Sleep is the Boss of You – Matthew Walker, Ph.D. – #616

Photo of Matthew Walker
Sleep scientist Matthew Walker, Ph.D., aka “The Sleep Diplomat,’ examines the impact of sleep on human health and disease.

In this episode of Bulletproof Radio, my guest is Matthew Walker, Ph.D., aka “The Sleep Diplomat.” When it comes to matters of sleep, he does not mince words: “We’re in the midst of a “catastrophic sleep-loss epidemic,” he says.

As a professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and director of the Center for Human Sleep Science, his research examines the impact of sleep on human health and disease. He’s also the lead sleep scientist at Google.

His international best-selling book, “Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams,” has sold more than 1 million copies worldwide and been translated into 34 languages. But be warned—the startling science he presents about sleep may keep you up at night.

Matthew has been featured on television and radio outlets, including CBS’s 60 Minutes, the National Geographic Channel, NOVA Science, NPR, and the BBC, as well as in national and international publications, and on numerous podcasts. His main-stage TED Talk—Sleep is Your Superpower—was one of the fastest to reach 1 million views within hours of release. It’s been viewed well over 5.2 million times as of this episode air date and continues to climb.

I was eager to have Matthew on the show to talk about our lack of sleep and examine sleep’s connection to health and brain function. Our conversation covers all that and much more. “There is no single system of the body or the brain that isn’t optimally enhanced by sleep when you get it, or detrimentally impaired when you don’t get enough,” he says.

Enjoy the show!

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Follow Along with the Transcript

Sleep is the Boss of You – Matthew Walker, Ph.D. – #616


Twitter: @sleepdiplomat
Center for Human Sleep Science:
TED Talk: “Sleep is Your Superpower”

Key Notes

  • How sleep has changed in the last 50 years 00:03:20
  • Sleep is the best health insurance policy 00:06:00
  • Quality vs quantity 00:09:45
  • “Sleep is the most idiotic of all evolutionary behaviors” 00:13:40
  • “Technology is fast becoming the greatest assaulting things in terms of sleep” 00:25:55
  • Waking up at 5:30 a.m. to “become a better human” could be killing you 00:31:00
  • How we are failing our children spectacularly 00:37:15
  • No evidence that mushrooms help with sleep 00:46:45
  • “Sedation is not sleeping” 00:52:00
  • Bigger Ideas:
  • Less sleep and disease risk 00:04:50
  • Is there such a thing as too much sleep? 00:07:00
  • Do healthy people need less sleep? 00:08:20
  • The “sleep-depriving rats to death” study 00:11:00
  • What is the “best night of sleep?“ 00:12:15
  • Sleep and human evolution 00:14:00
  • Optimizing your sleep for different physiological effects 00:16:45
  • Techniques or devices that help with sleep quality 00:22:00
  • Sleep and light exposure 00:25:35
  • Morning is at a different time for different people 00:32:00
  • Sleep and sound 00:40:40
  • The role of sleep aids and sedatives 00:48:45
  • Sleep and dealing with trauma 01:01:00

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