Psychedelics and Sleep

March 24, 2023

Sleep, nutrition, and metabolism expert Greg Potter, PhD, is back on the podcast today with a new twist on help for those interested in sleep. Greg is an international public speaker, science writer, consultant and coach, focusing on working with individuals and organisations to adopt easy and long-lasting lifestyle modifications that add years and quality to life. His work has appeared in dozens of worldwide media sources, including Reuters, TIME, and The Washington Post, and he frequently contributes to prominent websites, blogs, and podcasts.

On today’s podcast, Greg joins Chris to discuss the use of psychedelic drugs for improved sleep and mental health. Greg talks about the types of psychedelics currently being researched, including psilocybin, LSD, and MDMA, their mechanisms of action, and their potential roles in improving sleep and health. He shares some of the most interesting results from the clinical literature, including therapeutic effects for treatment-resistant depression and the impact of these substances when combined with meditation or psychotherapy. 

Here’s the outline of this episode with Greg Potter:

[00:05:28] What are psychedelics?

[00:06:33] Main types of psychedelics.

[00:09:37] Uses of psychedelics.

[00:12:01] Minidosing and microdosing.

[00:13:09] Psilocybin use as a spiritually significant event; Study:  Griffiths, Roland R., et al. "Psilocybin occasioned mystical-type experiences: immediate and persisting dose-related effects." Psychopharmacology 218 (2011): 649-665.

[00:14:14] Mystical experiences.

[00:16:00] Mechanisms of action.

[00:20:01] Greg's experience with psychedelics.

[00:30:27] Integration work.

[00:32:47] Entourage effects.

[00:37:18] Chris's experiences with psychedelics.

[00:41:22] Relaxing priors; Carhart-Harris and K. Friston; Study: Carhart-Harris, Robin L., and Karl J. Friston. "REBUS and the anarchic brain: toward a unified model of the brain action of psychedelics." Pharmacological reviews 71.3 (2019): 316-344.

[00:41:45] Karl Friston's Free Energy Principle; Paper: Friston, Karl. "The free-energy principle: a unified brain theory?." Nature reviews neuroscience 11.2 (2010): 127-138.

[00:43:47] Psychedelics and sleep architecture.

[00:49:51] Psilocybin and sleep; Study: Dudysová, Daniela, et al. "The effects of daytime psilocybin administration on sleep: implications for antidepressant action." Frontiers in pharmacology 11 (2020): 602590.

[00:51:58] Ayahuasca and sleep; Study: Barbanoj, Manel J., et al. "Daytime Ayahuasca administration modulates REM and slow-wave sleep in healthy volunteers." Psychopharmacology 196 (2008): 315-326.

[00:54:34] REM sleep and dreaming.

[00:58:42] Hobson's Activation-Synthesis Hypothesis.

[00:59:38] Lucid dreaming.

[01:00:02] Book: When Brains Dream: Understanding the Science and Mystery of Our Dreaming Minds, by Antonio Zadra and Robert Stickgold.

[01:00:04] Videos: TedX talk - Sleep, Memory and Dreams: Fitting the Pieces Together and other videos.

[01:03:41] Fear Extinction.

[01:05:32] Podcast: From Magic to Mindfulness: The Evolution of an Entrepreneur, with Jason Connell.

[01:07:33] Combining LSD and MDMA; Study: Schmid, Yasmin, et al. "Acute subjective effects in LSD-and MDMA-assisted psychotherapy." Journal of Psychopharmacology 35.4 (2021): 362-374.

[01:08:31] Psychedelics as adjunct to other interventions.

[01:09:16] Review: Payne, Jake E., Richard Chambers, and Paul Liknaitzky. "Combining psychedelic and mindfulness interventions: Synergies to inform clinical practice." ACS Pharmacology & Translational Science 4.2 (2021): 416-423.

[01:09:57] Psilocybin combined with other spiritual practices; Study: Griffiths, Roland R., et al. "Psilocybin-occasioned mystical-type experience in combination with meditation and other spiritual practices produces enduring positive changes in psychological functioning and in trait measures of prosocial attitudes and behaviors." Journal of Psychopharmacology 32.1 (2018): 49-69.

[01:12:01] Psilocybin with expert meditators; Study: Smigielski, Lukasz, et al. "Characterization and prediction of acute and sustained response to psychedelic psilocybin in a mindfulness group retreat." Scientific reports 9.1 (2019): 1-13.

[01:13:25] Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

[01:14:59] Podcast: Microdosing Psychedelics and the Placebo Effect, with Balázs Szigeti.

[01:20:08] Psilocybin without psychotherapy for treatment-resistant depression; Study: Goodwin, Guy M., et al. "Single-dose psilocybin for a treatment-resistant episode of major depression." New England Journal of Medicine 387.18 (2022): 1637-1648.

[01:21:58] Drug harms; Review: Nutt, David J., Leslie A. King, and Lawrence D. Phillips. "Drug harms in the UK: a multicriteria decision analysis." The Lancet 376.9752 (2010): 1558-1565.

[01:23:41] Potential contamination; Fentanyl.

[01:25:29] Find Greg online:; Instagram.

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