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Matthew Walker - Sleep is your super power

Matthew Walker is Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Founder and Director of the Center for Human Sleep Science.

Updated on April 07
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Key Smash Notes In This Episode

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Threat detection. Studies have shown that part of your brain is more alert when sleeping in an unfamiliar place than when you are sleeping at home. In fact, in a new place your brain actively fights going to bed, in order to remain more alert.

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Alcohol and marijuana block your "dream sleep," your REM sleep where you are most rested and your body can dream. Once you go sober, the body then tries to catch up on all the good sleep it had missed.

Same happens when you sleep in more on the weekends. The body uses extra sleep time to go deeper, and thus you experience more dreams.

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Men who sleep 5 to 6 hours a night we'll have a level of testosterone,which is that of someone 10 years their senior. So elective sleep will age you by a decade, in terms of wellness, muscle strength and sexual performance.

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When you hallucinate, most parts of your brain become extra active; 30% more active than when you're awake. For example, visual, motor, emotional and memory centers, they all increase in activity. Meanwhile, prefrontal cortex, the CEO of the brain so to speak, good, rational, logical thinking part, it gets shut off.

That's why you see things, why you have motor kinesthetic activity, why things feel so emotional, but also why things seem illogical and irrational.

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One theory of dreaming is that when you wake up, your brain is trying to reconstruct the events you dreamed of, into a logical story that makes sense. If it cannot do it fast enough, you forget the dream.

However, the fact that you forget your dreams does not mean you don't remember your dreams. The memory is there, it's available, it just isn't consciously accessible at the time you want to get it.

Matt's theory is that we retain all our dreams and they subconsciously impact everything we do every day, we just don't know that.

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One theory is that dreaming is just a byproduct of REM sleep, in the same way as heat is a byproduct of light, produced by a lightbulb.

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According to Joe Rogan, marijuana is best used in moderation. One way to maximize the impact is to stay off it for a long while, and then do as much as you can in one go.

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Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep is when your body dreams the most. In this stage of sleep, your cardiovascular system seems to go through periods of dramatic acceleration and dramatic deceleration, very unpredictably.

During REM sleep, your brain also paralyzes your body so that your mind can dream safely, without worrying about your body doing something that would hurt you. Fascinating!

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Sleep is the greatest legal performance enhancement drug.

In sports, for example, you can get 20-30% better overnight by just getting enough sleep after a practice. Meanwhile, getting six hours of sleep or less will make your physically exhausted up to 30% faster.

Without good sleep, your lactic acid builds up quicker, and your ability of the lungs to actually expire carbon dioxide and inhale oxygen decreases too.

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Anything below 7 hours of sleep shows an objective drop in performance in your body. You should get between 7 to 9 hours every night.

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Although Edison was a short sleeper, he did take a lot of naps, making sure to always write down all the ideas that occurred to him during those naps.

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Your sleep can get easily distorted by using screens before bed. In fact, one hour of iPad reading at night can delay your melatonin production by as much as three hours, causing less REM sleep.

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1- Regularity is the most important. Go to bed at the same time, and wake up at the same time.

2- Keep your house dark, and start turning lights off early on so you are not artificially forcing your body to stay awake.

3- Keep your house cool, but do keep your hands and feet warm while in bed.

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