Sleep & Stress

Investing in Sleep with Dr. Benjamin Smarr

Boomer Anderson
January 7, 2018
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“Your body is a network, when that network is disturbed it might not be able to tell exactly which node in the network is gonna go first. But I can definitely tell you that you’re at risk of breaking your network much more than somebody who is letting it line up nicely.”

Right before presenting on sleep genetics at the 2017 Quantified Self Conference in Amsterdam, I met Dr. Benjamin Smarr. We exchanged words and Dr. Smarr mentioned he studied sleep at the University of California at Berkeley. It was a bit nerve wracking to have a circadian biologist in the front row.

Dr. Benjamin Smarr studies the temporal structures that biological systems make as they move through time. An NIH research fellow at UC Berkeley, his work focuses on understanding how physiological dynamics like sleep, circadian rhythms, and ovulatory cycles are shaped by the brain, and how disturbances to those cycles give rise to disease. Dr. Smarr is also an advocate for scientific outreach, and routinely gives public lectures and visits K-12 classrooms to help promote the idea that by understanding the biology that guides us, we can live more empowered lives.

Key Highlights:

  • How to answer the question "what is sleep?"
  • Rethinking sleep as an investment, rather than a waste of time
  • Why circadian rhythms are important?
  • The danger of letting your body fall out of rhythm
  • How sleep deprivation ties into our circadian rhythms
  • The reasons why jet lag is so painful
  • How genetics plays a role in your chronotype
  • Dr. Smarr’s top recommendations for improving your sleep (hint: stop reading/watching the news so late)

Episode Transcript

Dr. Benjamin Smarr
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