(Breather) As you can tell by the title, this breather show is all about sleep – and the specifics of sleep. That means: how you sleep, what your habits are pre-bedtime, what your bedroom environment is like – anything particular to the way you go about getting some Zzzz’s. This show will help you identify what you’re doing right, and what you’re doing wrong when it comes to sleep – which will in turn, ensure that you get the best sleep of your life.
These are a few bedroom rules I won’t budge from. One of them is Establish a sleep sanctuary. This means that you need to commit to maintaining an incredibly tidy and minimalist bedroom, reserved for sleep, intimacy, and other restful activities like pleasure reading and meditation. Absolutely no screens, piles of mail, stacks of magazines, partially completed home improvement projects, or any such clutter allowed. Absolutely no mini-work areas! Google “minimalist bedroom design” imagery to get some inspiration to achieve a sanctuary feel. It’s essential to create both a physical and psychological separation between your bedroom and other areas of your house where you do work or consume entertainment. Maintain a temperature of between 60-68F (16-20C) to facilitate the slowing of assorted metabolic functions that help your body get and stay into sleep mode. For this same reason, you don’t want to do a workout or sauna in the evening hours.
The second important practice is achieving total darkness for maximum sleep efficiency. This one makes a huge difference. Use blackout blinds or drapery, and eliminate even tiny LCD screens and power indicator lights. Even minor light influences can significantly disrupt your attempt to cycle gracefully throughout all phases of sleep. Biohacker extraordinaire Dave Asprey, author of The Bulletproof Diet and host of the Bulletproof podcast, describes how he travels with a roll of electrical tape so he can cover up every random light emission in a hotel room, including fire sprinklers and other offenders.
As Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival details, it’s not only your eyes that are sensitive to light; skin cells all over your body have very sensitive light receptors. One study revealed that flashing a single beam of light on the back of the knee was enough to disrupt melatonin production. Taking a quick glance at your smartphone screen to see what time you stirred in the middle of the night can be surprisingly harmful beyond suppressing melatonin. Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan, sleep therapist and author of Tired But Wired: How To Overcome Your Sleep Problems, asserts that checking the time can “send you into a whirl of calculations and worry about how much sleep you will or won’t be getting.”
Strongly consider charging your devices in the hallway, or at least out of arm’s length. Kelly Starrett calls this setting yourself up for success by eliminating even the possibility of temptation. Don’t be one of the 80 percent of Americans who check their phones upon awakening (per a 2013 Adweek report), or worse yet when you stir at some point during the night. Should you refuse, Julie Morgenstern, author of Never Check Email In The Morning explains that, “you’ll never recover.” Numerous studies reveal that once you activate the shallow, reactionary brain function in the frontal cortex with a smartphone engagement—especially first thing in the morning when you are locking habit patterns into place—it’s difficult to transition into high-level strategic problem-solving mode. Who wants to start their morning off like that? I definitely don’t, and I bet you don’t either. So many people are locked into bad habits and their sleep suffers as a result, thereby affecting their performance during the day. This show provides a remedy for this problem, teaching you how to align your circadian rhythm to natural light and helping you identify the habits that are actually a hindrance to your body and your mind, so you can finally experience the deep, restorative sleep you deserve.
Most people don’t realize that it’s not only the eyes bring light into our bodies. [02:22]
Think of creative ways to make your bedroom pitch dark. [05:39]
You really shouldn’t have to get up in the night to pee. [06:30]
Train your circadian rhythm by popping up early in the morning and exposing yourself to sun. [08:32]
Brad talks about his morning routine. [09:45]
Try the orange tinted glass in the evening to block the harmful spectrum of blue light. [11:29]
Jack Kruse’s article suggests the best time to have sex….and other activities! [12:43]
Even minor light influences can significantly disrupt your attempt to gracefully cycle through all phases of sleep. Get your phone out of the room! [13:33]
We sleep less deeply away from home. [16:11]
- Lights Out, Sleep, Sugar and Survival (book)
- Jack Kruse
- Brad Kearns’s Morning Routine
- Tired but Wired
- Dr. Matthew Walker
Get Over Yourself Podcast
Brad: 00:00 Welcome to the get over yourself podcast. This is author, an athlete, Brad Kearns, discovering ways to be healthy, fit and happy in hectic, high stress modern life. So let’s slow down and take a deep breath. Take a cold plunge and expertly balance that competitive intensity with an appreciation of the journey. That’s the theme of the show. Here we go.
Brad: 02:20 Here comes the breather. Show about sleep keeping your bedroom absolutely, totally dark. I am so happy to report that my studio here where these fabulously high quality recordings are made doubles as a napping room because it has no windows. It’s a hall closet. It’s awesome. It’s pitch black any time of day or night. Ah, wonderful. But of course, most bedrooms have windows and possible areas where light can come in. So you want to work really hard, do the best you can to achieve total darkness at night. There are many reasons for this, but we have very sensitive light receptors on our body, not just our eyes, but on skin cells throughout the body.
Brad: 04:40 There’s great detail on this. In the book, “Lights Out, Sleep, Sugar and Survival” written by Wiley and forms B. You can find it anywhere. Books are sold. It’s fantastic. I referred to it all the time. You’ve heard me talk about it probably on different podcasts and in different books. Grab it. It’ll tell you all about, uh, the importance of aligning your lifestyle with your natural circadian rhythm and creating dark, mellow, calm, relaxing evenings rather than blasting your Super Chi as medic nucleus with more artificial light and digital stimulation after dark and sending that message to stay awake, stay alert, suppress the release of Melatonin into the bloodstream, which happens on cue according to our circadian rhythm in less.
Brad: 05:39 We interrupt it with artificial light and digital stimulation after dark. So work hard to get that bedroom environment completely pitch dark. This means, uh, minimizing or even taping with black electrical tape anything that he light. I have this wonderful, uh, it’s sort of a, uh, a white noise machine as well as an air purifier and deionizer, but it has all kinds of little, uh, lit up buttons that I’ve had to tape with electrical tape and then write with a little sticky note on top of the electrical tape what the button is. So when I push on the piece of black tape, I know what it is. Pain in the butt. No one seems to care all the manufacturers of electronic devices, but we want to tone everything down so that there’s no source of light in your room. If you have to get up a, have a flashlight by your bed. If you have to get up and go to the bathroom, you shouldn’t have to.
Brad: 06:30 According to Dr Phil Maffetone, this could indicate that you’re in an overstressed state because remember, the adrenal glands are located next to the kidneys and renal. That’s Latin for next to kidney and you should be able to last all night just like a dog without having to pee. So when you feel that urgency waking up, that’s possibly overactive adrenal glands, Huh? Okay. Anyway, when you get that room pitch dark, what you’re going to kick into from the hours of midnight to 3:00 AM according to Jack Kruse in a fascinating article about circadian rhythm that you can find on his website, Jack Kruse, K R U S. E, those three hours of prime time in the middle of the night is when human growth hormone really pulses out and does all its repair and renewal and rejuvenation work. But it will only be triggered in the circumstances of pitch dark. So all of these important hormonal processes that take place in the middle of the night required total darkness. And again, we have light receptors located in skin cells through out our body. So we’re very, very sensitive, not just the eyes.
Brad: 07:43 And yes, wearing an eye mask is great if you have, uh, even the slightest, uh, escaping light from whatever, uh, through the, the cracks in your room, darkening blinds. And so forth. Uh, but we do the best we can wear the blindfold, but also understand that the skin is very sensitive to light. That’s why even with a blindfold, you tend to wake up around sunrise is because your skin is detecting, uh, that the first flight of the day and, uh, initiating the hormonal processes, namely the, uh, suppression of Melatonin in favor of the wakefulness, uh, neurotransmitter’s hormone, Serotonin, uh, cortisol spikes in the morning and all these good things, desirable things that happen on cue with the rising of the sun.
Brad: 08:32 So to entrain your circadian rhythm properly, uh, it starts in the morning actually with getting up as near sunrise as possible. I know we have shift workers and all kinds of other concerns, but generally speaking, the goal, a good goal would be to wake up a as near as possible to sunrise and expose yourself to direct light, right on your eyeballs. No sunglasses, get direct sun hitting your optic nerve, hitting that all important control tower, the s, c, n, and then initiating the hormonal signals that’ll make you feel awake, alert and energized. So when you do that first thing in the morning, that is going to queue up the important processes that happen some 12 hours later a, which is the dim light Melatonin onset. Uh, so when it gets dark soon after it gets dark, this process will occur without interruption unless you mess with it with artificial light and digital stimulation after dark. Thanks to that prepping that happens in the morning. And I’ll also mentioned when you want to get that sun exposure in the morning, also initiate some kind of a movement routine. It might be the Yoga Sun salute sequences.
Brad: 09:45 It might be the Brad Kearns morning routine that you can find on youtube. It’s going viral baby, more and more views. But this has been a great thing that I tout a very highly, that I’ve been, uh, focused, committed to every single day for about two and a half years now where I just do a series of, uh, leg and core exercises just to get the blood flowing and also to kind of form a higher baseline from which to launch all of my fitness endeavors and formal workouts where I get this flexibility, mobility routine, this sequence done every single morning. And the magic of that is that it’s sort of mindless cause I do the exact same thing. I count to 35 with the leg swings, I do 20 of the frogs and so forth. And of course the routine has been modified over time, but it’s pretty much of a template. So I don’t really have to think about it. I don’t have to waste a psychic energy, willpower, anything like that. I just hit the floor and do it. So you watch on Youtube? I’m doing it in bed. And months after I, uh, had that going, I realized how much harder it was on the ground than into a squishy soft bed when I’m doing core work and keeping my legs off the ground for the duration of the sequence. So, uh, have to update that video sometime. But anyway, I get out of bed, hit the floor without fail first thing in the morning, and that helps me awaken. And of course, uh, halfway through the routine, I move outside. I do the yoga bridge outside, I go in the Cold Tub and I’m into, uh, my active daily life, uh, teeing me up for a nice restful evening. Uh, but you do the best you can in the evening to tone down your light sources overall.
Brad: 11:29 So you’re going to wear the orange glasses that had been highly touted, the blue blocking glasses that are the sign of the, uh, enthusiasts, the biohacker, uh, do a great job blocking, uh, the harmful spectrum of blue light that comes from artificial light bulbs and screens at nighttime. So you can don your glasses. Uh, try to emphasize orange hued light in your home such as the, uh, salt lamps such as candles and such as the a suddenly repopulate old-school light bulbs, the tungsten light bulbs where you can see the filament inside the bulb rather than the fancy, uh, new stuff that’s uh, LED and a little more disruptive or a lot more disruptive to uh, the uh, light sensitive eyes and skin cells at night. So you can get these old school light bulbs that kind of give off an more orange hue rather than that bright white hue. And so you create this mellow evening and then you are setting yourself up for success and a restful night’s sleep, especially that key period of time in the middle of the night. And go over to Jack Kruse’s website and look up that article, uh, about what’s happening at all different times of your circadian rhythm.
Brad: 12:43 Some fun stuff in there, like the best time to work out, the best time to have sex. The best time to be creative is all put in this 24 hour cycle. And this very long and detailed scientific article. So you’ll have to go read it and I’ll give you some teasers. Oh, what did I say? I think the best time to have sex was like 9:30 in the morning for whatever reason, not first thing, but a couple hours later after you’re up and running. Uh, best time to work out was like early afternoon. As far as the hormones. Uh, the body temperature is up. I personally like going first thing in the morning, but that’s sort of a habit and getting the, uh, the workout out of the way so you can focus on other areas of life. So there’s some convenience factors, but as far as physically, biologically interesting to note some of those checkpoints on your daily clock, especially that one in the middle of the night.
Brad: 13:33 Let’s get a little more commentary, uh, about the importance of this. A sleep sanctuary that’s pitch dark, uh, even minor light influences can significantly disrupt your attempt to gracefully cycle through all phases of sleep. Um, we’re talking about the skin cells and the receptors that we have on there, which is so interesting and make so much sense why we wake up near sunrise, even with a kick ass blindfold on. Um, oh, here’s another horrible warning. You know how you have your smart phone by your bed and you might wake up to go pee or whatever and you take a look at what time it is. Don’t do it anymore. Leave that thing alone. In fact, Dr. Kelly Starrett on our show talked about the importance of charging your phone in the hallway to set yourself up for success and avoid the temptation of having that thing there to check on A in the middle of the night to check on the time and B to reach for it first thing in the morning and put your brain into reactivity mode rather than proactive mode. Like I’m describing when I get up and launch into my disciplined morning routine. So get rid of that thing. Put it outside the room. Guess what happens when you glance innocently, glance at the time in the middle of the night. First, you’re gonna have a surprisingly harmful suppression of Melatonin. Even brief exposure to light has been shown to throw off the chemical processes that are supposed to play out in pitch dark. Remember where our operating as homosapiens evolved for two and a half million years, highly tied to the light and dark cycles of the planet. We did not have a light switch until Thomas Edison in recent times. Okay, so what happens when you check the time? Well, Doctor Nerina Ramlakhan asleep therapist and author of “Tired but Wired,” suggests that checking the time can quote, send you into a whirl of calculations and worry about how much sleep you will or won’t be getting end quote. Can you relate to that? I can, especially on those mornings where you have to wake up super early for a flight and you’re kind of sleeping fitfully because you know that alarm is going to go off. You ever wake up like one minute before your alarm goes off? Happens to me all the time. Isn’t that fascinating? Huh? I wish it was like, um, not happening. But we are, you know, highly attuned to these sleep disturbances and sleep disruptions.
Brad: 16:11 Dr. Matthew Walker, on a couple of his podcast appearances, he was making the rounds with his new book that’s been highly acclaimed. He explains that we sleep, uh, less deeply away from home because there’s a certain portion of the brain that remains hypervigilant because it’s a new environment and not a familiar environment. Fascinating. So even in the nicest hotel with the darkening drapes and the rain fall app on your phone playing to cancel out all the background noise, you’re still going to get a slightly inferior sleep quality because your brain knows that you’re not at home and your primitive brain function, uh, realizes that you have to be hypervigilant. Might be out rustling in the bushes. Who knows that the high rise a luxury hotel in Las Vegas? I know crazy, but that’s the way it goes.
Brad: 17:03 So don’t look at that phone. You don’t want to go into the whirlwind of calculations that becomes stressful. Other part, reaching for that puppy first thing in the morning. Don’t be one of those 80% of Americans who check their phones upon awakening. That’s from a 2013 ad week study. Here we are in 2019 we’re probably up to 93% of Americans. Oh mercy. Numerous studies reveal that once you activate the shallow reactionary brain function in the frontal cortex with a smart phone engagement of any kind, especially first thing in the morning, because this is when habit patterns lock into place, it’s difficult to into that desirable high level strategic problem solving mode. Uh, I forget the a psychologist that offered up the quote, but she says once you go into that reactionary brain mode, it’s very difficult to come back. It’s almost impossible to come back. So you’re in reaction mode all the time. Some assignments for the evening, sleep in the beautiful sleep sanctuary. Thank you for listening to the show.
Brad: 18:21 Thank you for listening to the show. We would love your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would also love if you could leave a rating and a review on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts. I know it’s a hassle. You have to go to desktop, iTunes, click on the tab that says ratings and reviews, and then click to rate the show anywhere from five to five stars and it really helps spread the word so more people can find the show and get over themselves because they need to. Thanks for doing it!