you don't sleep.

Doug: Yeah, absolutely. It's interesting, I read in one article while I was doing research for the show, they made the point that nobody has this attitude towards food or air or anything like that. It's not like "Well I'm hungry now but I can catch up on my eating later." Or "I'm not getting enough oxygen at the moment but I'll just catch up later on." It's ridiculous when you look at it that way, but we do have that attitude towards sleep. You can go without sleep during the week or not enough sleep during the week and just catch up on the weekend. Well unfortunately it doesn't work that way.

Gaby: Even people who in theory who are able to sleep more, like kids and teenagers because they don't have certain responsibilities, they're not sleeping. I was surprised to read about that because when I was a kid, yes, there was an official bedtime hour. But now kids are staying up on their computers, on their phones, watching movies, socializing in Facebook. When do they sleep? They need quite a lot of sleep for brain development and it's not happening.

Doug: Yeah, it's true. I remember when I was a teenager, sleep was simply not a priority. I would stay up way into the wee hours of the morning doing various activities and sleep until noon or 1:00 o'clock the next day, not really realizing how detrimental that was. I don't know if I would have cared, to be perfectly honest. It was just part of the teenage lifestyle.

Jonathan: Yeah. I think too, sleeping in darkness is important and we'll talk about that a little bit later; how to ensure that your environment is totally dark. But it just made me think that there's nothing necessarily wrong with being a night owl, it's just this lack of sleep. For many years I listened to the Art Bell show and he talked about that from time-to-time because his show was always from midnight until five in the morning, but he slept during the day. He was on a completely reversed cycle, just like somebody who works a regular night shift. So there's not necessarily anything wrong with that. You just still have to be making sure that your cycles are in order and that you're still getting sleep at some time.
In fact today our live experimental subject is Gaby who...

Gaby: Yeah.

Jonathan: ...because you were up until 5:00 at work?

Gaby: Yeah. When we were preparing for the show I told the guys "How do you guys feel about doing the show by yourselves?" [laughter] I just want to go to bed now. Yes, as you were talking about the computer industry and how there is a fashion of staying up late, in medicine there is an imposed fashion. You have to do night shifts after your normal work shift. After your working hours, you start a night shift and usually you are up and around or available for 24 hours. Yes, I do five night shifts per month and I had one last night. I went to bed at 5:00 a.m. this morning.

I don't have problems with insomnia. I can fall asleep very well and I do have problems staying up a lot with the night shift in comparison with other people. I take lots of vitamin C and the day afterwards, I will typically feel - and there is research to suggest this - I feel more anxious, and it's much harder, sometimes impossible to have a healthy distance from it even though on a normal day I will feel fine. It's just that it messes with your brain. You cannot use your prefrontal cortex properly on your lack of sleep, to the point that I force myself just to go to bed immediately and try to interact as little as possible because I know I'm not myself, so to speak.

And this is also researched, people who have this sleep deprivation display psychotic-like symptoms. I'm very conscious with people and if I see a patient between 5:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m., in the last hours of the night shift, I'm at barely minimum interaction, just concentrating and evaluating as rating factors, like emergency stuff. Forget about "hello" or chatting. "Here, this nurse is going to take care of you". It's actually horrible. And I know it's like that for a lot of people in several industries and several employments and when I read articles about good sleep, I think to myself "Wouldn't that be nice if most people don't have problems with insomnia? They're just barely holding to their jobs."

Jonathan: Yeah. I have a family member who works in nursing and he struggles with that as well. He used to work the night shift and so oftentimes the normal schedule of the day is offset until he has to sleep until three or four in the afternoon in order to restore that cycle. So it also impacts other things in life. You have kids and a regular schedule with friends and things like that, but everything is just kind of set off.

So I think it's not natural but a by-product of our modern society that night shifts are necessary, just because of the way things are set up. Hospitals have to be on call and things like that. But it certainly I think would be more beneficial if everybody could be on the same daytime/night time schedule.

Doug: It is unfortunately, but disease doesn't stick to our daily schedule, unfortunately.

Jonathan: Right.

Doug: That's one industry where unfortunately it is necessary. And it really is unfortunate because if you think about these people, medical personnel who are in this lack of sleep state or improper sleep state because of sleeping during the day instead of at night time, which is counter to the circadian rhythms that the body is designed to operate in, that means basically the person who's making these life and death decisions isn't in possession of their proper intellectual faculties or their own immune system is not functioning as it should be. So it really is an unfortunate situation, unavoidable in that sort of case.

But then you think about the shift workers who are doing factory jobs or something like that, who are put in this position just because the factory needs to increase their production or something like that, so you need to work from midnight to 8:00 a.m. or something like that. Those situations are less necessary and maybe need to be re-evaluated.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Gaby: Yeah. I think in a more caring community society, shift workers will have a different schedule. They will be looked after. It reminds me of a story I heard in the '80s or '90s. I don't know if it still holds true, but I heard that pilots that do trans-Atlantic flights, because of the shift in time zones, they were allowed one week to adjust to a new time zone and after one week of being in the new country where they flew, they would fly back and sleep was well-covered. They would always have someone available that's properly rested and they have medical check-ups. They have more research with more staff and reinforcement and this is something that usually people suffer, especially when the economy is in crisis, shortage, cutting of jobs.

People who specifically have night shifts and can be very rested during the day, they have stuff to take care of during the day as well. Yeah, people are literally very stressed, falling apart. I joke, during my night shift, "Don't worry. Just join and make Éiriú Eolas, which is our breathing meditation program from We want to breathe."

Jonathan: Talking about modern society too - I'm losing my point here. Maybe I didn't get enough sleep either. [laughter] It's endemic I think, that all these things pile on top of one another. The debt issue. It seems maybe unrelated, but the fact that everybody's got rent and bills and student debt is at an all-time high. Taxes are very high - and most especially in third world countries, but also in the west - are having to work and work and work and work and work much more than they used to have to. Back in the day, you could put in a solid shift, get your work done and then spend your time taking care of other things in your life, like spending time with your family and your friends. There was a speech that George Bush gave a number of years ago where he congratulated some woman on being uniquely American because she worked three jobs and how great that was.

No it's not great. It's not the ideal situation for a human being to be working three jobs just to barely make ends meet. So I think that that state of where we're at, how much we have to work to keep up with the economy and the way things are, also affects our sleep and then over time affects our mental state. When you combine that with the pollutants that we were talking about, the state of the modern American diet and just the state of our minds, we're in quite a bit of trouble these days.

Doug: Yeah. There's a parallel between debt and sleep debt.

Jonathan: Yeah, totally.

Gaby: Yeah. It's a complete paramoralism because it's like "Look at her. She's so in the top courageous" when she's a complete slave, slowly dying away just to keep up with three jobs. I know some statistics that I reviewed just before the show. Seven percent reduction in sleep leads to 100% risk of heart disease which reminds me that where I live there are very elderly people. People live into their 90s, sometimes 100. It was different times. Even though there was a civil war, there was a lot of famine when these people were young, they had a very good lifestyle; no electric pollution, no electromagnetic waves, they ate a lot of pork and they still do. It was traditional eating in this area, lots of animal fat. Socially, the families were just sounding beautiful. So these people get to be very elderly and happy and their cognitive functions are also pretty good.

It's interesting because since I've made comparison with the next generation, their children and the people that are now in their 50s, their health is so much worse and it also makes me think that I haven't seen any elderly doctors. They usually all die pretty young [laughs]. They spend their whole lives working in the emergency room or stuff like that, yeah. They're not practicing as an elderly man. Maybe I have stumbled on such a case, but it's always odd, not the norm.

Doug: Actually maybe this leads nicely into some of the consequences of a lack of sleep. When I was doing research for this I found a pretty good Mercola article where he summarizes quickly the consequences of not getting enough sleep. He says that the first consequence is that it does increase your risk of heart disease. It also harms your brain by halting new cell production. Sleep deprivation can increase levels of corticosterone, a stress hormone. There's also fewer new brain cells being created in your hippocampus. So there's a connection right there to how it affects your brain.

He also says it impairs your ability to lose excess pounds or maintain your ideal weight. This is likely the effect of altered metabolism because when you're sleep-deprived, leptin, the hormone that signals satiety, falls while ghrelin, the hormone that signals hunger, rises. So if you're not getting enough sleep your appetite suddenly is much higher and of course it's going to be an appetite for refined carbs, junk food, that sort of thing, so it's going to lead to problems with your health.

Related to that, he says it contributes to a pre-diabetic state making you feel hungry even if you've already eaten, which can wreak havoc on your weight. But of course we know that it's not just your weight that's going to suffer from that. It increases your chance of problems across the board, heart problems, autoimmunity, all that sort of thing. He also says that lacking sleep accelerates tumour growth, primarily due to disrupted melatonin production. Melatonin inhibits the proliferation of a wide range of cancer cell types as well as triggering cancer cell aptosis, which is cell self-destruction. The hormone also interferes with the new blood supply tumours require for their rapid growth, which is called angiogenesis.

So I thought that was a very interesting connection between sleep and cancer. By not producing enough melatonin, you are crippling one of your body's means of actually halting cancer. So right there is a huge importance of sleep. He says that it also contributes to premature aging by interfering with your growth hormone production, which is normally released by your pituitary gland during deep sleep. So growth hormone is something that actually contributes to your longevity and your ability to stay youthful.

Just rounding out the list here, he says that lack of sleep raises your blood pressure and it increases your risk of dying from any cause. So that's just a statistical fact, that just lacking sleep will increase your risk of dying from any cause.

Jonathan: Wow.

Gaby: That's crazy.

Doug: So everybody has to think about that when they're saying "Oh, I'll sleep later. It's okay, I'll catch up on sleep on the weekend." Really? You're paying some consequences there.

Gaby: But aside from shift workers, there's a lot of people who do precisely that, even though they are in various conditions where they could respect their sleeping cycle more. I think that a hopeful word for shift workers is that we do have five different phases or cycles when we sleep. I think, if I'm not forgetting something, it's four cycles. I have it here. Every 60 to 100 minutes we go through a cycle of four stages of sleep. Stage one, drowsy, relaxed state, between being awake and sleeping. Stage two is slightly deeper sleep. You may feel awake and may actually be asleep and not know it. Stage three and stage four are deep sleep. It is very hard to wake up from these stages because it is when your body has the lowest amount of activity. After deep sleep we go back to stage two for a few minutes, and then enter dream sleep, also called REM, rapid eye movement.

In a full sleep cycle, a person goes through all the stages of sleep from one to four, then back down through stages three to two, before entering REM sleep. So this is where the two types of sleeping states are described, monophasic and polyphasic sleeping. Monophasic sleeping is when you sleep all through the night and you wake up very rested and feeling like a million dollars. And the polyphasic sleep is not pathological, it's not insomnia. What usually happens is that you go to sleep early and you wake up in the middle of the night after having typically a couple of cycles. And then you stay awake for two hours or so before feeling sleepy again. And then you go to sleep and have a few more cycles before you start the day. This is also physiological, so to speak. It can be done and it's a health condition as well. It's not pathological.

So it's basically trying to adjust your body, depending on your lifestyle. What you usually do after a night shift, as I do, go to bed, try to do it in a dark room, completely sealed from daylight, even though it's daylight out there. And I have enough sleeping cycles as I can because we just wake up and feel like normal again. Sometimes if I have things to do or appointments that I cannot cancel, and I go through them, at the end of the day I will feel literally psychotic. So it has made me readjust and review my whole point of sleeping. I'm like a hologram. I'm just not there, like a ghost. "The nurse can do everything. I'm sorry, I'm just not available." [laughter]

Doug: The whole biphasic sleep thing is really interesting. There's quite a bit of evidence, if you look at all the literature, that biphasic sleep was actually the norm before we had electric lights. People would go to sleep when the sun went down. They'd go through their sleep cycle and then, like Gaby was saying, you'd wake up and they would have different activities that they would do in the middle of the night and then go back to sleep and sleep again. It was called first sleep and second sleep. So there's some evidence that that might actually be the natural way for us to sleep. But with having electric lights now, everybody's staying up later and that's kind of fallen by the wayside. Everybody would say "Who has time to do two sleeps? I'm lucky if I get six hours in." So it's an interesting thing.

Jonathan: Yeah. Certainly the difference between the light that we have available, the electric light, and all of the blue light that's coming out, light that's more in the blue spectrum interrupts your melatonin balances when you're sleeping so that it's very important to try to reduce that as you approach when you're going to go to bed. There are some techniques that I've seen, for instance wearing red-tinted glasses in the evening can help with that as well as either not using the computer right before you go to sleep or else using some software - there's one called f.lux. If you do a Google search for f-lux, sleep cycle software I think. It decreases the blue tint on your monitor based on the time of day. So it synchs with the monitor on your computer and then as it gets later at night, your monitor turns to a little bit more of a red shift and that allows your cycles to kick in.

So there are some things we can do with that, aside from the obvious, like if you have any of those little blue LED lights on devices or on your computer, just put a little piece of electrical tape over that so that it's not disrupting your cycle. I just wanted to say that we have a guest call in number here and if anybody who's listening wants to call in and give us some anecdotal stories or sleep deprivation experiences or anything like that [laughter], 718-508-9499. So we'd welcome some callers today if anybody wants to call in.

Doug: I was just going to mention that that f-lux software is great and you can actually find apps for phones as well and tablets that will shift into more red-based light. I don't think it's wise to stay on those things right up until bedtime anyway, even if you've got that software running. It does interfere with your melatonin production. It can decrease it by as much as 50%. Melatonin is your sleep hormone and if you're not producing enough of that, you're not going to be sleeping properly, even if you do manage to fall asleep. The four cycles of sleep that Gaby was mentioning, you might not be able to get into all those four different stages of sleep and you will wake up not fully rested.

It's important to have a bedtime routine. We tend to suffer from this in our modern life. We have so many things we need to do during the day so we just keep doing those things right up until the minute where our bodies say "Okay, I must sleep now!" We don't have this necessary routine of winding down and dimming the lights so that you're not exposing yourself to daytime conditions, allowing your melatonin to start being produced. There's different things you can do like turning the lights down. Jonathan you mentioned putting on red-tinted glasses. That can help as well. I've seen people online who cover all their lights with a red scarf or something like that to shift to that dimmer light. Turn off your devices. Turn off your TV an hour before you want to go to bed.

And it also is best to try and get to bed by 10:00. That matches your body's natural cycle. So the more you stay up after that, the more detrimental it's going to be. You can't just look at the amount of sleep and say "Okay, as long as I get my eight hours I'm fine. If I sleep from one in the morning until nine in the morning I'll be okay." It doesn't quite work that way. You need to stay in synch with your body's natural rhythms, with the earth's natural rhythms, what I refer to as circadian rhythms, of sun up and sun down.

Any of these things can interfere with proper sleep. You need to put on some relaxing music or maybe put some essential oils in a diffuser and have some nice calming, aroma therapy going or something like that, taking a warm bath with Epsom salts. All those things can be very calming and it's all a good idea to try and engage in some of these activities to make sure that your sleep is fruitful.

Jonathan: I've had plenty of experience with that, working on computers for a living. Oftentimes it's like "I've got to get this thing done" or there's a deadline and I'm on the screen, on the screen and then I want to read some articles or I want to read on the forum or do Facebook and I'm on the screen right up until I'm like "Oh crap! I've gotta go to bed now." Without fail, have physical sleep suffer, something like that.

Doug: Yeah. I even sometimes have difficulty falling asleep if I do that kind of thing. I remember there was a time I was working on some audio work, so I was on the computer and I had headphones on so I was probably being exposed to a lot of EMF radiation. When I finally did say "Okay, I have to go to sleep", I was wired. I couldn't fall asleep at all after that. I was tossing and turning for what seemed like a couple of hours before I could finally fall asleep.

Jonathan: And speaking of the psychological implications, we had mentioned earlier the idea that your cognitive functions decrease when you have a lack of sleep or when you're up too late. I've also noticed that in my own experience. Without fail, if I have to solve some kind of a problem, it happens in the morning afterwards. I'm rarely am up late, stressed, trying to figure out something say, related to code, when it dawns on me and I find the solution at 3:30 in the morning. That doesn't usually happen. Usually it's like "Oh my god, oh my god!" Then "Okay, I've got to go to sleep" and then the answer will come the next day.

The problem is, you get into a rhythm of faulty thinking and thinking that you need to stay up late to try to solve it, "I need to put my energy into this right now", when for some reason we kind of feel like going to sleep might be lazy. Or "I don't deserve to go to sleep because I haven't figured this out yet" when in fact the opposite is true.

Doug: There's actually research on this. It shows there's a lot of wisdom to that idea of "I'm going to sleep on it". Recent research shows that sleep can actually help store and consolidate memories. We have greater access to our memories, both the facts that we've learned and the experiences from the past, if we've slept enough. So it turns out that memories are actually kind of a fragile thing when they're first formed. There was interesting research that showed that people who were learning new skills on the piano, they compared those who did it in the evening and then went to sleep afterwards compared to the people who would do it earlier in the day and then go about their day and go to sleep normally at night and they found that the people who slept right afterwards remembered the things that they had learned on the piano much better than the people who didn't.

So the idea that you can sleep on something and that your brain is working and storing memories and discarding the stuff that isn't necessary, and making connections with the stuff that is important, the past memories, it seems there's a lot going on in the brain while you sleep.

Gaby: Yeah, puts a whole new meaning to dream work as well. When you sleep on a problem and sleep well and you wake up with an intuition, like "Oh yeah!" It's interesting because while we sleep all this research is happening. For example, for me it's very interesting that melatonin, which is produced from serotonin, our happy mood chemical, that pathway also stimulates the same brain circuits activated by the brain-derived neurotropic factor, which is basically a super fertilizer for our brain. And we lack that and when we come back we become less resistant to stress, our brain doesn't regenerate and then we fall off with depression and eventually with a neurogenic disease.

There was a very interesting article, a couple of years ago I think it was, and the title of the research went like this, "How the Brain Takes Out the Trash While We Sleep", basically flushes waste from the brain, but only when we sleep. So it gives a fresh new meaning to that "A good night's sleep clears the mind".

Doug: Yeah, that was really interesting research. You're right, it was a couple of years ago. It was 2013 and it showed that the brain has this system for clearing out waste. So what it does is it actually shrinks the brain cells by 60% so they're smaller. So that increases the space between those cells. And then it floods the brain with cerebral spinal fluid and that has a flushing property. So it takes all the toxic stuff that's built up over the course of the day, including amyloid plaques, which are what lead to Alzheimer's and other neurological disorders. So it actually flushes that stuff out. It's a different system from the lymphatic system which is what works in the rest of the body to remove waste. It's called the glymphatic system. So the "g" is apparently a nod to the glial cells so it's a short form for glial-mediated lymphatic system so it's a glymphatic system.

It has to be a separate system because the brain is a closed ecosystem. It's guarded very diligently by the blood brain barrier, to not let toxins or microbes into the brain. So it can't have the regular lymphatic system going into the brain. It has to have its own system so this glymphatic system hooks up to the circulatory system and all the waste is flushed out that way and eventually it reaches the liver where it can be detoxified. I thought that was really fascinating.

Gaby: Yes. Also the words from anthropologist T.S Wiley. She's the author of the book Lights Out and she's behind the theory that we live in our perpetual summertime which ages our bodies. She says that when our body translates long hours of artificial light into summer time it instinctively knows that summer comes before winter and that winter means no available food. We begin to crave carbs so we can store fat for a time when food is scarce and you should be hibernating. So with artificial light, we've created an endless summer, an altered rhythm and in turn we've altered our hormonal balance. Since we evolved and adapted to these new rhythms, when we are exposed to heat, sugar and light for 12 months of the year, we naturally experience accelerated biological time which ultimately is the reason for cancer, high levels of insulin that lead to heart disease and diabetes. Because once you've lost the rhythm, you're out of step and you lose your balance. Then comes the fall from grace." This is quoting literally from her.

Doug: That's a really fascinating book. There's lots of really interesting data in that book.

Gaby: Yeah. She covers some of the research which for the most part is sponsored by the NIH, National Institutes of Health, public government of the US. They had to write actually the evidence that depression, obesity, heart disease, cancer, can be prevented with good sleep, turning the lights out, literally. So yeah, it's interesting.

Jonathan: Let's talk a little bit about what we can do to help sleep. When we were talking before the show, Doug you had mentioned you work in the natural supplementation store and that a lot of people that come in have sleep issues. What do you think the percentage of that is? How many people really are looking for help with sleep?

Doug: It's hard to say, but I'd say probably at least 40% of the people who come in are asking for sleep aids of some kind.

Jonathan: Wow.

Doug: It really is an epidemic I'd say.

Jonathan: What's the main thing that people use for that? I know melatonin is one and I've used melatonin in the past, but I also find that when I take too much melatonin, it actually makes me kind of jittery and I have a hard time falling asleep, so you need to strike a proper balance of those supplements.

Doug: Definitely. I think over and above supplements - and I will talk about supplements in a second - but I think one of the main things is to have proper sleep hygiene. I know Tiffany referred to this as making a bat cave, the idea that you need to have a sleep area that is conducive to proper sleep. So one of the main things that you need to do for that is to remove all light sources from the room and to cover up any kind of leaking light sources as much as you possibly can. The best thing you can do is to get blackout curtains, to make sure that no ambient light is coming in your windows. Make sure that all electronic devices that have any kind of LED light on them, or even a smoke detector, need to be covered up completely. Any amount of light can interfere with your melatonin production.

I remember in T.S. Wiley's book Lights Out, she talked about a study where they exposed people to light the size of a dime on the back of their leg, or something like that. So that's the only light exposure that they had, but they found that melatonin production was significantly reduced, just by that amount of light. So it really goes to show how much you need to eliminate those light sources. That includes clock radios.

Interesting story, I bought a pair of shoes for exercise and I didn't realize until I got them home that they actually glow in the dark. They have glow in the dark parts on them. So I was lying in bed and I was like "What is that light? Where is that light coming from?" I look over and lo and behold, it's my shoes. So now I have to cover them with a towel before I go to bed every night.

Jonathan: I wanted to ask about that experiment. That's just light on your skin? That's not necessarily ocular exposure?

Doug: Exactly.

Gaby: Exactly. It was behind the knee of the person given the light.

Doug: Yeah. So it doesn't matter. Those sleep masks that you see might be helpful in some way, but you can't sleep in a lighted room with a sleep mask on and think that you're getting the same kind of darkness. Every cell in your body is sensitive to light.

Jonathan: That's a fascinating distinction. Probably not many people are aware of that. For years I was just under the impression that you just needed to cover your eyes, so very interesting.

Gaby: This research is not very well known, but we actually have cells called cryptochromes in our blood stream, and they pick up the blue spectrum of light through our genes and that light, yes, deals with melatonin production. It also keeps pathological bacteria in the gut thriving. So it's also related to our immune system. That's the research covered in the Lights Out book.

Jonathan: Wow!

Doug: There are a couple of other things you want to do to keep your sleep hygiene on track. You want to make sure you get all EMF exposure, radiation exposure, out of your sleeping area. That includes cell phones, Wi-Fi, all that kind of stuff. You want to either have it completely out of the room or turned off, preferably turned off, so that you're not exposed to any of that. Also grid noise. We had a couple of episodes about EMFs just talking about the noise that comes off of the wiring in your house in general. And unfortunately, houses are designed so that the electricity is flowing right at head level when you're lying in bed. So you want to keep yourself away from any kind of outlet, but even if you do keep yourself away from an outlet, the wires in the wall will create magnetic fields and that will affect your sleep as well.

So you can do things like plugging filters into your electrical system to dampen that effect. But I know some people even go so far as to turn the circuit off to their room, if it's possible to do that. You might need an alarm clock or something like that plugged in, but if you can, that would be the ideal. You just cut that circuit to your room at night so you're not being exposed to anything like that.

Gaby: Another important aspect is cognitive therapy, basically go back to the same sleeping hygiene. It is especially for people who have some sort of ADHD. It's basically to lie down to go to sleep only when you're sleepy. Do not use your bed for anything except for sleep, in the sense of don't watch television, don't eat, don't read. If you find yourself unable to fall asleep get up and go into another room. Stay up as long as you need to and just go back to your bedroom when you are falling asleep again. Usually it's better to not watch the clock and it's good to remember that goal, you're bed is for falling asleep quickly. If you don't fall asleep within 10 minutes, then get out of bed again and go to a different room. Go through the same pattern over and over again until you finally can fall asleep within 10 minutes. The next day, wake up every morning irrespective of how much sleep you finally got during the night and your body will readjust. And don't take a nap either. With these cognitive therapy steps, usually a good night's sleep can be achieved.

Doug: It's unfortunate because there can be a cycle. You get anxious about the fact that you're not getting enough sleep or that you can't fall asleep and of course that prevents you from getting sleep. So I think it's kind of important to kind of keep perspective on it and not be too stressed out about whether or not you're getting enough sleep. I have a friend who has a lot of sleep problems and I'm convinced that his problem is that he is so anxious about getting enough sleep. He's like "Oh my god, I've got a big meeting the next day" and all this kind of stuff and he's really stressed out about whether or not he's going to get enough sleep. It compounds the problem because if you're stressed out, you're not going to be able to sleep.

Gaby: There are sleeping studies where people report "I didn't sleep at all last night" and they have these monitors and it shows they actually slept. So people get stressed over it. "I didn't sleep at all!" But they did sleep.

Doug: I think that relaxation techniques are important for this and I think that the Éiriú Eolas breathing meditation program that we do on SOTT is very helpful for that. You do some breathing exercises that stimulate the vagus nerve which shuts down the stress response and allows you to fall asleep. So that's an important tool as well I think.

But getting into supplements, there are a number of natural supplements that can help with sleep. One of the things I try to establish when people come into the store and say that they're having sleep issues, I always ask them "Are you having trouble falling asleep or are you waking up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep?" Because there is a distinction there. Usually if somebody's having trouble falling asleep and they have those running thought patterns that won't shut up and they are over-thinking things and things are running through their brain over and over again, there's a couple of things that can help with that. It's usually an issue with cortisol, that the cortisol is too high, the cortisol cycle is off.

Your cortisol is supposed to be low at night before you go to sleep and it should be high during the day when you're active and having to do things. In that kind of situation, a cortisol lowerer might be helpful like Ashwaganda is an Ayurvedic herb that helps to lower cortisol. There another thing called Relora which is actually not one herb, it's a couple. It's a combination of magnolia and philodendron. That will also help to lower your cortisol levels. Phosphatidylserine is another one that will lower cortisol levels. Ginko Biloba, zinc and vitamin A are also things that will help with that.

There are a couple of calming herbs as well. Tulsi, otherwise known as holy basil is another herb that helps with stress and anxiety and helps you calm down. Passion flower is another one. Using the amino acid that's found in green tea called theanine actually increases the amount of GABA in your brain and GABA is a neurotransmitter that is the anti-anxiety neurotransmitter. That's why a lot of people can drink green tea, which while it contains caffeine, they still find that they can get to sleep afterwards. It's because of the theanine that's in there.

Valerian is an herb that a lot of people use. I'm not a big fan of it. I find that it can lead to grogginess the next day and it is habit-forming. So valerian is something maybe you can use in an emergency, when you're all wound up and you can't get to sleep but I don't think that it's something that should be used regularly. And magnesium is another one. Magnesium has a calming effect, particularly if you are deficient in magnesium, which many, many people are. So magnesium can be helpful for helping you sleep.

Taking melatonin - Jonathan you mentioned that before. Some people do have bad experiences with it. Usually that's because they did too much. More is not better when it comes to melatonin. A lot of people come in saying "I'm having a lot of trouble sleeping so I need a lot of melatonin. Give me 10 mg." Well that's a huge dose and the thing is, if you overshoot what your needs are for melatonin, you actually end up, like you said Jonathan, having a more disturbed sleep. You get these half-sleep/half-wake cycles, really weird dreams, that kind of thing. So I always recommend with melatonin that people start at something like 1 mg or even a half mg. If that doesn't help you, you go up incrementally to find your spot.

There is some controversy over melatonin. Some people say that it's not a good idea to take it regularly because it will interfere with your natural production of it. I haven't seen any research that actually points to that, but maybe it is best to be cautious with it. It is really good if you're changing time zones, to re-acclimatise yourself to your normal sleep cycle, in conjunction with where you've just traveled to. So that can be helpful.

But perhaps something that's more useful than melatonin just because of that possibility of dependence developing, is to use 5-HTP. Gaby was mention this before. It's a precursor to melatonin. So you're taking in the stuff that your body need to make it rather than taking the whole form in itself.

Gaby: That's pretty good. I'm glad to hear people are interested in natural supplements.

Doug: Do you have experience with these kinds of things? Have you tried any of them.

Jonathan: The valerian.

Gaby: I tried 5-HTP a long time ago and melatonin I typically dose after night shift to reset my circadian rhythm. Yes, with good results. I recover much faster and feel much better sooner.

Doug: Good.

Jonathan: I tried valerian root for a period of time that I found similar to what you mentioned, that it results in grogginess the next morning. It does help with sleep but there's a sort of valerian hangover that you can get. My experience with melatonin was good except when I happened to take a little bit too much, so I think you're right on the mark there that very small amounts are good. I've also found 5-HTP to be helpful in the past, but mostly basically staying active and on days when I'm able to get exercise or some kind of activity during the day, I sleep much better overall, as part of a well-rounded lifestyle. And eating properly of course too. If you're having a lot of sugar during the day, that's going to throw your balance off.

Doug: Yeah! That's one of the things I was going to say. If people come in and tell me it's not so much falling asleep that they're having a problem with but they'll wake up in the middle of the night and they're suddenly wide awake and they can't fall back asleep, a lot of times that's actually a blood sugar issue. What's happening is that their blood sugar is crashing in the middle of the night because they haven't eaten in a while and then that makes the stress hormones kick in because the body's in a state of emergency and needs to get more blood sugar right away.

So in those kinds of situations I think the best thing to do is to look at the diet. Obviously a ketogenic diet is the best solution to that because you're not dependent upon blood sugar and you won't experience these blood sugar swings. But barring that, I can't tell everybody who comes in the store to go on the ketogenic diet, although I do try. You might have to have a small snack before bed or something like that - preferably not something sugary - just to normalize those blood sugar levels so you won't be experiencing these crashes at night.

Gaby: Just a word about melatonin for those who want to experiment with it, there is time-released melatonin which respects more the way it is treated in the body because normal melatonin, you can fall asleep very quickly but then you wake up later in the night. And time released melatonin is more physiological so it can work better for your experiment.

Jonathan: Let's go to our pet health segment here. Zoya has done a bit for us on sleep as it relates to the health of your pets. So let's go to Zoya and then we'll be back after this to wrap up. We do have a recipe today for gingerade, sugar-free gingerade. We'll be back after this.

Zoya: Hello and welcome to the pet health segment of the Health and Wellness Show. Today we're going to talk about strange and surprising facts about how animal sleep. As you know, sleep is comprised of two parts, non-REM sleep and REM sleep. To get the full complement of sleep, humans needs to have both but that's not always the case for animals. It seems that sleep may serve different functions for different animals, which is why there is such widely different sleep durations and ways of sleeping, depending on the many factors at play for a species.

For instance, many whale species sleep with only half their brain at a time, keeping the other half active for such important functions as staying at the surface for breathing. Some migratory birds can adjust how much sleep they need depending on the season, getting by with much less sleep during migration season than at other times of the years.

Meanwhile, carnivores have the luxury of sleeping more hours in the day than herbivores which are generally prey species constantly on the lookout for carnivores. And most mammal infants sleep much of the time during their first few weeks and months of life yet baby dolphins don't sleep at all their first few months. This shows that while sleep is important for cognitive functions for some species, that may not be why sleep is vital to other species.

The variety of ways animals sleep is staggering and researchers are only beginning to make a dent in understanding the inner workings and purpose of sleep among different species. Indeed, sleep can be a big mystery. So here are a few fascinating facts about different animal species and their sleeping patterns.

As I already said, dolphins and whales have the ability to sleep with only one half of their brain at a time. This indeed prevents them from drowning in their sleep. Sea otters will sometimes hold hands while they sleep so they don't drift away from each other. Giraffes can go weeks without sleep. Being large and rather slow animals, they are constantly vulnerable to attacks from predators and therefore cannot sleep for long periods.

Migrating birds can sleep while flying. Some species of birds fly for six months during migrating, eating, drinking and sleeping while airborne. Cows like to sleep close to their families and sleeping arrangements are determined by individual rank in the social hierarchy. Horses, zebras and elephants can sleep standing up. This is because they are prey animals and need to be alert in case they are attacked, but horses and cows, while they indeed can sleep standing up, don't experience full REM sleep, meaning rapid eye movement which allows us to dream, unless they lie down.

Now the sleepiest animals are little brown bats that sleep for 19 hours, giant armadillos for 18 hours, and possums also sleep18 hours, sloths only 14 hours, tigers sleep for 15 hours, cats 12.5 hours, dolphins 10.4 hours, dogs sleep for 10 hours, pigs 7.8 hours and horses 2.9. As I already said, giraffes can sleep half an hour or even less, it depends on the situation.

There are other interesting facts. For example the desert snail can snooze for three years. For example, to avoid predators, African papio baboons sleep on their heels. Bats sleep upside down for several weeks. It makes them less obvious prey and it allows them to take off at any moment should any threat emerge and bats must fall into flying because their wings aren't strong enough for them to alight from a standing position. As I already mentioned about migrating birds, an albatross can sleep while it flies too.

Also something about insects. Although it is commonly believed that ants never sleep, a study on fire ants shows that the workers within the colony experience 253 sleep episodes per day and each lasted about one minute.

A little bit about hibernation. Some animals hibernate over the winter, often referred to as a very deep sleep, hibernating animals are doing much more than just sleeping. They are undergoing physiological changes that can be very drastic. For example, significant drop in body temperature. Some animals that live in deserts also undergo a form of summer hibernation called aestivation to escape the blazing heat. When an animal wakes from hibernation it shows many signs of sleep deprivation and needs to sleep a lot over the next few days to recover.

Well this is it for today. I hope that you found the information interesting and have a nice day. [bleeting sheep and goats]

Gaby: My favourite sound.

Doug: I never get sick of that, yeah. I think we were about to say the same thing Jonathan. I was going to say it would be really great to be able to adapt to that dolphin style of sleep, where you just put one-half of your brain to sleep at a time and the other half can remain functional.

Jonathan: Yeah, exactly.

Gaby: You're going to the same pattern again, like you don't deserve sleep. We're just humans.

Doug: Yeah.

Jonathan: The recipe for today is a simple kind of summer drink that you can make. I've been playing around with this over the last week. It's a sugar-free gingerade and its slightly involved in the sense that you want to blend down raw ginger. So use two hands of ginger, which is a section of the root about the size of your palm or a little bigger. Peel them with a spoon or a regular potato peeler. Cut them up into little chunks and put them in the blender with just enough water so that when it's blended down it makes a slurry. You don't want it to have too much liquid because what you're making is a concentrate.

So when you blend the ginger down with the water, strain it out through a cheesecloth and squeeze it out really well and you'll get a liquid that's super concentrated ginger concentrate. I usually get approximately a cup and-a-half from the two hands of ginger.

Then in a one quart mason jar add 3 cups of water, two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, one tablespoon of powdered stevia or the sweetener of your choice. We use xylitol or erythritol, do similar proportions there. I use a tablespoon of stevia and then one half cup of the ginger concentrate and shake it up, put it in the fridge, take it out and you can drink it like that or put it over ice. That's your gingerade. It's pretty good. It's nice and invigorating and cool in the summer time. We've been experimenting with other versions of this too, adding things like turmeric, cinnamon, mint, to round out the flavour. So you can play with it and add what you like and see what you like. So that's the gingerade.

Doug: Yeah. It makes a good stomach tonic too.

Jonathan: Totally. Very soothing. So that's our show for today. We wanted to thank everybody for tuning in and for the people in our chats. We didn't get any callers today but we'll keep hoping for that and maybe in the future we can have some people call in, or we can get some spook callers like some of the big radio hosts do. [laughter] Thanks to everybody and make sure that tonight you get some good sleep and I hope everybody enjoys their weekend.

Gaby: Oh yeah.

Jonathan: Be sure to listen to the other two shows on the SOTT Radio Network; the Truth Perspective tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. eastern and Behind the Headlines Sunday at 2:00 p.m. eastern on Blog Talk Radio. They've got some interesting topics coming up. So thanks again everybody and we'll see everybody next week.

Doug: Sweet dreams everybody.

Gaby: Bye-bye.