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Dr. Rhonda Patrick appeared on episode #1474 of the Joe Rogan Experience to discuss a variety of topics including COVID-19, saunas, nutrition, and sleep.
They talked about the benefits of saunas on your sleep, blue light glasses, sleep apnea, and more.
Saunas, working out, and sleep
Rogan: It’s also great for sleep. It shows you really accurate – it actually has a sleep coach built in so it shows you how much sleep you got, where your recovery is at, what you need. It’ll tell you: hey, you should get to bed since you’ve been getting up at 6 o’clock in the morning so you should go to bed by 10 tonight.
Patrick: So I’ve been doing the sauna five or six days per week. Because I would do it every day but I have to have more time with my son. But have you noticed an affect on your sleep at all?
Rogan: Yeah I feel relaxed.
Patrick: Do you? Do you feel like you need more sleep though? You know like when you’re working out hard sometimes you require more sleep?
Rogan: Yeah. When I do squats for sure. Any time I do lunges and squats and heavy leg days I’m a zombie for two days. If I have a particularly intellectually challenging podcast I’ll skip leg days. Because I know I’m just going to be too stupid. I’ve done it before where I come in and I can’t form sentences.
Sleep and your immune system
Patrick: I used to never get sick. Then I became a mom. The first year it hit me hard because I wasn’t sleeping because every three hours you have to feed the baby.
Rogan: That’s a giant factor in your immune system.
Patrick: Oh yeah sleep is huge. We didn’t talk about that. I know you’ve had Matt Walker on the podcast. He’s talked about it before. Lots of other researchers have studied this. Sleep is so important for immune function. No one’s working so they’re probably getting more sleep now.
Rogan: They’re also stressed out and they have anxiety. Particularly if their bills are piling up and they have no income.
Patrick: That’s true. It’s awful. It’s really awful.
Night terrors and supplements
Rogan: Do you use anything to help you sleep in terms of a meditation app or do you –
Patrick: I use melatonin. I have a history of night terrors. When I’m stressed out it flares up. It happens when I’m shifting from one sleep stage to the next. I’m asleep but somehow I’m not and I’m awake and I’m moving my body. I think that someone’s in the room and they’re going to come get me and I freak out and I scream. I scare Dan, of course, he’s in the middle of sleep. It happens earlier in my sleep cycle. I started reading about this stuff and a lot of the treatments are stuff like benzos and hell no I’m not going to take benzos. That’s been shown to cause dementia, right?
Rogan: That stuff’s terrible for you.
Rogan: And it’s so hard to get off of them.
Patrick: It’s very addictive. And if you become addicted to it you can die. So I didn’t want to do that. There’s been some studies showing that high-dose melatonin – in the 10 mg range, I’m taking 9 mg per night – and I totally stopped having them for the most part. I went through one episode where – what happens when someone has the night terror is that if someone else sharing the bed with you tries to help you because I’m still asleep I’m not aware that that’s my husband doing that and I really think someone’s trying to get me. So I just go into crazy mode. I somehow crawled from our bedroom out to the living room and by the time I woke up I had bruised myself I was like ‘how did I get out here?’ This was the worst that’s ever happened to me. Usually I just kind of scream and wake up and I think someone’s going to get me, you know? Melatonin totally stops it. Totally. I measure and track my sleep as well and I think – I don’t know how accurate the sleep stage stuff is. I don’t think it’s very accurate. But duration is pretty accurate.
Oura Ring and sleep stages
Rogan: What do you think is not accurate in terms of sleep stages?
Rogan: What are you using to monitor that?
Patrick: Oura Ring.
Rogan: You don’t think that’s accurate?
Patrick: I don’t think the sleep stage is accurate. Because you have to measure brain waves. I’ve had multiple incidents where back when I was nursing my son where he was on a nursing pillow when I’m very relaxed producing oxytocin and it tells me I’m in REM sleep. It’s happened more than once. Dan and I don’t have a TV in our bedroom, bu there’s times when we travel where there’s a TV in the hotel room. So we’re laying in bed watching a show and I’m totally relaxed in bed. It’s totally calculating me as asleep. It calculates heart rate, body movement, and temperature. So I like it, I do. I just don’t think it’s totally accurate in measuring.
Rogan: The only real way to measure that is those little suction cup things they put on your head. I did a sleep study once because I have sleep apnea.
Patrick: You do? Do you use a CPAP?
Rogan: No I have a mouthpiece. It’s amazing. It’s a mouthpiece that has a tongue depressor.
Patrick: Can you tell me what it is? Because my father-in-law has apnea.
Rogan: The idea is that a lot of people have problems with CPAPs. It’s uncomfortable, you’re wearing a mask over your face. That’s how I felt. And so this mouthpiece – the sleep apnea mouthpiece – it sits in my mouth and the tongue depressor keeps my tongue from sliding back and closing my airway. I went in and had a sleep study done and it was bad.
Patrick: It’s probably hard to sleep in those.
Rogan: It was but I did sleep. I’ve gone places where I forgot it [the mouthpiece] and I’m like ‘fuck, I’m going to sleep terrible’.
Patrick: I thought I had it at first. I was wondering ‘am I just freaking out because I’m not getting enough oxygen?’ They had me do a pulse oximer thing and –
Rogan: A lot of football players get it because your neck, the muscles are really big. When your neck muscles get big – if you have a big tongue, and I have a big tongue – when I lay down it closes the airway so my tongue slides back.
Patrick: I know it’s associated with obesity.
Rogan: Yes, yes. You get fat and you have all this extra tissue. There’s operations that they do to try to alleviate it. They cut out some of the tissue inside your mouth and they also cut out your –
Patrick: If you don’t wear it do you snore?
Rogan: Like crazy.
Patrick: But when you wear it you don’t snore?
Rogan: I don’t snore at all.
Patrick: Your wife must love it.
Rogan: She loves it. Before it was awful. I also choke. I was on a plane once and this guy behind me and he was kind of a heavy fellow and he was really snoring loud. He was laying on his back and he was really snoring loud. He would go without breathing for multiple seconds. I filmed him and I told him when he woke up I go ‘hey man do you know you have sleep apnea?’ And he’s like ‘no’. I go ‘listen I have it to. But you’ve got to do something about it. You hold your breath for long periods of time’. He goes ‘really?’ I go ‘I’m going to show you.’ So I showed him and he’s like ‘fuck’. I go ‘dude yeah this is really bad. It’s associated with so many things. It’s associated with high blood pressure, heart attacks, all sorts of ailments plus you’re just not sleeping enough. You’re not getting real sleep because you’re constantly being woken up and shocked into this state.
Patrick: It’s really bad. It’s bad for you and it’s bad for your spouse. My mother-in-law goes into the guest room to sleep after they go to bed because she can’t sleep. It’s really bad. Having someone that snores, you can’t sleep.
Rogan: Snoring is a real issue and it’s usually because you have an impeded airway.
Patrick: I’m glad I don’t have that but for the night terror thing the melatonin helps.
Circadian rhythm: light exposure and blue-light glasses
Rogan: Does anything else help you?
Patrick: I think that having a good circadian rhythm and bright light exposure in the early morning is a big help. So bright light exposure and red light. I have the Phillips Hue and at 5 o’clock all the lights in our house go red. That makes a huge impact on my son and his sleep cycle because children are really sensitive to light because they don’t have cataracts and stuff. So they’re like – melatonin is not being produced so if we travel to the in-laws and they have lights on I’m going around and turning them off because I want my son to go to bed at a normal hour.
Rogan: If you’re looking at your screens do you use blue-light blocking glasses?
Patrick: So I have all the apps and stuff. Most of the time I turn my iPhone screen down and I have the black background but I don’t have the glasses. I might have to because when I actually get a chance to watch TV – it doesn’t happen much because right now my son falls asleep at nine and he wakes up at six. I have to go to bed immediately.