Dr. Matthew Walker (@sleepdiplomat) is Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California in Berkeley, founder and director of the Center for Human Sleep Science, and author of Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams.
“The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life.” -Dr. Matthew Walker
What We Discuss with Matthew Walker:
- Why you’re not lazy if you don’t happen to be a morning person (it’s genetic).
- What it means when you always seem to wake up right before your alarm.
- What’s going on in your dreams (lucid or otherwise) and what can you learn from them?
- How to train yourself to go to sleep at the time that’s ideal for you.
- Mistakes you’re making that keep you from getting optimal results at bedtime.
- And much more…
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Worksheet for This Episode
With only so many hours in the day to get things done, sleep often falls by the wayside as something we neglect in our workaholic society of endless hustle — with consequences more dire than most of us understand. So how do we optimize the sleep we get to maximize the effect of our wakeful hours and live longer, healthier lives?
In this episode we talk to Dr. Matthew Walker, scientist and professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California in Berkeley and author of international best-seller Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams. He’ll help us understand how to best harness the time we spend sleeping — whether we’re globetrotting entrepreneurs dealing with jet lag or nine-to-fivers in constant battle with our snooze alarms. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
Please Scroll down for Full Show Notes and Featured Resources!
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More About This Show
We’ve all been guilty of letting sleep take a backseat to the things in life we’ve designated as higher priorities. Whether you’re a workaholic trying to fine tune the big proposal in the wee hours, a student staying up all night to cram for the grade-defining final exam, or a gamer choking down Big Gulps of Mountain Dew to get to the elusive next level, you’ve made the choice to forego sleep in favor of something deemed in the moment as “more important.” Again, we all have.
Then again, we’ve also tried to do the right thing and get to bed by a reasonable time only to toss and turn restlessly until the morning alarm sounds. So which is worse: choosing to do the wrong thing and losing sleep, or choosing to do the right thing and losing sleep?
Possibly the most maddening way to lose sleep is to become so obsessed with catching a good night of it that you can’t stop checking the countless apps or devices designed to help track it and you invoke a relatively new disorder dubbed Orthosomnia.
As a sleep researcher who knows what he should be doing to get a good night’s sleep yet still occasionally falls into the trap of worrying himself wakeful, Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams author Matthew Walker is sympathetic to the struggle — which is why he saw the need to write this book.
“I’d done enough public lectures out there in the world that I started off speaking about the wonderfully good things and amazing things that happen when you get sleep,” says Matthew. “And people thought, ‘That’s great; that’s really fascinating.’ But then they never had behavioral change. Then I switched to actually speaking about the demonstrable and frighteningly bad things that happen when you don’t get enough sleep — that’s when people really started to sit up and pay attention…but it’s just simply frightening, the science behind insufficient sleep.”
For example, Matthew points out that driving after 20 hours without sleep means you’re as cognitively impaired as you would be if you were legally drunk.
“We know that a lack of sleep and fatigue causes more accidents on our roads than drugs and alcohol combined,” says Matthew, adding that they’re also more deadly because someone under the influence is at least reacting slowly to an impending accident, while someone falling asleep at the wheel isn’t even aware enough of their surroundings to have any kind of reaction at all.
“At that moment, there’s a two-ton missile traveling at 65 miles an hour — and no one’s in charge!” says Matthew.
Listen to this episode in its entirety to learn more about why even six hours of sleep — what many consider a reasonable minimum night’s rest — still makes you 33 percent more likely to have a car accident, the terrible risks you’re taking if you regularly get less than six hours of sleep per night, how every fatal disease in the developed world now has a causal link to insufficient sleep, what the chances of you being genetically lucky enough to survive on less sleep than everyone else really are, why the World Health Organization declared night shift work a “probable” carcinogen, if willful sleep deprivation is a uniquely human phenomenon, the connection between hunger and sleep, why some of us are morning people while others are night owls (or somewhere in between), how to best cope with jet lag, how to use sleep to your memory’s advantage, the benefits of dreaming, and much more.
THANKS, MATTHEW WALKER!
If you enjoyed this session with Matthew Walker, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker
- Sleep Diplomat
- Center for Human Sleep Science
- Matthew Walker at Twitter
- Orthosomnia: New Disorder Affects People Who Track Their Sleep, Study Finds by Chelsea Ritschel, The Independent
- Drowsy Driving vs. Drunk Driving: How Similar Are They? National Sleep Foundation
- 12 Facts About Sleep Inertia, Valley Sleep Center
- Productive on Six Hours of Sleep? You’re Deluding Yourself, Expert Says by Keri Wiginton, The Chicago Tribune
- Can You Make Up for Lost Sleep on the Weekend? by Bahar Gholipour, Live Science
- Four Deadly Diseases That Are Linked to Poor Sleep, Sleepscore Labs
- Jocko Willink | Why Discipline Beats Motivation Every Time, TJHS 15
- Rare Genetic Mutation Lets Some People Function with Less Sleep by Katherine Harmon, Scientific American
- Night Shift Working “A Probable Human Carcinogen” by Grace Rattue, Medical News Today
- Migrating Alaska Sparrow Perform Despite Lack of Sleep by Ned Rozell, University of Alaska, Fairbanks
- How Do Killer Whales Sleep? by Jenny Green, Sciencing
- Sleep Deprivation Tied to Shifts in Hunger Hormones by Sarah Graham, Scientific American
- Can the Science of Autophagy Boost Your Health? by Laurel Ives, BBC News
- The Power of Time-Restricted Eating aka Intermittent Fasting | Satchin Panda, The Genius Life 13
- The Circadian Clock: A Plant’s Best Friend in a Spinning World by Maria E. Eriksson and Andrew J. Millar, Plant Physiology
- Suprachiasmatic Nucleus, 2-Minute Neuroscience
- The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
- Daniel Pink | When Is the Best Time to Get Things Done? TJHS 63
- Your Perpetual Tiredness Might be a Result of Your Chronotype: Sleep Better and Live Healthier, Counting Sheep
- Sleep Homeostasis, Metabolism, and Adenosine by Sebastian C. Holst and Hans-Peter Landolt, Current Sleep Medicine Reports
- Caffeine, 2-Minute Neuroscience
- Caffeine Hangover and Crash: What It Is and How to Avoid It by Ted Kallmyer, Caffeine Informer
- Beyond Coffee: 14 Healthy Drinks to Get Your Morning Started by Jess Novak, The Daily Meal
- Caffeine Calculator, Perfect Coffee at Home
- Schools Start Too Early, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- SB-328 Pupil Attendance: School Start Time, California Legislative Information
- Social Jet Lag: The Exhausting Condition You Probably Don’t Know You Have by Rachel Hosie, The Independent
- Even Your Fat Cells Need Sleep, According to New Research, University of Chicago Medicine
- Why Do I Wake Up Right Before My Alarm Goes Off? by Lucas Reilly, Mental Floss
- Not Getting Enough Sleep? Camping In February Might Help by Angus Chen, NPR
- Anticipatory Anxiety: The Suffering and Solutions by Srini Pillay, Psychology Today
- What Jet Lag? by Arlo Skye
- Melatonin, The Mayo Clinic
- Black Mirror
- Context-Dependent Memory, Wikipedia
- REM vs. Non-REM Sleep: The Stages of Sleep by Cari Nierenberg, Live Science
- Why Your Brain Needs to Dream by Matthew Walker, Greater Good Magazine
- Norepinephrine, PubChem
- Sleep Terrors (Night Terrors) Symptoms and Causes, The Mayo Clinic
- The Role of Sleep in Emotional Brain Function by Andrea N. Goldstein and Matthew P. Walker, Annual Review of Clinical Psychology
- Trial of Prazosin for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Military Veterans by Murray A. Raskind et al., The New England Journal of Medicine
- Sleep Deprivation Dulls Our Emotional Intelligence, Which Could Damage the Workplace by Emilie Siegler, Gartner Talent Daily
- TrueDark Performance and Sleep Technology
- Swannies Blue Light Protection