AMA With Sleep Expert Dr. Matthew Walker: Strategies For Sleeping More, Sleeping Better, and Avoiding Things That Are Disrupting Sleep – The Peter Attia Drive

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Key Takeaways

  • Sleep trackers (like the Oura Ring) are accurate when it comes to determining total time awake vs. time in non-REM sleep vs. time in REM sleep
    • They’re not so accurate when it comes to disguising between light non-REM sleep vs. deep non-REM sleep
  • Avoid eating simple carbs too close to bedtime as they tend to raise your core body temperature
    • (In order to fall asleep, you need to drop your core body temperature by 2 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • For optimal sleep, avoid exercising within two hours of going to bed
  • Adequate sleep increases your motivation to exercise, your peak muscle strength, your ability to respire and expel carbon dioxide, your time to physical exhaustion, and your ability to sweat
  • Sleep deprivation causes an increase in the hunger hormone (ghrelin) and a suppression of the satiety hormone (leptin)

Intro

How accurate are sleep trackers (like the Oura Ring)?

  • Think of sleep tracking on three levels:
    • Level 1 – Determining total sleep time vs. total time awake
    • Level 2 – Determining total time awake vs. time in non-REM sleep vs. time in REM sleep
    • Level 3 – Determining total time awake vs. time in light non-REM sleep vs. time in deep non-REM sleep vs. time in REM sleep
  • Sleep trackers tend to fail around level 3
    • HOWEVER – they’re good at allowing you to observe deviations from your baseline numbers
      • For example – you might observe that drinking alcohol prior to bed reduces the amount of time you normally spend in deep sleep
    • Therefore – don’t judge yourself against your specific deep sleep/REM sleep/light sleep numbers
      • Instead – assess your sleep based on deviations your norms

Eating Before Bed

  • Aim to stop eating ~3 hours before bed
  • Avoid eating simple carbs too close to bedtime as they raise your core body temperature
    • (In order to fall asleep, you need to drop your core body temperature by 2 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • But in general – “Don’t go to bed to full and don’t go to bed too hungry”
    • If you need to eat before bed, lean more towards higher protein meals and away from simple sugars

Avoid Exercise Within 2 Hours of Bedtime

  • Be careful with exercising too close to bedtime as it raises your core body temperature and can hinder sleep
    • For optimal sleep, avoid exercising within two hours of your bedtime
  • In addition – exercise changes your hormone profile (specifically your epinephrine, adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol levels) in an unfavorable way when it comes to sleep

How Sleep Aids Exercise and Physical Performance

  • “It’s not just that exercise helps sleep, sleep profoundly helps exercise”
  • Adequate sleep increases your motivation for exercise, your peak muscle strength, your ability to respire and expel carbon dioxide, your time to physical exhaustion, and your ability to sweat
    • It also reduces injury risk
      Sleep and Appetite Regulation

Sleep and Appetite Regulation

  • “When you are sleep deprived, essentially what the brain receives is a signal that is not dissimilar to starvation. It releases a cascade of hormones that changes your appetite profile – you’ll want to eat more and you’ll be less satisfied with your food”
    • “Human beings seem to be the only species that will deliberately deprive themselves of sleep for no apparent reason”
      • The only other time sleep deprivation is observed in nature is when animals are under conditions of starvation
        • Why? – It’s essentially a signal for the animal to start foraging in a larger area for food, and in order to do this – they’ll need to stay awake for longer hours
    • Therefore – When you’re sleep deprived, the brain essentially thinks it’s under conditions of starvation
      • The hunger hormone (ghrelin) is increased and the satiety hormone (leptin) is suppressed

Additional Notes

  • Sleep deprivation leads to elevated levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) which only further impairs sleep
    • “What you should not have if you’re looking for good sleep is a high level of cortisol”
  • Blue light exposure at night prevents the pineal gland from releasing adequate levels of melatonin (which is a signal to your body that it’s time for sleep)
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