Welcome to the Huberman Lab Podcast, where we discuss science and science-based tools for everyday life. I’m Andrew Huberman, a professor of neurobiology and ophthalmology at Stanford School of Medicine. This podcast is separate from my teaching and research roles at Stanford, but it is part of my desire to bring zero cost consumer information about science and science-related tools to the general public.

I want to thank today’s sponsors of the podcast, starting with Athletic Greens. Athletic Greens is an all-in-one vitamin, mineral, and probiotic supplement. It’s a greens drink that you mix with water, and I add lemon juice to mine because I like the way it tastes. It gets you all the vitamins and minerals you need, as well as probiotics. Probiotics are important to me because there is now a lot of data showing that gut health is important for gut-brain access, things like mood, immunity, etc.

If you want to try Athletic Greens, you can go to athleticgreens.com/huberman and they will send you a year supply of the D3 K2. Vitamin D3 has been shown to be important for various aspects of immune system function, as well as other biological pathways, metabolic function, etc. This podcast is also brought to us by Headspace, a meditation app that makes meditation easy. I’ve been meditating on and off since I was in my teens, mainly because meditation can be hard to stick to. However, I find that when I have something to guide my meditation such as Headspace, it makes it much easier for me to be consistent about my meditation practice. There is now tons of data out there in quality peer review journals, showing that meditative states can facilitate cognition, recovery of mental function, recovery of physical ability, etc. So there are a lot of reasons to take up a meditation practice.

Headspace makes it easy to learn and maintain a meditation practice. You can try it out for free at headspace.com/specialoffer. Today’s podcast episode is about sleep and wakefulness. We will discuss jet lag, shift work, babies, kids, and the elderly and provide protocols backed by science. The last three episodes of the Huberman Lab Podcast have explored themes of wakefulness and sleepiness, how to fall asleep and stay asleep, and the effects of light, exercise, and temperature.

Today’s discussion will be even more digestible for you if you haven’t listened to the previous episodes. I will provide a little bit of background so that it’s not necessary. However, if you get a chance to listen to them, please do it as it will help you digest the information better.

Let’s take a step back and remind everyone what we’re talking about. We’re talking about an endogenous, meaning within us, rhythm that we call the circadian rhythm. This rhythm is a 24 hour rhythm in all sorts of functions, the most prominent one being a rhythm in our feelings of wakefulness and sleepiness.

Throughout history, experiments have been done where people have gone down into a cave and existed in constant darkness for some period of time, or been in constant light for some period of time.

People have an endogenous rhythm of about 24 hours. This rhythm is marked by a fluctuation in body temperature, from low to high and back down to low again. Sleepiness and wakefulness also correlate with this rhythm, with people tending to be sleepy as their temperature is falling and more awake when their temperature is increasing. This rhythm is a biological fact, and is encoded in the DNA of every cell, ensuring that every cell is on this 24 hour-ish rhythm.

We have a clock over the roof of our mouth, a group of neurons called the suprachiasmatic nucleus. That clock generates a 24 hour rhythm and is in-trained, meaning it is matched, to the external light-dark cycle. No surprise, this cycle is 24 hours, the same amount of time it takes for the earth to spin. Our cells, organs, wakefulness, temperature, metabolism, immune system, mood, and more are all tethered to the outside light-dark cycle.

If we wake up in the morning, view sunlight as it crosses the horizon, and then catch a little sunlight in the evening before being in complete darkness at night, we will be more or less perfectly matched to the external light-dark cycle. However, this is rarely the case due to artificial lights and life demands. Today we will be discussing what happens when we are pulled away from this rhythm.

It is true that some people are night owls and others are morning larks, which is due to genetic polymorphisms, or genetic variations. This causes some people to want to wake up early and others to stay up late, while teens tend to want to sleep in more.

Human beings are a diurnal species, designed to be awake during the daytime and asleep at night. Studies have shown that when we deviate too far from this diurnal schedule, serious health effects, both mental and physical, can arise. Today, I’d like to focus on what you can do to arm yourself with tools to create a perfect schedule and push back against jet lag and its negative effects. I’ll also talk about how to shift your clock faster to avoid feeling miserable when traveling for work or vacation.

From a circadian sleep-wakefulness standpoint, you want to get as much light, ideally sunlight, into your eyes during the period of each 24 hour cycle when you want to be awake and alert. You want to get as little light into your eyes at the times of that 24 hour cycle when you want to be asleep or drowsy and falling asleep. How much is enough? You don’t want to go so high with the light exposure that you damage your eyes, as they are two pieces of your brain that were extruded out of your skull and will not regenerate. Right now, the technologies don’t exist to regenerate those neurons in humans, so you do not want to damage them.

When it is painful to look at, close your eyes or blink in order to bear it. Avoid looking at very bright lights as they are likely to damage your eyes. However, if it is still dark in the morning and you want to be awake, turn on artificial lights, such as overhead lights. These lights will optimally trigger the neurons, melanopsin cells in the retina, which will activate your circadian clock. When the sun comes out, even if there is cloud cover, it is still wise to get some sunlight in your eyes when you can. Sunlight and artificial light both have their own benefits, which I have discussed previously.

Exposure to at least 100,000 lux of photon energy before 9:00 AM is recommended for setting the circadian clock. Staring at a light of 100,000 lux or more is not recommended as it is very bright. The mechanism of circadian clock setting involves neurons in the eye sending electrical signals to the clock above the roof of the mouth. This system adds photons slowly, so if one were to look at a computer or phone screen (500 to 1,000 lux) for a full minute, the photon energy would be transferred into electrical energy of neurons and communicated to the circadian clock.

However, the signal that it’s morning will not have registered with the circadian clock unless I looked at it for a hundred minutes or more, so 100,000 photons. Now, the problem is if you wake up at 8 o’clock, you’re not going to get enough light from artificial light before you reach what’s called the circadian dead zone. This means you have a window of opportunity before 9 or 10 AM to capture enough photons, and you have to do it with your eyes. I’ve discussed why this is important in previous episodes of the podcast: there is no extra ocular photo reception and this is not about vitamin D in your skin. This is about setting your circadian clock, which is paramount for mental and physical health.

To get the required 100,000 photons, you don’t need to get them all at once, but you need to get them before 9 or 10 AM. So what do you do? You go outside.

If you want to get nerdy about this quantitative, you could download a free app like Light Meter and take a look around your house with it. Even bright overhead lights are only emitting about 4,000 or 5,000 lux. It’s going to take a long while of looking at those lights with eyes open in order to set your circadian clock and tell your brain and body that it’s morning. Going outside even on a cloudy day could be 7,000, 10,000 lux. It’s really remarkable how much photon energy is coming through. So try and get 100,000 lux before 9:00 AM.

If you can’t do that because you live in an area of the world where it’s just not bright enough – some people have sent me pictures from Northern England – then sure, you can resort to using artificial lights in order to get enough photons. I’m putting out this 100,000 lux number as a target to get each day before 9:00 AM.

Sunlight is the better stimulus for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s free if it’s available outside. There are a number of different technologies, such as light pads, that allow you to toggle the brightness. This particular one is 930 lux, but a cloudy day outside will have five times more photon energy. Some people set up ring lights near their coffee or workstation in the morning, but the best option is to get natural sunlight. This is especially important when talking about jet lag, as sunlight helps to reset the body’s internal clock.

I cannot emphasize enough that light needs to be captured and summed before entering the “circadian dead zone,” which is the middle of the day. This is in order to achieve a perfect schedule. According to scientific literature, one should look at sunlight around the time when the sun is setting. This is because it adjusts down the sensitivity of the eyes. While we need a lot of photon energy early in the day to wake up our system and set our circadian clock, it takes very little photon energy to reset and shift our clock after 8:00 PM. It is therefore important to avoid bright light, and even not so bright light, between the hours of 10 or 11:00 PM and 4:00 AM.

A number of people have asked questions about this and the last episode discussed red lights, blue blockers, and other related topics. However, if one sees afternoon light, this will adjust down the sensitivity of the eyes and provide more leeway to view lights from screens and overhead lights late at night without disrupting the circadian clock. It is a double-edged sword where one needs a lot of light early in the day, and needs to avoid bright lights later in the day. References to studies have been mentioned, and those interested can reach out for more information.

We are in the process of trying to get a webpage going with full links. There are some copyright issues to deal with, however wherever possible I will try and reference studies and when people ask I will generally put the references in the response to their comments on YouTube or Instagram. Two studies from the University of Colorado, published in Current Biology, have been conducted. These can be found online by googling ‘Current Biology, camping and reset circadian clocks’. The studies showed that two days of waking up with the sun and avoiding light at night reset the melatonin and cortisol rhythms for the graduate students who took part in the experiment. Other things can be done to shift and reinforce the clock such as exercising, eating and getting at least 100,000 lux of light exposure to the eyes, not all at once but summing across the morning. Today’s episode is not about this, however.

Light is vitally important for shifting the clock when jet lagged. In the morning, you should try to get outside and expose yourself to the sun. In the evening, you should try to get light to adjust down your retinal sensitivity so that late at night, if you happen to look at screens, it won’t shift your clock. It takes around 1,000 to 1500 lux of light energy to shift your clock in the middle of the night.

You don’t need any technology or devices to shift your clock when jet lagged. You can do it with light, temperature, exercise, and food. Even if you don’t travel, you can still be jet lagged due to looking at your phone in the middle of the night, waking up at different times of day, or having an inconsistent exercise regime. If that works for you, great!

I want to be really clear that there is a lot of individual variability when it comes to sleep and diet. We will be talking about the origins of this variability. For example, I know people who can eat anything and maintain great health, while others may feel like they have to be very careful with their diet. This is really about finding what is optimal and what is possible. From my personal experience, I suffer from jet lag when traveling in certain directions. Many people feel great when they travel to a new location, but then crash and have trouble sleeping.

Many people who travel back and forth experience jet lag, which can make it difficult to get back onto a normal schedule. Factors such as age and genetics can influence the severity of jet lag. Unfortunately, there is no single pill or remedy that can be taken to get rid of jet lag. However, there are a few simple things you can do to help manage jet lag. Understanding the mechanism of jet lag can help you have more flexibility in controlling your biological system, rather than just following a list of things to do. By understanding how jet lag works, you can have a better idea of how to manage it.

Jet lag is a condition caused by travelling across time zones, resulting in disruption to the body’s circadian rhythm. It can have serious consequences, including shortened life expectancy. Studies have shown that jet lag can lead to confusion and disorientation, making people more prone to accidents, such as stepping in front of buses while in a foreign country. Understanding the mechanism of jet lag and how to manage it can help to reduce its negative effects.

I had a family member who traveled overseas for work and took a sleeping pill, which resulted in a case of total amnesia for a week. This is not entirely uncommon, as our brains were not designed to be transported four, five, or six hours into a new time zone. If you have ever been jet lagged and fallen asleep, you may have experienced fluctuations in mood or even vertigo. I personally experienced this when I flew 12 hours out of phase to Abu Dhabi to give a talk at NYU Abu Dhabi.

Paragraph 1: I wasn’t hallucinating but I was really out of it. My mood was all over the place and it was very bizarre. Jet lag, even if you don’t experience it as mood shifts or amnesia, it can shorten your life.

Paragraph 2: Traveling westward on the globe is always easier than traveling eastward. The effects of jet lag on longevity have shown that traveling east takes more years off your life than traveling west.

Paragraph 3: Of course, traveling 30 minutes into a new time zone or just one time zone over, or two times zone over rather, is far less detrimental to your biology and psychology than a eight hour shift or a nine hour shift.

Paragraph 4: When we think about the effects of jet lag on longevity or this idea that it can shorten our lives, we have to ask ourselves why, why is that?

Humans, and probably most species, are better able to activate and stay alert than they are to shut down their nervous system and go to sleep on demand. This asymmetry of our autonomic nervous system plays out in the asymmetry of jet lag. When travelling east, we are trying to go to bed earlier, which is much harder than staying up a few more hours when travelling west. This is likely an evolutionary adaptation, as it allows us to push ourselves and stay awake when necessary, such as when gathering food or fighting. However, deliberately falling asleep is much harder to do.

People have asked me about papers on the differences in life span for frequent eastward versus westward, versus no travel and longevity. A paper published by Davidson and colleagues in 2006 in Current Biology talks about this, as well as a number of different biological markers of longevity. Going east is harder because going to sleep earlier is harder, if you’re trying to do that on demand. To try and induce sleepiness, many people have turned to melatonin. At the end of this discussion, I’ll talk about melatonin, as a number of you have asked for the evidence that melatonin is potentially detrimental to some hormone systems. Melatonin is a hormone, and it can suppress a hormone pathway that involves luteinizing hormone, testosterone in men and estrogen in females, as well as a peptide called kisspeptin. Lastly, let’s consider travel and what happens when you’re going north or south.

If you go from Washington DC to Santiago Chile, or from Tel Aviv, Israel to Cape Town, South Africa, you will experience travel fatigue, as you are simply moving north and south and not shifting into a different time zone. Jet lag has two elements: travel fatigue and time zone jet lag. Time zone jet lag is the inability of local sunlight and local darkness to match to your internal rhythm, or endogenous rhythm. Some people suffer from jet lag a lot, while others not so much. Most people experience worse jet lag as they get older. This is because, early in life, patterns of melatonin release are very stable, flat, and high in children.

The effects of age on our circadian clock can be seen in the way our bodies don’t undergo puberty. As we get older, our cycles become more disrupted, making us more vulnerable to small changes in our daily routine such as meal times. This disruption can also be attributed to other age-related factors, such as a decrease in exercise and digestion problems. However, some people are still able to maintain a regular exercise regime, which can help shift their circadian clock. For example, a friend of mine in his 80s still pushes out 25-30 push-ups each morning and is on the Peloton. While some 80-year-olds are able to maintain a regular exercise routine, many are not, and the same can be said for 30-year-olds.

Regular exercise can make it easier to shift your circadian clock for the sake of jet lag. It is a “knob” that can be turned to adjust the internal rhythm. To make it as easy and simple as possible, I want to talk about the temperature minimum. This is an important thing to know about your body and brain. It doesn’t require a thermometer to measure, but it tends to fall 90 minutes to two hours before your average waking time.

Your temperature minimum tends to fall 90 minutes to two hours before your average waking time. So, for example, if your typical wake up time is 5:30 AM, your temperature minimum is very likely 3:30 AM or 4:00 AM. You can measure your temperature minimum by getting a thermometer and measuring your temperature every couple hours for 24 hours. You will find a low point, the temperature minimum, and then your temperature will start to rise until you wake up two hours later. It will then continue to rise into the afternoon, possibly with a little trough, before slowly declining as you approach nighttime. However, things such as saunas, cold baths, intense exercise, and meals can disrupt this pattern, with meals having a thermogenic effect that increases temperature slightly.

Joe Takahashi and others have shown that temperature is the signal by which our body’s cells and tissues are synchronized. Temperature is the effector, and this allows for all the different cell types to interpret the temperature signal as one unified and consistent theme of their environment. Temperatures can vary from person to person, and it is important to know your temperature minimum.

The temperature minimum can be determined by taking the last three to five wake up times. So, let’s say you wake up 7:00 AM, 8:00 AM, 3:00 AM. Add these together and divide by the number of days to get the average. If you use an alarm clock, your wake-up time is still when you get up. Many people will wake up at exactly the same time each day, however there tends to be some variation for people depending on life circumstances. Average this for three to seven days or so to get the temperature minimum.

Taking your temperature minimum is the first step in shifting your circadian clock. Whether you need to adjust your sleep pattern due to jet lag, shift work, or some other purpose, exposing your eyes to bright light in the four to six hours after your temperature minimum will cause your clock to phase advance, meaning you will tend to wake up earlier and go to sleep earlier in the subsequent days. Conversely, exposing your eyes to bright light in the four to six hours before your temperature minimum will cause your clock to phase delay, meaning you will tend to wake up later and go to sleep later. If you would like to read up on this further, it is called a phase advance.

I’m going to delay my clock.

Paragraph 1: Find your temperature minimum. I tend to wake up at about 6:00 AM, sometimes 6:30, sometimes seven. It depends a lot on what I was doing the night before as I’m guessing it does for you. But that means that my temperature minimum is probably somewhere right around 4:30 AM.

Paragraph 2: Which means that if I wake up at 4:30 AM and I were to view bright light at 4:35 AM, I’m going to advance my clock. I’m going to want to go to bed earlier the subsequent night and wake up earlier the subsequent morning. And as I shift my wake-up time, my temperature minimum shifts too, right?

Paragraph 3: Because each time we shift our wake-up time our temperature minimum shifts, assuming that wake up time shifts more than 30 minutes or an hour, okay. If I were to view bright light in the four to six hours before 4:30 AM, guess what? I’m going to delay my clock.

I’m going to want to stay up later the next night and wake up later the subsequent morning. The temperature minimum is a reference point, not a temperature reading. If you want to measure your temperature minimum and figure out what it is, that’s fine. However, this information won’t help you. What you need to know is what time your body temperature is lowest and that in the four hours after this time, viewing light will advance your clock to make you want to get up earlier. Conversely, the four hours before your temperature minimum, viewing light will make you want to stay up later.

Some people might be saying they wake up early and want to stay up late, but are sleepy all day and feel like a mess. The definition of insomnia is when you’re experiencing excessive sleepiness during the day.

Sleepiness and fatigue are different. Fatigue is a physical exhaustion, while sleepiness is falling asleep, like falling asleep at your desk or during lectures. Unless it’s around your temperature peak and only lasts about 90 minutes, sleepiness during the day is a sign of insomnia and lack of sleep. You can shift your clock using light and exercise. Temperature is the effector, and you have a low point that reflects your most sleepy point, right before waking up. Then, temperature rises and you can start to shift that temperature according to your travel needs.

I would want to determine my temperature minimum, which for me is about 4:30 AM or 5:00 AM. To adjust to jet lag, I would want to start getting up at about 5:30 AM and getting some bright light exposure, presumably from artificial sources because the sunlight isn’t going to be out at that time. Maybe even exercising and eating a meal at that time if that’s in my practice. I should start doing this two or three days before travel. Once I land in Europe, chances are just viewing the sunrise or sunset in Europe is not going to allow me to shift my circadian clock. Some people say get sunlight in my eyes when I land, but that won’t work because either I’m going to view sunlight at a time that corresponds to the circadian dead zone, the time in which my circadian clock can’t be shifted, or I’m going to end up viewing sunlight at a time that corresponds to the four to six hour window before my temperature minimum. This will shift me in exactly the opposite direction I want to go. It can be very challenging for people to adjust to jet lag, so it’s important to ask if I’m traveling east or west.

You can shift your body clock by eating, viewing sunlight, and exercising in the four to six hours before your temperature minimum to delay your clock. Alternatively, you can advance your clock by doing some combination of the three activities in the four to six hours after your temperature minimum. This is a powerful mechanism that can shift your clock up to three hours per day.

When travelling eastward, you should prepare for the shift by doing this back home and again when you arrive. You should also keep track of your temperature minimum back home and how it is shifting during your trip. Although it may seem difficult, it is much easier to do with a smartphone that updates automatically based on wifi.

If you can keep track of the time back home, then you can easily shift your clock going forward. I’m hoping this makes sense. I really want to emphasize that you don’t have to be precise down to the minute.

Light is the primary way in which we can shift our clock. Additionally, it is important to understand that there is a circadian dead zone from about 9:30-10:00 AM all the way until six hours before your temperature minimum. During this time, nothing that you do in terms of light viewing behavior, feeding, etc., is going to shift your clock.

A lot of people are landing in Europe, getting sunlight in their eyes, and throwing their clock out of whack or not shifting their clock at all. It is important to understand how to adjust your clock accordingly when travelling.

You want to eat on the local meal schedule for alertness. If you arrive at a new location and everyone is eating breakfast, but you don’t feel up to it, you can skip the meal. However, you don’t want to stay on your home meal schedule and wake up in the middle of the night to eat. This will throw off the clocks in your peripheral body, which will send conflicting signals to your brain.

The temperature minimum is really your anchor point for shifting your clock best. I don’t know why this information really hasn’t made it into the popular sphere, quite so much. There’s all sorts of stuff about taking things like melatonin, using binaural beats, and a lot of kind of like more sophisticated, complicated, and potentially problematic ways of trying to shift the clock.

Let’s talk about melatonin, but first I just want to pause and shift gears a little bit because I talked about traveling eastward, but we haven’t talked about traveling westward. So I want to do that now. Let’s say you’re traveling from New York to California or from Europe to California. The challenge there tends to be, how can you stay up late enough? Now, some people are able to do this because, as I mentioned earlier, the autonomic nervous system is asymmetrically wired such that it’s easier to stay up late later than we would naturally want to than it is to go to sleep earlier.

So let’s say you land and it’s 4:00 PM and you’re just dying, you’re in California, you came from Europe, it’s 4:00 PM and you really, really want to go to sleep. That’s where the use of things like caffeine, exercise, and sunlight can shift you, right?

After your temperature peak, viewing sunlight around 6:00 PM or 8:00 PM, or artificial light if there isn’t sunlight, can help shift your clock and allow you to stay up later. Taking a nap that was intended to last 20 minutes or an hour can be detrimental, as you may wake up four hours later or at midnight and be unable to fall back asleep. Stimulants like caffeine and coffee or tea can help you push past the afternoon barrier and get you to sleep more like on the local schedule. Eating on the local schedule is also beneficial. Many have asked about the use of melatonin to induce sleepiness. Melatonin is a hormone released from the pineal gland which helps to regulate sleep.

The pineal gland does make a hallucinogenic molecule called DMT, however, the amounts are so minuscule that it is not responsible for the hallucinations seen in sleep and dreaming or other approaches to DMT. There are many wacky claims out there regarding calcification of the pineal and fluoride, but the pineal sits in an area of the brain near the fourth ventricle, where the skull is not far away. With age, there is some aggregation of meninges and other things around the pineal, but this does not result in calcification.

Forgetting about calcification of the pineal is not an issue. Melatonin production continues throughout life and induces sleepiness. During development, melatonin is responsible for timing the secretion of certain hormones that are essential for puberty. Melatonin does not directly control the onset of puberty, but indirectly does so by inhibiting gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). This hormone is released from the hypothalamus and stimulates the release of luteinizing hormone (LH) in females and testosterone in males. LH and testosterone are both inhibited by melatonin.

There’s just no two ways about it: there is an immense amount of data on the fact that high levels of melatonin in seasonally breeding animals takes the ovaries from nice and robust ovaries that are capable of deploying eggs and this kind of thing and literally shrinking them, making these animals infertile. These are very high levels of melatonin in seasonal breeders in winter. Melatonin in males of seasonal breeders takes the testes and shrinks them.

Long ago when I was at UC Berkeley as a master’s student, I was working on neuroendocrinology and we were working on this hamster species of seasonal breeders. Basically, when days are long, which inhibits melatonin, these little Siberian hamsters as they’re called have testes about the size of, sort of typical table grapes. When days get shorter and the melatonin signal gets longer because light inhibits melatonin, days get shorter, melatonin gets longer. Those same hamsters would have testes that would involute to the size of about a grain of rice.

Now this does not happen in humans in short days. But nonetheless, the melatonin signal really does have a ton of effects on the hormone system.

Melatonin does not necessarily screw up your hormones. It operates on a concentration level, so in a child that is very small that has high levels of melatonin, it can inhibit GnRH, LH, testosterone or estrogen depending on the sex of the child. As the child grows, the same amount of melatonin released from the pineal is diluted over a much larger body, so the concentration goes down. The problem with supplementing melatonin is that the concentrations in many commercial supplements have been shown to be anywhere from 85% to 400% of what is listed on the bottle. When taken, this can lead to super physiological levels of melatonin, which could have dramatic effects on timing and course of things like puberty.

Melatonin is used widely for inducing sleepiness when you want to fall asleep in a new location. It helps you fall asleep, but does not help you stay asleep. In addition, melatonin has been touted as the best way to shift your circadian clock. However, I have a bias towards behavioral things such as exposure to light, exercise, temperature, etc. that have much bigger margins for safety and don’t have the same endocrine effects as melatonin. If you want to take melatonin in the afternoon or evening, you are responsible for your health. For many people, melatonin is not going to be the best solution.

The best solution for shifting your clock is to use light, temperature, and exercise on either side of the temperature minimum before your trip and when you land in your new location. My opinion about melatonin is that you should filter it through your own opinions and experiences with melatonin. To understand how to shift your clock, you need to know your temperature minimum and how it represents an important landmark. To shift your clock, you can take a hot shower or an ice bath, which will have a cooling or thermogenic effect, respectively. Think of your natural rhythm back home when everything is stable, with a low point (temperature minimum) and peak, and adjust your hot or cold shower accordingly to shift your rhythm. For example, if you wake up at 6:00 AM, you have passed your temperature minimum, and your temperature is rising.

If I were to get into a hot shower, that would then lower my body temperature when I got out. This is not normally what’s happening first thing in the morning, and therefore my clock would very likely get phase delayed. It’s going to delay the increase in temperature.

Whereas if I got into a cold shower, something I don’t personally like to do, but I’ve done from time to time or an ice bath, that’s going to then have a rebound increase in body temperature and is going to phase advance my clock. That peak in the afternoon is going to come about an hour earlier. I’m going to want to go to bed earlier, later that night.

So you can start to play these games with timing and hot and cold, with meals whether or not you eat, or you don’t eat, and with light exposure, whether or not you view light or you don’t view light. This is why understanding the core mechanics of a system can really give you the most flexibility.

I could spend the next 25 years of my life answering every question about every nuance pattern of travel. But that’s on you. You need to figure out your temperature minimum and your temperature peak, if you like, and then use these parameters to give you flexibility.

This paragraph is about understanding the importance of not being neurotically attached to a specific protocol. It can give you power to be able to shift your body rhythms however you want. When things get out of whack, you can tuck them right back into place.

The next paragraph is about what to do when you have a quick trip. It is best to stay on your home schedule and this may require scheduling meetings according to your home schedule. Even if you do everything correctly in one day, your clock is not going to shift more than a couple hours. An example is given of a 24 hour trip to Basel, Switzerland, and the fatigue from the travel experience is mentioned.

The novelty of it, the air is never great on planes, even before there were mask requirements and things like that. There’s travel fatigue, but if you stay no more than 48 hours, you should be able to stay on your home schedule. Transit time is also important, but if it’s three days or less, try to stick to your home schedule as much as possible. Because sunlight isn’t always under your control, consider bringing something like a light pad that emits 1,000 lux of light to use in your hotel room. Night shades can also be useful for blocking out light on planes and in hotels.

You can use light and dark to travel with your light and dark devices so that you can stay on your home schedule and get most of your light when it would be your normal wake up time back home. What’s nice is that you can also feel free to be outside without having to wear sunglasses or worry about light exposure, but you should be aware of your circadian dead zone, which is generally 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM. During this four to six hour window, viewing a lot of light in a new location can shift your clock considerably.

I experienced this firsthand when I went to Australia at the end of graduate school. I couldn’t sleep on a regular schedule and it took me weeks to get back on target. I was able to do this by exercising consistently at the same time every 24 hours, turning my home into a cave at night, and getting as much bright light in my eyes as possible during the day. This phenomenon is called ICU psychosis, where people in the intensive care unit in hospitals can become psychotic with hallucinations. It can take some real work if your clock gets thrown out of whack.

Light and sound can have a dramatic effect on our psyche and body. We know this because people in hospitals are exposed to lights and sounds and have altered circadian cycles. There have even been experiments where psychotic symptoms disappeared when people were placed near a window to get natural light.

Shift work is becoming increasingly common, even for those who don’t have to. We are doing work in the middle of the night, working on our computers at odd hours, and sleeping during the day. People in shelters and those with drifting school schedules are doing more of this.

Shift work can be detrimental to health if not done correctly. If possible, it is best to stay on the same schedule for at least 14 days, including weekends. This is why it is important for non-shift workers to not get too far off track on the weekend, even if they are not shift workers. Sleeping in on Sunday is not recommended.

The most important thing about shift work is to stay consistent with your schedule. Samer Hattar, a neuroscientist at the National Institutes of Mental Health, discussed this on an Instagram live. He emphasized that shift work, such as the swing shift (four days on one shift and four days on another), can be extremely detrimental to a number of health parameters. It can cause cortisol spikes at various hours of the day, disrupt the dopamine system, and affect learning and wellbeing.

Negotiating with your employer to stay on the same shift for two weeks at a time can be immensely beneficial and help offset the negative effects of shift work. However, I understand that not everyone has the control to do this. I want to acknowledge that shift workers are essential, such as first responders, firefighters, police officers, paramedics, pilots, night nurses, hospital ward workers, and those who pick up trash. These night shifts are critical to our society, and if you are working a shift starting at 4:00 PM and ending at 2:00 AM, there are some important questions that arise. For instance, should you see light during your shift? This is a matter of personal choice, but ideally you want to view as much light as possible, and as safely possible, when you need to be alert. This would mean from 4:00 PM to 2:00 AM, and then you would want to sleep.

Using light as a correlate of alertness and darkness as a correlate of sleepiness, we should see as much light as safely possible during the day when we want to be awake. This is the same advice I gave at the start of this podcast episode. We should also see as little light as safely possible when we want to be asleep. For example, if we are finishing a 2:00 AM shift, we should avoid bright light exposure and watching TV, if possible. If we need it to help us sleep, we can dim the screen and wear blue blockers, if that is part of our practice. We should then be able to wake up late in the afternoon or early afternoon. I never said I don’t like blue blockers, I just don’t like people wearing them at the time of day when they want to be alert. It is the brightness of light that is important, not the blue.

You should wear sunglasses or dim the lights if you want to wear them, or just turn the lights off. After a 4:00 PM to 2:00 AM shift, if you wake up at noon or 1:00 PM, you may think you are in the circadian dead zone and can’t get light in your eyes. However, this is not the case since you are someone who goes to sleep early in the morning at 2:00 AM. The circadian dead zone is not a strict time of day, but an internal biological clock. To make this simpler, if your temperature is decreasing, avoid light.

If your temperature is increasing, get light. It’s that simple. If your temperature is decreasing, avoid light. The shift worker who works from 4:00 PM until 2:00 AM has a temperature rhythm that is very different than the one of someone who wakes up around 6:00 or 5:00 AM and goes to sleep around 11:00 PM. Both have a 24-hour-ish circadian cycle, except the shift worker’s is not aligned to the rise and setting of the sun.

In order to know your internal temperature rhythm, you don’t necessarily have to walk around with a thermometer. It would be great if some of the devices that are out there, such as the ones used to count steps, could also measure body temperature. This would be a great call to arms, to have a wristband that would measure temperature and tell you your temperature minimum when you travel or whatnot. Maybe some of these devices already do that.

Yes, it absolutely could.
We should have a simple way
of measuring the amount of light
that a person is exposed to.

It’s absurd to me that we wouldn’t have the simple measurement of light exposure that a person is exposed to. We don’t even need the exact temperature read – all we need to know is the high and low point. Shift workers, who are nocturnal, need to stay on their nocturnal schedule, which can be hard on their families and social life. This raises the question of whether they should be looking at the sunrise and watching the sunset – waking up with a sunset and going asleep at sunrise. This could throw them off and we should have a simple way of measuring the amount of light they are exposed to.

Not necessarily.

The idea is that if a person is working a night shift, the bright light they experience in the evening will help to wake them up. Conversely, when they’re going home in the morning, the rising sun will help to reset their circadian clock, helping them to wind down after their shift. The eyes are very sensitive to this resetting process.

What will it do at that time? If this were a classroom, I would either cold call on somebody or wait for the oh, oh, oh, oh person in the audience that inevitably exists. Temperature is falling, not rising, for this person. For me, it will be rising, as I am diurnal and awake during the day. Viewing light while temperature is falling will phase delay the person, making it harder for them to get to sleep the following night. Therefore, if they are working the night shift, they should watch the setting sun to help them wake up, but should have sunglasses on or avoid viewing bright light before they go to sleep.

People who are diurnal typically have an inverted schedule to those who are nocturnal. I’m trying to make this clear, as I have noticed two patterns of requests in the social media and podcast landscape. There are those who want to know every detail and quantify everything to get it exactly right, like graduate students and those who don’t want to make a mistake. My graduate advisor once said that provided the mistakes are not dangerous or lethal, it is actually beneficial to make a few mistakes so that you can adjust and learn. Learning is when you realize that you made a mistake and can adjust your behaviour accordingly.

There are two categories of people when it comes to sleep: those who want a one-size-fits-all solution such as a pill or protocol, and those who are more flexible. I have been advocating the idea of a temperature minimum as a key landmark for shifting one’s clock, as this is something that people can own and use. A third category of people accept that biological systems are more forgiving than they are sometimes described. Sleep debt is not like the IRS, and no one knows the consequences of not getting enough sleep. It is not possible to recover missed sleep, but one should also not become too attached to a schedule as this can lead to sleep anxiety and difficulty falling and staying asleep.

Paragraph 1: I want to spend a moment on the theme I’ve said many times before, which is non-sleep deep rest (NSDR) protocols. These include hypnosis, yoga nidra, and other clinically tested, research tested free hypnosis for anxiety and sleep. I provided some links to these in the caption for episode two.

Paragraph 2: Last night, I went to bed at 10:30, but woke up at 3 in the morning feeling unrested. I did a NSDR protocol, fell back asleep, and woke up feeling rested at 6:30. It is important to teach your brain and nervous system how to turn off your thoughts and go to sleep without medication, and this can be done through these behavioral protocols. They work by using the body to shift the mind, not just trying to turn off your thoughts in the middle of the night.

Periods of life can be stressful and lead to difficulty sleeping. Anxiety can be managed with NSDR protocols, which can be done in the middle of the night if one wakes up or in the morning if one has not slept enough. These protocols have been proven to help turn on the parasympathetic/calming arm of the autonomic nervous system. Meditation can also be helpful, with different types involving focus and alertness or lack of focus and attention to internal states. Lastly, NSDR protocols and meditation are also beneficial for kids and the elderly.

Sleep and circadian rhythms are important for individuals of all ages, from babies to adolescents, teens, and the elderly. Before discussing sleep in kids, I want to tell a little story about the relationship between light, skin and pelage color, dopamine and reproduction, and mating. Many seasonally breeding animals, such as Siberian hamsters, rabbits, and foxes, change their coat color from lighter in the winter to darker in the summer. This shift is controlled by light and melatonin. In humans, skin tones vary due to the amount of melanin present, which is also affected by light.

Sunlight will increase the amount of melanin in the skin, resulting in suntan, sunburn, bronzing, and other changes in skin color. This system is closely linked to the cells within the eye which produce melatonin.

About 20 years ago, Iggy Provencio, who was running his own lab at Uniformed Armed Services, discovered an opsin in the eye called melanopsin. This pigment absorbs light and converts it into electrical signals to set the circadian clock. Iggy discovered melanopsin because it was similar in form to what was in frog melanophores, which allowed frogs to change from pale white to pigmented green or brown when exposed to light.

There is a relationship between the cells in our eye and the pigment cells of our skin. We know that long days result in increased breeding due to dopamine triggering increases in testosterone in males, and estrogen in females. This pathway is also linked to lack of light, melatonin, and decreased melanin in the skin, or white fur in animals with fur. Humans do not drastically alter their breeding patterns between long and short days, nor do they drastically change their skin color based on sunlight exposure. However, when days are long, there is more dopamine and more breeding behavior. Conversely, when days are short, there is less dopamine and less breeding behavior. With modern society and the time spent looking at screens, although not as much as sunlight, there is still a relationship between light and behavior.

We are getting a lot of light from screens at night, which has disrupted the pathways of melanin in the skin, turnover of skin cells, and dopamine. This is not to say that we should go back to a time without artificial lights, but it is important to realize that feeling good with getting a lot of light and the relationship to dopamine and melanin in the skin are not coincidences. These are hard-wired biological mechanisms that exist in everybody regardless of skin color. Additionally, the dopamine system is closely related to the testosterone and estrogen in reproductive cycles. Melatonin, the hormone of darkness, inhibits the production of these hormones.

Stress can make your hair go gray or white due to an increase in nerve fibers that release adrenaline to the hair follicle, which activates peroxide groups in the hair follicle. Aging can also cause hair to go gray or white. Aside from this, cells in the eye are similar to skin cells in frogs or other animals that can shift their entire color and even metamorphosize. Furthermore, there is a species of hermaphroditic mole that can change from having ovaries to testes and back again depending on the day life. To reproduce, they adjust the numbers of males and females depending on the density of males and females in the area. If there are too many males, some of the males turn their testes into ovaries.

Animals that have too many females in their population can turn their ovaries into testes. They are true hermaphroditic animals, as opposed to pseudo hermaphrodite animals.

Let’s move on to the animal that most of us care about – humans. New parents and babies have a different pattern of melatonin release than adults. Melatonin is not cyclic in babies, but more phasic, being released at a constant level. This leads to high concentrations of melatonin per unit volume, which will decrease as the baby grows.

Babies are not born with a typical sleep-wake cycle. They also have much more sensitive optics of the eye. This means that parents should not avoid exposing their baby to sunlight, however, their eyes are not developed enough to see fine detail. When looking at a newborn baby, they may appear glassy-eyed and look through you. This is because their optics are so poor that you appear as a cloudy image. As their optics get better, they will be able to see you more clearly.

Babies don’t see very well and don’t have great ways of adjusting to bright light, so you should avoid trying to use sunlight or really bright light on a young baby or child. As children get older, however, melatonin and body temperature rhythms start to become more cyclic and regular, though still not quite 24 hours. We discussed these 90 minute ultradian rhythms in podcast episodes one or two, where every 90 minutes babies go through a cycle of body temperature and other hormonal features. To encourage sleep when you want the child to sleep, you need to use phases of darkness and light, but they should be shortened.

Babies’ temperature minimums and maximums are fluctuating much more quickly and vary tremendously. There is an interesting literature of whether or not they have siblings, are twins, are in a nursery environment, or are alone. To help, it is important to get the overall environment into a 24 hour schedule. This means having the room slightly colder when you would like them to be asleep and slightly warmer for the times you would like them to be awake. However, it is important to avoid all extremes of temperature. If they are going through 90 minute cycles, you will have to adjust to those as well. To deal with the fact that you need to be up every 90 minutes at night, there are a couple of tools that can be helpful.

We can try and understand the relationship between calm and deep sleep. To maintain a certain amount of autonomic regulation, the non-sleep deep rest protocols can be beneficial for people to recover, not necessarily sleep, but to maintain a certain amount of autonomic regulation. If a baby is only going to sleep for 45 minutes, it is important to try and maintain a state of alertness and calm, as opposed to heightened states of alertness which would be more appropriate for sleeping. It is very hard for people to stay calm while sleep deprived, but this is where the non-sleep deep rest protocols can be helpful.

You can capture sleep if you can, but if not, there are data showing a polyphasic sleep schedule of 45 minute increments spread throughout the day with periods of wakefulness in between. This is a difficult schedule to maintain, but if you have a baby, you may find yourself in this situation. If you can get 45 minutes of sleep while they sleep, and then another 45 minutes after waking and they go back down to sleep, that is ideal. If not, there is data showing that non-sleep deep rest protocols can reset neurochemicals like dopamine levels in the basal ganglia, as measured by positron emission tomography.

Not being alert throughout the entire time that the baby is sleeping can be brutal for certain people. Trying to prepare meals and do all these things can be difficult when mapping on your baby’s sleep schedule. As children approach ages one, two, three, four, their eyes are more sensitive to bright light and should be protected until they are around 10-11 years old. To get longer batches of sleep, parents should try to get two-90 minute cycles, or three back to back to back, instead of a four hour batch of sleep. Waking up in the middle of these ultradian cycles can be difficult for both parent and child. To ensure that your child is getting enough sleep, some children should even be sleeping 12 hours when they are growing quickly.

That’s going to be better than waking up in the middle of an ultradian cycle. It’s just going to set any number of other things in a better direction than were you to try to enforce or force a full eight or 10 hours of sleep. That’s at least what the literature shows. Some kids sleep great through the night, starting at a very young age, while others don’t.

I typically hear from people who are struggling tremendously, losing their mind understandably, because they’re not sleeping, or their kid is sleeping for such brief periods. So, in other words, try and access deep calm if you can’t sleep, and try and access sleep if you can sleep, even if it’s fractured.

Then you say, well, what about all the sunlight viewing and the exercise stuff? When sleep is really, really dismantled, meaning it’s happening in various times of day or night, it’s going to be especially important for the parent to get morning and evening sunlight, because your circadian clock is going into a tailspin and it basically wants to anchor to something. So, you want to give it two anchors, morning and evening light. This is rather different than what I described for shift work, this is when things are really chaotic and you’re just not able to sleep.

Similar circumstances can arise if you’re taking care of a very sick loved one. You’re up all night, so try and stay calm using NSDR protocols. I know it’s harder to do than to say, but those protocols are there, they’re free, and there’s research to support them. Try and get sleep whenever you can, but also try to get morning sunlight and evening sunlight in your eyes if you can. If you can’t get that, use artificial light.

What about later life? Kids now, adolescents, and teens have a tendency to wake up later and go to sleep later, in part just because they’re sleeping a lot more. They’re churning out gonadotropin-releasing hormone and luteinizing hormone, and their whole bodies are changing. It is true that the fastest rate of aging that any of us will ever undergo is puberty.

Puberty is an accelerated period of aging and is a fascinating aspect of the life course. During this time, the circadian clock mechanisms can be intact or undergoing some change. It is important to prioritize the duration of sleep for adolescents and teens, even if that means they are sleeping until 2:00 PM and then staying up all night. To avoid potential problems due to devices, such as texting and playing video games, it is ideal to get morning and evening sunlight. However, if this is not possible, measuring their temperature can provide insight into when their temperature minimum occurs. Typically, this will be two hours before their average waking time. For example, if they are sleeping until 11 or 12, the temperature minimum will be around 10:00 AM. On the other hand, if they are sleeping until 10:00 AM, the temperature minimum may be 8:00 AM. Maximizing the total amount of sleep is beneficial for teens.

To get regular sunlight, it is recommended to spend time in the morning or evening (or both). If a person is sleeping through the morning sunrise, this is not as concerning as waking them up and depriving them of sleep, as their circadian rhythm is naturally shifting later. For adolescents and teens, it is important to give them more freedom to adjust their own schedule. Some schools have even started classes later to accommodate the biological evidence of a later shifted rhythm and extended sleep phase. Research from the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford has shown that turning on the lights in a teen’s room before they wake up helps them get more deep sleep the following night, and increases total sleep time. Some parents have used flashlights to try and get this to work, and have reported that it has been successful.

Paragraph 1: That’s not part of a standard study. But it does seem to work because, now you should know why, because if light’s getting through the eyelids, and it’s say 8:00 AM and the kid is still asleep, you’re giving them light just after or around their temperature minimum, which is going to make them want to go to sleep earlier. And in the case of teens, for some reason we don’t quite understand, sleep longer, about 45 minutes longer, spend more time in deep sleep.

Paragraph 2: Adults can do this too, if you can persuade someone or put your lights on timer for lights to go on before you wake up, that’s really going to help you wake up earlier, okay. So if you’re starting to hear some themes are really resounding over and over again, that should be reassuring to you, right. That these are core mechanisms. Fortunately, there aren’t 1,000 different mechanisms.

Paragraph 3: Now in the elderly, there’s a real tendency to want to go to sleep very early and wake up very early. And people should talk to their physician. There is some evidence that melatonin levels and patterns of melatonin secretion can become a little chaotic in elderly folks.

Elderly people are defined as those who are 65 years of age or older. Rates of aging can vary significantly from person to person, with some 65 year olds struggling to move and seeming much older than those with tons of energy. This variation can be attributed to both genetic and lifestyle factors.

The most prominent results from sleep and circadian rhythms in the elderly are that they need to get as much natural light as possible, even if it is through windows. For those who cannot get outside safely or move around easily, exercise can come in various forms. This could include activities such as jogging or cycling that allow them to get a good amount of sunlight.

Getting people near a window and away from artificial light early in the day and during the night phase can have a tremendous effect. In the elderly, melatonin might be a viable option, however, this should be discussed with a physician. People who are in their 70s, 80s, and 90s are not usually churning out a lot of GnRH and luteinizing hormone to begin with, so the same parameters and things that have been described before still apply – light, exercise, temperature, etc. Melatonin might be of greatest benefit in these cases. Additionally, having a regular schedule and as much natural light as safely possible are key levers for adjusting sleep and circadian schedules. Lastly, there are other supplements besides melatonin that can be quite good for sleep.

I’m not a supplement pusher, but I believe in them. I take supplements and believe in getting the behaviors right. Whether it’s NSDR protocols, viewing natural light, exercise, hot baths, or cold showers, behavioral protocols should come first. I have mentioned some supplements in previous podcasts that can be beneficial for helping turn off thinking, accessing deeper sleep, and even being able to compact your sleep schedule into a shorter period of hours. People take a lot of sleeping pills, but I’m not going to tell people not to take them. They can be problematic and habit-forming, with high side-effect incidents in many cases. However, there are some non-prescription drug type supplements that have fairly high safety margins that you might consider, but you should always talk to your doctor before adding or taking anything out of your health regimes.

It is your responsibility to take care of your health, so make sure you are a stringent filter. I have mentioned the website examine.com many times, and I plan to mention it many more times. It is a wonderful website which links you to quality peer-reviewed studies relating to supplements, including safety warnings. It also tells you what subjects the studies were done on, which is important to know.

I have found three supplements that have had a tremendously positive effect on my sleep. If you are doing everything properly behaviorally and still having issues, then supplements might be a good thing for you. Or if you are traveling and need extra help with buffering your sleep wakefulness protocols, supplements could be beneficial. Some people just go straight to supplements, asking “what should I take?”

Paragraph 1: I’m more of, here’s what you might want to do or not do and then think about what you might want to take or not take. But personal preference and it’s a free country, so you can do what you like. Magnesium has been shown to increase the depth of sleep and decrease the amount of time it takes to access sleep, to fall asleep.

Paragraph 2: It comes in various forms. I’ve talked a bunch of times about magnesium threonate, T-H-R-E-O-N-A-T-E, threonate, which seems to be the more bioavailable form of magnesium. And magnesium threonate it seems is shadowed preferentially to the brain which is where you want it. And there’s certain transporters, it actually engages the GABA pathway which tends to turn off certain areas of the forebrain and allows you to kind of fall asleep.

Paragraph 3: There is a study, if you’d like to explore it since people serious about supplementation might want to explore the study, which is Ates et al, A-T-E-S Dose-Dependent Absorption Profile of Different Magnesium Compounds.

It looks like a quality peer-reviewed paper explores all the different forms of magnesium. Magnesium glycinate and magnesium threonate appear to be similar in terms of which tissues they are absorbed into. Magnesium malate is preferentially absorbed into the muscle, while magnesium citrate has a laxative effect. Magnesium threonate has also been shown to be neuroprotective in rodent studies. It is important to approach any new supplement with caution, as magnesium could be involved in heart rhythm. Theanine has also been found to be beneficial for some people.

Theanine is an amino acid that activates certain GABA pathways, which are involved in turning off top-down processing and thinking, making it easier to fall asleep. It is typically taken in doses of 100-300 milligrams, and has a calming effect. It is now being added to many energy drinks and coffees to reduce jitters and anxiety, allowing people to drink more coffee. Taking magnesium and theanine 30-60 minutes before bedtime, with or without food, can help quell anxiety. However, theanine can be a problem for sleepwalkers, as it increases the intensity of dreams and can cause vivid dreams. Those who have sleepwalking or night terror issues should stay away from theanine, whereas those who do not have these issues may explore taking magnesium and theanine.

Paragraph 1: Apigenin, a derivative of chamomile, acts as a hypnotic by activating chloride channels, hyperpolarizing neurons, and increasing GABA in the brain, making one feel sleepy. Peter Rabbit famously snuck chamomile into Mr. McGregor’s garden, which led to him falling asleep. Apigenin has intra-estrogenic effects, so one might want to be cautious when consuming it.

Paragraph 2: Examine.com can be useful when researching apigenin, as it can tell one of its effects, such as reducing conversion of certain androgens to estrogens. Other substances that can help transition to sleep are 5-HTP and L-tryptophan.

I’m not a fan of those for me, as they tend to throw me into deep sleep and then I wake up and I can’t fall back asleep. So, I don’t like to tinker with my serotonin and dopamine systems, for entirely other reasons but none of which are particularly concerning. For example, if I increase my dopamine by taking L-Tyrosine in pill form, then I crash really hard the next day, or if I take 5-HTP L-tryptophan, I fall deeply asleep and then I wake up.

However, I didn’t mention that there might be ways to make sleep more compact. This is actually a request to you. When I was a postdoc, I went for the first time to an acupuncturist. I know there are varying thoughts and opinions out there about acupuncture, and I can’t say that I’ve benefited so much from it. However, there are now quality peer reviewed studies, publishing in journals such as Neuron and Cell Press, showing that acupuncture can stimulate some anti-inflammatory compounds depending on where the acupuncture is done.

Last year, some really good studies came out about acupuncture. I discussed this on Instagram, and I may talk about it again. Certain acupuncture sites can increase inflammation, so it’s important to note that you can’t say that acupuncture is beneficial across the board. It’s assumed that the acupuncturist knows which sites are good for increasing or decreasing inflammation.

I recently visited an acupuncturist who gave me some red pills. He said they were minerals for sleep, and they were remarkable. Now, is it a thing to “take the red pill”?

I don’t know what that means, right, ’cause I’m not tuned in. But these red pills looked like little M&Ms. I took a couple of them on his suggestion and I fell deeply asleep and four hours later woke up feeling incredibly rested, more rested than I had ever felt in my entire life and I never required more than four hours sleep. Unfortunately, the acupuncturist moved away and I never figured out what was in those red pills. I didn’t get a chance to do the mass spectroscopy, and I still wonder, he said they were minerals. So somebody out there knows what these red pills are and what this compound is. And it was incredible, and I would love to know what those are. So if you know, please don’t go taking red pills at random to try and recreate this non-experiment experience of mine. But please do contact me if you find out or if you’re an acupuncturist and you know what these mysterious red pills were, because they were pretty awesome.

Once again, I’ve thrown a tremendous amount of information at you. I hope you will figure out your temperature minimum and start working with that to access the sleep and wakeful cycles that you want to access.

I hope that you will explore NSDR. You have now access to a lot of mechanisms about sleep and wakefulness. In keeping with the theme of this podcast, where we stay on topic for an entire month or even slightly more, we are not done with sleep and wakefulness. This is very different than the typical podcast format, where one week it’s how to become superhuman and the next week it’s how to develop growth mindset and it’s kind of all over the place with episode to episode.

As we drill deeper and deeper into these mechanisms, and you start hearing some of the same themes again and again, you’re going to start to develop an intuition and an understanding of how these systems work in you and your particular life circumstances. My goal is really to eventually become obsolete. It’s what my graduate advisor used to call the hit by a bus principle. She had a somewhat morbid sense of humor and used to be, well, if I get hit by a bus tomorrow, what are you going to do without me blabbing at you here? So I don’t want to get hit by a bus, I plan on living a very long time, if I have anything to say about it.

If that’s your thing, you might want to explore supplementation.

If I were to get hit by a bus tomorrow, you would need to know how to manage your sleep and wakefulness. You could leave a comment on YouTube, which I hope you will do. However, if I were to be killed, I wouldn’t be able to answer your question. Therefore, it is important to be aware of your temperature minimum and understand that light in the early part of the day is beneficial. Light, whether from screens or sunlight, is great for you but sunlight is preferable. You should avoid light in the four to six hours before your temperature minimum or else you risk delaying your clock, unless you are traveling and that is your goal. To shift or delay your clock, use temperature: increase temperature to shift and decrease temperature to delay. Finally, map out your temperature and understand it.

You don’t have to know degree by degree across the day; instead, know your minimum and maximum temperature in your 24 hour cycle and you’ll feel great power through that. This is because you’ll also know about ultradian cycles, which are 90 minute cycles within which you can do focused work. Don’t expect the focus to come early, but rather in the middle and then taper off. I also talked a little bit about kids, elderly, and parenting, and there will be more to come.

Shift workers, travelers, and those jet lagging themselves at home now have levers in place. Information can be powerful, but it needs to be implemented in safe and reasonable ways. By doing this, you can develop a laboratory about yourself and shift your biology and psychology in the ways you want to go. There are large bodies of quality peer-reviewed data and a whole center of mass around certain biological principles, like the effects of light and temperature, temperature minimums, etc. I loath the term biohacking, but instead believe in understanding mechanism and applying the principles of mechanism for which there is data.

In our next podcast episode, we will answer more of the questions asked during office hours. We will also cover some of the harder topics, such as dreaming, lucid dreaming, and consciousness. Although I will talk about these topics, I want to provide data to back it up.

I want to give you things that are supported by data, so I will try to speculate as little as possible. This is a podcast about science and science-based tools for everyday life, not about me speculating. Many people have speculated about the role of sleep, dreaming, and consciousness for centuries, but right now we are concentrating on the deep biological mechanisms that make us who we are, allow us to feel certain ways, good or bad, and give us more of a sense of control.

Many people have asked how they can help support the podcast. Thank you! You can support the podcast by subscribing to it on YouTube, Apple, or Spotify.

You can leave us comments and feedback on YouTube and at Apple. This feedback is invaluable to us, and we would hope it would be positive. We will use the questions we receive to create future content for the podcast. If you can recommend the podcast to friends and family, that would be great. Additionally, we mentioned our sponsors at the beginning, and you can help support us by checking them out.

I have been reluctant to recommend specific supplement brands due to the wild west nature of the supplement industry. Different brands have different levels of quality, and what is on the bottle is not always what you’re getting. The quality of what you’re getting varies from company to company, and even from substance to substance, batch to batch.

I’m pleased to announce that I’m partnering with Thorne, a supplement company that works with the Mayo Clinic and many major sports teams. They have the highest levels of stringency in terms of what’s in the bottle matching what’s listed on the bottle, and the quality of the supplements they provide. While supplements aren’t for everyone, if you’re interested in trying some, you can go to thorne.com/u/huberman and get 20% off any purchases. Thanks so much for your time and attention, and I hope to see you next time on the Huberman Lab Podcast.