#58 – AMA with sleep expert, Matthew Walker, Ph.D.: Strategies for sleeping more, sleeping better, and avoiding things that are disrupting sleep
The Peter Attia Drive
In the first three parts of our series with sleep expert Matthew Walker, Matt revealed the many reasons why we need sleep as well as the many short- and long-term dangers of not sleeping enough. In this special AMA episode, Matt comes back to provide a dissertation on listener’s questions about HOW to sleep. He answers questions from subscribers that largely focus on the practical and tactical ways we can improve our sleep in terms of duration, quality, consistency, and avoidance of the common things that are standing in the way the best sleep possible. We discuss: Matthew’s TED Talk, and his favorite public speakers [7:45]; How good are the current sleep trackers like Oura, Fitbit, etc.? [10:45]; Is it bad to eat food too close to bedtime? [15:30]; How does exercise impact sleep? [17:30]; How is appetite affected by our sleep quality? [21:30]; Anxiety, cortisol, and weight gain: An awful feedback loop of sleep deprivation [23:30]; How to optimize your wind down routine: lights, temperature, & relaxation [26:10]; How alcohol disrupts sleep (and contributes to Alzheimer’s disease) [46:00]; Sleep’s impact on sex hormones, and romantic relationships [50:00]; Performance, accuracy, and minimizing the damage of shift work [55:30]; Bed partners: How to sleep in separate beds and retain a good relationship [59:30]; Can we use sound machines and electrical stimulation to improve sleep? [1:02:40]; Will we ever be able to “supercharge” our sleep stages using technology? [1:08:30]; Why sleep is the best insurance policy for lifespan and healthspan [1:11:45]; Melatonin: How (and how not) to use it for sleep improvement [1:19:00]; The dangers of sleeping pills, useful alternatives, and cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia [1:28:30]; Can CBD and THC be used for sleep? [1:43:30]; Why haven’t we been able to develop a really effective sleeping aid? [1:50:40]; Can you get too much sleep? [1:55:50]; What to do (and not do) immediately following a terrible night of sleep? [2:09:15]; Why a consistent wake up time is king [2:14:30]; Does poor sleep speed up the aging process? [2:16:00]; Can different people be more (or less) resilient to sleep deprivation? [2:22:50]; Finding your optimal sleep schedule and determining your sleep chronotype [2:27:45]; Defining sleep efficiency and how to improve it [2:33:25]; Correcting insomnia: A counterintuitive approach [2:35:45]; How can parents improve the sleep of their kids? [2:41:30]; and More. Learn more at www.PeterAttiaMD.com Connect with Peter on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.
In this episode
- 05:12 - Who is Dr. Matthew Walker?
- 11:00 - What levels of sleep do devices such as AURA, WHOOP, FitBit, and Apple Watch detect?
- 16:03 - Why does eating carbs before bed make it harder to sleep?
- 16:05 - What is the optimum time to stop eating before bed?
- 18:33 - Can exercising before bed backfire on your sleep?
- 21:30 - What happens when your body undergoes sleep deprivation?
Smash Notes summary for this episode
Who is Dr. Matthew Walker?
Dr. Matthew Walker is a professor of neuroscience and psychology at University of California, Berkeley. He is the found and director of the Center of Human Sleep Science. He researches the impact of sleep of human functions on health and diseases.
What levels of sleep do devices such as AURA, WHOOP, FitBit, and Apple Watch detect?
The devices are good at estimating duration of sleep, but not the stage of sleep. They are good at detecting the two class algorithm-- total sleep time, awake or asleep. They fail at detecting the four class model-- whether someone is awake, in light or deep non-REM sleep, or in REM sleep.
Why does eating carbs before bed make it harder to sleep?
You need to drop your core body temperature about 2 to 3 degrees to initiate sleep and to stay asleep. Carbs before bed will raise your core body temperature and make it more difficult to sleep. If you are hungry and need to eat before bed, lean more toward proteins and avoid simple sugars.
What is the optimum time to stop eating before bed?
About 3 hours before bed. When you lie down, you’re more likely to experience acid reflux and have digestive issues. Also, you must be mindful of your core body temperature. Advice: Don’t go to bed too full, don’t go to bed too hungry.
Can exercising before bed backfire on your sleep?
Yes. Sleep profoundly helps exercise. Moderate to strong evidence agrees that exercise affects sleep because, you’ll have an increase in core body temperature. Hormones can work against you in terms of sleep. Your ability to sweat and perspire depends on how much sleep you get.
What happens when your body undergoes sleep deprivation?
A fake starvation signal is transmitted to your brain. It will think the body is undergoing a starvation condition, but it isn't. Your brain releases an increase of hormones that makes you want to eat more, and your hunger level increases.