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
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