Published November 2018 on YouTube

126: Matthew Walker | Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams

1. Introduction

Matthew, a scientist and professor of neuroscience and psychology at UC Berkeley, shares his research on the impact of sleep on human health and disease. He discusses the importance of sleep and how it affects our brain and body functions. The chapter also covers common misconceptions about sleep and practical information to improve sleep quality.+

2. Sleep and Safety

Sleep Obsession:Matthew Walker discusses the emerging clinical disorder of orthosomnia, where people become too fixated on getting their sleep right, leading to anxiety and competitiveness. Jordan Harbinger shares his own experience with sleep tracking and how it can disrupt sleep. Walker also mentions how his book focuses on the frightening consequences of insufficient sleep, which can keep some people up at night.+
Sleep and Driving:Matthew explains how driving after 20 hours of no sleep is as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. Lack of sleep causes more accidents than drugs and alcohol combined, and accidents caused by insufficient sleep are more fatal because drivers don't make any response whatsoever.+
Drowsy driving dangers:Jordan and Matthew discuss the dangers of drowsy driving and the importance of taking breaks and naps to avoid accidents caused by sleep inertia. They share insights on how drowsiness affects driving and why it's crucial to prioritize safety over convenience.+

3. Deadly Sleep Consequences

The Importance of Sleep:Matthew explains how important sleep is for our overall health and well-being. Lack of sleep can lead to fatal consequences and can impair every major physiological system in our body.+
Deadly Consequences:Matthew Walker explains how insufficient sleep is linked to every disease that is killing us in the developed world, including cancer and Alzheimer's disease. The number of people who can survive on five hours of sleep or less without showing any impairment is zero, and even those who think they can survive on insufficient sleep are at risk of chronic and acute health problems. The link between a lack of sleep and cancer is so strong that the World Health Organization has classified any form of nighttime shift work as a probable carcinogen.+

4. Sleep Deprivation Insights

Matthew shares insights on how animals undergo sleep deprivation, and how the military is interested in discovering the biology behind it for human use.+

5. Sponsors

Matthew shares insights on the importance of sleep and how it affects our daily lives. He discusses how sleep deprivation can lead to negative consequences and provides tips for improving sleep quality. MeUndies is also mentioned as a sponsor.+

6. MeUndies Holiday Collection

Jason and Jordan discuss the latest holiday collection from MeUndies, which includes underwear, lounge pants, and onesies made from the coveted micro modal fabric. They joke about the different prints available, including jack-o'-lantern and holiday plaid, and express their desire for onesies with footies.+

7. Sponsors

Jordan and Jason discuss Quicken Loans' exclusive power buying process that gives you a verified approval and locks in your interest rate for up to 90 days while you shop for a new home.+

8. Sleep and Fasting

Intermittent Fasting and Sleep:Matthew explains the benefits of intermittent fasting and time-restricted feeding, but warns that it may cause shorter and more fragmented sleep. While it can lead to a supercharged version of sleep, it is not sustainable and chronic short sleep can lead to a shorter and lower quality life.+
Sleep and Circadian Rhythms:Matthew Walker explains the importance of sleep and how it evolved with life on this planet. He also discusses how every living species has a circadian rhythm, including plants and bacteria. Additionally, he talks about how our internal body clock helps us align with the fluctuations of light, temperature, and pressure.+

9. Sleep and Caffeine

The Importance of Sleep:Matthew explains why sleep is vital for humans and all species, despite the risks it poses. He also discusses the genetic factors that determine whether someone is a morning or evening person and how this variability can be beneficial for a co-sleeping species like humans.+
Sleep Pressure and Caffeine:Matthew explains how sleep pressure builds up in our brain throughout the day and how caffeine blocks the receptors for adenosine, the chemical responsible for sleepiness. He also compares caffeine to the mute button on a remote control.+
Caffeine's Impact:Matthew explains how caffeine affects the brain's sleep signals and how it leads to a caffeine crash. He also talks about caffeine's psychoactive stimulant properties and how it impacts sleep.+

10. Caffeine and Sleep

Matthew explains how caffeine can affect your sleep and why it's important to avoid it in the evening. Even a standard dose of caffeine can reduce deep sleep by 20%, which is equivalent to aging a person by 20-30 years. Caffeine has a half-life of 6-7 hours and a quarter-life of 12 hours, so it's important to be mindful of when you consume it.+

11. Sponsors

Kelly Slater's sustainable clothing line, Outerknown, offers high-quality, durable, and eco-friendly clothes. Jordan Harbinger shares his personal experience with the brand, praising its comfortable and long-lasting blanket shirt.+

12. Shirt Variety

Jordan and Jen discuss the importance of varying your wardrobe to keep things interesting in a relationship. Jen was happy with Jordan's new shirt, but after a few days, she suggested trying something different.+

13. Sponsors

Jordan and Jason discuss the mission of Outerknown, a sustainable clothing brand that provides great clothes without harming the environment. Listeners can get 25% off their full price order by entering the code JORDAN at checkout on

14. Delaying School Start Times

Improving School Start Times:Matthew explains the importance of delaying school start times for students, as studies have shown that it leads to increased academic grades, decreased behavioral problems, and decreased truancy rates. Additionally, delaying school start times has been linked to a decrease in road traffic accidents, which is currently the leading cause of death for adolescent teens.+
Teen Sleep Struggles:Matthew Walker joins Jordan to discuss the impact of early school start times on teenage sleep and academic performance. They delve into the biological changes that occur during adolescence and the mismatch between school schedules and teens' sleep needs. They also explore the concept of sleep debt and the importance of breaking the cycle of sleep neglect.+

15. Sleep Insights

Sleep Debt:Matthew explains why sleep is not like a bank and why social jet lag is bad for your health. He also discusses the absence of a biological solution to overcome insufficient sleep.+
Sleep Sufficiency:Matthew explains how to know if you're getting enough sleep by discussing the signs of sleep sufficiency, such as waking up naturally and not oversleeping. He also touches on the topic of insomnia and how it can cause early morning awakenings.+
Natural Sleep Rhythm:Matthew explains how our body naturally finds its sweet spot for sleep when we remove all cues and distractions of modern life. Studies show that most people need around 8-9 hours of sleep, and when allowed to follow their natural rhythm, they feel fantastic upon waking up.+

16. Sleep and Habits

Sleep and Anxiety:Matthew explains the correlation between anticipatory anxiety and the depth of our sleep. He also discusses how phones in our bedroom can create a low level of anticipatory anxiety that affects our sleep quality.+
Healthy Morning Habits:Matthew suggests that we should avoid screens and caffeine in the morning to prevent fight or flight activating triggers within the nervous system. He recommends trying to go for five minutes without opening your phone and then extending it to 10 minutes. Finally, when you have some degree of wakefulness, open your phone or laptop.+
Beating Jet Lag:Matthew shares five tips for overcoming jet lag, including sleeping in the first half of a transatlantic flight and ensuring at least 14 hours of consistent wakefulness before sleeping in the new time zone.+

17. Sleep and Jet Lag Tips

Jet Lag Tips:Matthew shares some tips on how to adjust your biological clock when traveling across time zones. He advises avoiding alcohol and caffeine on the flight, getting natural daylight in the morning, exercising before midday, and eating meals at regular times. He also recommends taking melatonin to help reset your body clock.+
Sleep Hacks:Matthew Walker shares some sleep hacks with Jordan Harbinger. He explains how melatonin can be used strategically to help with jet lag and how sound can be used to improve memory during sleep.+

18. Sleep and Memory

Memory and Sleep:Matthew explains how replaying sounds during deep slow wave sleep can improve memory recall by double. He also discusses the benefits of REM sleep, including the encoding of memories and the clearing of amyloid plaques, and the mysterious nature of dreams.+
Benefits of Dream Sleep:Matthew explains the two functions of dream sleep - creativity and emotional first aid. Dream sleep is when we cement individual memories and then REM sleep collides them with all of our stored up information. This creates a revised mind-wide web of associations that can provide remarkable insights into previously impenetrable problems. Additionally, during dream sleep, the brain is devoid of stress chemistry, allowing the emotional and memory centers of the brain to reignite and provide emotional first aid.+

19. Sleep and Memories

Sleep and Emotional Memories:Matthew explains how sleep affects emotional memories and how the brain can strip away the painful sting from those memories. Jordan asks about physical responses during sleep and Matthew explains that night terrors and anxiety usually occur during non-REM sleep, not during dream sleep.+
The Power of REM Sleep:Matthew Walker discusses the importance of REM sleep in processing emotions and memories, and how it can fail in individuals with PTSD. He also shares new research on how lack of REM sleep can affect our ability to accurately read emotions, highlighting the importance of emotional intelligence.+
The Sleep Epidemic:Dr. Matt explains the importance of sleep and how the lack of it affects our emotional intelligence, relationships, and work. He emphasizes that sleep is a non-negotiable biological necessity and the decimation of sleep throughout industrialized nations is now having a catastrophic impact on our health and wellness.+

20. Outro

Jason and Jordan discuss the benefits of using sleep tracking devices such as the Apple watch and aura ring to monitor sleep patterns and make adjustments to improve sleep quality. They also recommend Matthew Walker's book, Why We Sleep, for further insights on sleep management.+