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Sleep Your Way To A Healthier You!

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The Urban Monk – Sleep Your Way to a Healthier Body with Guest Shawn Stevenson

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Sleep is the answer

Most of us are not getting the sleep we need and it’s reaping havoc on our lies. But I’ve got my good friend Shawn Stevenson on today who’s the host of The Model Health show and author of a new book called Sleep Smarter. He’s got some great solutions for sleep. Shawn says that a great night of sleep starts the moment that you wake up in the morning.

It boils down to the things that you spend your time doing during the day are what really sets the template for your cortisol rhythm and your circadian clock. Your circadian clock is the real deal. It’s what sets up everything in your body. Bodies like balance and we start secreting certain hormones at certain times of the day.  One of the best things you can do for yourself first thing in the morning is to move. Get some exercise in! And this doesn’t mean you have to hit the gym. Just five minutes of good physical activity will help you sleep better at night. By getting that exercise in first thing, you’re instantly kick that cortisol to where it needs to be so that it can start its process of declining through the day.

If you are having stress or physical pain in your life and not sleeping, that could be exasperating the problem. Bottom line, the body heals when it sleeps. If you aren’t sleeping, you aren’t healing.

Caffeine is the disruptor

Shawn says “We have to understand that caffeine is the most powerful accessible legal drug that we’ve got. Starbucks is the number one dealer. They’re El Chapo out here.”  Most of us would panic if we had to take caffeine out of our daily routine. But here’s the thing, caffeine has this ability to fit into the receptor sites for adenosine which is what our body is producing when we are physically tired but our brain doesn’t know it so we keep on trucking along. And this means our bodies are out of whack and not getting the healing benefits of sleep but it’s masked by the caffeine that tells us to keep going.

Great piece of advice- give yourself a caffeine curfew because it has a life of about eight hours. It lights up our nervous system. So if you are drinking a cup of coffee at 5pm, no wonder you aren’t sleeping at night. So get your fix in the early part of the day so it has time to wear off before you hit the sack at night.

Sleep Debt

You can only go so long with robbing your body of sleep before bad health comes to collect. Shawn says “You’ve got to understand that we’ve got to stack the conditions in our favor to make this a part of our life because we all know this, sleep is a force multiplier.” Sleep makes everything better and run smoother. We all know, when we are exhausted, everything makes us irritable. When we are sleep deprived, we aren’t getting enough glucose in the brain. And we aren’t getting that, we tend to make poor food choices and the cycle continues and ultimately, weight gain happens. But there’s more on all of that when you check out the show which I highly recommend!

A Great Night Sleep Starts When You Wake Up - @ShawnModel via @PedramShojai

Notes from the show:

Pedram Shojai:
Hey, welcome back to The Urban Monk, Dr. Pedram Shojai here with a special guest. This is a special episode because this isn’t a traditional shoot day. I finally I’m back in town and I am excited to be hanging with my brother. This man has done some amazing work and continues to amaze me with all the work that he’s doing out there. He’s a regular guy who ended up with back pain and had to find health because health was knocking on his back. Shawn Stevenson, he is the host of The Model Health Show. He is the author of a new book called Sleep Smarter. It is the solution to sleep. You all know that I’ve had issues with my kids and not getting sleep because they’re screaming and stuff, but a lot of us are screaming up here, we’re screaming upstairs.
Sleep is something that is really hard to do because it’s kind of the art of not doing. When we get into it, most of us in this modern world have trouble with it. I’m super excited to have you on the show, Shawn, welcome.

Shawn Stevenson:
Hey. Thank you so much for having me man. It’s always great talking to you.

Pedram Shojai:
Oh, man. Dude, you’re a bold man. You’re been out there on book tour talking about sleep. The best part of it is you’ve been getting it, right?

Shawn Stevenson:
Yeah, of course. I have to, I wrote the book on it.

Pedram Shojai:
That’s it.

Shawn Stevenson:
It’s just kind of stacking conditions in my favor but it’s been an amazing experience to get out. We’re making sleep sexy. We’re making it a sexy topic because like you said it’s very interesting in our world today where we can get the next new diet. Let’s go hard, let’s cut calories, let’s cut corners. We can get the next new exercise program, go hard or sweat more, fall out on the floor bleeding from all orifices of your body, just falling apart like we’ll go hard. We can’t really wrap our mind around the fact that you can get something so beneficial that’s even more powerful than those things combined by doing absolutely nothing. It’s difficult for our modern mind to wrap around that but it’s definitely the case.

Sleep Smart is really bringing that to the forefront along with the strategies and tools to help our modern men and women mind to be able to get that deep anabolic rejuvenative sleep that we all really require.

Pedram Shojai:
How did you get into this mess? Why is a guy like you who’s an ex-athlete talking about sleep? How did you end up having a deal with it?

Shawn Stevenson:
Oh man. Full disclosure, I kept tallying all PM in business for a little while, man. When I was 15 was the first big warning sign and I was … It’s so crazy I just seen some of the little clips. My son plays baseball and football in high school and so he’s watching the NFL combine and all this silly stuff. The running backs, the wide receivers, defensive backs, 45 40 times, 44 40 times, that’s what you want, cream of the crop. When I was 15 I ran a 45 40 so I well on my way to …

Pedram Shojai:
Can you explain what that is to your ladies?

Shawn Stevenson:
Sure. It’s a 4.5 second 40 yard dash. Actually it was 4.53 for me and 40 yards is 40 yards so being able to sprint that time is pretty remarkable for a 15 year old kid. When track season rolled around which is my favorite sport I was doing a 200 meter time trial and whilst coming off the curb onto that straightaway my hip broke. Absolutely …

Pedram Shojai:
Broke?

Shawn Stevenson:
Yes. I broke my hip from running. No impact, no trauma, the iliac crest, the tip of my hip bone just broke off. I didn’t know at the time I thought maybe I pulled a muscle and of course being a hard headed guy you keep coming to practice for a couple of days before somebody forces you to go get it looked at. It was a standard of care. Ultra sound, muscle stim, take some anti-inflammatories, stay off the leg but nobody stopped to ask, “How did this 15 year old kid break his hip from nothing?” This we usually reserve for people who are much, much older. The thought is that people fall and break their hip but in really they break their hip then fall because they’re becoming brittle inside.
I was becoming brittle at a very, very early age, ultimately diagnosed with degenerative bone disease, degenerative disc disease when I was 20 years old. We’ve talked about this before on a past show so I won’t get too much into that. During that experience, that two and a half year block of time between 20 and 22 50 pound weight gain, depression, horrible sleep. This is the catalyst for a lot of this which was I spent a lot of nights tossing and turning and just changing positions would wake me up because of the pain. Medicating myself with prescription medications over the counter. Even though I got more time ‘sleeping’ I still felt like a wreck when I got up because it wasn’t real natural sleep that I was getting.

Also here’s a little crazy sidebar and I just found this out recently Pedram. One of my medication … I was like on celebrex and just this whole plethora of drugs from my physicians to deal with this pain. Come to find out one if the side effects was restless leg syndrome. This was 16 years ago before the restless leg syndrome had a drug for it. Now it’s got a fancy name but at the time I was also dealing with that. I’m laying these in bed like, “Why won’t my legs just stop?” Didn’t even know what it was. Ultimately that struggle on the mattress bled over into every area of my life. It definitely increased the weight gain, the low energy, the depression, all those things.

Ultimately when I transformed my health and my lifestyle during the day it helped me to get better sleep at night. Your body heals when you’re asleep, period. If you’re not sleeping you’re not healing. When my sleep got better it’s like the floodgates opened and everything changed very quickly. That’s part one. Really quickly part two was in my own clinical practice working as a nutritionist for over a decade and seeing people come in my office. A lot of times people will be like, “What can I take for this? What can I take for better sleep? What can I take to lose weight?”

Pedram Shojai:
What do I eat to lose weight?

Shawn Stevenson:
Seeing me like allopathic guy like treating symptoms again and so what I really worked on was getting to the core of the issue. Ultimately we had over 80% reversal rate for type 2 diabetes. People coming in with 400, 500 … I didn’t even know could have 500 blood sugar level and still be walking around smiling. I would see these things and helping people get off their metfromins and insulin and all that stuff. There was always this group of people, like 20% of the people who wouldn’t get their results no matter how we shifted their diet or changed their exercise, meditation, whatever it was. When I did a deeper questioning I found out … It just shocked me how crappy people’s sleep was.

Often times people will get by on four or less hours of sleep, their sleep was wildly interrupted. They’re falling asleep with the TV on every night because they ‘had to’. Once we got their sleep down then again the floodgates would open and I’d start to see these results. Those are the two parts. It was my personal experience and seeing it clinically. I knew that people wanted to hear about this stuff and that was the catalyst for the book.

Pedram Shojai:
One of the hardest parts about sleep is trying to do sleep. It’s like this daoist paradoxical thing where it’s almost like the act of not doing. You don’t try to sleep, sleep is something when you finally let go that happens. How do you even train sleep? I have my own methodologies I’ve used over the years and worked with patients and stuff. I never try to get someone to sleep I just get someone to try to relax and sleep ends up happening. I’d love to hear just some of the tricks that you’ve pulled out of your bag for this.

One Of The Hardest Parts About Sleep Is Trying To Sleep - @ShawnModel via @PedramShojai

Shawn Stevenson:
Sure. You know what it boils down to. It’s that parasympathetic balance and helping people to kick on that parasympathetic nervous system at the right time. It really actually starts … And here’s the headline. A great night of sleep starts the moment that you wake up in the morning. The things that you do during the day really set the template for your cortisol rhythm and your circadian clock. Your circadian clock this isn’t an airy-fairy thing, this is as real as the clock on your iPhone. Your body is lined up with nature and secreting certain hormones at certain times if things are in balance because they can get a little bit wonky. One of the first things to do when you wake up in the morning is to get some movement in, get a little bit of exercise in.
Appalachian State did a really great study and they had exercisers train at three different times over the course of the study. Phase one of the study they worked out at 7 AM, phase two they worked out at 1 PM and phase three they worked out at 7 PM at night. They found that when exercise was trained at 7 AM in the morning they spent up to 75% more time in deep anabolic sleep. There’s total sleep time improved, their sleep cycles were more rejuvenative and they were more accurate with how it should be. Here’s the other little benefit, they also had a 25% greater drop in their blood pressure at night. What does that equate to? Also that activation of the parasympathetic nervous system.

Getting some morning exercise in is really important. This doesn’t mean you have to hit the gym, if you train in the afternoon because that’s what your life allows that all good. I did an experiment for an entire year just to see if I can still get the benefit and it worked because I’ve been a morning exerciser for over 10 years as well. Just 5 minutes, you could do some tabata, do some body weight exercises, jump on your rebounder. I’ve got a rebounder right here in my office that if I can’t get to the gym or do what I usually do in the morning I’m going to jump on that bad boy for 5 to 10 minutes, listen to The Urban Monk Podcast. You start your day off really good you know.
That’s one really important fundamental thing is get some activity in the morning. Why it works really quickly, this helps to set your cortisol rhythm. Your cortisol should be elevated at its peak between about 6 AM and 8 AM in the morning and gradually decline through the day. Some people are what we call clinically tired and wired where the cortisol is too high in the evening and too low in the morning. That’s why they’re so tired when they wake up. Cortisol is not the bad guy it’s the timing of it and whether it’s being produced in the right amount. By getting that exercise then you’re instantly kick that cortisol to where it needs to be so that it can start its process of declining through the day. That’s one of the tips but of course there is so many more that we can get into.

Pedram Shojai:
What’s your take on caffeine?

Shawn Stevenson:
I’m a fan. I’m a fan of caffeine. Again full disclosure.

Pedram Shojai:
Guy’s got kids.

Shawn Stevenson:
I love the yerba mate, I love pu-erh, I’m more of a tea kind of [inaudible 00:10:52] but what the research shows is pretty shocking when it comes to sleep and caffeine. There was a really interesting study done where they gave individuals caffeine literally right before they went to bed, three hours before they went to bend and six hours before they went to bed. Even six hours out they noticed a substantial disruption to their normal sleep cycle. It actually equated to even having caffeine six hours before bed took away … even though they were anatomically lying down in their bed they lost one hour of sleep.

They’re unconscious and they think that they got eight hours of sleep but it’s really seven because they’ve disrupted their sleep cycle so much. We have to understand that caffeine is the most powerful accessible legal drug that we’ve got. Starbucks is the number one dealer. They’re El Chapo out here.

Pedram Shojai:
Big time.

Shawn Stevenson:
Shoveling, it’s just so amazing what’s happening but caffeine has had affinity with the human body for a long time. What it does is basically you have receptor sites for adenosine which is this … For a long time in science we thought it was just a waste product. What it really is when adenosine levels build up it actually triggers your body to nudge you to go to sleep once the levels get too high. Caffeine has this really interesting ability to fit into the receptor sites for adenosine. You’re body is producing adenosine and you’re physiologically tired but your nervous system doesn’t know it, your brain doesn’t know that you’re tired so you can keep going. I hope that makes sense.
What we want to do is just give yourself a caffeine curfew because caffeine has a half life of about eight hours. That means if you have 200 milligrams of caffeine which is a normal cup of coffee after eight hours half of it is still active in your system so 10 milligrams. Caffeine is really a nervous system stimulant so you’re nervous system is lit up and if that’s happening parasympathetic isn’t happening. I recommend just get your caffeine in the early part of the day before noon preferably to give your body some time to process. Everybody’s metabolism is a little different, eight hours is an average so some people are even more sensitive they might need to kick back off of it overall.
For a lot of us we can enjoy the benefits. I share some strategies in the book on how to cycle it. How to get more benefit because we know that feeling like you first have that first cup of coffee ever and you’re like, “Yeah, this is what’s happening right now.” over time you start to lose that connection now you need two cups or three cups. I’ve worked with patients who consume like 15 cups a day yet again wonder why they have sleeping problems. Give yourself a caffeine curfew and that’s really going to help a lot.

Getting Morning Exercise Is important To Great Sleep - @ShawnModel via @PedramShojai

Pedram Shojai:
Incredible. It is the drug of choice in our culture and it’s acceptable because we feel like it’s going to help me stay productive and you’re only as good as how productive you are in our culture apparently. At the end of the day … And I deal with corporations all the time is the cost to society and the cost to the company and the cost to the person’s health doesn’t get factored in. It’s like this externality that starts to show up 3, 5, 10 years later where all of a sudden it’s just like, “My hormones are messed up, I’m exhausted. I have adrenal fatigue and all these other things.” Then everyone is like, “Well I don’t understand why this is happening.”

It’s like the deficit spending on the front end is leading to it. That’s something we’ve got to look at as a culture is yeah I could probably get more done today but I won’t be around to enjoy my grandchildren later and so what’s the value of that?

Shawn Stevenson:
You just said it man. There’s this concept in our culture now, it’s really becoming popularized which is sleep debt. In reality your body is very resilient for a short-term debt. It’s like, “Pedram can you loan me 50 bucks? I’ll give it back to you next week.” That kind of thing for a day or two your body can clean up that metabolic mayhem that happens from not sleeping. Once we get into a week, two weeks, a month, years of sleep deprivation that’s like having a debt to the big time boss loan shark. Cousin Vinny is going to come knocking at your door and you’re not going to make it. You’ve got to understand that we’ve got to stack the conditions in our favor to make this a part of our life because we all know this, sleep is a force multiplier.

It makes everything in our life exponentially better or exponentially worse depending on how we lie on that spectrum. When we’re tired our best friend looks like our worst enemy, we tend to be more irritable. We of course, and we could talk about … matter of fact let’s talk about it. Your brain when you’re sleep deprived just for 24 hours you’re getting a loss of about 6% of the glucose reaching your brain. That’s not even equal within the brain. 14% of the glucose to your prefrontal cortex … This is the more human part of your brain, gets drained. You’re not getting food to the part of your brain that’s responsible for your will power, for your distinguishing between right and wrong, decision making, social control.

Guess what? You’re now the dumber version of yourself and you’re going to find that I’m compelled to go and eat those cheetos. I’m compelled to go and eat those healthy fruit snacks or whatever it is. Your body is going to compel you to eat carbohydrates because evolutionarily speaking if you’ve got a drop in that much glucose in your brain that can be a threat to your survival. Because I might not be able to procure my food to avoid that danger, avoid that animal that being able to avoid that rival tribe those kind of things. It’s only in the last 100 years that things have really changed and we have civilization at this level where everybody is cozy in our culture.
The world was very, very much more volatile and so your body again is going to compel you to get that glucose back to your brain to keep you sharp for survival. We don’t want to get into this battle of your will power versus your biology because ultimately your biology is going to win every time.

Pedram Shojai:
We all live in like a wartime economy and that’s no way to live. It’s like you are constantly in that stress and you are constantly trying to get resources to the front lines which are … it’s also your moral reasoning upstairs. That’s … you see all these people walking around like assholes doing things that they shouldn’t be doing. It’s is because they’re not in their head, they are in their reactive I need to get to get sugar now mode. What does blood sugar do to sleep? When you start looking at somebody’s blood sugar levels and how we are going to sleep either oversugared or undersugared? What’s the principle there?

Shawn Stevenson:
The first thing is for eating … and here is the thing why we like carbohydrate so much. We get a little bit of a serotonin and hit from it. It makes us feel good, it makes us feel grounded serotonin is that feel good neurotransmitter, it makes us feel okay. This is why ice cream is good late at night. Ice cream in the morning not so much but late at night it just makes us feel grounded I got my little fix. Serotonin is a precast of melatonin which is the get good sleep hormone. It can help you to sleep for sure but if the carbohydrate level is … We are talking about the glycemic load not the glycemic index per say but the overall impact it has on your body and being able to balance that.

If you eat that close to bed time you are going to naturally get an increase in your insulin levels and basically a blood sugar spike. If you fall asleep shortly thereafter you can go hypoglycemic while you’re sleeping and it will definitely pull you out of your normal stages of sleep, period. You might not be conscious but it’s going to distract your sleep cycles. We don’t want to eat too many carbohydrates right before bed. If it was maybe three hours before bed something like that and that’s when you get your carb back loading done and give your body time to balance out that blood sugar it’s going to be okay. The bottom line even with all of these stuff just 24 hours of sleep deprivation can make you as insulin resistant as a type 2 diabetic.

You got to be aware of that and that dis-regulation with insulin is one of the biggest catalyst. Insulin let’s just be straight about it it’s your body’s number one fat storing hormone really. If that hormone isn’t functioning properly you can start to have some really big problems. This is the impact that sleep has on your appearance, your ability or inability to lose weight. There were so many studies that I had to sift through and put the most attractive ones into the book itself. There’s was one done recently at the University of Chicago and what they did was they put people on a diet but they also sleep deprive them for the first part of the study period. They are on this very strict diet and they had them to get only five and half hours of sleep at night so that was phase one.
Phase two of the study same exact diet but now they had them to get eight and a half hours of sleep. What ended up happening was when they shifted to getting eight and a half hours of sleep, just three more hours of sleep they lost 55% more body fat on average. They didn’t cut more calories they didn’t exercise harder just by changing their sleep 55% is a lot.

Pedram Shojai:
It’s the game changer.

Shawn Stevenson:
Yeah.

Give Yourself A Caffeine Curfew - @ShawnModel via @PedramShojai

Pedram Shojai:
It’s funny when I had my first kid I didn’t know what was up or down, we just had a real hard time getting sleep. Here I am doing everything right eating right, trying to exercise, doing all things that I had done traditionally and I’m putting on weight like crazy. I’m like what the … what is this gluten what is it? It’s so easy to try to find the devil in everything now. It’s like what is this thing that’s causing this? The elephant in the room was sleep the whole time and I didn’t really have a choice because you are a parent and you are dealing with it. As soon as the kids start sleeping all over sudden the weight start dropping off and I was just like, “Duh right there right in front of you.”

Shawn Stevenson:
Always and this is another because weight loss and fat loss that’s more of a sexy topic. Once we can make that neurological association to sleep and weight loss and the thing that’s very interesting in our culture today we are going to see a big shift over to paying attention to our sleep health. I truly do feel this within the next 5 to 10 years it’s going to be one of the top topics of conversation. I really feel that Sleep Smarter is a catalyst for that and I can’t believe that I’m even a part of it but just like meditation it’s going to be for sure, just like people can go to yoga studios. This was that was fringe now it’s everywhere and so meditation studios are going to be popping up left and right.

They are going to be in the gyms, they are going to be in the office buildings. They already are but it’s going to be even more common. The same thing you are going to find that there’s going to be a lot more attention and strategies put in the work place and also training programs on sleep health. Because ultimately people are going to find out your body changes from the exercise you are doing while you are sleeping. Your body does a lot of the assimilation and elimination of the food, the amazing organic made by tiny little elves. Food like the best most pristine got magic sprinkles on it, this great food we are eating but it doesn’t matter if you are not sleeping.

Your body does that especially elimination process this is another really surprising thing that I found in a research. We have the lymphatic system which is our extra cellular fluid and we have four times more lymph than we have blood. It’s a lot of us and it’s kind of your cellular waste management system. The issue though is that your brain, we have the blood brain barrier and your brain it doesn’t directly connect with the lymphatic system like we would think. Your brain actually has its own lymphatic system and it’s run by the glial cells so it’s called the glymphatic system. What’s been discovered is that this system for getting rid of metabolic waste that your brain is building up millions of processes a minute.

There’s a lot of waste that needs to be eliminated to make room for new cells and functions. What they discovered was that the glymphatic system is 60% more active when you are asleep. That real detoxification rejuvenation of your brain happens while you are sleeping, as a matter of fact your brain cells shrink also while you are sleeping as well.

Pedram Shojai:
To make room for the detox, it’s we are plumbing up there.

Shawn Stevenson:
Exactly it’s 10 times more active while you are asleep not 60%. The cells shrink 60% when you are sleeping so it’s that important and what they found recently … They’ve been calling Alzheimer’s type 3 diabetes lately. What they are really finding is the cutting edge with understanding about Alzheimer is that it’s an inability of your brain to detoxify itself as well. This process is so important, sleep deprivation is definitely a catalyst for neurodegenerative diseases for sure.

Pedram Shojai:
What’s weird is I think the hallmark of our era that we are going into now thankfully is … I think that the new motto should be, Don’t Be an Idiot. Because what’s happened is we’ve allowed the tabloids to sensationalize health and just … it’s like … tell me this, and you just came off a book tour you’ve done enough of these magazine interviews where you are like you got smart shit to say. They are like, “Give me the three things you do right now to improve my sleep sex and get taller.” You are like, “I don’t know if that’s how that works.” It’s just the way the industry goes and you always have to fire off the newest the latest and greatest. Let’s face it sleep is kind of boring who the hell wants to talk about sleep?

It’s like, “I want to have a six pack, I want to be out there, I want to be making more money I want to be popping champagne of some yacht and I want plenty of ladies in my bed.” It’s like … that’s not reality that’s TV reality and reality is get yourself down for a good night sleep so tomorrow could be a winning day. Tomorrow could be a day that you make better decisions. It seems like common sense to me but common sense isn’t the way of the health industry.

Shawn Stevenson:
You said it so perfectly. We have to understand too always that it’s a multi, multibillion dollar industry. We are talking about the diet and exercise game and of course there are tons of good people in the game. Ultimately you know follow the money as I’ve heard you say many times and you’ll find that there are people who could care less about any of these practices. Who are just getting so fat and wealthy off of our mistakes and our ignorance. What it really boils down to is doing things that your genes expect you to do. Sleep is actually one foremost things and there was some research was it Current Neurology and Neurobiology I believe was the journal. They found that sleep has a huge impact on your circadian rhythms.

I’m sorry, your DNA which is influenced by your circadian rhythms. Your sleep quality is literally determining what kind of copies are getting printed out of you. We are talking about that epigenetic level of determining whether or not genes for disease are getting expressed or genes for sexiness and popping bottles of the yacht are already showing up. It’s really we have this power in our hands and it’s just doing something that our genes expect us to do. Our genes literally expect us to sleep, if it wasn’t a necessity we would have evolved out of it eons ago. This is what actually gives us a huge competitive advantage as a species is there’s so much going on upstairs that it needs to be honed and it needs to be processed during sleep.

This is one of the big process is a during REM sleep is we have this thing it’s called memory processing where we are converting our experiences so everybody that’s learning right now this gets converted into your short term memory during sleep for the most part. If you are not sleeping this is also why the whole thing with drinking alcohol we don’t remember what happens sometimes. It’s because alcohol disrupts your REM sleep. You can end up with a tattoo on your face like that movie if you go too far with alcohol because it’s really about processing the data you are taking in. This is just there’s not one single angle that this isn’t important for or doesn’t have a huge impact on for sure.

Pedram Shojai:
Well let’s talk about light I had a moment you’ll appreciate this my grandpa just turned 100 and we just … God bless us. We had a big family thing from all over the world people came in and a few nights later we are at my sister’s house and my dad my grandpa are sitting around a fire like in the yard. I bring my little four month old baby out and we sit in front of the fire and my grandpa was looking at the baby who’s staring at the fire and he’s like, “Look how captivated she is.” We start talking about it. I’m like for a hundreds of thousands of years this is all we had to look at night. Each other’s faces across a warm glow of fire and now it’s Facebook and Barney.

Who the hell knows what’s coming at us from this blue light screens that are just invading our brains and taking us away from that pure moment that I was experiencing with four generations of Shojai’s there? It was like the caveman moment and that’s where we come from. I’d love to talk about light real quick because we are inundated by light.

Shawn Stevenson:
Yes so first of all we have to make that immediate disclosure both of us that this is allowing us to do what we are doing.

Pedram Shojai:
I’m staring into one now.

Shawn Stevenson:
It’s not that we don’t enjoy these things or value them, I put tremendous amount of value on my devices for sure. They’ve enabled me to write a book, to communicate with people, to have a number one Podcast and all that great stuff but …

Pedram Shojai:
Let me be clear about something though. I wouldn’t be doing this shit at 11 PM which is the difference. Make hay when the sun is shining. It’s the middle of the day right now.

Insulin Is Your Body's #1 Fat Storing Hormone - @ShawnModel via @PedramShojai

Shawn Stevenson:
Yes exactly and so that’s definitely what were are going to get to. Number one it’s putting these things in their proper place so that you are controlling them and they are not controlling you. We already know it’s popular now it’s popular where especially people in this health community that in particular the blue light spectrum is coming from our devices is most disruptive to our circadian rhythms and it actually suppresses melatonin. Harvard researchers did fully went in and they found out that yes this is absolutely the case melatonin is suppressed for approximately three hours after exposure to blue light at night. Because what that’s doing is it’s signaling to your brain because that blue spectrum is very similar to what’s hitting us from sunlight.

That it’s day time and produce day time hormones namely cortisol. Cortisol and melatonin have an inverse relationship so when cortisol is high melatonin is low, when melatonin is high cortisol is low so it’s that thing going on. Automatically when cortisol is getting secreted because you are staring at Instagram at 11 o’clock a night like I need to get to bed. Again you can anatomically be laying down on a mattress and unconscious but your sleep cycles are not online if melatonin is suppressed. What they also discovered was that not all light affects us the same way. They found that blue light was two times more suppressive to melatonin in disrupting sleep cycles than green light was.

They found that red light in particular was the least impactful to your melatonin at all, matter of fact there was negligible. What color historically have you been exposed to at night? That red-ish orange hue of fire. There’s a little tip right there if you want to get sexy light some candles at night maybe even get red light bulb for your bedroom or something like that so you can do a little reading whatever just even changing the light spectrum our association with light could be very helpful. What we want to do ultimately is give yourself a screen curfew, I recommend as I already mentions this three hours is the suppression time. That also depends on what you are doing with the light.
The iPhone I don’t know if you know about this yet the new update has this brand new feature because this is becoming so strong in our culture and it’s called night shift. It’s on all iPhones now, all the new iPhones and this pulls out the most troublesome spectrum of light that suppresses you melatonin that blue light, it cools off your screen. You can get that on your iPhone the apps for androids are really sketchy I’ve experimented with so many of them but for laptop and desktop they are phenomenal F.LUX. F-.-L-U-X fantastic, everybody should download that it’s super easy to install.

Pedram Shojai:
That’s the one I use. It’s great.

Shawn Stevenson:
It’s based on your time zone and also the time of year it knows what to do. Also of course you got the orange tinted deep dark orange shades that you can wear at night some glasses for everything else. If you are just hanging out if you are making food you are doing food prep for the week or whatever it is. You are playing game night with your family. If you are watching a little TV you definitely should be wearing these glasses and again proven to help your body to produce optimal levels and melatonin at night. The ideal thing is do those things but also give yourself a 90 minute curfew that’s all I’m asking it’s 90 minutes. I did a talk recently and this was for a major bank.

One of the biggest chain banks in the country these are corporate employees. We are kicking it, we are having a great time, a lot of laughs, they are learning stuff. They brought me in for performance, to do a performance talk and of course sleep was one of those issues. I asked everybody, now again everybody is highly engaged but at this point I’m like, “Okay guys what are we going to do in this 90 minute period before bed?” It was crickets, all these adults all these grownups had no idea what else to do because …

Pedram Shojai:
Come on and they fantasize about it all day they just can’t put the dots together, right?

Shawn Stevenson:
Yes, oh my goodness because we are addicted and so one brave woman over to my left put her hand up kind of a little like …

Pedram Shojai:
Meek.

Shawn Stevenson:
She was like, “Read a book?” She put a question mark on the end of it not a statement I’m like, “Yes you can read a book.” Then another lady said, “Talk to your spouse?” Again with a question mark but I was like, Yes, you can actually talk to a real person go figure.”

Pedram Shojai:
Totally.

Shawn Stevenson:
The issue is we have to do something that’s of greater or equal value to our connection with the devices. I actually broke down in the book and I had to because the low hanging fruit is the exercise one to get better sleep. The highest one to get to the most difficult one is the screen curfew. Why this is so strong and so awareness trumps everything as you know and especially you guys that are tuned in to The Urban Monk Podcast, you know this. What’s going on in my brain that makes this so seductive to me is that there’s this really powerful compound your body produces called dopamine. It was thought for a long time that dopamine was about satisfaction in some kind of weird way but it’s actually about seeking. Dopamine drives you to seek.

Internet is perfect for that because you’ve got infinite seeking right there. It would be pointless and you’d go insane if you didn’t find. Because the seeking and the finding you get a little opioid hit so you get a little slow drip from morphine basically in your system whenever you find something. Again internet is perfect for that. Instagram scroll seek find seek find seek find. Facebook same thing and you start to create this chemical loop this slow drip of really powerful drugs in your system that makes you just so attached to it. All of us have had this happen where we are like, “I’ll just check twitter for a minute I’ll just check Instagram for a minute” 30 minutes later same thing and you are just like, “What the … I got to go.”

Pedram Shojai:
What happened?

Shawn Stevenson:
You got caught up in the internet black hole. You try to just go cold turkey like, “Okay I’m going to do what Shawn recommended I’m going to rock it out with Sleep Smarter” and you try to go cold turkey on your device and you are just sitting there. You can’t just sit there and twiddle your thumbs you are going to get the internet jitters you are going to be tweaking. You’ve got to fill that space with something valuable, have sex, hang out with your friends and family, do game night with your family and make some bets I don’t know.

Pedram Shojai:
Go look at the moon, it’s out there most people don’t know where the moon is and it’s just like go take a look at it and be like, “What phase is it in?” stuff that our ancestors did. The stars yes. That’s it those exist. Hey man so we are out of time and you and I can go for days. How can people find your book? This is an amazing book I highly recommend reading it. I don’t care how good you think your sleep is you are going to get solutions out of this book.

A Good Night's Sleep Makes Tomorrow A Winning Day - @ShawnModel via @PedramShojai

Shawn Stevenson:
Awesome thank you so much Pedram. You can pick up the book anywhere the books are sold barnesandnoble.com, Amazon.com just look up Sleep Smarter and of course you can pick it up at your favorite book store. Also we’ve got a couples of little bonuses at Sleepsmarterbook.com if you want to order through there. Man thank you so much it’s always a pleasure talking to you and by the way guys Pedram is the first three peep guest on my show. Definitely check out The Model Health Show where you are listening to this Podcast. We’ve got tones of amazing episodes there and I appreciate you so much you are one of my favorite people on the planet so thank you. Love you brother.

Pedram Shojai:
I highly recommend checking out that show. You and Jade you rocked it. It’s really, really good fun listen and you always get me laughing out loud so it’s good. All right guys Dr. Pedram here The Urban Monk Shawn Stevenson check it out Amazon, Barnes & Noble, anywhere books are sold sleep smarter and take care of yourself. I’ll see you next time.

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