The Genius Life – Shawn Stevenson on How to Optimize Sleep for Fat Loss

Check out The Genius Life Episode Page and Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • “Your sleep quality is potentially a bigger influence on your overall health, your physical appearance, and your biomarkers than your nutrition and exercise”
  • Being underslept, handicaps our ability to put ourselves in the shoes of another person
  • Aim to optimize your sleep cycles (like how much REM and deep sleep you’re getting), rather than your total quantity of sleep
  • Good things you can do to improve your sleep quality:
    • Get some sun exposure early in the day (even 5-10 minutes is good enough) -“A great night of sleep starts the moment you wake up in the morning”
    • Get some exercise early on in the day (a jog, yoga, a power walk – anything to get your body moving)
  • A normal cortisol rhythm is as follows – it peaks in the morning, and drops in the evening
    • Cortisol and melatonin have an inverse relationship – if cortisol is elevated, it can suppress melatonin
    • Sun exposure increases cortisol levels – raised cortisol levels in the morning, lower cortisol levels at night

Intro

An Introduction To Better Sleep 

  • “Your sleep quality is potentially a bigger influence on your overall health, your physical appearance, and your biomarkers than your nutrition and exercise”
  • One of the best things you can do to help lose weight? – Get a full 8 hours rest every night
  • “If you’re not sleeping, you’re not healing”

The Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

  • Take note of when you tend to get into disagreements with your significant other
    • Chances are, it’s when you’re tired and/or hungry
    • Most arguments, tend to happen when people are tired/irritable at the end of the day
  • After 24 hours of no sleep, there is heightened brain activity in the amygdala, and reduced activity in the prefrontal corex
    • The prefrontal cortex is responsible for decision making, distinguishing between right/wrong, and social control
    • This causes your ability to put yourself in other peoples’ shoes, to drop – you have a hard time seeing things from another’s point of view
      • “Being underslept handicaps our ability to put ourselves in the shoes of another person” – Max
      • Maybe this has caused the lack of empathy we see across the world 
  • What also happens when you’re sleep deprived?
    • Stress hormones (like cortisol) get elevated 
      • One side effect of high cortisol levels? – Gluconeogenesis
        • This is when your body takes muscle tissue, and converts it to glucose
    • There’s a reduction (~6%) in glucose reaching the brain

Shift Work

  • One study showed that nurses doing shift work (working overnight) have a 30% increased risk of developing breast cancer
    • All is takes, is 2-3 days a week of working overnights for this risk to develop
  • “If your number one priority is your health, then working shift work, is going to be working against you”

Melatonin

  • Melatonin helps to regulate your circadian clock
  • It’s a hormone that tells the body it’s time to sleep
  • But it’s not just associated with sleep
    • Melatonin is also a powerful hormone associated with fat loss, anti-cancer pathways, regulating your immune system, and white blood cell activity
  • You have 400x more melatonin stored in your gut (in your enteric nervous system), than you do in your brain
  • Melatonin increases the mobilization and activity of brown adipose tissue (BAT)
    • The reason it’s brown? – It’s very dense in mitochondria
    • This kind of fat, burns fat, and melatonin increases it
  • Around 5,000 genes are influenced by melatonin
    • We only have 25k-30k genes
  • Your body makes melatonin naturally, but it might be a good idea to supplement to beat jet lag, or to reset your body’s clock after a waking up late

Other Beneficial Things That Happen While We Sleep

  • Our glymphatic system ramps up
    • This is the body’s garbage man, if you will – it clears away metabolic waste

How much sleep do we really need?

  • Think about sleep on an evolutionary level
    • Going to sleep for 7-8 hours leaves us so vulnerable to attack
    • If sleep was something that wasn’t needed, we would have developed the ability to function without it
  • Brain Waves
    • During our normal waking state, our brain emits beta waves (sometimes gamma)
    • When we sleep, our brain waves transition into alpha, then theta, then delta
      • The deepest sleep is associated with delta waves
      • You want to be spending a sufficient amount of time in each of those stages – each of those stages is correlated with different hormone and neurotransmitter activity
  • Everybody is different – we don’t all need the same amount of sleep
    • Things that influence our sleep requirements – Our stress levels, if we exercise, if we’re learning new material
  • Aim to optimize your sleep cycles (like how much REM and deep sleep you’re getting), rather than your total quantity of sleep

REM Sleep

  • Alcohol lowers the amount of REM sleep you get
  • During REM sleep, memory processing takes place
    • This is when our experiences get converted into short term memories

What are some things we can do to boost the quality of our sleep?

  • Get some sun exposure early in the day (from 8-10am, even 5-10 minutes is good)
    • “A great night of sleep starts the moment you wake up in the morning”
    • Sun exposure increases cortisol levels
      • Cortisol helps jump start our body, in addition to being a stress hormone
      • Raised cortisol levels in the morning, lower cortisol levels at night – this is good
        • Cortisol and melatonin have an inverse relationship – if cortisol is elevated, it can suppress melatonin
    • Sun exposure increases serotonin production
      • Serotonin is a precursor for melatonin
    • One study showed that office workers who have no access to windows, sleep about an hour less each night
    • Even on a cloudy day, you can get enough light to anchor your body’s circadian rhythm, and help your sleep
  • Get some exercise early on in the day – even 5 minutes is enough (a jog, yoga, a power walk – anything to get your body moving)
    • Morning exercisers have been found to get more deep sleep, have more efficient sleep cycles, sleep longer, and have a higher drop in blood pressure at night
      • This drop in blood pressure, is correlated with relaxation
    • Exercise raises cortisol
      • A normal cortisol rhythm is as follows – it peaks in the morning, and drops in the evening

Good Nutrients for Sleep 

  • Vitamin C 
    • Low vitamin C levels, increase the chance that you’ll wake up throughout the night
    • Good sources of vitamin C
      • Strawberries, sweet peppers, kiwis, citrus fruits
      • Superfoods which are very high in vitamin C) -camu camu berry, acerola cherry
    • A good rule – get real sources of Vitamin C first, then supplement if you need to
  • Magnesium
    • 60% of the population is chronically deficient in magnesium
    • Magnesium is responsible for over 325 biochemical processes
      • Your body cannot perform them efficiently without magnesium
    • Magnesium is like an anti-stress/relaxation mineral, associated with many of the parasympathetic nervous system processes 
      • Today, humans are exposed to more stress than ever before – it’s more mental stress/anxiety
    • Good food sources of magnesium
      • Anything that’s green (kale, spinach)
    • Or you can supplement
      • Topical magnesium is good – it’s absorbed really well through the skin
        • This is why they say float tanks, are good for increasing magnesium levels
      • Or you can take it orally – Max (the host) supplements with magnesium glycinate

Calories

  • “To measure the energy of food is so complicated. It cannot be boiled down to a calorie.”
  • A calorie is a general description of the amount of energy in the food
    • But food is so much more – it’s the macronutrient count, the micronutrient count, and how your body will process it
  • 300 calories of broccoli is NOT equal to 300 calories of cookies
    • The cookies will have a much different effect on your hormones and metabolism than the broccoli
    • Your pancreas (which regulates insulin production) will do something completely different, depending on which you eat
      • Insulin’s job, is to shuttle glucose (blood sugar) into our cells
      • Our blood sugar/glucose levels will go up much higher when we eat the cookies compared to the broccoli
  • “Food isn’t just food. Calories are not just calories.”

What does it mean to Shawn, to live like a genius?

  • It’s all about incremental grow
  • Be 1% better every day
Bookmark

FREE! THE TOP 10 PODCASTS OF 2018, AND WHAT WE LEARNED

You'll also get our weekly newsletter with the takeaways from our curated list of top podcasts. Unsubscribe anytime.