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The Matt Walker Podcast is all about sleep, the brain, and the body. Matt is a Professor of Neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of the book, Why We Sleep and has given a few TED talks. Matt is an awkward British nerd who adores science and the communication of science to the public.
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show series
 
Matt continues his series on the impact of cannabis, THC, and CBD upon sleep this week with an examination into the intricacies of cannabidiol (CBD), which, unlike its psychoactive counterpart THC, does not induce a high but is recognized for its potential therapeutic effects. While studies suggest that CBD may aid in alleviating anxiety, movement …
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In this week’s intriguing episode, Matt delves into the topic of precognitive dreams, exploring the idea that some people can predict future events through their dreams. He explains that while this concept might seem appealing, it is actually a result of statistical chance. With around 8 billion people in the world each having multiple dreams per n…
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In this 7th installment of their AMA series, Matt Walker and Dr. Eti Ben Simon dive into strategies for improving deep non-REM sleep. They highlight the benefits of vigorous exercise, citing a study by Kaspar Vogt that shows how exercise enhances the quality and stability of deep sleep. Additionally, they discuss how temperature manipulations, like…
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Dr. Chris Barnes, renowned Michael G. Foster Endowed Professor of Management at the Foster School of Business, University of Washington, returns to the podcast today to continue his discussion with Matt regarding sleep's impact on business productivity. This time around, Dr. Barnes shares research indicating that sleep-deprived leaders exhibit abus…
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Matt continues his exploration into the intricate link between cannabis and sleep, focusing on THC in this second installment, beginning with a reminder to listeners of the historical insights from doctors like O'Shaughnessy and Clendinning in the 1800s regarding cannabis's sleep-inducing effects. He shifts to how THC affects sleep today, noting th…
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Matt and Eti team up again today for another entertaining and informative AMA episode. This time around, they dive into the intriguing world of lunar cycles and their potential influence on sleep patterns and dreams. From ancient beliefs to modern scientific findings, our duo unpacks the subtle yet fascinating impact of the moon. They then go on to…
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Dr. Chris Barnes from the University of Washington's Foster School of Business joins Matt to discuss the often overlooked importance of sleep in boosting workplace productivity and ethical decision-making. Together, they delve into how sleep deprivation affects job performance, the impact sufficient sleep has on business environments and organizati…
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Matt introduces his series examining the complex relationship between sleep and cannabis, exploring both the historical context and contemporary scientific perspectives. The narrative begins with Dr. W.B. O'Shaughnessy's canine experiments in 1849, tracing the evolution to the foundational work on cannabis for sleep conducted by Drs. Clendinning an…
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This week, Matt dives deep into the complexities of REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD), a condition where individuals physically act out their dreams due to the absence of normal muscle paralysis during REM sleep. He meticulously breaks down the mechanisms of normal REM sleep, where the brainstem induces muscle atonia to prevent dream enactment, con…
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Eti is back for another AMA episode with Matt to answer questions that have been submitted over the last little while. Today’s installment dives into a number of topics including the intricate relationship between sleep and pregnancy, exploring how sleep disturbances impact pregnant women and the postnatal period. Additionally, the hormone prolacti…
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In today's podcast episode, Matt welcomes back Dr. Michael Gradisar to delve into the evolving understanding of screens and sleep. Initially holding the belief in the detrimental effect of screen light on sleep, Matt finds this notion challenged by Dr. Gradisar's research, which emphasizes a more nuanced perspective. Their discussion highlights the…
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Matt explores menopause and sleep disturbances today, noting the impact of hormonal changes, including a drop in estrogen and progesterone, and the role of hot flashes in disturbed sleep. He enumerates different types of sleep impairments related to menopause such as insomnia, sleep-disordered breathing, restless leg syndrome, and various sleep sta…
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It’s another AMA episode and Dr. Eti Ben Simon returns to not only share some of her own sleep routines, but also to help listeners gain a rare insight into Matt's personal sleep habits as they respond to a listener’s query. Renowned for not sharing much, if anything, regarding what he considers his “boring” self, Matt is coaxed into offering a can…
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Matt Walker welcomes his dear friend, the epic sleep researcher and clinician, Dr. Michael Gradisar, to the podcast to join him in exploring the profound influence of light on sleep quality. Dr. Gradisar's groundbreaking research and clinical proficiency in pediatric sleep disorders and circadian rhythm disruptions have reshaped the field, guiding …
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This week, Matt explores the intricate connection between sleep and weight, shedding light on the alarming reality of how inadequate sleep contributes to weight gain. He emphasizes the staggering correlation between the rise in obesity rates and the decline in sleep duration over the past six decades, backed by meta-analyses showcasing the signific…
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Dr. Eti Ben Simone is back with Matt Walker to delve into a range of intriguing topics surrounding sleep, circadian rhythms, and the impact of shift work on our health, all within the engaging context of today’s installment of their increasingly popular Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions. Their conversation begins by exploring the intriguing link betwe…
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Matt’s back this week to delve into the intriguing phenomenon known as Exploding Head Syndrome (EHS). A genuine and significant sleep disorder, EHS is part of the broader category of parasomnias, which includes various sleep-related disorders like night terrors and sleepwalking. The core experience of EHS involves patients perceiving sudden, loud, …
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In this second installment of their fascinating conversation together, Matt Walker and Michael Grandner continue their discussion regarding the crucial role of sleep in the lives of athletes. Together they delve into the unique challenges athletes face, such as irregular schedules, early mornings, late-night competitions, and travel across time zon…
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In this week’s episode, Dr. Michael Grandner joins Matt to explore the critical role of sleep in athletic performance. Together, they emphasize that sleep is not just about physical rest but also plays a significant role in mental performance, decision-making, and motivation. Dr. Grandner discusses how sleep is essential for various aspects of athl…
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In this podcast, Matt explores the fascinating topic of yawning. He begins by pointing out that although we all yawn and assume it's a sign of sleepiness, science hasn't provided a definitive answer regarding its purpose. Matt delves into the etymology of the word "yawn" and describes the five distinct steps involved in the yawning reflex, shedding…
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Matt's back, and this time he's tackling the perennial debate: Is the snooze button a friend or foe when it comes to your sleep and overall health? He shines a spotlight on an intriguing study led by Dr. Tina Sundelin and her team - one that challenges our conventional wisdom about snooze buttons. Surprisingly, their research reveals that snooze bu…
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Dr. Eti Ben Simon joins Matt once again this week to continue their AMA session where they bring their vast amount of knowledge and expertise to bear in responding to a variety of listener questions. They begin by delving into the intricate relationship between sleep, hormones, and the female reproductive cycle, providing invaluable insights into w…
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In today’s thoroughly engaging episode, Matt joins forces with Dr. Eti Ben Simon from his Center for Human Sleep Science to embark upon an enlightening "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) session, addressing a wide array of questions related to sleep. Together, they explore such topics as sleep differences between males and females, the impact of sleep tracker…
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In today’s memorable episode, Matt examines the intriguing connection between sleep and motor memory. Beginning with an explanation of the two main types of human memory - fact-based memory and procedural memory, which includes motor/skill memories - he notes that, contrary to popular belief, motor/skill memories aren't stored in our muscles but pr…
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In this episode, Matt delves into the intriguing realm of the "caffeine nap." He explores the idea of combining a short nap with caffeine to enhance mental performance and wakefulness. The episode kicks off with a dilemma – in the afternoon, when faced with fatigue, should you opt for coffee or a nap? Matt reveals that the answer isn't a simple cho…
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In this engaging podcast episode, Matt delves into the world of polyphasic sleep – the practice of dividing sleep into multiple short naps throughout the day. The episode starts by exploring the historical origins of polyphasic sleep, from the concept of phases within a 24-hour sleep cycle to the motivations behind adopting unconventional sleep pat…
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Matt and special guest, Dr. Michael Grandner, continue their dialogue regarding the multifaceted world of sleep, insomnia, and their intersections with various life aspects. Together, they unveil the gender-based variations in susceptibility to insomnia, attributing higher rates among women to their willingness to express challenges. Their conversa…
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In the podcast, sleep expert Dr. Michael Grandner engages in a conversation with Matt about insomnia. They delve into the subject by defining what insomnia is, examining its causes, understanding its implications, and discussing potential remedies. An important distinction is made between short-term insomnia and chronic insomnia. They highlight tha…
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In today’s episode, Matt shines a spotlight on the science behind napping and explores the optimal nap duration for various cognitive benefits. He starts by introducing the concept of napping and its benefits for the brain and body, and then discusses sleep inertia, the groggy feeling upon awakening from a nap, and its potential impact on brain per…
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In this second part of his series on sleep, free radicals, and antioxidants, Matt delves into the fascinating connection between sleep and oxidative stress. He begins by recapping the previous episode's discussion on free radicals and oxidative stress, highlighting the recent studies that have revealed one of the functions of sleep: to counteract t…
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In today’s episode, Matt takes us on a journey exploring the fascinating world of antioxidants and their link to sleep. The theory of free radical flux and its connection to sleep is introduced, shedding light on the role of antioxidants in combating oxidative stress. Through engaging storytelling and scientific evidence, Matt explains how free rad…
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On today’s episode, Matt discusses the concept of "catch-up sleep" and explores whether it effectively compensates for sleep deprivation during the week. The study featured in the episode focused on a group of participants who experienced short sleep during the week and attempted to make up for it with longer sleep on weekends. The findings reveale…
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MW E50 Restless Leg Syndrome Summary: Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a neurological condition characterized by irresistible urges to move the muscles in the legs and arms, often accompanied by crawling, tingling, or burning sensations. A common sleep disorder affecting around 5% of the population, which translates to approximately 400 million indiv…
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Today, Matt explores the fascinating realm of nightmares and the cutting-edge treatment known as Image Rehearsal Therapy (IRT). Nightmares, often associated with rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep), can disrupt sleep quality and emotional well-being. However, IRT offers a unique approach to tackling nightmares by helping individuals envision alter…
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In today’s episode, Matt discusses the sleep disorder known as sleep apnea, focusing on its definition, prevalence, and the dangers it poses if left untreated. Sleep apnea is a breathing-related sleep disorder, with obstructive sleep apnea being the most common form. It occurs when the airway partially or fully collapses during sleep, leading to di…
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This week, Matt introduces a new segment called "Hot Off the Press," where he covers the latest and most exciting studies in sleep science. And the topic of discussion for this first installment is a great one: excessive slumber - exploring the questions of whether one is getting enough sleep and if there is such a thing as too much sleep. Listen i…
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Matt returns with Dr. Craig Kanapari to discuss sleep in teens and how biological and hormonal changes occur at a young age, usually around 11-13. The most clear determinant of sleep duration in a teen is wake time, and enforcing a wake time inappropriate to the teen's natural sleep period can lead to insomnia-like symptoms and create conflict. The…
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Today Matt’s discussion with Dr. Craig Canapari continues, delving into the major changes in sleep that a child will go through from the ages of one to ten. This includes how regularity and appropriate sleep opportunities are important for getting good sleep, and potential medical issues that can arise from not getting enough sleep, such as snoring…
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Today Matt’s discussion with Dr. Craig Canapari continues, as they delve into the science behind sleep training. Together they cover what it is and when it may be an appropriate technique. Dr. Craig Canipari provides an overview of the different methods of sleep training - ranging from simple bedtime routines, to extinction (also known as cry it ou…
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Today Matt begins a new series all about sleep in infants, in kids, in teenagers, and in parents. He is joined by Dr. Craig Canapari one of the world leaders in pediatric sleep medicine. Dr. Canapari has also written a fantastic book on sleep for babies, kids and parents called, It's Never Too Late to Sleep Train. Enjoy the first episode in a new s…
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On today’s episode, Matt goes beyond the if and the what type of exercise to discuss the when. Which is to say, does the timing of exercise matter when it comes to sleep improvements? Based on his experience working on insomnia, Matt would previously have recommended avoiding mid-to-late evening exercise as the resulting rise in core temperature co…
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Today, Matt focuses on how the type, intensity, and duration of exercise affect its impact on sleep. A study of middle-aged adults split its active group into three subgroups: moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, high-intensity aerobic exercise, and moderate-to-intense weight/resistance training. The groups performing aerobic exercise got more bene…
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This week, Matt goes deeper into the relationship between sleep and exercise. More specifically, does daytime exercise change the stages and types of sleep? Deep sleep is critical for various functions, so anything that can increase it is desirable. Older adults have an inherently difficult time generating deep non-REM sleep; however, a study showe…
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Does exercise have an impact on the quantity and quality of your sleep? The National Sleep Foundation's annual poll found that individuals who exercised frequently (defined as three times or more a week) reported sleeping with a higher quality than those who exercised less than once a week. Exercise has also been shown to increase the release of en…
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Almost every species will suffer catastrophic impairment in the brain and body due to total or chronic partial long-term sleep loss—save for a small handful of befuddling cases where lack of sleep does not cause devastating impairment. While humans are the only species that deprives itself of sleep for no adaptive benefit, there are rare situations…
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The final installment of this series focuses on what happens inside your brain during deep, non-REM sleep that allows you to fixate new memories. There are at least two mechanisms at work here. One is a process of shifting information from short to long-term memory. Each night when you go into deep non REM sleep, those long range brainwaves of deep…
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Previously, we learned sleep is necessary before learning to prepare the brain to learn effectively. But sleep is also needed after learning to cement new information in your brain. This discovery happened in 1924 when two German researchers pitted sleep and wake against each other to see which would win out in memory-savings benefit. Their finding…
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It is a fundamental truth that sleep is far more than the absence of wakefulness. It is an incredibly active state, demonstrated by the fact that numerous functions of the brain and body are restored by and depend on sufficient sleep. One of the most impressive and best-understood of these is sleep’s beneficial role in boosting learning and memory …
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It’s been said that sleep is the new sex, and rightly so—a good night of sleep is going to do many things for the vibrancy, intimacy, and vitality of your relationship. We know that when couples are not getting sufficient sleep, they have more conflicts the next day and won’t resolve them nearly as well. This is partly because underslept couples su…
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A few years ago, a survey by the Sleep Council in England found that 1 in 4 people in a couple would get up during the night and go to another room to get a good night’s sleep. Following that, a report by the National Sleep Foundation in America demonstrated that almost the same number (25%) of couples admitted to sleeping in separate bedrooms. In …
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