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Joe Rogan Interviews Sleep Expert Matthew Walker, PhD

Updated on 11/20/23

Joe Rogan, comedian, color commentator for the UFC and podcaster, spoke with Dr. Matthew Walker, a sleep scientist and expert in all things sleep related. In this podcast, Joe Rogan and Dr. Walker discussed just how vital sleep is to humans—and why you probably aren’t getting as much as you should be.

Table of Contents

The Power of Sleep

In Joe Rogan's Sleep Expert podcast, Joe and Dr. Walker provide nearly 2 hours of engaging, in-depth information on the intricacies—and the power—of sleep. Matthew Walker, PhD is professor of neuroscience and psychology at the university of California Berkeley and founder and director of the center for human sleep science. The podcast is a fascinating overview of the powerful role sleep plays in all our lives...

Degenerative Brain Diseases and Sleep

You’ve heard it time and time again. A friend, a family member or even a politician brags about how they only need 4-5 hours of sleep a night. According to Dr. Walker, sleeping 6 hours or less doesn’t work.

In the podcast Dr. Walker says, "The number of people who can sleep 6 hours or less and not show any impairment, rounded to a number and expressed as a percentage of the population, is zero."

That means those politicians like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, bragging that they were only sleeping 4-5 hours a night was doing serious disservice to their bodies and their brains. Dr. Walker even says it probably led to them both having degenerative brain diseases.

Insufficient Sleep

"Insufficient sleep across the life span now seems to be the most significant lifestyle factor in determining whether or not you'll develop Alzheimer’s”, explains the acclaimed sleep expert.

Recently, President Trump was bragging about his lack of sleep and how much he gets done. President Clinton was known for doing this as well. Hopefully, these leaders wise up, because they are setting a very unhealthy example for millions of Americans. Walker explains that wakefulness is low level brain damage, and it is only sleep that offers a reparatory function.

Interrupted Sleep

When dealing with insufficient sleep, "interrupted sleep" is its own special category. It damages cognitive ability, destroys moods and shortens attention spans. Studies suggest disrupted sleep patterns basically equate to getting no sleep at all.

Much of this research shows getting less than 7-hours of sleep in a 24-hour period leads to a number of chronic health conditions.

Cancer and Sleep

Cancers of all kinds have been on the rise. Perhaps it’s not surprising people are increasingly sleeping less as time goes on and there's more technology vying for our attention.

According to Dr. Walker, insufficient sleep is linked to cancer of the bowl, prostate and breast. The W.H.O. classifies night-time shift work is a probable carcinogen.

Dr. Walker explains that a lack of sleep can increase your chances of getting cancer. A study found that when people get just four hours of sleep a night people had a 70% marked decrease of critical anti-cancer fighting immune cells.

Heart Disease and Sleep

You’re also more likely to have a heart attack when not getting enough sleep. Getting just 1 hour less of sleep a night resulted in a 24% increased risk of a heart attack according to Dr. Walker!

6 hours of sleep or less compromises Immune-efficiency facility genes. This then encourages the growth of tumors, long term chronic- inflammation, stress and cardiovascular disease.

Can’t lose those pesky extra pounds? Lack of sleep and dieting are also linked. If you're dieting but getting insufficient sleep, 70% of the weight you lose will come from lean body muscle, rather than fat, says Dr. Walker.

Other Interesting Sleep Facts from Dr. Matthew Walker's podcast:

  • It is during deep sleep there is a 'sewage in the brain that kicks into high gear, and it cleanses the brain of all the metabolic toxins that have been built up throughout the day, this' low-level brain damage.' - One of these toxins is beta-amyloid which is one of the leading causes of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • If you have elective surgery, ask your surgeon how much sleep they have had in the last 24 hours, - if it is 6 hours or less you have 170% increased risk of a major surgical error. So, get some good sleep!
  • Sleep deprivation significantly decreases work performance.
  • Short sleep equals a short life. Short sleep predicts all-cause mortality.
  • "Men who sleep 5-6 hours will have a level of testosterone which is that of someone who is 10 years their senior. So, a lack of sleep will age you by a decade in terms of that critical aspect of wellness, virility, muscle strength.
  • You’re 20-30% better in terms of skilled performance after a good night's sleep then when you were at the end of the practice session the day before.

Facts about Inadequate Sleep

(With inadequate sleep) Lactate acid build up increases, the lungs ability to inhale oxygen decreases, peak muscle strength, vertical jump and running speed all decrease.

The less sleep you have, the more injury risk increases. At 5 hours sleep there is a 60% increased probability of incurring an injury over a season.

After sleeping the brain divines or provides solutions to previously impenetrable problems. The author of the periodic table of elements came about by way of dream inspired insight, which he was unable to do it awake!

Using a light emitting screen before sleeping delays the release of melatonin by 3 hours and is reduced by 50%. This also disturbs and decreases rem Sleep.

Driving in a state of drowsiness causes more car accidents than alcohol and drugs combined.

Unlocking the Power of Sleep

By now you’re probably asking yourself, how can I improve the longevity and quality of my sleep?

Here are some tips straight from Dr. Walker:

  1. Consistency is key. Get 7-8 hours of sleep, 7 days a week.
  2. 1 hour before sleeping, eliminate screens & reduce lighting. Put your phone down!
  3. A Cool room. "Your brain needs to drop its temperature by about 2-3 degrees Fahrenheit to initiate sleep.", says Dr. Walker.

Pro Tip:

Warm your hands and feet to send blood to your core which then radiates the heat outward, aiding sleep. In other words, have a warm bath.

Even when the above conditions are met, sometimes there are factors outside of your control. Like a snoring partner, or a noisy hotel with thin walls. In this case you need something to help mask the sound keeping you awake.

Why we Sleep

Dr Walker's 2019 book "Why we Sleep," is a summary of scientific research on sleep. It provides insight on sleep's effects on our cognitive and physical performance. You'll find more helpful tips on improving your sleep and health.

It is a summary of scientific research on sleep to date, providing insight on how sleep affects cognitive and physical performance in both the short and long term, and what you can do improve your own sleep (which often involves avoiding things causing bad sleep).

Sleep and Dreams

Sleep enriches a diversity of functions in the brain. This includes our ability to learn and make logical decisions. It recalibrates emotions, reinforces the immune system, fine-tunes our metabolism, and regulates our appetite. Dreaming while we sleep creates a virtual reality space in which the brain melds past and present knowledge and inspires our creativity. Check out Dr Walker's "Why We Sleep"to learn more.

Start getting better sleep now.

Sound Off was created specifically to block snoring and other sleep-disruptive noise. It masks all sounds with a soothing pink noise that allows your brain to easily drift off to sleep. Some folks like to use Sound Off even when there aren’t extra sounds happening but need to calm their brain after a long stressful day.

Try Sound Off today, RISK FREE MONEY BACK GUARANTEE, to experience the benefit’s Dr. Walker is advocating and experience some QUALITY sleep.