Have you experienced interrupted sleep? Learn 5 major reasons why sleep is more important than many of us even know, and the 4 keys to getting your best night's sleep. Sleep expert, Rick Tiedemann, shares his tips for improving your sleep, and overall quality of life.
Rick Tiedemann has been enthusiastically engaged in the corporate world for 35 years, he has only truly worked for the Tiedemann Corporation. The partnering with various organizations was, and is vital, as it is through these partnerships that the Tiedeman Corporation and its shareholders (Rick, his wife and their 3 kids) are able to thrive in a manner that they enjoy. Rick spent over 30 yrs working in the multi-national pharmaceutical industry as a senior leader and executive within a wide variety of therapeutic areas. These therapeutic areas included, infectious disease, orthopedics, women’s health, diabetes, neurosciences (which included mental health, epilepsy and multiplesclerocis), dermatology and allergy and immunology. His leadership responsibilities included partnering with colleagues to develop high performing business development teams, government relations and market access, compensation, personality profiling education and corporate strategy. Rick’s professional passions have always included a combination of health and business interests. In 2012 Rick chose to follow his “Why” and opened a Copeman Healthcare center in Edmonton and he is a Senior Director with a focus on Corporate Health . His 35 years in the corporate marinade have helped to fuel his current passion which is to create a new narrative around Leadership Wellbeing and to get leaders to think about Leadership Health as a vital risk mitigation strategy within their businesses. He speaks extensively with CEO and EO Forums, Executive teams and other leadership groups to help them to appreciate how they can become Corporate Athletes and create the absolute best version of themselves. A key ingredient in the Corporate Athlete recipe is sleep and this allows Rick to share his extensive experience in the neuroscience world as he creates enthusiasm for sleep being the Ultimate High Performance Drug”. His personal passions include waterskiing, making log beds and antler chandeliers, aquatic ecosystem stewardship, building homes and spending as much time as possible at the lake with friends and family.
Morgan Berna is the host of Olympia Benefits’ podcast, The Small Business Mastermind. Her background is in marketing, journalism, and broadcasting. Passionate about small business, she aims to create content that inspires and educates listeners.
Rick Tiedemann: But when we look at the studies out there, they will report, Morgan, things like men with a sleep disorder that have a 2-3x higher risk of having a heart attack or a one to four times higher risk of having a stroke. We also know that the data will tell us that people who suffer from sleep deficiencies are involved in over 30% of fatal car accidents.
Morgan Berna: You're listening to the Small Business Mastermind. A podcast created to help small businesses juggle business, finance, health, and wellness. I am your host, Morgan Berna. The Small Business Mastermind is brought to you by Olympia Benefits. If you're looking to reduce your health care costs, visit olympiabenefits.com.
Hello, and thank you for tuning in to this episode of the Small Business Mastermind. On this episode, we've brought back Rick Tiedemann who previously spoke on an episode about leadership well-being. This time, he's going to walk us through why sleep is more important than most of us even know. Rick dives into the repercussions of fragmented or suboptimal sleep, what really happens while we are sleeping, what we should be reducing or eliminating from our day to improve our sleep, and tips for people who travel a lot for work. This is a really great episode. I think you're going to really enjoy it. So, let's dive right in and I will be checking in with you again at the end of the episode.
Morgan: While Rick Tiedemann has been enthusiastically engaged in the corporate world for thirty-five years, he has only truly worked for the Tiedemann Corporation. The partnering with various organizations was, and is, vital as it is through these partnerships that the Tiedemann Corporation and its shareholders - Rick, his wife, and their three kids are able to thrive in a manner that they enjoy. Rick spent over thirty years working in the multinational pharmaceutical industry as a senior leader and executive within a wide variety of therapeutic areas. His leadership responsibilities included partnering with colleagues to develop high-performing business development teams, government relations and market access compensation, personality profiling, education, and corporate strategy. Rick's professional passions have always included a combination of health and business interests. In 2012, Rick chose to follow his “why” and opened a Copeman Healthcare Centre in Edmonton where he is a Senior Director with a focus on corporate health. His thirty-five years in the corporate marinade have helped to fuel his current passion, which is to create a new narrative around leadership well-being and to get leaders to think about leadership health as a vital risk mitigation strategy within their business. He speaks extensively with CEOs and EO forums, executive teams, and other leadership groups to help them appreciate how they can become corporate athletes and create the absolute best version of themselves.
A key ingredient in the corporate athlete recipe is sleep and this allows Rick to share his extensive experience in the neuroscience world as he creates enthusiasm for sleep being the ultimate high-performance drug. His personal passions include water skiing, making log beds and antler chandeliers, aquatic ecosystem stewardship, building homes, and spending as much time as possible at the lake with friends and family. We are very lucky to have Rick back here with us again today.
Welcome, Rick, back to the Small Business Mastermind podcast. Thank you again for joining us.
Rick: You're very welcome. I hope you're doing well through this COVID scenario.
Morgan: Thank you. Yes, and you as well. Today we are going to be talking about sleep, which I'm sure is on a lot of people's minds. There's been a lot of disruptions in our lives, a lot of changes with schedules, and we're going to go through today basically how to get better sleep.
Rick: Yeah. Well, as you know, Morgan, and this is why we're having this conversation today is that one of my real absolute passions is sleep and sleep hygiene. And actually, I do a talk for a lot of businesses and it's called sleep is the ultimate high-performance drug and it really is just not about the performance of the organization, it is about performance for ourselves personally, and we're going to really have a great conversation this morning about the unbelievable benefits of great sleep.
Morgan: Just for our listeners, I wanted to just mention there, we've had Rick on previously with an episode all about leadership well-being and that's where he talks a lot about performance there and we touched briefly on this topic and now we're going to expand on it. So, let's start off with what are the consequences of fragmented sleep?
Rick: Yeah, there's many and this is a great way to start our conversation, Morgan, because once we understand the consequences of not prioritizing sleep, then we can heighten our awareness with respect to things that we want to do to try to get it back again and enjoy optimal health, that's for sure. But when we look at the studies out there, they will report, Morgan, things like men with a sleep disorder that have a two to three times higher risk of having a heart attack or a one to four times higher risk of having a stroke. The correlation between fragmented sleep and higher risks of heart attacks and strokes. We also know that the data will tell us that people who suffer from sleep deficiencies, Morgan, are involved in over thirty percent of fatal car accidents. In the United States now, they have actually deemed sleep deprivation as the number one cause of motor vehicle deaths. That's a pretty significant consequence.
We also know that people who routinely get less than six hours of sleep per night have a twice risk, a doubled risk for getting cancer. And, in fact, the World Health Organization has deemed shift work to be a class two carcinogen. So that means if you are a shift worker around a class two carcinogen, there's a direct correlation between shift work and higher rates of cancer, which doesn't impress me because two of our kids are nurses, Morgan, and they're married to firefighters and paramedics. So we need to get this figured out as a family but we need to get this figured out as a larger community for sure.
Now, the other thing, Morgan, is that we know that if you have a shorter sleep duration, we're going to talk about what good sleep is later on, but shorter sleep duration is predictive for lower work rate and a slower completion of basic tasks. So, personally or professionally, we don't perform at the highest level, and also the duration of sleep is directly correlated to self-control, our mood. Now, whether or not we're that individual that gets up on the wrong side of the bed in the morning, Morgan, whether we got that short fuse, so, boy, it's unbelievable that we get really good sleep because the consequences of not doing so are quite dramatic.
Morgan: That just absolutely blew me away. So this is way bigger than just being groggy, being grumpy.
Rick: Oh, yeah. This is more than having poopy pants. This is serious. This is big stuff here when we start talking about heart attacks, strokes, and cancer.
Morgan: Absolutely. So how sleep-deprived are we as a society?
Rick: Well, the data out there is quite variable depending on the report, but I mean on the low end, the reports would say that thirty percent of society right now is getting inadequate amounts of sleep so that's on the low end. On the high end, I see seventy percent plus of the report. So there's quite a reporting variation out there. But one of the things that really concerns me and I do a lot of talks about sleep even during COVID here and what I'm hearing is more and more people talking about experiencing fragmented or sub-optimal sleep. So, if we kind of average out all that data there, we're probably in the range of almost fifty percent of society at any given point in time, experiencing sub-optimal sleep and therefore putting themselves at risk for what we just talked about. It's a big deal, Morgan, it's a big deal.
Morgan: Absolutely. But what would healthy sleep actually look like?
Rick: Let's get a couple of things on the table right now as we talk about what great sleep looks like. Because what we should be doing on average and of course, depending on your age anywhere from a baby to a senior individual, it is going to vary a little bit. If we look at kind of the working group and that twenty-five to sixty-five group, on average, people should be looking for about seven and a half hours of undisrupted sleep and that undisrupted dimension is really really important, Morgan. Okay? So, there is going to be some variation in there but let's strive for seven and a half hours of undisrupted sleep. I think a couple of things that I want to get on the table right now before we talk about what good sleep architecture looks like is that we need to understand, Morgan, problems don't start when you put your head on the pillow at night. They actually start when you take your head off the pillow in the morning and it's all the goofy stuff that we do all day long, all these unhealthy therapeutic lifestyle choices that we make that actually culminate and that's not being able to sleep when we put our head on the pillow at night. So we need to kind of engineer our day to get great sleep.
The other thing, Morgan, it's really important that we understand that there's a couple of dimensions to sleep. There are many, many more but generally speaking, number one is sleep onset - can I fall asleep? And number two is sleep maintenance - can I stay asleep? And different things that we do throughout the day may impact one of those two core dimensions of sleep. So now when we look at great sleep and if we strive for that seven and a half hours, give or take, we need to understand a couple of fundamental things, Morgan. Number one, we don't just fall asleep, go into a deep sleep and stay there until we wake up. What we actually do, Morgan, is we're awake then we drop into REM sleep, and then we go through non REM stage 1, stage 2, stage 3 and stage 4 until we're down into deep sleep there and non-REM stages three and four, that's that deep or slow-wave sleep.
Rick: Generally speaking, give or take, each cycle we will go through five cycles where we will drop all the way down into non-REM stage 3 and 4 and then we'll pop back up into REM and then we'll drop back down into non-REM and pop back up into REM, we will go through five cycles that give or take will last about an hour and a half, Morgan. So five times an hour and a half is seven and a half.
The interesting part about these cycles is that not all cycles are created equal. Different things are happening during different cycles, for example, in the first three cycles, we tend to get more non-REM than REM. In the last two cycles, we tend to get more REM than non-REM and this is by design because different reparative and restorative things are taking place during each of these different cycles, and that's why we really emphasize the undisrupted component and so we need to look after both dimensions - can we fall asleep, and just as importantly, can we stay asleep?
Morgan: Should we be using things like alarms to wake ourselves up?
Rick: I guess my first question there was who the heck called it an alarm? An alarm, first thing in the morning, Morgan, that's a heck of a terrible way to start the day.
Morgan: That's a good point.
Rick: I say “get up and have a great day” clock instead of an alarm clock. I would rather call it a get-up-and-have-a-great-day clock, but the reality is if you are prioritizing sleep and making the right lifestyle choices throughout the day to optimize your sleep, you shouldn't need to use a get-up-and-have-a-great-day clock, I rarely, rarely ever use one. If I have to get up extra early or something, then it's there as a backup, but I virtually never have a get-up-and-have-a-great-day clock go off before I get out of bed. But I have obviously established a very, very defined sleep cycle for myself. Yeah, if you need to use an alarm clock to wake up, it's telling us that you're not getting enough sleep.
Morgan: Yeah, that's great. I know I'm one of those people that sets like five snooze alarms. So, I'm going to take this to heart. [laughs]
Rick: [laughs] Yeah, exactly.
Morgan: You were mentioning there that while we're sleeping, there are lots of important things happening. Could you talk a little bit about what's actually happening while we're sleeping?
Rick: You bet. Because I think this is fundamentally where the conversation needs to begin. I know people that say, "You know what? I'm too busy to sleep," and of course, after our conversation, I hope everybody realizes that man, that if I'm not busy, I must sleep. People say, "I'll sleep when I'm dead." I go, "No, you're just dead." Right? That is different than sleeping. Basically what they're saying is, "I have more important things to do than get good sleep." But I'm going to give you five really, really good reasons why we want to prioritize sleep, Morgan. Number one, while we sleep our immune system recharges. Number two, our muscles, bones, and the endothelial lining, that's the lining of our blood vessels, et cetera are repaired and heal. Number three, your cerebral dishwasher turns on. Number four, your thoughts from the previous day are consolidated, they go through a consolidation process. And, number five, your emotion center gets recalibrated.
So there's so much more that goes on but I am going to talk about those five, Morgan, because if I can't convince people about the value sleep with those five, I probably won't be able to convince them, generally speaking. So from the immune system recharging perspective, Morgan, we know that when we're sick our body gets tired, it wants us to sleep. Why does it want us to sleep? Well, because the immune system is working overtime and it needs to recharge so we can do what our body so desperately wants it to do. And so when we're sleeping, what happens is we have cells in our bodies that are called natural killer cells and the production goes up with these natural killer cells. These are our cancer assassins, Morgan. So is the population goes up, it helps your body to fight off abnormal cells, cancer cells, and of course, if that natural killer cell population's not going up then we're not fighting off these abnormal cells, and of course, that's why we're at risk for cancer for not sleeping. There's the correlation.
The other thing is when we're sleeping, Morgan, the melatonin levels go up and melatonin not only is the sleep hormone, but it's a very powerful anti-cancer hormone. So if melatonin levels are not going up, then again, we put ourselves at risk for cancer. And of course, from the immune system perspective, the human growth hormone is also released when we're getting great sleep and that boost the immune system. So, I mean, we want a strong immune system at any time, Morgan, but especially during times like COVID-19. It is a really good idea to have a strong immune system. So get that great sleep, let your body have a fighting chance to beat off all those viruses and bugs and everything else which is so so important, so that’s one.
Number two, I mentioned that our muscles and the bones heal because of course, when we sleep our body releases higher levels of human growth hormone and the human growth hormone is really the hormone that promotes the maintenance and repair of muscles and bones and it replenishes the lining of our blood vessels. Of course, if we don't repair the lining of our blood vessels and they get brittle or they get thin, you put yourself at risk for heart attacks and strokes and those types of things. So hopefully our audience starting to make a correlation between what's happening when we're asleep and our overall health, et cetera. Now the best of the best in the athletic world, actually know, Morgan, that when they go to the gym or when they apply their trade, they are stressing their bodies enormously. They also know that their body doesn't get stronger at the gym. They know that when they do interval training, they stress their body when they're working out and when they take their breaks, they have unbelievable discipline around nutrition and sleep and psychological well-being because they know that when they sleep that's actually when their body strengthens. So we need to make sure that we're getting great sleep if we want our muscles and bones and our cardiovascular system to heal and strengthen and repair itself. So it's important from an immunity perspective, it's important from a musculoskeletal healing perspective.
Then when we talk about our cognitive performance that we have what I refer to as a cerebral dishwasher, right? Nobody understands the fact that we have a may take between our ears actually up there. But what happened when we get into REM sleep? We have nerve cells, glial cells, they shrink when we get into a good sleep. It opens up spaces between the nerve cells and we get an increased volume of cerebral spinal fluid flushing through. People need to understand that your brain is a very powerful muscle and throughout the day when it's working so hard, it is giving off a lot of metabolic wastes. These metabolic wastes are toxic to the brain so we don't want them to accumulate so at night when the cerebral dishwasher kicks in, it starts to flush the brain of these metabolic wastes, which is so so important. Interestingly, your audience may find this little tidbit here that one of the key metabolic waste is given off, Morgan, is called beta-amyloid. Amyloid is a protein that is associated with the plaques that we get with dementia and Alzheimer's. We do not want these proteins accumulating because it could put us at risk for accelerated cognitive decline. Again, great sleep, that it's the number one health prevention thing that we can do.
Number four is really an input consolidation process that takes place at night. Lord knows we are so overwhelmed with inputs throughout the day all the exposures that we're having to all kinds of things and these daily inputs, Morgan, are stored in your cerebral USB key. It's a big computer up there. It's called the hippocampus. So our hippocampus is the cerebral USB key. It's a short-term memory all the daily inputs are put into the hippocampus. But when we get into good non-REM sleep, there are these slow waves, the sleep spindles that take place and they move this information from your cerebral USB key or hippocampus over to your cerebral hard drive, which is your neocortex. So you can only imagine then, Morgan, if I'm depriving myself of sleep or not getting good sleep for some period of time, the information that I'm getting during the day isn't getting moved from this USB key to the hard drive. So the USB key gets full I can't take in new information as easily. And, of course, the information is not moving from the USB key to the hard drive so it's not available in the hard drive for retrieval so I don't have the recall that I want. Therefore this deep sleep that we have is really really important for our memory and it's important for our executive functioning. So a lot of people in the work world that need to have a good memory for making decisions, et cetera, this is so important.
And then the fifth key thing that we talked about was emotional recalibration. There's so much stress out there right now and people are on edge. The last thing that we need is people to be more volatile from a mood perspective et cetera, so we need to really rebalance and when we get great sleep it allows us to balance things. What happens, Morgan, when we don't get good sleep is we have two parts of our brain one called the amygdala which is the emotion center and then the other one which is the prefrontal cortex, which is the logic center when you get good sleep these two get along. They play nicely, we make great balance decisions that have the appropriate amount of emotion and the appropriate amount of logic. If we don't get good sleep a hormone called dopamine goes up and when dopamine goes up it severs the connection between the amygdala - the emotion center, and the prefrontal cortex - the logic center and guess who wins? Of course, the amygdala wins, that's your emotional center. That's why you're so moody.
You know, they refer to the amygdala as our reptilian brain, part of the reptilian brain. So now you've become a lizard and I'm not sure that anybody I know wants to become a lizard. Okay? So what we do when we sleep is we strengthen our immunity system. We heal our muscles and our bones and the cardiovascular circulatory system. Our cerebral dishwasher flushes metabolic toxins from our brain to help us to avoid cognitive decline. We go through an input consolidation process that makes sure that our memory and our executive functioning stay strong. And of course, when we go through our emotional recalibration, it means that the nicest version of us shows up each day, Morgan. That's what happens when we are sleeping. It's a lot of good stuff.
Morgan: And when you put it like that, I mean, it sounds like the most important thing ever and calling it, you know, sleep as a high-performance drug. Imagine if that was marketed as a drug, everyone would want it.
Rick: Oh, you know what? And the crazy thing is you can get it for free.
Rick: The therapeutic lifestyle choices, it's really important that we understand a couple of things, Morgan, is number one, yes, there are some medical reasons why people do not sleep well at night. Let's put that at the table right now. But the vast majority of things that are causing fragmented or sub-optimal sleep are behavioral. So the good news then, Morgan, is if we want to get our good sleep back we can. We just have to start making different choices, therapeutic choices, throughout the day.
Morgan: Absolutely. So let's dive into that a little bit. What are some of the major sleep disruptions? And why are these disruptions happening?
Rick: Yeah. Well, I think number one, why are they happening? In part, because people don't have the knowledge to understand how these behaviors quite frankly are negatively impacting their sleep. So education is a very, very important part of getting people's sleep fixed. Now having said that, Morgan, and people say knowledge is power, I go, "No, it's not, it's the application of knowledge that's power." If you have it, but don't do anything with it, well, that's not powerful at all. So if we look at some of the key disruptors, there's a whole list that I have here, but let's talk about four primary ones. And what I want to do is I kind of want to mention the issue why it's an issue and then how do we fix it? So let's start first and foremost with caffeine for example Starbucks and Second Cup and all that, they're doing very very well. What are people using caffeine for? Well, they are using it to jack them up a little bit. You can only imagine if somebody doesn't sleep well, then they start the morning with caffeine. Because they are tired, they need to jack themselves up. The challenge we have with caffeine, Morgan, is that its molecular structure is virtually identical to a natural hormone in our body called adenosine. As the adenosine levels build in our body throughout the day, they attach to receptors and once a number of these receptors enough of them get activated, it starts our melatonin production. And of course, melatonin is our primary sleep hormone.
You can only imagine if we drink caffeine and it goes in because it's similar to adenosine molecularly, it locks onto these adenosine receptors. When the adenosine comes along later in the day, these receptors already occupied so they can't activate these receptors to start your melatonin. So caffeine in effect really starts to diminish our melatonin production and that has a negative effect on sleep. The challenge with caffeine, Morgan, is that its half-life in many people can be up to eight hours.
Rick: Now, caffeine is a drug. Let's not monkey around with that. It is a drug. It's a substance. Drugs clear themselves from our bodies typically in five half-lives. So if you have a drug with a half-life of eight hours, Morgan, and it clears from our body and five half-lives, that means that caffeine will clear itself from our body in forty hours. If I have a shot of coffee and it is 300 milligrams of caffeine at 2 p.m., one half-life later eight hours, that's 10 p.m., half of it is gone from my body so I still have a hundred 50 milligrams of caffeine in my body. At 6 a.m., then I still have 75 milligrams of caffeine in my body. I may not have slept well because of all the caffeine in my body. So what's the first thing that I do in the morning, Morgan?
Rick: Yeah, you rinse and repeat. You rinse and repeat. Having said that, now, all of these things that we're going to talk about here, Morgan, the degree of change that people need to make on some of these behaviors is directly correlated to how fragmented their sleep is. So, if you sleep like a champ and you have no problems with sleep, well, then you don't have to change anything yet. Maybe as you age a little bit you get to a different vantage, you might have to change some things. But again, if you sleep like a champ, you don't have to. If you are suffering from seriously fragmented and suboptimal sleep, you may need to eliminate caffeine altogether certainly decrease it and not have any coffee after lunch that maybe 1:00 in the morning, but not after that, okay? So caffeine is a really, really important sleep-disruptor because it impairs your melatonin production, number one.
The second most important sleep-disruptor, regrettably for many, is alcohol and a lot of people in the business world have actually started drinking a little bit more during COVID and we're trying to coach them off that and really what a lot of people do and yes, they enjoy it for sure. But there are people that are self-medicating with alcohol and we have to be so, so careful. When we drink alcohol, Morgan, it doesn't help us to sleep it's actually a sedative. If we look at people who have had a lot of alcohol versus people that have been anesthetized for surgery, the brain waves are virtually the same, right? So alcohol acts on some of the same receptors as the anesthetics. So you are being sedated, you're not sleeping and the challenge with that, Morgan, is that when we're sedated, we can drop down into non-REM stage 1 and 2, but we don't drop into non-REM stage 3 and 4, that's the deep, healing, restorative phase of sleep. So it doesn't allow us to get the huge benefits of that deep sleep.
The other problem is when we start to cycle up a little bit towards REM sleep, alcohol suppresses our REM sleep so we actually break through our REM when we wake up. I've talked to so many people, Morgan, that's of course, they've had a number of drinks, they go to bed and all of a sudden like two o'clock, three o'clock in the morning, Boom. They're awake. They say, "Jeez, I'm awake. What the heck?" Well, the sedation has worn off, number one, and number two, of course, because alcohol is a diuretic that makes fluids purged from our body. So now you have to go to the washroom. So now you're up and now you're on a rotisserie for the rest of the night. So alcohol is a sedative with a short half-life, it really impairs our ability to get quality sleep. It's actually my number one sleep disruptor personally, Morgan. What I have done is I have just made a choice not to drink during the week. And it's not about saying no to alcohol, by the way, Morgan, this is about saying yes to Rick. I'm not saying no to anything anymore, I'm saying yes to Rick a lot because when I don't drink, I sleep better. When I sleep better, I feel like exercising in the morning. I make better food choices and better choices throughout the day. A happier, healthier, higher-performing version of Rick shows up and I like that Rick.
Morgan: That's a great way to look at it, yeah.
Rick: I'm not saying no to alcohol, I'm saying yes to Rick a lot because dang it, I'm worth, Morgan.
Morgan: Yeah, absolutely.
Rick: So, I need to help people understand how to cross that psychological bridge from the no side to the yes side, that's how I do it and it works for me. So, again, alcohol, I'm so grateful that many of the business leaders and business owners that I'm dealing with now have really, really cut back on their alcohol and or have maybe followed my lead in not drinking during the week and or not drink at all. I know a number of people that just stop drinking altogether during this COVID thing because they know how important sleep is and helps them to deal with a higher level of complexity in their businesses. Okay?
Rick: So caffeine needs to be modified. Alcohol needs to be eliminated or modified and then the third major disrupter that we see out there, Morgan, is technology.
Rick: It could be cell phones, laptops, TVs all of these light-emitting devices because what happens, Morgan, is the blue light that comes from these devices goes in through our eyes and suppresses our melatonin production. And, therefore, what I really encourage people to do is my bedtime is 9:30, Morgan. So, my wife and I go into what's called kind of a sundowner calming phase at about eight o'clock and the technology is definitely off by 8:30. So we want no exposure to technology for an hour before we go to bed because what that does is a couple of things. Number one, we're not getting the blue light effect so it allows our cortisol levels to settle down and our melatonin levels to start coming up. Cortisol and melatonin are inverses. Of course, cortisol is our fight or flight hormone, it jacks us up, melatonin will calm us down. So we don't want the blue light effect. We want melatonin levels to start coming up. That's really, really important for sleep onset. Okay? So, that's number one, the blue light effect.
Number two is the content of the technology and I know people that are watching all kinds of things whether it's a slasher movie or maybe you're even watching the news and you just so tired of the COVID stuff and all the parliamentary stuff that's going on there. The news is creating high or medium levels of anxiety and stress and angst in people and what people are watching, the content of stuff even if they're on Facebook and all these other types of things are doing God-forbid work emails just before you go to bed and you get one of those emails that just irritates the living heck out of you, right?
Rick: When that happens that content causes an elevation in cortisol which crushes your melatonin and again will impair your ability to sleep. So, technology. I've got so many business leaders again that have adopted that technology-free zone and what they're really doing is they're saying, "This is the recovery time for me because I am so engaged in energy exertion through the day, I need to have some energy recovery time for my body to heal and to strengthen. Sleep is important so I'm turning the technology off by 8:00, 8:30."
Morgan: Can I ask quickly? I was given the prescription glasses that have the blue light filter.
Morgan: Is that something you recommend for people?
Rick: Well, it certainly is a step in the right direction, but doesn't really do the full thing because one of the things that they've learned, Morgan, is they will put people in a completely black room. Black, black, blacker than the inside of a cow. Then they will tape a light behind their knee a little light behind their knee and their melatonin production drops about forty percent. So, what do we learn from that? We learn that our skin has some photoreceptors in it. So, while you're protecting your eyes and getting some of that light exposure to drop down, your skin is still exposed to all this light that and is still going to be a diminishing impact on your melatonin levels. So that's a nice marketing thing but I'm not sure that we're getting the therapeutic value that we really, really want.
Morgan: Yeah, not the full story there. Okay.
Rick: So that's the light component but then the second thing is what are you doing? What's the content? Are you doing emails? What are you watching that is irritating you? Content is just as important or maybe even more so these days because there's so much negativity out there that you need to shut that stuff off and you need to do what I call is a technology-fast. Do a technology-fast for an hour, an hour and a half before bedtime, before you are hitting your pillow.
Morgan: Great point.
Rick: Yeah. So those are the things and I think the last one that I would say is so we talked about caffeine and alcohol and technology. The last one is food. I know way too many people who have the largest meal of the day at dinner time, Morgan. And it makes no sense physically, biologically, metabolically for us to eat the most amount of food, take the most amount of fuel when we're going into the least active period of the day. Really the routine for food should be - eat the most for breakfast on a relative basis. So, for breakfast eat like a king, for lunch eat like a prince, for dinner eat like a pauper. If you do that you want to finish eating by 6:00, 6:30 and make sure it's low carb because too many people have dinner too late with too many carbs and now metabolically their system is revved right up and their sugars are going up, that's going to have some real problems as it relates to sleep maintenance. So, again, if you finish eating by 6:00, 6:30 a low carb meal your body can go into a metabolic quieting period by about three hours later. That's really, really important from a sleep perspective. Yeah, so be careful about how much you eat, how late at night, and what you eat.
Morgan: Yeah. I'm going to be taking a look at all four of those elements in my life.
Rick: Yeah. And the cool thing is once you start getting some of this stuff going and you sleep well, we've all had those nights, Morgan, we get up in the morning and go, "Oh, man, that was great." So now why are you not making decisions to feel that way more often?
Morgan: Absolutely. Yeah.
Rick: Yeah. You can. So let's do it.
Morgan: So, what about when people use marijuana as a sleep aid, does that work?
Rick: Yeah. Well, the number one reason, and I know a number of people in that cannabis world, the number one reason why people are using marijuana these days is really as an anti-anxiety, a calming medication. The data from marijuana is still a little bit thin relative to alcohol and its impact on sleep. So I don't think we can be as definitive with marijuana at this point in time in terms of its impact on REM sleep, et cetera. But the one thing that I would say is if people need to use marijuana before they go to bed what they are doing is they're self-medicating, number one. Number two is they're managing symptoms. I am a big believer, Morgan, in going back and figuring out what the root causes are. And, of course, I work with Copeman Healthcare and at Copeman Healthcare, we are all about prevention and early detection. So, I want to know what's the root cause resulting in that much anxiety and stress that requires you to use marijuana as an anti-anxiety medication so you can calm yourself and get some sleep? Yeah, so I think we're putting the cart before the horse there a little bit and when I've talked to a lot of people there when we've gone back and reverse-engineered their days, you know to when you take your head off the pillow in the morning, many of them have been able to stop using the marijuana. Many people have been able to stop using alcohol or sleeping pills.
Morgan: Yeah. So what about using sleeping pills? Is this also something that can be harmful?
Rick: Well, we have to be careful because many of the sleeping pills come from a class of drugs known as anti-anxiolytics again, benzodiazepines and many of these medications are actually being used for their side effect of drowsiness in this type of thing which I don't know if that's the best thing to do. The other challenge that we have with many of these sleeping pills is they act more like sedatives and so if we go back to our alcohol conversation, Morgan, a sedative is not necessarily a sleep agent. Now, there are newer products coming out on the market for sure, but the ones that are typically used like zopiclone out there is more of a sedative. So that means that it's going to impair your ability to get to stage 3, stage 4, non-REM sleep. That's that really, really awesome deep slow-wave sleep. So it's going to impair that and of course, it impairs our REM sleep. The challenge is if we're not getting that deep sleep is our cerebral dishwasher being as effective in purging your brain of the beta-amyloid that forms the plaques for dementia and Alzheimer's? Then the input consolidation, are we getting the healing and the other things and more and more data coming out now are suggesting, no, we're not getting that and the long-term use of some of these sleeping pills may have some cognitive impacts that we don't want.
Here again, Morgan, there are no absolutes in life and there are the right time and a wrong time to use these things. For a sleeping pill, for example, if you're a shift worker and you just did a whole bunch of shifts at night and you're going to days and you need one to kind of do that transition, then that might be the appropriate time to use it. If you're going on a trip and there's a lot of time zone changes, you might need it for the first night to help you transition a little bit. So that could be a strategic use of one of these sleeping agents. Long-term use, generally speaking, would not be a good thing. If your sleep disruption is behaviorally based versus medically based.
Morgan: Yeah. So, taking a look at all these factors you've mentioned.
Rick: Yeah, you bet. Because it was medically based and you just can't sleep and it's causing all kinds of other things, well, you know what we need to use our judgment and all of these situations. However, I have had lots of conversations with people that don't want to make the behavioral changes and they continue to rationalize bad behaviors and suffer from a sleep perspective when I hear people rationalize things and they don't want to change their behaviors, I just refer to that as polishing a turd, Morgan. We need to stop that, we have to be better than that, and when we get better than that, we can enjoy unbelievably great health.
Morgan: Absolutely. So say we've had that bad night's sleep, we're tired at the end of the day, would taking a nap be able to replace some of that poor sleep?
Rick: Well, napping. So there are two things we will put in napping there. And then the other one is, I don't sleep all week long and so I sleep in on the weekends, can I play catch-up in some way, shape, or form?
Rick: So let's start with the naps. We have to be careful, Morgan. Hear, again, if you sleep like a champ and you get your seven and a half plus hours of undisrupted sleep, I mean, nap whenever you want, wherever you want not behind the wheel obviously when you're driving but it's not a problem. The challenge we have is that our body throughout the day builds up what we refer to as sleep pressure or sleep drive, right? The body gets sleepier and sleepier and sleepier and then you fall asleep. That's the way it's supposed to happen. It's just like food, you know, you get a little bit more hungry, a little bit more hungry, a little bit more hungry and then you feed yourself. So there's a hunger drive that builds up on our body and you have naps. What you can do is you can disrupt the process of building up sleep pressure or sleep drive.
So, here's an example. I know my wife is going to make a beautiful dinner one night. I'm coming home. I stopped at the corner store and I buy a big bag of pistachios and I eat the whole dang bag on the way home. How hungry am I when I get home?
Morgan: Not very.
Rick: Right. So if I have a nap and I know a number of people that will kind of come home from work and we'll have that big meal in the evening that shouldn't be having more. Then they sit down to watch the news and the next thing you know, they're napping and of course, they can't fall asleep. So what we need to do there is not have that nap, not have that big meal, to begin with, not have that nap, let that sleep pressure, and that sleep drive. Go for a walk, do something, don't put yourself into that stationary position where sleep is going to kind of overwhelm you, go somewhere, and then go to bed at a regular time.
You know, we all love a nap when we're on vacation, we're at the lake or we're here or we're there. But I will tell you during the week like I just don't nap, but I don't need to nap because I'm sleeping so well at night. If people need to nap a lot, well, I think we need to back it up a little bit again and say what do we do to get your nighttime sleep to where it's very, very effective in a high-quality, and then the napping will probably not be required as often. But be careful about the amount of napping that you do and how long those naps are because you will disrupt your sleep drive and sleep pressure.
The second thing I guess is if I go a bunch of nights with minimal sleep, can I catch up on the weekend? Well, really you can catch up from a fatigue perspective, but we have to understand that if we've lost all of those physiological benefits in terms of cognitive prevention, the muscle and bone healing you don't get that stuff back, right? We have lost the healing benefits of those nights so you can't get that back. You may get a really good sleep and be less fatigued but many of these other health issues are not resolved when you play catch-up and they shoot over and over and over again.
Morgan: That's another one I'm guilty of.
Rick: Hey, Morgan, man, we're moving you in the right direction.
Morgan: I am sending this episode to everyone I know!
Rick: And you know what yet? Regrettably, it is so pervasive within society and it's the number one talk that I'm asked to do for organizations quite frankly and they asked me to come out to the retreats and get this going because organizations understand how vital this is, not just for the performance of the organization, but if you believe in your people and that your people are your number one asset, I always say, "Well, people aren't the number one asset, healthy people are my number one asset." Really, sick people are not. So how can I help people to be the healthiest, possibly, for themselves first and their family second and the organization third and sleep is a vital part of that.
Rick: I talk to organizations all the time and we help to get things rejigged within the company, but the leadership team within the organization has to support the initiative to get people sleeping better.
Morgan: Okay, and our last topic we're going to touch on here is - what are your tips for people who travel for work?
Rick: And I do a lot so I travel, typically, a hundred to a hundred and twenty flights a year.
Rick: So this one kind of relates to me and you have to be pretty disciplined if you're going to be traveling that much. So, the things that we really encourage people to do when they travel is obviously, drink lots of water. When I go to Vancouver for example, from Edmonton, I stay in Alberta's time zone. I don't switch the time zones because I don't want to adjust my rhythm and that's easy to do, it's only one time zone. If you go to Toronto often, I'll try to stay in my time zone too because it's two hours difference there. I'll try to schedule meetings around my time zone, it's fine. But as soon as you go two hours or more than it gets difficult to maintain that. But when you can, try to maintain your sleep schedule. I have small dinners with a few carbs. We talked about that. I exercise in the morning religiously. That's so important. You may want to take a little bit of melatonin. So if you're doing multiple time zones, this is one little hack that you can do. You might want to take a little bit of melatonin the first or second night that you're there just to kind of help your body a bit.
And then if you're going west, stay up and go to bed at your regular time. So if I'm going to Hawaii, it is a number of times zones, about to go to bed on my regular time and get me going. If I'm going east, then I won't stay up. I'm going to get to bed as soon as I can there and start making the adjustments I need to. The things that I'm not going to do, Morgan, is I'm not going to be drinking very much alcohol at all. Because I know that that's a major sleep disruptor for me so I'm taking that right out. I'm not going to be drinking caffeine because I'm already dealing with time zones shifts which impact on your circadian rhythm. So I'm going to take all those other things out. I'm going to be cutting the junk food out, I'm not going to eat any high glycemic foods only low glycemic foods predominantly low glycemic foods to manage my blood sugar and I'm definitely going to as I do anyhow, I avoid the technology before I go to bed and I do not do work emails after 8 p.m.
Morgan: Great tips. Well, this has been, I think, extremely helpful. And to everyone listening, I hope you're not listening too late!
Rick: Yeah. Exactly.
Morgan: But I hope everyone listening can take something away from this. I wanted to ask you, Rick. I mean if people are looking to either learn more about you and the talks you give or to learn more about Copeman Healthcare. I'm going to have everything linked, but do you want to just give a quick blurb here about that?
Rick: Yeah, absolutely. So, for the audience here, my passion is helping people not to burn out like I did eleven years ago. Quite frankly, Morgan, it's not good. So that's really my “why” in life right now is helping other people not go there and sleep is a key part of it. I do a lot of talks as I mentioned earlier called, “Sleep is the Ultimate High-Performance Drug,” but I do a couple of others called, “Burning Bright Versus Burning Out” or “The Making of a Corporate Athlete” and so certainly happy to dialogue any organization about those particular topics. But the thing that brought me to Copeman Healthcare nine years ago, Morgan, was the fact that they are focused on prevention and early detection and took a team-based approach to optimizing people's health. So, whether that's an individual or a family or an executive team, we do all of that and I really, really believe that prevention and early detection is a better way.
And so if people want to get ahold of me you can go onto the internet look at Copeman Healthcare that's Copeman with a C as in Charlie - Copeman Healthcare and you can look up my name or just give anyone in the Copeman Healthcare Center a call and they know how to track me down. But I really look forward to having engaging conversations with people that want to make therapeutic lifestyle changes and create a happier, healthier, higher-performing version of themselves.
Morgan: Thank you so much, and I'd recommend to anyone listening as well especially our business owners to take a listen for our last episode with Rick as well to learn all about leadership well-being in particular.
Rick: Yeah. And maybe we get a chance to talk again, Morgan, maybe we'll talk about the making of a corporate athlete.
Morgan: Every time we talk, I'm just sitting here like eyes wide open. It's absolutely great. So, thank you so much for again coming on, Rick, and sharing all this awesome information.
Rick: Yeah. Stay well, and I hope you have a great day but a better night, Morgan.
Morgan: Thank you.
Morgan: I hope you enjoyed this episode of the Small Business Mastermind. I know I will personally be taking Rick's advice and making some changes to my daily routines.
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