Everyday Habits That Make You SMARTER: How To Master Memory, Focus & Learning | Dr. Gina Poe | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "Everyday Habits That Make You SMARTER: How To Master Memory, Focus & Learning | Dr. Gina Poe".
Note: This transcription is split and grouped by topics and subtopics. You can navigate through the Table of Contents on the left. It's interactive. All paragraphs are timed to the original video. Click on the time (e.g., 01:53) to jump to the specific portion of the video.
What is the relationship between sleep and learning, which is, I think, one of the most, certainly for me, one of the most important things? - Yeah, you actually have to have sleep in order to consolidate the things that you've learned during the day and integrate the items into your schema of the world. And you also need sleep in order to refine what you know, reducing the power of things that you now know are not true in light of the new information and to refresh your synaptic circuitry in your brain so that you can fit new things in the next day. - Okay, so sleep is implicated both in memory retention and erasing memory. Talk to me about what is the importance of forgetting? So I forget a lot, a lot, a lot. I'm very distressed by how much I forget, but my wife will often say, "I wish I had your brain," because I don't get hung up on things. So even though it is, like, I'm not kidding, it's somewhat traumatic for me, the amount of information that I encounter versus what I retain, but I don't get stuck emotionally. - Yeah, and I think you actually probably retain more than you think. You may not be able to-- - That's not how it feels, I'll tell you that. - Yeah, you may not be able to call it to mind the specific names of things, but I believe you've probably integrated these things into your schema and how you view the world. - What is a schema exactly? - So it's kind of a loose term to say how you view the world, how things fit into the story that you build in your brain of what the world is about. And so, for example, there's a schema we have of Christmas and what it involves.
Understanding Sleep And Its Processes
There's all kinds of pieces of information in that schema, or the schema of what a university is, or a schema of what a center of town looks like. And so we have things that may or may not be in any particular town, but we have an idea of what a town center should look like. - Are you familiar at all with the idea of chunking? - Yeah, yeah, it's kind of like chunking, yeah. - For people that don't know, explain what chunking is. - Oh boy, I think you could probably explain it better than me, but it's a way to simplify the world by sticking related things together in a chunk. - It's pretty good, bang on the money. I think the idea comes from chess. So where a chess master will look at a board and he's not seeing the individual pieces, they just see that setup of where you are versus where I am, means that we're at this point in the game roughly and that these moves have been played and these moves are yet to be played, which is how they're able to play so many games at one time. I have a feeling though, I'm certainly not an expert in this that this is part of the problem that AI will face as we try to get to general intelligence. The thing that we call common sense, I have a feeling is largely tied to not only the things you can infer, but how much you can reduce something to a set of, like Christmas, it's not exactly Christmas, snow, the glow of Christmas lights, maybe a dude in a red coat, cookies, and it could be a lot of different things, but yet there's some overarching organizational principle that we put things in. So hearing you tie that to sleep, that we're constantly updating that schema, why is that so important? - Well, I mean, what we learn throughout our lives changes us and it should, because we are constantly evolving our knowledge as new things get known. We change where we live and we need to update our schema with the new place that's home instead of the old place. If we go to the old place and knock on that door or try and walk in, it would be bad, right? So we need to constantly update our schema with new information. And in fact, that does get harder as we get older because-- - Just to update the schema. - Just update the schema and possibly one of the reasons why that gets harder is because our sleep starts to degenerate, degrade a little bit. Now it's variable whose sleep gets worse at what age, but we do know that we wake up more often, we have fewer big, deep, slow waves of slow wave sleep, and we are more prone to get sleep apnea, which really makes us wake up a lot.
Sleep Degrade (04:21)
And so our sleep just, the quality can get bad and then the updating of our schema doesn't work as well. And that means that we can't learn new things as the world changes around us as easily. So I would-- - Do you know, is it the breakdown of sleep that causes the breakdown of brain plasticity? Or is it just that the brain moves through phases and when you're younger, you're super plastic and as you get older, it just gets more and more rigid?
Brain Plasticity (04:58)
- That's a good question. And I don't think we know the answer to that yet. We do know a lot of things change with age and aging, but we don't know if they are linked to sleep. The two go hand in hand so much. But we do know that those who have the worst cognition when they're older also have the worst sleep. So again, it's maybe correlation. - If you had to guess, which is causing which? - Maybe a ratchet-like progression, but-- - It's a positive feedback loop. - A positive feedback loop. But if you can arrest sleep degradation, you could probably arrest dementia as well. - Okay, that's very interesting. All right, so then as we tease that apart, walk us through what are the phases of sleep and what are we doing in our lives that begin to disrupt those phases? - Right. So the first phase we go into when we're dozing is called stage one and that's a lot of alpha in our brain, which is eight to 11 hertz activity. - Is it a quieting down or a revving up of the mind? - It's a, I guess it would be considered perhaps a quieting down. There's actually no change in neural activity, but it's a change in pattern of activity. - So let me ask, sorry, and we will go through all of these stages, but I find this very interesting. So the brain doesn't end up conserving energy while we sleep, which would have been my sort of childhood thought is, oh, my brain is going offline. But is it, I'm assuming, the difference between conscious activity and subconscious activity, or even during the day, is my brain activity primarily subconscious? - That's a difficult one.
Subconscious Activity (06:54)
We don't really have a good physiological definition for what subconscious is. - Interesting. - I think our subconscious is working all day long in terms of what we define as the subconscious, just thoughts and feelings and gut feelings and emotions that occur beneath our perception of how we feel or what we're thinking. - If I showed you a brain scan of somebody spaced out, they're totally in the default mode network. They're driving to work, but they're not really aware 'cause they've done it so many times. And I showed you a brain scan of somebody in phase one maybe is the closest. Would you be able to tell the difference? Is it obvious this person is daydreaming versus this person is sleeping? - Yeah, yeah, they're different, yeah. And even daydreaming, I mean, it depends on what you're daydreaming about, right? What your brain is going to be doing, which parts of your brain are gonna be activated. Interestingly, the very first research project I ever did before I was involved in brain research, I was just working in a research lab, was for pilots who were flying a really difficult flight simulator at Northrop Aircraft Corporation. And these were really good test pilots, and we gave them really difficult problems to solve while they were flying the simulator. And then we'd freeze and blank out their screen and ask them questions about their awareness, their situational awareness about how much fuel they had and all of that, where the bogies were, how far away they were from base. And those that were doing the best had the most of this alpha rhythm, which is the dozing rhythm. - While flying? - Yes, the ones that were doing the best were the ones that were most relaxed in their brain pattern. - Interesting. - And the ones that were doing the worst were the ones that looked most alert, awake, engaged, involved. - That's really interesting. - Isn't that interesting? - Now, would you call that the zone? - Yeah, I think that's what you would call that. They were in the zone. - That's really interesting. So needless to say, I'm not a fighter pilot. I don't play professional sports, but I do play video games. And every now and then you find yourself in a position where you can just read the map effortlessly. You know where people are gonna be. It feels so different. It feels awesome, first of all. Your reflexes, your ability to just intuit where things are gonna be happening at. That's really interesting that that most closely mimics the first stage of sleep. I would not have guessed that. - Very interesting. Okay, so stage one, we're in an alpha wave phase, which you would liken to being more relaxed. - Relaxed, yeah. - Okay. But we are asleep at that point. - No, it's called stage one because it's a transition between wakefulness and sleep. Actually, we have found in my research lab that one of the things that turns off, one of the first things that turns off, quote unquote, off, or changes mode is the hippocampus, which is involved in learning and memory. And that goes to sleep minutes before the rest of our brain does. - Even though in the night I'm gonna be consolidating my memories. - Yeah, so I say turned off, but in fact, it's not turning off. It's just turning off to learning new things coming in from the outside world. - Okay, so that was one of the questions I was gonna ask you later, but this now feels like the perfect time. Can we learn things at night? Could I play a calculus book and wake up better at math? That would not be a good idea. - Just there's nothing that you can do. If you're sleeping, that's off. - You really want to turn off to the outside world in order to consolidate the things that you learned all day long. So there is a, just like there's a time for everything, there's a season for everything, you want to turn off what's coming in from the outside world so that you can process what you already have. - Interesting, I have a conundrum for you. I work a lot. While I love what I do, it can be very stressful. And in the last few years, I've been working so much that it was just completely disrupting my sleep and it was miserable. It would take me eight hours to get five hours of sleep. It was really not fun. And there were times where if I was getting my hair cut, if I stopped moving, I would just start falling asleep. Absolutely miserable, I hated it. And I'm somebody who prioritizes sleep. So I'm not, I don't have an alarm set, nothing. I'm going to bed, but I just could not shut off my brain. I couldn't get into that where I was, I felt relaxed enough to fall asleep. Or I would fall asleep, but then wake up after one to two cycles, and then I would be awake for two hours is about normal. And then so by the time I fell back asleep, I did not feel good, I was tired all the time. So one day, I don't even remember what made me try this, I started listening to an audiobook, Out Like a Light. I would wake up, fall back to sleep within 30 seconds.
Sleep Distraction (12:08)
I mean, just magically delicious. But I've got the outside world coming in. - It's not a pressing out. So I think what that did, that audiobook, is it helped distract your mind from the loop it was in, like, oh, I've got to do this and this, and did I tell somebody to do this? So it distracts your mind from those alerting and alarming things that were keeping you awake. And instead, let the trail of consciousness follow this story that wasn't going to affect you one way or another. And that was enough to allow your parasympathetic nervous system to relax as you relaxed and enjoyed the story, and then sleep could just take over.
What Happens in Stage 1 (12:44)
And I do the same thing, I don't do podcasts because I'm interested in every story. I just play a kind of a mindless little video game, a math video game. - And your mind doesn't spark back up when you put that down and go to sleep? - You know, I just basically thank the video game for making me sleepy and just, I don't do a lot. I don't, you know, take my thing and walk to another room and put it away, I just lay it down. And sometimes I don't even get that far, it falls onto my pillow. - That's hilarious. Okay, so stage one, alpha relaxed, we can begin to tune out the outside world and our alerting mind begins to quiet, the hippocampus switches into some other mode. - Internal mode, yep. - And could you, can you actually see the hippocampus change its wave pattern, electrical pattern? What do we, is it a wave pattern or an electrical pattern? - It is an electrical wave pattern. - Okay, so same. - Yeah. - Got it. Okay, and then how long are we in stage one?
What Happens in Stage 2 (14:02)
- So we're in stage one, just for a few minutes, you know, five minutes. - Very quick. - Yeah, yeah, very quick. And then we go into stage two, which has called K complexes and spindles, which are bigger waves that, where all the neurons are silent and then they're all active at the same time. And then spindles are a little buzz of activity that come once every 10 seconds or so, and they last about one and a half seconds, something like that. It's 10 to 15 cycles per second and it starts small and it builds up and then it goes small again. - Unless you smoke weed, and then you get these weird monster spindles that were unsure what they do, which will be something I'm sure we will get into later 'cause I have a wife that likes to partake. - Yeah, yeah. - Okay, so the brain is pulsing, which is very interesting. Is that because of the need for the glial system to clean out? - Yeah, that's actually mostly happening in the deeper stage of sleep, we call it deeper. - Okay, so this is different. - Yeah, this is stage three. So stage two is what we're talking about now.
21st Century Bloodletting (15:11)
- So what's the pulsing then? - So the K complexes are, we don't know exactly. In animals, they are married to something that also starts during that state, which is called P waves. These are big excitatory drives from inside of our own brain stem that go to our forebrain. So K complexes and P waves may or may not, there's some controversy, be the same thing, but they're big glutamatergic drives. It also happens because our thalamus, which is our gateway of consciousness, it's kind of sitting right in the middle of our brain and allows the outside information to reach our cortex. It relays it. It starts to close and become more hyperpolarized, more negative. - What does that mean? I don't understand. - That means so when, okay, so our neurons are electrical as well as chemical and the inside of the neuron is very negative related to the outside. The electrical potential is very negative. And when outside information comes in, it's excitatory. So it actually makes the inside of the cell more positive. And then when it gets to a threshold, when it gets so positive, it gets to a threshold, which is negative 55 millivolts, then it fires an action potential. A whole lot of things that are voltage dependent open up.
The Non Rem Sleep Clean Cycle (16:30)
So sodium channels open, allow a lot of sodium to come in to really depolarize. And that's called an action potential. And those, each one of those are the ways one neuron communicates with the next neuron and how our whole brain works together and why we can see these electrical patterns. Because the more neurons that are involved in firing at the same time, the more our electrodes that are out here on our skull can see this positive potential go by. And then as they're all filing silent and becoming negative together, you can see this negative potential. And so, yeah. - So if you had to guess, is there a metronome effect going on? Is it trying to synchronize something? - It is kind of like a metronome in that it's also a positive feedback. So you have all the neurons firing at the same time. And then there's a bunch of other things happen once they fire, things that close, that are deactivated. And then everything becomes negative together. And then when it becomes negative enough, there are other voltage dependent channels that open and all becomes positive. And then-- - Do we have this kind of synchronicity when we're awake? - In some places, yeah. For example, if you're walking or doing anything rhythmic, moving your body, there's a lot of synchronicity in your spinal cord that allows that to be a rhythmic and normal movement, fishes swimming. There's-- - So interesting, but we don't yet know why that metronome is going off. - We don't, but when I started 30 something years ago, we really didn't. We thought maybe it was just something that was a signature of something else going on. But now we know that actually that synchronous firing and synchronous silence that happens during this non-REM, we call it non-REM, stage of sleep, could be the thing that actually cleans our brain. And these P waves, these big excitatory P waves, target a different part of our brain than our thalamus during wakefulness targets. And the part of the brain that it targets is out in the parts of the brain that form our schema, where cortex talks to cortex, instead of outside world talking to our brain. - And this is coming from the brain stem. - Comes from the brain stem, the excitatory urge comes from the brain stem and it targets out these cortical-cortical connection points. - Okay, so I imagine this is very conserved over evolution. - Yeah, it appears to be, yeah, zebra fish. There are animals that don't have much of a cortex, - That's really interesting. So there's probably something very ancient, very primordial that this is gonna end up being tied to versus something in the neocortex, which is more a higher level cognition, probably not memory.
The Relevance of Sleep to All Animals Non-Bright Humans (19:24)
So guessing here. - In our neocortex, there's a-- - Or would it be, 'cause I guess every animal would need to go, hey, I learned this, food is here, this movement worked, that thing's a predator. - Yeah, even fruit flies. - Completely falls on my part. - Well, no, no, I mean, it may, the reason why we can't measure the same brainwave activities in a fruit fly is because even though they have a lot of neurons that help them move and interact with the world, they're not layered in the same way. So in our cortex, all the neurons are lined up, and then these electrical potentials that I'm talking about work like a battery. When the battery is lined up the right way, you can see the electrical potential. But if they're all jumbled relative to one another, even though they might all be firing and silent at the same time, the way that the electricity is flowing is this way and this neuron and this way and that neuron, and waves cancel each other out, so we can't see it. - Okay, so that's stage two.
Stage 2 and memory consolidation (20:29)
What stage is memory consolidation happening versus forgetting? I assume they're at different stages. - Yeah, so that stage two is part of consolidation, those big excitatory waves and those sleep spindles is where our cortex is telling other parts of our cortex, or our hippocampus, which is kind of the short-term memory structure, is telling our cortex, hey, this is what I learned today, and teaching it. And so that happens in that stage two. In stage three, that's when we have those big, slow waves that sweep through regularly. Stage two, we have those K complexes, which are big waves, but they come once every 10 seconds or so, and sleep spindles, which come once every 10 seconds or so. But in that deep, slow wave stage of sleep, they're coming all the time. They're still, each one comes once a second or so, but that's probably where they're all firing together, they're all quiet together, and that creates, when the neuron fires, not only is there electricity and neurochemicals that are released, but also when it fires, when all the sodium is rushing into the cell, the cell expands, because it brings water with it, and so it's actually, all the cells are expanding and contracting at the same time which could create a pump-like action, pumping out the debris and the waste into our glymphatic system to clean our brain. That, yeah, that is probably one of the functions. - Of stage three specifically? - Yeah, of stage three specifically. - Okay, so when we think about neurodegenerative diseases, you hear a lot about beta amyloid plaques building up tau proteins, things like that. One, where do those come from? And B, it seems like, 'cause I know we were talking earlier, but also knowing your research, that as we get into really bad neurodegenerative diseases, they're also gonna massive sleep disruption. - Yeah. - So yeah, what are the amyloid plaques? What are the tau proteins? Why do they matter? Why do we have to clean them out every night? Do they serve a function? Are they all bad? Like, what's up guys? It's Tom Bilyeu, and if you're anything like me, you're always looking for ways to level up your mindset, your business, and your life in general. That's exactly why I started Impact Theory, a podcast that brings together the world's most successful and inspiring people to share their stories and most importantly, strategies for success. And now, it's easier than ever to listen to Impact Theory on Amazon Music. Whether you're on the go or chilling at home, you can simply open up the Amazon Music app and search for Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu to start listening right away. If you really wanna take things to the next level, just ask Alexa. Hey Alexa, play Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu on Amazon Music. - Now playing Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu on Amazon Music. And boom, you're instantly plugged in to the latest and greatest conversations on mindset, health, finances, and entrepreneurship. Get inspired, get motivated, and be legendary with Impact Theory on Amazon Music. Let's do this. - No, no, no, we need them. We couldn't survive or learn or do well without them. It's kind of like, I guess, you could sort of think of it as making the mess on our desk as we work during the day. And we need that to do the business that we're doing, but we also need to clean it up every night so that the next day we can come in and be organized and efficient and know where things are. So it's a normal part of being awake is phosphorylating this towel, and it helps us to carry things where they need to go. Same with amyloid proteins. We have to have them, but it's one that become a mess misfolded and a mess that if we don't clean it up, it starts to gunk up our office of our brain, and then we can't find anything, and our neurons aren't working like they're supposed to. It becomes less and less efficient. - That stuff is very interesting to me, especially as it relates to metabolic disease and whether Alzheimer's is metabolic disease in the brain. I'm curious, before we get into stage four, how much of what's going on in here is tied to metabolism? 'Cause I know if you mess up your sleep, you're gonna notice it immediately in your metabolic response. - It really is the first thing that gets messed up is your metabolism. And you get four in the morning, you get hungry for junk food because your body says, "Ah, I'm not efficiently processing energy anymore, "and I need more of it." So one of the first things that happens when we go to sleep is we convert the free adenosine that's been freed through the process of metabolism. It gets built back into ATP, which are these packets of energy that our whole body uses.
The importance of adenosine. (25:48)
So that is a very important part, and when we sleep deprive ourselves, our adenosine builds up and up and up and up the longer we're awake. That's what caffeine does. It blocks the receptors for those adenosines so we don't know how long we've been awake, and we don't feel the signal that we're sleepy, but caffeine doesn't help us to change free adenosine back to ATP. And that happens very slowly and inefficiently when we're awake, but really well and quickly when we're asleep. - That's interesting. So basically, is the adenosine like a hormone where the body's like, "I'm gonna do this "'cause I need you to go back to sleep." And so it's just sort of a clock, and it just produces it, and it knows, "Yeah, you'll hit this sense that I must go to sleep." And then, "Cool, cool, it's done its job. "I'm gonna take it all back, and then, "Okay, you're awake, and I'm gonna pump it back out." Or does it have some other function, and sleep is just a byproduct? - It's freed up because of the process of energy use. So ATP, adenosine triphosphate, when we-- - Utilize the ATP, it basically kicks that off? - It kicks that off. - Interesting. - And then it goes from triphosphate to diphosphate to monophosphate to just free adenosine. - And then we grab it again and reattach it to ATP. Wow, okay. - Mitochondria are working hard to-- - Talk about a very simple thing that I've never put together. Okay, that makes a lot of sense. - That's why power naps are power naps. - Because you can quickly grab some of that free adenosine, turn it into ATP. That is so interesting. Okay, that makes a lot of sense. - Better than a cup of coffee 'cause it's actually building back our energy. - Okay, so the cup of coffee is bamboozling you so you don't feel that you're tired, but the power nap is actually creating ATP with the free adenosine, so you're lowering the level that tells you that you're tired and you're actually producing energy. Very interesting, but I also know that you've talked about that some people naps don't work, so why? That seems weird. - We don't know. We don't know yet. It's also true that some people don't get all of the health benefits of exercise. There's just a variety of people out there. Yeah, I know. - Really? - Yeah. - I've never heard that before. - Yeah, yeah, some people, they can exercise all they want. They could train for a marathon and it's not doing the repair and benefits for their body at other people. - Wow, that's really interesting. I should not be surprised. Everything, we're so individualized. - Different from one another. - But that is horrifying to think that you could be doing all of that because I absolutely despise working out. You could be doing all that work and not seeing all of the benefit. I'm sure you get some, but-- - Yeah, I'm sure you get some. - It's very interesting. Okay, so there's more to go into there, but I think it's probably better to wrap up stage four and then we can sort of circle back and get into some of these things, especially what we can do to optimize this stuff. So what's stage three, stage four? They're really the same thing. They've been collapsed into one because they're really degrees. - So you guys don't talk about four stages anymore? - Oh no, the fourth stage being REM sleep, but it's not called stage four. It's just called REM. Rapid eye movement sleep, yeah. - So you're still technically in stage three? - No, you've just completely switched out of stage three and you're in a completely thing entirely. REM sleep is also called paradoxical sleep because our cortex looks like we're awake and there's so much activity. - Is that why it's not considered stage four? Is it just so different? - Yeah, stage one, two, three are all kind of sort of degrees of depth. Our thalamus, that thalamic gate becomes less and less aware of the world outside of us. I don't know, that's maybe a misnomer too. It's not even, stage two and stage three are so different from one another too in terms of what neurotransmitters are there and what's not there. So we did say, oh this is how you're marching into sleep, but in fact, we now know as of recently that stage two and stage three are entirely different, as different from one another as wakefulness is from any other state of sleep. - Whoa.
Effects Of Sleep Deprivation And Brain Activities During Sleep
Rewire your learning system. (30:04)
- Yeah. - Okay, that's unexpected. - Yeah. - Okay, and then stage four is different than all of them and it looks like we're more wakeful. So describe what is going on in REM. - Yeah. - Why is it so weird? Why do we dream? I mean this is the weird one for me. - Right, we're again closed to the outside world. Instead we're internally generating our own reality and that reality is unreal. You know, it's some things that can't happen in the outside world. What we do know is we are generating an internal state. This dream state, all of these dreams and what those dreams allow us to do is things that we can't do during wakefulness. Fly or you know, become monsters or fight monsters or play out all kinds of scenarios in fast kind of forward motion that we can't do and if we did, we might put ourselves at risk, but because we're safe in our beds, not acting out our dreams, we can safely do these things. And so yeah, it helps our brain to expand and be imaginative and work through complicated problems and put things together that don't make any sense during wakefulness when our logic and judgment and decision making brain is, you know, rains, well hopefully rains. Instead we can play out all kinds of crazy scenarios that may allow us to put things together that we wouldn't otherwise. - That's very interesting. So are you saying that your hypothesis is that by having what I'll call a narrative component, I don't know if you'd use those words, but by having a narrative component, we go into a more creative state where we can connect ideas that somehow when we wake is going to be useful? - Well, yeah, so that's the really cool thing about this dream state is our brains are learning.
Sleep is (nearly) as plastic as waking life. (32:13)
We are, it's learning from itself. In the dream state, we are learning and our brain is learning from itself. - But not in the way that I'm consolidating memories and quote unquote learning. This is a different type of learning. - It's creating new knowledge, but from things you already know. Well, we can measure the synapses and the synaptic strengths and which synapses are strengthened and which are weakened. - Interesting, so when you say learning, you mean mechanistically. Neurons are wiring together in the same way that they would if I were to learn a math problem or how to solve a math problem, and those neurons would be strengthened. - Yeah, I mean, it's really powerful. They call it plastic state. So it's just as plastic as when we're most alert and learning the best during the daytime. But the one thing that you can do during that dream state you can't do during wakefulness is you can do erasure. So you can delete and eliminate pathways that no longer work for us or are redundant. - And that happens during REM. - Only during REM sleep, yeah. - I don't understand why that would happen while I'm telling myself some acid-induced, bizarro narrative. I mean, I don't remember many of my dreams, but the one I remember is they're so weird that I'm just like, how is this the time and place that I'm going, hey, you know that thing, you don't use that anymore, let's prune that out. Do we have any sense of why those two happen at the same time? - Yeah, I think it's because, well, one thing that needs to happen is we need to, we need to prune those redundant pieces of information away. Otherwise, we would just saturate our brains with irrelevant pieces of information and even wrong things that we should tag at least to say, yes, I used to believe this, but now I know it's wrong. So it's REM sleep that you can reduce the weight of those things so it's not the first thing you think of when someone asks you, where did you park your car yesterday? Or last night, it's not the place you parked it last week or the month before, it's where you parked it yesterday. So you need to prune those things away so you know what's current and what's here now. So it's the novelty encoding parts of your brain that get pruned and the reason why that's possible is because that's the state in which brain stem area called the locus coeruleus, which provides norepinephrine, another word for it is noradrenaline to our brain, that only lets us, it only puts us in the go mode. It only puts us in the strengthen, strengthen, strengthen. When we're awake, when we're asleep, it's gone. And so that's the only time during REM sleep is when it's really gone and you can say yes to these things and no to these things. Be selective. It's kind of like during the daytime, you have a housewarming party and your guests are bringing all kinds of things into your house, right? Houseplants and dishes and all of that. And yes, you accept all of these things when you're awake, but you unwrap them when you build proteins in that stage two and stage three sleep. And then during REM sleep, you put them where they go and you throw out the things that they replace. These new things replace. - Man, this is so interesting to me. I have a hypothesis for you. - Okay. - Let me know, this is gonna be so absurd, but I love talking to people that really know their stuff so you can correct me where I go wrong. When I'm teaching students about business, I am always trying to get them to understand that you have all these dots. Your market, what you're trying to sell them, what you think they want, how you think you're gonna get there, the state of the economy, all this stuff. And your job is to connect those dots with a narrative, which I'll call your schema for how to move your business forward. The problem is the only thing I can tell you is that your schema is wrong, but you need one in order to move forward with conviction. And if you don't move forward with conviction, then you'll fall prey to what most businesses fall prey to, which is doing nothing is the only sin. So if you do nothing, you'll get bowled over by all the other people that find a way to move forward with real conviction. And so when you are getting your team on board, you're gonna only talk narrative. You're gonna talk about how the dots connect. But when you're alone, you need to come back out to just dots and see if there's another way to connect these in a more efficient narrative. And so getting them to understand the brain is a predictive engine. And when you are able to predict the outcome of your behaviors, you're closer to ground truth. When you can't predict the outcome of your behaviors, you have a flaw in the model. - Yeah. - Man, I'm grasping at straws here, but this makes a lot of internal sense to me that if in the REM state, what my brain is doing is going, your schema is held together with this narrative. But for a minute, I need to come back out to just dots.
What's Going on in the Brain During Dreams (37:17)
There's no logic. And so when I hit that point where it's just dots, I'm having these weird dreams. Like I had a dream once where it was raining corpses. No idea what that meant. But I'm back out to, there's no coherent logical cohesion between these, but my brain is now removing things that haven't been serving me. And then it's going to reconsolidate all this back into a updated schema when I wake. - Yeah, exactly. I think you got it. - That's really interesting. If that holds true, like that really makes sense to me from just how the world works. Very interesting, very interesting. Okay, so now talk to me, is there a correlation between either or both schizophrenia and a dreamlike state or psychedelics and a dreamlike state? - Yeah, yes, the answer is yes. So schizophrenia is long interested sleep researchers because it's, the hallucinations are so much like what hallucinations we experience when we're dreaming. And so it was thought to be a dreamlike state, right? Interestingly, the only real difference that you can see in the brains of people with schizophrenia, well, there are two things. One is during wakefulness, your gamma, which is the cortical-cortical connectivity is slightly different in frequency. It's just, it changes a little bit, almost as though we're being more driven by an internal cortical-cortical connection like we are during REM sleep. And then the second is we don't have those beautiful sleep spindles that I talked about. So people-- - Explain to people, so spindles are way too connected to intelligence. I always get very uneasy with stuff like this, or I wanna know, can I somehow make more of them? - Right, well, the reason why you probably get uncomfortable is because we don't really have a good grasp of what intelligence is. We just, we know there are different kinds of intelligences and we know that our ways of testing them are very, very flawed. But intelligence is, broadly speaking, what you talked about earlier, which is a way to absorb information, process it, form a schema, and use that schema the next time you encounter the world. So it's a way to use what you know in a very efficient fashion, perhaps is the way you could think about it. - If you had to guess, if you could turn a dial and increase the amount of spindles that somebody has, would they get smarter? - It's, yeah, okay, yes. However, qualify that. It's not just spindles. Like you said, cannabis increases the length of spindles. And can almost replace all of REM sleep with spindles. But it's what's going on during those spindles. The timing is everything. So it's when neurons fire in relation to spindles. It's the neurochemicals that are present or absent during spindles that allows us to reshape our schema. And so it's not just the rhythm itself, it's what's going on in the background of that rhythm or on top of those rhythms or because of those rhythms. That's the important thing. So I think I'm a little wary of devices, for example, that's going to externally cause your brain to fire in a 10 to 15 hertz spindle fashion because if the rest of your brain isn't doing what it's supposed to do, it's not in the state it's supposed to be in, it's not gonna do you any good. And in fact, it probably could do more harm than good. - Interesting. I've heard you talk about that, that the brain, one, the systems are never that simple, it's like there's redundancies in the systems and depending on context, it could be doing, seeming to do the same thing, but in fact, it's actually doing the reverse. And so all very, very complicated, but going back to schizophrenia and psychedelics. So what have we found? Is it a dreamlike state? And that's why they're hallucinating and the wires are just getting crossed or? - I think it might be a dreamlike state because that stage two sleep spindle state isn't doing what needs to happen, which is updating your schema with the information that you learn during the day. So-- - Why would that result in hallucinations? - So yeah, I just had a really fascinating conversation with an undergraduate at UCLA who's really interested in schizophrenia and sleep. And it might be that your distal, cortical, cortical communication is happening without instruction. So it's without that instruction, say where the hippocampus can tell the brain, this is what we learned today, this is now, we gotta tag this with false and this is true and we've gotta refresh and all of that happening during those sleep spindles when the cortex is teaching, I mean the hippocampus is teaching the cortex what it knows. Instead, you're staying in perhaps a REM-like state in that you're doing all of these free associations, you're backing out, you see the dots and not the schema anymore, like you said. But that's happening without the organization step of this is what I've learned today first. So, yeah. - So the brain is talking to itself but the brain doesn't recognize I'm talking to myself. - Yeah. - And so it's misinterpreting, this is a signal coming from the outside when in reality it's a signal coming from the inside. - Yeah, yeah, that was the latest revelation that I had with this undergraduate. It's people with schizophrenia, the more schizotypic they are, the more they can tickle themselves. And you know-- - That's revelatory.
- Isn't that? - Mm-hmm. - Well, because we can't tickle ourselves because when we do this to ourselves, we have what's called an efference copy. So our brain, our motor cortex says I'm about to, I'm doing this, I'm getting close to my shoulder and we can expect it. And the thing about tickle is that it's an unexpected, well, one of the things about tickle is it's unexpected. And so we can't, but if you don't have that feedback from the outside, your brain telling you this is coming from inside of me and not from the outside. - That gave me the chills. - Yeah, isn't that amazing? - So they can tickle themselves. So they have completely lost track. Is this inside or outside? Whoa, do we have any sense of how you reestablish that connection? - That's a microcircuit question. And that's something that my lab is also looking to and a lot of other labs too. So they're sort of two compartments of our neurons, that are listening to the outside world. So one, the proximal compartment that's really close to the cell body is where the outside world talks to our cortex and puts that new information. And then the distal parts of the antenna, which are called dendrites, are where the cortical-cortical information comes in. And normally when we're awake, our whole brain chemistry waits things to be in place. Things to be more attuned to what's coming in from the outside world. And yes, there can be, definitely, thankfully, some modification of that based on our schema and the distal dendrites information where cortex is talking to cortex. But mostly the two compartments are very separated from one another. They're physically separated from another. They're chemically separated from another. They're anatomically connectivity-wise, separate from each other. And then during sleep, during this REM state and the spindle state, we switch from that internally, or that externally focused novelty encoding proximal close to cell body circuit to paying more attention to what's going on from in the distal cortical-cortical circuit. And so, and what mitigates that, what switches us from this to that is a thing called interneurons, which are inhibitory interneurons, which during wakefulness kind of inhibit that cortical-cortical input to some degree in a very regulated and rhythmic fashion. That's what sets up that gamma rhythm that I talked about that's different in people with schizophrenia, these interneurons. And it's really these interneurons that seem to not be as viable in people with schizophrenia. So if somehow you can restore the health of these interneurons and restore how they're connected with the circuit, they can switch us from external to internal in a fashion that makes sense with what's actually going on in the world around us. - And have we seen any impact on diet? Is anybody looking at that? - Of course, diet affects everything. You know, neurotransmitters are, and the cofactors, the coenzymes are all part of that. I don't know myself of any studies about diet, but one thing that will definitely cause people with schizophrenia or the tendency to have schizophrenia to tip them over into a break is alcohol. - Doesn't weed also have, I've heard people say like yo-yo. - Yeah, yeah. - You need to be very careful. - Yeah, and it's probably because it's messing up with those sleep spindles that we talked about and what's exactly going on. - Is that what alcohol's doing? - Alcohol, no, alcohol inhibits the stage, it interferes with our sleep.
How Alcohol Affects Sleep (47:42)
It makes our sleep not do what it's supposed to do. So during those deep slow waves of slow wave sleep, the timing of things isn't right. Alcohol affects our interneurons big time. It's a GABA agonist, which is the neurotransmitter that interneurons use, and so it falsely clamps things down when they shouldn't be clamped down. It takes our forebrain offline, which is why we become so silly. - I was gonna say it's part of the fun. But yeah, and so it interferes with our sleep, and I think if your sleep is already compromised when you have schizophrenia, you don't have good sleep spindles in the first place, it might be that you're able to hang on to reality just barely, tooth and nail, by the few sleep spindles that you get, and then alcohol wipes those out. And so then you go from the edge of barely hanging on to tip over to the side of hallucinations and all the positive symptoms. - That's so interesting. This is a random side note, but I had a friend, have a friend, whose brother is paranoid schizophrenic, and he said he spent like a year, he had to move back home, spent a year tracking his brother down, finally found him. His brother was convinced like the French or Italian government were after him, and he was running from underpass to underpass, trying to keep away from the satellites, being able to read his mind. Well, wait though, it gets stranger. He finds his brother, gets him back on his medication. His brother then develops secondary depression, and while taking the medication, is able to explain this is less fun than being a paranoid schizophrenic, because at least then I mattered. Then like the governments were after me, I was like of central importance, and every day my life mattered, and I was running, he stops taking his medication, and he goes back onto the street. And I was like, whoa. Like there, the brain is complicated. And to think that, I mean, look, it clearly is, there's something just misfiring, it's not working the way that it should, but I kinda got what he was saying. I was like, wow, yeah, to feel like I matter more than anybody else, and like everything is about me, and governments are after me. I was like, that's spy versus spy. - Yeah, yeah, I don't think we as humans need to matter to the whole world. We just need to matter to somebody. - I'm not trying to celebrate or say that schizophrenia sounds amazing, not at all. - But I think this touches on a very basic human need, which is that we need to matter to one another. We need to matter to somebody. And I think that as a parent, that's the best thing we can give our child is the knowledge that we matter. We matter to them at least, and that we can make a difference in the world, that our actions matter, that we can make the world a better place, and that they hope and expect us to do that. And so that connection between it, I mean, we are social animals, and just like other social animals, we're not the only social animals in the world, there are lots of social animals, we need our clan, we need each other. And when we feel like we don't matter and nobody cares, depression definitely sets in. I think this was a major problem during the pandemic when we were all isolated from each other, especially those people who lived alone. I mean, wow, that's, we are social animals. That is a fundamental part of who we are. Thank God for the telephone. Thank God for Zoom. Thank God for that we could at least see each other in some way and tell each other that we matter to one another. But I totally get what this friend of yours or this, you know, felt. - That's crazy. - Yeah, we, and I think that may be one way to help people stay on their meds is let them know that they do matter, show them that they do matter. - That's really well said. - If they're not the central of this, central, you know, character of this. - Of a big government conspiracy. - Yeah, of this big government conspiracy, if you matter to somebody, your nieces and nephews, you know, your brothers and sisters your mother and father, I think that could, that can make the difference. - All right, let's go dark for a second.
What Does Sleep Deprivation Do to the Body? Could It Kill Us? (52:10)
- All right. - If we had to break somebody, like really break them, isolate them or deprive them of sleep? - I think sleep would do it faster. - Can you kill somebody by not letting them sleep? - Yeah. - That's bananas. - Yeah, well because it's-- - How long does it take? - Oh gosh, no one's ever done, well, but I know of in humans. In other mammals, it's five weeks, something like that. - Whoa, I can't, that does not sound fun. - No. - So what ends up happening? What's the mechanism by which you end up breaking? - Because sleep has so many functions, it's not even clear what the mechanism is, but-- - Do they get organ failure? - Yeah, yeah, multiple organ failure, immune system, degeneration, lesions, sepsis, all kinds of different things would kill you. Just kind of, actually kind of like COVID and other very bad viruses, they target different organs depending on who you are and what state they're in. So sleep deprivation will target different organs and where you're most vulnerable will be the one that hurts you fastest. - Wow, what does that process look like? 'Cause you don't go from, I'm a little tired to I'm dead. Like do they start hallucinating? Do they start, just like-- - Well, people will. I mean, people have self-deprived or have been unfortunately deprived of sleep and hallucinations are part of it, yeah. Hunger, your metabolism goes haywire and you get super hungry and you'll continue to lose weight. - You'll lose weight? - It was long-term sleep deprivation, yeah. - Even if you're eating. - Yeah, yeah, yeah. - Whoa. - So there was one women's magazine who talked to this researcher and said, hey, even though I could eat whatever I want and still lose weight if I lose, and he said, no, but you'll be ugly. Because your skin doesn't refresh and renew. Yeah, I mean, you'll be cranky and just not look good, not feel good. It's not a good thing. And then type 2 diabetes, insulin regulation goes haywire. One night of full sleep deprivation will set you on the path toward type 2 diabetes. So yeah, you wanna get your sleep. - No joke. - Yeah, I think actually probably the Nobel Prize winning discovery about the function of sleep being that it's important for every single living creature is that it's metabolism. I think it's the mitochondria and the repair of the mitochondria. - Is that, you're saying that will happen? - I will, I think, yeah, I know a few researchers that are looking to sleep in mitochondria and I think that's where the money is. I mean, cognition, yes, we all wanna learn better and understand better, but I think the essential life sustaining function of sleep has to do with energy. - That's interesting. So knowing the little bit about mitochondria that I know, they have their own DNA, what's going on at the level of sleep that would impact this little organelle that should have its own setup and its own system? - It repairs itself. It repairs itself. - So why does my, as if I could exist without them, but why does my sleep affect mitochondria so profoundly that you see a Nobel Prize coming? - Yeah, well, okay, so think of sleep as, I think of it as a washing machine.
Exploring Different Aspects And Requirements Of Sleep
What Does Sleep Do for Mitochondria? What Is Energy? What Causes Weight Loss? (55:43)
If you don't, or if you don't clean your clothes, ultimately they'll get gunked up heavy, dirty, won't do their insulation function, they won't help you function. If you get sleep but it's messed up, it's like putting your clothes in the washing machine but interrupting the cycle, putting on the clothes soaking wet or whatever. So one of the functions of sleep is to actually repair our DNA. And if we can't do that when we're awake, we just can't. So we need to put it in the washing machine, and we need to do the things that we do. - DNA repair isn't happening at all times? It's primarily at night? - Not well, no. - Interesting. - Yeah. - So I understand how the brain cleans itself with the pump that you're talking about where I'm basically expanding and contrasting, and when I contract, it's pulling things in, and then when I expand, it's letting everything wash out. So that I get how there's a mechanistic thing and that I can only do that when I basically put my body down so that I'm not gonna fall off something or whatever while my brain is going through the cycle. But at the DNA cellular level, is there some resource that the cell has to do while it's awake that it stops doing it then? - Yeah, it's like, again, like the washing machine. There are things that need to be coordinated and together and timed well. - That metronome. - Yeah, it really is. Timing is everything. So things are happening during waking that allows wakefulness to be waking. Like norepinephrine allows us to be alert and awake and attending to the outside world. And when it's present while we sleep, which happens sometimes in insomnia, especially stress-related insomnia, you can have sleep, but your norepinephrine system is still going, post-traumatic stress disorder also. Your sleep, all of the elements that need to be there to do the job efficiently aren't there. Or things are in the way, they're in the way that shouldn't be in the way so it's less efficient and doing its jobless well. - Okay, so now going back to mitochondria and the energy system, sleep playing a primary role in that. So I've heard people say that fat loss happens at night. You think it happens when you're exercising, but in reality, it doesn't. What do you think is going on with the energy system at night that is so profoundly important? - Well, I actually don't know and that's why I think it's in the future. - I'm loving some guesses. - Yeah, so guessing, there are different things. Neurohormones, cortisol, growth hormone, all of these things change with the sleep-wake cycle and with the circadian cycle. So again, it's also better to go to sleep when your circadian cycle and your sleep needs are joined at the same time. So better to sleep at night and expose ourselves to light during the day to help coordinate our circadian and sleep needs together. So growth hormone is one of those things that gets released in a big bolus when we're asleep at the right time. And if we miss that, we won't have that big bolus of growth hormone and a big bolus does a different thing than eking out over time. - So even if it was the same amount over a 24-hour period, very different impact than the same amount, primarily over an eight-ish hour period. - Yeah, and you can understand that because for example, the reproductive cycle also depends on boluses of hormones being released at the right time. If you get a bolus released at a time when the rest of your system isn't ready, it won't produce a fertile situation. And if instead of a bolus, you just eke out a little bit all the time, you also won't develop the follicle and release the egg, that sort of thing. So there's a difference in a bolus versus just a little bit over time. And it has to be done in a coordinated fashion. - Yeah, the coordination thing that's coming up a lot. I had never really thought about that before. That makes a lot of sense. Take the body offline, coordinate everything all at once. Hey, quick, quick, quick. It's kind of like Disneyland. I don't know why this is coming to me. When they switch over all their lights and they turn on the Christmas season or whatever, it's like all at night, everybody descends. Boom, boom, boom. You do it really fast, well, nobody's there. - Yeah, yeah, that's right. If you tried all those workers, you tried to do that with all those workers while the guests were in the park. It would be chaos, right? People couldn't find their rides. The workers couldn't get to take down the big things they need to take down and bring in the big trucks to bring in the big Christmas tree or whatever at Disneyland. You need that to be timed right, exactly. - Yeah, very, very interesting. Okay, so talk to me about optimized sleep. It literally can kill you if you don't get it. So how do we make sure that we're not just getting it, but we're really getting it in the right way, the right amounts? How do we prepare?
How to Optimize Sleep? (01:01:22)
- Well, our bodies are built to optimize our own physiology. So if you listen to your body, you'll be all right. - Which so few people do. Myself included, until I really started taking it seriously. - Right, yeah.
Sleep Hygeine: Dr Katrin Wilde (01:01:39)
If you're studying calculus and you're trying to absorb this information and you get overwhelmed with a sense of sleepiness, listen to your body, put your head down on your textbook if you want to, take a nap, because during that time, your brain is doing what it needs to do, which is start to put this new information into your schema and build it. And if you deny yourself of that, you won't learn as well. Similarly, if you're feeling sick and you wanna go to bed, go to bed. Don't make yourself, don't just take a bunch of pills and make yourself go through the day, because that sleep is actually doing what your body needs, which is restoring your immune system and helping it to work well. Similarly, after getting a vaccine, people feel a little sick often and want a good night's sleep get that good night's sleep because it's been shown that if you don't get a good night's sleep after you get a vaccine, it's 50% as effective if anything. So listen, listen to your body, do what it says to do. Now I will say there was a time when I was, I don't know, in my early 20s, where my body told me stay up later, stay up later, stay up later. And it got to the point where I had to set an alarm to make a 10 p.m. movie. - Oh, wow. - I felt so weird. Now thankfully, my body then told me, "Yeah, not seeing the sunlight is very weird. "You need to flip your schedule." And so I went back, but that was really me doing what felt natural. And my schedule got pushed back, back, back, back, back. - Well, I think that's because you weren't exposing yourself to the outside light in the morning, like when it needs to be, so. - So, but that means that people can listen to their body and get in the wrong place. - Yeah. - So when we think about sleep hygiene, when we think about the optimal, like what you would do with your kids to make sure that they were on track, how would you have people shape themselves? Is it light in the morning? Is it going to bed at a certain time? - Yeah, and I think back when we were more agrarian culture, that wasn't a problem. I mean, we just couldn't do that much at night, but now we have computers and false lights and all of this stuff. So yeah, we can wedge ourselves into a bad place. But yeah, get outside in the morning, expose yourself to that outside light. There's nothing stronger than the sunlight, even when it's behind a cloud in resetting our circadian system. - Does it count if you're looking out the window? - Yeah, I mean, just think of in terms of film, you studied film, right? Or you wanted to, you know, the light coming through a window is great for a camera versus false lights. You have to spend a lot of energy to try and reproduce the same amount of light. So, you know. - Does the light need to actually touch your skin? 'Cause it's my understanding that you do, some of the UV light gets bounced back by glass. And so that getting outside does make some difference. I don't know how much amount, but. - Yeah, you know what? Getting outside helps for a lot of other things that like converting to vitamin D that we can use. But the photons, it's actually not UV, it's blue light. Interestingly, 470 nanometers, is that what it is? That is the wavelength of that blue light that really activates our eyes. And that doesn't get filtered unless we have a blue light. It's a filter on our glass. So yeah. - So that still would. There might be other things, the sun hitting your skin, it matters. But you're still gonna get that alertness signal just by getting enough blue light in your eyes. - Yeah. - Okay. Do you think it matters like time of day? I've heard Huberman and other people point out that like light is actually sort of qualitatively different early in the morning that sends certain signals to your brain. - Yeah, it does. So our circadian system is set so that when we see a bright blue light, our circadian system says that's morning. So if you keep yourself indoors all day long and don't go out until the evening, and that's when you get the brightest light, your circadian system says it's morning and it shifts everything so that that becomes your new morning.
Light Destroy/Build Your Sleep Schedule (01:05:46)
Your clock gets reset to that light. - Is there any difference pre-sunrise, post-sunrise or it doesn't matter? - So normally when you fall asleep at night, say 10 o'clock at night, you get a big surge of melatonin and that's the hormone of darkness it's called. If you at that time expose yourself to bright light, say you've just flown across the Atlantic and now what was 10 o'clock at night is now, I don't know, six o'clock in the morning, your brain will reset your clock to that night. It doesn't do it all at once. It can't shift six hours at once. It needs several days to do that but it will start switching things so that it says okay, this is my new morning time and that's good, we want that, right? We wanna be able to inform our brains of what time of day it is and reset that every day. You have your actually own endogenous clock that will free run in absence of any light. So if suddenly someone puts you into a cave, you still would have a roughly 24-hour rhythm. That's generally most often a little more than 24 hours. - Which is very interesting, I've heard that. It's like 25 hours or something. - Yeah, not 25, that's a lot. It's 24.1 to 24.4. - Oh really, that close. - Yeah, it's pretty close but a free running human will go to bed later and later and later every night just because our clocks are a little longer than the 24-hour rhythm. And so it needs to be reset every day. - Yeah, okay, what time should we go to bed? all right, so say you got up at a good time in the morning, six, seven. - Why is it a good time? - Well, I'll say it's a good time just because that's when the sun rises and that's when the rhythm of the Earth is usually aligned for business and other things that you would need to do, farming. That's when you would be, that's why it's a good time. I mean, actually, if you're a shift worker and you work at night, don't go outside in the morning. You wanna keep yourself in darkness and just switch your whole circadian rhythm so that you expose yourself to bright light in the evening because that's when your circadian rhythm says, oh, okay, this is morning and I'm gonna be alert for the next 16 hours. - Don't shift workers though have a higher preponderance of cancer? - Yeah, but that's probably because they're incompletely able to do that. - So they've not quite switched over. - Well, and that's often because unfortunately, the shifts of shift work give them weekends off and so then the weekend, they wanna be around their family, we're social creatures, they'll get up in the morning and so every week, your circadian is going back and forth and back and forth or some crazy shift working jobs will have you four days on and three days off and it's just, that's not good. So if you can actually set your whole life to this new time, it's fine. It's like you've moved to Europe. I mean, it's fine. - Interesting. Now is there data around that? 'Cause I would be very curious to see how the rates of cancer correlate to the rate, the level of vitamin D. - Yeah, there are data. There are data. - And so it doesn't matter. This is really about if you fully shift your schedule, you're gonna be fine, the rates of cancer are not elevated anymore? - So right, if you fully switch your schedule, you'll be okay. All your clocks will be aligned. Now, vitamin D is another question though. That's another thing that you get from the sun. You can take supplements though. It depends on how well you absorb those particular supplements, what else you're taking in your nutrition at the same time and whether it blocks that absorption of vitamin D or not. So orange juice and vitamin D don't go together for some reason in our guts. Yeah, milk is fine, oil soluble things, but water soluble things don't. - No good. - Yeah, so anyway, so I would hypothesize that if you're able to replace everything that including social connections with that new schedule, then you'll be fine. - Hang out with other shift workers. - Yeah, have a shift working family. - Fair, okay, so assuming we get up at six or seven, then we go to bed at? - So the healthy amount of sleep, the healthiest on a population level is about seven to eight hours. So seven and a half hours to eight hours with an adult. Children need more, even teenagers need more. As our brains are developing, there's a lot more demands on sleep that they need to, they need. But healthy adults, about seven and a half, eight. If you put someone in a quiet, dark room, this is a study done at Wayne State University and Henry Ford Hospital by Tim Reers. If you put someone in a semi-darkened quiet room with nothing else to do, just a bed and them for 12 hours a day for a month every single day, people will average out, this is on average, to eight hours and 15 minutes of sleep per night. And so you can't even oversleep, you can't just say, okay, there's nothing else to do, I'm just gonna sleep for 12 hours. - Your body just won't do it. - Your just body won't do it, yeah. Once your needs of sleep have been fulfilled, you'll wake up. - If you've been sleep deprived though, you would have a period of time where you'll sleep a lot more. - And that's what happened in this study, the first week or two of the study, people did sleep quite a lot more, 10 hours of the 12 or more, depending on how sleep deprived they were, but once they fulfilled that sleep debt, eight hours and 15 minutes, and again, on average, some people slept a lot less, some people slept a lot more, but on average it was eight hours and 15 minutes. So the population-based studies show that, if you just ask people in chunks, do you sleep four hours, five hours, six hours, seven, eight, nine, nine plus, those that have the lowest mortality were the ones that chose the seven o'clock. So, I mean, seven hours. Eight hours also had low, and six hours also had low, but seven, around seven was the best for these adults. - Does it need to be all at once? Can you break it up? - Yeah, there are a lot of cultures that break it up and they seem to be healthy. They have a nice snap in the middle of the siesta, in the middle of the afternoon, not too late to spoil their sleep that night. - And they'll only sleep five or six hours during the normal night? - Uh-huh, and then they'll make up with another hour and a half or so during the siesta, and that's fine. - And is it true that a sleep cycle is about 90 minutes? - Yeah, on average. The first sleep cycle is more like 105 minutes or so, 110, and then later in the night they're shorter, but on average it's about 90 minutes. - All right, so what happens then if you start pushing your sleep back? Is there any difference between, so if I normally go to bed at 9 p.m., and then one night I go to bed at 11 p.m., is there gonna be a problem? And does it matter if I just always go to bed at 11, am I gonna be fine?
Bed Time Variability: Train Schedule, Deprivation (01:13:29)
- Yeah, again there's that alignment between circadian and homeostatic drive to sleep. Yeah, if you normally go to bed at 11 and wake up at seven in the morning, that's a healthy amount of sleep. That's eight hours, right? And then waking up at seven, that's when you expose yourself to the bright light, versus those who go to bed at 10 and wake up at six, they're exposing themselves to brighter light at six. So the alignment between the circadian and homeostatic needs for sleep are different, so yeah. - So that's fine, but pushing, if I miss my normal bedtime by two hours, am I creating a problem for myself? - You are creating a problem for yourself because you're misaligning your circadian and homeostatic needs. - Even if I get all, so I normally go to bed at nine and I get seven hours of sleep, I go to bed at 11, I still get seven hours of sleep. You're saying just because I switched. What is that knock-on effect? - Well, so say normally you wake up at six and you did that morning, wake up at six, but now you're going to bed at, I don't know what it is, say 10 to six, 11, you could say you go to bed at midnight that night, two hours later, your circadian rhythm is set to release your melatonin at the normal time, 10, 11 o'clock at night, and once you're nicely asleep and it starts building up before that. And so it's trying to do that, but you're still awake and you've got lights exposed, and so your melatonin release has been dampened. And then when you go to bed two hours later, you're already past that peak of when your clock says, let's release this melatonin. And so your sleep will be missing that and you will miss all that growth hormone surge and all of that. - That's why my wife says, no matter what time I go to bed, I wake up at the same time. That makes sense because she's doing it as a one-off 'cause what will end up happening, my wife, I will a little bit, but my wife more than me will stay up quite late on the weekends. And so because the rest of the week she's on a normal cycle, then she's like, I still wake up at the same time. - Yeah, it's her clock, her circadian system waking her up. - Very interesting. So okay, to encapsulate, I want to get up at a good time. I wanna get light in my eyes. I'm gonna be, all day I'm gonna be building up the adenosine, which is gonna cue me to go to sleep. I wanna go to sleep at roughly the same time because all of my circadian rhythms, clocks, everything are used to secreting the different hormones and everything at the same time. And so if I'm awake, like, hey, you missed your window, sorry, it's not like everything just shifts back on a one-off, but I can shift my entire schedule if I want to, but I do need to be getting somewhere around seven hours of sleep for optimal longevity. And certainly I will say for optimal performance, if you're not getting sleep, it just feels so lame. God, I hate being tired so much. I do not understand people that chronically sleep deprive themselves. That's just madness from where I'm sitting. - Yeah, yeah.
Sex Differences in Sleep: Menstrual Cycles, Insomnia (01:16:48)
- All right, talk to me, what's the difference between the sexes? Do we have different sleep needs? Do we respond differently to perturbations? How does that all work out? - Yeah, and it seems to be true in every species we've studied, there are sex differences in the amount and the pattern in which we sleep. - Really? Are you tied to hormones or what's causing them? - Well, you know, yes. So children, as far as I know, the studies that I've, you know, they, before their hormones kick in, they sleep about the same and their sleep needs are about the same. Once your hormones start kicking in, especially cycling hormones, they definitely affect, well, so much, including when we are sleepy and how much sleep we need. So as we cycle, as women cycle through the monthly cycle, there will be times when sleep is more elusive and that's probably adaptive and a good thing. - Really, why? - Yeah, I don't know, maybe seeking a mate, I don't know. - Who's fast asleep, by the way. - Right. Yeah. And then, or, you know, preparing a nest or whatever it is. - That is so interesting, 'cause it's across all animals. - Yeah. - I'm very surprised by that. So-- - Even flies. - Really? - Yes. - Whoa, man, I don't have a hypothesis for that one. So you-- - Male flies take more naps. - Really? - Yeah. - If they're already getting more consistent sleep, why would they take more naps? - Well, so yeah, it probably has something to do with the reproductive cycle and all the other things a female's body has to do in order to prepare the next generation. - And she needs to be awake for that? - Or, you know, it's not like female flies don't sleep. They sleep. - Yeah, yeah. - But there's other things that are going on also demanding their attention. - I've seen some of your, the talks that you give where you show people the different slides and this is where they're at and this part of their hormone cycle, and it seems like there's only one part where they just diverge all of a sudden quite dramatically. - Yeah. - What is that part of the cycle? - Yeah. - And? - Why? - What's going, yeah, like what's happening? - We don't know, we don't know why. There's still, there's a lot of people doing hormones and sex differences and other people doing sleep and the two fields haven't come together nearly as much as they need to. So, yeah, so during that one hormonal phase in rats, which there's an equivalent in humans as well, that's when our progesterone and estrogen levels are very high. And that's when we're getting the least amount of sleep. That's when in women, we complain of the most insomnia, but when they do sleep, their sleep is super efficient and really high quality. So that's when the spindles are aligning themselves across different areas of the brain. That's when our slow waves, which are cleaning our brain, are even bigger in that high hormonal amplitude stage of our cycle. So, yes, we're getting less of it, but it's more efficient, which it might be another reason why different people need different amounts of sleep is maybe some people's sleep is more efficient and doing the job faster than other people's. We don't know.
Impact Of Sleep On Learning And Stress Management
Sleep & Parenting: The Four-Year Window to Structuring the Brain (01:20:15)
- It's very intriguing. Is there any research on a recent mother and how much sleep she gets? Like, does she sleep more lightly? 'Cause I know there are different phases of your sleep. If you try to wake somebody up, they won't wake up. Like, I know in REM, they'll incorporate noises. You've heard you say that kids will actually sleep through fire alarms, like loud fire alarms. What do we know about that and sex differences? Is there anything? - Yeah, not much, especially when you're talking about new mothers, woefully small amounts of data. There's a lot of things that we don't know. For example, the cerebellum, which is beneath our thalamus. So we don't have that thalamic gate of consciousness in our cerebellum. It learns. It's a really strong learning machine, and it might be able to help us wake up, even with small noises that are relevant to our survival or our offspring's survival. So that might be why some people, most people, parents, are lighter sleepers because their cerebellum is attuned to the noises that their baby is making. And that's good. That's adaptive, right? You want that. - Not waking up when the fire alarm goes off, though. It's not super adaptive. - No. - What's happening there? - That's children. Adults will. And so again-- - But is that super dangerous for a kid? Like from an evolutionary standpoint, you're out on the Serengeti. You're not chilling in a house. - Kids are very helpless in many, many ways, right? So it is our job as parents to be the ones to wake them up and carry them out of the burning house. - Wow. - Yeah, but they have-- - So nature's just like, all right, you can stay knocked out. I'm gonna do the things I need to do. I know your parents are gonna snatch you up. We're all good. - Yeah. - Interesting. - Yeah. - Is that preserved across species, that young ones are way harder to wake up? - Yeah, yeah, the ones that, you know, social species. - Interesting. - Like rats, for example, too. Yeah, it's the same thing. - So it really might be tied to you know that somebody else is gonna be looking out for you when you're in infancy. - Yeah, and well, it's not so much a confidence thing as there are some really important things going on, essential things that are going on in your brain when you're developing. - So it's worth rolling the dice. - It's worth it. You kind of have to in order for your brain to be continuing to develop and incorporating all the differences in the world. We're born into such different environments. Some of us are born with a silver spoon in our mouths. Some of us are born super poor on the dirt and have to walk miles to get water. So we really need to be able to adapt to the environment in which we're born and the bodies which we're born with. So you know, some people are born without limbs. You know, you really don't want to dedicate whole big portions of your brains to a limb that doesn't exist, right? Instead, you wanna repurpose it for something else. During development, we are incorporating the world that is actually around us into our brain and maximizing its efficiency. So that happens through sleep. I just talked about how we restructure our schema through sleep and that's happening in spades when we're developing. - Very intriguing.
Estrogen and the Locus Coeruleus (01:23:34)
So going back to women and how different things are for them, talk to me about PTSD and the locus coeruleus. - Yeah, yeah, blue spot, yeah. Yeah, so I know when things go wrong with that spot, you can have all kinds of problems, but I also know that estrogen is protective against it. But I also know that women suffer from stress and anxiety more than men. So start us, explain the blue spot and then help us understand estrogen's role in all of this. - Yeah, so the blue spot is in our brain stem and it is one of the first relay places for all incoming sensory and stimulation. So it'll wake us up, it'll switch our attention from this conversation to if somebody's listening or watching this and something goes on in their house, they're gonna switch their attention away from what we're talking about to whatever it is. And that's really good and it's adaptive because we need to be able to switch our attention. - Otherwise you're in trouble. - Yeah, otherwise we're in trouble. That's the locus coeruleus. It helps us to be alert and aroused and reorienting as we need to. It also, as it's tonically firing, helping us to learn from whatever we are engaged in. So this conversation, hopefully both of our locus coeruleus is going and we're able to follow the conversation really well. But when it switches to a phasic, sharp, that's when we need to switch our attention. But right now it's tonically happening. So it's responsive to stressors and what it does is it helps us to learn quickly from that stressor because what it provides to the brain, all over the brain, is norepinephrine, which helps us to learn quickly and strengthen synapses. It's only when it's not present that we can actually weaken those synapses after we've consolidated what we've learned and changed our schema. Once that's done, you can erase those novel memories from the novelty encoding structures and our proximal dendritic tree. And so we really need norepinephrine to be absent in order to be able to do that synaptic weakening. It can't happen when norepinephrine is present, when that blue spot is firing. So the only time when the blue spot stops firing is during rapid eye movement sleep. But that's something that we've known since the '80s maybe. But we've only ever studied it in males. So we know that that's kind of dogma. The locus coeruleus stops firing in REM sleep, therefore REM sleep is able to allow us to reformulate our schema and erase those things that aren't necessary. - And we can strip the emotional intensity off of a memory. - That's right. So for example, if we're learning something that's emotionally really relevant to us, and those emotions help us to learn those things, our locus coeruleus is firing, helping us to learn that emotional memory, it's during sleep that we can consolidate all the facts to the rest of our brain to those distal dendrites and then during REM sleep when we can erase the novelty of it, the salience of it, so that it's not something that just happened to us that day, it's something that we've consolidated and now we can erase from the novelty encoding circuitry so we can encode something new. But it's with the lack of locus coeruleus activity, the lack of activity in the blue spot in REM sleep that we can do that. And just recently, my lab has started to record from locus coeruleus in females and we find across the estrus cycle, the locus coeruleus doesn't completely stop firing during REM sleep in some phases of the cycle, in the low hormonal phases of the cycle, which would really not allow you to refresh your brain quite as well as you would otherwise. And I don't know what the physiological importance of that is, but given that that's the case, that also might be why women are two to four times more susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder because post-traumatic stress disorder is a disorder not of forgetting, I mean, that's too overly simplistic. It's a disorder of not being able to relegate the past to the past. It's where these emotional traumatic memories stay in the present as though they just happened that same day. And yes, we're able to consolidate it, but then we're not able to do the second step, which is to erase it from this novelty and coding circuitry to allow us to learn new things after that. Instead, it hangs onto that traumatic memory and all the aspects of it, the emotionality and the way it makes our heart beat fast and our skin sweat and all of that, and so it just happened that same day. So if your locus coeruleus is not stopping firing during REM sleep at certain phases of our hormonal cycle, then REM sleep can't do what it's supposed to do, which is to refresh that novelty and coding circuit.
Children Cant Learn Context (01:28:21)
That's our hypothesis and that's what we're looking at. - REM is a trip. Very interesting. Okay, so if your mission is achieving excellence, you must support your body. Introducing AG1. This powerhouse blend is packed with 75 premium vitamins, minerals, and whole food sourced ingredients that elevate your immune system, uplift your mood, and promote restful sleep. AG1 is offering a great deal for our listeners. One year supply of vitamin D and five free travel packs with your first purchase. Don't miss this opportunity to optimize your health and truly be legendary. - In PTSD, my stress levels remain elevated. So I'm doing the this is important, this is important thing in sleep, but I actually can't get to the this isn't important because my stress levels are still so high, which is telling my body no, no, no, this remains salient. And so it becomes a generalized salience. Like do you end up overwhelming your short term memory? Like if you're constantly just saying like, everything's important, everything's important, you can't strip anything away. Does that have long term, like has anybody looked at PTSD and victims and how they have trouble learning new things? - Yeah, so one of the things you can't learn, for example, is the context of safety, you know, so yeah, that's not good. And in animals, they don't learn any kind of reversal based learning, what I mean by reversal learning is, that was then this is now, now my home is moved, now the place where my food is used to be is moved. All of that is reversal learning. We call it reversal just because it's not necessarily unlearning, because you might still remember where your food used to be, but it's re-waiting, I guess. - Recontextualizing, an example I've heard you use a lot, which makes a lot of sense, especially for people our age, is that you hear the sound of a helicopter, you're in war, that's bad sound, danger, danger. But when you go back home, it could just be a news helicopter, and so you have to recontextualize the same sound. - Yes, and not have the same panic response, which is perfectly adaptive in the theater of war, but at home, you don't wanna be diving under the table every time a helicopter comes by. - Okay, so that makes the prediction that anything that quiets that down should allow me to lessen, hopefully eradicate PTSD, so beta blockers is something I've heard you talk about. Have we looked at how effective those are at using that? - There have been, as far as I know, eight clinical studies, and I think there's another one going on right now. - What do beta blockers do? - So beta blockers block the receptors of neuroadrenaline, which is the neurotransmitter produced by the locus coeruleus, that blue spot, which helps us to learn. But whenever those beta receptors are occupied by norepinephrine, that only allows us to formulate new memories and strengthen new memories, and that doesn't allow us to weaken others. So beta blockers block that receptor, so neuroadrenaline can't occupy it, and then make the neuron think that there's no norepinephrine here. There's nothing important, there's nothing stressful, we don't need to learn anything new. And I think the reason why many of those clinical trials failed is because they didn't quite understand that you do need the beta adrenergic receptor occupied by norepinephrine when you are learning something new, like the context of safety, but it's during sleep that you need the beta receptors to be not occupied by norepinephrine anymore, so that you can do the loosening that's required for re-associating and re-contextualizing something. - That's very interesting. - So you need to give them at the right time, I think, and enough.
Psychedelics, trauma therapy (01:32:42)
Other clinical trials, I think, failed because they gave too low of a dose, and it didn't occupy enough, or didn't block enough of the beta receptors in the brain. - And if you looked at the research on psychedelics, and trauma therapy? - I have, it's really fascinating. And the thing about psychedelics, many of them actually activate the serotonergic system, and we don't even know which specific receptors. Serotonin is another, noradrenaline is one neurotransmitter system, serotonin is a different one that is also on whenever we're learning. So the serotonergic system comes from all over the brain, it comes from the dorsal raphae nucleus in the brainstem, and that's another nucleus that shuts off during REM sleep. So the noradrenergic system and the serotonergic system are normally off during REM sleep. So psychedelics don't reproduce REM sleep, because there are agonists of serotonin, however, they might, there are at least 15, maybe 21 different receptors for serotonin, and each of them do a different thing, and a different neuronal subtype, and a different compartment of the neuron. And so in my model of the way things work, the serotonergic receptors out there, the distal dendrites where our cortex is talking to each other, those are the ones that actually help dampen the effect of that on our response to the world outside. So what they do when you occupy the serotonergic receptors is they shunt out information coming in from the familiarity encoding cortical-cortical schema, and don't allow that to dominate us anymore. And instead, it weights everything toward what's going on right now, here and now. So again, there's lots of different receptors, but for that one in any case, that's really important, I think, to be absent in REM sleep, because that's when you wanna be building the schema about the outside world. If you don't have enough serotonin in your system, then you perhaps are always too attuned to what's going on out there in the distal dendrites, and not enough attuned to what's coming in from the outside and learning new things. Depression, antidepressants are serotonergic agonists. It may help us to be more attuned to the world around us as we're awake and walking around it, but I would also suggest that maybe antidepressants should be stopped when we wanna go to sleep, because we need serotonin to be off in order to rebalance our system at night. - Do SSRIs disrupt sleep?
SSRIs disrupt sleep (01:35:23)
- They do, they really do. They actually block REM sleep pretty effectively, depending on when you take it and how much you take it, but also those studies haven't been done in people who are trying to learn something new. So we don't know if it's 100% blocking REM sleep when someone is studying for an exam, for example. Maybe that homeostatic need for sleep overcomes the SSRI's blockage of REM sleep, and you get beautiful REM just when you need it, yeah. - That's really interesting. So when you get people on different medications the amount, most people are gonna be taking it chronically. So this is a reason that I'm very hesitant to take supplements. When you start isolating things, the number of knock-on effects that you can have is pretty crazy, but I've heard you talk about the importance of if you've just suffered something traumatic, you need to understand this, what you can do to block the encoding of that traumatic event. And I don't wanna put words in your mouth, but it's like, hey, if you can talk yourself down and get into a calm place before you go to bed, great. If you can't, even getting drunk might be better than just going to sleep. Why would that be true? - Yeah, we do wanna learn from our traumatic experiences. We don't wanna not learn what's dangerous out there, for example, but we don't wanna hang on to that novelty of that memory for the rest of our lives. We wanna put it where it goes and then leave it, right? And access it when we need it the next time. But other than that, it's lying dormant and sitting there ready when you need it. You don't want it to be there, present, and part of your life every single day and influencing every decision you make. - Is that first night's sleep an important window for avoiding that? - Yeah, the first couple of nights sleep, it takes about a week to consolidate a memory and put it away. - Whoa. - Yeah, but that first couple of nights is when you actually are hanging on to the memory until it's consolidated. You don't want to erase it until it's really fully consolidated, fully entrenched in everything that you know and in the way that it should be entrenched. And then after that, once it's consolidated, you want sleep to be able to reverse the weight of that salience.
From Accident to Reduction of Stress Response (01:38:05)
So what happens in the first couple of nights when you've learned something really mind-blowingly new is you are consolidating it and you hang on to it until that whole process is done and then you start erasing it from that novelty-including circuitry. So, but in order to consolidate it and put it where it needs to go, you need to rearrange the schema that are already there, right? So if you want, for example, to remember the specific context of something that's scary and fearful instead of just generalizing it, if you want to learn the specific context, you want to put those memories where they go and that involves some weakening of some of the memories in that schema already in order to put the pieces of information where they go. And you'd also need your novelty-encoding proximal dendrites to be ready for those new pieces of information and all the refinements of them. If that is already saturated with something, then you can't learn anything but the simple, in-and-out relationship, sound scary run, right? That's the simple ones. So if you want to learn all of the pieces of the information of context in which something scary happened, you need your brain to be refreshed by the sleep the night before and able to encode all the pieces of information and then able to write it out to the long-term memory structure and then able to refresh that novelty-encoding circuitry again so the next day you can refine that with even more information, more context. As you think about the trauma that happened, you can even contextualize it more, you can talk it through with your friends and family. They can help you realize that was then, this is now, this is why this happened. You'll be able to learn these new things and these new pieces of context because your sleep that first night was a healthy sleep. So that's why you really need that sleep to be norepinephrine-free because you can both write the new pieces of information into the context through those sleep spindles and erase that novelty-encoding context from the novelty-encoding structures so that you can, again, recontextualize and relearn the next day. And then after a few days of that, a few nights of that, you'll have done the job of writing out all those pieces of information. Your memory will be good, your schema will be good, and you can just completely erase that from your novelty-encoding structure so that you can turn your attention to something new. So when you said it's better to even get drunk or stay up all night, if your sleep doesn't lack that norepinephrine and serotonin then that first night, then instead of doing, you might be able to consolidate it, but you're gonna saturate your system with that traumatic memory and create a positive feedback loop that just continues to re-entrench it as though it happened the same day every day. - Yeah, so I wanna talk about that. So everything that you went through assumes everything is working well. So get your sleep, make sure that you don't have dysregulated stress response just in general. But as somebody who, I went through a period in my life where my anxiety was off the charts. Now it ended up being, I'll call it 70% diet, and so I no longer have generalized anxiety disorder. But I know what it feels like to have a very disproportionate response to something and just be like, I don't understand what is going on. So if somebody were in a car accident, let's say very traumatic moment, I know that historically people thought, well, you need to talk to somebody about it. Then the studies show that's actually terrible and you're just reinforcing it. So one, I'd love to hear what we know about how talk therapy over a traumatic event can actually just reinforce it. And then if we had somebody that has a disproportionate response and their amplitude of stress does not match what happened, what kind of protocol? If we had an infinite pharmacy, or maybe that isn't the right answer, but we have access to anything, like they're gonna perfect compliance. If we need drugs, we have drugs. Like what would that protocol look like? - Yeah, so unless that talk therapy is teaching you something about how to contextualize that, it's actually really good to speak to a loved one after a traumatic event. - If they're helping you de-stress? - If they're helping you de-stress and contextualize. So one of the things that shuts the locus realus off fastest after a traumatic event is being able to learn from it. So if you had a car accident and someone can say, well, yeah, but you ran the red light. You say, oh, you're right, I was texting, I ran the red light. Next time, I'm never gonna do that again. I'm never gonna text while driving. And you've learned-- - It was a drunk driver and I was just sitting at the red light. - If you're just sitting at the red light and there's a drunk driver, there's not much you can learn from it. - Now stress level through the roof, life's unpredictable. Oh my God, I'm never gonna leave my house again. - Your locus realus will not stop firing if there's nothing to be learned from it. It is still searching for what can I learn from that? What can I learn from that? So the way that I de-stress after such a random, haphazard event is to take what I have, I have a worldview where I believe that everything ultimately will work out for the best. Even if right now it looks terrible, it will work out for the best. And that helps me to de-stress because I know, oh, it's horrible now. But with a long view, I'm gonna, this is, all these troubles are gonna be over. - That's very interesting. - And so that can help me calm down. And talking to my mother always helped me with that. - Why? - 'Cause she had the wisdom of the years, right? - Of like, you're gonna get better from this. - You're gonna get better, you're gonna survive. You may be in the future, you're gonna be a transportation minister and you're gonna be able to make life safer or reduce the amount of drunk driving because you're gonna help with psychiatry. - That is really profound.
Use Of Sleep For Optimizing Memory And Learning
Growth Mindset (01:44:40)
So I am a growth mindset junkie. And I've never understood that there was even like an actual brain mechanism happening behind the scenes. But like you, you and I have, I think very different worldviews, but they probably serve the same function. I literally just took a note prayer 'cause I know that you pray and you've often referred to that as being something that you use to lower your stress. That's really interesting. When I think about how something like prayer could serve such a profound function to last from, for thousands of years, probably more, - That's very interesting. - In giving you a universal worldview that takes you out of the immediacy of this moment. - And tells you something good will come from this. - Yeah, yeah. - I'm gonna learn something, I'm gonna get something, feels like a really interesting trigger. What I find so fascinating about it though, it's just the thought. But that thought, somehow that context registers at a very deep limbic level. - That's right, it does, it does. Our locus realis is connected. It gets all kinds of inputs from our prefrontal cortex, from our hippocampus, from our learning and memory systems, from our emotional systems. And it feeds back onto our locus realis and says, okay, it's okay now. And our locus says, okay, it's all right, I'll stop barking. I'll stop alerting you, it's gonna be all right. - That's cool.
Leaning Into Mind/Body Connection (01:46:08)
- Yeah. - That's cool. I love understanding the mechanisms to things when there, I guess, is a known one. Okay, very interesting. So you have a worldview. You just had this car accident, even though it was a drunk driver, your worldview kicks in, you feel like it's gonna work out for the better. What else would we throw in our protocol? - Right, so if that's not enough. - 'Cause that really might be enough? - Oh yeah. - Whatever, you just need to quiet the locus realis. - Right, right, right. - Got it. - Sometimes it's not enough. Sometimes you have forgotten to go back to your worldview or pray or you don't have people around you to remind you that it's gonna work out. Then, yeah, well, again, like we were just saying, it's something inside your own brain that you can teach yourself. So you can calm yourself down. Your mind can keep you well. - Your mind can keep you well. - That's nice. - Your mind can also make you sick. - Yes, exactly. - The terrifying flip side of that coin. - I didn't make up that catch phrase. That was the title of a TV show, or not TV, it was an NPR show when I was a child. My mother used to listen to it all the time. - I love it. - Yeah, yeah. - Your mind can keep you well, I like that. - Yeah. But if all these things fail, then I would, you know, stay up. If you have insomnia, 'cause you can't figure this out, and you are stressed, be awake. Be awake until you can find your way out of it. And some people, maybe it's doing something super relaxing to get their mind off of it, like you were listening to podcasts, a story. Get your mind off of this immediate thing. Listen to a nice story. Watch a nice movie, read a nice book, or listen to, you know, get a storyteller to tell you a good story, a bedtime story that takes your mind off of this, this horrible thing that just happened. Allow your whole system to relax, and then have a very good night's sleep. Most sleep is adaptive. Most people don't get PTSD from a traumatic event. And that's because our sleep is most of the time doing what it's supposed to do. But if you are, you know, for some reason, you sleep deprived from the night before, and you're super sleepy, even though you're wired, you can go to sleep. That's not good. Don't go to sleep wired. I guess that's the thing I'm trying to say. Don't go to sleep wired. Do something to calm yourself down so that your locus realist can quiet and do what it's supposed to do during sleep. - Do you meditate? - I have tried. For me, it's prayer. - I was gonna say prayer is so meditative. - It is. - Meditative. - So this may be too private, by all means, say nothing, but how do you pray? Are you asking for something for yourself, for others, for protection, love? - Yeah, I mean, just knowing that there is an all powerful being who cares about me really helps. And then secondly, prayer is also thinking, being thankful. So meditating, I guess, on all the things you're thankful for and you're grateful for. So prayer reminds me of all the good in my life and the good in the people around me. And then also praying for people and for things helps me to not feel as helpless. I don't feel helpless because I'm doing something, right? I'm asking God who's all powerful to intervene and to change things. And that very much helps me feel like I've done something. It helps some people like to write lists. That also helps me, but that's a way to put the list in God's hands. - Interesting, so I'm not religious, but I have been in situations before where something feels so out of my control. I am desperate to appeal to a higher power. I get it. - Go for it. - Yeah, it's really interesting. - Even if you don't believe it, do it. - Yeah, it makes you feel like, oh, I still have a thing I can do. I totally get that. Has anybody looked at prayer and loneliness? So I used to be religious and I remember that feeling of like I'm talking to somebody who's listening and they're powerful and loving. It's a very nice feeling. - Yeah, it is. I think the moment in my life, there was a moment in life when I was the loneliest ever and I was crying and I just felt completely spun out of control. And I heard this voice in my head that just said, why are you crying? I'm with you. And it kind of arrested my tears. I went, oh yeah. That was a long time I've ever heard God, but you know. But it was like, why, I'm here with you. I'm like, oh yeah. I'm not alone. I'm not alone. I'm never alone. - So interesting. Yeah, that's one of those things, man. So I have a thought that runs through my head frequently and longtime listeners of the show will have heard me say it many times, but there is a God shaped hole in all of us. You need to fill it with something. So, all right, I'm really starting to formulate a very useful understanding of how I can leverage sleep to whether it's strip the emotional resonance off of something, whether it's free up my short term memory so I can learn new things, the consolidation, the removing of the narrative from the dots and snapping back to just dots so I can update my schema. That's really gonna stick with me.
Protocol #2: Optimizing Memory with Sleep Cycles (01:51:48)
- I love the way you said that. That's really nice. - Thank you. - It's gonna stick with me too. - Nice. May it be useful. - Yeah. - How do I supercharge learning? So I am a big believer that we can all 100X our abilities, but it doesn't happen by accident. And so I'm always looking for an edge on how I can learn something better. Like, is it naps? Is it just meditating before I go to bed? Like, how do we really make sure we remember what we learn? - Yeah. That's a good question. And we don't really know how we tag the things that we want to remember and how we tag the things that we want to forget. There's a lot of automaticity to it that must be pretty good. I think your brain is probably already optimized to learn great. - I really hope that's not true. If this is optimized, we are all in trouble. I just throw a lot of time at it. That's my only solution, which I really want to shorten that time. - Right. Yeah, I mean, so here's one shortcut, but I don't think it's good in the long run. It's not good in the long run though. - Yeah, it's probably good for cramming in one piece of information, but-- - Okay, we'll take it, we'll take it. - Right, right. One study done in the '90s, I believe, it was that while the person was learning something kind of mind-blowing, they had a clock ticking in the background. It was a very loud clock. And then when they were in REM sleep, the experimenter made that clock go back on again. And so it did reactivate a lot of the pathways that we're learning. But what we don't know yet is what the locus or the locus is doing. Is that just, again, reinforcing that one thing you learned and preventing it from being, you know, from disconnecting and becoming dots and making it creative. There was no creativity part of that study. - Stuff is so complicated. - Yeah, so we still need to look at the creativity and insight, whether those people, 20% better on that one thing that they were learning. But they didn't test whether or not they could extract that and apply it to other situations. But 20% better, you know, that's a C to an A, right, if you're talking about a test. But you might also not be able to do the erasure parts that you need to do. You might be sacrificing other parts of other things that you learned the day before that, for example, and that you need to schematize instead of learn via just rote. - Man, I hope somebody does some research on that because, so my brain already starts worrying. So all right, let's say that each day I was gonna pick one thing and I was gonna study it for let's say 20 minutes. And then I'm gonna replay the clock ticking for five minutes during my REM cycle, which let's say is tied to my Fitbit or whatever. And so I know when I'm actually in REM, it triggers, but it only triggers for a brief period so that theoretically I can still do all the other things. That would be really interesting. - I would just do it that one night and just for five minutes. I don't want to do it night after night. You were gonna screw everything up and saturate your brain with that one thing. - Yeah, that sounds about right.
Sleeping on Creativity (01:55:38)
You end up getting some advantage in one area, but you end up sacrificing everything else 'cause you are competing against evolution. Evolution's had a lot of time to figure things out, but we were talking about this right before we started rolling camera. There's a really interesting meme about here's what the Olympics looked like in 19, whatever, 1921. Here's what they look like in 1921 or 2021. And it is hilarious how much more advanced we are now. So obviously, as you pointed out, it's not our biology. Our biology hasn't changed, but the cultural element that stacks, we've more belief 'cause we've seen what's possible, better equipment, better training. - We know what our bodies can do. We can push it harder knowing that we're not gonna rupture anything, or if we do, at least there'll be good physicians on hand to help us heal. - Man, it's so interesting. Learning really is a superpower, and memory is the thing that I've struggled with most profoundly in my life. And I'm always looking for things that can help with that. Are there, you might hate this question, but are there drugs that help with memory? - Yeah, there's even one called Memantine. - Memantine? - Yeah, for memory. - Interesting, how have I never heard of this? - Yeah, it's, that's got side effects. - What's the on-label use case? - So I believe it's for dementia. - Okay. - Yeah. - And it works? - Somewhat, somewhat. Again, nobody studies these things in relation to sleep. So what it does is it boosts acetylcholine by blocking the receptors that reuptake it. Acetylcholine is really important for neuropasticity. - Is that what makes you feel tired? - It's adrenal, I mean, that's adenosine. - Adenosine. - Yeah, yeah, that's all right. Acetylcholine, ACH is the way we-- - Yeah, I'm trying to cram the things into the little bit that I understand here. - You're right.
Minutes 27 (01:57:31)
- Yeah, so acetylcholine, you need it when you're attending to something, it's pumping great and giving us great rhythms for learning when we're exercising. So walking and learning is a great thing to do, or running and learning is a great thing to do. It's also really present in our brains when we're in rapid eye movement sleep. - You're more likely to remember something that you learned while walking or running? - Yeah, yeah, or incorporate it.
How to harness acetylcholine - the neurotransmitter we associate with focus & learning (01:57:57)
- Interesting. - Yeah. - Because of the neurochemistry. - Yeah, because of the rhythms of our brain. - The rhythm or the-- - And the chemistry, the chemistry sets up the rhythm. - Interesting. - Yeah. - Wow, I've never heard that before. I have experienced that you can get insights while walking, which is very interesting. - Yeah. - But I did not know that you're more likely to remember something. - Yeah, yeah. Yeah, so actually sitting at our desk trying to learn something is probably not the best way to learn things. - Really? - Yeah. - That's interesting. - Yeah. - Is there an evolutionary reason for that, just that we would have always been moving? I don't know. - I think so. I think it's probably, that's probably what it is. Yeah, I don't know otherwise. But we can create, for example, cats watching a bird fly around has a ton of that acetylcholine. Actually, whenever we attend to something, acetylcholine gets ramped up in that area of the brain that we're using for that purpose. So, and then again, during REM sleep, we have a ton of acetylcholine in those areas of the brain that are trying to learn. During slow-wave sleep, when we're cleaning our brains, acetylcholine is gone, it's completely gone. So we need it to be absent when we're doing the cleaning process. - Very interesting. Okay, I'm gonna try to talk through something. - The side effects are-- - Oh, please, yeah. - Acetylcholine is what every single one of our muscles uses, our gut uses it. And so a lot of acetylcholine will screw us up, screw up our guts, make us feel awful in lots of ways. - Does not sound like a good trade. Anything that makes me feel sick, even eating a meal too late, which is actually something we didn't talk about when you talk about sleep hygiene, for me, even stopping eating three hours before I go to bed, I will feel the difference. So I stop eating seven hours before I go to bed. And it feels awesome. I love it. And I used to eat like literally chew, chew, swallow, sleep. And when I stopped doing that, I was like, whoa, this really makes a huge difference. And I remember when my wife, my wife had massive digestive issues.
Influence Of Sleep On Eating Habits And Development
How Cory eliminated his late-night eating routines & 100% RESET his sleep (02:00:13)
And she kept saying, you know, I really think it matters like how much before I go to sleep that I stopped eating. And I was like, why? Doesn't make sense. - Yeah. - 100%, definitely not it. She's like, no, I really think it is. And I'm gonna start stopping earlier and earlier and she settled on about three hours. And then when I started doing intermittent fasting, just for other reasons, had nothing to do with how I was sleeping, I found that it improved my sleep. - Yeah, that's great. - Which is very, very interesting. - Yeah, it is. Actually, there was just a study out about what eating a high protein meal will do. It changes the way your gut, a hormone your gut secretes, that then travels to your, that hormone travels to your brain. It helps you sleep better. - Protein, I've heard that carbohydrates help you sleep better, right? - Yeah. - Never heard it about protein. - Yeah, I think that there's a lot of research that needs to be done yet. - Yeah. - This was in flies and mice. But, and then baby mice and baby humans sleep better - But not adults. - Not adults. - That's unexpected. - Well, actually, I'm trying to think of what studies done with adults and being full and sleep, but I know if you're working a digestive system, that's not a good thing while you're sleeping. But again, I think more studies need to be done to iron these things out. Why does it work in babies? Why is it different in adults? We don't know. - It's very interesting.
Primal in-utero development of speech via SIF (sleep induced facilitation) (02:01:48)
You can understand why babies would need food in terms of just the rapid growth, especially, now, 'cause they've got tons of body fat, but I would imagine they're not accessing the body fat and they're eating a high sugar diet for sure while they're breastfeeding. - It's more readily available energy, yeah. - But sort of quick to go through the system. Very interesting. Yeah, I mean, there can't be enough studies on diet, but it is a very difficult thing to do unless you can literally imprison people and only give them the food that you want them to eat 'cause just the compliance is so low. - Very interesting. All right, there's a complex idea that I wanna try to talk through. Nudge me if I go too far afield here, but when you were talking, you made me realize that there are concepts that are pre-embedded in the brain. And one of the things that I find really important, so I'm obsessed with what I was talking about earlier. The brain is a prediction engine. Whatever it is, whatever cool thing you're trying to do with your life, you really are trying to update your schema so that you get closer to ground truth and you're better able to do only the things that are going to be effective. And as a species, what makes humans interesting, and you made sort of an oblique reference to this earlier, is that we don't come pre-hardwired with everything. We don't adapt to a limb that we don't have. We are doing things based on the actual environment that we're in. We've been born into a lot of environments, but we're actually in this one. And so making sure that we're adapting to that. So, all right, humans are the most adaptive of all the animals, which is exactly how we've become the most dominant apex predator the world has ever seen. But at the same time, we're not blank slates. So there are ideas that are embedded in the brain, and I can't remember what you were saying, but the note I took was right or false and true are categories of things that are innate. And that our brain, when we sleep, is tagging things, this is true, this is false. And I just thought, whoa, that has real implications in terms of, as we all, social media is sort of deranging this, where we're losing a hold of, and I don't mean it like in a political way, but if true and false are a category that the brain is looking for to tag something, this is effective part of the schema, this is ineffective part of the schema, and adjust accordingly. If you're reinterpreting the world based on true and false, you better be right. And so then it becomes a question of, what are we using to tag things as true and false? And this is where, as somebody who teaches entrepreneurship, I'm always trying to get people to understand, if you don't have the right metric by which you judge the success or failure of a test, you're gonna be in trouble. How close am I with that category thing that the brain is doing? - Yeah, I think you're very close. I have a good friend, someone I used to work with, whose world schema was built by his parents and his community. But then he went to business school, and he learned all kinds of new things that weren't quite fitting with that schema. For example, what he was told was good for him, he saw how the business world was just taking advantage of it and using it to profit, and not necessarily working out for his best interests, but for the bottom line best interest of the business. And then one day with one experience, his whole schema changed, and he's no longer, he realized that all that schema was wrong. I mean, there was just huge holes in it. It didn't align anymore, and he saw how they could align. And then he realized that he couldn't just trust his parents anymore. He was an adult at that time, and he couldn't just trust his community around him. There's a whole other world out there and forces at work that they didn't understand, and that he didn't understand until that moment. And so he had to shift his whole worldview and then make a whole new schema. And so the way that we build the world is usually, first, we have to trust our parents, our caregivers. We have to trust in them.
The 4 Stages of Sleep [mindset decoding & suggestions hacks @ each stage] (02:06:37)
If they say something's important or something's scary, we trust them because that's part of survival. But there comes a point when we should start weighing things for ourselves and based on our experience and based on our own thoughts and based on what we've learned so that we are building a schema that makes sense to us. And like you say, you better be right. But if we're wrong, we might be able to survive okay, but not optimally. - It's really interesting. So as you were saying that, it made me realize, okay, you've got the categories of true, false, but the entire worldview is going to influence the tagging of true and false. That's really interesting. So what are other categories that the brain comes pre-hardwired with? So it doesn't give you your worldview, but it does give you category of, you can determine this is useful, this is not useful, or this is true, this is false. Have you thought about other categories that we come pre-hardwired with? - Sure, well, we're pre-hardwired to learn who our parents are and to imprint on them so that we know who to trust and who to look for for comfort and for food. And that is pre-hardwired. We have this area of our brain or several areas of our brain that are trained to look for the caregiver. And whether that caregiver is a good one or a bad one, doesn't matter. We are hardwired to imprint on that person and to learn from them. It can be really difficult when we're older to say, that parent or that caregiver that I imprinted on did a terrible job and I don't want to be that and I don't want to marry that. Even I select a partner. It can be really difficult to fight against when we learn something new about the world and get a bigger and a different worldview, that's wrong. I don't want somebody to abuse me. I don't want to find a partner who's going to abuse me like I was abused when I was a child. And it's really hard because we've imprinted. Our brain and that critical period of imprinting has closed. So it becomes a really hard thing. It's not impossible. Absolutely, it is possible. But it takes a lot of effort and a lot of sleep. - What does that effort look like? How do you begin? 'Cause childhood trauma really freaks me out because of how long it echoes through people's lives and it seems for most people, either because they won't adhere to a treatment protocol but it seems intractable. - Yeah, it's, what is it, intractable? We have plasticity, like you say. We are able to learn new things, but we need to be dedicated about it and surround ourselves, for example, by people who aren't going to abuse you anymore and believe that that is the good thing. And we will always have that wiring, that original imprint wiring, but we can form new synapses and make those synapses strong and stronger than the original ones were. But if we ever-- - What does that process look like? - It's actually synaptic remodeling. It's actually dendrites and axons reaching each other. - Is it repetition? - Yeah, repetition, repetition, surrounding ourselves again by this new world that we want instead of the world that we had and a dedication and attention to it every day and sleeping on it every night. It's a long, slow process because during those critical periods, it happens quickly. It happens quickly because our brain said, "Okay, this is the time when we learn about who our parents are and what a caregiver looks like." And once that critical period is closed, when I call it critical period, there is a particular time of life. - What's the window? - Well, with caregivers, if we were chicks, baby chicks, it's 17 hours after enclosure, after hatching. - That's brief. - So yeah, so for a couple of hours after that, if you don't happen to encounter your mother until hour 19 or 20, it's okay. But if you encounter something at 17 hours that's not your mother, like something that's making a sound and moving away from you, you're gonna imprint on that thing. So it's a few hours, I'm sorry, a few hours for a chick. For humans, of course, it's gonna be longer, but we don't actually know what the exact critical period is yet. There's some studies that need to be done. Language learning is another thing that our brains are set to learn. If we are born deaf, we will still learn language. It won't be the oral language. We'll learn body language better. We'll learn to lip read. We'll learn sign language if it's given to us or the signs that the body language of our caregiver is giving us. So our brain is set to learn and there is a critical period to that too.
The age that can still be influenced (02:11:48)
If we are, for example, born into an English speaking family and we try at age 35 to learn Chinese, and that's the first time, well, not the first time, but during your critical language learning period in the first six months of life, if you've never heard Chinese and all the sounds of it and it was never directed toward you and you were never told a story in that language, you won't have saved the synaptic pathways that were open during that period of time. - Interesting. - They hear all the different sounds. - Six months. - Yes, before we're even babbling or just at the beginning of babbling, just listening to the sounds of these languages will change our brain and help us to preserve synapses that will allow us to always hear the sounds of that other language. So that later, when we try to actually pick it up ourselves, we'll still be able to hear it. And those people that were never exposed to it will have pruned those synapses away. - Okay, so really tight period for imprinting, for language. - Language. - What are some of the other phases? And I will contextualize this, so this really matters to me. So impact theory, the reason this company is called impact theory is my theory on how to impact people at scale is through story. So I tried just telling people, think like this, act like this, you can build your own company, do whatever you want. 2% of people would take that advice and do something with it and it was extraordinary to witness but I was just like, what about the 98% that are doing exactly nothing with this information and how do we reach them? And that's when I really started getting obsessed with worldview, so I'm going to assume you know nothing about my story. So my last company was in manufacturing, so we were in the inner cities. So we had, I had big brotherhood for a kid that grew up in South Central as sort of a knock-on of going to USC and I watched him get consumed by his zip code. Flash forward 15 years later, I now have 1,000 employees that remind me of him and I'm like, ah, but I'm not a young kid anymore. I know what to do with this. And so realizing that the difference between the 2%, the 98%, the 2% had a growth mindset and they were willing to try things and deploy it but I had one guy in the 2% get in a fist fight with his friends because they were like, you changed because you've started reading. And I was like, you got in a fist fight because you read now? He's like, yes. And I was like, oh my God, like this does not make any sense. So then I was like, okay, I'm going to give up on adults and I'm going to focus on kids and I'm going to catch them at what I think of as the age of imprinting, 11 to 15. You're not imprinting on your parents, you're now imprinting from culture. That I can influence. I can't influence who your parents are but I can influence what your friends think is cool. And so the whole idea of impact theory is to tell stories, make video games, yada yada, that have actual real useful ideas at the core. So the way that we sum it up is if in one of our stories, a mentor gives the character advice, you as the viewer can take that advice 'cause it's real. And so I want to know that that age of imprinting, the 11 to 15 rough swag is actually a moment where I can influence people because Disney takes a younger approach. And so they're going after like that six to 11, like really get them young. It's just as a person that's not a form of entertainment that I find as interesting. - Yes, I'm really hopeful that there's something still going on here. - Yeah, and we are still learning. - In terms of what's possible. - Yeah, our brains are definitely still developing at age 11 to 15. - Not we as researchers. - Yeah. - 11 to 15, we are still learning. - Yeah, yeah, definitely. And social learning is a big, big thing at that time. So it's great to surround yourself by people who like to read, for example. At that age, because even if you came from a family which didn't do a lot of reading, you can have that influence you because it's your peers and people you respect and like and admire who are doing this behavior that you can then engage in. So absolutely is possible. The school system, the reason why preschool is actually a really good age is because again, that language learning, if you have someone reading to you when you're a baby and age one, two, three, looking at you, telling you you're a good person, that's also a really big critical period for language learning, vocabulary learning. It's not the end, but it is a critical period. - Do you know Geoffrey Canada? - No.
How to read people by their minds (02:16:31)
- Man, I want this guy on the show so bad. So he's one of the early charter school people. So grows up in Harlem, says I'm gonna fix the education system, gets a full ride scholarship to Harvard, goes into education, spends I think a decade trying to fix it from the inside, realizes never gonna fix this from the inside, starts these schools on the outside, but largely based on a key insight, which is he asked why do middle income kids do well and lower income kids do poorly? And he realized it's the number of words you hear by the age of three and the ratio of positive to negative. And I was like, what? And he said in a middle income household, you hear roughly, I think it's five million words and the ratio of positive and negative is 70% positive, 30% negative. In the inner cities, it's either three million or two million, I can't remember, which is dramatically less and the ratio is flipped. It's 30% positive, 70% negative. And he said what that does to the language centers of your brain is so startling. And so he went on this crusade to get people who are about to become mothers, he wouldn't wait till they actually had kids. If you were about to become a mother, he wanted you to start reading to your baby in utero and to keep reading. - Get used to it. - Yeah, once they were born. And I was like, whoa, that's one of those insights about the brain, that shit scares me. It scares me, it has become not that age, but that idea has become the central mission of my life. If you can intercept people at the right time with the right idea in the right format, you will change how their brain develops. - Yeah, yeah, exactly, how they see the world. The entire scheme, at those early, early ages, we're forming our schema of the world, how the world works. It's really good to intervene early if you want someone not to be screwed up and to work better in this society, yeah. - No doubt. - But it's incredible. I mean, this guy is probably one of the examples. There are lots of people who are surrounded by horrible situations as they grow up and they're able to lock onto, latch onto the one role model that's different and that's better. And they're able to not reproduce that same bad situation in their own life when they're adults. And it's a very inspiring story. But we actually really do, even those people who say, I did it all by myself, there's always somebody or some influence somewhere that helped them. - For sure, for sure. All right, what do you, as you look at the research being done around sleep, being done around the brain in general, where do you think this goes? So you've already planted a flag on mitochondria, the energy system. - Yeah. - I love a good hypothesis. I completely understand. You have no idea where this will all lead and you're super open to being wrong. As a scientist, I'm sure that just guides all of your thinking. - Yeah. - But what are some interesting areas that either you wanna see studied or that you see some early research coming out that could be very meaningful? - Yeah, well, there are lots of fields. So drug addiction, that's a powerful remodeler of the brain. - That drugs negatively and positively or only negatively? - Well, it's positive in terms of drug-seeking behaviors. It re-rires the entire brain toward, if you're a drug, - Well said. - But it's a powerful rewiring of your brain that I would like to see good ways to use sleep to rewire back, to learn through sleep and the processes, restore the processes that happen during sleep so that we can be open to re-learning the good way again and not to be so stressed. So drug addiction is one area.
AI, Neuralink & wearables (02:20:33)
PTSD is another, something I'm really passionate about. I've got some family members who have PTSD and lost a family member through PTSD. So that's, again, another way that stress powerfully remodels the brain for the worse. And I would like to figure out a way to make it so that sleep helps us be, adaptive sleep helps us to adapt. - Do you see a path because is it just, oh, we just need to read a good book, play a calming video game, meditate, whatever, and then you're gonna be fine? Or do you see, is AI gonna play a role, some of the brain feedback that people are getting? - I think biofeedback is going to help. People are very unaware of their own stress levels, for example, and how they're processing things. If we're able to tell them through wearable that hey, it looks like you are stressed right now, you should probably do some relaxation exercises before you go to bed. And then, yeah, there's also a really interesting study where they cued people to learn something before they went to sleep and then gave them the cue during the dream state. - The ticking clock thing? - Yeah, it was like a ticking clock. It was a little different. It was a tone they used and got people to dream about that thing that they were trying to, new thing they were trying to incorporate into their old schema. And if they dreamed about it, especially, but actually everybody, were better able to incorporate that into the scheme of who they are. Again, I wouldn't overuse this. Be careful. So I think, yeah, I don't know enough about AI, but probably, there's a way, biofeedback at least, to let people know what state they're in 'cause they're oftentimes pretty much too much in their head and don't really know what their body is doing and how it's reacting. - So I'm gonna follow up on something you just said.
Role Of Technology In Sleep And Dream Analysis
Future of wearables and AI (02:22:38)
So based on something I've heard you talk about before, which is that if you understand the neuronal firing of a rat compared to where it's at in the maze, you can actually effectively read its mind. And so knowing the, look, I'm not an expert on AI, but I'm deep enough in it that I understand where this is headed, that AI really will be able to take inputs. If you put a device of sufficient fidelity on the brain and let me read the brain patterns, the waves, the neurons that are firing, that will be able to start to reconstruct what you're thinking about. They've been able to get very rooted, like if they tell you to think about a person's face, it's pretty startling. Like how, I mean, it's not like a portrait, but like you start to get a sense of what they're thinking about. I have a feeling that we're gonna get pretty good at interpreting brain signals. You'll need better sensors, but when you have a company like Neuralink where it's actually tapping into the brain, combined with AI just recognizing pattern after pattern, because what you'll do is you'll read people, let's say a million people as wearables begin to be a thing, and you'll say, okay, this person is doing this thing, we get this readout. Therefore, when I see this readout, you're doing this thing. And they'll be able to basically just reverse the direction that they're thinking about it. And so that, as I think about biofeedback and I think about AI and I think about just the ability to collect all of this data, that you'll be able to get somebody with a PTSD or whatever, and say, okay, you're about to go to sleep. I'm gonna visualize where your brain is right now, how you're feeling, and there's a target. And so you're gonna start moving the, okay, this is a stressed brain, this is a calm brain. And as you move it there, the screen lights up or it does something to reinforce. And people will be able to use that visualized biofeedback as a way to control their emotional state, which is my fantasy. As somebody that struggled with anxiety, I was like, I really want a way to practice calming myself down, which is how I found meditation, which ended up being utterly transformational. - Yeah, no, I think exactly, that is the goal. I think the promise of these wearables is that they are measuring peripheral measures of heart rate variability, for example, temperature, skin conductance, a lot of these things that are peripheral measures of what's going on with our autonomic nervous system, that the thing that meditation is probably best at calming down. So I think there is real promise, 'cause people, again, are kind of famously bad at reading their own bodies. And so if you can give them a device that tells them, there's a green window now, you're good, go to sleep, that would be amazing. - Be very amazing. So I am either just really dumb and when I work out, I'm just terrible, or I have a natural tendency towards muscular imbalances, I fear it's column A. And so I have many times ended up having really chronic pain from, it's often been in my traps or my scalenes where I thought that I had a weakness in my traps and oh, I need to get my neck stronger or my traps stronger, but in reality, it was my middle back was weak. And I went to see a physical therapist and he pointed it out and was like, nope, the problem's actually in your middle back and you're not stabilizing yourself. And he was like, fire your middle back muscle. And I'm like, I'm firing it. He's like, no, you're not. And I'm like, I promise you I am. And so he's like, okay, let me put biofeedback on you. And he's like, make it beep. And I'm like, okay, I'm firing it. And he's like, if it's not beeping, you're not firing the muscle. And so learning to fire it was eye opening at how different my body map of where that muscle was and where the muscle actually was. I used to joke with him, I feel like I'm firing my heels to get it that low in my back to just reach my mid back. But once I learned how to do it, my ability to, 'cause when I first started, it would beep at you. So when you fired it, beep, beep. And then by the time I was done, I could get it to go, da da da da da da da da da da da da. And so I was like, wow. And so realizing that once you hear or don't hear or in this case see or don't see, you can make profound changes and you can fire things, in this case a muscle, that truly felt out of my conscious control, but slowly, slowly you're able to do it. If people could get a hold of their autonomic nervous system and I don't know how much they'll ultimately be able to get a hold of, but if you can get a hold of it, it's pretty profound. Are you familiar with Tumult meditation? Do you know Wim Hof? - Nope. - Oh my gosh, you're gonna love this. So I can't believe he's real. I've met him, as far as I can tell, he's been studied by science. He can maintain a core body temperature even in ice. And so he set all kinds of world records for swimming under ice. And his corneas froze and he went blind, swimming under the ice. Thankfully he was with a diver who was able to pull him back up, but like water that cold, cold. And so he went into a laboratory setting and they measured his internal core temperature. He can do that. He can also take like a dime size spot in his palm and warm that up when people ask him to. They injected him with an endotoxin and he was able to muster an immune response. So everybody was like, okay, it's just you. You're a freak of nature. He's like, no, I can teach anybody to do this. So he teaches people. So anyway, this concept of Tumult meditation is that basically they can control their heart rate, body temperature. So things that we would say are normally outside of the reach. - Like Houdini did, right? - It's interesting, I didn't know Houdini did that. But yes, things like that, that there have been sort of the rare people throughout history that have been able to do. But if through wearables, AI, we can give people a better way of doing that, that's about as close to being a superhero as I can imagine getting. - I agree.
Lucid dreaming (02:29:06)
- That kind of stuff is, I really hope that that ends up being a thing. Another thing that's very similar to that that I've heard you talk about, I've always wanted to be able to do and I can't, is lucid dream. Is lucid dreaming real? - Oh yeah, it's real. I don't know if it's real good. - So for people that don't know what it is, what is it? - So it's a way to realize that you're dreaming and control your dreams or introduce a new element to it. Or through some studies it says, okay, when you're in REM sleep, we're gonna know. And we want you, when you hear this sound, to incorporate this thing into your dream. And when you've done it, tell us by moving your eyes in a particular pattern. So some people can do that. And they can do it about a third of the time of when they go into REM sleep. Not all the time, but a third of the time. - How does it not wake them up? The second I tell myself I'm dreaming, I wake up. - Yeah, that's the thing. - Do they train themselves? - So there is some controversy. Are they awake? Is there a good portion of their brain that is actually awake and able to respond? If you're able to respond to the outside world, hear a tone or whatever and control your body in a way. How does that differentiate from wakefulness? It might actually be wakefulness. I said paradoxical sleep, REM sleep is paradoxical 'cause your brain looks like it's awake. Well, it looks like it's awake during lucid dreaming too. So how do you know someone's still asleep? You don't. Atonia is really the only way, which is when our muscles are actively inhibited so that we don't act out our dreams. There's some indication that people who are lucid dreaming maintain that atonia. But atonia is something that could also be dissociated from sleep. People with cataplexy, narcolepsy with cataplexy, they will fall down with atonia while being perfectly awake. So it's controversial. Now, having said that, those dreams, people who do lucid dreaming are very vivid and they're different from daydreams. They're more active, they're more vivid, I guess is the way to say it. So it might be this in between different brain state that's not just regular REM sleep. And the reason why I don't know if it's real good is because nobody has been able to record from the locus coerillis, for example, or the dorsal raphae nucleus, which we know shut off during REM sleep. Do they shut off when someone's in lucid dreaming? They're awake, they're on whenever we're awake. So do they go on? Are we really, is this state kind of hallucinogenic kind of state that's more like wakefulness than sleep? We don't know. I would caution people to be cautious with it. Don't try and do it all the time, because in fact, if it's really more waking than sleep and it's serving sort of a waking function and not the sleep function, then you're depriving yourself of real REM sleep when you're doing it. And all the good things that come from real REM sleep. So I have lucid dreams. I've been able to tell I'm in a dream and change it in some way. It's a great way to get rid of nightmares. But I also just let myself have a real dream and wake up and remember just part of it instead of the whole thing. And because, and so one of the new bits of research that we're doing in the laboratory is being done by a graduate student named Raquel Guthrie and another graduate student named Ward, Ward Pettibone. And what they're doing is they are seeing in animals and in humans whether or not the whole brain sleeps at the same time and is in the same sleep state at the same time. There's lots of evidence that animals that sleep unihemispherically, sleep unihemispherically. One hemisphere is awake while the other is asleep. People don't do that, but we might be able to sleep one chunk of brain at a time, for example. Our hippocampus, Raquel showed in humans, can be in asleep very long minutes before our cortex goes to sleep. And so what is it doing? It's doing this other brainwave pattern and it's not remembering. And this is probably, although we haven't done this study yet in people, probably the reason why we don't remember what happened in the two minutes before we go to sleep. So if you're reading a book and you're falling asleep over the book, you can read the same page four times. - Over and over and over and over. - Yeah, over and over again. - I've done that many, many times. - Right, that's because your hippocampus, your memory, immediate associative memory system is asleep. And so your cortex is, you're moving your eyes. The working memory is in your cortex, but it's not going into your long-term memory. So does that same thing happen during REM sleep? Can your hippocampus be in REM sleep while your cortex is in slow wave sleep? Or opposite? And maybe lucid dreaming is this thing where you can somewhat respond to the world around you because there are parts of your thalamus that's not closed. Can you remember dreams?
People can remember their dreams and tell it to you vividly. Is it because their hippocampus is not asleep, actually? It's awake and writing those new memories in, even though, you know, and those who can never remember their dreams, their hippocampus is in REM sleep proper. So we don't know the answers to these yet. There aren't enough people with electrodes planted in their brain that we can ask, what is your dream and how did you change your memories? We can't ask these things of animals, so we can't say, hey, what did you dream about? And we can see what their activity of their brain is, and if it's not consistent with the world immediately around them, but consistent with the world that they experienced the day before, we can say, hey, it looks like that rat is running that maze. We can't ask it, you know, were you dreaming about running the maze? - So it will actually replay the maze in its head? - Yeah. - That's so interesting because dreams, the ones that you remember, I can't tell you a time where I have ever had a dream that was like the thing I learned I am dreaming about. It might be something I'm stressed about, but the dream is so surreal that it's like, is this about that? - It's good, it's good that it's different. I think that's, again, that backing out from the literal thing to the dots again. So-- - It gives you a new way to interpret that thing. - A new way to interpret that thing. - But the rats are doing it literally? - Well, they do some of it literally, and some of it, sometimes they make moves that they can't make in real life. And so this is something that Ward is looking into. How do we gain insights from our dream state in rats? He's looking in rats. Do rats that have gained insight and shown you that they've gained insight by their performance, did their dream sleep and non-REM sleep, they look differently than rats that didn't learn anything? Do the rats, are there rats with PTSD? Do they just replay the literal thing that happened to them? And if they didn't get PTSD, are they replaying portions of that, but also incorporating new bits? - In an abstracted way. - Yeah, new insights. - That's really interesting. Do you put much stock in dream interpretation? - I love dream interpretation just because I think that it tells us how, it's kind of like interpreting a movie, right? It tells us how we're thinking about things. I don't think it's necessary. I think most people don't remember their dreams well enough to, but the stories that we make up about our dreams reflect who we are and where we are and what we're thinking. - That's interesting. Have you ever had recurring dreams? - Yeah. - One, I'd love to hear what they actually were, and I'd love to hear your breakdown of why recurring dreams. Is it something that we're struggling with? - Yeah, I think it is. I think on some, my recurring dream when I was a child was a big monster was chasing me and my feet were like in mud. I couldn't run away from it. It was so stressful and so fearful, fear- - Sounds horrible. - Yeah, it was awful. And I told my mother about it, and probably because she was listening to The Mind Can Keep You Well, she said, "Okay, next time you have that dream, do something different than you've been doing every time this pastime, these pastimes." And I said, "Okay, what should I do?" She said, "Oh, let's see, what can you do? Think about it." And I was like, "Oh, I could go, I could stab the monster, I could hit it." And she's like, "Okay, I could try it. Let's rehearse that." So imagine that much as imagining yourself turning around and stabbing or hitting it. So I did that. And then the next time I had that nightmare, I was too afraid to actually turn around and stab it or hit it or touch it in any way. But I was able to at least say, "No, stop." And I was able to do something different. It was just something different and knock me. I never had that recurring nightmare again. I've had other recurring dreams, flying, for example, it's a great recurring dream. It's a lot of fun. It was being able to swim underwater. What's the use of that? I'm never gonna be able to fly. But maybe it has something else to do. Maybe that nightmare of the monster was about an uncontrollable force in my life that I couldn't get away from. And so in my dream, the fact that I was able to do something against that force may have allowed me to make a difference in my waking life too against that thing that I didn't even know was that was the thing that I was embodying in my dream. But I could take some control over it, even if it was just saying no. So that maybe during my waking life, I was able to say no to this adult that was doing something to me. And I don't know, I don't remember back then. But it can be powerful. Minds are extremely plastic when we're in the dream state of sleep. And so even though I think the interpretation of our dreams may say more about our waking selves, I think what happens during our dreams actually can change our minds and can change the way we think about the world. So again, flying dreams, I don't know. Maybe that's about power and about feeling in control and able to do things that you couldn't otherwise do. And so maybe it's a reflection of a sense of elation that I had about learning new things, like about the brain. - Yeah, it's really, really intriguing. Dreams are fascinating. I don't remember nearly enough of mine. - You probably remember just as much as you need to. - It's interesting, maybe. I used to remember more. And because I find dreams so interesting and because I'm such a student and fan of narrative, it's, I always love like, it would just be so impossibly weird that I don't know, there was something fun in the way that time can change or the way that things melt into something else or the way that it's like, oh, I'm talking to this cocker spaniel, but I know it's actually my mom. And you're like, what? - And it changes into your mom and then changes into your girlfriend and then it's back to the cocker spaniel. - It's like, it's so weird. - It is wonderful. It's weird and wonderful. And I understand why you wanna remember more of your dreams because it's like a free movie that is just fun. - Yeah, and that you are so wired into emotion that it's literally plugged into your central nervous system which is everybody, anybody that's into like the metaverse and stuff like that's the fantasy, right? That one day, like you'll be able to actually experience these just impossible scenarios, but actually experience them. And you do when you dream. But I so rarely remember mine now and I've never known like, is it because I have a high stress life and that's why I don't remember them? 'Cause I used to have them a lot and I used to, do we dream every night? - Yeah. - No matter what? - No matter what. - Okay. So I'm still dreaming clearly. But I almost never remember them. - It might be a really good sign that your sleep is super efficient. And again, we don't know, but it's quite possible that the dreams that you remember is because your hippocampus was actually awake maybe for the last half of the dream and able to sew that working memory, all that stuff into a long-term memory. And so that could be fine occasionally, but if you're doing it all the time, your hippocampus is missing out on all the brain clearing things that you need to do. So it could be a very good sign.
- That makes sense. You've talked about the thalamus a couple of times. I've heard you say in previous interviews that every time you do new research, your sense of where the consciousness is seeded changes. - Are we currently settled on the thalamus? Do we not know? What's the-- - No, no. I think consciousness is an emergent process. And so there's no one area that controls it. - Is it a complexity thing? You stack enough neurons and you're eventually gonna get to consciousness? - Yeah, yeah, I think so. And so I think an outstanding question still is can an ant be conscious? Or is it an ant colony that's conscious? Is it all of these individual players working together? Yeah, is a bee hive conscious? How does, you know, we transfer information one bee to the next and then-- - And you see 'em pulse? - Yeah, oh yeah. - Be hard to say that they're not connected pretty rapidly. - Right, yeah. And if you look at an individual neuron migrating to the spot it's gonna go, you can say, well, that looks like a conscious being. It's making decisions. It's putting out its filipodia here or there. And then it's saying, nah, not that one. I'm gonna go up here and then I'm gonna go over there. And it looks like you're watching a snail go to the food or something like that, or a place of safety. And then if you think of the billions of neurons you have in your brain as each independent entities, then you think of it as your brain as a city or a universe rather than an individual. - I actually have a quote that I wrote down of you saying that. - Oh really? - Yeah, yeah. I find this really interesting. You said, and I quote, "It's almost like your brain "is filled with billions of individuals "making decisions and talking to one another. "It's almost as if our brain is a city or even a universe "full of communicating entities that do different tasks." - Yeah. Yeah. - That's heavy. - And so how does that brain filled with independent entities direct our body to do anything, to be sitting here talking to you today? It takes, I don't know if it's just majority rules or what it is. Where's the will? We have no idea, but we do know will has a lot to do with things. For example, the belief that you can change can make all the difference in the world between whether you do change. Where does that belief come from? What is it that believes? Is it the consciousness of all of these entities saying, you know what, we're just gonna do it. You know? There's no little man in our heads saying, this is what we're gonna do now. This is what we are. We're made of all these billions of neurons. Yeah. - Yeah, that's a trip to me. It's interesting, I did not expect this theme to emerge in this conversation, but the idea of the metronome of something that is conducting all of these incredibly complex things, but when you think about each neuron really fighting for its own survival, looking for a connection, being self-directed in some way that I imagine we don't fully understand at this point, it's really interesting that a self-emergence. Now, one of the things that I find utterly fascinating about the brain is that if you cut the corpus callosum, the thing that connects the two hemispheres, for those that don't know, you'll get two personalities.
Corpus Callosum (02:44:53)
That's weird. - It is crazy, isn't it? I mean, it's amazing. And yeah, the studies are so revealing about what consciousness is. - What do you take away from it? How do you interpret that data? - Well, we do know there is lateralization to function. Like our language for the most of us is in the left hemisphere, and our spatial relations is in the right hemisphere. And the idea that these two areas, one can dominate the other and make it do what it wants, is really interesting. So one of those corpus callosum studies, a man was describing trying to dress himself in the morning and button up his shirt. And while his right hand was buttoning, his left hand was unbuttoning. So it's like these two consciousness. And does that mean that the left hemisphere just didn't know what the right hemisphere is doing? He just said, "Hey, why is my shirt, "why is it coming together? "I wanna go to bed. "Is the right hemisphere wanna go to bed "and the left hemisphere wants to go out into the world?" I don't know. Because the right hemisphere doesn't have the language. When he talks about it, he talks about what he was trying to button up the shirt. He says, "I was trying to button my shirt." If you were able to speak to his right hemisphere, would it say, "Oh yeah, that was silly. "I was trying to go to bed." Right? - It's interesting. One of the studies that I heard about, one of the hemispheres was deeply religious and the other was a pure atheist. I was like, wow man, in the same brain. And so you begin to realize that this is a competition of perhaps rivals going on in the brain, that there is some mechanism, whether it's majority rule or what, but something is happening and it happens so fast that you're unaware of it. And I feel like a stable me. I feel a sense of I have a self. And this is one thing I've often thought about with alcohol is, and look, I've never been blind drunk the way a lot of people have, but I've never not felt like me. I've always felt, I call this my Overwatch mechanism. I've always felt like there's a me version above, I feel the silly impulses the way that everybody else does, but I feel like I've got a guy sort of riding above it all. That's me. And so that idea, knowing that it's actually super false and my brain is billions of these somehow cooperating things that come to some kind of consensus and can move me forward and cause me to react to, so like if I see a hose out of the corner of my eye and I think it's a snake, I'll jump back like so fast or pulling your hand back from something that's hot before you have any sort of conscious awareness. So weird.
- It is. - It's a trip. - I think it's incredible, everything that you said, also it's incredible that we wake up still me in the morning considering how much is going on in our brain, how different our brains are when we fall asleep, how much plasticity happens with REM sleep, how do we wake up still knowing who we are and feeling like we're the same person? - Especially when I think about-- - Yeah, how do we recognize a childhood friend is like, oh, you're the same. How do we say you're the same? It's been 30 years since we saw them, 40 years and how do we know that? Maybe they aren't, maybe you both have changed together and that's why you recognize them, I don't know. Anyway, go ahead, what were you gonna say? - No, it's just that you have a sense, every cell in your body is turning over but there is a sense of you that does stay the same. I've thought about this with skin, like if you get a sunspot or a liver spot or whatever they're called, every cell in your body is turning over but somehow that stays. - Scars stay, yeah. - Scars I sort of get, do the cells turn over in a scar? I guess they must, right? That's interesting. - Yeah, well, yeah, I mean, I just recently learned from Aaron Schumann, it's in Germany, that the rate at which proteins turn over in our brains, so every seven days, our neurons are different because every protein is turned over, so. - That's startling. - Yeah, it is. - Wow. - And I'd heard it was every seven years, which is still incredible, right? But, and so there must be something that's slower than protein turnover that takes longer, but you know. - That's really interesting.
Importance Of Protein Turnover
Protein Turnover (02:49:53)
That must have implications in terms of neurodegenerative disease. Like if you could halt whatever is breaking down and make sure that the next round is healthy, that's actually really encouraging from like a stem cell standpoint, if things are turning over that fast. I obviously have no idea if that's gonna end up being productive or not, but. - Oh, very well could be. - It's really interesting. - Yeah, yeah. - Gina, this is utterly fascinating. Where can people follow you? - I have my own lab website. I don't update it as often as I should, so instead, if you wanna go to the department at UCLA, it's the Integrative Biology and Physiology, or just ibp.ucla.edu. I will make sure that my lab website is tied to that and it's linked, but my department's full of really great people doing super fascinating research. And so I, and all UCLA is, I'm also part of the Brain Research Institute, bri.ucla.edu, but either way, IBP is fine, yeah. - I love it. - Yeah, thank you. - Guys, if you haven't already, be sure to subscribe, and until next time, my friends, be legendary. Take care, peace. Click here now to learn the most common sleep mistakes that are destroying your health. - From an evolutionary perspective, sleep is the most idiotic of all behaviors. You know, when you think about it, because firstly, when you're asleep, you're not finding a mate, you're not reproducing. We need to be there.