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TMHS 637: How to Sleep Smarter & Improve the Sleep Habits in Your Relationships
There are so many factors that determine our sleep quality: movement during the day, exposure to natural and ambient lighting, and even our relationships. For some folks, it might be sleepless nights with a newborn or toddler, and for others, it could be a partner on different sleep schedules. But the good news is, you aren’t entirely powerless when it comes to creating routines and structure for your family.
On today’s show, you’re going to hear my interview on the Dhru Purohit Podcast. In this interview, I’m sharing about sleep routines and preferences within my own relationship and family, and how to find balance. I’m also sharing some of the best scientifically proven sleep tips, including optimizing light exposure, temperature, and supplements.
Dhru asked some excellent, thought-provoking questions on topics like common sleep misconceptions, little-known habits that can decrease your sleep quality, and how to actually create realistic habits that stick. I hope you get a ton of value out of this episode and can implement sleep habits that will improve your life. Enjoy!
In this episode you’ll discover:
- What the suprachiasmatic nucleus is, and how its exposures impact sleep quality.
- How many Americans are regularly sleep-deprived.
- Tips for minimizing your blue light exposure.
- How to realistically set a screen curfew (& what to do instead of scrolling!)
- The importance of blocking out ambient light at night.
- What to do if you and your partner have different sleep schedules.
- How your body temperature can impact your sleep.
- The importance of getting natural light exposure in the morning.
- The relationship between cortisol and melatonin.
- What time of the day to exercise to improve sleep quality.
- Realistic ways to change your habits.
- How to create healthy sleep routines for babies and children.
- What effects vitamin C can have on your sleep quality.
- Real food sources of magnesium, and why it matters.
- The power of creating healthier citizens in our society.
Items mentioned in this episode include:
- Organifi.com/Model — Use the coupon code MODEL for 20% off!
- PiqueLife.com/model — Use code MODEL at checkout for 10% off!
- Beekeepersnaturals.com/model — Save 25% on raw honey & other natural remedies!
- Sleep Smarter
- The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz
- Dhru Purohit Podcast
Thank you so much for checking out this episode of The Model Health Show. If you haven’t done so already, please take a minute and leave a quick rating and review of the show on Apple Podcast by clicking on the link below. It will help us to keep delivering life-changing information for you every week!
Shawn Stevenson: Welcome to The Model Health Show. This is fitness and nutrition expert Shawn Stevenson, and I'm so grateful for you tuning in with me today. Oftentimes in relationships, we don't realize that when we meet somebody, we're meeting their representative, the very best version, the best behave, saying the right things, doing the right things, we're meeting a version of that person. In reality, in day-to-day life, once we integrate, once we get into a relationship with people, that's when we meet their other personalities, their other representatives. We found out that there's a congress in this person. And one of the representatives that we meet is their sleep alter ego, alright? When we share a bed with another human being, it can be an absolute adventure, in good ways, like maybe a Six Flags, like nice ride that we're getting onto. Oh, this is fun. Or it can be a terrifying experience. Are you on a ride you should not have signed up for?
But within this taboo subject, this is one of the things that we are not taught when we're getting into a relationship that we're going to be adjusting the way that we are living our lives in an immense way and also our habits, our sleep habits. You're going to have to find a way to meld all this together. And since this is a taboo subject and it needs more attention because it's something that we all experience, this episode is dedicated to that. And by the way, this isn't just the relationships that we kind of meet people out there in the world, this is also about the relationship with the people that we bring into the world. We make people. When you make a person, AKA, when you have a baby, when you make a person, that relationship is going to influence your sleep as well. As again, it's well noted in our culture, but there's so many taboo aspects to it and also misconceptions within that construct as well.
And so, we're going to talk about this integration in our relationships and how to adjust our sleep habits within the context of our family unit. So, it's going to be super valuable, but also just in general, we're going to talk about some sleep strategies to improve your overall sleep quality. And this subject matters more than ever today because our sleep quality impacts so many different areas of our lives, from our cognitive performance to our metabolic health and just being able to help to modulate the stressors that we're experiencing in our world today. So again, this is super important, super valuable, and I think it's going to be a game changer for you. Now, of course, we're talking about sleep today, but what about our energy when we're awake? What about our stamina?
Well, the study that was published in the Journal of Applied Physiology showed that drinking beet juice can boost our stamina up to 14% during exercise, alright? If we're wanting to have something that's helping to fuel our exercise performance, fueling our stamina, people are looking at beets today. That's so crazy, as one of these sources of nutrition to help to fuel cardiovascular performance. But then again, if you think about the doctrine of signatures, this kind of sign of nature, if you look at beet juice, what does it kind of look like? It kind of looks like blood, alright? And so, for it to have a resonance with the human cardiovascular systems, kind of like, there was a little bit of an Easter egg that nature gave us saying, hey, you know what? This might be something to look forward to. But here's the thing, having straight beet juice can be a little, ugh... Can be a little rough, alright?
So, for me, for years now, I love having this concentrate of beet juice combined with acai, which acai has an ORAC value of 103,000. This means that it's 10 times the antioxidants of most fruits that you see in your produce aisle. And also, research published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that acai does in fact raise our antioxidant levels. It's not just, it's there on paper, it actually has a great resonance or assimilation properties with the human body. And also, in this red juice concentrate that I have, so I've got beet juice, I've got acai, I've also got blueberry, and researchers at the University of Michigan published data finding that blueberry intake can potentially affect genes related to fat burning. I'm talking about the red juice blend from Organifi.
Go to organifi.com/model. That's O-R-G-A-N-I-F-I.com/model. You get 20% off the red juice formula and also all their other incredible superfood blends over at Organifi. Alright. This is something my kids utilize Organifi on a regular basis, they love it, I love it, and I know you're going to love it as well. Pop over there, check them out, organifi.com/model for 20% off. Now let's get to the Apple podcast review of the week.
ITUNES REVIEW: Another five-star review titled “Essential Listening” by Anthony Lift. “I have been in the health and fitness industry for over 10 years, hold multiple degrees and certifications and yet I still turn to Shawn for more info than anyone else. First and foremost, the passion he has for trying to help people is relentless. His devotion to his craft is something I strive to emulate. His willingness to speak the truth is something we should all admire. I share his work with anyone willing to listen and hope someday to be even a 10th as successful as he is. Much respect, sir.”
Shawn Stevenson: Wow. Thank you so much for sharing your voice over on Apple podcast. And that's what we're doing. We're helping to shift the culture right now in healthcare to get folks educated, to help to shift the system around so that physicians have the time and education to be able to empower patients and create a culture of wellness. And so, a big part of that obviously is our sleep quality and that's what we're focusing on today. And this very special episode is from an interview that I did for my friend Dhru Purohit's show, and he asked some amazing questions and asked me things that no one has ever asked me before, including about my relationship and how we kind of modulate our sleep practices. And so, it's going to be super powerful, super enlightening and a lot of real-world examples of things that we can utilize to improve our sleep quality. So, let's dive into this incredible conversation on sleeping smarter and adjusting our sleep habits in our relationship.
Dhru Purohit: So, what are a couple of things right off the top that you think that people don't get when it comes to the quality of their sleep?
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, that's a perfect question, because there's a bigger picture. We think it's these little things that we can micromanage, but if we step back and look at how all this stuff really works, we start to understand the circadian mechanism. We're lined up with the solar day, literally synced up with the entire solar system through our suprachiasmatic nucleus. So, it's this little aspect that's in our hypothalamus. It's kind of like a circadian pacemaker and it's determining when all of our biological methods and mechanisms are happening. So, based on the time of day it is, when we're in sync with this 24-hour solar day, it's determining what our digestion is doing, how robust our digestion is. It tends to be stronger in the day than in the evening. It's determining when certain hormones are getting produced, when our testosterone is getting produced, when our HGH is getting produced, certain neurotransmitters, dopamine, serotonin, all of this is synced up on this clock.
Our blood pressure is going to change based on the time of day. The list goes on and on and on. There isn't a way to really escape this system, but we try. And that's kind of the issue today is that we're kind of hiding out in a way because we can manufacture an artificial daytime at night today, with the advent of lights and all the crazy things we can do with lights. But also, we can hide out from the sun during the day, that natural light input and throw off that synchronicity that way as well. And so, one of the ways that we're really wrecking our sleep today is that artificial light in the evening. And there's been a lot that's come forward since my book came out back in 2016. That was the major published version of it.
Dhru Purohit: Sleep Smarter.
Shawn Stevenson: Sleep Smarter, international bestseller.
Dhru Purohit: Yeah, yeah.
Shawn Stevenson: 21... I think it's 21 languages it's translated in, each one a foreign distributor, foreign book deal. It's a... Man, it really helped to change the game and I'm grateful for that. So, these conversations are being had now and very easy access, easy on-ramp. But I think people are still missing some of the science behind it, because you said it, the CDC just did another report and they noted that our epidemics of sleep deprivation is now... It's somewhere in the ballpark of about 115 million Americans are regularly sleep deprived right now. So, in all of the ramifications that come from that, the metabolic ramifications, the immunosuppressive aspects of it, the list goes on and on, it's not good.
Dhru Purohit: Hunger, cravings from not sleeping well. That's one of the things you talked about on the podcast the last time you came on to talk about sleep.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. So, it's a master controller of so much of our reality. And so, looking at what is one of the things that is really tearing up our sleep quality? It's having exposure to abnormal light in the evening. And specifically, researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital at Harvard, they did a really fascinating study. And what they wanted to find out was, is reading on an iPad going to disrupt your sleep quality versus reading a regular book? Which they still exist. Dhru has some here in the studio, by the way, his amazing new studio. And so, what they did was, they took test subjects and they had them to read a book for four hours on an iPad each evening for five evenings in a row. Then they had them do the same thing with a traditional paperback book or a hardcover book. They recorded all the data, and it was nuts.
The folks who... During the phase of the study when they were reading on an iPad, this was enough to dramatically suppress their melatonin secretion. They had far less time and efficiency in their REM sleep specifically. So that's rapid eye movement sleep. One of the big things that happens during that phase of sleep is something called memory consolidation. So, even what people are listening to right now is getting converted into your short-term memory during sleep. And so that was getting suppressed. Also, they found that they had a harder time falling asleep. And as a result, they were waking up feeling more groggy and having less energy during the day the next day by being on that iPad at night versus the conventional book. So, what's going on here?
Well, this is one of these advents that is very new in our society. This doesn't mean that we can't utilize our technology to great benefit for ourselves, but we have to be aware that this is brand new. In the scale of human evolution, this is something that is so new, we have no idea of the long-term ramifications of this, because we simply didn't have exposure to light of this magnitude in the evening. At most we had fire. And we're just talking literally just a few decades ago. That was it. And so today we have this spectrum of light and what tends to happen is, blue light is getting the bad name. So blue light is the big villain. Well, some other research has come out recently and there was even some data in Time Magazine about this that it's actually yellow, the yellow spectrum of light can be problematic. But that particular study was done on lab animals, so on mice, which... They're nocturnal. So, that hue that's more associated with a different type of daytime or maybe transitioning from dusk till dawn or whatever, we got to take some of this stuff with a grain of salt.
Dhru Purohit: Sure.
Shawn Stevenson: Bottomline is, artificial light of any type is going to throw off your circadian timing system, period. So that's one of the ways that we're really wrecking our sleep is our habitual patterns of, in the evening we're on... Some people are like, they're not just on one device, Dhru. I don't know, you've probably done this before too. They're like having a device ménage à trois.
They've got the cell phone, they've got the TV, they've got the laptop, so we've got all these devices and what's happening is, we're really, again, throwing off this system. So, understanding this is one of the things we're doing that's tearing up our sleep. What I want to provide also is what are some of the little hacks or quick fixes that we can do to help to remedy this situation?
Dhru Purohit: So, a lot of people have a question now and Apple's done a good job of bringing awareness to people that, hey, okay, maybe we have night shift mode. But with everything that you've explained and for those that are not familiar, and I think Samsung recently set this up on their phones and... The phone hue will go more yellow in the evening and sometimes even provide prompts if you set up the schedule. But with everything that you shared, do you think that's enough? 'Cause some people are like, hey, listen, I got night shift mode so I can still use my iPad, I can still use my iPhone right up until when I go to sleep. What are your thoughts on that?
Shawn Stevenson: That's obviously abnormal. It's not something that we're hardwired to associate with in the evening, period. Now, there are degrees, there's good, better, best scenarios here. For instance, in the evening, I've got my blue light blocking glasses. I help to popularize them. So, these companies have been working with me and reaching out to me for years who have this kind of rudimentary technology, which is... It's kind of like... It's like a protection in a sense.
Dhru Purohit: A filter.
Shawn Stevenson: And so, with that said, we don't have too much clinical evidence as to their efficacy when we're talking about these blue light blocking glasses, apps on our computers. However, it's just logical. It's a logical input, but we don't have that much data on how effective they really are. So, we need to know that. We got to keep that in our back pocket. But anecdotally, which we cannot ignore the anecdotal data, folks that tend to be on the computer or whatever the case might be in the evening, having some blue light blocking glasses, they do notice that they fall asleep faster. They have better sleep quality. We can even create this neuro association. I know some people like, as soon as they put those glasses, like the sun goes down, glasses come on, they start getting sleepy.
Dhru Purohit: It's like a Pavlovian situation.
Shawn Stevenson: Yup. Yup. And it happens to so many people. So, there's definitely some efficacy there. But good, better, best, what's the best method here? Giving ourselves a little bit more screen-free time, period. Just get off the tech, give yourself... If you're right now going right up until bedtime, which is, like you said, a lot of people are doing, just give yourself 30 minutes, like a 30-minute space to not be staring into a device, which again is very abnormal. Now here's the biggest leverage point to this argument. When we're staring into that small space, for example, maybe we're using our phone right up until we go to sleep, by us focusing into this small space, what we're doing is eliciting a part of our sympathetic nervous system, because if we were to stare at something through our evolution for a long time, we're being hunted or we're hunting, alright?
And we need to be on point. We need to have those hormones produced that is going to enable us to move quickly if it comes down to it. So, these things... And I wonder if people just kind of think back whenever they're on their phone for a while. Let's just say they're at work, they're entrepreneurs, they're at home, they're typing away and they're like, "I'll just check my phone real quick." And then that just check turns into 30 minutes on Instagram. They get pulled into that internet black hole, which is a whole other part of the conversation we could talk about. And so, now they're scrolling for 30 minutes. I want you to investigate. Think back in your mind, how do you feel after being on your phone for 30 minutes or an hour or an hour and a half? As time is going by and you get off your phone, do you feel great? Are you just like, "Wow, that was amazing. I feel awesome."
Or are you just like, "Man, I don't quite feel right. I feel a little bit off." And for most people, they're going to notice like, you don't feel that great after being on your phone for that amount of time. There's so much neurochemistry and so many abnormal hormonal interactions taking place that it's just kind of creating this chemical soup that our body's trying to adjust to. And so, bottom line is, yes, we can have our blue light blocking app on our phone, glasses on, but we're still staring into that small space. And it's eliciting a part of our psychology, a part of our biology that's more associated with this fight or flight part of our nervous system, if that makes sense. So again, that's another check in the box of like, let's give our... Let's start with 30 minutes. It does...
I'm not saying two hours, three hours, just 30 minutes. But the problem, as you well know, is that we're addicted. And so, if you decide I'm going to give myself this 30 minute curfew and you're used to, you know, maybe for a couple of years, you've been on your phone until you go to sleep and then you lay it right down on your pillow next to you, you got your little electronic teddy bear there, but if we're going to be honest about this, we're very, very addicted to our devices.
Dhru Purohit: Absolutely.
Shawn Stevenson: We're constantly... If they're close, we have this tendency to just check, just touch them. And so, a recent study actually found that if it's even in your visual's sight...
Dhru Purohit: Periphery.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, in your periphery, in your line of sight, it's going to throw off your attention. It's pulling away your attention, because your brain knows that there's a lot of potential reward there. There's a connection with your opioid system. Dopamine is driving that behavior to seek that reward. And with the internet, it's so interesting, especially social media when you seek... Because dopamine drives us to seek things, to seek reward, to discover. It's an important part of human expression and evolution. But if we don't find something, eventually we'll just kind of tap out or we'll go crazy. And so, the internet is constantly rewarding us, especially social media, because you seek, "I want to see the next thing. Oh, I found something." Seek, find, seek, find, constantly. And it's just in training that opioid feedback.
And so, with that said, what do we do to supplant this? We have to fill that gap with something of greater or equal value to the phone, which is very tough to do, because it's so hyper-stimulating. Now it's going to be different from person to person. This could be simply listening to a great podcast. You don't have to stare into a screen to listen to a podcast or an audio book that you really enjoy. That might be something you can do to wind down in the evening. Pop on a podcast that you like, maybe put on your headphones, or play it on your speaker. This could be a time for you to read a conventional book, they still do exist, you don't have to read on the iPad. This is another thing that you could do. Also, this could be a great time to just maybe talk to your best friend, maybe you can jump on a call, talk to your best friend. You don't have to stare into a phone to do that. Talk with somebody in your household if you're living with family members, especially your significant other. I know again...
Dhru Purohit: Which I have a question about after you're done.
Shawn Stevenson: For sure, for sure. And so, this is something that has been dwindling away today. This time, this one-on-one relationship, and that could also lead to something that can improve your sleep quality, which is sex. And there's tremendous amount of science on how our sleep quality influences our sexual function and how our sexual function influences our sleep quality. They're deeply, deeply interconnected from the aspects of testosterone, from the aspects of oxytocin. So, just being close to somebody that you have a connection with, you're going to be producing a lot more oxytocin. And oxytocin is one of those factors that helps to actually... Some of the data is indicating that it helps to kind of buffer the effects of cortisol. And cortisol is not bad. It's just if it's produced at the wrong time and in the wrong amount, it can be problematic.
So, it helps to supplant that. And so, we can supplant that. Hopefully that's more entertaining than the phone, so that's another option there. Maybe it's just hanging out, playing board game. Maybe it's writing and journaling, whatever. You've got to experiment. Find something that helps you to not feel like you have the internet jitters and you just got to... I got to grab my phone. So, that's the thing. But just to finish off this point, that's the association with the electronic device, the tech. What about the ambient light? Because the ambient light is what's controlling and influencing that suprachiasmatic nucleus that I talked about before. So, a couple of things you could do, very simple. They're super popular now. I remember when I wrote Sleep Smarter, I would experience this when I would go to a nice hotel. They would have blackout curtains.
Dhru Purohit: Right.
Shawn Stevenson: And for me personally, of the 21 clinically proven strategies in the book, that was the thing that I noticed, when I got myself some blackout curtains at my house, that improved my sleep quality very quickly. So, blocking out the artificial ambient light as well because it's not just your eyes. Your retina is picking up that data. Most of the data is looking at that association from picking up ambient light through your retina and sending that data to your brain. Your skin also has photoreceptors that picks up light, that picks up information. And one of the ways I point people to, just to understand the logical... Like, your skin will literally change color when the sun's rays touch your skin, from millions of miles away. The sun is that remarkable, that its little rays touch your skin and changes your skin color, alright? Your skin has photoreceptors as well.
And researchers at Cornell University took a test subject and they put them into an otherwise dark room, took a light that... And it was the size of a quarter and placed it behind their knee. And that was enough to disrupt their sleep cycle. Just this light input was throwing off their body, maybe again, all of their organs and their cells are just kind of like, "What is this light? Is the sun coming up?" We're trying to figure it out, trying to sort it out. And so, getting yourself some blackout curtains. This should be Captain Obvious at this point, but not sleeping with the television on. I can't tell you how many times I fell asleep, of course, as a kid watching, I don't know, whatever I was watching. Probably stuff you wasn't watching, Dhru, like Cinemax late in the evening. You know what I mean?
Cinemax after dark or whatever the case might be. Actually, I didn't really get to watch that.
Dhru Purohit: We didn't have those premium channels, brother. We didn't have those.
Shawn Stevenson: Me neither, but sometimes, like, every couple of months they just put 'em on.
Dhru Purohit: Okay. Got it.
Shawn Stevenson: They put 'em on for you to get that dabble, like this, "Do you want this?" So, they give you a free week of HBO or something. Man, we was broke too, man.
So anyways, so not sleeping with the television on. If you don't have to have lights in your room that you're manufacturing yourself, like from an alarm clock, which most people are not even using alarm clocks these days, but maybe you just cover it up, maybe throw a towel over it or maybe if there's a dimmer switch on there, just getting out the ambient light in your bedroom itself, make it as dark and cozy as possible. If you do have an issue, some folks have been through stuff and the total darkness is a bit... Can evoke some fear. Maybe we're looking at, what are the hues that we evolved with, something closer to fire? And I'm not saying to have a candle burning all night either, but maybe like a salt lamp or turn the dimmer down. So, there's lots of options here, but the bottom line is to block out the ambient light outside and, in your bedroom, and give yourself that screen curfew.
Dhru Purohit: One thing I noticed when my wife and I first moved in, when we were not married, and she would have this surge of energy that would come in the evening and her sleep was often off. I've a few questions about that, we'll chat about that in a second. So, I started dimming the lights in our place. I started dimming the lights and especially overhead light. I found overhead light very stimulating for her. And I'd try to get at least the red lights that we had be a little bit more eye level, kind of recreating that sort of evolutionary history of where we kind of came from. And then she'd go in the bathroom to brush her teeth and shower before bed. And the bathroom light, we didn't have a night lamp in there or anything like that or a red light, and the bathroom light, which was overhead, she'd take a shower and she'd come out with a surge of energy again and she'd have a hard time falling asleep. And when we swapped out, I just said, "Hey sweetie, let's try something. Let's not use the overhead white, yellow, blue light in the bathroom. Instead, I'm going to stick up this little nightlight. Let's just do an experiment for a couple of weeks, see what happens." And immediately she'd come out of the shower feeling a lot more relaxed, feeling not as stimulated. We were also putting away the devices too, but something as simple as that was so helpful for us. And it just plays into exactly what you were talking about.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, that's a great example. And by the way, shout out to salt lamps. I got a salt lamp in my bathroom that we use in the evening.
Dhru Purohit: So, this goes to my second question, which is, do you and your wife have, who I've met, she's lovely, amazing, we all just had dinner together recently, do you guys have different routines and do those routines ever butt heads against each other?
Shawn Stevenson: Oh man, my wife is, she's mischief in human form for me. She is so adventurous, and she doesn't care about time. She doesn't care about that stuff. She's just kind of like, "This is my husband's thing." But she's seen the firsthand results in her life as far as how she feels, her performance, her body composition, all those things when she's minding her sleep quality for sure. But we had to get to a place where she's paying attention to those things. And part of the process sometimes is just letting go, because we shared the story, I think, when we went out, we met at the gym. We met at the gym. I was working at the university gym that we both went to.
Dhru Purohit: Do you want us to tell this story on the podcast? Not that it's bad or anything, just looking out for my brother, are you going to end up in timeout a little later on in this episode?
Shawn Stevenson: She's not going to listen, and nobody is going to tell her. But this... I'll give you the short, tiny version. I'll leave out some of the details. But we met at the gym, and she was there. At the time I was just focused on service. A switch had happened in my mind where I was very self-centered for the earlier years, up until around 22 when I began to get myself physically healthier because I grew up in an environment that was very volatile and dangerous. So, I developed these kind of self-coping mechanisms to keep myself shielded off. And so even in relationship contacts, I had a lot of relationships, but they were like here today, gone today because I just wasn't willing to open myself up. And this thing happened where I started to get physically healthier and people at my university started to ask me for help. And so, I started to... Start teaching them some of the stuff that I was doing while finishing my degree. And when I started to dedicate myself, I literally was thinking constantly, how can I help this person to achieve, fill in the blank, goal? And so that was my dominant thought process most of the days. And if you're constantly focused on service, it doesn't really match up well if you're being a terrible person in relationships and disregarding other people's feelings.
It just didn't fit anymore. And so, when she was coming to the gym, I wasn't even thinking about relationships or anything like that. I was just like, "Wow, this girl is dedicated. She's getting out here, going at it, running on the treadmill." She was even coming when her friend wasn't coming. And so, all I did was notice that. Never thought about talking to her or anything like that. And one day at the gym, I had just finished my own workout... Or I'd just finished up with a client and I was about to do my workout. And I was over by the Universal Gym, the one that's got the cables and the rows and lat pull, all that stuff. And she was on the most awkward piece of equipment in the gym, the abductor machine where your legs are flayed open.
Anyways, and I didn't even really notice that until she dropped her headphones and she's in this very compromising situation. And so, I just walked over and picked her headphones up and handed them to her. And she said, "Thank you." And I noticed she had a little bit of an accent. And because I work at a university, I work with people from all over the world for a couple of year... About a year at that point. Let me say that, about a year, a year, and a half. And so, I notice little things in people's... In their communication, in their language and how they speak. And so, I guess that impressed her. She was like, "Oh, how did you know?" She's from Kenya. "Where are you from?" Shout out to Kenya. And so, we just... From there we started talking. And I would imagine, I don't really remember the details, but I would imagine she would have got off that very awkward machine and talked to me a bit. But here's the rub. And this is why I'm telling the story, come to find out she was not about that gym life, alright? Cause in my mind, I'm like, "Oh, we're going to work out together. It's going to be great. She's about this fitness thing." She was just coming to the gym to get in shape to go to Miami with her friends for a holiday weekend. I think it was Memorial Day or something.
Dhru Purohit: Nothing wrong with that.
Shawn Stevenson: And then after that, she didn't come back again. We were together, we'll just say even a year later, I'm just... Sometimes I'd be like, "Hey babe, you want to go to the gym?" And she's like, "Nope, no, no, thank you." And to the point where I would be irritated, like, "Why don't you want to take care of yourself? Like workout or whatever." Not that she wasn't eating well and those kinds of things, but in her mind, she's like, "I'm done." She even said it when we were at dinner. She's like, "I'm done. Why would I go to the gym?"
And so, she's always been a little bit, not really focused on those kinds of things. She just wants to enjoy life, be a good person, talk to her friends, have a good time, laugh. And her... There are some slight differences in our genetic makeup as far as our sleep patterns. And so, she would definitely be more in that night wolf camp than I am for sure. She would have a tendency to come alive in the evening whereas I'm definitely more of an early riser. I just get up, man, but in the evening I'm ready to wind it down and go to sleep. And so, we had to find a happy medium. And that took years to cultivate, but what really helped was having our son, my youngest son, Braden, that really helped to get on those rhythms together, get more on the same page because the baby doesn't care as much. So, we need to work it together as a team here and create these patterns and have some consistency. And so, yeah, we have butt heads in the past, but now even... what is today? Two days ago, we had some friends over and the friends know that I'm working on a book. My wife knows too. And I'm just like, "I don't care about whatever, we can hang out, but I got to get to bed because I got to get up and work on this book in the morning." And so, my friends asked like, "Shawn, just seriously, no problem at all. What time should we leave?" And so, it was 9:45.
And so, we're all sitting around, 9:45 came around and then my friend was like, "Okay, it's time to go." And my wife is literally like, "Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, we still got one minute."
She was not trying to hear about this abrupt, like everybody's leaving now, because if it was left to her devices, we would continue ad infinitum until somebody pulls the plug.
Dhru Purohit: Well, what I love about that story is that number one, I think everybody butts heads in a relationship because often you attract somebody who's a compliment to you. And that person is different than you, you don't want to be in a relationship with yourself, even though a lot of people think that they do, but you don't want to be in a relationship with yourself. It's not going to be the thing that's going to help you grow. And even though people typically have different routines, especially in relationship, my wife is the same way. She kind of comes alive at night. The foundation of like, here's why this is important to me. And also, I'm not going to try to change you.
I'm going to show you the things that are beneficial for you. If you want to do them, great, but how can we also learn to sort of respect each other's approaches? Which usually for me might be, I have a thing that I'll do with my wife, which is like, she knows a few times a month if she's out with her friends, like super late, she comes back, I'm like, "Babe, I need to pull out this red card." And the red card is the emergency card. Like I got a big day tomorrow. I have to get to bed. We kind of have our evening routine. I've talked about it a little bit in the podcast before, but if she's a lot late, I'm like, "Sweetie tonight, the thing that we normally do... " which is we might read together a little bit or watch things that are not super stimulating on like a hyper red light with blue light block glasses on and everything like that, I'm like, "We can't do that tonight. So, you got to kind of wind yourself down a little bit and I got to fall asleep."
And I respect my wife because she understands why that is so essential for me. And it doesn't mean that we don't fight sometimes about it or butt heads about it, but it's all part of the process of working with another human being to see, how can I support their goals and dreams? If sleep is a vehicle for that, how can I support their goals and dreams for that? And then for my wife too, she's in the early stage of building her first business. When I was building my first business, I was up late at night too. So how can I knock her for that time being a very useful time for her?
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. You just said it.
Dhru Purohit: So, it's all the things.
Shawn Stevenson: It's so powerful, man. People say these terms and it's... The problem is, today, everybody has the ability to utilize these terms, but not really having a grounds for understanding how they work. So that... One of those terms is communication. But what does that really mean? That doesn't just mean you're trying to get somebody to understand your thing. There's this wonderful quote and I first heard Wayne Dyer say it, and it was from St. Francis of Assisi. It was that it was to seek first to understand and then to be understood. So, for me to first understand what is driving and motivating my wife, my best friend, what are her goals? What are her aspirations? What makes her happy? What makes her feel good? And not just thinking that it's the things that are my things. And so, paying attention to those things and coming into the conversation with respect and admiration for those things. And then from there, hoping, which again, I can't make her want to understand me, so I'm doing that, providing that space. And at the same time, especially in a loving relationship, the tables are going to turn where she's going to want to understand me.
It's not just me coming with my thing, like this sleep scientist, Shawn Stevenson, said, "You need to f*cking go to sleep." It's not like that. It's having a space in communication and patience as well. Patience can... That quality in character is so valuable, especially today, where everything is so fast paced, to have that delayed gratification. And that's something, again, that's another strength that I have. I'm very big on that. It's not a big deal to me. My wife, instant gratification. Tomorrow doesn't exist so often, you know? And so, again, but I can learn things from that. And guess what? I've loosened up. And on the other side, she's gotten a little bit more, I don't want to say militant, but sometimes for some things, she'll be more on it than me. If we go out, and we were on the road, I just spoke at an event in Atlanta and we're staying at a hotel and I'm tired, I just got into bed, whatever. And she's like, "Babe, what about that light over there?" Like there's a little, just a tiny light coming in from the blackout curtain.
Shawn Stevenson: And I was like, "Babe, it's fine." But I used to be like, I'm taping it. I'm putting a chair, I'm like doing all this stuff, bringing tape. I used to bring this like blackout tape.
Dhru Purohit: Yeah, the electrical tape.
Shawn Stevenson: Yep. And so, I'm like covering stuff up. Now I'm just, I'm a little bit less neurotic, but though, by the way, those are some great tips for traveling as well.
Dhru Purohit: 100%. I've used them.
Shawn Stevenson: Bring yourself a little bit of tape. But there was something else too, that you mentioned in that routine that for some people, it might be one of the things that's wrecking their sleep quality and they don't even realize it. So, what are... Again, sleeping smart is one thing, but oftentimes, what are the things we're doing to sleep dumb? Like, what are the things that we're doing that are really messing up our sleep quality? And that was the shower in the evening, like right before bed. So, what's seen in the data is that there's a little bit of a rebound effect, where having a hot shower, a hot bath, if you have space allotted, your body temperature will of course increase, but it will actually drop down lower than that set point and help to facilitate sleep.
Now, the timing here could be an issue because what could be happening is it's driving the body temperature up and then getting right into bed and then maybe tossing and turning a little bit, not being able to like relax because that core body temperature has been elevated and the skin surface as well. Core body temperature isn't going to be affected that much from a hot bath or hot shower if you're not in there that long. And so, one of the things that's seen in the data, researchers at the Pittsburgh University School of Medicine did some really fascinating research on insomniacs. So, these are folks with clinically proven sleep disruption, sleep abnormalities, really struggling. And they wanted to find out what would happen if they cooled them off while they sleep and before they go to bed. And so, what they did was they fitted them with these cooling caps, and it was just running cool water over their head while they laid down through their evening routine, laid down and went to sleep. Now here's what happened, the insomniacs and they had a healthy control, so this is a controlled clinical trial, the healthy controls took on average about 16 minutes to fall asleep after getting into bed.
The insomniacs who struggled with sleep, suddenly they were falling asleep faster than the controls. They fell asleep on average 13 minutes after getting into bed. And so, we got a faster sleep onset, and within that they found that they were now sleeping about 89% of the time that they were in bed, which is right on par with the healthy control group. So essentially their insomnia was gone. And this was true for 75% of the insomniacs in the clinical trial. Their sleep issues were resolved just by changing their temperature, by fitting them with these cooling caps. There isn't a drug on the market that's remotely close, not even close, not even the same universe as just cooling these folks off. And if you think about it again, it's just that the head area is one of those areas, like there's something about the cool... That's as cool as the other side of the pillow. Like it just feels good to...
Dhru Purohit: Relaxing.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, it's relaxing. But what's happening, what's seen with insomniacs is that there's difficulty with thermal regulation. So, their body being able to manage and control their body temperature in the evening. Now guess where else in your body is controlling that internal thermostat?
It's your hypothalamus, the same place as a suprachiasmatic nucleus that, again, is trying to sync you up with a 24-hour solar day, alright? It's literally determining your temperature. That system is getting disrupted from something in their lifestyle. Something is happening that's causing this outcome. So even with the cooling caps, we're still treating a symptom, but it's working. And so, what are some of the things that that could be? It could be exercising too late in the evening. I've seen that clinically. I've seen people coming in, and they're struggling with their sleep quality sometimes for years and they got a BJJ class that ends at like 9:00 PM and then they're trying to be in bed by 10:00. And they're just like, and they tab their stories like, "Shawn, this is the only time I could try this, the only time." But usually, the story is not 100% true. There's usually... If you could take a step back and maybe even work with somebody who can start to look at your life through a different set of eyes where he could see like, "Oh, hey, if you do this, or if you do this, maybe you could move this here." Because what's happening when you're wrecking your sleep quality, everything else in life gets harder.
So that could be one of those things is not getting conditions that are cool enough in the evening to facilitate sleep. And on average, depending on which experts you talk to, most experts agree it's around 68 degrees is ideal, Fahrenheit, in the bedroom. So today, especially most people listening to this have access to a thermostat, which is a great blessing and gift. But even in cultures that don't have thermostats and maybe they're, again, at the mercy, maybe very hot temperatures even in the evening across the board, no matter where you are on planet Earth, the temperature is going down in the evening. If it's 120 during the day and maybe 105 during the night, it still went down. So, your biology, your body is wanting to drop down with the environment, but we can superficially keep that body temperature up and we can get ourselves out of sync with the Earth's clock and throw off that ability for our temperature to down regulate, if that makes sense.
Dhru Purohit: Absolutely. Super makes sense.
Shawn Stevenson: Got a quick break coming up. We'll be right back. Recently scientists have discovered that the human gut is a mass of neural tissue filled with 30 types of neurotransmitters, just like our brains. Because of the massive amount of brain like tissue found in the gut, it has rightfully earned the title of being "the second brain." Technically known as the enteric nervous system, this second brain consists of around 100 million neurons. Now here's where it gets really interesting. Researchers at UCLA discovered that the trillions of bacteria in your gut are continuously communicating with your enteric nervous system, AKA, your second brain. And researchers from Caltech reported that certain bacteria in the gut play an important role in the production of hormones that are crucial for our mental health, body composition, and even our sleep quality. With the impact of processed foods, stress, and environmental toxins, the health of our microbiome can be severely disrupted.
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Dhru Purohit: Have you seen anything on the market... There's different devices that people use to cool their mattress or have like a mattress pad. I use one of them. I'm curious, do you guys use anything or are there anything on the market like this study where people are using this cooling cap to sort of cool the body down? Or/and do you recommend to people just to use the AC, which sometimes can be a little problematic. You get a little stuffy at night, that sort of stuff. Yeah, what are the best methods that you've seen to help people who run a little hot to start to cool down in the evening?
Shawn Stevenson: Yep. There's quite a few products now. Again, just in the last few years for mattress pads that you could put over your existing mattress, there are kind of cooling technologies with pillows, with sheets that are thermo-regulating. The list goes on and on. There's so many great things and some people swear by them. And it could be a game changer. But again, in some instances we're treating a symptom.
Dhru Purohit: Right.
Shawn Stevenson: So, we want to get to the root cause, like why is your temperature running hot in the evening? And that's usually due to stuff that we're doing during the day. That said, this is not a place where we can't supplant that and allow ourselves to use this treatment to get better sleep right now where we sort other things out. So that being said...
Dhru Purohit: Can I add in one more comment there?
Shawn Stevenson: Sure.
Dhru Purohit: So, one comment on that is that I know that a lot of couples use the same sort of comforter. My wife likes something heavier. I like something lighter. So, I run hot in the evening with a heavier comforter. If I just had a little sheet, I'm fine. I don't need anything more and I'm fine. My body temperature is good. So that is one of the reasons why we use one of these mattress pad situations, you can Google them. There's a bunch that are out there, is because way back in the day, you probably know more about this than anybody else, people wouldn't often sleep necessarily like right up against each other. Couples, they would have either mattresses that would be separate. They could be in separate rooms. You know, that's kind of a modern phenomenon, and within that, and there's a lot of beautiful reasons to do that, but you typically have the same comforter and that is a whole temperature regulation situation for people. That's why I think that if I had just the sheet, I'd be fine. But I do like cuddling with my wife. It's nice that we have the same comforter. So, I have to use technology to help bring my temperature down a bit.
Shawn Stevenson: You just said exactly what I was going to talk about.
Dhru Purohit: Okay, sorry. I stole your thunder.
Shawn Stevenson: No, this is perfect because you got another great firsthand experience with, you know, and here's another thing that's really interesting is that on average, men tend to run a little bit warmer than women. And so, in a couple, again, there's this dynamic where you don't want to... You're not trying to date yourself. There are these kinds of opposites attract phenomenon. My wife is definitely a cool body. So... And so, I've heard this so many times when she gets into bed, these are the exact words, "Ooh, you're so warm." So now she's going to try to siphon my warmness, my just natural... I'm good. I'm good. I'm not too hot, not too cold. And then she puts these dead body feet on me.
All right? Feels like they're straight from the morgue on me. And so now I'm like, "Oh!" I'm making all these noises. And she thinks it's hilarious, but I understand I'm her little heater. I get it.
Dhru Purohit: But don't you dare touch her when you got cold hands.
Shawn Stevenson: Man. Oh my God. Are you kidding me? Literally. She'll literally fight me. She'll ball up into a turtle shell. Yeah. And so, I'm very aware of that. Even today, I usually get out of bed first and I came over to her when I was walking out of the room, and she had... A part of her leg was sticking out of the cover. And I knew if I touched that leg with my hands... So, I'd just washed my hands and my hands were cold from the... The water was still cold. And I was like, "She would be so pissed at me. So let me not do that." So, I like... I think I used the back of my hand or something, like touched her leg or something. So considerate, man. Anyways, my wife is perfect, just for the record. If anybody tries to snitch, she's perfect.
Dhru Purohit: We'll club that for social media.
Shawn Stevenson: And so, even with that phenomenon, so this is why the mattress pad, for example, you can cover just one side of the bed to cool off. And another thing here is just in that same vein with that thermoregulation, so for some people even hearing 68 degrees, they were just like, "Oh no, that's just... That's not happening. That's too cold." So again, it's finding that happy medium, 'cause for me, I would probably put that bad boy on maybe 65. I like it, the cooler, the better. I want to have my comforter. I want to have my little chilly vibe in the room. My wife? No. So we settled on like 68, 69. And she's seen also... Here's the crazy thing. If the temperature is anything above that, she tends to sweat in the evening. I don't do that, and generally, I'm not, but her body is still... Like that thermoregulation is... Something's happening there and sorting itself out. And so, you got to work together, figure out what's ideal, and be willing to test and try things at the end of the day.
Dhru Purohit: Would you say that for your wife, again, because a lot of people are listening or in a relationship, a lot of people are not, so may need this in the future, was that the biggest game changer for her? 'Cause you hinted earlier that there was a few things that made a significant difference for her. Was it temperature? Was it something else? What would you say were your wife's top two? And then I want to talk a little about daytime things that we're doing that are messing us up in the night.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. Yeah. So, for her, it wasn't the temperature thing that was most notable. It was more... I think it would just really boil down to routine and consistency for her, and just like, I consistently could see her just feeling good, having more energy, more productive, all those things, less distracted whenever we would be locked in on a consistent routine. But one other thing I want to mention, this was published in the journal, Brain. And so, it's so fascinating, again, these journals dedicated to brain function, to brain health, to neuroscience are looking at the impact of sleep. And so, one of the studies that was published in this particular journal, again, they're trying to manipulate temperature. So, they fitted the test subjects with these, what they call thermo suits, and it just lowered their skin temperature just by one degree Celsius. I think it was... The scientists were German or Swedish. And so just lowering the skin temperature just one degree was enough to improve their wake after sleep onset.
So that means they were waking up less frequently when they fell asleep, improve their overall sleep efficiency, specifically deep sleep. So, stage III, IV sleep was improved. So, these really remarkable benefits just by reducing their skin temperature, not their core body temperature, just by that one degree, really fascinating stuff. So that points to... By the way, what about, what are you wearing when you go to bed? Maybe again, with you running hot, you're just sleeping in the boxing draws.
Dhru Purohit: That's what I do.
Shawn Stevenson: All right? Or all natural, right? But maybe she's got some sweatpants on and a t-shirt or whatever. So even the clothes that you're wearing could be part of the issue. Maybe you're wearing stuff that's making you too hot and overheating you in the evening. So, keeping all that. And humans, this is the thing about us. We love coziness, man. The modern human, we're all about that coze, so the warm fluffy socks, the sweatpants or the tights, and the pajamas, the PJs. We have clothes for bed. But those could be the issue and they're also today, again, there are pajamas that have thermo-regulating material. Not saying it's going to drop your skin temperature per se, but that can help your body to, you know, they're moisture-wicking. And they're not insulating and generating more heat based on that material. So yeah. But if we want to jump into the daytime now, because one of the big tenets is a great night of sleep starts the moment you wake up in the morning.
Dhru Purohit: 100%.
Shawn Stevenson: All right? So now we're swinging the pendulum back to the other side because we started this episode talking about the suprachiasmatic nucleus seated in the hypothalamus, the master gland of our brain and how it's constantly trying to sync up our biological rhythms with the 24-hour solar clock. We mentioned how that clock is getting disrupted by our light exposure in the evening, but what about our lack of light exposure to start the day? One of the game changers for a lot of people is intentionally getting natural light exposure in the early part of the morning to help them sleep better in the evening. A study, this was published in Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, and the researchers found that the test participants who got early morning sun exposure had a dramatic decrease in their cortisol levels at night.
So, what they were doing in the morning with sun exposure was helping to kind of optimize their cortisol rhythm, 'cause your cortisol rhythm should go up first thing in the morning. Your cortisol is kind of jumping up, spiking to start the day. That's normal. Just get up and at 'em. Get after it. Go out, handle your business. Through evolution, this would be go and gather, go and hunt, go and... Community connection, all the things. And in the evening, it's going to gradually drop down. If cortisol is high in the evening, that's a problem. Because in some ways, cortisol and melatonin are... It's kind of like the antithesis. It's kind of like, if cortisol is pushing high, melatonin is going to have a tendency to get pushed down. So, we do not want cortisol elevated in the evening. And so that was one aspect with the sun exposure. Here's another one. And more and more science is coming out, this is a hot topic right now. And this is, sun exposure on your skin and the serotonergic system, so you producing serotonin from exposure to sunlight. And so, some of the details that we have now is, that exposure to sunlight during the day is triggering the production of serotonin.
We're still... Or there's some questions on how it's all happening still but let me give you the point that we do understand. It's one of those things that's helping to set that biological rhythm because serotonin is a precursor to making melatonin. And so, it's kind of... It's like the opening act for your sleep in the evening, and also that could be part of the reason it's pressing cortisol down in the evening. Serotonin is associated with being this kind of feel-good neurotransmitter. But it's so much more than that. It's a regulator of our sleep potentially in our biological rhythm overall. But melatonin especially is a huge controller of our biological rhythms. So, with that said, we get this serotonin production with early morning sun exposure. We're still figuring out the details on this. We know that early morning sun exposure is going to push down our cortisol in the evening. It's another check in the box of improving our sleep quality, and to top it all off, it's one of those things where the timing of that sun exposure is going to make a world of difference too.
So, I want to make that clear. Any sun exposure, if you're not getting any, is going to be helpful. But in particular, it's within the first two to three hours and I really preface two hours of the sun coming up. And so, because... And specifically, it's the ambient sun exposure in the environment, you don't have to stare at the sun. We're not talking about that. But if you could get ambient light sun exposure in your environment, preferably if you can get sun light on your skin in the early part of the day, this is when the sun is less invasive for people that are concerned about sun damage and all that, which is another huge conversation where we're more afraid of the sun, which has a small amount of implications, which they're serious, the massive implications is not getting any interaction with the sun, which is literally enabling life on the planet.
That is the fear. Fear the thing that has helped us to have... We wouldn't have oxygen without the sun. We wouldn't have plant matter. We wouldn't have life here, period. Just... Come on. So, we have to be a little bit more aware and intentional about this because, again, we're very good at taking media and creating this fear mongering. Not to say you should... If you haven't been in the sun to go out and spend two hours in the sun with super pale skin. I'm not saying that. Or to use protection. I'm saying that our associations are really skewed to where now we're in such fear of the sun and things have been promoted to keep us indoors and we're missing out on a critical biological input. Sunlight, we know this now, is influencing directly thousands of our genes and influencing epigenetic programs. So, determining which genes are getting expressed just by sun exposure and the offshoot from that vitamin D being another big important component. So, to put all this together, what we want to do to leverage this is, if at all possible, I know that people have different conditions, but during the time of year that you can, whenever you can, get outside and get some early morning sun exposure. If your skin is darker, if you're looking for production of vitamin D and all that stuff, you need more time in the sun.
But get up if you can get yourself just 10 minutes outside and you can make it... You can stack it. You can go out, this can be your time you go out and have your cup of coffee, go out and have your... Do your journaling, read a little bit, have your breakfast outside. You could exercise outside, which is going to help to support that cortisol rhythm as well. And that's another thing, I'm just going to throw this in here really quickly. Appalachian State University, I mentioned this years ago when we talked about this. Appalachian State University did a study to find out what's the best time to exercise and improve your sleep quality. And they had test subjects exercise at 7 AM for one phase, 1 PM for another phase, and 7 PM in the evening for another phase. They found that the morning exercisers who were working out at 7 AM had more efficient sleep cycles, they tended to sleep longer, they had, and this was another really interesting thing, a greater drop in their blood pressure in the evening. So again, that's correlated with that drop in that sympathetic fight or flight, that relaxation process, by exercising in the morning. Does this mean you can't exercise after work at 4:00 or 5:00? No, you could do that. Fine. But get some morning exercise in because it's going to help to improve your sleep quality. So yeah, getting some natural sun exposure to start the day is one of the essential inputs that our genes expect from us to help to improve our sleep quality.
Dhru Purohit: And you mentioned the right time of year for you, generally speaking too, 'cause sometimes we are here in, just outside of Santa Monica, here in Los Angeles, it's a little overcast, but that's still beneficial. Do you want to say anything about that, in terms of helping people understand just the, you know, even if you're on the East Coast, even if you're somewhere cloudy, it's still beneficial to be outside.
Shawn Stevenson: Yes. Yes. One of the studies that I was just talking about not too long ago, researchers actually were looking at, and this was looking at cadavers and looking at the seasonal implications of serotonin in their system and finding that even in places that were more overcast, they still tended to have higher levels of serotonin or their analogs versus people who were not getting sun exposure at all. So, getting sun outside, even on an overcast day, the sun is still shining through. Many people know you can still get sunburned when it's overcast. Matter of fact, it might even improve the likelihood that you're getting sunburned because of just how the sun is dancing in association with those clouds. But also, if you're looking at... Because this would get into the conversation of the different types, UVA, UVB, UVC. UVCs, we've got this kind of shield around the Earth in a sense in the ozone layer. So that's like galaxy level, like outside of the Earth. So that's not really a concern. UVB, of all the rays that are reaching the surface of the Earth, 95% of them are UVA. UVB is what triggers the production of vitamin D in our system.
But so little of those rays are actually getting to Earth. This is why being adamant about getting sun exposure at certain times, at certain times of the year, because that's even going to change, we've even got this section of the United States that it's going to change from the time of year when you're even getting vitamin D, producing UVB, even reaching you. So, there's this kind of belt around the country. And so, if we're living in the northern latitudes, we're not going to be producing or even getting the types of rays that can help us to produce vitamin D, so we got to be mindful of that. This could be a place for supplementation potentially, but the human body is very good at storing up some vitamin D. So just getting the sunlight that you can. Now even this conversation, I didn't know I was going to get into this, with vitamin D, this is going to be a different time of day than that morning sun exposure. So, it's just like, "Ah, I got to get more sunlight," it's like another natural input that we might not be acclimated to. So, this is why I'm saying, anytime you can get some natural sunlight, it's going to be better than nothing. And your benefits are going to be different depending on the time of day.
Dhru Purohit: So I want to use that as a jump off point to some of the mindset piece around it, that idea of like a morning protocol, morning routine has been talked about so much in the context of getting sunlight, definitely not when your book first came out, that was a game changer for a lot of people understanding it, and since then, more and more people have been highlighting it, talking about it, and yet still, I know that there are probably people listening to this podcast today, they're like, "I know about this. I've heard about this before," and of course there's no one size fits all, but I'd love you to think about maybe from the hundreds of thousands of people that reach out to you on a regular basis and are testing out these different recommendations that you give on your podcast all the time, Model Health Show, subscribe, link in the show notes, what do you think is just that, just that particular protocol? What are some of the mindset traps or things that people fall into where even if they know it, they don't actually do it on a consistent basis? What do you think is going on there?
Shawn Stevenson: Oh man, this is... There's a very simple principle here. People want... The reason that we would even entertain ideas like that is that we want better. We want to feel better. We want change. Maybe it's our body composition. We want to see some change happen there. Maybe it's our energy. We want to see some change happen there. Maybe it's our performance at work. Maybe it's our relationships. We want to see some change happen there. But here's the rub. People want change, but they don't want to change that much. They want a new result, but they don't want, in their life right now, want to change that much in order to get it. And this is because humans, we're very comfortable with who we are. Now, you might not like who you are, where you are exactly, but we're very comfortable with it. Everything driving human psychology, the number one driving force of the human psyche is to stay congruent with the ideas and actions that we believe are the associated actions and beliefs and ideas of the person who we are right now. So again, the number one driving force of the human psyche is to stay congruent with the ideas that we hold about ourselves and the world around us, just to be more clear. That's what's driving our reality, our perception of things.
Dhru Purohit: This is who I am, so I've got to act in this way to preserve who I am.
Shawn Stevenson: Exactly. And when you deter from that, all kinds of chaos is going to be taking place psychologically because you're deterring from what is comfortable, what is known. And so, what tends to happen is, if we're talking about creating a morning routine to improve your sleep quality or performance or whatever the case might be, and you start having too many ingredients, that's just too much change at one time for the vast majority of people. So again, we want change, but we don't want to change that much. And so, there's this tenet that's been spoken about for thousands of years, to know thyself, know thyself. What type of personality are you? Are you the rip off the band-aid, just go all in type of person? Are you the baby steps person? Are you the person who quits stuff really quickly? You got to look at your track record, look at your history and know who you are. None of these is better than the other because each and every one of these personality types has seen great success in the world.
There have been examples of people who operate that way, who've created amazing things in the world. But if you don't know yourself and what you're good at and what your potential not-so-good-at stuff is, I'm not going to say weaknesses, but if you're not aware of those things, you’re not-so-good stuff or, AKA, your weaknesses are going to keep on chiseling away at you. And so, a couple of things. One is, for the majority of people, just taking on one to two interventions at one time to get started. So, a great example, my wife's personality type is to go all-in, and then whenever she hits a snag, she quickly will stop doing the said thing. And because life... But here's the thing, life is going to happen. So, if you're coming into this scenario and you're wanting this particular change and you're not aware that's... You have this crazy idea that everything is going to work out perfectly, like every... "We're just going to start this new routine, it's going to be great," but then boom, an issue with the kids or the parents or car or something.
Dhru Purohit: Something always happens.
Shawn Stevenson: Always. So, if you don't have that awareness that something's going to happen, not to expect it, so you're just like broadcasting a problem, but just to be aware when the thing shows up like, "Oh yeah, something... Yeah I was expecting you. I was expecting an obstacle along the way, or two or three." So being aware that something is going to happen. And instead of like... Again, she'll do all the things. So, like, "Okay, I got to do this, I got to do that." There are other people who have... They spend so much time in preparation that they never even get started or they rarely get started. So, they always got to make sure everything's right, got to get the perfect outfit, perfect shoes, "I got to get the cooler for the bed. I got to get all this stuff." No. Just go to bed. Just start with one thing. Just get off the device for 30 minutes. You don't need to buy something to do that. You don't need everything to be perfect. But that's kind of like that Barry Schwartz book from back in the day, The Paradox of Choice.
Dhru Purohit: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
Shawn Stevenson: And we have so many things to do that we do nothing. So many choices that we have a hard time choosing anything. And so, for the majority of people, again, you take just a couple of implements. So, we've talked about a few today. So maybe you just give yourself, "Hey, I'm going to start with that 30-minute screen curfew and I'm just going to do that. That's it. I don't have to do the temperature thing and I don't have to have this talk with my significant other and I don't have to, and I don't have to." Just take some of the pressure off to be perfect. And just understand, you're going to get some benefit just from implementing one thing, get really good at that, then do the next thing. But again, one to two things. 'Cause people are just like, "Well, I don't want just one thing." So that's why I say two.
Dhru Purohit: So, let's say you're doing one or two things and you feel like you've gotten a pretty good handle on it, how long before they might think about including the next thing? Obviously, every person's different, but just in your experience, is a couple of weeks good enough before they start incorporating the next thing? What are your thoughts on that?
Shawn Stevenson: There's a lot of science and debate around habits so much. And how long does it take to create a habit? What it really boils down to is a neuro association. So, your brain and your biology expecting certain things, specifically at certain times. I believe that you can leverage and shift your habits faster if you're putting them on this circadian system, the circadian timing system. And so, it starts to anchor in where your body literally expects certain things to happen at certain times. So, if you're doing that, so we'll just say the 30-minute screen curfew and working out in the morning for just five minutes, five-minute morning exercise outside and 30-minute screen curfew, so you're doing that and you're doing this at relatively the same time for a couple of weeks and it's just like... It's starting to become second nature. It's just... It kind of feels good, it's not a big deal, then I would say you can add something else in. But you have to know yourself. But for most people, and I can't stress this enough, if it's happening at the same time.
If it's not, if it's still kind of sporadic, don't add in another piece. So, for me... Because what tends to happen with habits is, everybody experiences that kind of new love phase where it's just like, "Oh, this is awesome. I'm like drinking water when I get up, doing my morning exercise. It's amazing. It's amazing. Why'd I wait so long?" Everything's going good, but then after about a week, maybe a little bit longer, then the struggle phase starts to come into play, maybe even before a week where your brain is like, "Alright, this isn't you. We've been sleeping an extra two hours because we've been up late, and you've been getting up and getting a bowl of Frosted Flakes for 17 years and now you want to get up and exercise? Who do you think you are?" And so, the struggle starts to happen where you got to kind of like make yourself do the thing rather than just like, I'm drawn to it. The struggle phase is where most people throw in the towel. And also, we'll start to look for problems. Not only that the obstacle will happen, we'll look for problems.
We'll look for an excuse to not do the thing. But if you can be aware of the struggle phase, the discomfort coming up and your brain is literally trying to change its association to your habits, to your life and to who you are, who you see yourself being, if you could traverse through that just for a little bit longer, now you're going to get into more of the integration phase to where it starts to become second nature, it starts to become a part of you, it starts to become a little bit more of your identity.
Dhru Purohit: You might even look forward to it.
Shawn Stevenson: You might even look forward to it. Because once it becomes a part of your identity, it's just what you do.
Dhru Purohit: You mentioned something earlier, you said "Know thyself," what are some things you know about you, broadening beyond sleep for a second, that they're just who you are, and so you've adjusted your general boundaries in the day, it could be with routines, it could be with work, could be with people, to create enough buffer so you can be who you are? So are there things that you've put in place in your life, systems, boundaries, et cetera, that allow you to be more of who you are and not let the world distract you from your mission and your goals and dreams in life? I know that's a broad question, but does anything come up for you on that?
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. This was not manufactured, but this does come back to sleep because I value feeling good so much. It's such a high priority in my life. And I know what it's like to not feel good, to feel sleep-deprived, to feel like I'm exhausted or I'm not mentally as sharp as I normally am. I like feeling like myself. And so, creating some structure and systems around that, like my... Man, my youngest son Braden, even... There are so many cultural taboos in some ways, but also myths around sleep, like this is one of those things, unless it's messed up, people don't really talk about it. And even when it's messed up, people still don't talk about it. But we're led to believe that when you have a baby, for example, that you're not going to sleep for the next five years, forget about it. But we're also lacking communication and training and support from... We don't live in the same tribal construct that we evolved in. Even closer in your culture, like the grandparents are there and sometimes, oftentimes in the household.
And so, there's support, there's people working together, there are multiple people taking care of the baby. But there are also patterns, you got to understand, even the baby wants to sleep, but the baby wants their needs met. And so, me coming into this, I'm aware, and so I'm creating these patterns. I know that... Okay, I know that, for example, we started to create a little bit of a gap from his last feeding, so instead of letting him get a little snack from mommy maybe an hour before bed, just let him be a little hungry.
So, he really goes to town on late nipple when he finally gets a chance to eat. And so... But here's the thing, we can't just have the baby just sitting up here crying and everybody's agitated and upset, and he's upset, and I'm upset, and we're all upset, I'm going to spend some time, let me keep him entertained. So, this is great father-baby time. We're hanging out. I know he's like... He's still kind of looking over, "Where's that nipple?" I'll engage with him, we have some fun, I get him tired, so I'm actually having him play a little bit. And then he has a really big feeding before bed because those needs, like what is the baby waking up for? Changed, food, just trying to get things sorted out, being a new life here in this 24-hour solar day. The body's just trying to sort it out. Let's help that. Let's help the process. By the way, none of this stuff... There is hardly even a tenet in science that cannot be challenged at some level. And so, I'm thinking about even some of our scientific tenets, even physics, laws of physics.
Right now, we're looking at the strong potential of different dimensions existing. And so are the laws of physics still upheld the same way in this other dimension that might have a certain... Just something a little bit different as far as their physics, you know what I mean. At some point, everything... We're just using our language and our awareness now to communicate. The problem is we act like we know everything and not staying open. And so, in saying this, no baby is just going to follow lockstep with these things that I'm talking about, but what we can learn to do as a culture is stack conditions and to support each other. Because what's happening is we're becoming more and more separate as time has gone on. And so... And it's... We have a society; we have a social structure that's promoting more of that isolation. So even your social media, your online engagement with other people is still distant, it's still, you're going into this device to experience human connection, which is, again, very abnormal. Not to say that it can't be amazing and fruitful and rewarding and wonderful, but when that's replacing real world human interaction and real-world human support, where your family member can actually hold the baby, that's a problem.
And so, again, we've gotten more and more distant from each other. We've gotten more and more distant from our community, our neighbors. And so, with my son, we had my mom-in-law, man, she really came through, even like making food and all the things, and she's from Kenya. Like the culture, she just come through. It's all this food. We don't have to worry... That mental thing is off of our shoulders. And it's such a blessing. I'm so grateful for that because it's something I wouldn't have thought of. But what I did know after working with people for, at that point, maybe 10 years, almost 10 years, is finding a neuro association for him. So, every night we would play the same music. I put on the same meditation music. And it got to the point where of course, after "putting him to bed" for a while, a year, two years later, we just go in the room, put the music on and he goes to sleep. Now, the problem is today, I'm wondering if he's going to be like 17, out with his friends, he might hear this meditation music and just like, narcolepsy, just fall asleep on the spot.
Like, "What's up with Braden?" But anyways, but it's creating these neuro associations, putting him to bed at the same time, if at all possible. Just stacking conditions for him. And then we got to, once we started reading with him, the book, we had the same routine every night. And he was sleeping through the night probably right around eight weeks, he was getting like seven hours of sleep, which is amazing 'cause that's... We're so taught that that's not even possible. And again, that's not going to happen across the board for everybody. We have to open the door to know that it is possible to help your child to get more on a good sleep routine. And also, we can work together to sort it out if that's not happening, having family, having togetherness and making that more of a mandate. And so really to answer your question, because of my value of feeling good, I've created systems and structures in my life to make sure that I'm getting good sleep at night and that my household has a value on that. Like my youngest son, the routine is there even today.
He's 10 now and, man, just within a few minutes, I could check in on, that guy's sleeping. He's knocked out. But with him getting a little bit older, of course, there's going to be more things trying to draw him in, vying for his attention. Maybe it's a show, maybe his friends playing online, whatever the case might be, that we can create more wiggle room, but we've got to stay true to the principles.
Dhru Purohit: And one of the beautiful things about that is that because that's built as a foundation for your family, it's a family value, you also have the contrast, so when things get out of whack, you're like, "Woah, I know what good sleep is like." It's like growing up, some people who grew up in healthier households where they had like minimized amount of like processed junk and other things like that, and especially in their high school years, they didn't get sick as often. Then you go to college and you pig out on all the same foods that other people are doing, you live through the college experience, and I had a friend this happened to, they would get sick regularly and they're like, "Woah, what's going on now that is different in my life that when I was back in high school living with my parents, eating home-cooked meals and everything like that, I didn't get sick as often?" So, I think that contrast is important because kids will grow up one day and they'll go off and do other things, but now at least they have a baseline that they can return back to, which is a very powerful thing.
Shawn Stevenson: This is such a great example. My oldest son, Jorden, is 21. He just got back from Mexico. His first time traveling with his friend, so he gets back and first thing that he does day one is he's like drinking these greens drinks, he's fasting and all these things because, of course, he was going ham out there with the food that he was eating and whatever else is going down in Cabo. But another thing that he mentioned was that the first day when he got up to go to the gym, because he also... He's a personal trainer, so he's out there being of service and helping folks too. He got up and he went to see a client and he was like, "Dad, man, it just kind of freaked me out that it was so bright outside." This dude has been... Every waking moment during the daytime in Mexico, he had his glasses on, he had his cool sunglasses, he's mister... No disrespect, he was the cool guy down in Cabo, so every picture during the day, he's got these glasses on, these sunglasses. So literally his brain, he wasn't getting sun exposure, and so now just natural sun exposure during the day, sunlight was just like... He's like a vampire all of a sudden just in like five days.
Dhru Purohit: Wow.
Shawn Stevenson: And so... But that... And also, because he knows what it's like to feel good, he felt it coming on down there as well. His friend was just like, "Nah, bro, I'm just not going to... " 'Cause my son offered to go to the gym and his friend... They're feeling hung over. And so, my son was like, "Nah, I got to, I mean, just go to the gym, do something." So he went to the gym, got himself a smoothie down there apparently, and he's just like, "Man, I felt like a new person." But his friend was dragging. That whole day was just a wash for him. And so, he knows these things because of our culture of what it's like to not feel good when you have these inputs. Not to say that you won't do the input, but you know where that baseline is, and you have real world strategies to get back to the way that you want to feel.
Dhru Purohit: Powerful.
Shawn Stevenson: I hope that you're loving this episode. We're going to take a quick break and we'll be right back. We're knocking on the door of a complex cold and flu season, and we're probably going to want to skip out on popular cough medicines. Here's the ingredients of one of the most popular conventional cough medicines: FD&C Blue 1, FD&C Red 40, flavor, high fructose corn syrup, propylene glycol, saccharin, sodium. Do any of these things speak health? These conventional cough syrups are the very definition of taking poison that's glamorized as medicine, whereas we have real sustainable time-tested things that we can turn to. A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study revealed that honey, high quality honey was able to outperform a placebo and significantly reduce cough frequency and severity at night and even improve sleep quality.
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Dhru Purohit: Alright, I want to switch topics. We have a few more things to cover. For those that are listening, little sidebar, Mr. Shawn here and myself were at one point in time, raw vegans. We didn't know each other at that time, but we were hanging out in the same circles.
Shawn Stevenson: I knew about Dhru. I knew about you, man. You were out here making it happen for real.
Dhru Purohit: Well, appreciate it. So yes, Camu Camu was one of the darlings of the raw food space. They would talk about it often. But tell our audience why it's so powerful.
Shawn Stevenson: Sure. It was thanks to one of the experts at the USDA, a food scientist who did some logging and just started to track this stuff of like highest botanical sources of various nutrients. One of those things he categorized was vitamin C. Camu Camu berry was found to be the highest botanical source of vitamin C by far, like a teaspoon is like 700% of your RDA of vitamin C, just a tiny amount. And so, one of these studies, this was done on smokers, so this was a study that was done on smokers, and they wanted to find out, does synthetic vitamin C versus Camu Camu berry actually hold up any kind of clinical benefit for somebody bringing in a strong oxidating factor? And so, after giving the test subjects the Camu Camu berry, they found that that did in fact reduce their oxidative stress. The synthetic basically that was the placebo did nothing. So, it had no protective benefit from what they were measuring. So, again, we know that there's something remarkable about it. It's not just the vitamin C.
What about these co-factors? What about the things in that food that make it actually work and make that language transfer, that translation from external food stuff into human cell, that translator, is it going to be more effective with real food versus a synthetic isolated thing? And clearly, food first. Food is... There's something special about it. We're still trying to figure this out. We just don't know. We just don't know. There are hundreds of other food elements, even within that one fruit that we still don't understand yet. We're just still operating on the stuff that we do know. But big picture things, we know that that does work to help to reduce oxidative stress.
So, the botanical source is going to be ideal. So that was a little bit of a sidebar with the vitamin C, but it's an important part of the conversation as well today because we've seen, there's one peer review study, intravenous, for this particular virus that's been on everybody's mind the past couple of years and seeing a remarkable protective effect with vitamin C. But again, this is not even necessarily the good stuff. But lots of people coming forward like say, "Make sure you get your vitamin C, make sure you get vitamin D, all this stuff." We've got tons of studies on it now in some of the most prestigious peer review journals.
Dhru Purohit: That source matters in particular.
Shawn Stevenson: Yes. And by the way, that study on the male smokers that was published in the Journal of Cardiology and the intravenous vitamin C study that I mentioned in association with this virus was published in Pharma Nutrition. So, folks can easily look that up. And what it was found to do is to help to reduce the impact of the cytokine storm associated with the virus by upping the person's vitamin C. That's what people know vitamin C for is for the immune system aspect. But vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that does so much more in the body than just assist with our immune system. One of those things that it's responsible for, it plays a role in is our sleep quality. So, this study, this was published in the journal, Appetite, and also PLOS ONE had some data as well, Public Library of Science ONE. And it demonstrated that insufficient intake of vitamin C increases the likelihood of sleep disturbances and shortens the duration of overall sleep time. So, vitamin C isn't just a one trick pony. It does a lot of wonderful things for, yes, our immune system, our skin health, our sleep. So yeah, that's another reason that I get it in. At least... I'd say at least around three to four times a week.
Dhru Purohit: Beautiful, important and helpful recommendations because I feel like one of the things that I always have super appreciated about you, you never feel like you have any pressure, and this is the authenticity of the Model Health Show to make your routine sound any more complicated than it needs to be. Some people, even well-intentioned people not knowing it, talk about their routine in a way and with supplementation, sometimes it can feel like a competition, like how many supplements are people taking or their breath of knowledge or maybe they were taking it at some point in time, but they're not taking it right now. And again, my question is just for you and what are you doing because that's helpful for people to know. So, thank you for providing insight on that. I want to connect it back to extend to sleep a little bit more so, 'cause you were talking about Camu Camu and the sort of acerola cherry, we talked about a few beneficial supplements on top of proper foundational things that we were just saying. Most are free to super low-cost tools that people can incorporate for their sleep, but give us a skinny again, or the reminder about supplementation for improving our sleep, what works and maybe even a couple of things that might be overrated that you see out there.
Shawn Stevenson: Listen, you can get the best mattress, you can get the cooling pad, you can get your sun exposure in the morning, your exercise time, you can do all of these external things... If you're not bringing in the base nutrients, so I'm talking about the key nutrients that build your sleep related hormones and neurotransmitters, it's all made from food. All this stuff happening within our bodies is literally made from food. And if you're not bringing...
Dhru Purohit: Do not forget that that's so simple, but people forget that.
Shawn Stevenson: Yes, if you're not bringing in the building blocks, like again, you're still going to struggle to have the magic happen. And so, with that said, one of the biggest biochemical movers prerequisites for building these sleep related pathways, hormones, neurotransmitters, processes is magnesium. It's crazy how many different impacts that magnesium has on our sleep quality and just so many other aspects of our lives. It's now stated that around 600 biochemical processes are reliant upon magnesium. Let me give a big one. When I was in my university class and I was taught about ATP, the energy currency of the body that everybody talks about, it's on the tip of everybody's tongue, ATP is not biologically active until it's binded with magnesium. It's MgAtp, these two things have to be together for it to be biologically active.
I was not taught that. I paid for that education. They did not tell me that, how important this particular electrolyte is, it's in the category of electrolytes. So, these are minerals that have an electric potential, so a conductive capacity. And this is how all of our cells are talking to each other is this kind of electrical conduction. Our bodies are really just phenomenal. If you look at a heart monitor, that you're seen the electrical output of your heart. But we just were so disconnected from these things. And then we hear the word electrolyte in our culture today and we think of Gatorade. You know what I'm saying? Like it's just, there's this break in our awareness. So, this was a placebo controlled double blind clinical trial. This was published in 2012. And it found that improving magnesium levels appears to, number one, improve sleep efficiency. So, we go through our sleep cycles more efficiently, improve melatonin function. So, it's not just that you're making it, but is it actually doing the job that it needs to do? Reduced cortisol levels and reduced wake after sleep onset, magnesium. So, food first, dietary sources, pumpkin seeds, avocados, anything green is going to be a decent source of magnesium.
So, spinach and chard, but also these, what's in these categories of these superfoods, spirulina. But supplementation for a lot of folks is going to do them some good, but you just got to be mindful. There's so many different types of magnesium as well. This is where we get into such a complex thing that nobody has the right answer to right now, but it's good that we're experimenting. We're trying to figure it out, because again, in my nutritional science class that I paid for at my university, when the teacher was telling us, "Oh, you need to make sure that you get your essential vitamins and mineral." What the hell does that mean? There isn't just one vitamin C, Bucko. I'm just saying Bucko to him in my mind back when I was 17, 18 in college. But there's different types of vitamin C. There's different types... People know about B vitamins, for example, B12, B6, there's different types of B vitamins, but even within B12, there's multiple forms of B12.
Dhru Purohit: I didn't know that.
Shawn Stevenson: There's multiple forms of vitamin D. There's multiple forms of magnesium. Okay? There's magnesium sulfate, there's magnesium citrate. There's so many different types of magnesium. So now some supplement formulations are like giving you a spectrum of different types. So, there might be like five or six different forms of magnesium in one supplement or a company's framing it like, "No, this is the one. This is the one that you need." Like it might be a magnesium citrate, which could... It does help with that relaxation response, but I'm not advocating for this by the way, 'cause some people know about magnesium and they're like, "That's not the one." But there are products that are just that, and I'm not going to... Well, you say it's say names, but it might be magnesium calm.
Calm is in the name. That citrate is going to pull more water to your bowels. And so, it's going to cause, if you have even a little bit more than your bowel tolerance, which could be the same amount that's recommended, two teaspoons that's serving, maybe you give two heaping teaspoons on accident, and next thing you know, you're chitting all day. You got to keep running off to the bathroom. And you might be losing electrolytes because now you have diarrhea. So, you got to keep these things in context. So, can I say the best supplement for magnesium? I can't, I can't say it. But shout out to the people that have dialed it in or they're a part of a good company that's figuring this stuff out. We still don't know. And here's the reason why. The type of magnesium that you might need is going to be different from you versus someone else as well. That's why we got to keep that in mind. This is why food is so wonderful because you're getting a spectrum of these different forms of magnesium. It's not just one form of magnesium in that chocolate. They're different forms.
And it informs yourselves in a different way than a synthetic version can. And I'm also a big fan of topical magnesium too. I just put some on last night. So... Because through the skin, your skin absorbs magnesium pretty well, but especially if it's a great product that's done right. And also, you can only absorb as much as your body needs. It's not going to hit a bowel tolerance. You're not going to be rubbing it on your skin and you just have to run to the toilet.
Dhru Purohit: Which by the way, I think Natural Calm actually changed their source of magnesium from citrate to something else, probably because so many people were having that issue.
Shawn Stevenson: I haven't had it in years. I haven't checked them out in years. So... Not to try to drag them. I think it's a great product from back in the day when I used to have it. It was also very helpful if somebody was doing a cleanse.
Dhru Purohit: Totally.
Shawn Stevenson: Get yourself some of that magnesium calm.
Dhru Purohit: Somebody who's a little constipated, get them some calm.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah.
Dhru Purohit: But now it doesn't work anymore. I was going to recommend it to somebody, and it didn't have citrate in it anymore. I was like, "All right, got to find something else."
Shawn Stevenson: Oh man, hit that poop button. So yeah, magnesium is definitely, as far as the sleep building hormones, neurotransmitters, pathways, magnesium is needed to even kind of, even your muscle function, the relaxation response of your muscles, is your body being able to relax? You can't really turn stuff off effectively without magnesium being present to run all these different processes. It's crazy how much it's responsible for. But guess what? It's very likely the number one mineral deficiency in our society today. I believe the latest statistics are somewhere around 56% of the American population is chronically deficient in magnesium.
Dhru Purohit: Wow.
Shawn Stevenson: So, it's a big deficiency. Why is that? Well, number one, we're not eating real food anymore. And number two is, magnesium is responsible for so much. It's getting zapped from our system. It's a stress modulating electrolyte. It's a stress modulating mineral. And we live in incredibly stressful abnormal conditions today.
Dhru Purohit: And that's why we have podcasts like mine, like yours, to do the best that we can with the circumstances that we have. And when it comes to sleep, sleep is one of those things that if it's off or if it was on for you for a time period, and then because of a stressful few years, maybe stressful stuff that's going on right now that you don't have control over directly, not that you can't influence things and be the best citizen you can be, you could have a messed up sleep protocol again. So, if anything, today's episode is that reminder that it is so fundamental to being the best version of you that, please, for not just you, but for the world that could benefit from you being your best, give it the attention that it deserves. Any other final thoughts that you want to toss in?
Shawn Stevenson: Man, that's perfectly said. So perfect. I really admire you so much, man. And I appreciate you making this accessible and doing things at such a high level with such grace is so important today and just thank you so much for creating this platform and making it accessible for people to learn this stuff because we're all trying to do... Nobody's waking up like, "You know what, I want to feel terrible today. I want to look my absolute worst." We all want to look good. We want to feel good. Most importantly, my advocation today is for us to strive towards being better humans. I think that that's one of the big issues today is that we're so externally focused and so worried about everybody else and we're not focused on being the best us possible. And so much of our divisiveness today is really rooted in our very clear lack of health as a society. Our mental health is... It's insane the levels of mental health issues that we have today, over the... Obviously over the last two years, but things were already elevating to astronomical levels.
But then you add that to the... You're just basically putting gasoline on the fire, where we saw prescriptions for antidepressants shoot up over 20%, and anti-anxieties, I think it was over 30% medications. But then here's the problem, we don't tend to let go of the crutches, the biological crutches that we take on. So, what's going to happen, what's already... What we're seeing in the data is, the weight that we've picked up the last two years, there's this concept of recidivism. Once you pick it up, it's very difficult to let go of. The CDC looked specifically at our children during the first year of the pandemic. And they saw that rates of children who were just moderately obese, their annual rate of weight gain doubled from around 6.2 pounds per year to 12 pounds a year. And we might think, "Okay, they'll get back on track once this situation is over." No, especially during childhood, once we venture into the state of obesity, it becomes exceedingly more difficult to get to a healthy weight and a state of health as we get older.
So, the mental health issues, again, especially our children. Again, the CDC, who everybody's been pointing to, but nobody's actually looking at their data because they oftentimes contradict themselves with policy based on the data that is readily available on their website. They did an analysis of children, adolescents, and they found that nearly half of all adolescents and teens who they analyzed had suicide ideation or thoughts of feeling persistently sad and hopeless.
Dhru Purohit: Wow.
Shawn Stevenson: So nearly half of these kids, the suicide ideation was specifically in like one out of four of the kids, but persistently feeling hopeless, depressed, nearly half of the kids. Now, the question is, what are we going to do about it? It's very difficult for us to address these issues when we don't feel well as adults. And we all know what it's like. One of the things that I heard in my household growing up so often, my mom would say, "I'm tired, Shawn. Shawn, I'm tired." When she would try to scrape a few dollars for me to run to McDonald's rather than her making dinner, she was tired. She was busting her ass working overnight at a convenience store at a point to try to pay the bills.
She'd sell her blood to try to pay our bills. She did all these things, try to make ends meet. But what results when we're not well is that it becomes more difficult for us to be there and to be an observant good parent and for us to stack conditions in the favor of our loved ones for better outcomes. So, to wrap it all up, man, I feel that the solution for many of our problems today, economic, social, is to get healthier citizens, is to advocate for our physical and mental health. Because with healthier people, we can have healthier conversations more easily. It's not that I can't have compassion for you and perspective take if I'm not physiologically well, it's just harder. It requires more energy. It requires... I've got to dig deeper into my reservoir to try to have the audacity to listen to you and to think that you're even a decent human being if I'm already so exposed. I'm a live wire and I'm exposed because I don't have that nutritional coating around these exposed cells, this exposed wire to make me feel more peaceful and present and patient. And so, that's the mission at the end of the day is, let's do whatever it takes to get our citizens healthier.
Thank you so very much for tuning into the show today. I hope you got a lot of value out of this. Please share this out with your friends and family on social media. Share the love, share the education. You could tag me Instagram, take a screenshot of the episode. I'm @shawnmodel and I love to see that. That really does mean a lot. And every time I pop into IG and see everybody sharing the show, it really does fill my heart with so much joy because I'm in here doing this work. It's just me and my team. So, to see that feedback and see the love, it really does mean a lot. And of course, you could share this on Twitter as well. I'm @shawnmodel on Twitter. I'm @themodelhealthshow on Facebook. And of course, you could send this directly from the podcast app that you are listening on. We've got some epic, I'm talking about epic, world-class guests, powerful masterclasses coming very, very soon. So, make sure to stay tuned. Take care. Have an amazing day. I'll talk with you soon.
And for more after the show, make sure to head over to themodelhealthshow.com. That's where you can find all of the show notes. You can find transcriptions, videos for each episode. And if you got a comment, you can leave me a comment there as well. And please make sure to head over to iTunes and leave us a rating to let everybody know that the show is awesome. And I appreciate that so much. And take care. I promise to keep giving you more powerful, empowering, great content to help you transform your life. Thanks for tuning in.
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