No Wellness Wankery

58: Sleep better, feel better. 5 expert tips for an excellent night's sleep

May 02, 2023 Lyndi Cohen
No Wellness Wankery
58: Sleep better, feel better. 5 expert tips for an excellent night's sleep
Show Notes Transcript

In a society where there’s so much pressure on us to do all the things, it’s no surprise we’re all so freakin’ exhausted.

When we’re burning the candle at both ends, it’s tempting to mainline caffeine just to get through the day. And don’t get me wrong, I love my magical bean juice as much as the next girl. It’s delicious. But when we’re already overwhelmed and exhausted, drinking too much coffee can just put more pressure on our adrenals. Sadly, coffee is not the answer. Neither is wine, although it may help you forget the question!

So what is the answer? Better quality sleep. Excellent Sleep. 

Enter Dr Stan Rodski. Stan Rodski is a highly respected cognitive neuroscientist and authority on improved brain performance in high-stress situations. He is the author of The Neuroscience of Mindfulness and more recently, The Neuroscience of Excellent Sleep.

Let's get his top 5 tips for having a better night's sleep.

Ps. If you need a bit of extra support, read my book Your Weight is Not the Problem, which has been ranked the #1 Women’s Health book on Amazon for 10 weeks straight. It offers a step-by-step plan for ridding your brain of diet nonsense and gives you a non-diet plan for healthy habits that actually stick (for example how to get better sleep!). Get the deets and access to a free audio sample of the book HERE.

Want to feel more in control around food? My FREE webinar has my top 4 strategies to help you stop overeating.

Looking for more support to feel in control around food? I'd love to support you in my Binge Free Academy

If you don't already - come follow me on the gram at @nude_nutritionist (no nude pics, sorry).

Want to share some feedback or have an idea for an episode, I'd LOVE to hear from you - hit me up at hello@lyndicohen.com

00:00:00:05 - 00:00:24:09

Lyndi

Okay. I would like to tell you, your your weight is not the problem. It really isn't. I know you've been made to think your weight is a problem your entire life, but honestly, it's just been a red herring making you focus on diets that really suck and your weight is not. The problem is the title of my new book and I would really like you to read it if you've ever been made to feel like you need to worry about your weight that you're fixating on your weight is going to help you lose weight, which is nonsense.


00:00:24:16 - 00:00:46:00

Lyndi

This is the book you need to read. We tackle body image. We help you with practical strategies to feel normal, relaxed, and freedom around food, which are all fabulous things you also deserve. Please go to my website, Lyndi Cohen dot com and check out my new book. It's available from all great retailers. Please check it out. Hello and welcome to today's episode of the No Wellness Wankery Podcast.


00:00:46:01 - 00:01:04:22

Lyndi

I'm so happy to have you here today. We have the author of a new and exciting book, The Neuroscience of Excellent Sleep, something we could all get a whole lot more of and better quality because I think it's 60% of Australians where it was struggling at the moment to get enough high quality sleep. Stan Rodski is the person we want to speak to.


00:01:04:22 - 00:01:34:23

Lyndi

He's a highly respected cognitive neuroscientist and an authority on improved brain performance in high stress situations. His current work involves a role as chief neuroscientist with the wellbeing organization Sunnova and he works across Australia and internationally developing innovative technologies and programs for individuals, peak performance sports teams and commercial organizations. He's also the author of The Neuroscience of Mindfulness and more recently, The Neuroscience of Excellent Sleep.


00:01:35:01 - 00:01:39:19

Lyndi

Stan, thank you so much for coming on the know wellness Wankery Podcast. I am delighted to have you.


00:01:39:19 - 00:01:42:05

Dr Stan Rodski

Here as MLA. Thank you very much.


00:01:42:14 - 00:02:03:21

Lyndi

You know, according to research, Australians and people around the world quit. Just not getting enough sleep. We're not getting enough quality sleep. And your new book helps to try and give us a bit more of an idea of what we can do to help fix this. So I wanted to get an idea from you what is it? What are some of the surprising impacts of not getting enough quality sleep or not enough sleep in total?


00:02:03:24 - 00:02:32:03

Dr Stan Rodski

We often talk quantity and sometimes we talk quality, and then sometimes we we miss all of them. But the reality is that the data, the science of it is that of the people who are listening to your podcasts right now, 3 to 5 of them. If we surveyed them with a nice little bit of research and said, How was your sleep last night?


00:02:33:07 - 00:03:08:04

Dr Stan Rodski

3 to 5 out of every ten would say it was poor or below average 3 to 5. Now, putting aside the all of the problem issues of too much sleep or not enough sleep, the insomnia, all of the big issues, this is just your everyday that's you and me going. And. And what was even more stunning in all of these research is that a quarter of those people who report poor or below average sleep also report that they do get the regulation number of hours.


00:03:08:04 - 00:03:16:20

Dr Stan Rodski

And we can talk about that in a moment, but still wake up feeling and energized and the effects of not having sleep are huge.


00:03:17:10 - 00:03:30:03

Lyndi

I think we completely underestimate the importance of sleep and there's a bit of you know, people will say, well, I'll sleep when I'm dead and you know, I'll catch up on sleep. Is is sleep something we can really catch up on?


00:03:30:11 - 00:03:55:15

Dr Stan Rodski

What we need to understand is the sleep cycles that we have basically operate in 90 minute bundles. So if you think about the average sleep length and I put in an average year, seven and a half hours, and I do that because every brain is different, we're all different. Know we can do with a little bit less, a little bit more.


00:03:56:04 - 00:04:22:17

Dr Stan Rodski

But basically, as humans, our brain is set up to fit in. If you like these 90 minute cycles and five, 90 minute cycles fit into seven and a half hours, but we actually need six. But we live in a world in which which five cycles or seven and a half hours seems to be about where we where we operate in general reasonably well.


00:04:23:09 - 00:04:57:21

Dr Stan Rodski

And and so this is the world of trying to understand that sleep is about these fire rhythms, the circadian process is which actually don't fit into our 24 hour clock. You know, you came up with 24 hours. It's the reality is our brain actually needs at least 25 hour days, even 26 hour days, because sleeping is so connected to so many of our metabolisms.


00:04:57:21 - 00:05:27:13

Dr Stan Rodski

And need to sleep is is a fundamental physical, logical one. It's not happenstance. It's not something some people can do for two or 3 hours. Aren't they wonderful? And others seem to sleep for ten or 12 hours. It's it's simply not the case that a brain is super connected to all of our biological functions. And it needs that number of hours to actually clear out all the debris.


00:05:28:10 - 00:05:46:10

Lyndi

Just to clarify, it sounds like, you know, when we talk about how much sleep we should be having, we have this idea of the 7 to 8 hours, which is, I guess, a bit of a compromise. This is how much we could cope with. But are you saying that what we really need is, I guess, 9 hours so that we could fit in those six cycles?


00:05:46:17 - 00:05:52:03

Lyndi

And does it differ between men and women? And does sleep requirements change as we age?


00:05:52:10 - 00:06:21:24

Dr Stan Rodski

The issue for us is that, again, every brain is different and and the requirements for us in our world in the way that we operate, in the way that we've learned our brain has learned to cope with it fits into these 7 to 8 hours. You know, that's that's where we fit. And, yes, we could do with more because it can only be better the more of those 90 minute cycles we can fit in.


00:06:22:10 - 00:06:25:21

Dr Stan Rodski

But that's not the nature of today. We're no longer cavemen and women.


00:06:26:09 - 00:06:44:11

Lyndi

So so we know that we don't getting enough quality sleep. We know that the impacts are quite huge. As a nutritionist and dietician, one of the impacts that I see is fundamentally, if we're not getting enough energy from sleep, our body is going to crave energy in any way that it can get that energy. It's a very primal, basic need.


00:06:44:19 - 00:07:03:21

Lyndi

And so we're going to seek it out in food form or caffeine or other things in order to try and get that energy. So it's fundamental that, you know, a lot of people display their willpower and say, well, if I had more self-control, I wouldn't feel out of control with food. But actually getting your sleep sorted is such a key thing we need to be doing to ensure energy.


00:07:04:14 - 00:07:37:12

Dr Stan Rodski

And I look the brains busily playing with two major hormones in here grilling and Lipton and ghrelin is the is in fact the one that signals the body to stop eating. And the leptin, you know, sort of operates the other way. And these two are totally linked to sleep. You know, they they they they so operate in this insulin world of energy trying to make sure it's got enough energy in there stored away, etc., etc..


00:07:37:12 - 00:07:43:01

Dr Stan Rodski

It's a very biological mechanism linked very closely to sleep.


00:07:43:01 - 00:08:04:08

Lyndi

And then I think what we're doing is we're fundamentally, you know, the way that diets have told us we don't eat enough during the day. We get we know if we don't. I know when I was in my severe dieting years, it's very hard to fall asleep if you haven't had a decent meal as well. Can we talk about some tips that you could show with us to try and improve the quality or the quantity of our sleep?


00:08:04:08 - 00:08:07:11

Lyndi

I'm all ears. Tell me whatever, whatever you can give me.


00:08:07:23 - 00:08:39:09

Dr Stan Rodski

Look, the core one is that certainly the science. And remember, I'm talking here to to those people who are joining us in here are in the middle group. Nothing, nothing. And then at the ends of the spectrum in here with serious issues in sleep disorders, either over or under, I'm talking about the majority of us. And and there's probably five things that that that I would say is the major, major tips in this process, if you like.


00:08:39:18 - 00:09:00:03

Dr Stan Rodski

And some of them are not so obvious, and some of them we need to work on the first of them is actually creating the environment in which we can sleep best in. And we see a lot of that, don't we? But what's the bedroom like? What are the pillows like? What's the bed like? What's the advertises go about?


00:09:00:03 - 00:09:24:23

Dr Stan Rodski

All of these things? But the reality of it is the brain loves pattern, the brain loves schedule. So everything about these tips is all about patterns and schedules. And I've been a neuroscientist a long time, and I've got to say that if I knew 10% about the brain 40 years ago, I'd probably still only know 10% of it.


00:09:24:23 - 00:10:02:04

Dr Stan Rodski

It's changed bits and pieces of that. All of that have changed in the process, but the reality of it is that it is a it is spaghetti bolognaise in what sauce can be easily chemical and electrical reactions going on in there. But it's but its core feature is pattern and schedule. So if we think about sleep, one of the keys in inducing an environment is to have an environment which we we actually the brain associates with sleep and we often do that.


00:10:02:13 - 00:10:08:03

Dr Stan Rodski

We'll think, well, why? And I'm so tired when I sleep, when we've done nothing that the brain would associate with sleep.


00:10:08:16 - 00:10:15:08

Lyndi

We scrolls on our phones. So watching TV where our body thinks this is this entertainment time, not sleep.


00:10:15:24 - 00:10:33:12

Dr Stan Rodski

You know, the first thing, this environmental feature that this tip that I talk about is understand your hours. Just spend a few fractions of a second thinking about, well, if I go to bed at 11 and I get up at seven, okay, you know, I'm at least got started in the right way.


00:10:33:13 - 00:10:43:13

Lyndi

And we just create a bit of a buffer time because, you know, that example, 11 to 7, 8 hours, which means it gives us half an hour of wiggle room in case it's a little tricky to fall asleep or.


00:10:44:05 - 00:11:05:11

Dr Stan Rodski

Is. Absolutely. Absolutely. And and of course generally in these discussions, people move me then into shift workers. Many of the people that I'm working to talking to while I'm in in this mode of talking about the book shift workers, you know, they get up at four or three in the morning, what do I do? And the answer, of course, is we do catch ups.


00:11:06:03 - 00:11:29:06

Dr Stan Rodski

That very time they called naps and then you being a new mum and about to be another mum, you know, about me and because you try and fit them in between babies, but for the adults working in all sorts of environments between two and four but no longer than 30 minutes, okay? If it's any longer than that or more frequent than that, then you're going to disturb the biome.


00:11:29:12 - 00:11:40:15

Lyndi

Great. Can I clarify this? So two or four. Max, max a day and always less than half an hour. But is there a maximum? Like, do we want to at least get 10 minutes but less than half an hour?


00:11:42:00 - 00:11:48:19

Dr Stan Rodski

Well, 10 minutes will give you a relax. And relaxation is not sleep. How different brain processes.


00:11:48:19 - 00:11:51:16

Lyndi

So we're looking for that 20 to 30 minute kind of sleep.


00:11:51:21 - 00:12:27:21

Dr Stan Rodski

Yeah, absolutely. In 10 minutes, if you can instantly fall asleep. But most people have problems napping, you know, because my answer there is nap if you need to that don't force yourself to nap. Force yourself to relax, which is good because all the bodily functions relax. But that's not sleep now. That's not going into an unconscious state and engaging in the first part of our sleep cycle, which is so important.


00:12:27:21 - 00:12:38:22

Dr Stan Rodski

We get most of this energy of hours in that first 90 minutes and in that first 90 minutes we get a huge amount of benefit in the first 30 minutes.


00:12:39:19 - 00:12:40:01

Lyndi

Oh.


00:12:40:22 - 00:12:42:09

Dr Stan Rodski

But you can't get away with just sitting in.


00:12:42:09 - 00:13:01:22

Lyndi

As a new mum and your new mum. I am very grateful for this information. Can I take you back to this idea of the sleep environment? So what you're saying is we want to create some kind of there must be rhythms and patterns. Does that mean that beyond just trying to fall asleep at the same time a wake up at the same time, that we're also creating a similar sleep environment.


00:13:01:22 - 00:13:10:17

Lyndi

So our pillow is the same, that the temperature is regulated and controlled. How much control and patterns are we seeking and are some more important than others?


00:13:11:01 - 00:13:37:00

Dr Stan Rodski

Look again, as long as we can create a pattern. That's why it's problematic for us when we traveling, you know, when we're in different spaces, because it's not that there's anything wrong with you, it's just that your brain has a set of kids which are not related to how tired you are because they're related to sending you into a deep cycle of deep sleeps on a cold rims.


00:13:37:00 - 00:14:08:18

Dr Stan Rodski

And non-REM is where we get locked. Our whole body gets locked down and we do some dreaming. And all of this junk that's in our brain gets cleared out so that we've got room for the energy for when we're conscious. But we have this process of schedule. And with young women and men who are looking after young children or babies, my goodness, you learn pretty quickly the value of a schedule, you know, and it becomes almost scary to break it.


00:14:09:17 - 00:14:36:09

Dr Stan Rodski

You know, you forgo things to break the schedules. I talk about that in the book a bit as well. So that was my number one pick was the environment. The the second tick was really all around following the biological clock. And that's that's also involved with the scheduling. It's also involved with making sure the things that you do before you go to bed, what you do before you go to bed and not at all, for.


00:14:36:09 - 00:14:36:24

Lyndi

Example.


00:14:37:04 - 00:14:38:23

Dr Stan Rodski

But to fit in with that biological.


00:14:38:23 - 00:14:41:01

Lyndi

What do you mean by that? Can you give us some examples?


00:14:41:08 - 00:14:58:02

Dr Stan Rodski

So so again, making sure that we're not eating before we go to bed, making sure we're not exercising before we go to bed, making sure we're not doing mental activities before we go to bed, making sure our partner doesn't say, Did you pay the gas bill just as you about to go off?


00:14:58:07 - 00:15:17:04

Lyndi

Well, it's creating a truce with your partner or anyone in your life to say, all right, this is this is on one unwind time. And in this time, we don't talk logistics. We don't talk about who's doing what tomorrow. This is just quiet time. What are your thoughts about reading before? Because that can be stimulating or is that an acceptable analog activity?


00:15:17:09 - 00:15:48:21

Dr Stan Rodski

No, I think reading is brilliant because because particularly if it's part of your pattern and your routine, if you're reading a heavy going manual of something that you need to memorize for tomorrow or you need to try and understand because you didn't understand it before, I would say not to you. And and and by the way, I'd also say that in the know there's always these big issues with sleep and the blue lights created by the things that are in our room.


00:15:49:02 - 00:16:00:05

Dr Stan Rodski

Let me say you say to you that the science shows that that light is so, so little and unobtrusive. That's a nonsense. The issue is what's on the screen.


00:16:00:06 - 00:16:08:01

Lyndi

Oh, I love this. Thank you for clarifying that because it's the stimulation from the constant doomscrolling or the the shouty means.


00:16:08:05 - 00:16:08:18

Dr Stan Rodski

Concerning.


00:16:08:19 - 00:16:09:20

Lyndi

Movement, not the light.


00:16:10:15 - 00:16:32:01

Dr Stan Rodski

The amount of light we need to get to actually, you know, to go out into daylight. Then that's the other thing is also waking up. The brain needs to learn when you want to wake up. People will often say to me, Well, you know, I tossed and turned and then I and then then I couldn't get up. And of course, the brain has already found a pattern, a procedure here.


00:16:32:08 - 00:16:50:18

Dr Stan Rodski

You know, you want to think about things. You want to turn them over. You want to stay tossing and turning. But that's at the other end. I'm going to keep you asleep. And because you do it, it'll continue to do really. It's it's part of its pattern process. And proteins are no good before we go to.


00:16:50:21 - 00:16:51:13

Lyndi

Okay.


00:16:51:13 - 00:17:18:23

Dr Stan Rodski

So because they because they get you, they get the neurons firing, they get the heat up in your body. Remember when you went to bed, it was 37.2. It needs to drop down to 36.7. As part of that, you know, 0.4.5 change through the night. If you when you're busy thinking, not reading, which is the thinking, you've got those neurons all connecting up in different ways.


00:17:19:04 - 00:17:34:02

Dr Stan Rodski

Your body temperature stays high. That's why you don't sleep. You may even think you're not thinking about anything and you thinking, why am I tossing and turning? I'm not thinking about anything. Well, well, the neurons simply have not relaxed enough to cause the body to drift.


00:17:34:02 - 00:17:42:06

Lyndi

So typically, as a nutritionist, dietician, we talk about carbohydrate rich foods as something that would that do help us fall asleep. What are your thoughts on that? Yeah.


00:17:42:21 - 00:18:14:07

Dr Stan Rodski

You know, I absolutely agree. No, but having said that, no food. Yeah. Just before sleep at all. But it comes out obviously have a good effect. Yes. And proteins not and no exercise and no and obviously no smoking, drinking, alcohol. These things turn the brain on when you don't want them to because there's a million things which I think most of us know about.


00:18:14:10 - 00:18:30:03

Lyndi

Well, I will endorse that. I think a glass of milk is a fantastic thing to have. It, you know, as a as a snack after dinner. I think first is a perfect thing to have when you're craving something a little bit sweet as well. Can I ask you sort of the five tips you think are up to number three now?


00:18:30:03 - 00:18:32:14

Lyndi

What can you share with us for tip three.


00:18:32:22 - 00:18:57:19

Dr Stan Rodski

Which was keeping your body temperature low? Yeah. So which one which was number three? So so again, that's a that's about the food intake and the exercise and thing and the obvious things in terms of room. The externals is whole process of getting our body to the right temperature is also where we balance a very, very good a nice hot bath.


00:18:57:19 - 00:19:04:20

Dr Stan Rodski

The hot bath isn't actually the thing that helps us then it's when our body temperature drops afterwards. Mhm.


00:19:05:05 - 00:19:13:01

Lyndi

So, so having a hot bath isn't going to elevate your, your body temperature, it will inevitably or actually ends up leading it to come down.


00:19:13:11 - 00:19:17:05

Dr Stan Rodski

Yeah. Which brings your whole body down, which is why you love that.


00:19:17:05 - 00:19:19:17

Lyndi

I love love. I love a hot bath so I'm a big fan of that one.


00:19:20:05 - 00:19:51:21

Dr Stan Rodski

My my tip number four is this link to every thought in our brain goes through our emotional controls. So, so if you think of the brain as all of these neurons and pinging from them like a bit like some sort of enemy in the sea with all its long tendons going down, which are called dendrites, and they're all busily touching each other, sending sparks alone of thought.


00:19:51:21 - 00:20:21:24

Dr Stan Rodski

But their thoughts and the thoughts in this sort of outer layer, as I call it, the spaghetti bolognaise and hot sauce, £3 of it sends messages into the inner brain and the thought is even turned into an action, or it goes into our into our learning, into our into a part of the brain called the hippocampus. And and so at night, the brain's busily not wanting to do anything other than remove that from there.


00:20:21:24 - 00:20:41:13

Dr Stan Rodski

But it's all laced with emotions. So, so if we have thoughts that are still in our memory, when we go to bed and we go, Oh, I've got to write that email, or I'm going to have to be confrontational, or I'm going to have to do, you know, the emotions. We need to write it down and forget about it.


00:20:41:13 - 00:20:46:02

Dr Stan Rodski

We need to put it here somewhere. We need to pack things to help our brains.


00:20:46:03 - 00:20:50:01

Lyndi

With that talk. Your thoughts and what is what is tip number five?


00:20:51:09 - 00:21:18:00

Dr Stan Rodski

And tip number five is the really stick I'm banging on about seven and a half hours is that sort of magical spot there and you might be at 6 hours and think you're pretty good. And Churchill was able to live with 2 hours a night, you know, all of that. But the reality is, wherever you're at, you could wake up more often, more refreshed.


00:21:19:14 - 00:21:41:02

Dr Stan Rodski

And if and if, if you try to do some of these things, be realistic with yourself. Don't create another emotional controller in all of this which says, oh, my goodness, you know, that that Dr. Rodski said, I should be getting this number of hours and that's the end of it. No, what I'm saying is be realistic with yourself.


00:21:41:02 - 00:21:45:21

Dr Stan Rodski

Try and say to yourself, well, I could do better a bit more often.


00:21:47:04 - 00:22:08:19

Lyndi

So let's not add another yet another crushing item to our to do list where we feel the weight of perfectionism. What you're saying is pick something you can do out of these tips that's going to try and improve your sleep. And then at the end of the day, just make small, little, gradual steps towards better sleep and don't put too much pressure on yourself because that does not help you fall asleep.


00:22:08:19 - 00:22:09:11

Lyndi

Funnily enough.


00:22:09:22 - 00:22:14:16

Dr Stan Rodski

Not exactly because we put too much pressure on ourselves all of the time.


00:22:14:19 - 00:22:27:05

Lyndi

And I would urge everyone listening to please go and check out Dr. Stan Rodski's new book, The Neuroscience of Excellent Sleep, because we could all do a little more excellent sleep. Thank you so much, Dr. Stan, for coming on today's podcast.


00:22:27:05 - 00:22:36:15

Dr Stan Rodski

Thank you for having me and happy reading and better sleep. Hey, everyone.


00:22:36:15 - 00:22:54:17

Lyndi

And before we get started in the podcast episode, I just want to tell you a little bit about how I might be able to help you if you want to get a healthy relationship with food because oh my goodness, there's a whole lot of stuff that's working against us all the time. Hello, diet culture. So if you ever want to do a little bit more personalized support, check out my program.


00:22:54:17 - 00:23:10:06

Lyndi

Keep it real. Especially if you're struggling with binge eating. If you feel like every Monday you're starting from scratch, if you feel like you know what you should be eating, but you just can't stick to it if you feel like you want to eat healthier. But honestly, it just feels like you're out of control over your face planting into the fragile pantry.


00:23:10:14 - 00:23:27:15

Lyndi

I can help. I used to be a binge eater. I really to. I do get it. So check out keep it really use the code podcast to get 20% off if you if you get it by the the website and also I've also got my hour called back to basics back to basics is an app to help you be healthy without dieting and will help you work on your body.


00:23:27:15 - 00:23:48:24

Lyndi

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00:23:49:08 - 00:24:01:02

Lyndi

But check out back to basics. You can get it for free for seven days. Check out Back to Basics on my website, use the Code Again podcast to get 20% off. And I'd love to see in there. I'd love to see in there. I'd.