221 ‒ Understanding sleep and how to improve it

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In this special episode of The Drive, we have pulled together a variety of clips from previous podcasts with sleep expert Dr. Matthew Walker to help listeners understand this topic more deeply, as well as to identify which previous episodes featuring Matt may be of interest.  In this episode, Matt gives an overview of why we sleep, the stages of sleep, and sleep chronotypes, and he provides tips to those looking to improve their total sleep and sleep efficiency. Additionally, Matt discusses the pros and cons of napping, and gives his current thinking on the effects of blue light and caffeine on sleep. Finally, Matt explains the dangers of sleeping pills and reveals what he believes are the most useful alternatives for someone struggling with sleep, such as those with insomnia.

We discuss:
0:00:00 – Intro
0:02:19 – Evolutionary reasons to sleep
0:10:05 – Stages of sleep, sleep cycles, and brainwaves
0:25:42 – Understanding sleep chronotypes and how knowing yours could help you
0:36:25 – Defining sleep efficiency and how to improve it
0:38:45 – Correcting insomnia: a counterintuitive approach
0:41:38 – Pros and cons of napping, and insights from the sleep habits of hunter-gatherer tribes
0:50:17 – Sleep hygiene, wind-down routine, and tips for better sleep
0:59:32 – The optimal room temperature and body temperature for the best sleep
1:08:32 – Blue light: how Matt shifted his thinking
1:14:54 – Caffeine: how Matt has adjusted his hypothesis
1:19:52 – The dangers of sleeping pills, useful alternatives, and cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia


The Peter Attia Drive is a weekly, ultra-deep-dive podcast focusing on maximizing health, longevity, critical thinking…and a few other things. With over 45 million episodes downloaded, it features topics including fasting, ketosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, mental health, and much more.

Peter is a physician focusing on the applied science of longevity. His practice deals extensively with nutritional interventions, exercise physiology, sleep physiology, emotional and mental health, and pharmacology to increase lifespan (delay the onset of chronic disease), while simultaneously improving healthspan (quality of life).

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