“When people say they’re a night owl or a morning person, it’s not a preference: it’s a biological phenomenon…. it’s not something that someone chooses. It is largely biologically determined,” says Rise Science app founder Jeff Kahn.
We also all have a genetic amount of sleep that we need. The average amount for humans is slightly over eight hours. But, as you’ll learn from this episode, if you don’t meet this genetic need every night (let’s say you get seven), then the next day, you have one hour of sleep debt to deal with. And, if this continues, and you’re operating on a full week of getting seven hours of sleep as opposed to your usual eight, this alters your cognitive performance – to the point where Jeff likens it to being at the legal limit for alcohol at the end of the week.
There is so much to learn from this insightful conversation with Jeff. He and his Rise Science co-founder were actually the first to publish research on technology-enabled sleep behavior modification. Through Rise Science’s tireless dedication to improving the sleep of elite athletes across the NFL, NBA, MLS, and NCAAF, Jeff has not only witnessed first-hand measurable improvements to performance and risk of injury, but also seen that sleep boosts sales revenue in organizations by an average of 14%. And Jeff doesn’t just educate us all on the many (and oftentimes surprising) ways that sleep and circadian health affect every single aspect of our physical, cognitive, and emotional performance and wellbeing, he also knows which specific methods are actually effective and will make the biggest difference in the way you sleep.
During this episode, you’ll learn that a lack of focus on circadian dynamics means that most conventional sleep solutions are already completely ineffective, and Jeff reveals that we are actually biologically wired to underestimate just how sleep deprived we really are. As Jeff breaks down the details of how the body functions with (and without) a sufficient amount of sleep, you’ll gain a clear understanding of the importance of tracking how much sleep debt you’ve been accumulating, especially once you realize that the quality of your performance in anything diminishes in conjunction with the increased amount of sleep you continue to lose.
Jeff also clues us in to why worrying about the “quality” is actually hugely misguided, and why our primary focus should be instead on reducing sleep debt. Jeff also shares the fascinating behavioral science research that underpins the app and makes behavior change both successful and sustainable. As he explains, changing habits is totally possible: however, only within the right conditions can this change be possible.
Sleep is the most important health topic. If you are sleep deprived, you’re not a good judge of how much sleep you need. [01:42]
Jeff decided to study sleep when he, as a student, realized how exhausted he and others were. [05:00]
If you don’t get a good sleep, basically everything about your functioning suffers. [10:30]
There are two factors that determine how you function and how you feel. [13:59]
You have a genetic need for a certain amount of sleep. If you don’t meet this genetic need, you build up “sleep debt.” [17:39]
Studies equate “sleep debt” to being drunk as far as ability to function. [23:06]
Lack of sleep also affects your glucose metabolism roughly equivalent to Type II Diabetes! [28:06]
You are not a good judge of your own performance. [30:47]
Circadian rhythm is different for different people. What is a night owl vs. a morning person? [32:48]
What is a sleep hangover? Don’t be quick to judge your night’s sleep. Wait about 90 minutes. [40:55]
You cannot physiologically oversleep! [42:32]
How can the listener judge where they fall on the biological sleep scale? [51:02]
If a person is purposely sleeping extra time because of their strenuous activity, is there a point where it is overdone? [57:09]
Some athletes who have spectacular skills, would even be better if they got more sleep!
The app that can help you get a handle on this sleep information is called Rise. [10:05:47]
- “Why is it you can feel worse when you get more sleep? It’s called a sleep hangover; what is actually going on is when you get less sleep than you need, your body is increasing its cortisol production. You almost feel this high because you’re in a ‘fight or flight’ response mode. So when you get more sleep than you need, your cortisol production actually goes down, so you’re in a much more anabolic state, and you feel a little more groggy.”
- “There are two ways to beat grogginess: reducing your sleep debt will always help, because your body will wake you up naturally; you cannot physiologically oversleep. So if you have that and then you’re able to get natural light [first thing in the morning], not only will that help you beat the grogginess, but the sunlight that you get in the morning is actually a signal that sets the circadian clock. So that night, you’ll get a much stronger release of melatonin, which is going to help you feel sleepier, you’re going to stay asleep longer, and you’re going to have a much more naturalistic sleep.”
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Brad (1m 43s): Hey listeners, get ready for one of the most important shows on the single most important health topic of them all that’s right. It’s sleep. And I have a wonderful guest full of amazing and groundbreaking insights that you may have never heard before. I know I learned a ton at this show. His name is Jeff Khan and he is the co-founder of Rise Science, which is a really cool app that delivers all kinds of interesting data and tracking with your sleep, but in a different manner than you may be accustomed to with the many other sleep trackers. In fact, Jeff brings the heat and make some profound proclamations such as there’s no such thing as sleep quality. Brad (2m 30s): You know, when you get that 84% reading on your aura ring or whatever it is, no he’s going to set us straight. Everything he says is steeped in scientific research and he can back it up with peer reviewed studies. He made that point to me very clearly before we even hit record. So I think he’s guy is really on his game. You’re going to learn a lot and he’s going to really simplify things too. So it’s not really scientifically hard to follow. You’re going to get a bunch of takeaway. Fascinating. insights. You’re going to learn the human genetic optimal period for sleep and the standard deviation. So where people fall, if there are people that think they need less sleep, some people think they need more sleep. Brad (3m 15s): And we’ll kind of cut through the misinformation out there, especially the amazing idea that if you’re sleep deprived, you’re not a good judge of how much sleep you need. So you better just try to optimize that part of your life for best results. And Jeff’s going to teach us about the two factor model of sleep, which is the most important sleep research that’s ever been discovered. Number one, the number one factor is your “sleep debt”. How far behind you are at any given time. And it’s an accumulation of debt of nights that you didn’t get enough sleep. And number two is your alignment with your circadian rhythm. Oh my gosh. You’re going to love this show. Brad (3m 55s): Listen carefully, play it at regular speed. Instead of 1.75 speed or whatever speed you usually play with like me, when I tried to listen to too much content. Yeah, Jeff’s been around his research has been featured in the New York Times, Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, ESPN. He works with professional athletes in the NFL NBA, MLS and NCAA sports, and lots of good to take away stuff from Jeff Khan and go look up his app called Rise and get started using it. I am all over this. Jeff Kahn, Jeff Kahn. We are warmed up, man. We got so many exciting things to talk about and one of my favorite subjects and perhaps the most important health topic of them all, and that is sleep. Brad (4m 37s): So I look forward to just winding you up and getting some of these big picture objectives covered, seeing where this fascinating conversation will go. I’d love to hear how you got started when you were back in the college days and starting to wonder if sleep was affecting your performance as an engineering student. And then we’ll, we’ll take it and run from there. Jeff (5m 0s): Yeah. So, you know, I got into this about 10 years ago and it’s a pleasure for me to tell this story and hopefully share a little bit of wisdom with, with everyone here and, you know, bring, hopefully bring a little bit of science to the table is to Brad. I know we were talking a little bit about some of the mythology that’s out there, but you know, for me it just started, I was just exhausted like everyone else was. And I think it’s pretty normal for people to feel that way, but I thought, you know, why not study sleep science? I just want to figure out what do I need to do with my sleep so that I feel better? Do I need to like take melatonin? Do I need to get my REM percentage up my deep sleep? Do I need a new mattress? Do I need to bother with like, you know, thermoregulation, getting a chilly pad? Jeff (5m 40s): Do I need to start tracking my sleep? Like, do I need to take some, like, just lay it on me? Like what do I need to do so that I feel good? And I just, as I was reading through literature based, honestly, I was just confused and I had way more questions than answers. And so I begged my school sleep science department. I just said, please take me on as an apprentice. And so this is now 2000 to 2012, the first consumer sleep trackers that just come on the market. And I was really interested in figuring out how do you take that data that’s being generated and use it to actually help people feel better and have better sleep habits. And so I ended up publishing that paper and kind of before I knew it, you know, all this was very academic until I about 2014, 2015, all these pro athletic teams started calling in and asking Northwestern, Hey, what are, what are you doing with sleep? Jeff (6m 23s): We want to, we saw this paper. We want to like, you know, we know sleep’s important for performance. Can you help us? So very quickly started working with teams like Clemson and Alabama and Michigan and the Patriots and the Bulls and the Cowboys, your name pro pro-team. And we we’ve worked with them. And, Brad (6m 42s): Did you have a noted sleep laboratory, particularly at Northwestern that’s distinguished? Jeff (6m 48s): Yeah. So as the, believe it or not, the first sleep lab in the entire world opened at the University of Chicago, which is about 10 miles away, roughly 12 miles away from Northwestern back in 1925. And so, you know, sleep science has been around for almost a hundred years and it started in Chicago. That was the first human sleep lab. And so Northwestern, U Chicago, and Stanford, Harvard, University of Washington, Pittsburgh, probably some of the biggest institutions in the world that study sleep. But I mean, there are now thousands of sleep scientists that have produced over the last almost a hundred years, you know, three and a half million peer review papers. If you check on Google scholar. Jeff (7m 30s): So it was just wild, the amount of knowledge that’s been generated and just was lucky enough to get to study with some really, really great scientists. Brad (7m 38s): Oh, it started, you’re saying it started at Northwestern? Jeff (7m 42s): University of Chicago. So down the road from Northwestern, you know, all there. Yeah. Brad (7m 47s): You have to throw in an anecdote about my uncle because it’s, it’s so close to home here, but he was a, a residency student at Northwestern doing his medical residency. And this would be in the forties, the 1940s. And he described how he did not leave the building for about six weeks because of the heavy hours and then sleeping in the, in the crash room and then getting back up and just cranking through residency with ungodly number of weeks of that was he never went outside. He didn’t do anything. And so he finally got up the courage to ask his advisor like, Hey, is it possible that I could maybe, you know, take a weekend off at some point? Brad (8m 28s): And the guy said, Oh, sure, go ahead and take the weekend off. So he left the building, he drove to Milwaukee 90 miles, right from Chicago. And he, you know, he walked into his, his family home on whatever Friday afternoon or something. And he went down for sleep. And when he woke up, it was sometime on Sunday where he had to get in the car and drive back to the building to return back to work. So we basically slept the entire weekend and had no idea because he was so, and now we go back to Jeff’s story of the sleep lab at Northwestern. Jeff (9m 0s): Yeah, no, I mean, that’s a, it’s kind of funny because around that time is when some of the first studies were done on trying to figure out what is this thing called sleep and how do we measure it and what does it all mean and how does it affect how we function? All that was coming to light right around that time. So in Chicago, there any, the Guinea pigs were there. And so where, where sort of my story took me is after years of working with these professional athletes and coaching them personally, and we building technology and all sorts of stuff in the field, I just decided. And you know, if anyone’s listening to this and is either run their own business, or, you know, Brad, you’ve got your own podcast and you know, doing a lot of stuff on your own. Jeff (9m 45s): Doing anything is so hard doing anything well. And so I said, you know, life is short. I really want to do something where we can take all these learnings from these pro athletes and apply it in a massive scale. Could we help anyone that has a mobile phone? And so that’s sort of in 2018, just really had the great fortune to, to focus on building technology that anyone could use. And so today you can download our app in the app store or play store, you just type in Rise and it’ll pop up and we help you with getting more energy, using sleep and circadian rhythms is the main tools to do that. So, you know, we have to talk more about how we do that, that hopefully I can bring to bear some of the science that I learned back when I got started a bunch of practical advice that I’ve gained over the years, but just happy to be as much of a resource as I possibly can. Brad (10m 29s): Yeah. Thanks. And you draw this distinction between sleep and circadian rhythm. So let’s get into that, especially your contention, that sleep solutions that are not centered around your circadian rhythm don’t have as, as well as good of an impact. Jeff (10m 46s): Yeah, no, it’s a great question. So, you know, certainly on this show and you’ve had a bunch of folks already talk about sleep. I think what is well-documented, thanks folks like Matt Walker and a ton of the, you know, Arianna Huffington and all the major news outlets covering sleep is that if you, if you don’t get good sleep, basically everything about your functioning suffers, you, you live less your, your quality of life suffers and is likely the most important lever that exists for how you function. So I think that’s, everyone is starting now to realize, and is becoming known. What’s not known and maybe you disagree, Brad or agree. Brad (11m 23s): Well, it’s so funny. I think you, you caught me smiling there. And the funniest part is that when you’re sleep deprived, you have poor judgment. And so everyone who walks around saying, yeah, you know, I feel fine after five hours of sleep. I can just rally, but they’re sleep deprived so they have no idea how poorly functioning they are. It reminds me of those drunk driving videos. We watched in high school where the people had a couple drinks and they said, Oh, I feel fine. I can go drive the cone course. And they’re running all over the cones because no idea how, how, how impaired they were. And so we had to watch on the video, how impaired they work, cause they felt fine. Jeff (12m 1s): Well, and if you look at the research on that topic, you’ll see that there’s actually more because of that phenomenon, there are more deaths every year because of fatigue driving as compared to drunk driving because of the same driving. Yeah. Because you get in the car, you know, you had five hours sleep last night. Maybe you had six night before and maybe six night before, it’s been a rough couple of days, but you feel fine. You get on a drive and you’re not off a little bit. And you know, it’s in the early afternoon and you, you run off the road or you, you, you feel someone else and it’s, it’s serious serious stuff. And we can talk a little bit more about why that is and why, why is it so hard to be aware of how sleep deprived you are, you know, and what to do about it. Brad (12m 39s): I guess I hate to do another, a detour first was Uncle Jack. And now this Tiger Woods accident is so fascinating to me. You know, I, I wrote a book about him a long ago about his peak performance attributes and his focus and his ability to excel as an athlete. And there’s some speculation that, you know, he’s had problems with Ambien in his, in his past. He’s had a couple incidents on the road and here’s one where he took no evasive action. There’s no skid marks, but he’s awake and, and rushing to the golf course at 7:30 AM. Maybe it was the sleep medication or something like that. If we want to just armchair here for a second. Yeah. Jeff (13m 16s): Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s, when you look at most of the sort of high-risk accidents, the Exxon Valdez, you look at the, you know, sort of Chernobyl, you look at a lot of these really big, you know, high-risk accidents pretty much. I don’t think there’s one that doesn’t have a sleep deprivation as a sort of at least made or a significant factor as part of the reason that the accident happened. And so I would be, if I would be extremely surprised if Tiger Woods was incredibly well rested but yeah. But yeah, so I, it’s, it’s a huge, huge factor. Jeff (13m 59s): So I think what people know is like, it’s a very important factor for how you feel and function. I think what’s unknown today and what is misguided and what people don’t really realize. Not the scientific community realized that quite clearly, but I think in the mass market, is that, how do you get all those benefits? Like, what is it, do you need to like, increase your sleep quality? Do you need to get more sleep? Is it what ha like, do you need to, what happens when you take melatonin? Do you need to change your REM sleep? Do you need to be tracking it? Like what is actually going to affect how you function and how you feel? And so luckily for us, researchers have discovered what those factors are. Jeff (14m 40s): And in my opinion, this is the most important finding and all of sleep science over the last a hundred years. And it’s called the two factor model of sleep and wake regulation. So a lot of words, but basically all it is. If you care about how alert and awake you are during the day, There’s two factors that matter. And so the first factor is something called “”sleep debt”” and “”sleep debt”” simply is just a measure. It is truly a scientific term, but it just means that it’s a measure of how sleep deprived you are on any given day. The way that it works is we all have a genetic amount of sleep we need. So it’s little bit a average is slightly over eight hours. So about eight hours and 15 minutes with a 35 minutes standard deviation, Brad (15m 23s): Really? Jeff (15m 23s): So that means that just like height or eye color, we have a genetic need. Brad (15m 27s): That’s referencing genetics. The standard deviation and this landing point of 8:15. Jeff (15m 34s): Yeah. 8:15 is the average. That would be like saying the average height for males in the U S is five foot nine. Or I don’t know what the actual average is, but of course, all of us are different than five foot nine, Brad (15m 45s): But it’s, that’s a pretty tight standard deviation when you think about it. Jeff (15m 50s): Yeah. Most of us need between seven and a half and nine, you know, roughly speaking. How many REITs are plus or minus one standard deviation is roughly going to be about what 65% of, of, of the distribution. Brad (16m 2s): Oh, is that so? Is that the same to the calculation? Sorry, I didn’t pay attention to those classes, but then we have 30, then we have 33% who are outside the one standard deviation. That’s a lot of people. And so maybe there’s a, you know, 17% that need more than 8:45 and then there’s 17 that can get, that can be the, the rockstars that we, that we hear about. Jeff (16m 30s): Yep, exactly. You’re, you’re a hundred percent. Right. And sort of, as you need less and less, the likelihood that that’s the case becomes less and less too. So if you’re like, Oh, I need five hours. Well, that’s incredibly rare. That’s like the number of people that are seven feet tall sort of thing. So, Brad (16m 46s): Yeah. Okay. Jeff (16m 48s): So that’s, that’s sort of the first thing that most people are like really, like, I didn’t know my sleep need was genetic. I didn’t know. I had a different amount of sleep than someone else. I mean, I think we all kind of feel it. But, but it’s, it’s bizarre to me that that’s not just everyone should know that. I mean, we spend so much time sleeping. We should all know that we have a genetic sleep need and it’s different for each of us. And it does change significantly from the time you’re born until you’re at about eight, you know, until you go through adolescence. But once you hit about, you know, you, you mature, you know, age 18, let’s say through, until you die, your sleep need from a biological standpoint, doesn’t appear to change. Although it’s a bit of a contested point in the literature, it’s still not quite known, but it seems to be the case that that doesn’t change so much, but your sleep architecture, what happens during sleep certainly changes as your hormones change. Jeff (17m 39s): And as you age and all sorts of things that we can get into later. So back to the story on “”sleep debt””. If you don’t meet this genetic need every night, you build up, and the simple way to think about it, it’s sort of like bank debt, right? Like if you need, let’s say you need eight hours. And you get seven tonight. Well, then tomorrow you have one hour of “sleep debt” and how you feel today. And then let’s just, let’s just play out this one more time. And then let’s say that next day you need the eight, because that hasn’t changed and you get six. So now you add two more hours to sleep that to the one you already had. So now you have three hours of “sleep debt”. So your performance, how you function, how you feel is going to be based on how much “sleep debt” Jeff (18m 20s): you have, not based on how much you slept the night before, not based on your sleep quality, not based on how much REM you got not based on your recovery scores, just how much do you have. Brad (18m 30s): And you’re, you’re, you’re saying this is a, a linear accumulation over time, Jeff (18m 38s): So it’s not quite so that’s, the that’s the simple understanding. The more accurate understanding is that it actually builds up over about 14 to 30 days. Our research with the NFL, NBA suggests that it’s about 14 days is really where we can start to detect it and sort of real life performance settings, like, you know, three point percentage or point permitted deficiency or in game performance, if you’re in the NFL. But there is some laboratory research that suggests that it can go to as many as 30 days. And you can carry somewhere between 20 to 40 hours of this debt. So beyond some level, it’s not like you can just keep accumulating it, you know, ad infinitum, but you can, you know, have somewhere between 20 to 40 hours. Jeff (19m 19s): So the good news is if you’ve got a bunch of debt, you can pay it off, which is really exciting. But the sort of flip side of this is, let’s say you have a bunch of debt. If you get one night of eight hours or even two nights of your need, don’t expect to magically all of a sudden be much better. Because you haven’t paid any debt back. And so it’s really important to be thinking about how you’re feeling with respect to how much “sleep debt” you have over the last two weeks. Not just what happened last night now, to your question about, is it a linear accumulation it’s not linear. So the last night does account for just to give you an idea, you know, if the last 14 days there was a hundred percent sort of waiting over the last 14 days, last client might be around 15% of the waiting. Jeff (20m 3s): So last night, certainly a big, the biggest chunk, but it’s not the only chunk that matters. And it, it even goes back again as far as for two days. Brad (20m 12s): Yeah. So if you, I’m thinking of my sister, who’s a physician. And so she has some call nights and some, you know, huge disruptions to sleep. And she’s a world champion on weekend napping, and she’ll go in there for two and a half or three hours and be crashed and report that she was totally crashed out. So obviously making up on debt. In my case, I’m also a world champion napper, but my naps lasts routinely between 20 and the most ever would be, you know, 40 minutes or an hour. So there, I never get that much in debt. And therefore I don’t need that world champion world-class nap, but something clearly is going on here where, you know, this debt thing seems to make a lot of sense as, as one of the two most important. Brad (20m 59s): You’re going to tell us number two, but that’s fascinating. Yeah. Jeff (21m 2s): Yeah. So we actually have the longest study in the history of sleep science that shows we’re actually tracking the story. Brad (21m 8s): Starting was Uncle Jack in 1943 at Northwestern driving back. I hope he was driving safely to Milwaukee and back, but he was definitely in debt heading there . The first time. Jeff (21m 18s): Exactly. He wasn’t driving safely till Milwaukee, but on the way back seemed like he paid back a bit and was doing better. So, so that, that, that sort of debt and I, as I was just sort of saying on this study, we actually have a two year longitudinal study following NBA and NFL athletes. And we’re actually looking at their “”sleep debt”” and how that predicts their in game performance, their three point shooting their point permitted efficiency that just got accepted for publication about three weeks ago. That should be coming out hot off the press is pretty soon, but it’s not surprising to the scientific community. But for everyone listening to this, that is like, well, my sleep score says that I got okay to sleep quality in my, my, this device said this and that device said this and my mattress company says I should be waking up feeling great in the morning. Jeff (22m 2s): Just throw all that out the window and focus on “”sleep debt”.” It is the main number that matters and is the only sleep score that you should all be concerned with. The it’s the only sleep score that is sort of based on science. Every other sleep score is, well, I don’t know. We, we, you know, some engineers sat in a room and they said, well, you know, we’ll give this 15 points and that 20 points and this, you know, it’s, it’s a, it’s a game it’s entertainment. It’s not actual science. And so just would encourage you to, you know, not look at those things and focus on what matters and, and I’m thinking about your “sleep debt”. So that’s like, Brad (22m 38s): Gosh, I’m so glad. I’m so glad to hear that because those things kind of freak me out and I run screaming away from anything that can track my sleep, because I feel like when I’m trying to fall asleep at night, I’m going to be stressing about it or wondering what my score is. And it’s going to get in my head instead of just, you know, go to sleep. And tracking debt seems to be so simple, Jeff, because, you know, when you, when you hit the bed and when you wake up and you just have an hourly figure. Jeff (23m 6s): Exactly. And even what’s nice about that from a, just sort of a mental model is that, you know, sort of, how much do you need to pay back how much in the hole you are. So if you’ve got 10 hours of “sleep debt”, you’re like, Oh, like, you know, that’s sort of, I’ve lost an hour of sleep for 10 days. You know, roughly just, it gives you an idea of something you can think of with your sleep score, says you got an 83%. What does that mean? I don’t know. And no one knows that it’s not important that doesn’t, it’s not indicative of any underlying physiological process. And so when you look at “sleep debt”, what’s actually kind of cool about it is it was very hard for us, as you mentioned, and actually be aware of how much “sleep debt” we have. And what will routinely happen is, is if you measure someone’s “sleep debt”s. Jeff (23m 47s): So if you’re listening to this right now, and let’s say you have a bunch of “sleep debt”, or you been getting six hours sleep at night or five or four, I might feel slightly sleepy during the day, but I’m not that tired. I don’t feel like I’m, you know, I feel like I’m doing just fine. And researchers have looked at this and figure it out. How is it that cause here’s the high level stat that might freak you out. If you go from eight hours of sleep to seven hours of sleep for a week, your cognitive performance is likely at the legal limit for alcohol at the end of the week for missing one hour missing one hour. So you build up seven hours of “sleep debt”. You’re at the legal limit for alcohol compared to having no hours of “sleep debt”. Brad (24m 27s): Wow. In all ways, shapes and forms throughout the day, everything I do sucks? Jeff (24m 33s): Well, so here’s where it gets a little bit personal. They’re sort of there, there, there’s all, you know, what quality of life means for you? What performance means to you is so different, right? You might really care about emotional performance. I might really care about my 40 time or my, you know, reaction time or my, I mean, there’s so many different types of performance, roughly speaking. Another way you can think about “sleep debt”. Is it just like oxygen? You cut it off. And every single biological system we know of does deteriorate from a performance standpoint. So yes, you are right. That roughly speaking, everything is worse off. What I’m referring to specifically with the cognitive performance is a measure called neurocognitive vigilance. Jeff (25m 15s): And it’s sort of a measure of how alert your brain is, how functioning it is, how performance it is. And it’s measured through something called the PVT. It’s basically a reaction time test. You can’t learn. And, and that’s, you would score if I were to, if you were to have zero “sleep debt” and take the tests, or I’m sorry, if you were to have zero “sleep debt” and drunk. So you’re at the legal limit for alcohol. Take the test, you’d score, let’s say 250 milliseconds on average. And if you were to be fully sober, but have seven hours of “sleep debt”, you would also score 250 milliseconds. Brad (25m 50s): Wow Jeff (25m 51s): So that’s, that’s sort of the, the, you know, scoring on this, on this test, Brad (25m 57s): You know, the vast majority of us don’t really have anything to hold us to the ultimate high standard during our day in day out function. Like we were just talking before we hit record about the customer service person who I called up this morning. I said, hi, this is Brad Kearns. I want to talk about my account. And she said, can I have your name please? Right. So, I mean, most of us are kind of on cruise control unless we’re shooting three pointers in the NBA. And then you’re, you know, your, your debt shows up. And Jeff (26m 31s): Yeah, and I mean, even in the case of the phone agents, so if you build up about eight hours of debt, your vocal tone, so you’re how positive you perceive her voice will be. Her voice will be more negative on how much “sleep debt” she has. Wow. So, I mean, it’s, it’s how much empathy you have for her on the other end of the line is going to be based on how much “sleep debt” you have. You could say what else? Brad (26m 55s): Unwind. Yeah. Yeah. Jeff (26m 56s): So like, if you look at emotional performance, if you look at, you know, cognitive performance, if you look at physiological performance, every single one of those is going to materially deteriorate in a clinical level, as you build up “sleep debt” and not crazy amounts of sleep that either, you know, it’s like from a actually Matt Walker did this study, who, who, you know, we’ve talked about a little bit before this who I think has done some amazing things for the field, but his area of expertise is really sleep and memory. And he ended up doing a study that showed that if you build up about eight hours of “”sleep debt”,” so you go imagine a night without sleep, 50% of people, the next day will have clinical levels of anxiety for folks that otherwise weren’t anxious. Jeff (27m 39s): So, I mean, it’s just, that’s on the emotional side. And we can look at sort of the physiological side, let’s look at something like metabolism, which obviously you care a lot about if you build up. So this was not a U Chicago back in 1999 and is sort of the foundational study for sleep and metabolism. And what it showed is if you take, you know, 25 year old healthy males and you have them get, I believe it’s four hours a night of sleep Brad (28m 2s): <inaudible> Jeff (28m 5s): Yeah. You’ve probably heard it before where your glucose metabolism will be decreased by 30%, which is the rough equivalent to having type two diabetes. So, I mean, just shocking. Again, you build up a “”sleep debt”” and within a week or two, you could be experiencing clinical symptoms of physiological issues, emotional issues, cognitive issues, and the root cause, “”sleep debt”.” Brad (28m 33s): Right. So when we talk about fat reduction, here’s your goals with your diet. You’re going to do keto. You’re going to do this program. You’re going to exercise like crazy. And if you’re, if you’re skimping on sleep, you are headed toward type two diabetes, rather than any of your goals. This is shocking. A hundred percent. Jeff (28m 50s): Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, any sort of goal that you could care about sleep is really this foundational layer that allows you to do the other ones, you know, that much better so that that’s, that’s “”sleep debt”.” And, and I guess to close out the study on this, that if you have about, if you, if you study folks that get four hours a night or five hours a night, and then asked to report how subjectively sleepy they feel the next day, what you’ll see is that day one, you know, let’s say we’re getting eight day one. You’ll be like, Oh yeah, a little more sleepy day two, you’ll feel a little more sleepy of getting, let’s say four hours at that second night, then let’s say you get four hours for third night. We asked you, Hey, how sleepy do you feel? You’ll feel slightly sleepier. Jeff (29m 31s): By that third day, by the way, you will report to feeling slightly sleepy. And then basically from day four through day 14, you don’t feel any more sleepy. Brad (29m 42s): That’s the defense mechanism you’re referencing in our genetics? Jeff (29m 45s): That’s I, I, if I, now this is an opinion I have, I don’t, I, I, you know, I’m not an evolutionary biologist, but if I had to venture an opinion, I would say that that’s our sort of evolutionary evolution’s way of saying, Hey, if you are not getting a lot of sleep, because you’re moving around to a new area, you’re defending yourself, you’re scavenging for that. You’re really sleepy because you likely need to be on the run. And so we’re going to activate all your fight or flight responses, right. We’re going to get you going, you know? Yeah. Brad (30m 17s): Like Harrison Ford in the movie, you know, the, the fugitive or, you know, Tom Cruise on the run with his, with his brother Rain Man, and boy. So, I mean, that’s great. I appreciate your opinion. But remember, you’re referencing the science and then forming an opinion about it. So we have scientific proof that we don’t feel any more sleepy even though we’re in””sleep debt”.” So we’re trying to, we’re trying to make the best of it. Yeah. That that’s, that’s a pretty trippy. Yeah. Jeff (30m 47s): Yeah. And, and when you look at that same group of people, we also measured their what’s called their neurocognitive vigilance. The test, I just referenced a little bit ago. And if you measure that or you measure their empathy or gonna measure their metabolism, any of these outcome measures that you haven’t to care about, you’d see it linearly declines over time. So you are not that good judge of your own performance, like you said, with the high school drunk driving courses. So that’s been well well-documented. And so what this means is that it’s really freaking hard for all of us to be aware of how much “sleep debt” we’re actually carrying. Many of us don’t really know. And so that the signal is, and I think the takeaway is, and there’s a famous class at Stanford called Sleep and Dreams. Jeff (31m 30s): It’s taught by a guy named Bill Dinette. Who’s known as sort of the grandfather of sleep science. He actually started his career at University of Chicago back in the thirties, then went over to Stanford to start the field of sleep medicine, but he taught a class to undergraduate Stanford and the tagline for the class. The entire thing, this is, this guy is like the, one of the biggest people in the field and the tagline for his class is “drowsiness is red alert.” So the idea being, if you are slightly sleepy and you feel at all drowsy, you have significant amount of “sleep debt”. What’s exciting about that is you can then know that you have so much more potential ahead of you in terms of how you’re going to feel, how you’re going to interact with others, how you’re going to perform, you know, in a, in an athletic context or non-athletic context. Jeff (32m 21s): So that’s, what’s really exciting about maybe being drowsy is knowing that you have this whole other frontier to continue to do. Brad (32m 29s): Are you talking about drowsy during the day or at a certain time when you shouldn’t be drowsy? Jeff (32m 34s): Yeah. Are you drowsy during the day? So if after waking up, are you, do you notice that you’re at any point during the day, if so you have material amount of “sleep debt” that you can start paying down. Brad (32m 47s): Okay. So sleep that was the one in the, the two factor model of sleep. What’s number two? Jeff (32m 54s): So number two is something called the circadian rhythm, which you’ve also talked a little bit about. I think you’ve had at least one show on, on the topic and I’ll just simplify it down for, for everyone to, to really what the names circadian even means. So circa is around his land for around dian and is Latin for day. So it refers to the, around a day, the round 24 hour physiological biological processes that we, that we go through. And so what’s happening is we actually have a part in the brain called the SCN, and it’s actually controlling at a cellular level. I don’t know if you remember back to high school biology, ATP production ATP is the sort of energy source for, for cellular functioning. Jeff (33m 36s): Literally how much ATP your cells are producing at any given time during the day. And so, as a result of that, we actually have times during the day where we should feel groggy, like in the morning, it actually takes about 90 minutes to fully wake up in the morning. You should not feel very good when you wake up. We can talk about that later. You have times during the day that are peak performance for you. So for example, you’ve got one peak in the morning and one in the, in the early evening, typically. Just quick spoiler here. Most Olympic world records are broken in the, in that second peak. It’s the sort of best time if you’re trying to break athletic records, that you should be performing. And then you actually have a time at night that you should be sleeping biologically it’s when your brain is releasing the sleep hormone melatonin. Jeff (34m 21s): And so most of us just don’t even know these things are happening. And when you know those, what you can then do is rearrange your day based on your peaks of energy, your dips and energy, when you should be feeling groggy, when you should be going to sleep, and it really helps orient what you should do every day and when you should do it. And so it’s both of those factors together that if you want to understand how at one o’clock today, you know, Brad, you’re going to be performing. What you need to know first is how much “sleep debt” do you have and where are you within your circadian rhythm? And just like how sleep need is genetically based your circadian rhythm and how early or late those peaks and dips are shifted is also sir, as also genetically based and it’s age based and light-based, and other things we can talk about too. Brad (35m 8s): So there’s such a thing as a night owl. There’s some people that report feeling wide awake every morning. And my mom who’s processing the show notes. And the timestamps here is, you know, it can’t, can’t stay in bed longer than 4:55 AM or some crazy thing where, you know, I’m, I’m trying to wake up at a respectable time after I get my, my genetically optimal nine hours. I’m thinking I’m one of those people out at the standard deviation. So there’s that variation. And I know we have to couch this in all the disastrous modern lifestyle practices. We practice like looking at the screen after dark. Brad (35m 48s): And so I think a lot of the people reporting to be night owls are probably people that like looking at the screen and therefore suppressing melatonin while they’re working through their Netflix queue. Jeff (35m 59s): Right. Right. And so there are a couple of things we can break down. So what exactly is a night owl versus morning person? And I think most people were saying, well, I don’t know. Some people just like the morning, some people like the evenings. So there’s actually a very strong biological way that you mark whether or not you are a late person or an early person. And it’s quite simply, if I were to put you in a dim room, so very dim lighting at what time would your brain start releasing melatonin? And the scientific term for this is called DLMO that dim light melatonin onset. And so that time is, is the marker for your circadian rhythm. Jeff (36m 40s): So for example, I might be my deal, no might be at nine o’clock. And you know, at night, Brad, yours might be at 3:00 AM and you can actually vary that can vary eight hours between people. So it’s very, very different. So when people say night owl or morning person, it’s not a preference, it’s a biological phenomenon that we don’t have control. And we, we actually can shift it, but it’s a, it’s, it’s not something that like someone chooses. And there are ways to become more of a morning person or become more of a night person. You talk about that too, but, but it is largely biologically determined Brad (37m 15s): If we were to create ideal circumstances, like we went on a camping trip for three weeks without any artificial light. And then we’re looking, who’s hanging out at the campfire as the hours of the night go by. And there’s a couple of people left at 3:00 AM and a few people ducked out at, you know 8:45, but it’s all going to happen after sunset, right? The DMO doesn’t happen at 3:00 PM. We’re looking at that range from extreme delayed circadian. Right? And it isn’t teenagers, aren’t they in that category of kind of like on this weird catch up where they’re on a 25 hours circadian or something. Jeff (37m 55s): Yeah. So, so w w when you look at, if you can sort of look at a couple of different patterns and norms, so one is that on average, men are about an hour later than women are just on an average. Again, every person’s gonna be different, but that’s on average, just like height. You know, men are a little bit taller on average. The, the other thing that we see is also that once you hit age 20, the latest your DLMO will ever be on average every year after that, it gets slightly earlier and earlier biologically. So there’s actually a, to your point around like sitting around the campfire and some people are going to bed at 3:00 AM, and then some people are going to at 8:30. There’s a famous question, which is why is it that all the young kids are going to the discos till three or 4:00 AM 5:00 AM? Jeff (38m 43s): Is it socially constructed because the discos are open or is it biologically determined? And so this is called the disco hypothesis. So sleep anthropologists. I know, I love the name of that. This went around to all of these various different indigenous tribes around the world, and they actually put sleep trackers on them and they measure what, what time they’re going to bed, what time they’re waking up, what age they are. And what they found is that that pattern of, you know, being young basically determined what time you went to bed. And they were actually able to measure the DLMO and see the difference in, you know, being young versus old. So the conclusion is that it’s not, you know, in these tribes, there are no discos, like when you’re in the middle of the Amazon, there’s no like disco to go to. Jeff (39m 30s): And yet your DLMO is still later. And so the conclusion is that it is, it’s a biological thing that is related to age. And the prevailing hypothesis is that it makes sense if you have a community that you need to keep safe throughout the whole night, while you want some people, you want them as the sort of elders are going to bed at eight o’clock, you have the young people going to bed at 4:30 or 3:30, and while they’re going to bed, the elders are starting to wake up. And so you have someone awake, some group of people awake, it sort of all hours during the, during the day to sort of keep the community safe. That’s the sort of prevailing hypothesis, but as to why that might be the case, which I think is kind of a cool idea. Brad (40m 11s): Very interesting. Wow. Yeah. So to optimize our sleep habits and our human performance, one, we want to avoid accumulating “sleep debt”. And if we do accumulate “sleep debt”, we want to catch up and keep this mental note in our heads. If you’d call an all nighter one night, that means you need to get an extra hour of sleep per night for a week to catch up. Jeff (40m 36s): Yup. Brad (40m 37s): Can we, can we jump the gun and like my sister and do a three hour nap and, and just kind of have this rapid catch up rather than gradual. If we really, really, you know, take care to have great sleep hygiene for four days in a row after the disturbing jet trip or whatever it is. Jeff (40m 55s): So the short answer is yes, but it doesn’t come without its consequences. And so one of the things we hear all the time is okay, Jeff, I like believe you about “sleep debt”. I believe you about the circadian rhythm, but honestly, like I get nine hours of sleep. I like don’t get a lot of sleep during the week. And then I catch up on, you know, Friday night and I get nine hours of sleep. And then the next day I just feel horrible. So I must not need that much sleep. That’s what, that’s what we hear. And so the question is, what’s going on there? Why is it that you feel worse when you get one more sleep? And so there’s, there’s something that we’ve, and I think Matt Walker calls it this. So I don’t know exactly what the, of this hypothesis, but it’s called a sleep hangover. Jeff (41m 39s): And what’s actually going on is that when you get less sleep than you need, your body is increasing its cortisol production going into fight or flight. You’re mobilizing depends of blood sugar. And so you almost feel this high you’re in a fight or flight response mode. When you get more sleep than you need, your cortisol production comes down. And so you’re in a much more anabolic state and you feel a little bit more groggy. And that grogginess, you know, is what people can say, Oh yeah, I don’t feel as good. But if you get more sleep for about one more day or two, two more days at max is what we’ve seen. That all goes away. So actually, if you measure your objective performance, objective performance is higher. So it’s just this sort of state of maybe feeling foggy. Jeff (42m 21s): But some people don’t like, but my advice would be, keep going. You’re on the right track. You, you just have to get through that, you know, through that graph. Brad (42m 29s): Well, I have to say this is extremely important information for all of us to consider. And especially for athletes, when you have this prolonged overproduction of cortisol, you do feel fantastic for, for days or weeks on end. And I have these reference points when I was back training as a professional triathlete, and I would go strong for six weeks and wake up every single day, feeling fantastic rise and shine. Don’t even need an alarm. Go out there and train hard for hours and hours, come back, sleep well, wake up the next day, feel great. But I was on a prolonged stress high. And at some point you fall off a cliff because it’s out of balance. Brad (43m 9s): It’s beyond your physical capacities in your, your reasonability of what you can handle, but you’re, you’re fooled by the, the cortisol shower that you’re taking every day. And I would maybe call this like a Hawaii beach lounge chair phenomenon as well, because when we extricate ourselves from these high stress situations and we fly off to Hawaii for a vacation from whatever it is, I’m talking about my training, but people in a stressful job situation or whatever their normal hectic daily life is, then they’re sleeping on the beach. They’re taking these lazy two hour naps. They can hardly get up to go refresh their drink at the bar. And they’re sleeping like crazy every night. And so you, you have to work through this and, you know, return to balance and you feel like crap for, I remember feeling like crap for weeks on end coming off of a binge of extreme jet travel and racing. Brad (44m 2s): And it’s really confusing. And I had to study and learn all about the, you know, the adrenal glands and the stress response because you, you just can’t figure it out. It’s like, wait, I felt great every day that I was out there cranking, and now I fell off a cliff and I feel like crap. But if you, if you don’t ride it out and come back to normal, yeah, you’re in trouble. And I think sleep is just one factor in that whole equation of over producing cortisol. Jeff (44m 28s): Yeah. That’s it. So, yeah. I mean, you’ve seen it and you’ve, you felt it personally kind of on a more extreme level in your training. And it’s, it’s something that, that, that we see just all the time. So it’s, it can be very tricky to know how you’re actually doing, and don’t be too quick to judge, you know. And I’d say the others, the other very, very common thing that I think is worth mentioning around just your own state is most people judge their prior night’s sleep when they wake up. So they wake up and they’re like, how do I feel groggy? I last night, it must not been very good, but you actually need to wait about 90 minutes before you judge yourself. Jeff (45m 8s): So that’s another thing, too, is don’t take the state of how you’re doing. Give yourself about 90 minutes before you do that. And that’s because there’s something called sleep inertia, where you’re actually chemically groggy in the morning, you have a chemical called adenosine. That’s the neurotransmitter that is present in the morning. That is slowly weaning off. Cause there’s a couple of ways you can beat that. One is coffee, which is no surprise. Coffees is so widely consumed, but coffee, first thing can help mask it. So can getting outside sunlight and exercise. So that, that competent, I mean, I actually do that trifecta, which is coffee in the morning, which I love also the half-life is, you know, it is, it’s short enough that it won’t affect my sleep at night. Jeff (45m 51s): If I have coffee in the morning, and then I get out and do a run, you know, as soon as I can to get morning sunlight, which the closeness of sunlight to when you wake up also is a very critical factor actually for that night’s sleep. So anyway, Brad (46m 7s): With complete purity of, let’s say a healthy circadian experience, it’s, it’s actually okay to feel groggy for the first 90 minutes. And it’s not a, it’s not a critique. It’s actually probably a marker of health. Jeff (46m 22s): Yeah. Yeah. And you know, I think the other thing that’s a little bit different when you talk about our modern lifestyle practices, you know, used to be that when the sun came up, you were getting full on sunlight. So, you know, if you know what camping is like, you wake up. As soon as the sun comes up, it’s very different wake up experience than now where we’re in our bedrooms. Many of us at blackout shades or eye masks. And so biologically that was also not the normal light is the signal to start actually decreasing melatonin production and increasing serotonin production. And so know that’s, that’s also something that’s so different today when we wake up that we just don’t have the same access to light that we once did. And it just, that I think is even exacerbating that sort of 90 minute grogginess when we wake. Brad (47m 6s): So to optimize this, I guess we can try to expose ourselves to direct sunlight, especially the, the, the naked eye, the plain eyeballs out into the sun, not staring at the sun, people. I’m not talking about that, but getting, getting yourself into physical movement, it’s an exposure will, will awaken you naturally a hundred percent otherwise expect to be groggy, I guess, Jeff (47m 30s): Yeah. I expect to be groggy. And so there’s basically two ways you can be the grogginess. One is reducing your “sleep debt “will always help. So if your “sleep debt’s” low, because what’ll happen is your body will then wake yourself up naturally. You can not physiologically oversleep. Brad (47m 45s): So is that so? Jeff (47m 47s): Yeah, so your body will wake you up naturally, so that’s helpful. But if you have that, plus you’re able to get natural light that not only does it help keep the grogginess, but the sunlight that you get in the morning is actually a signal it’s called Zeitgeber, which is a German word for time giver. And it sets the circadian clock saying, Hey, it’s the new day. And actually that night you’ll have a much stronger release of melatonin, which is going to help you feel sleepier. You’re going to stay asleep longer. You’re going to have much more naturalistic sleep that you want anyway. So it’s sort of a double win. And that beats the grogginess you get exercise, which is also good. And it helps you at night. Brad (48m 28s): The, the good night’s sleep starts first thing in the morning with sun exposure. So there’s no such thing as oversleeping? Jeff (48m 38s): Correct. Brad (48m 39s): And so what, what do you make of those research studies showing the people who get more sleep, live a shorter life span, I guess your response, but yeah. Jeff (48m 52s): Yeah. So the, the, those studies are sort of backward looking in nature. So they are they’re self self-report and they’re backward looking. So really what the, just the way the study is done is, Hey, we’re going to survey a bunch of people. We’re going to ask them how much they’re sleeping. And then we’re going to look at how long they they’ve lived or what other sort of health risk factors they had. And we’re going to run a bunch of stats on it, and that’s problematic for a number of reasons. But you see, when you look at the studies, this sort of U shaped curve where, you know, if you sleep, I think it’s like, what seven to eight hours, your life expectancy is maximized. If you get eight to nine, your life expectancy decreases. Jeff (49m 32s): And if you get nine to 10, it decreases more, and if for 10 plus even just as like, you know, just in the gutter. And so the issue with those studies is that, what does that mean to sleep 10 hours a night on self-report? Like, what does that actually mean? Like that mean that you had a lot of “sleep debt” built up? Did that, like we, so it’s not actually clear what it is. The study is even trying to answer. All we can conclude is that if you put that you sleep 10 hours or more per night on a study, that your, your correlated, that’s very highly correlated with living a less long life. That’s really all we can conclude from that study because of the way that it’s been done. So it’s, it’s, it’s likely that the leading hypothesis is that the people that are likely to select that they’re in bed 10 or more hours have other co-morbidities and health issues where they’re not actually sleeping 10 hours, but they’re in bed all day. Jeff (50m 24s): They’re on various sorts of medicines that are keeping them in bed day. They’re lying in bed around all day. It’s not actually, it doesn’t actually have to do with how much physiological sleep they happen to be getting. And the people that are reporting it tonight are the people that are likely on average to be healthier. And in other respects. So I would take those studies where they very, very huge grain of salt, just the way that they are conducted, Brad (50m 47s): Big, giant deer, what do they call it? The deer lick that giant block of salt you put in your yard. So the deer can have, it’s like a 10 pound, incredibly large salt. Jeff (50m 56s): Yeah. A 10 pound grain, you know, look at it with a 10 pound grain of salt. Brad (51m 1s): So I want to get to that, that, that genetic prescription for sleep and the standard deviation. And I’m curious, how would one know where they fall on that scale? And maybe even talk a moment about the outliers? Jeff (51m 21s): Yeah. So the, the best way to do it, not the easiest way, but the best way to figure out your biological sleep need is based on the observation that you cannot oversleep. And so what you did and actually how they determined the sleep mediums, Brad (51m 37s): Speaking the truth. People come on now. Jeff (51m 40s): Yeah. And, and Brad, at the beginning of this, I told you everything I’d say is, should be able to be traced back to some peer review paper. So if there’s any lists out there, that’s concerned that what I’m saying may not have scientific basis, we’d be happy to send out, you know, the actual papers that, that, you know, what I’m saying is based on. And I might be getting some things wrong on the margin, but overall it should be in consensus agreement with what the sleep science community has to say. And it’s something that we hold ourselves to that standard, you know? Brad (52m 12s): Nice. Yeah. Well, you mentioned working with NBA and NFL players, and I have Tim de Francesco, former strength and conditioning coach for the Lakers. And he, he edited a great soundbite on our interview. And he says, if you’re in the NBA, you’re asleep from 2:00 to 5:00 PM. All of them, you know, Jeff (52m 35s): It is absolutely. I won’t tell you who, but very famous player, everyone listening to this would know this person’s name. And we were talking to together about to sleep. And he said, Jeff, you know, now that we’re talking about it, it’s okay to talk about it. And the team’s invested in it. He said, literally, I will tell you that I am on the floor at half court. And I am struggling to keep my eyes open. That’s how tired I am. Can you imagine that playing in front of, you know, 50, 60,000 roaring fans in the middle of the game, you have all the adrenaline sort of [inaudible] and the effects of fatigue. And you’re so tired that you can barely keep your eyes awake in the middle of a game of an NBA game. Jeff (53m 16s): That’s how tired some of these guys are Brad (53m 18s): The travel schedule is ridiculous. Jeff (53m 20s): Yeah. Brad (53m 21s): And Tim was telling me like, they, instead of staying in a hotel after an evening game on the East coast, they will load up the private jet and fly across the country basically all night. And, and I’m like, what, why do they do that? And he said, well, if they, if they stayed in the same city where they just played, the players are probably going to go out clubbing and not get any sleep anyway. So they just want to get home. And I’m like, Oh man, that’s brutal. But yeah. I mean, if you’re, if you’re in a lifestyle of heavy debt, like my sister, like an emergency medical worker, first responder, whatever, you still have that potential to recover that debt in any way, shape or form I’m, I’m guessing Jeff (54m 5s): You do. You do. Yeah. And so, Brad (54m 9s): Yeah, sleeping straight up every night, but you’re still making your best effort to grab those naps. Yeah. Jeff (54m 14s): You know, look, the downside is, you know, if you think about every day as a performance event, you know, some of them matter more or less than others, but you know, you’re with your partners, you’re with your friends, you’re with your family, your, you know, with your coworkers. So if you thinking about every day is sort of performance event, what’s going to affect that dominantly. I mean, there’s lots of other factors, but the biggest factor that we know of scientifically is your “sleep debt” and your circadian rhythm. And so if those things are on, so imagine you’re building up high debt, that just means that most of the days that you’re living, you’re vastly under performing your potential. And that’s really the downside of living a high debt lifestyle, and then you pay it back, but then you’re building it right back up again. Jeff (54m 56s): And so you’re living most of your life, you know, vast, not only vastly underperforming, but you’re also incurring, and this is the part that’s less known. And so again, I want to, I know Matt Walker talks very strongly about sleep is related to every chronic, you know, an 11 out of the 12 chronic diseases, whatever he happens to say on that. All of that is true, but we don’t really know the exact amounts and quantities and how it all transpires. But we do know is when you get, when you build up “sleep debt”, you get less sleep than you need. Your body goes into fight or flight mode and doing that over an extended period of time, you know, Brad, you know, how, how bad and detrimental that is for long-term health and longevity. So, so that’s, you know, I think what’s, what’s going on there. Jeff (55m 37s): So to answer your question about how do you know how much sleep you need, because you cannot oversleep literally what you do is you go into a cool, dark, quiet room. You make sure that you have no sort of unnatural substances, you know, plaguing your sleep. That would be things like THC or alcohol or a bunch of light exposure before bed. So you have cool dark, quiet, you know, naturalistic, you know, sleep environment and sleep routine, leading up to sleep. And then you just get as much sleep as you possibly can. And what you’ll see is that most people get, you know, maybe 9 or 10 hours the first night, and then a little less, the next night, little less the next night. And then it’ll level off somewhere where their sleep need is and where most people tend to level off is about eight hours and 10 minutes of sleep or eight hours and 15 minutes of sleep. Jeff (56m 20s): But again, with a 35 minute standard deviation. So that’s how you actually know how much sleep you need. It is hard to do that. So actually one of the things we’ve developed in our app is there’s a bunch of algorithms so that we can pull in all of your data and, and make a very good prediction as to what your biological sleeping actually is. And it uses all the data we have from pro athletes and a bunch of other cool stuff to kind of make that happen. But that’s a little bit easier because then you don’t do anything, Brad (56m 48s): Right. It’s going to be hard to discover that on your own, unless you create those ideal circumstances for, let’s say a couple of weeks on end. Jeff (56m 56s): Yup. Yup. And really a week, if you create the circumstances for a week or you go to Hawaii for a week or whatever, you know, you should be able to, but even then it can be difficult. So, so yeah. Brad (57m 8s): So I want to ask you about the wimp factor. This is a personally motivated question, right? Since I had that privilege in my life to race on the pro circuit as an athlete. So that sleep was of the utmost priority. And during the 10 years of time, I was out there training hard. I was asleep for half of that time. I slept for 10 hours every night and a two hour nap every afternoon. So maybe it’s a two-part question. One of them is I I’m speculating that you can make yourself require more sleep due to extreme physical effort out there every day. And then the other part is like, if I get used to prioritizing sleep to such an incredible extent that I’m a wussy boy, if I don’t get perfect sleep and then maybe is there a psychological component where now we’re going to the constant commentary about rallying and sucking it up and toughing it up. Brad (58m 3s): Is there kind of a balanced point there where some of that’s relevant? Jeff (58m 7s): Yeah, no. The first question is a great one and I think gets to larger question about, you know, sleep hygiene and all these ways to optimize your sleep, quote unquote, the, what, what you experienced as you were training so intensely that your body actually needed required more sleep. And this is true for folks that are training really at that level. Most people, most athletes, even aren’t training at that level. I mean, it is, you know, in terms of the amount of stress physiologically that you’re putting on your body, it was incredibly high. And so in those circumstances, but, but I think what’s exciting is not just in those circumstances from that is that your brain is actually set up to optimize the sleep you are getting at night. Jeff (58m 52s): So it will change how much deep sleep you’re getting, how much REM sleep you’re getting, how much, you know, stage two, you’re getting all based on what you did that day. If you worked out super hard, it’s gonna prioritize one set of, you know, one, one type of sleep. If you happen to get three hours last night, it’s actually going to change when you’re going to get REM, the percentage of REM that you’re going to get that night. And so the brain is highly adaptive to what sort of sleep you need and already set up to optimize it. And so our view, and this is a view, I think Matt Walker is also put on this view. I think many others is we need to get out of the way of our own biology. So don’t try and influence it with other things, just, you know, give it what it needs so that, so that you can, you know, have naturalistic sleep every night. Jeff (59m 41s): Cool, dark, quiet, have a wind down routine. That’s the basics. Then we’d go really specific. So that’s on the first question of like, what, you know, do you need, can you get to a point where I need more sleep? Yes. I think the lesson for all of us is while that’s true for elite athletes, it’s also true that your brain is self optimizing, you know, on a nightly basis, what you need. The second question is like, how did you, especially in our work with pro athletes, this was a question because we were coming in there and sometimes we get laughed out of the room. You know, the heads of performance knew that sleep was important, but how do we communicate this to players? And I remember having a conversation with one of the most famous NBA players of all time. Jeff (1h 0m 22s): And, and he said, Jeff, you know, I’m getting like four or five hours sleep at night. And you know, I’m fine. I’m busy, I’ve got my own business. I’m, I’m, you know, I’m, I’m, I’m a great NBA player. That’s true. That is. And what I told him is, I said, look, you’re already good at basketball, but what I know is that you could be much better and you’re leaving a lot on the court right now, if you got a little more sleep. And so that’s the other sort of exciting thing is that, you know, that’s, it’s an opportunity to improve. I would say in terms of how we position, like, what does it mean? Let’s say you, you have a huge event. You’re playing the super bowl and the night before you’re up all night. And I think we’ve all had these nights where just up, you, you wake up at 4:00 AM. Jeff (1h 1m 4s): You’re wide awake. You got a huge event in the next day. Well, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is how you perform tomorrow is gonna be based on your “sleep debt”, not what you did the previous night. So if you have been keeping track of your sleep, you’ve been being pretty disciplined about your “sleep debt”, you know, one night of getting three hours. So let’s say you build up four hours of sleep at night. Well, if you’ve had two hours of “sleep debt”, you only have six hours. That’s not that bad. Like you’re doing actually pretty decent and you will be just fine. But the opposite is true that if you have 20 hours or 15 hours, and you’re like, Oh, I’m going to get 10 hours before the big game. That’s also not gonna help you much. Jeff (1h 1m 44s): So, you know, that’s the helpful part about “sleep debt” is it’s not just last night. It’s not just the night before. And it sort of allows you to give yourself a little bit of a breather to say what actually matters tonight. Well, how much sleep do you have? Do you have 10 hours? If you have 10 hours, like maybe tonight don’t stay up watching, you know, a bunch of Netflix. Maybe prioritize going to bed a little bit earlier. Oh, but I’ve got two hours and I want to go out for a friend’s birthday and go out until 2:00 AM. And tomorrow isn’t so important. All right. You know, I’m going to make an informed trade-off. So I think that’s the power of “sleep debt” is this metric where it kind of puts you back in control of how important is sleep that night based on what’s going on in your life. Brad (1h 2m 23s): I love the reference to the top athlete who’s already mastered their game. And so you aren’t going to see this ridiculous drop-off in performance, even though they’re, they’re, they’re running on fumes all the time. And I would speculate that millions of people fall into this category where they are a successful startup entrepreneur, who is taking the company public and they’re grinding. And well, Elon Musk said it in public, on, on Joe Rogan show. He goes, if you’re not working a hundred hours a week, you’re not going to change the world with great innovations and entrepreneurial skills. And he got widely criticized for that, you know, responsibly. Brad (1h 3m 3s): so. But in his case, he is at that level where he’s doing these amazing things. And arguably his stat is probably somewhere close to accurate. But again, as you, as you contend, maybe he’d have, you know, further breakthroughs if he prioritize sleep more. Jeff (1h 3m 24s): Exactly. It’s a question of like, it’s just actually unmeasurable. He’s making a claim that he hasn’t tested. And so it’s like, Alrighty. And he’s so sleep deprived that it was sort of foolish for him being to make the statement. Cause he would have realized, Oh yeah. What would it be like if I actually did it the other way, let’s say he slept.You know, so Jeff Bezos is the other example, you know, where Jeff, you know, he won’t take a meeting before 10:00 AM because he knows that. Brad (1h 3m 50s): I didn’t know that. So we have a, we have a counterexample people. Yeah. Jeff (1h 3m 54s): And he sleeps a lot. You know, LeBron James sleeps. Like most people do really need a lot of sleep. I was actually, I’m pretty close with the head of performance and the Bowls, this guy Chip Schaefer. Who’s, who’s awesome. And he used to coach Michael Jordan he’s currently that had a performance at the Bowls, but he said to me, he said, Jeff, one of the things people don’t realize, you know, obviously Michael was incredible, but he said, what they don’t realize is that he, he was someone who, who I believe didn’t have a very high sleep need on top of that. He was incredibly gifted. He said, but everyone else on that team surrounding him, took their sleep incredibly seriously. Jeff (1h 4m 34s): And so, you know, he’s also known for like not getting a lot of sleep and being out late and being Michael Jordan. And, you know, it’s just, so what you don’t know is that how good could Michael Jordan have been, had he gotten more sleep? And that’s the like, it’s, it’s, it’s not like a conjecture it’s like scientifically, literally his reaction time would be 10% faster. Like, Brad (1h 4m 55s): wow. Jeff (1h 4m 56s): How amazing would he be then? Brad (1h 4m 58s): Yeah. And too, I mean, you could, you could launch a counter-argument, but we really should settle the matter by saying if Tiger Woods is also extremely low sleeper and he’s known for being up late at night and you know, the, the tell all biography that Hank Haney that, you know, he’s, he’s sending texts at three in the morning and then on the lesson tee at 6:45. But if one of those athletes was provided with an optimal sleep environment where they did the wind down routine and that they had dim lights around the home and they were donning they’re UV blocking glasses, arguably they would maybe creep up there into the seven hour range, right at the edge of the standard deviation or something rather than four or five and a half or six, or pulling all nighters here and there. Brad (1h 5m 47s): So boy, that’s something for all of us to chew on where, you know, we’re getting through our day, we’re doing fine. Maybe we’re successful, or, you know, we, we can report thumbs up all around, but dream of, you know, going from level seven to level nine, that’s a pretty big time. And that’s what the rise app is all about that Jeff is going to tell you more, I appreciate your time so much and, Oh my gosh, it’s just, we’ll have to have a follow up show after people have taken this advice to heart for a year, but talk a little bit about how we can get going with the Rise app in any way that we want to follow you guys or connect further. Jeff (1h 6m 23s): Yeah. Well, it’s been a pleasure to get, to have the conversation and share, you know, what so many great and, and intelligent scientists have discovered before me. So, you know, I’m just reporting what’s been found. So it’s, the job has been, been a bit easier for me. So thank you, sleep science community for that. But the Rise app talks a lot about makes it really easy to weave in the things we talked about today just into your life. So we help you understand your sleep need. We help you understand your “sleep debt”. We help you understand and map out your energy schedule your peaks and dips when your melatonin window is we’ll help you set up your wind down routine. So all the things that we just talked about, we help you put into practice to make really actionable. Jeff (1h 7m 4s): It’s on the play store, it’s in the app store. You can type in rise and it’s a purple R. So you can go in and, and check it out. We also sync with all the devices out there. So you’re worrying if you had eight sleep, whatever device you have also sync with, and if you don’t have a device, that’s okay. We’ll also measure your sleep using a, a different technique. But what I would say to sort of close that up is that everything we talked about today, at least most of it is available online, that we publish in our sleep guide. So if you want to go deeper or you wanna, you wanna nerd out about it like we do, and look at the peer reviewed papers. If you go to Rise Science.com. We have a tab that says sleep guide, and you can click that. Jeff (1h 7m 44s): We’re continually updating that with more of the science and trying to explain this stuff so that ultimately, you know, you can put your time and your effort and your focus on the things that are actually going to move the needle for you. So that you can find online. We’re also on Twitter, where as we publish stuff, you’ll, you’ll be able to see that there and Instagram. So those are the, all the sorts of places that you can, you can find us. And of course, if you want to start a trial, it’s free and we’d love to have you give it a shot. Brad (1h 8m 13s): Jeff Khan from rise, bringing the heat, man, what a fascinating show. Thank you so much. I look forward to hearing feedback from the listeners and I think everything we floated out there, you really came on strong with a really reasonable approach or suggestion, or, you know, the science validating, all these things that, you know, we wonder about and are floating around. So thank you so much for being on the show. Thanks for listening to everybody. Jeff (1h 8m 44s): Thank you Brad (1h 8m 45s): You for listening to the show. I love sharing the experience with you and greatly appreciate your support. Please. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with feedback, suggestions, and questions for the Q and A shows. Subscribe to our email list of Brad kearns.com for a weekly blast about the published episodes and a wonderful buy monthly newsletter edition with informative articles and practical tips for all aspects of healthy living. You can also download several awesome free eBooks when you subscribe to the email list. 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