The effects of poor sleep habits can be disastrous. Compromised brain cognition, depression, weakened immunity, and weight gain are just a few of the effects of improper sleep.
The good news is all this can be avoided by building a solid sleep regime that will support your overall wellness.
In this Be Ultimate podcast, “The Importance of Good Sleep,” (Ep75) we will explore the science of sleep and 8 key tips to ensure you are getting your ‘beauty rest.’
Hope you enjoy this inspiring episode!
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[The following is the full transcript of this episode of “The BE ULTIMATE Podcast.” Please note that this is direct from Travis speaking unscripted and unedited.]
Welcome to “The Importance of Good Sleep.”
Today, we’re going to talk about something that is very, very important, something that we all can probably relate to, something that we all agree is important. My hope is I can share with you some of the data, some of the statistics, and some of the research on this topic of sleep. And what happens when we’re not getting enough sleep because it’s disastrous for our health, our well-being, our life, and also a dive into the science of sleep, and would love to finish with sharing and giving you some key tips to help increase the quality and the potency of your sleep, so you wake up in the morning feeling recharged, rejuvenated, and refresh.
Now, I’ve got to be honest with you. This podcast was inspired because I have a 4-month-old. Her name is Willa. Willa is awesome. Willa is beautiful, but as you know babies, they often wake up a lot at night. So I’ve been studying this topic for the last few months. My wife and I are trying to figure out the best way to teach her how to sleep. It’s a little bit like taming a wild beast to some degree. There’s so many factors that are out of your control.
So there’s been a lot of nights where sleep has been a lot less than what I’m accustomed to, but it’s because of that I started learning a lot more about this stuff, and I said, “Hey, I might as well share this with you guys.”
We all know that sleep is so important. And we can tell even after one night of bad sleep, “We just do not feel right,” the next day. And when you start stacking bad night after bad night and create these patterns and these habits of poor sleep, it really affects your entire life and well-being.
Here’s some statistics from the Center of Disease Control here in the United States.
-They say that 49.2 million have trouble focusing due to poor sleep.
-50 to 70 million US adults have a sleep disorder.
-37.9 percent fell asleep unintentionally, not planned during the day within the preceding month that the question was asked.
-4.7 percent fell asleep while driving.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of accidents, and there’s a lot of unnecessary deaths that happened because people are driving exhausted.
-30 percent have suffered from short-term insomnia, and 10 percent suffer from chronic insomnia.
Chances are if you’re listening, then maybe you’ve had some of these experiences. Maybe you’re somebody who has struggled with sleep. And even if you haven’t, this is information that you can use should this issue ever arise in the future or if you know anybody in your life; friends, family members, loved ones, co-workers, you can pass this information on to them.
Let’s talk a little bit about the long-term effects of sleep deprivation which can be disastrous. A lot of these – I’m about to share with you – I can attest firsthand that they are accurate [laughter]. Again, having a newborn, I’ve felt a lot of these symptoms.
So number one is brain cognition. Your memory is poor. During your sleep, your brain is doing all sorts of magnificent things where it’s processing the day’s events, and it’s storing neatly all the memories into the right places. It’s also discerning what things to hold onto and what things to let go of, so in the future the next day, you can recall upon these experiences and these memories and build upon that as you grow as a human being throughout your life.
Number two, it affects your emotions. It affects your emotions in a negative and adverse way. Your emotions are a little bit like a roller coaster. You’re more reactive. You’re more snappy. You have a greater likelihood of getting depressed or anxious.
Accidents and Injuries
Number three, more accidents, more injuries. Part of this is because your brain doesn’t have enough energy to do what it needs to do, so your balance is off. Your coordination is off. Your proprioception is not functioning in its optimal state. In the United States, 50,000 to 100,000 patients actually die due to medical errors. A lot of healthcare providers that are working these insane shifts and not getting enough sleep– unfortunately, this is leading to errors in the hospitals, errors in surgery where people are dying from unnecessary causes.
Number four, compromises your immunity. You have a higher chance of getting sick when exposed to germs and pathogens. Your immune system can’t fight them off, so you’re more susceptible to get taken out by the cold or the flu or– now we’re dealing with the coronavirus.
Number five, it’s going to often attribute to higher blood pressure, and also your chance of getting heart disease starts to skyrocket. A lot of this is due because your inflammation markers go up and so that has a negative effect on the state of your cardiovascular heart.
Number six is weight gain. When you’re not getting enough sleep, chances are you’re making poor decisions the next day, poor decisions when it comes to what foods you are eating. When you’re tired and you’re exhausted, you give in, you don’t have the willpower and the strength and the mental stamina to persevere through what it is that your senses often want and what it is that you know is more in alignment with your health and your well-being, so you often overeat. You’re going to eat the wrong things. You’re also increasing cortisol levels. Cortisol levels have a huge correlation with weight gain. We start to see as packing on the pounds around the belly, around the hips, around that midsection. And that is definitely something we want to be on top of especially as we get older and get into our later decades of life because that belly fat that we accumulate often is correlated with a lot of disease and illness.
Number seven, diabetes. Your blood sugar levels are going to go up because you’re going to have a disruption within the insulin which is controlling and lowering those blood sugar levels.
And number eight, lowers your sex drive. We know that when you’re not sleeping well, when we look at men testosterone levels plummet. Testosterone levels go way down.
“Every night, I go abroad far into the Land of Nod.”
-Robert Louis Stevenson
So let’s talk about what happens, and why it’s so important to drift off into the Land of Nod every night to get good, quality, beauty sleep.
There was a study done in Europe, and what they did was they picked a bunch of people, and some people were well rested and other people were not. They took pictures and snapshots of these people. Then they went and found other random people to look through this booklet of pictures into ray who was considered attractive, and who was considered unattractive. What they found from the study was the people that were considered to be attractive were the ones that were well rested.
So when we talk about this idea of beauty sleep, it’s actually been proven through this research. When you’re sleeping well, you look good, you feel good, and therefore, you have that charisma and that energy of being attractive.
Now check this out.
Over the last 50 years, the average amount of sleep has dropped from 8 hours to 7 hours each night.
We’ve seen this decline where sleep levels are going down. At the same time, stress levels are going up, not a good recipe for health and well-being.
21 percent of people sleep 6 hours and 8 percent of people sleep 5 hours or less.
Now here’s some interesting facts about some animals and how much animals sleep.
Elephants sleep 4 hours a night. You would think they would need to sleep a lot more.
Lions sleep 20 hours. So lions are the king [laughter] of sleep. They’re the king of catnaps.
Sheep are very similar to human beings where they sleep about 8 hours a night.
Benefits. We talked about the adverse effects of poor sleep. Let’s talk about the benefits of good sleep.
It’s also very important for your overall physical bodily vitality and vigor. So number one benefit is strengthens infection fighting cells. Again, your immune system is going to be stronger.
Number two, prevents depression.
Number three, cuts heart disease – we talked about the heart here – cuts heart disease in 50 percent and half.
Number four, reduces obesity.
Number five – this is big – stops cancer.
There are some researchers in Ohio that found 50 percent more precancerous colon growth in people sleeping less than six hours a night versus those sleeping seven hours a night or more.
So if you’re six hours or under, then your likelihood of growing these precancerous cells starts to really, really go up.
Number six, memory reorganization. We talked about what the brain does at night.
Another study was done out of the University of Pennsylvania by a researcher named David Deans. He studied people, and he had some people sleep eight hours, and then he had some people sleep only six hours. The group that slept eight hours stayed very sharp. They would make them do exercises and they consistently stayed sharp at executing tasks and problem-solving. The group that only slept six hours were found to be scattered and easily distractible. After two weeks, the group that slept only six hours their performance dropped to the levels of people that are legally drunk.
And you hear this– you hear this about parents or newborn babies where they do stupid things. And again, I can attest to that. My wife can also attest to that. They’re bad days where I too have felt drunk.
Now let’s talk a little bit about the circadian rhythm. You’re probably familiar the circadian rhythm is our internal biological clock that has this immaculate rhythm to it, where it wakes with daylight, and then it delivers us into sleep, into the darkness of every night, in this beautiful back and forth.
I think about the whole philosophy of the Tao, the balance and the rhythm of yin and yang, day and night, sun and moon, activity and rest, masculine and feminine. We need balance, the circadian rhythm when it’s healthy, has that balance, it has that rhythm.
When you wake up in the morning, and the sun rises, and the light starts to filter through your windows, the light goes to the retina at the back of the eye, it sends a signal to the pineal gland, and then the pineal gland shuts down the sleep hormone melatonin.
At night time, when it gets dark, basically, the opposite happens. So now darkness is present. The light is no longer reaching the retina. That signal goes to the pineal gland. Now the pineal gland begins to produce melatonin. Melatonin is nature’s sleep potion. This is how we go to sleep.
Living in cities where there’s a lot of light, there’s a lot of noise, there’s a lot of stimulation. Also we could live in the country. And if in our homes, we have the TV on, we have our cell phones on, we have our computers on. All that light is disrupting those signals that are going to the pineal gland and therefore secreting the melatonin. We want to make sure– and I’ll talk more about this when we get to the sleep tips that we are making sure that we’re not exposing ourselves to excess light when we’re trying wind down at night time.
When you go to sleep, you’re basically repeating cycles of R-E-M, REM, Rapid Eye Movement, and N-R-E-M, non-rapid eye movement. You’re oscillating between these two cycles.
Usually, when you go to sleep at night, your brain goes right into the non-rapid eye movement, N-R-E-M.
Your sleep is made up of these 90-minute cycles. Within these 90-minute cycles, you’re passing between light sleep and deep sleep, light and deep. Typically your whole night sleep involves four to five cycles of those 90-minutes sets.
Let’s unpack a little bit N-R-E-M, non-rapid eye movement. This happens for the majority of your sleep. In fact, 85 percent of your sleep is in the state of NREM. In NREM, you are going to restore and refresh, both your body and your brain.
There’s three stages to this.
Stage one is where you’re nodding off. That’s where you’re slipping from being conscious to unconscious. This typically last 10 to 20 minutes.
Stage two is light sleep. This last about 20 to 30 minutes.
Stage three which is the sweet spot of sleep. This is deep sleep typically lasts anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes. Again, this is what we want to find. We want to find this sweet spot. And in this sweet spot, your brain waves are nice and slow. These undulating brain waves that are rolling about 1,000 times a night, are racing memories of the day, and prepping you for a new day of learning and growth.
So if you’re on an airplane, and you’re never reaching stage three, deep sleep, this explains why the next day you’re getting off that red-eye flight, that long flight from one continent to the next, and you just don’t feel rested. You’ve never found the sweet spot. And of course, this is important that we find this as much as possible consistently every single night.
Now let’s talk about REM.
REM happens about 15 percent of your sleep. So this is where we dream. This is where we go off to dreamland, and we relive memories, so a lot of visuals are happening. This is why they call it rapid eye movement because when you see somebody with their eyes closed, you can see their eyes moving all over the place. In this state of REM, we organize, preserve, and protect the new memories of the day.
8 Good Sleep Tips
All right. Now let’s finish by talking about good sleep tips. Now that you understand the adverse effects of poor sleep. You understand the good effects of great sleep. And you understand a little bit of the science of sleep. Now let’s give you the takeaways so that you can implement this into your daily life. I’ve broken this down into eight sleep tips for you.
1) One hour before going to bed you want to begin your sleep process. You want to start dimming the lights. Ideally, this is where you’re cutting off from technology, TVs, computers, cell phones. If you are reading a book, maybe on a Kindle or your iPad or whatever, make sure that you have a blue light blocker and that way that blue light is not hitting the retina and therefore disrupting the melatonin. A lot of technology now has those features where you can eliminate blue light, so make sure you’re cutting that off. But even better than reading on an e-book is reading a real book. You’ve dimmed the lights.
You want to do your best to go to bed around 10:00 PM. If you’re going to bed later, the closer you get to midnight, we know that the cortisol levels are going up, so this is really going to affect whether you’re going to hit that sweet spot that we talked about within your sleep. Also, in Ayurveda, midnight is typically more of a pitta time. This is where there’s more activity. We want to make sure we are in deep sleep before we get there so that we can sail through this time with grace. This is why a lot of people are night owls. They stay up late. They stay up till midnight. They stay up to 1:00 AM, 2:00 AM. They’ve gotten into this bad cycle. And it’s because the cortisol levels are kicking in, pitta is kicking in, and they feel that extra boost of energy. So to beat that, trying go to bed as close to 10:00 PM as possible, which means that your bedtime ritual would begin one hour prior to that at 9:00 PM.
Now, look. Some days, you’re going to go out. You’re going to have concerts to go to, parties to go to. You want to do your best to land within a 30-minute window of what your time is. If you’re going to bed 10 some nights, 1:00 AM another night, midnight another night, you’re not going to get your body into that state of balance, but if you can hit that window between optimally 9:45, 10:15 PM, then your body is going to find that good healthy circadian rhythm.
2) Place quiet music, create an environment, create a mood that again is encouraging your nervous system to wind down. You’re switching from sympathetic into parasympathetic. You’re switching from active stress into passive rest. You’re reading a book. You can write in a journal. In yoga, we call this sattvic energy. Sattvic energy is the energy of peace and balance and clarity and relaxation, so do everything that you need to do to create a sattvic environment. You can get an aromatherapy vapor where you’re steaming lavender oil which is great to create sattvic energy within your bedroom. I would encourage you to not have any technology in the bedroom especially TVs. If you do have anything that’s bright, clocks, lights, cover it up with a towel or a piece of clothing. You want to get everything as dark as possible. If you need to do shades, curtains that block out the light as much as possible, do what you can. We did that in our bedrooms several months ago, and it has helped tremendously.
3) White noise. This is especially important if you live in an apartment building, if you’re close to your neighbors, if you live in a condo, or if you’re in a city where there’s noise going on down in the streets, you want to create this white noise so that you create this bubble, this cocoon where no unnecessary noise is pulling you out of that deep sleep. You can create white noise from a floor fan, air filter or even purchase a while noise machine.
4) As you get into bed, you want to do a little bit of breathing, just two minutes will be enough. So what you’re going do is you’re going to breathe in through the nose for four seconds, and then you’re going to breathe out of the mouth for about six seconds. And that’s going to reinforce the nervous system going into that parasympathetic branch.
5) You’re going to reflect upon three things you’re grateful for that happened within your day. So you’re feeling grateful. I’m grateful that I got to spend this time with my family today. I’m grateful that I got to do my yoga today. I’m grateful that I have a roof over my head, food in the refrigerator. Just reflect upon all the things that you’re grateful for especially if you’ve had a stressful or challenging day because you want to make sure as you drift off into your sleep, you’re drifting with that attitude of gratitude. And that’s going to make your sleep even that much more potent and medicinal.
6) Get sunshine every day. Get out. Breathe fresh air. Get some good vitamin D because that sunshine, that sunlight is going to help you sleep better at night. If you’re stuck indoors all day where it’s dark and dungy, then you’re not going to sleep as well, so get out.
7) Exercise at least 20 to 30 minutes every single day. See when you exercise, you dissolve stress hormones, and you create feel-good hormones. At night time, you’re tired, you’re fatigued, but it’s a good fatigue because you did something with your body. Challenge yourself, and as you go to sleep, and you sleep well, your body’s going to repair, the muscle fibers are going to repair, the stress that you put onto your body with an exercise is going to repair in the next day, you’re going to wake up stronger, more energetic, and feeling better.
8) Eat well. One of the things that impacts our sleep more than anything is poor nutrition. Weight gain can disturb your sleep. Bad sleep can add to weight gain. So again, it creates a real bad cycle where you get stuck. You’re increasing your weight. You’re not sleeping well. Because you’re not sleeping well, you’re adding on fat. We don’t want to get into that trap. Make sure that three hours before you go to bed, you’re completing your dinner. We don’t want to go to bed on a full stomach. This is going to affect the quality of our sleep because there’s a lot of energy required for digestion. If you’re digesting a heavy meal at the beginning part of your sleep, then energy is going to digestion instead of repair and recovery. Also, you are going to have a little bit longer of a time where you’re fasting, and therefore, this is going to be good for fat loss. This is why they call it breakfast because you’re breaking your fast from your night time of not eating.
Make sure if you do drink caffeine, you’re not drinking any caffeine after noon. This doesn’t mean at 11:58 AM. That you’re chugging a huge thing of coffee. You want to be moderate if you are a caffeine drinker. Otherwise, caffeine is going to stay in your system, and it is going to affect you late at night.
Some people say, “Travis, I can drink a cup of coffee at night, and it actually makes me more tired and helps me sleep.” And my response is, “Well, that’s because your adrenals are completely tapped out, which is definitely not a good thing. And you want to make sure your adrenals are recharged and replenished because that is also important to your health vigor and vitality.”
Avoid sleep medications. If you need to, you could talk to your doctor about magnesium, valerian root, and melatonin. These are good option for sleep medications.
So always remember, good sleep begets good sleep. Bad sleep begets bad sleep. It’s all about your habits. It’s all about creating this rhythm and this cadence that’s in alignment with your natural circadian rhythm, which is also in alignment with nature, with the Tao, with the universe. We are meant to be in alignment with these rhythms. And when we get out of sync with these rhythms, this is where we begin to create imbalance, but when we are in sync with these rhythms, this is when we find balance, and therefore, we find health and well-being.
All righty, guys. That is it for this episode, the importance of good sleep.
Let’s finish now with the ultimate prayer.
“May we bring strength where there is weakness.
May we bring courage where there is fear.
May we bring light where there is darkness.
And may we bring compassion where there is suffering.
May we be ultimate.”