The Drive with Peter Attia — Matthew Walker (Parts 1, 2 and 3)


  • Dangers of poor sleep, Alzheimer’s risk, mental health, etc.
  • Heart disease, cancer, sexual function, sleep disruption.
  • Effects of poor sleep from performance to genetics.

Episode: 48,49,50″

Date: April 2019

Background: Neuroscientist, sleep expert.

Key Subjects:

Part 1

  • We need sleep to “clean up”.
    • Being awake causes “low level brain damage”.
    • Sleep cleans out of bad protein aggregations that build up during the day.
  • Four pillars of good sleep:
    • Regularity, continuity, quantity and quality.
  • Sleep deprivation causes the quickest reduction of health.
    • Foundation on which diet, stress and exercise health pillars sit.
  • Sleep window determines what part of sleep cycle you get more of.
    • Sleep early – more deep; sleep later – more REM.
  • Both REM and non-REM sleep stages are vital.
  • REM is the most recently evolved stage.
    • All animals have non-REM sleep.
    • REM is seen only in birds and mammals.

Part 2

  • You can’t build up a buffer for sleep.
    • Meaning, you don’t store sleep like you store fat.
  • Naps may be good.
    • 20-90 minutes, don’t wake after 45 minutes (groggy).
  • Sympathetic state, insomnia.
    • Sleep is a balancing act of of cortisol, adenosine and melatonin cycles (see “Sleep“).
    • Insomnia driven by sympathetic state “turned up” too far, cortisol spikes. 
    • Fix sympathetic state (behavioral solutions) or fix cortisol (supplements). 

Part 3

  • Lack of sleep triggers many negative processes in the body (see “Sleep“).
    • Stress, weight gain, worse diet, less exercise, lower performance, worse decisions, etc.
    • Macro (slowly developing diseases, behavior) and micro (cellular pathways and interaction).
  • Not helpful:
    • Alcohol: fragments sleep, no REM.
    • Caffeine: blocks adenosine build-up (see “Sleep“).
  • Relevant sleep benchmarks:
    • Resting heart rate, HRV, respiratory rate, body temperature.
  • Mental health and sleep quality:
    • Two way street: mental health drives sleep quality and vice versa.

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