got sleep?

got sleep?
Sleep - we spend about a third our lives doing it, we're the only mammal that willingly delays it, yet when it's disturbed, it can lead to a number of chronic illnesses including dementia, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Sleep deprivation can also mess with your immune system, has been linked to metabolic diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes, and is implicated in Alzheimer's disease and many mental health problems including depression.

Recent research on sleep has uncovered some fascinating and important facts about it. Yet it seems few of us actually prioritize sleep as we should. Many, especially in the West, still view lack of sleep as a badge of honor - a sign of drive, ambition and achievement at the expense of sleep. Worse, good sleep is often characterized as a sign of sloth. But sleep is extremely important - some researchers even claim it's more important than diet or exercise. Getting our priorities in order in regards to sleep could be the most important thing we do for our health.

Join us on this episode of the Health and Wellness Show where discuss the recent research on sleep. And stay tuned for Zoya's Pet Health Segment, where she discusses Schrödingers cat.

Running Time: 01:28:05

Download: MP3


Here's the transcript of the show:

Jonathan: Welcome to the Health & Wellness show everybody! Today's Friday, May 18th, 2018. My name is Jonathan and I'll be your host for today and joining me in our virtual studio from all over the planet we have Elliot, Erica, Tiffany and Doug. Hey guys.

[Hello's]

Jonathan: So, we're missing Gaby today, we wish her well, and hopefully we'll see her next week.

Tiffany: She's probably sleeping.

Jonathan: Probably, which is what we're going to talk about today. So, the one thing that we spend the most time out of our life doing, besides being awake, to be a no-brainer {laughter}, is sleeping. About a third of your life, and we're the only mammal that willingly delays sleep, which is interesting. I think that's the crux of our discussion today, the ability or handicap, however you want to refer to it, to consciously manipulate our own sleep patterns. It leads to a lot of chronic diseases, everything up to dementia, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity. It knocks down your immune system when you're not sleeping, I'm sure everybody's familiar with that.

We wanted to talk about, and this is something I struggle with too, that little "Oh, I got six hours, it's okay," or "I'll get five, I'll get seven tomorrow," that kind of thing we have learned in the course of our reading for the show, is quite damaging. It's kind of shocking how damaging it is. So, let's get into it. Did you guys sleep last night? I did not! {laughter} No, I slept like five hours which is not good.

Doug: Well that's good enough right?

Jonathan: Yeah, exactly.

Elliot: I got eight and a half hours.

Erica: I got nine. {laughter}

Tiffany: I probably got about ten.

Jonathan: Leading the pack.

Doug: Wow. I'm kind of jealous right now. I got six, six and a half maybe.

Tiffany: I probably got about nine, I'm exaggerating a little bit. Even without all of the bad things like cancer and the lowered immunity and the Alzheimer's, even without knowing that, basically, some people do, I know I do, when I don't get good sleep, it just feels terrible.

Doug: Yeah.

Tiffany: It feels bad to be drowsy during the day, you want to be alert and get things done. I was very, very sleepy during the day yesterday, and I fell asleep at my desk, and it was not comfortable at all. Even if I don't think I'm going to get the old-timer's disease, just being sleepy during the day is enough to make me want to get really good sleep.

Jonathan: Yeah, it is annoying when you're drowsy, and you really can't do much about it.

Doug: Even if you're not drowsy. It seems like if you don't get enough sleep, you might feel okay, you might not feel like you're actually tired -

Tiffany: I'd feel foggy.

Doug: Yeah, there's fogginess, but you're just not performing things that you normally do up to the same standard. Sometimes we'll find conversations awkward, and other things, things I've done a million times, like dropping things, it's weird.

Tiffany: Yeah I do find that I drop stuff and I forget stuff. Like I have to go back in the house because I forgot something on my way somewhere.

Erica: And your emotions can become really erratic. Like if you normally can deal with stressful situations with not quality sleep, which I'm sure we can discuss. You can be just like an emotional basket case.

Jonathan: Shut up, Erica, what are you trying to say? {laughter}

Erica: Well I'm okay, because I got nine hours, I'm happy. {laughter}

Jonathan: Well, that totally happens. I know my legs just get wobbly, and I'd step out of my truck and start to roll my ankle, and I'd go like "Ah!" I lose motor function and dexterity in my legs for some reason when I'm tired.

Erica: Well I think it's important to mention quality of sleep too. Maybe you get eight hours but you're waking up every hour, or it's disrupted, so you don't get that deep sleep, which seems to be what prevents all the diseases that Tiffany mentioned.

Tiffany: And not having to get up in the middle of the night to pee is a real bonus! {laughter}

Doug: I have a friend who's like that actually, who every night, at some point, has to wake up and pee.

Tiffany: Some people might wake up multiple times during the night to pee.

Doug: Yeah. Well I think some of that is because of prostate issues for guys. But, this is a young guy, so I don't think it's that.

Elliot: I was going to say that waking up to pee is technically not true. Well, I guess, in a minority of cases it may actually be to pee, but generally it's not the sensation of needing to urinate that wakes you up.

Tiffany: I know where you're going.

Elliot: If you're sleeping properly, if you're in deep sleep, then that sensation, that part of the nervous system, that message does not actually get sent, let's say. It's meant to shut off. But what typically happens is someone will wake up due to either a spiking cortisol, or there's something else that wakes them up, whatever it is, whether it's body temperature dysregulation or something like that, and then when they wake up, they become acutely aware of the sensation of having a full bladder. They go to the toilet then they attribute waking up, the reason that they woke up to wanting to pee. But actually the reason that they woke up made them aware that they needed to pee, and then they go to pee.

Tiffany: I know what you mean by that, and I have been able to tell the difference. Very, very rarely, much more so when I was younger, I would have to get up to pee. I would be dreaming that I had to pee, or that I was peeing, and if I didn't stop myself and actually wake up to pee, I would pee. Occasionally as an adult I'll feel that need, but mostly I'd just wake up for some other reason, and I'd say "Hey, I might as well pee." {laughter}

Jonathan: Did you guys ever do the hand in the warm bowl of water trick on somebody?

Doug: No, is that a myth or is it true?

Jonathan: No it's not a myth but it works. I remember from high school, but I haven't done it in many years. {laughter}

Erica: Don't try it at home.

Jonathan: Our show today was largely inspired by this guy, Matthew Walker, who has a PhD in neurophysiology from Medical Research Council in London, and he's a professor at Harvard Medical School.

Erica: Wasn't he at Berkeley?

Jonathan: Yeah, he was at Harvard, and now he's at Berkeley. His website is sleepdiplomat.com and as you would imagine, he's a sleep diplomat. He goes around telling people why they should sleep and why it's important, but he had a lot of really interesting things to say and a lot of stuff about athletics. People who need physical performance and how important sleep is to them. But also to just everybody. Because daily life is physical performance, even if you're not exerting yourself. You need your mind to be clear and not dropping things and all that stuff. But one of the things that got me that he talks about is the consistency of the timing. So it's not like I can go to bed at two and get up at ten, and then go to bed at ten and get up at six. That inconsistent schedule is just as bad as having gotten too little sleep. I thought that was really interesting too and have been trying to do a regular schedule, albeit I'm only getting maybe three or four days out of the week, where I keep it consistent.

Erica: He makes a point to say that you can't bank sleep, right?

Jonathan: That was very interesting, yeah. It's not credit.

Erica: It's not like you can sleep ten hours one night, and two the next and it will equal out. That means when you've missed it, you've missed it.

Elliot: I recently read a book and it's called Why We Sleep, and it's currently up there as one of the best sellers in all of the different charts and stuff, and I've got to say that it's an absolutely amazing book to read. It's jam-packed full of information, so it probably needs a second or third read to really understand everything he was saying. But the implications of it are quite staggering, I think. I thought that I already knew a little bit about sleep, but it turns out that I didn't know anything about sleep until I read this book. This guy knows a lot about sleep, let's just say!

Jonathan: Some of the statistics around that ...

Tiffany: Do we want to play a clip?

Jonathan: Yeah, let's do that, maybe that'll give us some more context.

Tiffany: Well, this one, I think we'll start with this one. He starts off talking about stages of sleep.

"What we've learned over the past thirty or forty years is, all stages of sleep are important. When you think about sleep as a state, it makes no sense. Firstly, you're vulnerable to predation, you're not finding food, you're not finding a mate, you're not reproducing, you're not caring for your young. On any one of those grounds, sleep should've been strongly selected against. As a collective, it's almost idiotic. If sleep does not serve an absolutely vital function, it is the biggest mistake that evolutionary processes ever made, and that counts for all the stages of sleep, too. Again, mother nature wouldn't waste time putting you into a state that wasn't necessary, and what we've discovered is that all of those different stages of sleep that we spoke about all have unique and separate functions. So you can't shortchange any one of them. You don't need to bias towards one, and placate the other. Evolution has taken a long time to get the blueprint accurately correct for each physiological individual. I wouldn't play around with it and think that you're smarter than the process.

Right, when I read it I felt like it was a justification for smoking a lot of pot. Like "Man, you're getting deeper sleep, man, you don't need that REM sleep, you're passing it up, man, you just go right into the deep, heavy, necessary sleep!"

Au contraire.

Au contraire, potheads! So what is happening to the body during REM sleep that's so critical, that one particular aspect of sleep?

So, firstly in the body, your cardiovascular system seems to do something quite strange. It goes through periods of dramatic acceleration, and then dramatic deceleration.

During REM sleep.

Yeah, during REM sleep. Quite unpredictable, too. We also know that during REM sleep, your brain paralyses your body, so that your mind can dream safely. That makes a lot of sense, if you're thinking you're this world champion mixed martial arts person, and it's the middle of the night, it's dark, you can't see, you're not perceiving your outside world. You're going to get popped out of the gene pool very quickly if you're going to start acting out that experience. So, there is a barrier in place, that mother nature locks you down in incarceration, muscle incarceration.

That's crazy that you say that, because when I was fighting when I was young, I would wake up throwing kicks. I would kick in the middle of the night, I would do it all the time. I would be sleeping and I would move to throw a kick in the middle of the night, and I remember it waking up and like, what the f*** was wrong with me? Then I'd try to go back to sleep again. But I was obviously dreaming about competing.

Do you actually remember, so when you woke up, do you remember dreaming at that point, or you just have no recollection of anything going on at that point?

I believe I had a recollection, it's been a long time, but I believe I had a recollection. I would be in bed with my girlfriend, and I'd wake her up too, because I'd just jolt! Like, I wouldn't throw a full kick, but my body would move like I was going to. I would turn my hips, and my leg would extend. My body was, I attributed it to, like it's so extreme that my brain had hyper-charged itself to compete at this very high level, and this was so unusual that it was almost that red alert all the time, and maybe like trying to work out patterns, while I was sleeping.

Yep, that's exactly the evidence that we have now. So for things like motor skills, or even rats running around a maze where they will learn specific navigational pathways and even skilled motor movement. What you can do is place electrodes into centres of the brain. We work on mice and the sleep center works on humans, but other people have done these studies in rats, and you implant electrode, and you measure brain cells firing as the rat is running around the maze. Let's say you can play little tones for each brain cell, so the running around the maze and you can listen to the brain cells learning the signature of the maze, and it goes {makes a rhythmic sound} and what was amazing was that when you let those rats sleep but you keep listening to the brain, what you hear is {makes a rhythmic sound} as if the brain is actually, and in fact it is replaying the exact same sequence, the memory sequence that it was learning whilst it was awake. It's replaying, but at a speed that is 20 times faster.

Whoa!

So you know, now we start to get into this inception world and I don't mean to because the scientific data, we're not sort of in that territory, but that notion of time compression and time dilation that Christopher Nolan played so well in that movie, we can see that at the level of brain cell firing in rats, as they learn the mazes, and it goes back to what you were saying which is that the better that they rehearse those skilled memories, when you wake them up and test them the next day, that predicts how much better they are in terms of their performance. So it's not just that you learn, and you go to sleep, and you replay, and you hit the save button on these new memories. You actually sculpt out those memories and you improve them, and we've done studies with motor skill learning, critical for athletic performance, and practice does not make perfect. Practice with a night of sleep is what makes perfect, because you come back the next day, and you're 20 to 30 percent better in terms of your skilled performance than you were at the end of your practice session the day before.

Wow!

I mean, sleep is the greatest legal performance enhancing drug that most people are probably neglecting in sport.

Wow. Not just for your physical performance but actually skill learning.

That's right, skill learning, memory, and then also downstairs in the body, all of the recuperative benefits. And you can flip the coin, by the way, if you're getting six hours of sleep or less, your time to physical exhaustion drops by up to 30 percent. So you could spend all of your time training for a ten round fight, perfect condition, but then I put on six hours of sleep the night before, you're now going to be physically exhausted by round seven rather than round ten.

Wow. But that's a really hard thing for fighters because they have a very difficult time sleeping the night before a big fight. It's very, very difficult, because there's anxiety and I would imagine, it's got to take a huge toll, and it'll probably be a huge benefit, if they can somehow or other bypass all that, and just relax, and learn how to relax, and learn how to actually sleep.

I think it's one of, we're constantly trying to hack the physiological system, especially in elite sports these days. A small fraction of a percent of gain could make a huge difference.

30 percent of gain is a monster.

Huge, yeah. Time to... not just physical exhaustion, but the lactic acid builds up quicker, the less and less that you sleep. The ability of your lungs to actually expire carbon dioxide and inhale oxygen decreases, the less sleep that you have.

That makes so much sense, I was doing Fear Factor and I was doing stand up comedy, and I was also doing another television show, and I was doing jujitsu. I never got eight hours' sleep, I mostly got four. I usually got four. And my cardio always sucked. So it was terrible, I was like "Why does my cardio suck, I work out so much!" That was probably what it was.

It's a huge part of the equation.

Wow. So how many hours should you get?

Somewhere between seven to nine hours. Once you get below seven hours of sleep, we can measure objective impairments in your brain and body.

I can show that in the last two days, and I can show it because I basically did the same workout two days in a row. The day before, I'd flown back from Boston, very tired, hung out with my kids all day, went to get some sleep, but then I had to do some stuff at two o'clock in the morning, and I just never really got good sleep. And then my younger daughter got up at five, and she was crying, and then eventually my alarm went off at eight. So my sleep was like three or four hours. It was all screwy. And the night before it was less, because I had flown, and I had to get up early for the flight, and I tried to sleep on the plane, and I went running and I felt like dog shit. And during the day, I felt like dog shit, I just didn't have, as I was running, I just didn't have any extra gear, I was like "Ughhh," I did it, I pushed through it, then it was over, I was like "Ohh." Well, last night, I slept seven and a half hours, woke up today, lifted weights, ran, felt great, feel great now. Two days in difference, that's the difference, the difference is one day I got real sleep, one day I didn't. I did the exact same thing, even more today, I lifted weights today as well. I just felt great. I could see it physiologically, the difference in my performance in twenty-four hours.

Yeah. And that's noticeable, we see that too. In your peak muscle strength, your physical-vertical jump height, and your peak running speed, all of those things correlate with sleep. The less that you have, the worse those outcomes are. Probably one of the most surprising factors was injury risk. They looked at athletes across a season, and they plotted how frequently will they get injured, and then they surveyed them, you know, "How much sleep were you getting?" And they bucketed them into people who were getting nine hours, seven hours, six, five, four, and it was a perfect linear relationship, the less sleep you have, the higher your injury risk. So people getting nine hours, versus five hours, it was almost a 60 percent increase in probability of injury risk during a season.

Do you attribute that to exhaustion, or do you attribute that to a lack of recovery from the previous night's workout, is it a combination of those things, is exhaustion causing you to misstep, perhaps, and twist an ankle, or turn a knee?

Yeah, it's all of those things. Even if you look at microbalance, if you look at these stability muscles versus major muscles, those stability muscles also fail when you're not getting sufficient sleep, and I think we often underestimate how critical they are in sport performance, particularly in terms of combating and placating injury risk too. So if you just get someone on a stability ball, and just dose them down with sleep, eight hours, five hours, three hours, and just notice how those stability muscles help you balance. Just the basic act of balance, that deteriorates dramatically. No wonder you're getting more injury risk.

Totally makes sense."

Jonathan: Pretty fascinating there. That's my thing, those stability muscles, they just go away. They're just like, "No!"

Doug: Yeah, it's kind of like what we were talking about when you become clumsy, start dropping stuff, falling over, whatever may be the case. You may actually be okay, but it's more in the physiology that you're actually missing that sleep.

Jonathan: It's really interesting what he said in the beginning about how obviously we have sleep for a reason, but it's the most evolutionarily illogical thing, if you just take it at face value, but I think it's common knowledge, if you sleep more, you feel better. If you're well-rested then you do better in all aspects, but I think people don't delve into why, or the detriments from not getting enough sleep. One of the things he said in that interview, I think it was going into the summer, when we spring forward the time change, in the countries that change time, there's a 25 percent increase in heart attacks, and then when we fall back there's a 25 percent decrease.

Doug: That's only one hour.

Elliot: That extra hour of sleep decreases the rate of heart attacks, but then the one hour less of sleep increases it, and that's just amazing.

Jonathan: It is amazing.

Tiffany: And yet we still do it!

Jonathan: And I think about all the times, oh my god, driving, I've driven sixteen hours, to the point where I was barely awake when I got to my destination. It's so dangerous, and stupid. I feel like I wouldn't do that now, but, man. Just thinking about other times, I've stayed up, three days before, in certain cases.

Doug: Did you hallucinate?

I did actually once. I'm trying to think, of course, not to get to paranoid, what lasting damage did I do, did I get rid of a layer of my immune system or something?

Doug: That's interesting because there was a guy, a DJ in the 50s or the 60s as a promotional thing, stayed up for eight days straight, and stayed on the air the whole time. He was playing records and doing his DJ thing, and he started to go like, fully insane. When he said he was going to do it, apparently he was recommended by scientists, doctors that he not do it. But he said "No, no, I'm going to do it," and they're like "If you're going to do it, can we study you, because, that's a good opportunity." So they did, and they were saying, I watched a video where they were talking to the scientists who were there with him, and they said he was clearly psychotic. For a certain amount of time he was clearly psychotic, he was hallucinating, seeing spiders in his shoes, super paranoid. Thought that people coming in, like a doctor that came in to check on him, thought that he was a secret service guy, he thought people were trying to poison his food. But anyway, the point being that, after the fact, he slept for twenty-four hours straight. Then he woke up and he was like, "Yeah, I'm fine, I'm recovered, everything is cool." But, his wife said that he was never the same, and they were actually getting divorced.

Tiffany: What?

Jonathan: Ah!

Doug: It apparently caused permanent personality changes of some type. The guy was not the same person after. Apparently because he was a happy go lucky, kind of jokey guy, and after that, he was not.

Erica: And I think he set a world record, right, wasn't that what he was working towards?

Doug: He did at the time, but apparently the world record now is 11 days.

Tiffany: Oh my gosh.

Jonathan: Wow. By a meth head from Colorado.

Doug: Yeah!

Elliot: Jonathan, what's interesting, you said about driving. In Matthew Walker's book, he talks about how when someone has been up for twenty hours, their brain is functioning at a similar level to someone who is way over the limit in terms of drinking alcohol. Basically when you're driving and you've been up twenty hours, you're technically over the limit, and I can't remember this statistic, but the likelihood of having a crash is sky-high, when you're sleep deprived.

Erica: He also said that, comparing drunk driving with sleep deficit driving was, if you're drunk you have a little bit of motor skills to actually put on the brake, whereas if you're drowsy driving, you don't do anything.

Tiffany: You just crash!

Erica: Yeah you're basically that, like a three ton vehicle, flying!

Doug: He said it was the difference between having a slow reaction time, versus having no reaction time.

Erica: Yeah.

Jonathan: Wow. It's more dangerous.

Elliot: Well, when you go so long without sleep, I can't remember the exact amount of hours, but say, twenty hours or something, your body will naturally force these things called microsleeps. I think that's basically what they call them. And it's basically like temporary blips, every couple minutes, when you just go into a daze. You just sleep. Maybe it's for thirty seconds, could be for two minutes or something. But your body will try and force you to try and top up on some of that sleep. Apparently that's one of the main causes of all those car accidents which are due to sleep deprivation because people fall asleep at the wheel, without necessarily feeling tired. Their body just goes into this microsleep!

Jonathan: Is that what you would refer to as road hypnosis? When you dissociate and realize that you haven't actually looked at the road in a minute? I don't know if that happens to you guys.

Tiffany: Well, I've done that but it wasn't because I was sleepy, it was because I was off in La-La land.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Doug: Yeah. I think the hypnotic pattern of the white lines on the road can do that. I had it especially once when it was foggy outside, and all that was really in my vision were these white lines, going by. And I wasn't particularly tired, I could feel myself getting pulled into this weird hypnotic state, and all of a sudden I just snapped out of it. I was like "Whoa, wait a minute, I gotta roll down the windows, turn up the radio, this is bad!"

Tiffany: Good thing is we'll have self-driving cars in the future, so we'll never have another accident again.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Doug: Oh yeah, because they don't seem to have any accidents.

Jonathan: Not yet anyway.

Doug: It's interesting what Elliot was saying about the microsleeps, because apparently when you're really sleep deprived, people will start having hallucinations. And apparently the reason for that is your brain is basically going into the REM state, even though you're not asleep. REM is so important that even if you're forcing yourself to stay awake, you're still going to go into this REM state because it's so necessary. So people are essentially dreaming while they're conscious. That's why you get these weird hallucinatory experiences.

Tiffany: Well, he said the same thing about alcoholics, because alcohol blocked REM sleep, and then once they get off the alcohol and they're going through delirium tremens, they'll start dreaming while they're awake, which is what delirium is, which is really strange. I don't know if I'd ever want to be in that state.

Jonathan: It's almost akin to schizophrenia, eh?

Tiffany: Yeah.

Jonathan: I had a friend who ... I said 'had' because I haven't seen her for many years, obviously nameless. Schizophrenic. She would kind of relate stories about it. She said she had hallucinated one time, a 500-foot tall Jesus that was standing on the horizon. I was grilling her about it, okay, she thought it was there? She said "No, it was there, I saw it like it was real." That's really wild that your brain can even do that.

Tiffany: Well, when you're in REM sleep, the prefrontal cortex, which is the decision-making executive part of your brain gets shut down. So that's why a lot of weird stuff happens in dreams and you just accept it as true.

Jonathan: Speaking of the microsleeps thing, there was a story, I can't remember her name, but there was this young woman, that was an ultra-marathon runner, and she's blowing a lot of people out of the water with these 150 mile races. Really, really crazy stuff. She'll sleep very occasionally during the run. They're running for like two days. So they kind of either camp, and stop, and eat, and keep going. At one point she was way ahead of everybody and her trainer was with her, because they have to have somebody pace them, and she was like, "I gotta sleep, I gotta sleep, wake me up in one minute," and her trainer was like "Okay..." So she laid down on the trail, literally passed out for sixty seconds. He woke her up and she kept going and won the race.

Doug: Hmm.

Jonathan: So, what makes me curious about that is there's a kind of placebo effect. Matthew Walker talks about how our own gauge is not accurate. So, you might feel fine. So, I got five hours last night, I essentially feel fine, I might, if I really looked inward, I might notice I'm a little bit slow, but I think I feel fine. But, according to him, I'm lying to myself, and I wonder about that in cases where this woman is a runner. How much mind over matter is it that she can get up and run 15 more miles after that, after being exhausted to the point of passing out.

Erica: Or how she could sleep for one minute, that is so unrealistic.

Jonathan: For one minute, yeah. Well, that was such a level of exhaustion, you know.

Elliot: I think the answer to that is stress hormones. {laughter}

Jonathan: Yeah.

Elliot: They're pretty amazing things.

Doug: There is the thing about doing power naps though. Like sometimes when you're staying up a long time or something like that, and you're just so tired, and you lay down for twenty minutes, and you wake up and you're like "Actually, I feel pretty good now." Maybe it's some kind of placebo or...

Tiffany: It takes the edge off.

Doug: Yeah, it takes the edge off, it's like a second wind or something like that. It's just like that short twenty minute nap, you feel kind of good afterwards.

Jonathan: Have you ever had it make it worse, though? Because that happens to me sometimes too. Sometimes power naps are great, and then...

Doug: Yeah, if I go longer than twenty minutes, a lot of the time what would happen to me, I don't nap at this point in my life, but I did at one time. I found that if I laid down and slept for twenty minutes and then I got up, I was totally cool. If I did longer than that, and it's kinda like, because I would always wake up after twenty minutes. Then I would be like, "Nooo, I'm just going to keep on laying here," and if I did that, and I ended up sleeping for an hour or something, I would feel terrible, once I got up, like super groggy, having to fight my way out of sleep to be able to get up.

Jonathan: Right, yeah. I wonder if you could drill...

Erica: And then you'd just be ready to go to bed again.

Jonathan: Well I wonder if it's because in that extra forty minutes, you drill down deeper into the layers of sleep, so it's harder to get out.

Elliot: So, you have cycles where, you don't just go to sleep, and then, you're asleep. What is actually going on in the brain and the rest of the body is various cycles of what is called REM sleep and non-REM sleep, and they both feature completely different brain activity, different brain waves, they play different physiological functions. But, I would imagine what you're talking about Doug, is something to do with that. You can enter a short wave period, cycle. Generally, I believe the cycle of REM and NREM together, if I remember correctly is about three hours. I'm not sure about just one section of it. Maybe if you just have a short cycle of REM sleep, it may just be twenty minutes or something, and I think it varies at different times. I think that's generally why people, if you go much longer than that short cycle, you get into a much deeper cycle, maybe you're getting to the deep non-REM sleep, and getting out of that is kind of problematic.

Doug: Yeah.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Doug: Yeah, I think that's exactly what was going on.

Tiffany: One thing that was interesting that was in one of the articles we read was that dreams occur during non-REM sleep also. But in the article they said, they're not that great. Unemotional and kind of boring and hard to remember, and REM dreams pack more of a punch, apparently.

Jonathan: So this is the kind when you wake up and say "Was I just jogging in that dream?"

Doug: I was like "Did I just dream I was going to work?"

Jonathan: Yeah!

Doug: What a waste of time!

Jonathan: I'm curious, Walker doesn't talk about this specifically, he does talk about them, but he's not a dream scientist, right? But it makes me curious about nightmares, and where do nightmares happen? Is it at a deeper level? Because usually when I have nightmares, it's super vivid, but how would I know if I don't remember the ones that I don't remember, so!

Doug: I'm betting that nightmares would be more REM sleep, I would think.

Jonathan: Yeah, because they're so, kind of, hallucinatory.

Doug: The other ones are kind of so mundane and just kind of boring. When you really get into all the symbolic stuff where you can actually interpret them and stuff, those are all REM sleep.

Tiffany: Nightmares, I typically tend to remember those. At least for longer than I remember other non-nightmare dreams.

Doug: One thing that kinda relates to that is the whole sleep paralysis thing, and I think in that clip we just played, Walker kind of gave a bit of an explanation for that, he didn't specifically address it but just the fact that there is a process in the body that kind of paralyses the muscles during sleep, so that you don't start acting out these crazy dreams and stuff. And actually one thing that I did notice, I used to suffer from sleep paralysis quite a bit. I don't any more, at least not that often, and one thing that I noticed is that, if I was just taking a nap, I would have dreams and that is when I would often have the sleep paralysis moments. So it was kind of like I was in REM sleep, but then at the same time I was coming out of it and was sort of semi-conscious, or aware of where I was, that I was laying in my bed, what time it was, what day it was, and all that kind of stuff. But I couldn't move, so I think that kind of offers an explanation for that phenomena, which is really scary and terrible.

Jonathan: Yeah, I've never had that where I was conscious of being paralyzed. I was being curious. I know, it sounds terrifying, I have a friend who gets it occasionally, but yeah, I've never experienced that. I get what they call the Exploding Head Syndrome. Stupid name, it's a stupid name. I don't get it all the time, maybe if I had to guess, maybe 10 times a year, skipping one here and there, but as I'm falling asleep, I'll see a flash of light and actually hear a sound like a "Bzzzt!" Like a shock, it's like somebody stuck an electrode in my brain, and I'd wake up for a second, then I go back to sleep. It happens every once in a while. It got so weird that I looked it up, it's called Exploding Head Syndrome, but there's no explanation for it, so I don't know, I'm not sure.

Doug: Some kind of short-circuit in the brain or something like that?

Jonathan: Yeah, some kind of neurological thing.

Erica: Or it's that frontal cortex just turning off.

Jonathan: Maybe, yeah.

Tiffany: Do you all ever get that experience where you feel like you're falling?

Doug: Oh yeah.

Tiffany: And your body jolts?

Jonathan: I get that if I'm sitting up, if I'm sleeping in a chair, like in a car or on a plane, I get that.

Tiffany: So do we want to speculate as to why we need to dream, because it doesn't seem like something that has to happen but it happens with everyone.

Jonathan: Well, there's the general consensus that you're processing things, right? You're processing any kind of psychological issues throughout the day, or your life. People talk about premonition dreams to, I've had a couple that were unmistakable, like I dreamt it as it happened. That happened to me twice, but I can't claim anything for it, you know? It's just weird. I know it happens because it happened to me, but I've heard a lot of stories about people having the same thing, so I think there's some kind of information bleedthrough, if you want to get weird about it, you know?

Doug: Yeah, I often have thought of that. I mean, this is totally speculative, but I've thought of that this is kind of the time when your brain or whatever connects to the information field and it's like some kind of work going on there, some kind of stuff that you're working out. It's really vague, but it's kinda what I thought.

Jonathan: Yeah, well, the quantum guys say that time is kind of fluid, right? When you really drill down to it it's not such a linear thing, on a quantum physics level. This is out of my wheelhouse. What I'm saying is it's not entirely such a foo-foo idea. That information from the recent past or recent future would kind of leak through into your dreams. Obviously, that would sound really foo-foo to a lot of people. I don't know, I've always thought that your brain, you have all this input throughout the day, and you have all this to process, and your brain is just dumping data, defragmenting while you're sleeping.

Tiffany: And dreaming is just the byproduct of all the activity happening in your brain, perhaps?

Jonathan: Well, that's one idea, yeah. Well it is so specific, you know. Some dreams, I'm not talking about premonition dreams, but some dreams are so specific. You know what I'm talking about, everybody's had this kind of dream where you wake up and, "I was just somewhere else, that was real!" You know? Smells, sounds, touch, everything. So, it's pretty bizarre.

Tiffany: Yeah, we have a caller. He wants to call in.

Jonathan: Cool.

Harrison: Hey this is Harrison.

Tiffany: Hey.

Jonathan: Hey, Harrison!

Doug: Hey, Harrison.

Elliot: Hey!

Harrison: I wanted to say a couple things on this dreaming conversation, and even why we dream, even though it seems we don't need to dream. Now, this is kind of speculative as well, but I first read of this idea in a book called The Irreducible Mind. Really big book, kind of a collection of all the latest research to show that consciousness can be reduced to physical processes, basically. They get into all kinds of stuff to psycho-neuro-immunology or whatever it's called to more weird things like hypnosis and then more parapsychological things. But, I think it was in the introduction, this book, they're going through some theories of consciousness, and some philosophers and psychologists, basically theorists of consciousness who say that, or who speculate that the nature of consciousness is essentially oneiric in nature. Oneiric basically means "dream-like", and that the nature of consciousness is to dream, and we're awake in the physical world and our consciousness is linked to our physical bodies, there is as much projection of the consciousness onto the physical reality as there is the physical reality influencing our consciousness. So we basically project our awareness of the things around us on to that environment, and that kind of matches up with the things that are out there to be perceived. So when you dream, or when you're asleep, you're taking away the external world on to which we project our consciousness or our awareness of things, and that ties into altered states of consciousness as well, and because what happens in altered states of consciousness, and these can be ecstatic experiences and what are typically called religious experiences, is that, you have various parts of your brain receiving information about the world and about your body, and other parts that are sending signals to other parts of the brain, so it's all interconnected. But in ecstatic experiences, the parts of your brain that are receiving the impulses from your body, for instance, those get turned off. Your basically conscious, but you lose the connection with your body. So you're not perceiving your body anymore. So that leads to the perception that you don't have your body anymore, or your this expansive, bodiless thing. So you still have awareness, but you've lost any connection with your body. So, taking this back to dreams, the idea might be that something similar has happened, like a religious experience, where you no longer have the input from the physical world, from your own body, and that leaves your consciousness to be freed from that physical constraint, or that physical channeling of your consciousness, to basically revert your consciousness to a more primitive form, or a more basic form. So your consciousness is no longer limited to the physical form when you're awake. Primitive might not be the best word, it's like, more basic. So, the hypothesis is that dreaming is a more basic level of consciousness, that it's kind of like the default mode, and that might even tie in with near-death experiences, or pre-birth experiences, that you hear from children who remember past lives, and end of life experiences. These would be almost religious or strange experiences that people who are dying have. It's almost like they enter a dream world while they are still awake and while they're dying and they'll report all these three types of experiences they report similar phenomena. So, it's almost like their brain shifts out of the physical world and into this other world where consciousness is not as limited by physical reality. I just wanted to share that as an hypothesis.

Tiffany: Yeah, there's a need for the consciousness to go about unfettered from the physical body...

Harrison: Yeah, maybe.

Tiffany: ...and without that need being satisfied, there would be deleterious effects.

Harrison: Because a lot of these people would have these experiences, not just near death experiences but even more routine basic religious experiences, especially in the near death experiences, when you have people who have physically died and leave their bodies, they describe it as it's just such a relief. They never realised how much work it was to be an a body, and they actually don't want to come back because their cognition is clearer, they're more aware, they don't have pain. It's just less constricted, it's like feeling lighter. It's like feeling, one woman who had a near death experience during a really intense operation where the doctors basically killed her in order to try to save her life by removing this aneurysm. She was just an average weight woman, but she said it felt like she had been 500 pounds, and had lost 400 pounds in an instant, when she had left her body. She just felt lighter and freer. So yeah, maybe it's taxing to be in the body and sleep can take the load off of our consciousness that it experiences by just being in the body, during the day.

Jonathan: That's pretty much word-for-word what Walker says. Totally second-witnesses that. Because he talks about waking life causes brain damage. So that we have to sleep in order to repair that, but as we are awake, we are deteriorating. Interesting because it's almost tied into your life cycle. I'm thinking of it in terms of, you die because you're gradually more and more brain damaged, over time, as you're staying awake for more and more days, but you wouldn't necessarily live forever if you slept forever because then your muscles would atrophy and you would die from inactivity. So we need both of these things, which is kind of weird. It doesn't seem like we're supposed to be here. {laughter}

Doug: It is interesting though that the REM state in particular, but sleep in general, it is clearly very necessary. So whatever is happening, and what you just shared Harrison is really fascinating, but it makes me wonder, what about that experience is so vital and important. Because like we were talking about before, if you don't actually give your body the chance to sleep and experience that REM state, it will just enter it on it's own, even when you're just up and walking around. So clearly it is vital, whatever it is.

Jonathan: Yeah. I like that idea. It's like you need to take your clothes off and run around naked once in a while. {laughter}

Doug: Every day apparently!

Jonathan: Yeah.

Erica: I was going to say, I'd speculate on that, just totally out of the blue, but, making those connections in the brain without feeling the weight of physicality, and what are you saying about how lack of sleep causes a deterioration in the brain, and Alzheimer's. So maybe it's like a cleaning of the brain, too. Making those connections, or, I don't know, not saying it the best way.

Tiffany: Well, the brain does clean itself at night, through the lymphatic system.

Jonathan: Yeah, it's a literal detox function, right, that happens while you're sleeping?

Elliott: Yeah, you also undergo a process called autophagy. Basically this is where all of the damaged cellular components whether it be mitochondria, or protein, or the fats that make up the membranes. Your body basically tags them during a waking state and then in order to detoxify them, basically digest them and get rid of them, you need to get into a state of autophagy. This is one of the reasons why they proclaim that fasting is so beneficial because it induces this cleaning out function. It's important to note that it's melatonin, the hormone which is associated with sleep, melatonin modulates this process, and so you can go to sleep and have low levels of melatonin, and you are not necessarily going to clear out the debris as well as you would have. Like the beta-amyloid plaques in Alzheimer's, for instance. The way that they're cleared out is autophagy.

Doug: Yeah. So I wonder if Alzheimer's is some kind of clog in the clearing out system.

Jonathan: Yeah, it was also tied to poor light, right? Elliot, you can probably correct me if I'm wrong on this but I seem to recall that the whole importance of light and getting natural light into your eyeballs was to increase that detox capability as well as melatonin.

Elliott: Yeah. So...

Jonathan: Also, I wonder if Alzheimer's was partially induced by poor light for too many years.

Elliott: Well, Matthew Walker talks about this extensively in his book, he talks about the Edison light bulb and the work of Nikola Tesla, and basically how humans have created artificial light, like this environment which we've sort of normalized now but is really quite a recent development and it's not conducive to the way the body is meant to work in many ways. The exposure to artificial light at night time has been shown time and time again to do two things, it can basically first of all reduce the overall content of melatonin that you are going to produce. Ideally you want a good load of melatonin, melatonin is an antioxidant in the brain, but it also coordinates many different functions related to the metabolism, and detoxification, everything like that. So you want a good quantity of melatonin. The other problem with artificial light is that it basically delays the onset of it. It can delay it by up to three hours.

So ideally, you should be producing melatonin in the early evening, and that is what will promote a deep rested sleep. You will go to sleep, and as it gets to 4, 5, 6 AM, there will be a steep decrease in melatonin, and then you would start the next day. The problem is, with artificial light, when you delay the onset of melatonin, so you delay it by three hours, so you go to bed at let's say twelve o'clock in the evening, say you watch a movie or you look at your iPad while you're in bed, and you get to bed by twelve o'clock and you may not be producing melatonin until 3 AM. So that's potentially six hours later than you ordinarily would have. So one of the reasons why people go to bed that late and they wake up and they feel really groggy, is actually because of the melatonin that they still got floating around in their system, which is basically making them feel like that. So, the artificial light is a big problem.

It's not only the artificial light at night, it's also the lack of sunlight in the early morning. Typically you would naturally be exposed to really bright light, as soon as the sun rises, and this is a trigger for a cascade of different chemical reactions, which basically trigger various hormones, and stuff like that, and it's all really cool. But it's really good, it's good for your body. Most of the time people wake up and they might stay indoors all day, and they never really get that input, that stimulus to tell their body that it's awake, and so that can also affect the way you produce melatonin, and sleep the subsequent night.

Erica: I thought it was interesting what he said about supplementing with melatonin and that, unless you're travelling, it's really kind of just a placebo effect. Like if you travel at different times.

Doug: He did say for older people.

Erica: Oh. But not as a supplement to be taken on a regular basis.

Doug: Well, he says there wasn't really an issue with taking it. He says if it's working then by all means, keep going. He said that melatonin for older people, as they age, they produce less, so it has been found to be beneficial for the aged. But, yeah, the average person is just popping it all the time. It's more likely a placebo effect.

Jonathan: I remember hearing melatonin taken orally doesn't cross the blood-brain-barrier, kind of like GABA, or not very much of it crosses. I have to look that up to confirm though.

Elliott: So in the book he recommends that you should take melatonin when you change time zones. Basically if you fly from Europe to the US, something like that, the time that you should take it is around the same time that it starts to get dark. So if you're not feeling tired, say if you gain seven hours or something, say your home time is like 3 PM, whereas when you get off the flight is 10 PM, say in Los Angeles or somewhere. So you would take melatonin at that time, even though your body is not tired, to try and trick it into thinking it's night time, because where you are, you're adapting to the night time of your environment.

Jonathan: I met a guy once who said that twice a year he flies from Holland to Los Angeles, and that he's gotten used to that trip and that on the way from Europe to the United States, he has to sleep, and on the way back, he can't sleep. In terms of if he's crossing the time zones back to Europe, if he does sleep, he'll screw himself up for like a week or two after that. But if he doesn't sleep then he's exhausted when he gets there and he'll pass out and then get back, so. Maybe falling trap to that catch-up idea, which is not true. It's interesting. Well speaking of Walker's stuff, let's go to another clip, and we'll discuss that when we get back. I think we have another one here.

Tiffany: In this one they're talking about ways to get better sleep.

Jonathan: Sweet.

"Say if you're a person who has insomnia, you have a hard time getting to bed, you have a hard time staying asleep, when you wake up you can't go back to bed, are there strategies?

There are, I mean, for most people there are five things that you can do, just out the gate to get better sleep. Regularity is probably the most important thing I can tell you. Go to bed at the same time, wake up at the same time, no matter whether it's weekend, weekday, regularity is key. We've spoken about light. For example, in the last hour before bed, try to stay away from screens, but also switch off half the lights in the house. You'd be surprised at how soporific that is. You really feel like you are sort of getting drowsy. They've done studies where they take people out into the Rockies, no electric light, no electricity whatsoever, and they started to go to bed two hours earlier than the acclaimed natural bedtime. It wasn't that they didn't have anything necessarily to do, it was that their melatonin was rising two hours earlier. Keep it dark.

Another thing is, keep it cool. Your brain actually needs to drop it's temperature by about 2 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit in order to initiate sleep. And that's the reason why you'll find it easier to fall asleep in a room that's too cold than too hot.

I've seen people use cold pads, have you seen those? People sleep on those cold pads.

Yeah, the evidence is pretty good that cooling the body actually works. In the book I write about a series of studies where they had people in, it's almost like a wetsuit, but it has all of these veins running through it, and they could actually perfuse warm or cold water into any part of the body, hands, core of the body, feet. You could exquisitely manipulate the temperature of any part of the body. And what they found is that they could effectively cool the body down, and it instantaneously made people fall asleep faster, and it gave them deeper deep non-REM sleep, that sort of restorative sleep for the body. And, you can even look at studies where people sleep semi-naked, and that also seems to improve their sleep, and they get a little bit of deep sleep too. So cold is better. The paradox here though is that you need to warm your feet and your hands to kind of charm the blood away from your core, out to the surface and radiate that heat.

Really? So you should go to sleep with socks and gloves on?

Yeah, or better still, have a hot bath. Evidence here too, that I discuss where people say, "You know, I get out of a hot bath, and I feel nice and toasty and relaxed, and that's why I fall asleep." It's the opposite, when you get into a bath, you get vasodilation, or you sort of get rosy cheeks, red skin, all of the blood rushes to the surface. You get out of the bath, and you have this massive thermal dump of heat that just evacuates from the body. Your core body temperature plummets, and that's why you sleep better.

Wow. So your core body temperature plummets, and that's what makes you sleep easier.

Yeah.

That sounds so counterintuitive, but it makes sense.

It makes sense, because that's how we were designed. If you look at hunter-gatherer tribes whose way of life has not changed for thousands of years and you ask, "How do they sleep?" One of the things that seems to dictate their sleep is the rise and fall of temperature. Temperature is at its lowest in the nadir of the night, 3 or 4 in the morning, and as that climate temperature starts to drop, that's when they start to get drowsy, as if temperature is just signalling to the brain, "Now it's time to sleep." So light, as well as temperature are two key triggers to help you get better sleep. If you look at those tribes, by the way, and when they go to sleep and when they wake up, when they go to sleep, probably about two hours after dusk, sort of 8 to 9 in the evening, wake up half an hour before dawn, it's the rise in temperature rather than the light that triggers their awakening. But there's a reason, have you actually thought about what the term "midnight" actually means. Middle of the night. And that's what it should be for all of us. But in modernity, we've been dislocated from our natural rhythms, and now midnight is the time when we think, I should check Facebook one last time, I should send my last email, that's not how we were designed to sleep, and in fact we may also be designed to sleep biphasically too. If you look at those hunter-gatherers, they don't sleep one long bout of 8 hours at night.

I've heard this recently, that you should have two sleeps.

It's actually a little different than the idea of two sleeps. So, there was a time in sort of the Dickensian era, where people would sleep for the first half of the night, maybe four hours or so, then they would wake up, they would socialize, they would eat, they would make love, and then they would go back and have a second sleep. If you look at natural biological rhythms in the brain and the body, that doesn't seem to be how we were designed. It certainly seems to be something that we did in society, but I think it's more of a societal trend than it was a biological edict. However, we do seem to have two sleep periods, the way that we were designed. Tribes will often sleep six and a half, seven hours of sleep at night, and then especially in the summer, they would have that siesta-like behavior in the afternoon, and all of us have that. Sort of what we call the postprandial dip in alertness right after lunch, and if I measure your brain wave activity with electrodes, I can see a drop in your physiological alertness, somewhere between 2 to 4 PM in the afternoon.

But does that depend on diet?

It's not. People think it is, especially after they've had a heavy lunch. You can actually just have people fast and, well, fasting for long periods of time actually makes your sleep much worse, but you can have people abstain from lunch, and you still get that drop. So independent of food, it's a genetically hardwired, pre-programmed drop which suggests that we should be sleeping biphasically.

But does that depend on their standard diet? Because if someone is on a carbohydrate-rich diet, a lot of times you do get that spike, and then a crash. But, when people are on low-carb and high-fat diets, they don't get that, and they tend to be more even with their energy throughout the day.

Yep, and that more constant release of energy can actually help you almost combat that lull.

But that lull exists no matter what.

Exactly.

So, even if you don't think it exists, it's there.

So why did they do that in the Dickens' era, why did they. Is there a root cause of their double sleep thing?

I don't know, we'd have to sort of go back...

It's fascinating, that it was a trend.

Yeah, it was a movement.

That they would just wake up, and do things.

Yeah.

Maybe it's because they didn't have TV, so they didn't know what to do with themselves. {laughter}

Sounds like they did some pretty interesting things, which were nice.

Yeah, well, they created a lot of art then, too right. A lot of writing, and a lot of fascinating stuff came out of that time. Now when you're measuring...

Tiffany: We kind of stopped right in the middle of that.

Jonathan: Nah, it's okay. The biphasic sleep thing is kind of interesting. I've had that happen to me kind of organically at times, and if I kind of go with it, I feel fine. I'll wake up at like 3 or 4, do a few things and go back to sleep. But, it doesn't happen all the time, just once in a while.

Tiffany: For me too, sometimes. It's still aggravating though. I'd rather just sleep all the way through and get it over with. Especially when you have to get up and go to work at a certain time.

Doug: Yeah, it's like the whole biphasic sleep thing kind of assumes that you kind of have a lifestyle that supports it. If you could sleep at whatever time you wanted to in the morning, then yeah, okay, maybe you could get away with like being awake for an hour in the middle of the night. Or even the siesta thing too, you could sleep 6 and a half hours, as long as you had the opportunity to nap at two o'clock in the afternoon, but like especially in the Western world there's not a lot of people who have that opportunity.

Elliott: What's interesting to note here is that you do have chronotypes. So you have different people who basically follow, they have the same sort of set circadian rhythm, but it's at different times. So, you have early birds, and you have night owls. And that's kind of independent of light exposure. So you'll have teenagers, typically, their circadian rhythm gets later as they enter into adolescence, late adolescence, and then as they become adults, it comes back again, and it becomes earlier. But you have some people who naturally go to sleep a lot earlier, and wake a lot earlier, and other people who go to sleep much later, and wake up much later. He speculates that the possible evolutionary benefit for this was that if you had a tribe of people, and they all went to sleep at the same time for 8 hours, then that would be 8 hours that the tribe would essentially be unprotected from predators or something. Whereas, by essentially designing it so that some go to bed earlier and some go to bed later, it shortens the period of time by which the tribe is essentially unprotected. There would be like a 4 hour window from say, 11{PM} until 3{AM} or 12{AM} until 4{AM}, but then you'd have the early birds who were starting to wake up. Likewise when the early birds go to bed, you've got the night owls who stay awake that little bit longer.

Doug: That's interesting.

Elliot: Yeah, that's interesting, I don't know how you'd be able to tell what your chronotype is. There's a couple of books, but I haven't read them. I used to think that I was a night owl, but when I fixed my light environment, it turns out that I'm really an early bird. You know, I'll go to bed at 9, and wake up at half-five, every day.

Erica: Same here.

Elliott: Yeah, and that was interesting, so, I think, to really find out what sort of chronotype you are, you have to fix your light environment. There was also one thing I was going to say, that we haven't touched upon, that I find really worth mentioning. This is on the benefits of sleep, is actually meal timing. So there's tons of research basically showing when you eat a meal late at night, say 3 to 4 hours before you go to bed, it does drastically reduce your sleep quality. So, there's research basically showing, you can feed two sets of rodents the exact same diet, and one will get obese, and one will stay lean and healthy, and the only difference is the meal timing. It's the disrupted circadian rhythm. Likewise in human studies, there's studies on time-restricted feeding. There are studies basically showing that eating within an 8 hour window can rapidly increase insulin sensitivity, increase weight loss and improve overall health. Researchers were wondering whether the time fasted, so 16 hours of fasting, this could be attributed to the benefits of the time-restricted eating protocol. But what they've actually found is that, okay, if you do time-restricted feeding, and you do it early on in the day, you get all of the benefits. But if you do time-restricted feeding later on in the day, you can actually make things worse. So now they're actually starting to think, okay, maybe it's actually not the fasting which is ultimately so beneficial, maybe it's the effects that it's having on the circadian rhythm. Because when you eat in the morning, you are setting your circadian rhythm. And if you're not eating just before bed or anywhere near bed, you are ultimately improving sleep, and this seems to be the thing. So, food also ties into sleep.

Doug: Hmm, that's interesting.

Jonathan: Yeah, very interesting. So you're saying that you should be eating more than 4 hours before you go to bed?

Elliott: Well, the research shows that typically after six o' clock, or half six, it does disrupt sleep quality. And it basically disrupts blood glucose. And so there's some research, Alessandro Ferretti, he's done some work showing that eating at any point after half six in the evening can negatively impact blood glucose. Blood glucose is really quite a determining factor in how well someone sleeps. If you've got dysregulated blood glucose, or too high or something, then it can actually influence the way that melatonin is secreted, and it influences cortisol and stuff like that.

Tiffany: Well, I've played around with my eating times a lot, and one thing that I've noticed, I don't know if I've noticed the whole time, but if I eat too early, like maybe around 3, or earlier, my last meal of the day, I'll wake up in the middle of the night, hungry. But if I eat around 6, I'm fine, all throughout the night.

Elliott: I'd be interested to know what was the composition of the meal?

Tiffany: It's usually lower in carbs, not very carb-heavy.

Elliott: Okay, yeah, that could be.

Tiffany: But I did want to bring up, and ask if any one of you have tried inclined sleeping? Where you raise the head of your bed, six to eight inches, not just the head but the whole bed is tilted, and you are at a five degree incline, and the way it works is that gravity, like if you picture a tree, gravity will pull the denser sap down to the bottom of the tree and then the lighter sap will be at the top and then it just flows into the cycle, or the dense sap and the light sap kind of changes places. So, that is the theory behind this inclined sleeping. It's supposed to be really good for circulation, breathing, glymphatic drainage, and it helps with migraines. No one's ever tried it?

Jonathan: So, it's your head above your feet?

Tiffany: Yes, your head is raised up, like you can put a wedge in it, some people have made special inclined beds on their own, but I think they sell these little wedge things on Amazon.

Jonathan: Because I've always heard that you shouldn't fall asleep in a chair too much, or sit for too long, despite the obvious because of deep vein thrombosis, so you don't get that?

Tiffany: Yeah, you're lying flat, it's not just your head or your back that's tilted, your whole bed is tilted.

Jonathan: Right, gotcha. Huh, no, never tried it.

Tiffany: So it'll be an interesting experiment.

Doug: Yeah.

Jonathan: Very interesting. Yeah the regular diet thing, I noticed that too. I don't know if everyone's tried the Keto diet or the low-carb diet generally, that you don't nap as much, or even at all. Yeah, Doug you mentioned it earlier and I feel the same way. Unless I've done a coding marathon or something, I'm not usually napping. It's going to be pretty drastic to take a nap during the middle of the day. But, if I stray off my diet and have too many carbs, or some sugar or something like that, immediately, two o'clock in the afternoon, on the nose, I'm like, wiped out. So, at least for me, it's a really clear correlation. I think in that clip, Matthew Walker meant something different when he responded to what Rogan asked, "is it because of diet?" I think Walker was talking about when you eat, not necessarily what you eat overall. So, I think the lower carb diet improves that ability to sustain energy during the day, and have more regular sleep. I don't know if that's a hundred percent here and there. Because there's also the fact that we can handle more glucose in the summer, and there's things like that. So it's really complicated. But, for myself, if I'm low-carb, I'm not tired. It's a pretty much one-to-one correlation.

Elliott: Yeah, what Matthew Walker was talking about was, from what I understand, the circadian rhythm of various hormones. So one of the hormones which is really high in the morning is cortisol, and what typically happens at around 2 PM, is you get a drastic decrease in the natural rhythm,.you basically get less cortisol,, and they should go continually down until you get to bedtime, you go to sleep and then it raises in the morning again. So with that there's also another brain chemical called orexin, and this is what basically is involved in arousal and wakefulness, and those kinds of things. Making you feel sleepy and making you feel awake. So with the drop in cortisol you also get effects on the orexin pathways in the brain, and I think this is what he's talking about, it's the circadian rhythm of the stress hormones making you feel tired or sleepy, with the drop in the cortisol, what comes with that naturally is an inclination to go to sleep.

Jonathan: He also mentioned not just reducing screen time but turning the lights down in the house, and also part of the reason, before part of the show, I said we were inspired by Matthew Walker, well he was on Joe Rogan's show. Well, I heard that and that's what got me thinking about sleep more. So, my girlfriend and I started doing that, so I said "Okay, we're going to go to bed soon, let's turn 90 percent of the lights off," and sure enough, without fail, you just start immediately feeling like, "Okay, I feel like going to sleep." You don't have to feel like you need to try to go to bed, it just kind of naturally comes about. So, even if, I'm on Slack or something on the phone, then either turn your lights down in the house or, I think it's psychological as well as physical, it kind of gets you into that space. But that seems to work really well. So, I think we're kind of coming up on our time, let's go to the Pet Health Segment, Zoya has prepared something for us.

Doug: Yes.

Zoya: Hello, and welcome to the Pet Health Segment of the Health & Wellness Show. This week's topic is Schrodinger's Cat. A thought experiment in quantum mechanics. Austrian physicist Erwin Schrodinger, one of the founders of quantum mechanics posed this famous question. If you put a cat in a sealed box, in a device that has a 50 percent chance of killing the cat in the next hour, what will be the state of the cat when the time is up? An important disclaimer, that no cat was actually harmed in this experiment, and while making this segment. Listen to the recording and have a great weekend!

"Austrian physicist, Erwin Schrodinger, is one of the founders of quantum mechanics, but he's most famous for something he never actually did. A thought experiment involving a cat. He imagined taking a cat and placing it in a sealed box, with a device that had 50 percent chance of killing the cat in the next hour. At the end of that hour, he asked, what is the state of the cat? Common sense suggests that the cat is either alive or dead. But Schrodinger pointed out that according to quantum physics, at the instant the box is open, the cat is equal parts alive and dead at the same time. It's only when the box is opened, that we see a single definite state. Until then, the cat is a blur of probability, half one thing, and half the other. This seems absurd, which was Schrodinger's point. He found quantum physics so philosophically disturbing that he abandoned the theory that he helped make, and turned to writing about biology. As absurd as it may seem, though, Schrodinger's cat is very real. In fact, it's essential. If it weren't possible for quantum objects to be in two states at once, the computer you're using to watch this, couldn't exist.

The quantum phenomena of superposition, is a consequence of the dual particle and wave nature of everything. In order for an object to have a wavelength, it must extend over some region of space, which means it occupies many positions at the same time. The wavelength of an object, limited to a small region of space, can't be perfectly defined though. So, it exists, in many different wavelengths at the same time. We don't see these wave properties for everyday objects, because the wave properties decreases as the momentum increases, and a cat is relatively big and heavy. If we took a single atom, and blew it up to the size of the solar system, the wavelength of a cat running from a physicist, would be as small as an atom within that solar system. That's far too small to detect, so we'll never see wave behavior from a cat. A tiny particle like an electron though, can show dramatic evidence of its dual nature. If we shoot electrons, one at a time, at a set of two narrow slits cut in a barrier, each electron on the far side is detected at a single place at a specific instant. Like a particle. But, if you repeat this experiment many times, keeping track of all the individual detections, you'll see them trace out a pattern that's characteristic of wave behavior. A set of stripes, regions with many electrons, separated by regions where there are none at all. Block one of the slits, and the stripes go away. This shows that the pattern is a result of each electron going through both slits at the same time. A single electron isn't choosing to go left or right, but left and right, simultaneously.

This superposition of states also leads to modern technology. An electron near the nucleus of an atom, exists in a spread-out, wavelike orbit. Bring two atoms close together, and the electrons don't need to choose just one atom, but are shared between them. This is how some chemical bonds form. An electron in a molecule, isn't on just atom A or atom B, but A plus B. As you add more atoms, the electrons spread out more, shared between vast numbers of atoms at the same time. The electrons in a solid aren't bound to a particular atom, but shared among all of them, extending over a large range of space. This gigantic superposition of states, determines the ways electrons move through the material, whether it's a conductor, or an insulator, or a semiconductor. Understanding how electrons are shared amongst atoms, allows us to precisely control the properties of semiconductor materials like silicon. Combining different semiconductors in the right way allows us to make transistors on a tiny scale. Millions on a single computer chip. Those chips and their spread out electrons, power the computer you're using to watch this video. An old joke says the internet exists to allow the sharing of cat videos. At a very deep level though, the internet owes its existence to an Austrian physicist and his imaginary cat."

Jonathan: Are those goats there, or not there, I'm not sure.

Doug: Schrodinger's Goats.

Jonathan: Well, thank you Zoya, that was fascinating. Well, I think that we'll just go ahead and wrap up for today. We've given some tips, some techniques for getting better sleep. I think the salient point is, don't take it for granted. Avoid falling into that trap where you think you can catch up, or get away with a little bit. Really try to be regular about it, and I've noticed for sure that seven hours, because I'll try to get away with six. So I think it's close, but I'm sure it's not working.

Doug: Yeah. I'm thinking the same thing, I need to work on my sleep hygiene a bit.

Jonathan: Yeah, and weight loss too, I mean that was another thing. I know Walker talked about it but that wasn't part of the material that I was reading as well. If you are struggling with weight loss, or trying to do that, and it's not working very well, regular healthy amounts of sleep appear to do that, so that's another thing.

Elliott: Just to quickly, well I don't know about that. People think weight loss is all about food, but it's actually not all about food, it's how your body deals with that food as well, and weight loss by definition basically means leptin resistance, so there's a hormone called leptin and it makes you feel full, and it's basically like the energy state that's in the body, and so people who are overweight basically become less responsive to this leptin hormone which makes them feel full after eating, and so they typically get into a rut where they consume way more calories than they actually need to because they're not feeling full. So, really the primary control of leptin sensitivity is actually the circadian rhythm, so it's been shown that you can induce leptin sensitivity and increase weight loss just by getting that robust circadian rhythm going and a steady seven to nine hours sleep per night.

Jonathan: There you go, better health, better weight loss, better thinking also, all sorts of stuff.

Tiffany: Better brain.

Jonathan: Better brain. So, we encourage everybody to look into that, do that, try it out for yourself, try to sleep better, and thanks everybody for tuning in today and for participating in the chat. Be sure to check out the SOTT radio show on Sunday at noon Eastern time. Go to radio.sott.net, and we will catch you next week. Thanks everyone.

Tiffany: Goodbye everyone.

Elliott: Bye!

Doug: Bye!

Erica: Bye!

The Health & Wellness Show:

Robbed of Sleep, Robbed of Health: The Importance of Catching Winks

Friday, 18 May, 2018

Jonathan: Welcome to the Health & Wellness show everybody! Today's Friday, May 18th, 2018. My name is Jonathan and I'll be your host for today and joining me in our virtual studio from all over the planet we have Elliot, Erica, Tiffany and Doug. Hey guys.

[Hello's]

Jonathan: So, we're missing Gaby today, we wish her well, and hopefully we'll see her next week.

Tiffany: She's probably sleeping.

Jonathan: Probably, which is what we're going to talk about today. So, the one thing that we spend the most time out of our life doing, besides being awake, to be a no-brainer {laughter}, is sleeping. About a third of your life, and we're the only mammal that willingly delays sleep, which is interesting. I think that's the crux of our discussion today, the ability or handicap, however you want to refer to it, to consciously manipulate our own sleep patterns. It leads to a lot of chronic diseases, everything up to dementia, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity. It knocks down your immune system when you're not sleeping, I'm sure everybody's familiar with that.

We wanted to talk about, and this is something I struggle with too, that little "Oh, I got six hours, it's okay," or "I'll get five, I'll get seven tomorrow," that kind of thing we have learned in the course of our reading for the show, is quite damaging. It's kind of shocking how damaging it is. So, let's get into it. Did you guys sleep last night? I did not! {laughter} No, I slept like five hours which is not good.

Doug: Well that's good enough right?

Jonathan: Yeah, exactly.

Elliot: I got eight and a half hours.

Erica: I got nine. {laughter}

Tiffany: I probably got about ten.

Jonathan: Leading the pack.

Doug: Wow. I'm kind of jealous right now. I got six, six and a half maybe.

Tiffany: I probably got about nine, I'm exaggerating a little bit. Even without all of the bad things like cancer and the lowered immunity and the Alzheimer's, even without knowing that, basically, some people do, I know I do, when I don't get good sleep, it just feels terrible.

Doug: Yeah.

Tiffany: It feels bad to be drowsy during the day, you want to be alert and get things done. I was very, very sleepy during the day yesterday, and I fell asleep at my desk, and it was not comfortable at all. Even if I don't think I'm going to get the old-timer's disease, just being sleepy during the day is enough to make me want to get really good sleep.

Jonathan: Yeah, it is annoying when you're drowsy, and you really can't do much about it.

Doug: Even if you're not drowsy. It seems like if you don't get enough sleep, you might feel okay, you might not feel like you're actually tired -

Tiffany: I'd feel foggy.

Doug: Yeah, there's fogginess, but you're just not performing things that you normally do up to the same standard. Sometimes we'll find conversations awkward, and other things, things I've done a million times, like dropping things, it's weird.

Tiffany: Yeah I do find that I drop stuff and I forget stuff. Like I have to go back in the house because I forgot something on my way somewhere.

Erica: And your emotions can become really erratic. Like if you normally can deal with stressful situations with not quality sleep, which I'm sure we can discuss. You can be just like an emotional basket case.

Jonathan: Shut up, Erica, what are you trying to say? {laughter}

Erica: Well I'm okay, because I got nine hours, I'm happy. {laughter}

Jonathan: Well, that totally happens. I know my legs just get wobbly, and I'd step out of my truck and start to roll my ankle, and I'd go like "Ah!" I lose motor function and dexterity in my legs for some reason when I'm tired.

Erica: Well I think it's important to mention quality of sleep too. Maybe you get eight hours but you're waking up every hour, or it's disrupted, so you don't get that deep sleep, which seems to be what prevents all the diseases that Tiffany mentioned.

Tiffany: And not having to get up in the middle of the night to pee is a real bonus! {laughter}

Doug: I have a friend who's like that actually, who every night, at some point, has to wake up and pee.

Tiffany: Some people might wake up multiple times during the night to pee.

Doug: Yeah. Well I think some of that is because of prostate issues for guys. But, this is a young guy, so I don't think it's that.

Elliot: I was going to say that waking up to pee is technically not true. Well, I guess, in a minority of cases it may actually be to pee, but generally it's not the sensation of needing to urinate that wakes you up.

Tiffany: I know where you're going.

Elliot: If you're sleeping properly, if you're in deep sleep, then that sensation, that part of the nervous system, that message does not actually get sent, let's say. It's meant to shut off. But what typically happens is someone will wake up due to either a spiking cortisol, or there's something else that wakes them up, whatever it is, whether it's body temperature dysregulation or something like that, and then when they wake up, they become acutely aware of the sensation of having a full bladder. They go to the toilet then they attribute waking up, the reason that they woke up to wanting to pee. But actually the reason that they woke up made them aware that they needed to pee, and then they go to pee.

Tiffany: I know what you mean by that, and I have been able to tell the difference. Very, very rarely, much more so when I was younger, I would have to get up to pee. I would be dreaming that I had to pee, or that I was peeing, and if I didn't stop myself and actually wake up to pee, I would pee. Occasionally as an adult I'll feel that need, but mostly I'd just wake up for some other reason, and I'd say "Hey, I might as well pee." {laughter}

Jonathan: Did you guys ever do the hand in the warm bowl of water trick on somebody?

Doug: No, is that a myth or is it true?

Jonathan: No it's not a myth but it works. I remember from high school, but I haven't done it in many years. {laughter}

Erica: Don't try it at home.

Jonathan: Our show today was largely inspired by this guy, Matthew Walker, who has a PhD in neurophysiology from Medical Research Council in London, and he's a professor at Harvard Medical School.

Erica: Wasn't he at Berkeley?

Jonathan: Yeah, he was at Harvard, and now he's at Berkeley. His website is sleepdiplomat.com and as you would imagine, he's a sleep diplomat. He goes around telling people why they should sleep and why it's important, but he had a lot of really interesting things to say and a lot of stuff about athletics. People who need physical performance and how important sleep is to them. But also to just everybody. Because daily life is physical performance, even if you're not exerting yourself. You need your mind to be clear and not dropping things and all that stuff. But one of the things that got me that he talks about is the consistency of the timing. So it's not like I can go to bed at two and get up at ten, and then go to bed at ten and get up at six. That inconsistent schedule is just as bad as having gotten too little sleep. I thought that was really interesting too and have been trying to do a regular schedule, albeit I'm only getting maybe three or four days out of the week, where I keep it consistent.

Erica: He makes a point to say that you can't bank sleep, right?

Jonathan: That was very interesting, yeah. It's not credit.

Erica: It's not like you can sleep ten hours one night, and two the next and it will equal out. That means when you've missed it, you've missed it.

Elliot: I recently read a book and it's called Why We Sleep, and it's currently up there as one of the best sellers in all of the different charts and stuff, and I've got to say that it's an absolutely amazing book to read. It's jam-packed full of information, so it probably needs a second or third read to really understand everything he was saying. But the implications of it are quite staggering, I think. I thought that I already knew a little bit about sleep, but it turns out that I didn't know anything about sleep until I read this book. This guy knows a lot about sleep, let's just say!

Jonathan: Some of the statistics around that ...

Tiffany: Do we want to play a clip?

Jonathan: Yeah, let's do that, maybe that'll give us some more context.

Tiffany: Well, this one, I think we'll start with this one. He starts off talking about stages of sleep.

"What we've learned over the past thirty or forty years is, all stages of sleep are important. When you think about sleep as a state, it makes no sense. Firstly, you're vulnerable to predation, you're not finding food, you're not finding a mate, you're not reproducing, you're not caring for your young. On any one of those grounds, sleep should've been strongly selected against. As a collective, it's almost idiotic. If sleep does not serve an absolutely vital function, it is the biggest mistake that evolutionary processes ever made, and that counts for all the stages of sleep, too. Again, mother nature wouldn't waste time putting you into a state that wasn't necessary, and what we've discovered is that all of those different stages of sleep that we spoke about all have unique and separate functions. So you can't shortchange any one of them. You don't need to bias towards one, and placate the other. Evolution has taken a long time to get the blueprint accurately correct for each physiological individual. I wouldn't play around with it and think that you're smarter than the process.

Right, when I read it I felt like it was a justification for smoking a lot of pot. Like "Man, you're getting deeper sleep, man, you don't need that REM sleep, you're passing it up, man, you just go right into the deep, heavy, necessary sleep!"

Au contraire.

Au contraire, potheads! So what is happening to the body during REM sleep that's so critical, that one particular aspect of sleep?

So, firstly in the body, your cardiovascular system seems to do something quite strange. It goes through periods of dramatic acceleration, and then dramatic deceleration.

During REM sleep.

Yeah, during REM sleep. Quite unpredictable, too. We also know that during REM sleep, your brain paralyses your body, so that your mind can dream safely. That makes a lot of sense, if you're thinking you're this world champion mixed martial arts person, and it's the middle of the night, it's dark, you can't see, you're not perceiving your outside world. You're going to get popped out of the gene pool very quickly if you're going to start acting out that experience. So, there is a barrier in place, that mother nature locks you down in incarceration, muscle incarceration.

That's crazy that you say that, because when I was fighting when I was young, I would wake up throwing kicks. I would kick in the middle of the night, I would do it all the time. I would be sleeping and I would move to throw a kick in the middle of the night, and I remember it waking up and like, what the f*** was wrong with me? Then I'd try to go back to sleep again. But I was obviously dreaming about competing.

Do you actually remember, so when you woke up, do you remember dreaming at that point, or you just have no recollection of anything going on at that point?

I believe I had a recollection, it's been a long time, but I believe I had a recollection. I would be in bed with my girlfriend, and I'd wake her up too, because I'd just jolt! Like, I wouldn't throw a full kick, but my body would move like I was going to. I would turn my hips, and my leg would extend. My body was, I attributed it to, like it's so extreme that my brain had hyper-charged itself to compete at this very high level, and this was so unusual that it was almost that red alert all the time, and maybe like trying to work out patterns, while I was sleeping.

Yep, that's exactly the evidence that we have now. So for things like motor skills, or even rats running around a maze where they will learn specific navigational pathways and even skilled motor movement. What you can do is place electrodes into centres of the brain. We work on mice and the sleep center works on humans, but other people have done these studies in rats, and you implant electrode, and you measure brain cells firing as the rat is running around the maze. Let's say you can play little tones for each brain cell, so the running around the maze and you can listen to the brain cells learning the signature of the maze, and it goes {makes a rhythmic sound} and what was amazing was that when you let those rats sleep but you keep listening to the brain, what you hear is {makes a rhythmic sound} as if the brain is actually, and in fact it is replaying the exact same sequence, the memory sequence that it was learning whilst it was awake. It's replaying, but at a speed that is 20 times faster.

Whoa!

So you know, now we start to get into this inception world and I don't mean to because the scientific data, we're not sort of in that territory, but that notion of time compression and time dilation that Christopher Nolan played so well in that movie, we can see that at the level of brain cell firing in rats, as they learn the mazes, and it goes back to what you were saying which is that the better that they rehearse those skilled memories, when you wake them up and test them the next day, that predicts how much better they are in terms of their performance. So it's not just that you learn, and you go to sleep, and you replay, and you hit the save button on these new memories. You actually sculpt out those memories and you improve them, and we've done studies with motor skill learning, critical for athletic performance, and practice does not make perfect. Practice with a night of sleep is what makes perfect, because you come back the next day, and you're 20 to 30 percent better in terms of your skilled performance than you were at the end of your practice session the day before.

Wow!

I mean, sleep is the greatest legal performance enhancing drug that most people are probably neglecting in sport.

Wow. Not just for your physical performance but actually skill learning.

That's right, skill learning, memory, and then also downstairs in the body, all of the recuperative benefits. And you can flip the coin, by the way, if you're getting six hours of sleep or less, your time to physical exhaustion drops by up to 30 percent. So you could spend all of your time training for a ten round fight, perfect condition, but then I put on six hours of sleep the night before, you're now going to be physically exhausted by round seven rather than round ten.

Wow. But that's a really hard thing for fighters because they have a very difficult time sleeping the night before a big fight. It's very, very difficult, because there's anxiety and I would imagine, it's got to take a huge toll, and it'll probably be a huge benefit, if they can somehow or other bypass all that, and just relax, and learn how to relax, and learn how to actually sleep.

I think it's one of, we're constantly trying to hack the physiological system, especially in elite sports these days. A small fraction of a percent of gain could make a huge difference.

30 percent of gain is a monster.

Huge, yeah. Time to... not just physical exhaustion, but the lactic acid builds up quicker, the less and less that you sleep. The ability of your lungs to actually expire carbon dioxide and inhale oxygen decreases, the less sleep that you have.

That makes so much sense, I was doing Fear Factor and I was doing stand up comedy, and I was also doing another television show, and I was doing jujitsu. I never got eight hours' sleep, I mostly got four. I usually got four. And my cardio always sucked. So it was terrible, I was like "Why does my cardio suck, I work out so much!" That was probably what it was.

It's a huge part of the equation.

Wow. So how many hours should you get?

Somewhere between seven to nine hours. Once you get below seven hours of sleep, we can measure objective impairments in your brain and body.

I can show that in the last two days, and I can show it because I basically did the same workout two days in a row. The day before, I'd flown back from Boston, very tired, hung out with my kids all day, went to get some sleep, but then I had to do some stuff at two o'clock in the morning, and I just never really got good sleep. And then my younger daughter got up at five, and she was crying, and then eventually my alarm went off at eight. So my sleep was like three or four hours. It was all screwy. And the night before it was less, because I had flown, and I had to get up early for the flight, and I tried to sleep on the plane, and I went running and I felt like dog shit. And during the day, I felt like dog shit, I just didn't have, as I was running, I just didn't have any extra gear, I was like "Ughhh," I did it, I pushed through it, then it was over, I was like "Ohh." Well, last night, I slept seven and a half hours, woke up today, lifted weights, ran, felt great, feel great now. Two days in difference, that's the difference, the difference is one day I got real sleep, one day I didn't. I did the exact same thing, even more today, I lifted weights today as well. I just felt great. I could see it physiologically, the difference in my performance in twenty-four hours.

Yeah. And that's noticeable, we see that too. In your peak muscle strength, your physical-vertical jump height, and your peak running speed, all of those things correlate with sleep. The less that you have, the worse those outcomes are. Probably one of the most surprising factors was injury risk. They looked at athletes across a season, and they plotted how frequently will they get injured, and then they surveyed them, you know, "How much sleep were you getting?" And they bucketed them into people who were getting nine hours, seven hours, six, five, four, and it was a perfect linear relationship, the less sleep you have, the higher your injury risk. So people getting nine hours, versus five hours, it was almost a 60 percent increase in probability of injury risk during a season.

Do you attribute that to exhaustion, or do you attribute that to a lack of recovery from the previous night's workout, is it a combination of those things, is exhaustion causing you to misstep, perhaps, and twist an ankle, or turn a knee?

Yeah, it's all of those things. Even if you look at microbalance, if you look at these stability muscles versus major muscles, those stability muscles also fail when you're not getting sufficient sleep, and I think we often underestimate how critical they are in sport performance, particularly in terms of combating and placating injury risk too. So if you just get someone on a stability ball, and just dose them down with sleep, eight hours, five hours, three hours, and just notice how those stability muscles help you balance. Just the basic act of balance, that deteriorates dramatically. No wonder you're getting more injury risk.

Totally makes sense."

Jonathan: Pretty fascinating there. That's my thing, those stability muscles, they just go away. They're just like, "No!"

Doug: Yeah, it's kind of like what we were talking about when you become clumsy, start dropping stuff, falling over, whatever may be the case. You may actually be okay, but it's more in the physiology that you're actually missing that sleep.

Jonathan: It's really interesting what he said in the beginning about how obviously we have sleep for a reason, but it's the most evolutionarily illogical thing, if you just take it at face value, but I think it's common knowledge, if you sleep more, you feel better. If you're well-rested then you do better in all aspects, but I think people don't delve into why, or the detriments from not getting enough sleep. One of the things he said in that interview, I think it was going into the summer, when we spring forward the time change, in the countries that change time, there's a 25 percent increase in heart attacks, and then when we fall back there's a 25 percent decrease.

Doug: That's only one hour.

Elliot: That extra hour of sleep decreases the rate of heart attacks, but then the one hour less of sleep increases it, and that's just amazing.

Jonathan: It is amazing.

Tiffany: And yet we still do it!

Jonathan: And I think about all the times, oh my god, driving, I've driven sixteen hours, to the point where I was barely awake when I got to my destination. It's so dangerous, and stupid. I feel like I wouldn't do that now, but, man. Just thinking about other times, I've stayed up, three days before, in certain cases.

Doug: Did you hallucinate?

I did actually once. I'm trying to think, of course, not to get to paranoid, what lasting damage did I do, did I get rid of a layer of my immune system or something?

Doug: That's interesting because there was a guy, a DJ in the 50s or the 60s as a promotional thing, stayed up for eight days straight, and stayed on the air the whole time. He was playing records and doing his DJ thing, and he started to go like, fully insane. When he said he was going to do it, apparently he was recommended by scientists, doctors that he not do it. But he said "No, no, I'm going to do it," and they're like "If you're going to do it, can we study you, because, that's a good opportunity." So they did, and they were saying, I watched a video where they were talking to the scientists who were there with him, and they said he was clearly psychotic. For a certain amount of time he was clearly psychotic, he was hallucinating, seeing spiders in his shoes, super paranoid. Thought that people coming in, like a doctor that came in to check on him, thought that he was a secret service guy, he thought people were trying to poison his food. But anyway, the point being that, after the fact, he slept for twenty-four hours straight. Then he woke up and he was like, "Yeah, I'm fine, I'm recovered, everything is cool." But, his wife said that he was never the same, and they were actually getting divorced.

Tiffany: What?

Jonathan: Ah!

Doug: It apparently caused permanent personality changes of some type. The guy was not the same person after. Apparently because he was a happy go lucky, kind of jokey guy, and after that, he was not.

Erica: And I think he set a world record, right, wasn't that what he was working towards?

Doug: He did at the time, but apparently the world record now is 11 days.

Tiffany: Oh my gosh.

Jonathan: Wow. By a meth head from Colorado.

Doug: Yeah!

Elliot: Jonathan, what's interesting, you said about driving. In Matthew Walker's book, he talks about how when someone has been up for twenty hours, their brain is functioning at a similar level to someone who is way over the limit in terms of drinking alcohol. Basically when you're driving and you've been up twenty hours, you're technically over the limit, and I can't remember this statistic, but the likelihood of having a crash is sky-high, when you're sleep deprived.

Erica: He also said that, comparing drunk driving with sleep deficit driving was, if you're drunk you have a little bit of motor skills to actually put on the brake, whereas if you're drowsy driving, you don't do anything.

Tiffany: You just crash!

Erica: Yeah you're basically that, like a three ton vehicle, flying!

Doug: He said it was the difference between having a slow reaction time, versus having no reaction time.

Erica: Yeah.

Jonathan: Wow. It's more dangerous.

Elliot: Well, when you go so long without sleep, I can't remember the exact amount of hours, but say, twenty hours or something, your body will naturally force these things called microsleeps. I think that's basically what they call them. And it's basically like temporary blips, every couple minutes, when you just go into a daze. You just sleep. Maybe it's for thirty seconds, could be for two minutes or something. But your body will try and force you to try and top up on some of that sleep. Apparently that's one of the main causes of all those car accidents which are due to sleep deprivation because people fall asleep at the wheel, without necessarily feeling tired. Their body just goes into this microsleep!

Jonathan: Is that what you would refer to as road hypnosis? When you dissociate and realize that you haven't actually looked at the road in a minute? I don't know if that happens to you guys.

Tiffany: Well, I've done that but it wasn't because I was sleepy, it was because I was off in La-La land.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Doug: Yeah. I think the hypnotic pattern of the white lines on the road can do that. I had it especially once when it was foggy outside, and all that was really in my vision were these white lines, going by. And I wasn't particularly tired, I could feel myself getting pulled into this weird hypnotic state, and all of a sudden I just snapped out of it. I was like "Whoa, wait a minute, I gotta roll down the windows, turn up the radio, this is bad!"

Tiffany: Good thing is we'll have self-driving cars in the future, so we'll never have another accident again.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Doug: Oh yeah, because they don't seem to have any accidents.

Jonathan: Not yet anyway.

Doug: It's interesting what Elliot was saying about the microsleeps, because apparently when you're really sleep deprived, people will start having hallucinations. And apparently the reason for that is your brain is basically going into the REM state, even though you're not asleep. REM is so important that even if you're forcing yourself to stay awake, you're still going to go into this REM state because it's so necessary. So people are essentially dreaming while they're conscious. That's why you get these weird hallucinatory experiences.

Tiffany: Well, he said the same thing about alcoholics, because alcohol blocked REM sleep, and then once they get off the alcohol and they're going through delirium tremens, they'll start dreaming while they're awake, which is what delirium is, which is really strange. I don't know if I'd ever want to be in that state.

Jonathan: It's almost akin to schizophrenia, eh?

Tiffany: Yeah.

Jonathan: I had a friend who ... I said 'had' because I haven't seen her for many years, obviously nameless. Schizophrenic. She would kind of relate stories about it. She said she had hallucinated one time, a 500-foot tall Jesus that was standing on the horizon. I was grilling her about it, okay, she thought it was there? She said "No, it was there, I saw it like it was real." That's really wild that your brain can even do that.

Tiffany: Well, when you're in REM sleep, the prefrontal cortex, which is the decision-making executive part of your brain gets shut down. So that's why a lot of weird stuff happens in dreams and you just accept it as true.

Jonathan: Speaking of the microsleeps thing, there was a story, I can't remember her name, but there was this young woman, that was an ultra-marathon runner, and she's blowing a lot of people out of the water with these 150 mile races. Really, really crazy stuff. She'll sleep very occasionally during the run. They're running for like two days. So they kind of either camp, and stop, and eat, and keep going. At one point she was way ahead of everybody and her trainer was with her, because they have to have somebody pace them, and she was like, "I gotta sleep, I gotta sleep, wake me up in one minute," and her trainer was like "Okay..." So she laid down on the trail, literally passed out for sixty seconds. He woke her up and she kept going and won the race.

Doug: Hmm.

Jonathan: So, what makes me curious about that is there's a kind of placebo effect. Matthew Walker talks about how our own gauge is not accurate. So, you might feel fine. So, I got five hours last night, I essentially feel fine, I might, if I really looked inward, I might notice I'm a little bit slow, but I think I feel fine. But, according to him, I'm lying to myself, and I wonder about that in cases where this woman is a runner. How much mind over matter is it that she can get up and run 15 more miles after that, after being exhausted to the point of passing out.

Erica: Or how she could sleep for one minute, that is so unrealistic.

Jonathan: For one minute, yeah. Well, that was such a level of exhaustion, you know.

Elliot: I think the answer to that is stress hormones. {laughter}

Jonathan: Yeah.

Elliot: They're pretty amazing things.

Doug: There is the thing about doing power naps though. Like sometimes when you're staying up a long time or something like that, and you're just so tired, and you lay down for twenty minutes, and you wake up and you're like "Actually, I feel pretty good now." Maybe it's some kind of placebo or...

Tiffany: It takes the edge off.

Doug: Yeah, it takes the edge off, it's like a second wind or something like that. It's just like that short twenty minute nap, you feel kind of good afterwards.

Jonathan: Have you ever had it make it worse, though? Because that happens to me sometimes too. Sometimes power naps are great, and then...

Doug: Yeah, if I go longer than twenty minutes, a lot of the time what would happen to me, I don't nap at this point in my life, but I did at one time. I found that if I laid down and slept for twenty minutes and then I got up, I was totally cool. If I did longer than that, and it's kinda like, because I would always wake up after twenty minutes. Then I would be like, "Nooo, I'm just going to keep on laying here," and if I did that, and I ended up sleeping for an hour or something, I would feel terrible, once I got up, like super groggy, having to fight my way out of sleep to be able to get up.

Jonathan: Right, yeah. I wonder if you could drill...

Erica: And then you'd just be ready to go to bed again.

Jonathan: Well I wonder if it's because in that extra forty minutes, you drill down deeper into the layers of sleep, so it's harder to get out.

Elliot: So, you have cycles where, you don't just go to sleep, and then, you're asleep. What is actually going on in the brain and the rest of the body is various cycles of what is called REM sleep and non-REM sleep, and they both feature completely different brain activity, different brain waves, they play different physiological functions. But, I would imagine what you're talking about Doug, is something to do with that. You can enter a short wave period, cycle. Generally, I believe the cycle of REM and NREM together, if I remember correctly is about three hours. I'm not sure about just one section of it. Maybe if you just have a short cycle of REM sleep, it may just be twenty minutes or something, and I think it varies at different times. I think that's generally why people, if you go much longer than that short cycle, you get into a much deeper cycle, maybe you're getting to the deep non-REM sleep, and getting out of that is kind of problematic.

Doug: Yeah.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Doug: Yeah, I think that's exactly what was going on.

Tiffany: One thing that was interesting that was in one of the articles we read was that dreams occur during non-REM sleep also. But in the article they said, they're not that great. Unemotional and kind of boring and hard to remember, and REM dreams pack more of a punch, apparently.

Jonathan: So this is the kind when you wake up and say "Was I just jogging in that dream?"

Doug: I was like "Did I just dream I was going to work?"

Jonathan: Yeah!

Doug: What a waste of time!

Jonathan: I'm curious, Walker doesn't talk about this specifically, he does talk about them, but he's not a dream scientist, right? But it makes me curious about nightmares, and where do nightmares happen? Is it at a deeper level? Because usually when I have nightmares, it's super vivid, but how would I know if I don't remember the ones that I don't remember, so!

Doug: I'm betting that nightmares would be more REM sleep, I would think.

Jonathan: Yeah, because they're so, kind of, hallucinatory.

Doug: The other ones are kind of so mundane and just kind of boring. When you really get into all the symbolic stuff where you can actually interpret them and stuff, those are all REM sleep.

Tiffany: Nightmares, I typically tend to remember those. At least for longer than I remember other non-nightmare dreams.

Doug: One thing that kinda relates to that is the whole sleep paralysis thing, and I think in that clip we just played, Walker kind of gave a bit of an explanation for that, he didn't specifically address it but just the fact that there is a process in the body that kind of paralyses the muscles during sleep, so that you don't start acting out these crazy dreams and stuff. And actually one thing that I did notice, I used to suffer from sleep paralysis quite a bit. I don't any more, at least not that often, and one thing that I noticed is that, if I was just taking a nap, I would have dreams and that is when I would often have the sleep paralysis moments. So it was kind of like I was in REM sleep, but then at the same time I was coming out of it and was sort of semi-conscious, or aware of where I was, that I was laying in my bed, what time it was, what day it was, and all that kind of stuff. But I couldn't move, so I think that kind of offers an explanation for that phenomena, which is really scary and terrible.

Jonathan: Yeah, I've never had that where I was conscious of being paralyzed. I was being curious. I know, it sounds terrifying, I have a friend who gets it occasionally, but yeah, I've never experienced that. I get what they call the Exploding Head Syndrome. Stupid name, it's a stupid name. I don't get it all the time, maybe if I had to guess, maybe 10 times a year, skipping one here and there, but as I'm falling asleep, I'll see a flash of light and actually hear a sound like a "Bzzzt!" Like a shock, it's like somebody stuck an electrode in my brain, and I'd wake up for a second, then I go back to sleep. It happens every once in a while. It got so weird that I looked it up, it's called Exploding Head Syndrome, but there's no explanation for it, so I don't know, I'm not sure.

Doug: Some kind of short-circuit in the brain or something like that?

Jonathan: Yeah, some kind of neurological thing.

Erica: Or it's that frontal cortex just turning off.

Jonathan: Maybe, yeah.

Tiffany: Do you all ever get that experience where you feel like you're falling?

Doug: Oh yeah.

Tiffany: And your body jolts?

Jonathan: I get that if I'm sitting up, if I'm sleeping in a chair, like in a car or on a plane, I get that.

Tiffany: So do we want to speculate as to why we need to dream, because it doesn't seem like something that has to happen but it happens with everyone.

Jonathan: Well, there's the general consensus that you're processing things, right? You're processing any kind of psychological issues throughout the day, or your life. People talk about premonition dreams to, I've had a couple that were unmistakable, like I dreamt it as it happened. That happened to me twice, but I can't claim anything for it, you know? It's just weird. I know it happens because it happened to me, but I've heard a lot of stories about people having the same thing, so I think there's some kind of information bleedthrough, if you want to get weird about it, you know?

Doug: Yeah, I often have thought of that. I mean, this is totally speculative, but I've thought of that this is kind of the time when your brain or whatever connects to the information field and it's like some kind of work going on there, some kind of stuff that you're working out. It's really vague, but it's kinda what I thought.

Jonathan: Yeah, well, the quantum guys say that time is kind of fluid, right? When you really drill down to it it's not such a linear thing, on a quantum physics level. This is out of my wheelhouse. What I'm saying is it's not entirely such a foo-foo idea. That information from the recent past or recent future would kind of leak through into your dreams. Obviously, that would sound really foo-foo to a lot of people. I don't know, I've always thought that your brain, you have all this input throughout the day, and you have all this to process, and your brain is just dumping data, defragmenting while you're sleeping.

Tiffany: And dreaming is just the byproduct of all the activity happening in your brain, perhaps?

Jonathan: Well, that's one idea, yeah. Well it is so specific, you know. Some dreams, I'm not talking about premonition dreams, but some dreams are so specific. You know what I'm talking about, everybody's had this kind of dream where you wake up and, "I was just somewhere else, that was real!" You know? Smells, sounds, touch, everything. So, it's pretty bizarre.

Tiffany: Yeah, we have a caller. He wants to call in.

Jonathan: Cool.

Harrison: Hey this is Harrison.

Tiffany: Hey.

Jonathan: Hey, Harrison!

Doug: Hey, Harrison.

Elliot: Hey!

Harrison: I wanted to say a couple things on this dreaming conversation, and even why we dream, even though it seems we don't need to dream. Now, this is kind of speculative as well, but I first read of this idea in a book called The Irreducible Mind. Really big book, kind of a collection of all the latest research to show that consciousness can be reduced to physical processes, basically. They get into all kinds of stuff to psycho-neuro-immunology or whatever it's called to more weird things like hypnosis and then more parapsychological things. But, I think it was in the introduction, this book, they're going through some theories of consciousness, and some philosophers and psychologists, basically theorists of consciousness who say that, or who speculate that the nature of consciousness is essentially oneiric in nature. Oneiric basically means "dream-like", and that the nature of consciousness is to dream, and we're awake in the physical world and our consciousness is linked to our physical bodies, there is as much projection of the consciousness onto the physical reality as there is the physical reality influencing our consciousness. So we basically project our awareness of the things around us on to that environment, and that kind of matches up with the things that are out there to be perceived. So when you dream, or when you're asleep, you're taking away the external world on to which we project our consciousness or our awareness of things, and that ties into altered states of consciousness as well, and because what happens in altered states of consciousness, and these can be ecstatic experiences and what are typically called religious experiences, is that, you have various parts of your brain receiving information about the world and about your body, and other parts that are sending signals to other parts of the brain, so it's all interconnected. But in ecstatic experiences, the parts of your brain that are receiving the impulses from your body, for instance, those get turned off. Your basically conscious, but you lose the connection with your body. So you're not perceiving your body anymore. So that leads to the perception that you don't have your body anymore, or your this expansive, bodiless thing. So you still have awareness, but you've lost any connection with your body. So, taking this back to dreams, the idea might be that something similar has happened, like a religious experience, where you no longer have the input from the physical world, from your own body, and that leaves your consciousness to be freed from that physical constraint, or that physical channeling of your consciousness, to basically revert your consciousness to a more primitive form, or a more basic form. So your consciousness is no longer limited to the physical form when you're awake. Primitive might not be the best word, it's like, more basic. So, the hypothesis is that dreaming is a more basic level of consciousness, that it's kind of like the default mode, and that might even tie in with near-death experiences, or pre-birth experiences, that you hear from children who remember past lives, and end of life experiences. These would be almost religious or strange experiences that people who are dying have. It's almost like they enter a dream world while they are still awake and while they're dying and they'll report all these three types of experiences they report similar phenomena. So, it's almost like their brain shifts out of the physical world and into this other world where consciousness is not as limited by physical reality. I just wanted to share that as an hypothesis.

Tiffany: Yeah, there's a need for the consciousness to go about unfettered from the physical body...

Harrison: Yeah, maybe.

Tiffany: ...and without that need being satisfied, there would be deleterious effects.

Harrison: Because a lot of these people would have these experiences, not just near death experiences but even more routine basic religious experiences, especially in the near death experiences, when you have people who have physically died and leave their bodies, they describe it as it's just such a relief. They never realised how much work it was to be an a body, and they actually don't want to come back because their cognition is clearer, they're more aware, they don't have pain. It's just less constricted, it's like feeling lighter. It's like feeling, one woman who had a near death experience during a really intense operation where the doctors basically killed her in order to try to save her life by removing this aneurysm. She was just an average weight woman, but she said it felt like she had been 500 pounds, and had lost 400 pounds in an instant, when she had left her body. She just felt lighter and freer. So yeah, maybe it's taxing to be in the body and sleep can take the load off of our consciousness that it experiences by just being in the body, during the day.

Jonathan: That's pretty much word-for-word what Walker says. Totally second-witnesses that. Because he talks about waking life causes brain damage. So that we have to sleep in order to repair that, but as we are awake, we are deteriorating. Interesting because it's almost tied into your life cycle. I'm thinking of it in terms of, you die because you're gradually more and more brain damaged, over time, as you're staying awake for more and more days, but you wouldn't necessarily live forever if you slept forever because then your muscles would atrophy and you would die from inactivity. So we need both of these things, which is kind of weird. It doesn't seem like we're supposed to be here. {laughter}

Doug: It is interesting though that the REM state in particular, but sleep in general, it is clearly very necessary. So whatever is happening, and what you just shared Harrison is really fascinating, but it makes me wonder, what about that experience is so vital and important. Because like we were talking about before, if you don't actually give your body the chance to sleep and experience that REM state, it will just enter it on it's own, even when you're just up and walking around. So clearly it is vital, whatever it is.

Jonathan: Yeah. I like that idea. It's like you need to take your clothes off and run around naked once in a while. {laughter}

Doug: Every day apparently!

Jonathan: Yeah.

Erica: I was going to say, I'd speculate on that, just totally out of the blue, but, making those connections in the brain without feeling the weight of physicality, and what are you saying about how lack of sleep causes a deterioration in the brain, and Alzheimer's. So maybe it's like a cleaning of the brain, too. Making those connections, or, I don't know, not saying it the best way.

Tiffany: Well, the brain does clean itself at night, through the lymphatic system.

Jonathan: Yeah, it's a literal detox function, right, that happens while you're sleeping?

Elliott: Yeah, you also undergo a process called autophagy. Basically this is where all of the damaged cellular components whether it be mitochondria, or protein, or the fats that make up the membranes. Your body basically tags them during a waking state and then in order to detoxify them, basically digest them and get rid of them, you need to get into a state of autophagy. This is one of the reasons why they proclaim that fasting is so beneficial because it induces this cleaning out function. It's important to note that it's melatonin, the hormone which is associated with sleep, melatonin modulates this process, and so you can go to sleep and have low levels of melatonin, and you are not necessarily going to clear out the debris as well as you would have. Like the beta-amyloid plaques in Alzheimer's, for instance. The way that they're cleared out is autophagy.

Doug: Yeah. So I wonder if Alzheimer's is some kind of clog in the clearing out system.

Jonathan: Yeah, it was also tied to poor light, right? Elliot, you can probably correct me if I'm wrong on this but I seem to recall that the whole importance of light and getting natural light into your eyeballs was to increase that detox capability as well as melatonin.

Elliott: Yeah. So...

Jonathan: Also, I wonder if Alzheimer's was partially induced by poor light for too many years.

Elliott: Well, Matthew Walker talks about this extensively in his book, he talks about the Edison light bulb and the work of Nikola Tesla, and basically how humans have created artificial light, like this environment which we've sort of normalized now but is really quite a recent development and it's not conducive to the way the body is meant to work in many ways. The exposure to artificial light at night time has been shown time and time again to do two things, it can basically first of all reduce the overall content of melatonin that you are going to produce. Ideally you want a good load of melatonin, melatonin is an antioxidant in the brain, but it also coordinates many different functions related to the metabolism, and detoxification, everything like that. So you want a good quantity of melatonin. The other problem with artificial light is that it basically delays the onset of it. It can delay it by up to three hours.

So ideally, you should be producing melatonin in the early evening, and that is what will promote a deep rested sleep. You will go to sleep, and as it gets to 4, 5, 6 AM, there will be a steep decrease in melatonin, and then you would start the next day. The problem is, with artificial light, when you delay the onset of melatonin, so you delay it by three hours, so you go to bed at let's say twelve o'clock in the evening, say you watch a movie or you look at your iPad while you're in bed, and you get to bed by twelve o'clock and you may not be producing melatonin until 3 AM. So that's potentially six hours later than you ordinarily would have. So one of the reasons why people go to bed that late and they wake up and they feel really groggy, is actually because of the melatonin that they still got floating around in their system, which is basically making them feel like that. So, the artificial light is a big problem.

It's not only the artificial light at night, it's also the lack of sunlight in the early morning. Typically you would naturally be exposed to really bright light, as soon as the sun rises, and this is a trigger for a cascade of different chemical reactions, which basically trigger various hormones, and stuff like that, and it's all really cool. But it's really good, it's good for your body. Most of the time people wake up and they might stay indoors all day, and they never really get that input, that stimulus to tell their body that it's awake, and so that can also affect the way you produce melatonin, and sleep the subsequent night.

Erica: I thought it was interesting what he said about supplementing with melatonin and that, unless you're travelling, it's really kind of just a placebo effect. Like if you travel at different times.

Doug: He did say for older people.

Erica: Oh. But not as a supplement to be taken on a regular basis.

Doug: Well, he says there wasn't really an issue with taking it. He says if it's working then by all means, keep going. He said that melatonin for older people, as they age, they produce less, so it has been found to be beneficial for the aged. But, yeah, the average person is just popping it all the time. It's more likely a placebo effect.

Jonathan: I remember hearing melatonin taken orally doesn't cross the blood-brain-barrier, kind of like GABA, or not very much of it crosses. I have to look that up to confirm though.

Elliott: So in the book he recommends that you should take melatonin when you change time zones. Basically if you fly from Europe to the US, something like that, the time that you should take it is around the same time that it starts to get dark. So if you're not feeling tired, say if you gain seven hours or something, say your home time is like 3 PM, whereas when you get off the flight is 10 PM, say in Los Angeles or somewhere. So you would take melatonin at that time, even though your body is not tired, to try and trick it into thinking it's night time, because where you are, you're adapting to the night time of your environment.

Jonathan: I met a guy once who said that twice a year he flies from Holland to Los Angeles, and that he's gotten used to that trip and that on the way from Europe to the United States, he has to sleep, and on the way back, he can't sleep. In terms of if he's crossing the time zones back to Europe, if he does sleep, he'll screw himself up for like a week or two after that. But if he doesn't sleep then he's exhausted when he gets there and he'll pass out and then get back, so. Maybe falling trap to that catch-up idea, which is not true. It's interesting. Well speaking of Walker's stuff, let's go to another clip, and we'll discuss that when we get back. I think we have another one here.

Tiffany: In this one they're talking about ways to get better sleep.

Jonathan: Sweet.

"Say if you're a person who has insomnia, you have a hard time getting to bed, you have a hard time staying asleep, when you wake up you can't go back to bed, are there strategies?

There are, I mean, for most people there are five things that you can do, just out the gate to get better sleep. Regularity is probably the most important thing I can tell you. Go to bed at the same time, wake up at the same time, no matter whether it's weekend, weekday, regularity is key. We've spoken about light. For example, in the last hour before bed, try to stay away from screens, but also switch off half the lights in the house. You'd be surprised at how soporific that is. You really feel like you are sort of getting drowsy. They've done studies where they take people out into the Rockies, no electric light, no electricity whatsoever, and they started to go to bed two hours earlier than the acclaimed natural bedtime. It wasn't that they didn't have anything necessarily to do, it was that their melatonin was rising two hours earlier. Keep it dark.

Another thing is, keep it cool. Your brain actually needs to drop it's temperature by about 2 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit in order to initiate sleep. And that's the reason why you'll find it easier to fall asleep in a room that's too cold than too hot.

I've seen people use cold pads, have you seen those? People sleep on those cold pads.

Yeah, the evidence is pretty good that cooling the body actually works. In the book I write about a series of studies where they had people in, it's almost like a wetsuit, but it has all of these veins running through it, and they could actually perfuse warm or cold water into any part of the body, hands, core of the body, feet. You could exquisitely manipulate the temperature of any part of the body. And what they found is that they could effectively cool the body down, and it instantaneously made people fall asleep faster, and it gave them deeper deep non-REM sleep, that sort of restorative sleep for the body. And, you can even look at studies where people sleep semi-naked, and that also seems to improve their sleep, and they get a little bit of deep sleep too. So cold is better. The paradox here though is that you need to warm your feet and your hands to kind of charm the blood away from your core, out to the surface and radiate that heat.

Really? So you should go to sleep with socks and gloves on?

Yeah, or better still, have a hot bath. Evidence here too, that I discuss where people say, "You know, I get out of a hot bath, and I feel nice and toasty and relaxed, and that's why I fall asleep." It's the opposite, when you get into a bath, you get vasodilation, or you sort of get rosy cheeks, red skin, all of the blood rushes to the surface. You get out of the bath, and you have this massive thermal dump of heat that just evacuates from the body. Your core body temperature plummets, and that's why you sleep better.

Wow. So your core body temperature plummets, and that's what makes you sleep easier.

Yeah.

That sounds so counterintuitive, but it makes sense.

It makes sense, because that's how we were designed. If you look at hunter-gatherer tribes whose way of life has not changed for thousands of years and you ask, "How do they sleep?" One of the things that seems to dictate their sleep is the rise and fall of temperature. Temperature is at its lowest in the nadir of the night, 3 or 4 in the morning, and as that climate temperature starts to drop, that's when they start to get drowsy, as if temperature is just signalling to the brain, "Now it's time to sleep." So light, as well as temperature are two key triggers to help you get better sleep. If you look at those tribes, by the way, and when they go to sleep and when they wake up, when they go to sleep, probably about two hours after dusk, sort of 8 to 9 in the evening, wake up half an hour before dawn, it's the rise in temperature rather than the light that triggers their awakening. But there's a reason, have you actually thought about what the term "midnight" actually means. Middle of the night. And that's what it should be for all of us. But in modernity, we've been dislocated from our natural rhythms, and now midnight is the time when we think, I should check Facebook one last time, I should send my last email, that's not how we were designed to sleep, and in fact we may also be designed to sleep biphasically too. If you look at those hunter-gatherers, they don't sleep one long bout of 8 hours at night.

I've heard this recently, that you should have two sleeps.

It's actually a little different than the idea of two sleeps. So, there was a time in sort of the Dickensian era, where people would sleep for the first half of the night, maybe four hours or so, then they would wake up, they would socialize, they would eat, they would make love, and then they would go back and have a second sleep. If you look at natural biological rhythms in the brain and the body, that doesn't seem to be how we were designed. It certainly seems to be something that we did in society, but I think it's more of a societal trend than it was a biological edict. However, we do seem to have two sleep periods, the way that we were designed. Tribes will often sleep six and a half, seven hours of sleep at night, and then especially in the summer, they would have that siesta-like behavior in the afternoon, and all of us have that. Sort of what we call the postprandial dip in alertness right after lunch, and if I measure your brain wave activity with electrodes, I can see a drop in your physiological alertness, somewhere between 2 to 4 PM in the afternoon.

But does that depend on diet?

It's not. People think it is, especially after they've had a heavy lunch. You can actually just have people fast and, well, fasting for long periods of time actually makes your sleep much worse, but you can have people abstain from lunch, and you still get that drop. So independent of food, it's a genetically hardwired, pre-programmed drop which suggests that we should be sleeping biphasically.

But does that depend on their standard diet? Because if someone is on a carbohydrate-rich diet, a lot of times you do get that spike, and then a crash. But, when people are on low-carb and high-fat diets, they don't get that, and they tend to be more even with their energy throughout the day.

Yep, and that more constant release of energy can actually help you almost combat that lull.

But that lull exists no matter what.

Exactly.

So, even if you don't think it exists, it's there.

So why did they do that in the Dickens' era, why did they. Is there a root cause of their double sleep thing?

I don't know, we'd have to sort of go back...

It's fascinating, that it was a trend.

Yeah, it was a movement.

That they would just wake up, and do things.

Yeah.

Maybe it's because they didn't have TV, so they didn't know what to do with themselves. {laughter}

Sounds like they did some pretty interesting things, which were nice.

Yeah, well, they created a lot of art then, too right. A lot of writing, and a lot of fascinating stuff came out of that time. Now when you're measuring...

Tiffany: We kind of stopped right in the middle of that.

Jonathan: Nah, it's okay. The biphasic sleep thing is kind of interesting. I've had that happen to me kind of organically at times, and if I kind of go with it, I feel fine. I'll wake up at like 3 or 4, do a few things and go back to sleep. But, it doesn't happen all the time, just once in a while.

Tiffany: For me too, sometimes. It's still aggravating though. I'd rather just sleep all the way through and get it over with. Especially when you have to get up and go to work at a certain time.

Doug: Yeah, it's like the whole biphasic sleep thing kind of assumes that you kind of have a lifestyle that supports it. If you could sleep at whatever time you wanted to in the morning, then yeah, okay, maybe you could get away with like being awake for an hour in the middle of the night. Or even the siesta thing too, you could sleep 6 and a half hours, as long as you had the opportunity to nap at two o'clock in the afternoon, but like especially in the Western world there's not a lot of people who have that opportunity.

Elliott: What's interesting to note here is that you do have chronotypes. So you have different people who basically follow, they have the same sort of set circadian rhythm, but it's at different times. So, you have early birds, and you have night owls. And that's kind of independent of light exposure. So you'll have teenagers, typically, their circadian rhythm gets later as they enter into adolescence, late adolescence, and then as they become adults, it comes back again, and it becomes earlier. But you have some people who naturally go to sleep a lot earlier, and wake a lot earlier, and other people who go to sleep much later, and wake up much later. He speculates that the possible evolutionary benefit for this was that if you had a tribe of people, and they all went to sleep at the same time for 8 hours, then that would be 8 hours that the tribe would essentially be unprotected from predators or something. Whereas, by essentially designing it so that some go to bed earlier and some go to bed later, it shortens the period of time by which the tribe is essentially unprotected. There would be like a 4 hour window from say, 11{PM} until 3{AM} or 12{AM} until 4{AM}, but then you'd have the early birds who were starting to wake up. Likewise when the early birds go to bed, you've got the night owls who stay awake that little bit longer.

Doug: That's interesting.

Elliot: Yeah, that's interesting, I don't know how you'd be able to tell what your chronotype is. There's a couple of books, but I haven't read them. I used to think that I was a night owl, but when I fixed my light environment, it turns out that I'm really an early bird. You know, I'll go to bed at 9, and wake up at half-five, every day.

Erica: Same here.

Elliott: Yeah, and that was interesting, so, I think, to really find out what sort of chronotype you are, you have to fix your light environment. There was also one thing I was going to say, that we haven't touched upon, that I find really worth mentioning. This is on the benefits of sleep, is actually meal timing. So there's tons of research basically showing when you eat a meal late at night, say 3 to 4 hours before you go to bed, it does drastically reduce your sleep quality. So, there's research basically showing, you can feed two sets of rodents the exact same diet, and one will get obese, and one will stay lean and healthy, and the only difference is the meal timing. It's the disrupted circadian rhythm. Likewise in human studies, there's studies on time-restricted feeding. There are studies basically showing that eating within an 8 hour window can rapidly increase insulin sensitivity, increase weight loss and improve overall health. Researchers were wondering whether the time fasted, so 16 hours of fasting, this could be attributed to the benefits of the time-restricted eating protocol. But what they've actually found is that, okay, if you do time-restricted feeding, and you do it early on in the day, you get all of the benefits. But if you do time-restricted feeding later on in the day, you can actually make things worse. So now they're actually starting to think, okay, maybe it's actually not the fasting which is ultimately so beneficial, maybe it's the effects that it's having on the circadian rhythm. Because when you eat in the morning, you are setting your circadian rhythm. And if you're not eating just before bed or anywhere near bed, you are ultimately improving sleep, and this seems to be the thing. So, food also ties into sleep.

Doug: Hmm, that's interesting.

Jonathan: Yeah, very interesting. So you're saying that you should be eating more than 4 hours before you go to bed?

Elliott: Well, the research shows that typically after six o' clock, or half six, it does disrupt sleep quality. And it basically disrupts blood glucose. And so there's some research, Alessandro Ferretti, he's done some work showing that eating at any point after half six in the evening can negatively impact blood glucose. Blood glucose is really quite a determining factor in how well someone sleeps. If you've got dysregulated blood glucose, or too high or something, then it can actually influence the way that melatonin is secreted, and it influences cortisol and stuff like that.

Tiffany: Well, I've played around with my eating times a lot, and one thing that I've noticed, I don't know if I've noticed the whole time, but if I eat too early, like maybe around 3, or earlier, my last meal of the day, I'll wake up in the middle of the night, hungry. But if I eat around 6, I'm fine, all throughout the night.

Elliott: I'd be interested to know what was the composition of the meal?

Tiffany: It's usually lower in carbs, not very carb-heavy.

Elliott: Okay, yeah, that could be.

Tiffany: But I did want to bring up, and ask if any one of you have tried inclined sleeping? Where you raise the head of your bed, six to eight inches, not just the head but the whole bed is tilted, and you are at a five degree incline, and the way it works is that gravity, like if you picture a tree, gravity will pull the denser sap down to the bottom of the tree and then the lighter sap will be at the top and then it just flows into the cycle, or the dense sap and the light sap kind of changes places. So, that is the theory behind this inclined sleeping. It's supposed to be really good for circulation, breathing, glymphatic drainage, and it helps with migraines. No one's ever tried it?

Jonathan: So, it's your head above your feet?

Tiffany: Yes, your head is raised up, like you can put a wedge in it, some people have made special inclined beds on their own, but I think they sell these little wedge things on Amazon.

Jonathan: Because I've always heard that you shouldn't fall asleep in a chair too much, or sit for too long, despite the obvious because of deep vein thrombosis, so you don't get that?

Tiffany: Yeah, you're lying flat, it's not just your head or your back that's tilted, your whole bed is tilted.

Jonathan: Right, gotcha. Huh, no, never tried it.

Tiffany: So it'll be an interesting experiment.

Doug: Yeah.

Jonathan: Very interesting. Yeah the regular diet thing, I noticed that too. I don't know if everyone's tried the Keto diet or the low-carb diet generally, that you don't nap as much, or even at all. Yeah, Doug you mentioned it earlier and I feel the same way. Unless I've done a coding marathon or something, I'm not usually napping. It's going to be pretty drastic to take a nap during the middle of the day. But, if I stray off my diet and have too many carbs, or some sugar or something like that, immediately, two o'clock in the afternoon, on the nose, I'm like, wiped out. So, at least for me, it's a really clear correlation. I think in that clip, Matthew Walker meant something different when he responded to what Rogan asked, "is it because of diet?" I think Walker was talking about when you eat, not necessarily what you eat overall. So, I think the lower carb diet improves that ability to sustain energy during the day, and have more regular sleep. I don't know if that's a hundred percent here and there. Because there's also the fact that we can handle more glucose in the summer, and there's things like that. So it's really complicated. But, for myself, if I'm low-carb, I'm not tired. It's a pretty much one-to-one correlation.

Elliott: Yeah, what Matthew Walker was talking about was, from what I understand, the circadian rhythm of various hormones. So one of the hormones which is really high in the morning is cortisol, and what typically happens at around 2 PM, is you get a drastic decrease in the natural rhythm,.you basically get less cortisol,, and they should go continually down until you get to bedtime, you go to sleep and then it raises in the morning again. So with that there's also another brain chemical called orexin, and this is what basically is involved in arousal and wakefulness, and those kinds of things. Making you feel sleepy and making you feel awake. So with the drop in cortisol you also get effects on the orexin pathways in the brain, and I think this is what he's talking about, it's the circadian rhythm of the stress hormones making you feel tired or sleepy, with the drop in the cortisol, what comes with that naturally is an inclination to go to sleep.

Jonathan: He also mentioned not just reducing screen time but turning the lights down in the house, and also part of the reason, before part of the show, I said we were inspired by Matthew Walker, well he was on Joe Rogan's show. Well, I heard that and that's what got me thinking about sleep more. So, my girlfriend and I started doing that, so I said "Okay, we're going to go to bed soon, let's turn 90 percent of the lights off," and sure enough, without fail, you just start immediately feeling like, "Okay, I feel like going to sleep." You don't have to feel like you need to try to go to bed, it just kind of naturally comes about. So, even if, I'm on Slack or something on the phone, then either turn your lights down in the house or, I think it's psychological as well as physical, it kind of gets you into that space. But that seems to work really well. So, I think we're kind of coming up on our time, let's go to the Pet Health Segment, Zoya has prepared something for us.

Doug: Yes.

Zoya: Hello, and welcome to the Pet Health Segment of the Health & Wellness Show. This week's topic is Schrodinger's Cat. A thought experiment in quantum mechanics. Austrian physicist Erwin Schrodinger, one of the founders of quantum mechanics posed this famous question. If you put a cat in a sealed box, in a device that has a 50 percent chance of killing the cat in the next hour, what will be the state of the cat when the time is up? An important disclaimer, that no cat was actually harmed in this experiment, and while making this segment. Listen to the recording and have a great weekend!

"Austrian physicist, Erwin Schrodinger, is one of the founders of quantum mechanics, but he's most famous for something he never actually did. A thought experiment involving a cat. He imagined taking a cat and placing it in a sealed box, with a device that had 50 percent chance of killing the cat in the next hour. At the end of that hour, he asked, what is the state of the cat? Common sense suggests that the cat is either alive or dead. But Schrodinger pointed out that according to quantum physics, at the instant the box is open, the cat is equal parts alive and dead at the same time. It's only when the box is opened, that we see a single definite state. Until then, the cat is a blur of probability, half one thing, and half the other. This seems absurd, which was Schrodinger's point. He found quantum physics so philosophically disturbing that he abandoned the theory that he helped make, and turned to writing about biology. As absurd as it may seem, though, Schrodinger's cat is very real. In fact, it's essential. If it weren't possible for quantum objects to be in two states at once, the computer you're using to watch this, couldn't exist.

The quantum phenomena of superposition, is a consequence of the dual particle and wave nature of everything. In order for an object to have a wavelength, it must extend over some region of space, which means it occupies many positions at the same time. The wavelength of an object, limited to a small region of space, can't be perfectly defined though. So, it exists, in many different wavelengths at the same time. We don't see these wave properties for everyday objects, because the wave properties decreases as the momentum increases, and a cat is relatively big and heavy. If we took a single atom, and blew it up to the size of the solar system, the wavelength of a cat running from a physicist, would be as small as an atom within that solar system. That's far too small to detect, so we'll never see wave behavior from a cat. A tiny particle like an electron though, can show dramatic evidence of its dual nature. If we shoot electrons, one at a time, at a set of two narrow slits cut in a barrier, each electron on the far side is detected at a single place at a specific instant. Like a particle. But, if you repeat this experiment many times, keeping track of all the individual detections, you'll see them trace out a pattern that's characteristic of wave behavior. A set of stripes, regions with many electrons, separated by regions where there are none at all. Block one of the slits, and the stripes go away. This shows that the pattern is a result of each electron going through both slits at the same time. A single electron isn't choosing to go left or right, but left and right, simultaneously.

This superposition of states also leads to modern technology. An electron near the nucleus of an atom, exists in a spread-out, wavelike orbit. Bring two atoms close together, and the electrons don't need to choose just one atom, but are shared between them. This is how some chemical bonds form. An electron in a molecule, isn't on just atom A or atom B, but A plus B. As you add more atoms, the electrons spread out more, shared between vast numbers of atoms at the same time. The electrons in a solid aren't bound to a particular atom, but shared among all of them, extending over a large range of space. This gigantic superposition of states, determines the ways electrons move through the material, whether it's a conductor, or an insulator, or a semiconductor. Understanding how electrons are shared amongst atoms, allows us to precisely control the properties of semiconductor materials like silicon. Combining different semiconductors in the right way allows us to make transistors on a tiny scale. Millions on a single computer chip. Those chips and their spread out electrons, power the computer you're using to watch this video. An old joke says the internet exists to allow the sharing of cat videos. At a very deep level though, the internet owes its existence to an Austrian physicist and his imaginary cat."

Jonathan: Are those goats there, or not there, I'm not sure.

Doug: Schrodinger's Goats.

Jonathan: Well, thank you Zoya, that was fascinating. Well, I think that we'll just go ahead and wrap up for today. We've given some tips, some techniques for getting better sleep. I think the salient point is, don't take it for granted. Avoid falling into that trap where you think you can catch up, or get away with a little bit. Really try to be regular about it, and I've noticed for sure that seven hours, because I'll try to get away with six. So I think it's close, but I'm sure it's not working.

Doug: Yeah. I'm thinking the same thing, I need to work on my sleep hygiene a bit.

Jonathan: Yeah, and weight loss too, I mean that was another thing. I know Walker talked about it but that wasn't part of the material that I was reading as well. If you are struggling with weight loss, or trying to do that, and it's not working very well, regular healthy amounts of sleep appear to do that, so that's another thing.

Elliott: Just to quickly, well I don't know about that. People think weight loss is all about food, but it's actually not all about food, it's how your body deals with that food as well, and weight loss by definition basically means leptin resistance, so there's a hormone called leptin and it makes you feel full, and it's basically like the energy state that's in the body, and so people who are overweight basically become less responsive to this leptin hormone which makes them feel full after eating, and so they typically get into a rut where they consume way more calories than they actually need to because they're not feeling full. So, really the primary control of leptin sensitivity is actually the circadian rhythm, so it's been shown that you can induce leptin sensitivity and increase weight loss just by getting that robust circadian rhythm going and a steady seven to nine hours sleep per night.

Jonathan: There you go, better health, better weight loss, better thinking also, all sorts of stuff.

Tiffany: Better brain.

Jonathan: Better brain. So, we encourage everybody to look into that, do that, try it out for yourself, try to sleep better, and thanks everybody for tuning in today and for participating in the chat. Be sure to check out the SOTT radio show on Sunday at noon Eastern time. Go to radio.sott.net, and we will catch you next week. Thanks everyone.

Tiffany: Goodbye everyone.

Elliott: Bye!

Doug: Bye!

Erica: Bye!