#70 Why Sleep is the Most Important Pillar of Health with Professor Matthew Walker

#70 Why Sleep is the Most Important Pillar of Health with Professor Matthew Walker

I'm absolutely delighted that I've got the opportunity to interview my next guest he is one of the world's leading sleep researchers and he's author of the absolutely fantastic but the international bestseller why we sleep it's Professor Matthew Walker Matthew welcome to the podcast thank you so much for having me it's delight to be chatting again lovely yeah Matt's we obviously we sort of first had contacts over email and we got to do a Facebook live conversation on my Facebook page which proved the huge hit with my audience but you know talking over Skype with technology albeit fantastic it isn't quite the same as being face-to-face here so I'm delighted that you're over here now in London did a bit of promotion for you but it's lovely to finally meet you in person right yeah it's it's superb but I thought we might start just by asking you how many days have you been in London now for I arrived on Saturday so this is my fourth day you fourth day so look at the moment it's about well we probably just come past 11 a.m. in the UK which probably means I'm guessing it's about 3:00 a.m. in San Francisco so what's going on with your body clock at the moment so I have you can't cure jet lag there are no cures right now but if you understand how it works you sort of can hack the system a little bit what we know is that for every day that you've been in a new time zone your body can actually catch up by about one hour so that sort of extra day basically acts like a set of fingers on a wristwatch and it will just kind of tweak it one hour every day so I am now four days in I am only offset by four hours relative to California time normally I'm offset by a total of eight hours I've been here four days one hour for every day I'm now four hours separated that would be the classic case if you just sort of let passage of time work however you can speed up that sort of tweak you can get those fingers to work harder on the wrist watch dial sort of get closer and fast to the natural new time zone in the following ways firstly you should get lots of daylight exposure in the morning in the new time zone so whenever you arrive and then for all of the days afterwards make sure that you get about 20 to 30 minutes of natural daylight it doesn't matter if it's cloudy just that brightness alone is key if you do go outside the temptation is to put shades on don't do that even even if it looks you know you look fantastic and you look very cool just for the morning all I would ask you is don't put shades on because it will diminish that light reset function because it's light that's going to help reset and fast-forward that clock the other critical thing is diet or at least eating food is just as powerful a trigger for resetting your circadian rhythm as lightest we only discover this probably about sort of eight or nine years ago and so start eating meals at the regular times in the new time zone eat when everyone else is eating don't eat when you your body tells you that you're hungry it's harder to do but that will help you get back into set as well the other trick however is that if you go out in the afternoon that's fine no problem at all but the afternoon is the time to work shades that's the time to start blocking the light to start to force your body to think it's nighttime at darkness even though your body clock California for me is just starting to wake up I need to shroud my brain in darkness to try and help reset it so bright light in the morning get out in the afternoon that's fine but worse shades and then lots of darkness at night eat meals regularly and then try and exercise usually in the morning if you can if you do those three things you can strategically treat jet-like you can't cure it you'll still feel a little bit miserable the only of the trick I would say is during traveling I see a lot of people make the mistake of when they sleep during travel that's very natural if I'm flying over from San Francisco to London usually leave around 5 p.m. in the evening most people in let's say it's an 11 hour flight most people will wait until the last sort of for three hours and go to bed then and sort of sleep late and I normally arrive about 11 o'clock in the morning London time that's not the ideal thing to do try to sleep on your flight either in early in the flight or in the middle of the flight and the rule of thumb is make sure that whatever time of you want to go to bed in the new time zone that evening let's say it's you know 10 o'clock count back at least 12 hours or 10 hours that's the time that you have to wake up on the plane and then stay awake you need to build up lots of that healthy sleepiness for you to then fall asleep and stay asleep in the new time zone don't sleep too late into the flight if it's late and you still haven't been sleepy I would suggest forgo sleep which sounds strange round someone like me push through for the rest of the day and then just get to bed early and you'll get into set so thanks for sharing those tips in terms of how you have tried to combat jet lag but what's interesting as I hear them is that some of the tips are actually pretty similar to the recommendations you would make to people who are not crossing time zones but it's just simply trying to improve their quality of sleep so we'll get into that in just just a few moments I actually am doing that flight to California well it's Italy regularly these days maybe three to four times a year and two weeks ago I went and I tried something different for the very first time and I've got to say I had the least jetlag I've ever had on one of my trips to California and you know I changed multiple variables it's very hard to say which one exactly it was but on the flight out there so it was a morning flight from London so that would be the middle of the night in California I put on some blue light blockers on the flights and I vodkas through a little bit of time and I was reading but then I would close my eyes I put a shade on my eyes and I would just try and sleep I couldn't sleep that well but at least I didn't expose myself to light then at the time of morning or what would have been morning in California I took off my nachos I did not put on my blue light Bacchus and I actually watched a film so I was exposing myself to blue light from ice a sort of trick might probably say hey you're one morning time so I've never done that before the other thing is I think we'll go here next then the other thing I've done a lot recently is reduced my caffeine intake a lot and I think that often what I used to travel I was so habituated to having caffeine that sometimes I would wake up in the new time zone with a bit of a headache because my body was expecting caffeine earlier it didn't have it and I think that that was artificially waking me up so you know a few things I did differently but you know caffeine is such a popular topic right and we don't want to be you know start off this conversation on a downer but let's go into caffeine I mean how much of a sleep disrupter is caffeine I mean it it is quite significant and one of the problems you know with those long-haul flights and I would actually love to speak with you know virgin or British always about this they serve caffeine liberally yeah and the other thing they serve as alcohol I'd love to speak about that too because both of those are the very best ways to a disrupt your sleep and B actually make your and make it much harder for your 24-hour biological circadian clock to readjust both of them those will will actually take away those fingers on the wristwatch and sort of all slow the progression down but caffeine is a misunderstood drug certainly I use it since yoga that's interesting it is a drug it's what we call a psychoactive stimulant everyone knows that caffeine can help alert you and sort of keep you awake that's the thing that's most known caffeine if you look at some data is probably the second most traded commodity on the surface of the planet after oil which I think says ever think about our sleep deprived state the other thing about caffeine however that most people don't realize is the time that it is in your system so most drugs have what we call a half-life the amount of time it takes for half of that drug to be essentially excreted out your system caffeine has a half-life of about six or seven hours and it's a little dependent on type of gene that you have to sort of metabolize the caffeine but on average it's about that but what's interesting is that caffeine has a quarter life of about twelve hours what this means is that if you have a cup of coffee at noon a quarter of that caffeine is still circulating around your brain at midnight so to put that in context it would be the equivalent of getting into bed and just before you turn the light out you swig a quarter of a cup of Starbucks and you hope for a good night of sleep it's you know you would never do that because you know but that's exactly unfortunately what people do you know completely innocently by drinking caffeine you know still too late in the afternoon yeah it's a huge problem it's it's a I think it's a big problem in society if you I mean another way to quantify this is if you just look and I've checked out the data from the Financial Times the number of Starbucks coffee houses that have arisen her over the past thirty years it's just like an exponential increase and I think that is an expression of how we're self-medicating our state of sleep deprivation in developed nations and what Catholic culture is just growing it you know exponentially yeah right it's the new you know I talked about something it's almost like a new you pop culture it's cafe culture yeah you hang out with your friends you meet her you get your drink typically it'll be a caffeinated drink yeah we've got school kids you know I saw in a local village I was walking through recently you know after school you know I popped into a cafe to get I think a bottle of water I can't remember but I popped in and I saw a group of school kids there must have been maybe 13 or 14 after school they have sitting in the cafe with their caffeinated drinks you know doing their homework together they're catching up well whatever I thought wow you know this has become endemic in society now we you know you call it a drug I agree with you but it's a psychoactive substance that we you know we use liberally we let our children have it we you know we're not even you know we often don't think about the implications of that and so many patients of mine tell me that that's just ya know you know if caffeine can be upon them for some people I'm not one of those caffeine is fine for me but more often than not when they either reduce in sake or cut it out completely the seat quality goes up yeah and you know such in pander professor pounder who you know I know you know very well you both sort of follow each other's research he was on the podcast a few weeks ago and you know he was saying routinely every year he will he will have a bit of a detox from caffeine he'll go off caffeine and he says what I do that I have a headache for a few days but my sleep always improves I've got more energy and my productivity dramatically increases and I think that says it all really it does and I you know a number of points that you made that I'd love to circle back around to firstly caffeine is the only psychoactive stimulant that we do give to our children readily which you know is I think a concern and I'm not trying to be sort of you know finger pointing or finger wagging again I think it's just that parents probably don't understand the impact of caffeine in that regard I think the the second point comes on to your comment of some people say like I'm one of those people who can drink a cup of coffee in the evening have an espresso after dinner and I fall asleep fine and I stay asleep now even if that's true there was an alarming study that was done where they gave people just one single cup of coffee a dose of 200 milligrams of caffeine standard cup of coffee and then they measured the quality of their deep sleep by tracking these big powerful brainwaves these glorious beautiful deep brain waves that bathe all of our brain during deep sleep at night and it helps also restore the body and what they found was that just one dose of caffeine in the evening decrease the amount of deep sleep by 20% now you would have to normally age by about 15 years to produce that type of a deficit in your deep sleep or you can do it every single night by having a cup of coffee and what's interesting is that those people will wake up the next morning they won't remember waking up because they may not have woken up but the quality of their deep sleep was so poor that they will still then feel unrestored and unrefreshed by their sleep caffeine and and so that here is the irony that now they're starting to reach for two cups of coffee rather than one and so develops this dependency cycle this sort of a diction spiral as it were so I think people are perhaps unaware of the the true impact of caffeine how long it sticks around within your system and even if you feel that you're immune to that evening cup of coffee how it will still impact your sleep even though consciously you know nothing about it well I think you know you raise a really important point there Matthew about you know knowledge and awareness you know none of us are pointing fingers you know we you know I understand caffeine is everywhere you know I probably used to over drink caffeine and I've altered my behavior as I've learned more and more about the research and I think what we're trying to do is raise awareness off you know caffeine is a sleep disrupter there's just no question about that and you know we can dress it up any way we want but it is a sleep disorder if anyone is listening to this at that story that Matthew just mentioned resonates with you really sort of encourages have a little think about your caffeine usage and just see if can you can you wind it down a little bit can you see you know bit by bit if by reducing it it improves your quality of sleep the recommendation I make it in my book is enjoy your caffeine before noon and I say enjoy cuz I get it I people love it I love a good cup of coffee but I will not have caffeine after midday yeah and I you know I've now actually done what search in us tonight I would I routinely go through sort of a caffeine detox and right now I'm caffeine free but you know I too would enjoy that cup of coffee or a nice strong cup of you know Yorkshire tea I have no relationship with them by the way in the mornings and I also love the the coffee culture as well you know I go out with friends and we grab coffee all the time and I love that and I want people to embrace it because I think it's fantastic that there's a social movement I'm sort of circulating around that all I would say though is that you know deikun caffeinated coffee is it's actually really quite good and I would strictly I'd love to do the sort of that you know the Coke Pepsi challenge with decaf and caffeinated just in terms of the taste you will probably notice that it wouldn't give you the sort of the shakes or that sort of slightly anxious state and you probably know the difference but I've really become enamored with decaffeinated coffee in all of its flavors and I love the cafe bar culture so I love to embrace that but I do like what you're saying about you sort of patients just thinking a little bit about caffeine and considering it and just trying to try the experiment you know sort of set yourself the task give it a go and see if it works for you yeah I remember about a month after my book came out someone tweeted me and said I never ever thought the caffeine was a problem for me but I've read your book I've taken recommendation how I now only have two cups of coffee and I have it before noon and I've never slept this well in over 30 years it was just incredible how such a common thing that people are doing Day today may be impacting our sleep and I think you make a really good point that it's like a self-fulfilling prophecy the more caffeine you drink the more you need the more dependent you become the less good your sleep is and it just continues I think we also have to highlight we're talking about coffee but I think tea yeah would be similar it contains caffeine green tea you know a verbal tea that often people switch to when they're not having to your coffee is also a highly caffeinated drinks and may affect you you imagine decaf coffee you know I've read some reports that saying that decaf coffee does contain some caffeine do you know much about that so decaffeinated coffee is not no caffeinated coffee so you do have to be a you know somewhat mindful of that and they looked and you can sort of search around on the internet there's some good sites that will describe exactly how much some brands have very little caffeine at all other brands however I was surprised to find can have up to 20% caffeine in so you have five cups of those you know and you're well on your way to a standard cup of coffee so you do have to be a little bit careful but it's certainly a good way if you're thinking about trying to come off caffeine to sort of psychologically still treat yourself with that exactly and it tastes great right yeah it does it really it's it's not too bad so caffeine is something that a lot of us do in the morning and we're also going to talk a little bit later about alcohol which is something that people often use in the early evening or late evening to help them Wein four beds but before we go deep into alcohols I think that's something that people are incredibly fascinated about because I think that whole term with a nightcap you know people know it's there in our vernacular now how it's something that can help you just slip off into sleep or can it well we'll find out shortly but and you know listeners to my podcasts to know that I I talked about these four key pillars of health that I think have the most impact on the way that we feel but also that we've got some degree of control over food and movements which people have been talking about for years but also sleep and relaxation now in your book right at the starts you make a very powerful case why sleep is the foundational pillar of health I'd love you to talk more about that yeah you know I used to think that the may be the third pillar of good health alongside diet and exercise but the more I sort of did my research and the more I read from other people I realized I was probably wrong that in fact sleep is the foundation on which those two other things sit and I'll give you an example in each firstly for diet and exercise we know that if people are trying to lose weight and they're being judicious about their food intake they're trying to and diet but they're not getting sufficient sleep seventy percent of all the weight that they lose will come from lean muscle mass and not fat because your body becomes very stingy in giving up its fat when you are under slept so dieting becomes you know quite redundant in that regard you know you you want to keep the hustle you want to let go of the fat and sleep deprivation will do the opposite to you so that's the first thing it's a foundational element on which you know nutrition sits and by the way I'd love to talk all about sort of diet appetite sort of increased caloric intake increasing exactly what you desire to eat when you're underslept there's great data there but let me move over to activity we've spoken about the foundation on which diet sits when you are not sleeping sufficient amounts firstly the likelihood that you will actually exercise decreases significantly your motive a to be physically active drops away even if you are physically active the intensity of your workout will not be as strong so it's less effective and less efficient your things like your vertical jump height your muscle contraction strength even the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen in your respiratory systems they get worse when you haven't slept what's even more frightening however is that your risk for injury increases when you are exercising but not well slept this is incredible and they did a great study where they looked at some athletes across a season and then they track their sleep and then they bucketed those athletes into the different amounts of sleep 9 hours eight hours seven hours six hours what they found was a linear relationship between less and less sleep an increasing risk for serious injury during a sports event so there is yet another demonstration of how even if you're trying to be physically active but not getting sufficient sleep it can be harmful the beauty of that part of the relationship and the same for diet is that it's bi-directional that if you actually you know improve your sleep you can improve those two things but conversely those two things will improve sleep so if you start to correct your diet you start to sleep better we've already spoken about caffeine but physical activity is a great way to enhance both the quality and the quantity of your deep sleep so physical activity as long as it's not too close to bedtime if it's too close your metabolic rate stays too high your core body temperature stays too high and that will prevent sleep I'm seeing that a lot as well you know and I have experienced that myself in terms of squash is one of my favorite games but if I play squash at about 7 or 7:30 p.m. I can't sleep that night you know I'm lying in bed at nights I know it's about five-ish for me really is the last time I can go on the squash court have a great workout have an enjoyable game and everything seems to have sort of gone back down to normal before I try and sleep at night and I've seen that a lot with patients which again you know if people are after work they're trying to fit their workout in you know it becomes challenging because the modern world is making it sometimes quite tricky for us to live in harmony with our natural circadian rhythms yeah but but I see that a lot working out intensely in the evening is a problem if you don't research on that in your lab so we've looked at this with body temperature too you know and and I understand that people you know I still want to celebrate and embrace the idea of people exercising I think that's critical and even if it's late into the night best not to do that but if you do do that a good way to try and solve the higher core body temperature is to have a bath or a shower right before bed and a hot bath right hot bath is best yeah a hot shower because what happens is that all of the blood comes to the surface of your skin you kind of get nice rosy cheeks and that acts like this huge thermal radiator taking all of the heat out of the core of your body and as a consequence the core body temperature will actually plummet and you will fall asleep easier that's all the reason that it's always easier to fall asleep in a room that's too cold and too hot to cold is taking you in the right temperature direction for good sleep so if you do have to work out at some point late into the night you can try that trick but for the most part try and get your workout in a little bit earlier it's a great tip there for people cuz I know there'll be many people listening to this you probably do try and get their workouts in an evening so that's a great little tip that they can put into practice to see if they can you know ensure that that workout doesn't hinder their ability to get good sleep as you were talking about vertical jump and you know you know as a sportsman myself I sort of know this really you know gets me excited to think actually can you improve your performance by sleeping more and Emily what came into my head is an interview I think it was an interview or maybe I heard this comments I mean you may may know more about this but I have heard that Roger Federer may get I think he's been on record say he gets 12 hours of sleep a night I don't know that's true have you heard about that at all yeah yeah so he don't see gets about 12 hours of sleep and if you look at lots of sports athletes you know LeBron James the basketball player he suggests that he gets somewhere between 10 and 11 hours he splits that he has a nap teenee during the day of about an hour and logs about sort of 9 to 10 hours at night who st. bolt you know he is he says he never gets anything less than nine hours and I believe for one of his world records he had only been awake for about 35 minutes because he'd taken a nap right before I think it was an Olympic gold and a world-record that he broke and and he had only been awake for about 35 minutes because he'd slept and you know this is what you know I do some consulting now for some Premier League football teams as well as MBA NFL in the United States because they're starting to to realize that sleep is probably the greatest legal performance-enhancing drug that you could ever wish for and it's not just in terms of preparation for exercise by the way for which it is spectacular it's also about recovery and that's one of the places where I see a lot of their sports physio is perhaps not recognizing what they can do with sleep they front-loaded about before the game which is great but often when teams are playing they're playing multiple games it's about a season and it's all about maintaining their players health and that recovery period after a game before you play the next game is key you know players will dive into baths of ice to try and reduce swelling and inflammation sleep is a critical part of that sports equation you need to sleep on both sides of that so it's fascinating just I say it just for people who are you know really interested in being physically active maintaining their peak performance make sure that you also consider sleep after being physically active as well we talked about peak performance you know everyone's looking for peak performance these days of course those guys are athletes right so their idea of Peet performance is probably you know when Roger Federer is playing in a Grand Slam tennis match he wants to be operating at peak performance spurts you know like you know Joe public also wants peak performance in their lives you know they want to be able to wake up feeling refreshed you know maybe get their kids to school without there being a whole load of arguments because everyone's under slaps and tie it's yeah they want to get to work and perform well in their job so they feel that they're contributing to whatever work they're doing they're operating at a high level so you know what I guess you know some people may think you have Roger Federer LeBron James you know yeah sure great for those guys but you know I don't need as much sleep as then so my question would be what can we learn from those guys then in terms of how they part I sleep how much sleep do we need every day but also in episode 14 of this this podcast was a few episodes ago I interviewed and Nick little Hales who for you know many years has been advising clubs like much to United's the England football team and he talks about this idea of 90 minute sleep cycles I don't if you've read his book or you familiar with yes recommendation but I find it you know he talks about this whole idea of five 90-minute cycles that we need throughout the day and I know some people found that quite helpful to take the pressure off them at night so quite a few questions there Matt but I want everything we're just try to go into those those areas a little bit yes so right now the recommendation is for most adults get seven to nine hours of sleep and to get by the way to get seven hours of sleep you probably need at least a seven and a half hour sleep opportunity I think that's what many people miss in recommendations from sort of experts they say get your seven hours of sleep so people think that means you know well if I go to bed at you know 11 p.m. and I wake up at 6 a.m. that I've got my 7 hours of sleep that's not true you probably will have only logged about sort of 6 hours and 40 minutes and and that's that's not enough so you need to think about the sleep opportunity time as being probably around about eight hours optimally what we also know is that once you get below seven we can start to measure objective impairments in your body and in your brain as well the problem is that most people don't realize that they're sleep-deprived when they're sleep-deprived this is a big problem with sleep loss and you know the analogy I guess would be a drunk driver at a bar you know they've had a couple of pints maybe a few shots and they pick up their car keys and they say to you you know look I'm fine to drive home and you say no I know that you think you're fine to drive home but trust me you're not you are objectively you're impaired it's the same way with a lack of sleep that our subjective sense is a miserable predictor of objectively how well we're doing with a lack of sleep and I think that's one of the one of the issues that I try to sort of help dismiss in terms of a notion I think the other thing that's problematic too about getting too little sleep is that your baseline level of how you think your health and your wellness is just becomes chronically low and you accept that as if that's just where I am in life this is just me this is as good as it can be and people don't realize that if you're to change something like sleep or stress or diet or physical activity there's actually a better form of you waiting on the other side of those things it just requires perhaps you know some knowledge and an invitation to go there Matthew I call this podcast feel better live more for a reason and it really just echoes what you what you just said then you know when we feel better by you know prioritizing sleep by you know looking at these other pillars that I talked about we get more out of life we're a better version of ourselves we have better relationships we have you know much deeper more meaningful interactions with the world around us when we're feeling better and I guess you would argue that when we sleep better we live more we do I mean I'm firstly that data is very clear that if you look across epidemiological studies millions of individuals in these studies a very simple truth comes out which is that the shorter your sleep the shorter your life that short sleep predicts all cause mortality Wow and so you know I think we just need to stop and just what about that's thinking well depriving ourselves some sleep or shorten our life yeah yeah I mean that's the the powerful data that you know the global sleep loss epidemic that is underway right now which I believe is probably one of the greatest public health challenges that we now face in the 21st century it is a slow form of self euthanasia it's very powerful statement one that I absolutely would agree with have we as a society a favor prioritizes the white words but yeah let's go with over prizes have we have we put too much focus on the right food and the right physical activity at the expense of sleep yeah it's a great question I've thought about this a lot I I don't think we've done it at the expense of sleep perhaps but I do resonate with your comment that I think sleep is perhaps being the neglected stepsister in the health conversation of today and I think it's being left out in the cold there's a probably a number of reasons for that the first is just because scientists like me are to blame what I mean is that we have not adequately communicated to the public or to medicine or to healthcare professionals in general how critical the importance and necessity of sleep is you know and I liken where we are with sleep with where we were for smoking 50 years ago you know all of the science was there but it hadn't trickled down into the public knowledge base or even into medicine that's what you did so great with your book is you're bringing that awareness to the general public all over the world which is fantastic and that was part of the motivation for the book you know I could see the disease and sickness and ill health that was caused by insufficient sleep and there wasn't you know there wasn't a blueprint guide there wasn't some kind of a manifesto for sleep and so that was part of the reason to write the book but I think to come back you know to why sleep was being left out in the cold I think part of it is people like you know well at least my fault I think the other thing too is that unlike diet and exercise sleep has an image problem you know I think nobody feels ashamed about saying I went out for a run at lunchtime or you know I went I had a great run this morning nobody necessarily feels ashamed about you know putting salad on that plate you know and making a really female but I do think people feel sometimes ashamed by saying well I I need at least eight and a half hours of sleep a night you know and sometimes I've heard the reaction of people saying really and that really has a hint in it to suggest that if you're getting sufficient sleep and I choose that word carefully sufficient then you must be lazy that you're slothful because we've tagged and we've associated this thing called necessary sleep with that luggage of you know something to be ashamed about and in fact if anything it's what happens is that people have this braggadocio attitude this almost sort of sleep machismo attitude that you're very proud to tell people how little sleep that you're getting as though it's you know a badge of honor I see that in some people not all not all people but some people so I think to change that part of the sleep discussion and bring it in to the health equation we need to deist ignite eyes sleep in a way to I think those are at least two of the reasons why it's been left out in the cold yeah yeah absolutely I mean I you know I've shared this before on the podcast there a few years ago for me I was probably when I had kids actually because my kids were early risers and you know that's that's the understatement of the every Wise has votes I realized that if I didn't alter my going to bed time I was gonna be exhausted every single day which is what was happening and on and I sort of altered my whole sleep schedule a few years back and it's something now that I really do prioritize you know I will have a shot of time in the evening after which I'm not on my computer I'm not working I will wake because I know that if I don't do that the next day I won't be performing anywhere near the level I want to and it actually reminds it that that facebook conversation we had the Facebook live chat we did yeah so guys we were trying to schedule this chat for a little while and I love this here we bought a day ten and then Matthew had to move move the time and I got an email I think from your publisher saying you know can we move this home and I thought that's 9 p.m. UK Sun man that's really late because you know I've just destroyed saying how important sleep is as well I'm I'm you know trying to educate and inspire my audience that actually these things have really important so actually declines your very kind invitation to do it exactly as to see if we could change the time yeah I said guys look if we chat between nine and ten and we talked about how detrimental sleep is and you know that you know and all the problems associated with it yet we're doing it late in the evening for my UK audience and we're gonna expose everyone to blue light an evening right on to other devices and notionally work them up before beds I thought actually you know what let's just decline that and do it another time so that's cryin yeah that was great wasn't it yeah it was just you know for someone to embrace you know sort of and practice what they preach and you know and I think for the two of us you know a lot of people of course will ask me well so how much sleep do you get and I will tell him that I do honestly get a non-negotiable 8 hour sleep opportunity every night and it's I'm not trying to be you know a poster child for sleep I'm not trying to just sort of promote the book if you knew the data as I do and as I hope people will after reading the book honestly you just would not choose to do anything else and you know I don't want to live a shorter life and I don't want to live a shorter life that is filled with with disease or sickness and from everything I can tell sleep is perhaps one of the most democratic freely available efficacious forms of health insurance that you could ever wish for and as a consequence the reason I get that much is because for selfish reasons you know I just want to be alive and well for as long as possible and I think you know it's interesting hearing you say why you prioritize it you know again it's that selfish is the wrong word but it's for self-preservation reasons and what are the things I actually if I if you don't mind I know it yeah this is your podcast and your interview needs about whatever you want but but but I would love to just ask you the question cuz you know when I saw the title of of the book you know and I saw that you know they're on the front cover was this word called sleep and it was on your honor on the front cover of your book there was this thing called sleep relax eat move and sleep and I well imagined that the first three would be there of course from you know an eminent clinician but I was surprised by the fall I was lovely excited here as I'm wonderful but tell me you know where did that decision come from to include sleep you know where did you get the awareness from where did you get the sensitivity to sleep you know was it boots on the ground with patients was it in a medical curriculum was it personally tell me I'd love to know yeah I think Matthew that's a great question really I mean my I guess my journey into this I've really been keen to promote lifestyle comes from a real feeling there in medicine we've lost our way a little bit now we're not putting blame on anyone yeah yeah but but I sort of feel that the medical system is set up around acute disease as acute problems that respond very well to our magic bullet pharmaceutical interventions but in the health landscape even in my career and I've nearly been seeing patients now for about twenty years even in my career I've seen the health landscape of the patients that I see changed dramatically whereas now the bulk of what I see in my daily practice you know I say 80% if it is in some way driven by our collective modern lifestyles and so I've been delving deep for a few years now in terms of you know what are those lifestyle factors that I can leverage with my patients to get a better outcome and of course when I first started going on this journey was all about food right it's all about diet you know if we were having this chat five or six years ago I would be saying you know most of what happens to us you know most of our health determinant is is basically foods but I disagree now you know because I think when you know the science when you have seen the science as you do sell so beautifully in your book that the case is compelling you can't really ignore sleep so I a doctor who wants to get my patients better like every other doctor I want to do this in as harmless away as possible and I also get very tired of suppressing downstream symptoms so I want to go upstream as far as possible see what Leever can I turn this can have all these downstream consequences and food is one of those things that you know food isn't just calories you know it's not just fat and carbs it's information it changes our genetic expression and so it's information for the body in a similar way physical activity can change hormones can change genetic expression all these kind of things and you know so obviously that's food that's movements relaxation is a whole piece about stress you know which you know some research is showing that night up to 90 percent of what we see in primary care may have stress as a factor which is incredible but I always thought I was missing one piece of the puzzle and you know I would see like if we take autoimmune disease for it if only as an example when I see my patients often do what's called a timeline and I look you know I said okay you've got symptoms here today but let's look at your whole life let's see what's been happening sequentially because I don't think a lot of these chronic conditions just happen overnight there's been a build-up for a period of time for a period of years and I would often see with autoimmune conditions that's you know just a few months sometimes just one month before the onset of symptoms I would see either either you know well not either I would often see a really stressful episode happen that would reduce the quality of people asleep and then I see symptoms come on yeah there was adults I always want to learn from my patient so you know your question is where does this come from well primarily it's come from listening to my patients and listening to the stories that they tell me because you know you're you know what a world's eminent researchers asleep I love research but I also love real life what happens at the coalface when I'm seeing patients and what did they tell me is working what did they tell me they're struggling with that also influences a lot of my recommendations as well as the science you know if you can marry those two together I think that's one we can make a real difference with people and I also went to a conference in San Diego about two years ago and the whole conference was on sleep and relaxation and Andres and and I think it was Phyllis say do you know Phyllis I see yeah Elysee yeah she gave a couple of keynotes there and I thought God this really is whetting my appetite it's really reinforcing what I am seeing in my practice as I say when you look at the research I thought well how can I write a lifestyle book there's that is to empower people to take control their health and not cover sleep you know I can't do it I just so interesting about that is you know you had you know all of this time at medical school in practice you know and it took a conference yeah you know that you you know through your own sheer interest and if I only my own sort of annual leaves are gonna do this yeah yeah I'm interested that's where you got your sleep education you know that strikes me as as so you know unfortunate you know I want to think I want to work with medical systems to try and increase you know a sleep education component because wouldn't it be wonderful if all of our primary care physicians here in the United Kingdom were you know asleep aware and sleep motivated as you are and I'm sure they would be delighted to receive that information you know I know have lots of friends here who were who had doctors and you know I know that they would embrace that and would love to try and increase wellness in their patients but there's just no pathway that we've engineered in the medical system to gift them with that knowledge and dispense wellness to their patients because sleep really is the tide that raises all of the other health boats it's just as you said it's the superordinate node that if you manipulate it you know it's like the Archimedes lever you pull that everything else you know can start to come into place you get the sleep better affects your brain affects your hormones it affects should janeski expression it affects all these sort of things that we might be looking for drugs to to affect those individual pathways but you can improve a lot of them yeah you know and it's no we think well that sounds almost too good but don't forget you know it took mother nature 3.6 million years to evolve this necessity of eight hours of sleep in place which I should note by the way that if you look at the data back in the 1940 is the average adult was sleeping about seven point nine hours of sleep now that number here in the United Kingdom is closer to six hours and thirty minutes in other words within the space of 100 years which is a blink of an evolutionary eye we've locked off almost 20% of our sleep need you know how could that not come with demonstrable health and disease consequence so I think you know there's that component there but I love what you are saying that you know in medicine were often or even in research and pharmaceuticals were often trying to sort of manipulate one pathway in one area or the metabolic system or one aspect of the immune system or one feature of the cardiovascular system and you know sleep effects all of those and we can you know I'll give you an example firstly we know that after if you get a patient and you have them sleeping just six hours for one week this is someone let's say who is healthy at the end of that one week of short sleep their blood sugar levels are disrupted so significantly that they would be pre-diabetic that you would diagnose them as being in a state of predigest from sleep just from sleep deprivation and control of the factors you can also speak about sleep loss and the cardiovascular system and all it takes is one hour of lost sleep because there is a global experiment that's performed on 1.6 billion people across 70 countries twice a year and it's called daylight savings time and it turns out that when you look at that data in the spring when we lose an hour of sleep we see a subsequent 24% increase in heart attacks as a result it's just incredible but in the autumn you know when we gain an hour sleep we see a 21 percent reduction in heart attacks so the data is there on a global level you know is striking you know and you can even think you know you speak a lot about you know the immune system it's so key for our health tell us what does sleep do for the immune system so firstly we can look on both sides of the coin what happens when we don't get enough sleep firstly we know that people who are sleeping five hours a night are four times more likely to catch a cold than those people who are sleeping eight hours on striking study very well controlled study we also know that it doesn't take one week of you know short sleep deprivation one night is enough what we've found is that if you take healthy individuals and then we limit them to just four hours of sleep for one single night what we see is a 70% drop in critical anti cancer fighting immune cells called natural killer cells which are these wonderful sort of immune assassins that you know help decrease our you know sort of you know cancer risk yeah and help us fight infection and fighting off our innate immune system exactly part of that critical innate immune response flip the the the sort of the side of the coin and now what we find is that when you get sleep there is a change in what we call the autonomic nervous system which is sort of this automatic part of our nervous system and that automatic nervous system is split into two branches one that is sort of like the accelerator pedal that gets us revved up triggers the fight-or-flight response the other is the brake that sort of calms us down and when we go into deep sleep we apply that break to the nervous system and everything quiets down heart rate decreases deep sleep is the most wonderful form of natural blood pressure medication that you could ever wish for but one of the other things is that we see as that nervous system quiets down levels of things like cortisol drop down that stress-related chemical and it's during that time that the body goes into an immune stimulation mode and it's where essentially you're going to restock the armament of your immune army so that when you wake up the next day you can battle and fight infection what's also fascinating and I love this data and this tells you just how critical sleep is to a fighting for our health if you look at people who become infected or you actually infect them in the experimental laboratory let's say with sort of a cold vaccine you know you immediately trigger increased sleepiness and increased amounts of deep sleep and it turns out that the infection indicates to the immune system that you're under attack and the immune system will actually signal to the sleep system within the brain we need more sleep sleep is the best battle force that we have right now to combat this assault and so that's why when you're sick all you tend to want to do is just curl up in bed and go to sleep the reason is because your body is trying to sleep you well it's an appropriate response to what's going on exactly it's body's a pretty clever right if they are remarkably clever you know again mother nature's figured this out and so she brings up this thing called sleep which I would argue is probably like the Swiss Army knife of health you know whatever ailment you are facing it is more than likely that sleep has a tool in the box to try and help fight it that's okay whatever ailment you're facing guys if you listen to this whatever you're suffering from whether it's you know a lack of energy on a day-to-day basis whether it's that you're worried about your risk of developing a chronic disease such as type 2 diabetes or heart problems as you get older you know what Matthew is saying what professor Walker is saying is that sleep improving your quality of sleep is going to help you with all these different facets it's going to help reduce your risk and help increase your energy it's also going to reduce your risk of actually getting disease in the future which is just absolutely incredible I mean we are not gonna move on to tips cuz I know many of you'll be thinking okay this is all great you know I'm sort of hearing about all these things that sleep does but how do I get more so we're gonna come to that shortly but so much I want to talk to you about Matthew I mean I think we could easily make this like a full day podcast and I fascinated in this I'd love to return at some point should you wish me yeah well 100% but I think you know that you said about medical school training I think I think it's very important because pretty much everything that I put in here and the last course or the book is on sleep I don't know convinced that any of that came from my medical school training so that was all self taught from you know spending hours on PubMed reading research going to Commerce's trying to learn more because I wanted to help my patients more I thought you know I'm need to know more about this so I can actually do my patience you know and give them a better service so you're saying that you know maybe medical students may may get maybe two hours or so and you'd love to sort of try and help that and get you know maybe a sleep curriculum into medical schools in this way the you know I think one reason we get on so well is there's so much synergy in our in our viewpoint in terms of how we think this needs to change so what I've done over the past six months is is develop a brand new course with a colleague of mine dr. Pam chair called prescribing lifestyle medicine and it's a one day master class to teach health care professionals but primarily doctors on the basics of you know lifestyle medicine if you will as a term you know so we go into sleep and we we teach this framework while they can simply apply these these four pillars with their patients to start to actually implement lifestyle medicine I've looked at you know it looks to maybe collaborate with you and show you a slice I'd love to it and and I've got you know I teach a whole course at at the University of California Berkeley the science of sleep so I've got lots of slides I'd love to just share and do whatever I could to try and help sort of perpetuate that movement that you've got going is wonderful that's exactly what we need yeah and then maybe we can talk about how we get that into medical schools and you know yeah I was going to actually ask you you know you know how could we you know even collectively you know think about trying to you know approach sort of medicine here in the United Kingdom and see if we go we'll talk about it off the great collaboration okay Matthew I know you're short on time and again we could just go on for so long I was going to ask you about sleep and stress but I think you know guys for those of you listening to this I cover that in quite a bit detail I think with you on my chats that's on my Facebook page which is facebook.com forward slash dr. Chatterjee so guys you can actually check it out there but everything that Matthew and I talked about including that Lancet paper that he mentioned is going to be in the show notes which is going to be at dr. chaski comm /y we sleep there's gonna be links there to everything Matthew talks about Matthews ass calls his book all kinds of things the guys do check that out after the podcast and you can do but if further reading on those topics that interest you so yeah where to go seem next I mean one thing that we do talk about on that course and I think we've not spoken about this yet is about sleep and its role in mental health and you know what's interesting you mentioned bi-directional relationships before and how a lack of sleep can increase our risk of problems but also sleep can be a treatment as well for various things and I want if you could talk about that in relation to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression and maybe from then just move briefly on to Alzheimer's if possible yeah so we've done a lot of work in this area of sort of sleep and mental health I think the first point to note is that we have not been able to discover a single psychiatric condition in which sleep is normal Wow and I think sleep has a profound story to tell in our understanding in our treatment maybe even ultimately at some point our prevention of grave mental illness and I don't say that flippantly firstly we've done some work where you can take healthy individuals and you can deprive them of sleep for a single night and then you place them inside an MRI scanner and you look at how their brain has changed and what we find is that these deep emotional brain centers erupt when you're sleep-deprived you become a lot more emotionally reactive impulsive but there's a deep brain center called the amygdala which is one of the centerpiece regions for the generation of strong emotions that part of the brain is up to 60% more reactive when you're sleep-deprived relative to when you've had a good solid night of sleep and we've also found a huge amount it's a 60 percent it's very difficult to usually see that type of a change in the brain without some kind of pathology or drug and I think something deprivation I think on an intuitive level most people recognize it when they haven't slept well you know they're just a little bit more reactive things like that email from a boss from their boss for example can be easily misinterpreted you know they annoyed at me they you know you suddenly start to see how things are there and I i-i've just I mentioned before I've just completed my second book called the stress solution which is going to come out in January and I cover a little bit of this that you're talking about in that to really try and show people their you know lack of sleep is a stress on our body and sixty percent that's incredible change in the brain yeah and I think it really comes you know you you're absolutely right many of us have a sense that you know I just snapped dot dot dot you know those are the words that usually follow a you know bad night of sleep or when you've not got enough sleep and we know it all the way down sort of the the age chain you know you think about a parent holding a child the child is crying and they look at you and they say well they just didn't sleep well last night I said there's some Universal knowledge that bad sleep the night before equals bad mood and emotional reactivity the next day and it doesn't stop in infancy or childhood or adolescence it's true when we are adults as well and we've seen this data what I think is concerning is that that neurological signature that we discovered in that study is not dissimilar to numerous psychiatric conditions and in fact we're now finding significant links between sleep disruption and depression anxiety including PTSD schizophrenia and most recently introduced aside as well in fact a short sleep duration is usually predictive of either suicidal ideation suicidal thoughts suicide attempts and tragically suicide completion so I think there at the scale the scope through which sleep is impacting mental health disease I think is considerable we used to think in psychiatry that the psychiatric disease was perhaps causing the sleep disruption I think now we've been forced to change our minds it's not as though it's completely in the opposite directions not that every psychiatric condition is a sleep disorder that's not true either but is it a two-way street I think that that's probably more tenable in fact is it is the dominant flow of traffic perhaps more in one direction than the other I think that's also reasonable to assume on the basis of the data right now as well so I think it's you know there's clearly an intimate relationship between our health and our sleep health Matthew these you know the implications of what you just said I think is so profound we've got to accept in the 21st century not only do we not prioritize sleep enough we're a chronically sleep-deprived society we're now going to a mental health epidemic you know mind the charity here in the UK say that about one in four people in the UK now in any given year are going to be diagnosed with a mental health problem right that's incredible and when you hear about that research we think chronically asleep before our society mental health proms on the wise yes there are other factors okay I don't yeah I think you both of us agree on it yeah we're not trying to say it's all to do with sleep but what we are trying to say is that sleep is a critical part of the equation and one that we can no longer afford to ignore so I find that research fascinating you know and it makes what you think is a dot so you know you've mentioned already top two diabetes heart disease mental health problems such as depression and anxiety you know I know at our previous discussion again guys I'd point you to that face with disgust we wouldn't have time to go into this today but we will want to get you back on the podcast on our Facebook discussion we did go into Alzheimer's and how you know sleep deprivation you feel may be causative now auric or one of the causative factors that causes out time as disease but I'm thinking well you know I I often say this when I'm teaching not says you know why are we not bringing up sleep quality with pretty much every single patient that walks in through our door you know and you could imagine the cost savings to you know our economy in fact the RAND Corporation recently did a survey that the enormous cost of sleep deprivation throughout a number of developed nations what they found was that a lack of sleep cost most nations about two percent of their GDP so here in the United Kingdom that's thirty billion pounds of lost economic value caused by insufficient sleep in the United States it was 411 billion dollars in Japan it was 138 billion dollars in other words if you solve the sleep loss epidemic you know imagine you could almost double the budget for education or you could perhaps even half the healthcare deficit you know Teresa may just this week as we're speaking here the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom described a twenty billion pound injection of funds into the national healthcare system and this uproar about where that money is going to come from well you know if we just simply prioritized and solved the sleep epidemic of the sleep loss epidemic we could cover that and still have ten billion pounds left yeah this doesn't says be too political but I would I would say that you know I find a lot of the messaging around the NHS in public very short-sighted it's about pumping more money in to fix downstream issues whereas we've got to look at prioritizing sleep as a society whether it's the lighting that's used in hospitals when patients are trying to recover from illness which isn't very helpful a lot of the time whether it's teaching our children about and encouraging good habits you know at school but also as parents with our kids we're the ingraining and I think you know we not really got into technology today and how the overuse of technology can potentially be problematic for sleep and I agree sleep it's such a it's such a simple leave it's in it sort of is well we'll come into tips in just a second bits you know so many health inequalities are there from people from different socio-economic groups we know in the UK that's you know you can have as much of a ten-year difference in your life expectancy depending on where you live one thing I like about a focus on sleep and I appreciate that there are many pressures in deployer of communities you know financial stresses you know maybe a lot of shift work may be working multiple jobs so in I absolutely understand and recognize that there are significant issues that we have to overcome but a lot of the recommendations that we're now going to talk about that I cover in my book and you cover in detail in your book is that the recommendations to help people to you know get more quality sleep a free of charge yeah you know I often say that I think sleep is perhaps the most democratically freely available health cursus for everyone around the world now that's a bit of a glib statement on the basis of exactly what you just said I think about and the data is quite frightening we've been looking at this too at sort of low socioeconomic status communities and there what you'd see is just what you described you know higher general social stress that imposed sleep usually working multiple different jobs split shifts working the night work often people in those communities are working in the service industry that usually means that you're either up very early or you're staying in work very late all of which comprise you know factors that work against sleep so I want to be really appreciative of that but still I think you know the tips that we can do right now to start sleeping better every night should be applicable and for the most part utilized by just about everyone as long as you don't have a sleep disorder well Matthew normally I end the podcast off by asking people for four key tips that people can put into practice immediately but we don't have to limit it to four you know I I want this podcast to inspire people to not only take sleep seriously but to give them some practical help so immediately you have to listen to this I could put the headphones down and go right I'm gonna the or professor Walker's asked me to do I'm gonna try you know these five things today in your experience and you've been interviewed all around the world now to do with your book what what are those common things that people aren't doing that they could do to help improve their sleep yes so there's probably maybe five things that people can do right now to get better sleep the first is regularity going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time no matter what even if you've had a bad night of sleep still try to wake up at the same time just understand it's gonna be a tough next day and then get to bed at the same time that following night and you'll have a good night of sleep you'll sort of sleep a little bit more soundly that night even if it's the weekday or the weekend don't do so what we call social jetlag which is sort of where you sort of sleep too late at the weekend and then on Sunday night you've got to drag your body clock all the way back and try and force it to sleep at a time when you haven't been sleeping before that's torture regularity is key the second thing is temperature we've spoken a little bit about that but keep your bedroom cool and probably around about 18 degrees Celsius which is colder than most people think but cooling the room down takes your body into that right sort of thermal space for good sleep it cools it down darkness we've spoken about to but we are I think a dark deprived Society in this modern era and you need darkness at night to allow the release of a hormone called melatonin which helps time the healthy onset of your sleep so yes it's to do with blue light sort of emitting devices screens phones those are things that you should try and stay away from in the last hour before bed but it's not just that it's also overhead lighting you know we don't need to be bathed in electric light all night in the last hour before bed just try turning half of the lights off in your flat or in your home you'd be surprised at how soporific and sleepy you become when you're shrouded in darkness so that's the third thing the fourth thing is I would say walk it out and what I mean by that is don't stay in bed if you've been awake for twenty or twenty-five minutes either trying to fall asleep or you've woken up and you're trying to get back to sleep the reason is because your brain is this wonderfully associative device and it will start to very quickly learn that being in bed is about being awake rather than asleep so what you need to do is after about twenty five minutes just relax understand that sleep is not quite here yet go to a different room in dim light read a book or listen to a podcast but don't check email don't eat because it trains your brain to expect that in the middle of the night only return to bed when you are very sleepy and that way your brain will start to relearn the association that your bedroom is the place of sleep rather than the place I think that's a really important set Matthew that's you know I know even from our first conversation on Facebook that's you know whatever I talk about sleep you know people can often get really wound up about this and say you know I'm doing all those things I can't sleep and they've you know they're really just know without without trying to see their brain has just got into this position where it's been trained not to sleep in trains to not associate the bedroom with sleep or you know so many people I see you know when I hear about social media are doing work emails right up to the moment they fall asleep and and you know you we mentioned children before and I don't say you know children need a bedtime we've seen we know that so we think we're any different we should and you're absolutely right you know we've turned the bed in this day and age often you know into a kitchen we've turned it into an office we've turned it into a cinema you know we do all of these things typically on the bed which then it does impact the brains association it gets quite confused about what this thing called the bed is is all about so I think that that's a that's a very helpful tip and try not to get too anxious if you have sort of falling asleep I know that probably a lot of what I've been telling people will make you feel anxious if you're not being able to get the sleep that you need but try not to worry about it everyone has a bad night of sleep just get up understand that you're going to be awake for a little bit longer and then go back to bed and you will start to rely on that association and and in fact a lot of you know people in patients will say to me well you know I've been falling asleep on the seti watching television and then I get into bed and I'm wide awake and I don't know why and again it's because of this association that you've learned with the bed the final two things one of which we've mentioned is what you intake into your body caffeine and alcohol we've spoken about caffeine but I'll speak about alcohol quickly many people use alcohol as a sleep aid and it is anything but an assistant to sleep alcohol is a class of drugs that we call the sedatives and sedation is not sleep unfortunately it's a solution it's not sleep it's very different so what you're doing when you have a nightcap or you use alcohol to try and get to sleep and many people do understandably so they mistake one for the other you're just knocking your cortex out you're not in natural sleep the two other problems with alcohol and sleep first the alcohol will fragment your sleep so if I were to record someone's sleep in the laboratory after they've had a couple of drinks their sleep is littered with all of these awakenings throughout the night now you tend not to remember waking up but the next day you feel again unrefreshed you don't feel sort of bright and alert or restored by your sleep but you don't remember waking up so you don't link it to the alcohol but alcohol is bad at fragmenting your sleep produces poor quality the final thing alcohol is good at doing is blocking your dream sleep or your M sleep and we know to come back to our conversation REM sleep is critical for emotional first-aid REM sleep provides overnight therapy it's a form of emotional convalescence and alcohol will block that REM sleep quite viciously so those would be the five tips I think for better sleep yeah Matthew thanks I love that just just to say on alcohol is it dose dependent so for example you know some people say well I'm okay with one glass of wine but two or three glasses is gonna fragment my sleep you know it can you comment on on the dosage there or would you advise people who are struggling with sleep knock it on its head basically it's so hard for me to answer this and this is reason one of the reasons why I haven't such a deeply unpopular person but I don't suppose to say but I but you know I firstly I don't want to sound puritanical you know life is to be lived to a degree and all of these things that were discussing are trying to speak about the extremes but I also want to empower people with the knowledge I'm not here to tell you necessarily what you should or you shouldn't do I just want to give you the scientific facts and then you can make the choice I would say unfortunately that even just one glass of alcohol in the evening we can we can see that we can measure that you can measure that in your life you can see that you're not getting the same deep level of restorative sleep even with one training with one drink so I know it's hard but now you know everyone you know it should you know have a social life and sort of you know enjoy a drink now and again I think the best advice would be this if you're going to bed feeling tipsy you probably have had too much alcohol in terms of sleep impairment I think you know I so Nate with it with so much of what you've just said which is you know this podcast what I do what you do it's not about telling people what to do yeah I've got no interest of telling someone what they I have no right to tell someone what they should do with their lives what I think we're trying to do is to educate people inspire them empower them to understand what lifestyle choices they're making and how that could impact their health and I always draw the analogy with going out how many few drinks with you mates on a Friday nights people know intuitively that if I go out for a drink on Friday nights and have three or four pints let's say you know what my Saturday morning might be a bit of a write-off I may not be functioning as well as I might want see but you're going into that with that knowledge you're saying you know I know these that's our goal that is on me but I'm gonna get so much enjoyment out of my night out tonight that I'm willing to put up with the consequences what I think we both want to say is guys which want to empower you we want to help you understand the impact that caffeine might be having on your seat that alcohol might be having on your seat that the fact that you're on your work emails before you go to bed might be having on your sleep do without information what you will you know and that's how I would put it I so agree because I think you know a lot of you know what you speak about in your book which is you know far more wide-ranging than mica so I just take one of the things you go after four of the key pillars which is it's so much more impressive I think says so much about the difference between me and you rang input what are your recent I'm a clinician right there's a big difference right there is but I something is it's a it's a heroic thing but what I would say it I think is that yes a lot of people are aware of some of these things you know like it's good to be physically active you know I should try and stay away from drinking too much alcohol but I also think that there's a lot of what we discuss you know I hope in both books that is perhaps knowledge that people aren't aware of yeah and if only that they were aware of it they would actually want to do something different that's the sort of the case that I'm really passionate about is that people as long as you know the information and you choose to do otherwise no problem at all a lot of people just are either misinformed or entirely when it comes to sleep uninformed that's the goal that is the goal and it's and it's really about it's that empowerment piece and and this is one thing I just want to end on it's just to say guys look it may not be that you can just change one thing and suddenly have a great night so you might have to change three or four things together you know that's certainly my experience it's like you know Matthew you know you're a researcher so a lot you know you'll do research and showing what caffeine does on showing what alcohol does and but I would say as a clinician use that research but maybe you might have to try a few things like you might try for example one week with no caffeine and no alcohol and see how you sleep because then you can be empowered just to decide what are you gonna do after that are you going to go back or maybe then I always try and get people sleeping as well as they've ever slept and then they can start reintroducing some of these lifestyle things that they want or they could say oh wow that's interesting I felt great last week but now what I have a 2:00 p.m. coffee you know what I'm not quite as good okay that's that's gonna teach me now that's I'm gonna I'm gonna knock it a bit earlier in the day cuz I think ultimately nobody's gonna follow your advice or my advice simply because we told them to I think it's only when they start to feel the difference themselves yeah they go wow you know why can't a light feeling gates yeah and I think you know I love your point about just trying to give it time to you know sleep and starting to change your sleep and seeing the effects of getting better sleep it's a little bit like exercise at the gym you know you're not going to go to the gym one day and wake up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger you know it just takes some time but if you commit to it you will see gradual change and it's the same thing with with sleep as well but I also think I love the idea of you you know putting sleep in that bedrock place and then starting to introduce the other factors what's lovely is that many of them will actually fall in place when sleep is stabilized and I'll give you a good example of diet we know that without sufficient sleep to critical appetite hormones go in opposite bad directions one of those hormones is called leptin which is a hormone that sort of signals to your body your full your you don't want to eat anymore the other hormone is called ghrelin which does the opposite it says you're not satisfied with your food you want to eat more and despite leptin and ghrelin sounding like two hobbits they are actually real and their hormones what's interesting is that when you sleep deprive people or even just limit them to maybe just like five or six hours of sleep for a week levels of leptin which say you're full don't eat more they drop down levels of ghrelin that ramp up your hunger and say I've just eaten a big meal but I'm not satisfied I want to eat more that hormone skyrockets when you're under slept so no wonder people who are sleeping just 5 to 6 hours a night will actually eat on average somewhere between 2 to 300 extra calories every single day yeah it's so you can solve sleep and you will actually start to not want to eat as much yeah and this is why a part of weight loss is to sleep better it's a critical factor and I think next time I get you on math you will will probably go into detail on that what we go into detail on Alzheimer's and maybe even think something menopause or symptoms and hormonal sensors that I also see sleep deprivation playing a huge role in I know you're on a really busy schedule that's happens when you have such a popular international best-selling birth and you know all about that well guys I highly encourage you to pick up Matthew's book why we sleep it's it's absolutely brilliant it's got pretty much everything you've ever wants to know about sleep I think you'll probably find in that book I look for when you release a later edition when you've got newer research coming out in the future at some points but Matthew won't question I I like to ask my my guests who are you know leading researchers in the field is you know as you became more and more aware a for this sleep research what was the biggest thing in your own lifestyle that you changed on the back of your research I think it was probably caffeine I think just seeing the data and then doing those types of studies ourselves and particularly the the finding that we discussed were even if you're asleep the quality of that sleep is just not as deep that really got me concerned and that's when I really started to pay attention to my to my caffeine content you tease her so now a caffeine or you so right now yeah I am I drink decaffeinated tea and I drink decaffeinated coffee I sometimes you know I've ever done flowed between sort of having coffee in the morning because I do feel it's it's alerting benefits but you know we didn't necessarily evolve to be medicated with caffeine and I think anyone who is you know drinking caffeine at 11:00 a.m. which on the basis of your circadian rhythm if you lift listen to the wonderful podcast with such and Panda that you did you know your peak of your circadian rhythm is right around sort of the 11 o'clock period that's when it should be almost impossible for you to fall asleep but yet we you know I sometimes look around on an airplane when I'm leaving and people half the plane is asleep at 11 o'clock yeah and if you're self medicating your sleep deprivation at 11 a.m. with caffeine it usually means that you're perhaps just not getting enough sleep and that's probably been one of the greatest I think influential factors that and the impact on my productivity I think that was the the most underrated and actually forced me to start doing a lot of research on sleep loss and productivity that maybe on a second podcast because yeah but you know my ability to maintain focus and produce high-quality output work is dramatically dependent on the sleep that I've been having at night but absolutely echoes what Professor panda said a few weeks ago on this podcast when he goes off caffeine his productivity goes up so guys look no one's asking you guys to to cut out caffeine you know I know how much you guys love it I have certainly had my own love-hate relationship with coffee in the past but I have dramatically reduced it and I'm feeling better than I've ever felt Matthew I really want to thank you for the time you've made today to come onto the show to really talk to my listeners who really are big fans of your work really are looking for those actual bits of information that they can take into their life so I want to thank you for that I absolutely will take you up on your promise I'm gonna call it a promise and come back on the podcast it is a service guys look that is the end of my conversation with Professor Matthew Walker don't forget you can see all the show notes at dr. chaski com /y we sleep everything we talking about a lot more articles from Matthew I'm gonna put them all there so you can continue your learning experience guys I'd love you to take a screenshot off the podcast share it on social media we want to get this information on sleet to as many people as possible and you can help us do that by promoting and sharing this podcast on social media if you could tag me but you could also tag Matthew Matthew what social media network do you tend to be on yeah so I am on the internet all over the place on at sleep diplomat so at sleep diplomat on Twitter and you can find me on the web at sleep diplomat comm and I would love to to learn more about what people enjoyed and just hear their thoughts about sleep on Twitter that would be wonderful yeah guys so please do tag me tag Matthew I'm gonna put all those social media links on the show notes do check them out as well as sharing this with your friends if you could go on to which have a podcast platform you were listening to this on and give the podcast a five star review what it does is it helps raise the profile of the podcast it helps get the podcast to more people but it also helps me attract fantastic guests such as Professor Walker so I can get you more world class world leading information coming in the future guys I hope you've enjoyed today's podcast from Matthew and myself and I'm looking forward to seeing you next week for the next show thank you take care and sleep well everyone


  1. "The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life."

    And that, ladies and gentleman, is why Matthew looks like an 11 year old boy.

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