286: Shawn Stevenson | Hack Your Sleep


science / science 681 Views comments

"When your sleep is on point, everything you're doing is going to get better." -Shawn Stevenson

Sleep: It's commonly accepted that we should sleep 8 hours a night. But is that really true? Does the quantity of sleep we're getting matter or is this a case of quality over quantity? And what does sleep do for us anyway, is it that important?

Shawn Stevenson, our guest for episode 286, says it definitely matters. His philosophy is that good sleep is one of the most important things we can do to get healthy and stay that way. Today we talk about why sleep matters, the impact lack of sleep has on our health and how an orgasm before bed helps us all sleep better!


At the young age of 20, Shawn was diagnosed he had degenerative disc disease at 20: had the spine of an 80 year old. He saw 5 doctors and they all said it was incurable, there was nothing they could do. He lived with this diagnosis for 2.5 years, asking "why me" and questions of that nature.

And then he decided to get well. With that decision, everything changed. He started to ask what is it that I need to do to change, to get healthy? And one of the things he changed significantly was his sleep. Six weeks later, he had lost 30 pounds and his back pain was gone.

Today he helps others change their sleep and other aspects of their health to get well or stay healthy.

Shawn says sleep is more than just a necessity, it's a vital component of our health that affects everything and he's got the science to prove it!

He calls sleep a force multiplier: it enhances or diminishes our results in any area it touches.

He says sleep impacts more than just our energy levels, it affects our productivity, our immune system, our hormones, our memory, and even the speed of our aging!

One specific area we discuss is memory. Memory processing is what helps us convert something from short-term to long-term and it happens during the deep processes of sleep, non-REM sleep. Shawn has learned that when people aren't getting adequate amounts of this type of deep sleep, the brain won't be able to cement what is learned.

He goes on to say one night of sleep deprivation creates a 14% reduction in glucose getting to your prefrontal cortex, which is the human part of your brain that controls your decision-making processes, your emotions, etc. In essence, you get dumber, crankier and you make worse decisions when you are sleep-deprived because your prefrontal cortex isn't getting what it needs to function properly.

The finer details of this show include:

  • What are telomeres and do they matter to you?
  • How lack of sleep ages you faster: the science that proves this.
  • Shift work is a Class 3 carcinogen: true or false.
  • Why it's NOT about the number of hours you need.
  • Horemetic stressor: when is this a good thing?
  • And so much more!

We don't stop with the brain though, we talk about how necessary good sleep is to getting and staying fit. Did you know your body actually recovers from a workout when you sleep? It does. So if you aren't getting into deep sleep, your body isn't getting what it needs to recover. Sleep is an anabolic process, which just means it is a building process.

Another component of exercise is keeping your body fat low. When you're not sleeping properly, it actually causes your body to store more fat around your midsection. So if you can't drop those last few pounds around your waist, it may be because of your sleep.

You also need sleep to stay young, it's called beauty sleep for a reason Shawn says! In the first 90 minutes you are sleeping, your body releases its highest levels of something called human growth hormone. Now this isn't the stuff that makes the sporting news, this is the actual hormone your pituitary gland secretes. And human growth hormone has been shown to keep us young, it's that thing that kids have that gives them so much energy.

Shawn is a big proponent of taking action to get optimal sleep so he gave us some strategies you can use, starting tonight. One of my personal favorites: why an orgasm before bed provides some of the best sleep possible. There is scientific evidence to prove this and he gives us the lowdown!

Shawn was a fun and informative guest; he listed a number of fascinating studies to back up his philosophies. I learned so much from him and I hope you do too.

Resources from this episode:

Shawn's web site Shawn on Twitter Sleep Smarter

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-Best of The Art of Charm Podcast


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