Sleep & Stress

The Advanced Sleep Class with Dr. Benjamin Smarr

Boomer Anderson
January 9, 2019
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Dr. Benjamin Smarr returns for a deeper dive into sleep physiology, wearable technology, social jet lag, and the missed opportunities in health innovation.

“If people have been doing rotating shift work, the longer that they've not been doing it, the more all these bad effects tend to go away...which is amazing and wonderful. That's for adults. That's not for developing kids. But even so, I think saying I'm pregnant so I can never fly is probably overblown. I think it's more an issue of the chronic daily insults where you just don't get time to recover.”

Who is Dr. Benjamin Smarr?

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 gives 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.

Highlights on Sleep

  • [4:59] The importance of sleep cycles
  • [6:36] Is any sleep stage more important than another?
  • [11:04] Uberman, or Polyphasic sleep
  • [14:40] Social jet lag
  • [20:45] Circadian rhythms and pregnancy
  • [24:18] The role of circadian rhythms and inflammation
  • [27:40] Social jet lag, chronotypes, and student performance in the classroom.
  • [32:50] Testing your chronotype without genetics
  • [34:27] Dr. Smarr's take on the wearable market and the current best of breed. I do a deeper dive on this here.
  • [37:54] If Dr. Benjamin Smarr designed his own wearable, what would it look like?
  • [41:19] Global healthcare, data privacy, and other issues deterring health innovation
  • [43:59] Why do we know so little about sleep?
  • [49:59] Dr. Smarr's recent research with the "Gut Rig"
  • [52:09] The Quantified Self project Dr. Smarr and I were involved in together
  • [54:47] Dr. Smarr answers the final three questions

Resources Mentioned

Episode Transcript

Dr. Benjamin Smarr
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