Dr. Gina Poe has spent nearly four decades studying the science of sleep, and how we can all get a better night’s rest by making some simple changes in our lives. In this episode, Poe dives deep into what she’s learned about sleep during her career, including the stages of sleep, why you’re waking up in the middle of the night, why some people remember their dreams, the best bedtime routines, and the real-life consequences when you miss a night’s sleep.
Dr. Poe is a professor of Integrative Biology and Physiology at UCLA, where she is also the Director of the school’s Sleep and Memory Laboratory, which investigates the mechanisms by which sleep traits serve learning and memory consolidation.
Here are a few highlights from our conversation:
We’ve recently discovered in the last five, six years, that…some [parts] of our brain can be asleep, while other parts of our brain can be awake.
Trust your body. And if your body’s saying, “Hey, I really need to get this one thing done before I go back to sleep; I’m not going to feel good unless I get this one thing done,” get up and do it.
It’s actually a good sign to not remember your dream.
There have been studies to show that the more volatile your sleep onset time, the worse the cognitive outcomes for older people.
One of the things that we don’t know yet is whether quantity is equivalent to quality.
If the schedule of the hospital allows for physicians and nurses and staff to get good regular sleep, then the physicians and nurses make fewer medical errors.
A lot of people, if they’re drunk and they fall asleep, they will wake up at 3:00, 4:00 in the morning and find it difficult to go back to sleep because that alcohol is burned off and that alerting, arousing signal has come in.
00:00 – Intro
00:42 – What exactly is sleep?
03:05 – Sleep, defined
05:48 – How emotions get “cleaned out” during sleep
08:17 – The stages of sleep
13:44 – Why you can’t go back to sleep
15:20 – What to do when you can’t go back to sleep
17:33 – Why some people can’t remember their dreams
19:24 – Should you let your teenager sleep until 2:00 pm every weekend?
23:53 – On the importance of a routine before sleep
29:51 – Should you have black-out blinds?
31:09 – How to get more efficient sleep
35:46 – The connection between sleep and the immune system
40:40 – The link between nutrition and sleep quality
43:48 – Which is better: going to bed early or staying up late
47:08 – How long should it take to fall asleep?
50:00 – Alcohol and caffeine’s effect on sleep
53:28 – On Gina Poe’s childhood and her resourceful mother
59:51 – Why science is more exciting than what it looks like on TV
01:06:51 – How to make it easy to change your mind
01:07:34 – What success looks like to Dr. Gina Poe