What to Do When You Can’t Sleep

Nov. 22, 2019

Sleep researcher Greg Potter, PhD, is back on the podcast today with practical help for those suffering from insomnia. Greg’s research at the University of Leeds on sleep, diet, and metabolic health captured the attention of both scientific and mainstream news outlets on several continents. He is currently an international public speaker, science writer, and consultant, focusing in particular on circadian rhythms, exercise, nutrition, sleep and stress. 

In this podcast, Greg talks about different types of insomnia, and how chronic sleep difficulties create barriers to personal safety and health for 10-15% of adults at any given time. He discusses the best things to do when you’re lying in bed, unpleasantly awake. He also talks about routines and tools for preventing sleep disruption in the first place.

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

[00:02:21] Greg's articles on optimising sleep: 1. Having trouble sleeping? A primer on insomnia and how to sleep better 2. Sleep-maintenance insomnia: how to sleep through the night 3. Sleep-onset insomnia: how to get to sleep fast

[00:02:37] Acute vs chronic insomnia.

[00:07:00] Effects of genes on sleep needs.

[00:07:55] Keneth Wright Jr. camping studies: Wright Jr, Kenneth P., et al. "Entrainment of the human circadian clock to the natural light-dark cycle." Current Biology 23.16 (2013): 1554-1558; Follow up study: Stothard, Ellen R., et al. "Circadian entrainment to the natural light-dark cycle across seasons and the weekend." Current Biology 27.4 (2017): 508-513.

[00:08:38] Tracking sleep data - wearables, diaries; online diary at thebettersleepproject.com.

[00:11:30] Re-establishing association between bed and sleep.

[00:11:51] Ashley Mason, PhD. Podcast: Mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioral Strategies for Diabetes and Sleep Problems.

[00:12:56] Therapeutic sleep restriction.

[00:15:29] 20-minute rule.

[00:18:33] Things to do when you can't sleep: Meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, music therapy.

[00:23:05] Paradoxical intention; Book: Man's Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl.

[00:24:54] Books: Homo Deus and Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari.

[00:25:38] Metabolic dysregulation as possible cause of sleep disruption.

[00:29:09] Early dinner associated with better appetite regulation; Study: Ravussin, Eric, et al. "Early Time‐Restricted Feeding Reduces Appetite and Increases Fat Oxidation But Does Not Affect Energy Expenditure in Humans." Obesity 27.8 (2019): 1244-1254.

[00:31:13] Considerations when buying a mattress: comfort, durability, and support.

[00:33:31] ChiliPad; Ooler Sleep System.

[00:35:52] BRYTE bed.

[00:37:51] Paper: Hekler, Eric B., et al. "Why we need a small data paradigm." BMC medicine 17.1 (2019): 1-9.

[00:39:20] Hammocks

[00:42:54] Rich Roll and Paul Saladino on The Minimalists Podcast: Minimalist Diets.

[00:45:45] Managing ambient temperature for optimal sleep.

[00:48:54] Raising skin temperature before bed.

[00:50:15] Pre-bed skin temperature raising activities and sleep; Meta-analysis: Haghayegh, Shahab, et al. "Before-bedtime passive body heating by warm shower or bath to improve sleep: A systematic review and meta-analysis." Sleep medicine reviews (2019).

[00:54:03] Cal Newport; Podcast: How to Live Well in a High Tech World; Book: Digital Minimalism; Cal’s blog

[00:57:29] Find Greg on Twitter and Instagram, @gdmpotter.

[00:58:44] Podcast: A Statin Nation: Damaging Millions in a Brave New Post-health World, with Malcolm Kendrick, MD.

[01:01:07] Greg’s previous NBT podcasts: How to Entrain Your Circadian Rhythm for Perfect Sleep and Metabolic Health (7/4/18); Morning Larks and Night Owls: the Biology of Chronotypes (1/27/19); Sleep To Win: How Navy SEALs and Other High Performers Stay on Top (as interviewer, 10/25/19)

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