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    Fascinating information. What is Dr. Walker’s advice regarding melatonin supplements? Can melatonin supplements increase the deep sleep duration in older people?

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        Awesome interview and information. Thank you, Rhonda!

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          Thank you so much for a fantastic interview! Sorry I’m late to the discussion on this episode. Hopefully someone will still see this…

          I’ve been following a few of Dr. Walker’s interviews lately, and I’m becoming more and more concerned for my future mental health.

          I was diagnosed with narcolepsy at age 15. I’m about to be 32. I have most of the classic symptoms of the disease including excessive daytime sleepiness, cataplexy, sleep paralysis, vivid dreaming, and irregular NREM/REM patterns. The most alarming as it relates to Dr. Walker’s research is the lack of deep NREM sleep. In two clinical sleep studies (the first at initial diagnosis at age 15, and again about 1.5 years ago) I almost entirely skipped past stages 3 and 4 NREM. In a couple sessions I went from full consciousness to REM sleep in under 1 minute.

          At two different stages of my life I have tried Xyrem to supplement my deep sleep at night. Long story short: I had a bad sleep paralysis episode that made me not want to continue use.

          So, if you’ve made it this far, what can I do to help improve the amount of NREM sleep I get (aside from drug induced sleep)? I have a pretty well regulated sleep/wake schedule, I do CrossFit 3 times a week, eat clean (and try to prevent late meals), I have a very bright office, and I don’t use electronics much at all during the evening. Any help is welcome.

          Thanks again for a great interview!

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            What a stellar interview!

            One question I was left with is regarding chronotypes. Dr. Walker mentioned that many people think they are of one chronotype, but genetically they are not.

            How does someone determine which chronotype they are? Is this identifiable in standard genetic testing?

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              Hi Lars86,

              There are certain genes that code for chronotype, also named ‘clock genes’ as they activate processes in our biological clock. These are mainly the genes PER1, PER2 and PER3 (which are most often investigated in scientific research). Chronotype itself, however, is examined with a questionnaire in most scientific studies. A famous (and validated!) questionnaire used for is the Munich Chronotype Questionnaire (MCTQ). You can find the questionnaire and calculation of the score here: https://www.thewep.org/documentations/mctq The score is based on self-reported average bedtimes, sleep times, and wake times on working days and free days.

              That said, I do not fully agree with what Matthew Walker is saying about “you cannot do something about your chronotype, it is genetic”. I totally believe that there is a genetic component in your chronotype, but based on what I have read (I am a postdoc researcher studying the effects of light on alertness, performance, and sleep myself) I think the environment is basically creating ‘late chronotypes’ nowadays. Take a look at this study for example: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982213007641 They investigated chronotypes (circadian phase) in people who were ‘forced’ to go camping under natural light only for one week (no artificial light sources were allowed or present). The timing of the internal clocks of the late chronotypes in this study became more similar to the internal clocks of the early chronotypes, just after one week of camping under natural light exposure. I think the variation in chronotypes would be much smaller if we would have continued living under natural light exposure only. Light pollution at night and too low levels of light during the day are creating late chronotypes.

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              Thank you Rhonda. As an older 5h per/night sleeper (sleep maintenance issue) for several years now, I now have a much better appreciation of the damage being done by not making sleep a priority. Now let’s see if I can go a month without coffee or wine, among other things…

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                I sleep on a Japanese mattress. My girlfriend hates it. I like a firm surface. I want to know what is the best bedding material for a good night sleep. I often sleep on the floor when I am a guest in peoples house. I feel like I fall asleep faster and stay asleep more. I am concerned that I am just psycho somatizing perceived benefits from my boutique-y hand made Japanese mattress. I saw this designer bed that was based on the chimpanzee’s nest design that touted a paleolithic sleep experience as it’s selling point.

                I have slow choline metabolism gene polymorphism, one copy of aloep4, and the other one that limits deep sleep. I think it’s really hard for me to not use digital entertainment near bedtime is my sleep problem. I wear blue blockers, I have a pitch black room, and I turn off all the electronics when i do go to sleep. I often wake up early like around 6, I ussually have energy and feel pretty well rested. It is rare for me to exceed 7 hrs of sleep. I noticed using mouth tape for my nose breathing has increased my restfulness. The earliest I can manage to go to bed avoiding lights is around 1015, typically I will get there around 11. I take magnesium, zinc, collagen, i avoid sugar, i avoid seed oils, i limit carbs. I think i need to sauna more and drink less coffee. coffee is the one thing I do. it’s my only vice. i have so many food abstentions. I have a problem with under eating as well, I rarely have much appetite. There are so many variables to consider. I have had sleep difficulty for the past 10 years or so and it’s gotten better this past year trying these strategies. it is a challenge trying to put all of it into practice, especially meditation.

                The best sleep i get is when i am back packing for more than 2 weeks. I sleep 8 pm to 7 am after hiking all day in constant sunlight exposure.

                Does the found my fitness dna assessment detail chronotype gene polymorphisms?