Home » Blog » Dr. Craig Heller on Cool Hands and Temperature Regulation for Better Performance and Sleep

Dr. Craig Heller on Cool Hands and Temperature Regulation for Better Performance and Sleep

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Katie: Hi there and welcome to “The Wellness Mama Podcast.” I’m Katie from wellnessmama.com and wellnesse.com, that’s wellness with an E on the top. And this episode is lots about temperature, sleep, studying, and much more. That is an thrilling one for me. I’m right here with Dr. Craig Heller, who’s a physician at Yale. He obtained his PhD from Yale in 1970. He did a post-doctorate fellowship on the Scripps Establishment of Oceanography. He joined Stanford College in 1972, the place he’s now the Lorry Lokey Enterprise Wire Professor of Biology and Human Biology. He’s held many positions at Stanford. And he’s executed a whole lot of analysis targeted on the neurobiology of sleep, circadian rhythms and thermoregulation, together with on issues like mammalian hibernation, and temperature controls. And this is without doubt one of the causes I wished to have him on right this moment, to speak about an interesting…the Stanford cool mitt examine.

And we go deep on a whole lot of these subjects, together with how he received into warmth alternate analysis, the fascinating approach that the mind regulates physique temperature and the way this can be utilized to our profit for athletic efficiency, for sleep. He talks concerning the astounding examine the place they’d somebody go from 180 pull-ups over units…in units of 10, 10 units, to 618 by including a cooling protocol, and he offers some tips for the way we are able to all experiment with this in our personal lives.

We discuss lots about temperature regulation and sleep hygiene, methods to enhance sleep that may be helpful to your youngsters as properly. We speak about mild and circadian rhythms, and a lot extra. He was such a enjoyable interview for me. I’ve adopted his work for a very long time, and he’s capable of give some actually sensible purposes for a few of his actually fascinating areas of analysis. I do know that you’ll get pleasure from this interview. I actually did, and I’m excited to use a few of his concepts to my very own experimentation with athletic efficiency and likewise sleep. So with out additional ado, let’s be part of Dr. Heller. Dr. Heller, welcome. And thanks so, a lot for being right here.

Craig: Nicely, my pleasure. Thanks for inviting me.

Katie: I’m very excited to speak with you. I’ve adopted your work and have so, many instructions I wish to go right this moment. However earlier than we soar into the science facet, I’ve notes in my present notes about some wonderful issues that you’ve got executed. And I’ve to listen to somewhat bit about swimming on the North Pole and the truth that you probably did a thousand pushups in your sixtieth birthday. That’s unbelievable.

Craig: You bought my deepest secrets and techniques there. No, the journey to the North Pole was a Stanford alumni journey wherein I used to be the college host and the speaker, and my daughter and I at all times had a pact that at any time when we took a hike and we got here to a brand new lake, we needed to soar in. It didn’t matter what time of yr. So, once I had the possibility to go to the North Pole, I instantly referred to as her up and mentioned, okay, that is our probability. We’ve received to take a swim on the North Pole. And we did.

Katie: That’s wonderful. The farthest north I’ve been is the Lapland space of Finland. And we did the sauna after which received within the…it was 24-degree water, however transferring water. So, it wasn’t frozen. And that’s positively the coldest I’ve ever skilled. It was subsequent stage.

Craig: It’s fairly a shock. However zero is zero. No, freezing is freezing. So, whether or not you’re within the Sierra, Nevada, the place we hike lots, or on the North Pole, it’s just about the identical chilly publicity.

Katie: That’s a very good level. And it’s a very good segue as a result of we’re gonna discuss fairly a bit about chilly right this moment and, particularly, a few of your analysis round this. I really feel like there’s some base phrases we are able to outline after which delve into the specifics of what you discovered. However I’d love to listen to how you bought into this…sort of you’ve found a novel warmth alternate property with sure areas of pores and skin. So, perhaps stroll us into how you bought into that analysis.

Craig: Nicely, it form of got here from a problem or a wager that a whole lot of my work needed to do with how the mind regulates physique temperature and that after all was work with animals, together with hibernators. And at some point a buddy who’s an anesthesiologist challenged my colleague and I and mentioned, “Nicely, you assume, you realize, so, a lot about temperature regulation. I wager you couldn’t resolve an issue we’ve within the restoration room.” “Nicely, what’s that?” Nicely, sufferers come into restoration very chilly, they’re hypothermic, and it takes them and it takes the nurses hours to get them to cease shivering and so they rip stitches, they even break enamel and the beds are virtually leaping up and down with the shivering. I mentioned to my buddy, you realize, “Nicely, that’s a trivial downside.” Nicely, no, it’s not a trivial downside. It’s a really troublesome downside as a result of while you’re hypothermic in anesthesia and also you’re popping out of anesthesia, you might be very chilly and also you constrict your entire blood vessels.

You retain the blood within the core of your physique, and due to this fact, it’s laborious to get warmth throughout the pores and skin. So, for those who use sizzling blankets, for those who use radiant heaters, it’s very laborious to rewarm these sufferers. So, we received the concept that, “Nicely, we may put an arm or a leg right into a chamber with a detrimental strain, a vacuum, that will pull blood into that arm or leg. After which we may warmth that arm or leg and that will then ship warmth to the remainder of the physique.” So, my colleague, Dennis Gron, he constructed an equipment to do this. He took it over to the restoration room and, properly, within the first affected person, there was no shivering. It was like 8 to 10 minutes and the affected person was again as much as regular. And we couldn’t perceive why this was unbelievably profitable.

And simply to make a protracted story brief, we ultimately came upon that it had solely needed to do with the hand, not the entire arm. After which we got here to the belief that what we have been coping with was a mammalian adaptation for warmth loss. In case you are a mammal, you might have fur. We’re uncommon mammals. In case you have a fur coat, it’s nice within the wintertime, however for those who can’t take it off in the summertime, that’s an issue. So, mammals can have issues dissipating warmth in the summertime. So, the one areas of their physique that don’t have fur are the pads of the ft, the tongue, the nostril, the ears, and in primates, the higher a part of the face.

And what we found… We didn’t uncover it, however within the outdated anatomical literature, there are particular blood vessels in these non-hairy pores and skin areas. And people blood vessels have been completely not understood as to what they have been for. And what they’re is that they’re shunts between the arteries and the veins. Usually, the blood goes from arteries via capillaries to veins, and capillaries are excessive resistance. So, what this shunt does is it bypasses the resistance so you’ll be able to ship massive volumes of blood via these pores and skin areas and, due to this fact, dissipate warmth. So, you’ll be able to inform straight away, while you shake somebody’s hand what his or her thermal standing is. You couldn’t inform that for those who touched his or her arm. So, we found this fairly normal mammalian adaptation for dissipating warmth. And we have been simply utilizing it in reverse to heat the sufferers within the restoration room.

Katie: And that is so fascinating to me. Simply out of curiosity, why are sufferers so chilly popping out of anesthesia? Is that this a facet impact of the anesthesia itself after which the physique having to re-regulate?

Craig: Nicely, while you’re below anesthesia, you’re completely vasodilated. I imply, there’s no constriction of the blood vessels. And in addition, working rooms are usually chilly so the surgeons and the nurses don’t sweat. And in addition, they’re not clothed and perhaps they’re being irrigated with fluids. So, it’s quite common for physique temperature to drop throughout anesthesia.

Katie: That is smart. Okay. And so, I’ll butcher the pronunciation of this, however from what I’ve learn, these are the glabrous areas of pores and skin, the fingers and the face?

Craig: Sure. Proper. It’s primarily non-hairy pores and skin. Now we expect we don’t have bushy pores and skin, however we do. There are hair follicles in all of our pores and skin, besides these specific areas. So, we’re uncommon mammals, however we’ve the identical anatomical constructions.

Katie: And so they’re distinctive as a result of the blood can go straight from… They principally skip the capillaries, it will probably go straight from veins to arteries?

Craig: That’s proper. Goes truly from arteries to veins.

Katie: Arteries to veins. Received it.

Craig: Yeah. After which that cool blood goes proper again to the center, and from the center, it goes out to the muscle groups which are working. Okay? So, you’re cooling the muscle groups from the within out fairly from the skin in.

Katie: And so, with anesthesia, you guys discovered this innate capacity to heat, however on the opposite facet of this equation, it has some actually cool implications due to its capacity to really cool, from what I perceive? And I do know there’s some wonderful analysis on this, however, primarily, I suppose my top-level understanding is it’s that warmth of the muscle groups that’s one of many limiting elements throughout train, it sort of results in that suggestions mechanism and tells us to cease and that we are able to sort of use this similar factor to our benefit within the different route?

Craig: You’re good. That’s an awesome rationalization. Yeah. Completely. One other characteristic of being mammals is we’ve a excessive physique temperature. So, we’re up round 37 levels, that’s centigrade or 98.6 Fahrenheit. And once we train, our temperature goes up. And we don’t have a whole lot of scope. If we stand up to 40 levels, 39 or 40 levels centigrade or 100, 101 levels Fahrenheit, we’re in bother. That positively is a hazard zone for people. And that’s referred to as hyperthermia. So, it’s very simple with heavy train, and particularly within the sizzling setting… Consider ultra-marathoners in Demise Valley, you realize, they’re actually, actually taking it to the restrict and difficult their our bodies. So, if you will get that warmth out of the physique, the muscle groups can carry on working. And we found that as a result of we have been concerned with seeing what the appropriate parameters have been for extracting warmth.

In different phrases, what ought to the temperature be? What ought to the vacuum be? What ought to be the stream price? And so forth. We had a analysis assistant who was a gymnasium rat, and he would go to the gymnasium at night time after work. And so, we mentioned to him, “Why don’t you do your exercise right here within the lab, and that’ll increase your physique temperature, after which we’ll see what are the very best parameters for extracting that warmth.” So, he was doing pull-ups. He was doing 10 units of pull-ups to muscle failure with three-minute rests. After which on the finish of that sequence of 10 pull-ups, we might measure his temperature and apply our prototype units to extract the warmth. And at some point after we extracted the warmth, he went again to the pull-up bar and did the identical variety of pull-ups as in his first set and we mentioned, “Holy crow, what does that imply? The fatigue is gone.” And it needed to do with the temperature of the muscle. That’s what we found. So, we then began cooling him after each different set of pull-ups, and his efficiency plateaued to a sure extent. So, he elevated his work quantity dramatically from at some point to the subsequent.

Katie: And I received to learn a abstract of that examine, and it was actually astounding to me as a result of this was not a small, similar to marginal enchancment. This was a drastic distinction in efficiency even with out a whole lot of relaxation days in between or any of the conventional belongings you would assume could be essential.

Craig: So, simply to provide the numbers, in that one specific preliminary discovery, once we began cooling him after each different set of pull-ups, he went from a complete of 180 pull-ups, which is already wonderful, to 618 pull-ups in 10 units. It’s outstanding.

Katie: That actually, actually is astounding. That’s nearly what…nearly a 4X inference, which actually speaks to primarily understanding that it’s not essentially the muscle energy that’s the limiting think about these exercises, it’s that warmth. And from what we are able to inform within the information, is that this a secure approach to truly manipulate that, like cooling the physique truly lets the physique safely carry out at that stage?

Craig: Proper. You can’t decrease the physique temperature…why this method… These vessels will shut down if it will get too chilly. That’s why placing your hand in a bucket of ice water gained’t work. It simply shuts down the warmth loss. So, it’s secure, from that regard, you’ll be able to’t induce hypothermia. So, the hazard is that for those who get to too excessive ranges of efficiency, you truly begin doing injury to your tendons and ligaments. So, it’s good to have coaches and trainers to guard in opposition to that. However that’s on the excessive finish.

Katie: And doubtless most of us in regular on a regular basis exertion usually are not hitting the higher limits of athletic capacity. That is only a actually wonderful software. And I might guess additionally, has simply vital implications to grasp for the extra excessive instances as properly. Like, as an illustration, somebody who’s hypothermic, you discovered, you’ll be able to heat them. If somebody is having perhaps warmth stroke, I might guess the identical is true, the simplest approach to cool them is to chill the fingers, ft, and face, however not overcool it. So, not ice water however cool water?

Craig: Completely. You may have it. And though that is for athletic coaching… So, you talked about rising energy. Nicely, that’s for positive. What occurs is that while you enhance your exercise, you enhance your work quantity, the result’s a conditioning impact. This reaching of 618 pull-ups, that was over a interval of perhaps six weeks…six to eight weeks. However what you see is you see every day, you’ll be able to perform a little bit extra after which the remainder intervals between bouts of train, that’s while you get the hypertrophy of the muscle, the improved conditioning. So, you positively have impact. I had a gaggle of freshman girls who have been doing an experiment that was a part of a seminar they have been in. So, we had them doing pushups. And a few of these freshman girls, not athletes, they received to over 800 pushups. And so they got here in at some point and so they mentioned, “Dr. Heller, you value us some huge cash.” Why? “We had a proper dance this weekend. All of us had to purchase new sleeveless clothes.”

Katie: That’s so humorous. And I’m curious, do we’ve any greatest practices based mostly on the analysis you’ve executed of the very best methods to include this? I work with some athletes in rising their athletic efficiency, I’m additionally personally on a journey of getting stronger and weightlifting, after which I’ve children who’re athletes. So, it makes me curious of, how can we use this in our personal lives? Like, are there greatest practices for the way lengthy, or what temperature, or what that protocol seems like?

Craig: Sure, there are. To begin with, you might test… We’re simply popping out with a brand new machine that might be accessible that’s now in form of beta testing in a variety of athletic groups, and with athletes, and with firefighters, and with army particular forces. However you’ll be able to test it out on the web site, coolmitt.com, C-O-O-L-M-I-T-T.com. And that provides you an concept of what’s accessible now or will quickly be accessible and the way it’s greatest used.

However temperature is vital. So, for athletes or folks which are understanding repeatedly, we form of set the temperature between 12 and 15 levels centigrade, temperature of the water. However, for some folks, that’s too chilly. So, an instance is we’ve labored with a whole lot of a number of sclerosis sufferers. And people with a number of sclerosis may be very temperature-sensitive. If the temperature goes up somewhat bit, both the room temperature, the out of doors temperature, or the physique temperatures, their signs are exacerbated. And with these people, the cooling significantly reduces their signs. They’ll return to regular functioning and never have to remain in air-conditioned locations. However, for them, for those who cool their palm or surfaces, these palms of the fingers, beneath about 23 levels centigrade, then they may vasoconstrict. So, for these people normally about 20 levels was a very good temperature.

Katie: Okay. So, sort of a rudimentary approach to experiment with this seems like it will be to have cool water in that temperature vary and a cooler or one thing and take a look at placing the fingers in between units or sprints or exercises?

Craig: So, that’s primarily like faucet water. Okay? Let me return to one thing you talked about about security. I feel that is actually an vital concern as a result of yearly there are highschool athletes that go into heatstroke within the late summer time, early fall, with athletic practices. Now, in each single faculty, you might have defibrillators, however what number of college students get coronary heart assaults? None. However many, many go into warmth sickness or warmth stroke yearly. And there are even fatalities on account of heatstroke as a consequence of observe..not competitors, however observe.

So, I feel worrying about methods of quickly cooling these people is essential. Now, the advice for Nationwide Collegiate Athletic Affiliation is immersion in chilly water. And that completely works. That’s tremendous for those who immerse the entire physique in chilly water, however you don’t essentially have chilly water tub accessible each place. Whereas, for those who assault the glabrous pores and skin, you’ll be able to apply it instantly. Even at first contact with the affected person, you’ll be able to apply it and it’ll deliver them again.

Katie: Yeah. And a few follow-ups associated to this, simply from a proportion perspective, I take into consideration like, while you take a look at every other substance that we are able to use for athletic efficiency, even steroids, you’re not getting this type of enhancements. And this can be a secure, non-invasive, non-injectable, non-supplement temperature regulation, and also you’re not even speaking about excessive temperature. So, even earlier than that is extra mainstream adopted, which I agree with you, this ought to be in colleges, it’s a factor I really feel like as people and oldsters, we are able to implement to assist our children and to assist ourselves with coaching.

Craig: Yeah. Completely. And you place your finger proper on the vital button, persons are prepared to strive all kinds of issues that aren’t good for them. Efficiency-enhancing medication, they’re completely unhealthy information. And this truly is far more efficacious than performance-enhancing medication. Now, you talked about weight lifting, and we’re speaking about that form of energy conditioning, but it surely’s additionally true for endurance sports activities. Now, with the present units that we’ve constructed, we are able to’t take them outside and use them repeatedly. We are able to use them episodically. However we’re within the means of designing and constructing wearable techniques. And this might be crucial, for instance, for firefighters. And in addition, we received onto this as a result of we received emails from Ebola staff in Sierra Leone. They mentioned, you realize, “We’ve got to care for these sufferers, and we go into the recent zone in our PPE, private protecting tools, and we are able to’t be in there for greater than 15, 20 minutes. So, isn’t there one thing you are able to do?” So, that set us on the monitor of making an attempt to construct wearable techniques.

Katie: Yeah. I can see so many potential makes use of, and I’m actually excited to maintain following the work you’re doing on this. I even have simply anecdotally observed, in myself, the identical is true in excessive chilly as properly. Not within the working room, however I really like doing chilly plunges typically for athletic restoration, and I’ve discovered that it’s my fingers and my ft that restrict how lengthy I can get in there. And once I put on scuba gloves, like neoprene socks and gloves, I can get a lot extra muscle profit with out feeling as chilly and with out hitting that shiver level as quickly.

Craig: Proper. So, I wager while you come out, in a few minutes, you begin shivering. Yeah. So, what’s taking place is you’re shedding warmth from your entire peripheral tissue, your legs, your arms, and so forth. After which while you get out, your physique begins sending blood again into these limbs and it comes again into the core of your physique chilly. After which that’s while you see the extraordinary shivering.

Katie: That is smart. And, clearly, we’ve gotten to delve into the athletic and efficiency advantages of this, however there’s a lot extra associated to temperature than simply athletic efficiency. And I do know you’ve executed analysis in different areas as properly and that there’s some crossover right here into the sleep world, which I feel might be a very good segue. I do know I’m an enormous fan of sleeping with a chili pad, which cools my sleep setting. And there’s to be some well-established information on sleep temperature affecting issues like deep sleep, as an illustration, and sleep length and variety of wake-ups. However let’s simply begin broad and discuss somewhat bit about your sleep analysis as properly.

Craig: Nicely, the sleep analysis is sort of various. And very long time in the past, we did analysis on temperature and sleep, and what occurs to our regulation of physique temperature throughout sleep. Most lately, my sleep analysis has to do with the position of sleep and circadian rhythms in studying in reminiscence. And particularly, we’re engaged on down syndrome, which is a situation that’s very, very…it’s the commonest genetic reason for cognitive mental incapacity. And so, we’ve been working in that space. However going again to temperature, one of many attention-grabbing issues that was our first discovery was that, you realize, we’ve two sleep states. We’ve got REM sleep, fast eye motion sleep, which is one we’ve vivid goals and nightmares. Okay? After which we’ve non-rapid eye motion sleep, which is about 80% of our sleep.

And one of many attention-grabbing issues we discovered a very long time in the past was that in REM sleep, we don’t regulate our physique temperature. The inner thermostat is turned off. That’s only a facet remark. Throughout non-REM sleep, we do regulate our physique temperature, however at a decrease stage than throughout wake. So, the thermostat within the mind is about to a decrease stage while you fall asleep. Now, for those who fall asleep and also you’re feeling cool within the night, which is probably going, you’ll pull on a lot of covers. Okay? And quarter-hour later, you get up sweating as a result of what’s occurred is you insulated your self to the temperature of your physique…to your regulated temperature earlier than sleep, your thermostat will get set down and now you’re too sizzling.

So, it’s true {that a} cool setting is significantly better for sleeping. And the rationale for that ties these two areas of analysis collectively. What occurs while you’re too sizzling in mattress? You stick out your fingers otherwise you stick out your ft from below the covers, proper? So, for those who’re in a heat setting, that doesn’t assist. However for those who’re in a cool setting, that makes it doable to return again into the regulated temperature that your mind is telling you you ought to be at.

Katie: That is smart. And I’ve learn how there’s that…mammals have that adaptation of that our physique temperature does are inclined to go up, I feel somewhat bit, throughout sleep, which I’ve heard it defined, it got here from sleeping on the bottom and the temperature on the bottom would deliver your physique temperature down, so we developed that adaptation to warmth the physique. However now we’re sleeping in these temperature-controlled environments, and such as you mentioned, we get sizzling in the midst of the night time.

Craig: Nicely, yeah. Generally, temperature goes down with sleep. It goes down with the circadian timing of sleep as properly. It comes again up and it begins coming again up within the morning earlier than you get up. Okay? So, temperatures usually decrease late within the day than round midday, however then while you fall asleep, it takes an additional dip. There’s an organization that I’ve been an advisor for referred to as Eight Sleep, and so they make a mattress which is temperature-controlled. However, as well as, you’ll be able to program it to a temperature cycle that greatest matches your physique’s settings. Okay? And lately, the San Francisco 49ers purchased these beds for all of their gamers, and so they love them. They are saying they’re getting significantly better sleep.

Katie: Having experimented with the temperature regulation at night time, I’ll say it spoils you although. Now once I journey, I miss with the ability to be cool at night time. However from understanding this, would it not be logical to then assume that if somebody wore simply the cool mitt throughout sleep, it will have the same and even doubtlessly greater impact, or would you not wish to put on that in sleep?

Craig: I feel it will have an impact. I don’t essentially know that it will be greater. The opposite factor is simply cooling earlier than you fall asleep. So, for those who used it earlier than sleep so it removed any extra warmth load that you’ve got… Let’s say you probably did a exercise within the night, you’re going to go to mattress with an additional warmth load. So, for those who may take that warmth load away, it will facilitate your sleep.

Katie: That is smart. I’ve observed, and I don’t assume most individuals wish to do that, but when I get within the chilly plunge like an hour or so earlier than bedtime, my deep sleep numbers enhance, which is smart, in mild of what you simply mentioned, however I really feel like most individuals aren’t gonna be gung-ho about leaping into chilly water proper earlier than mattress. So, this could be a neater, gentler method.

Craig: Yeah. Proper. I feel so.

Katie: And I feel sleep is an enormous concern for mothers, particularly with children at varied ages and what comes together with that. So, based mostly in your analysis, what are a few of these sensible issues we are able to pull that could be suggestions to assist enhance sleep high quality and length based mostly on what you’re seeing within the analysis?

Craig: Nicely, there was an enormous sea change within the sleep medication world within the final decade or so. And 20 years in the past, the massive factor have been sleeping tablets, all kinds of various sorts of sleeping tablets. And plenty of of them are nonetheless accessible now and are used and are literally prescribed for individuals who have severe issues. However these medication have issues as properly. You grow to be acclimated to them, and due to this fact the doses must go up, must go up, must go up. And so they have uncomfortable side effects, okay? So, what has occurred within the sleep medication world within the final 10, 15 years, has been the rise of behavioral remedy, cognitive-behavioral remedy. And that’s used to enhance sleep hygiene. So, sleep hygiene seems like a wierd idea, however it’s. It’s what you are able to do to enhance the standard of your sleep.

And there are simple issues similar to have a scheduled bedtime. Don’t simply work till you are feeling as for those who don’t wish to work anymore after which go to mattress. You recognize, don’t do this. Have a scheduled bedtime. And don’t work, or don’t do issues that you’d usually be doing throughout the day for the hour or hour and a half, two hours earlier than bedtime. Okay? One of many vital issues is to not use computer systems as a result of computer systems have a whole lot of blue mild. And what blue mild does is, within the night, publicity to blue mild phase-delays your circadian system. So, it makes you react as if it’s not as late because it actually is. Okay? So, you don’t wish to phase-delay your circadian system. You need your circadian clock to favor sleep on the proper time.

One other factor is simply preserve a particular sleep setting, and that is referred to as contextual conditioning, so that you just solely affiliate the bed room with sleep and intercourse. That’s it, you realize? Not work, you don’t use your bed room as an workplace. Now, for individuals who dwell in effectivity residences, that could be troublesome, however there are methods you are able to do it in organising the room. And, after all, the vital factor is your personal habits. Flip off the pc an hour earlier than mattress. Don’t attempt to be considering proper up till bedtime after which count on your mind’s gonna shut off and fall asleep.

Katie: And I’ve observed that mild manipulation within the morning additionally appears to have an enormous affect on sleep patterns as properly. And I inform folks this lots, it’s a free…appears so easy, and it has such a profound affect, simply going outdoors. Even when it’s a cloudy day, simply going outdoors while you get up, begins that clock.

Craig: Oh, yeah. Outdoors mild, even on a cloudy day is tons of…no, hundreds of occasions brighter than your inside mild. We don’t notice it as a result of our eyes quickly alter to the sunshine stage. However while you go outdoors, you get a lot, a lot larger visible stimulation, mild stimulation. And early morning mild, together with train, is nice for retaining your circadian clock synchronized. Your circadian clock just isn’t operating at precisely 24 hours. So, some persons are early, they’re larks, and different persons are owls, they have a tendency to run later every single day. However one of many methods you retain your clock in sync with the true world is that mild publicity within the morning.

Katie: And also you’ve additionally, from my studying, executed some work particular to insomnia. And this can be a downside I hear from increasingly people who find themselves seeming to expertise insomnia. Do you might have any insomnia-specific suggestions?

Craig: I’m not an skilled on insomnia in any respect. And the first therapies or the really helpful therapies for insomnia are the cognitive behavioral remedy, organising a sample of sleep so that you just count on to sleep, you’re prepared for sleep, you’re in the appropriate place for sleep every single day. Now, for people who find themselves actually, actually, you realize, horrible insomniacs, there are protocols which are used. So, one of many issues that’s used is a protocol wherein the people are solely allowed to be in mattress for, let’s say, six hours or seven hours. Okay?

And so, day after day, they’re solely allowed to be in mattress for six hours. So, they’re gonna get a sleep debt. They’re going to get, you realize, strain for sleep. Okay. So, then permit them seven hours. Okay. So, ultimately, get to a degree the place while you go to mattress, you might be tuned to sleep. So, it appears counterproductive to deprive somebody of sleep who has insomnia, however that’s a approach of getting their system again in sync with the way in which it ought to be functioning.

Katie: That is smart. I hadn’t thought of that method.

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You additionally talked about REM sleep being the time of goals and nightmares. And that is truly a breakfast dialog lately at my home that I might love to have the ability to clarify to my children higher, however why can we dream? What’s taking place to our brains throughout your dream states?

Craig: Nicely, once we are in REM sleep, we’re paralyzed. There’s inhibition of all the instructions going out to our muscle groups. So, the supposed rationale for this, the evolutionary rationale, is that it prevents us from performing out our goals. Okay? So, performing out goals just isn’t sleepwalking. Sleepwalking happens in non-REM sleep. However performing out goals for somebody who has REM sleep problem, they will injure themselves or their sleeping companions due to violent actions. They’ll stand up from mattress and begin to run and run into one thing. They’ll do one thing very violent, like break furnishings or put their head via a wall. It’s unbelievable what folks can do with REM habits dysfunction. So, to forestall that, or the rationale we don’t do that’s our muscle groups are primarily paralyzed throughout REM sleep.

And that additionally applies to a few of the sensory enter. So, what’s taking place within the mind throughout REM sleep is the mind is reactivated. So, for those who take a look at the electroencophilic REM, the EEG, the EEG of REM sleep seems similar to wakefulness as a result of the cortex of the mind, the considering cap of the mind, is reactivated. Okay? So, that reactivation is unbiased of any suggestions from muscle groups and any sensory enter. So, it’s like placing the mind in impartial. It may possibly simply freely affiliate. And that’s why we get these…what appear to be cheap goals once we’re dreaming, however then once we get up, we notice how weird they have been. They’re simply completely unrealistic. However they might have elements of issues that have been on our minds earlier than we went to sleep, issues that occurred the day earlier than. Nevertheless it’s a course of, I feel, of free affiliation of data within the mind, not constrained by sensory suggestions from muscle groups and joints and from eyes and ears, and so forth.

Katie: And I don’t know if that is true, you’ll be able to verify or deny for me, however I’ve learn that typically while you’re falling asleep and you’ve got that have of like jolting for a second, that that’s the physique sort of testing to see in case you are going into that state of paralysis. Is that proper or is that city fable?

Craig: It’s most likely a fable. And the reason being that besides in sure pathological situations, we don’t go into REM sleep instantly from wakefulness. We at all times enter sleep via non-REM sleep after which after… Nicely, once we go to mattress after about perhaps 60 minutes, we’ll have our first REM episode. Okay? After which it cycles all through the night time, about 5 cycles of non-REM, REM, non-REM, REM. And far more REM late within the night time, a a lot deeper non-REM early within the night time. So, what you’re enthusiastic about or speaking about might be this drowsy state or what we name stage one non-REM sleep in which there’s nonetheless some affiliation with wakeful expertise. And rapidly, it’s possible you’ll notice you’re falling asleep after which you might have some transient arousal that you just return as much as wakefulness. So, it’s that tough stage between wakefulness and sleep that isn’t secure, and that can lead to… One other factor it ends in is an enormous phrase, hypnagogic hallucinations. So, it’s as soon as once more, form of like a dreamlike situation, but it surely’s not REM sleep.

Katie: Okay. That’s useful to grasp. And I’d love to speak somewhat bit extra about sleep phases. And perhaps now that issues like Oura rings and trackers have gotten extra well-liked, folks have extra information associated to their sleep. I’ve learn that deep sleep is a reparative state of the physique and that it’s an vital factor to guarantee that we’re getting sufficient deep sleep. I’ve observed in my very own life, like I mentioned, cool appears to assist deep sleep in addition to not consuming too near bedtime, getting morning daylight. However is {that a} appropriate understanding, that we ought to be prioritizing this deep restfulness, and what are a few of the methods we are able to hopefully result in better-quality sleep?

Craig: Yeah. Nicely, you simply talked about one thing very attention-grabbing, and that isn’t consuming too late. That has one other impact, and that’s weight achieve. That the identical variety of energy eaten late has a a lot greater impact on physique weight than eaten earlier. So, to keep up physique weight, even with no food plan or what have you ever, for those who take late eaters and you place them on a extra cheap schedule, like consuming at 5:00 or 6:00 within the night, you realize, 6:00, 7:00 within the night, they may drop a few pounds even with out imposing any dietary restrictions. So, that’s perhaps not what you have been considering, however there are many well being… Nicely, let me simply say this. To begin with, we spend one-third of our lives sleeping, however we don’t know why. So, I can’t offer you any definitive reply.

I can provide you solutions which are partial, in different phrases, concepts about what sleep features are and why we all know that or why we expect that, however there’s nobody who can say sleep is for this specific perform. It most likely has many features. And we now are understanding that the evolution of sleep is way deeper than we thought beforehand as a result of our major approach of finding out sleep has been the electroencephalogram. The electroencephalogram is just good for mammals and birds which have a cerebral cortex. Okay? So, it wasn’t helpful for finding out turtles, and fish, and snakes, and lizards, and different issues.

However now we’re starting to make use of completely different metrics for figuring out sleep and traits of sleep. And it appears the farther again we go within the evolutionary historical past, the extra proof we discover for sleep-like states. Now, whether or not they serve the identical perform in all animals, we don’t know. So, we’re just about restricted to finding out… For practical research, we just about restricted to mammals, however there’s increasingly research being executed on different species similar to fruit flies, zebrafish. And these are actually well-liked fashions for finding out sleep.

Katie: Yeah. And shorter lifespan makes them simpler to check. That’s actually fascinating about… I do know there’s analysis behind that of not consuming near bedtime and I do know it’s not as socially enjoyable or simple to adapt usually to our regular way of life, however I do discover probably the most distinction once I cease consuming by even like 4:00 or 5:00 within the afternoon. And with regards to like time-restricted feeding, doing that earlier within the day, which… it looks as if physiologically our our bodies are designed to soak up and break down energy earlier within the day anyway, and we’ve that longer digestive interval the place we expect we’re fasting, however we nonetheless have meals in our physique. And so, giving time for that earlier than sleep. And I really feel like all dialogue on sleep and temperature, I might be remiss to not ask, and I’ve a be aware to ask you about hibernation and bears. I do know, completely a deviation, however I’m so curious simply to listen to somewhat bit about that.

Craig: Oh, yeah. So, I’ve executed a whole lot of work in my profession on hibernators, however nearly all small hibernators, as a result of you’ll be able to preserve them within the lab. So, floor squirrels and chipmunks, and hamsters, and so forth. And we’ve executed lots to indicate that hibernation is admittedly an evolutionary extension of sleep. That downward regulation of physique temperature throughout sleep is exaggerated in hibernators. And the opposite factor which isn’t exaggerated however dampened is the circadian system. As a result of the circadian system features to wake us up, it helps alertness fairly than sleep. So, there are animals that go into toper every day, so their circadian system continues to be waking them up on the finish of the sleep section. However in different animals which are true hibernators, they may go into toper for a lot of days, perhaps seven, eight days.

So, what we present in these animals is that the circadian system is dampened approach, approach, approach down. So, in a few of them, it nonetheless continues to perform and may very well be what brings them out of hibernation each seven days or so. However the query was at all times, what about bears? You recognize, folks have argued whether or not bears hibernate or not. So, positive, they disappear within the winter, they go into their winter dens, however there was some proof that they have been nonetheless pretty heat. They weren’t actually in deep hibernation. So, fairly just a few years in the past, some colleagues and I made a decision we have been gonna reply this query. And one in every of my colleagues, Brian Barnes, was at College of Alaska the place bears are widespread. So, what we did is we constructed a facility at College of Alaska the place we may preserve bears over winter, and we may instrument them with EEG and EMG. So, electroencephalogram, electromyogram, electrooculogram, physique temperature, metabolism, and so forth and so forth, and examine all of them winter lengthy.

And it’s true that they… The place did the bears come from? There’s a “three strikes you’re out” regulation in Alaska that if a bear is an issue bear and it comes right into a neighborhood, will probably be trapped and brought away and launched. Nicely, it’s collared then, so that they know who’s who. And if the bear comes again 3 times then it’s eradicated, it’s euthanized. So, we requested the Alaska Fish and Sport to allow us to have a few these bears every winter. So, through the years, we’ve studied 18 bears. And this is a gigantic, monumental quantity of information as a result of, you realize, EEG is one thing which is being collected on a frequency of lower than a second, you realize, many occasions per second. So, you’ll be able to think about the quantity of recordings, the information recordsdata. So, we’re analyzing all of that now.

However what we discovered is the bears do go into toper, however they go down solely to about 32, 33 levels physique temperature. They don’t have these periodic arousals throughout the winter just like the small hibernators do each 5, 6, 7 days, they arrive out of hibernation and return in once more. The opposite factor that’s attention-grabbing is that the small hibernators, as they enter hibernation, they lose REM sleep. They’ve then nearly steady what appears to be steady with non-REM sleep. And the bears have REM and non-REM sleep throughout hibernation. And the opposite factor is that they lose their circadian rhythms. In the course of the hibernation season, they now not have a circadian rhythm and within the spring, that begins to return again. So, these are the types of issues we’re studying concerning the bears.

Katie: That’s so fascinating and doubtless very enjoyable analysis to get to do. That sounds thrilling.

Craig: Yeah. And it may have crucial medical purposes in a while as a result of within the induction of hypothermia, may very well be a beneficial process to have the ability to use on stroke victims, coronary heart assault victims, individuals who have had traumatic accidents. However there’s lots we don’t find out about how the human physique features at low temperature. So, if we learn how the bears, one other large mammal, how the bears have tailored to perform at a decrease temperature, that might have medical purposes.

Katie: Nicely, I’m excited to maintain following your analysis on that. And some questions I wanna be certain we’ve time to get via, you talked about your analysis on studying and reminiscence, and I might love to only hear what the aim is with that and the present state of what you’re taking a look at associated to studying and reminiscence.

Craig: Nicely, we got here to this due to a graduate scholar of a colleague. His identify is Fabian Fernandez. He’s now a professor at College of Arizona and he began investigating studying and reminiscence in a mouse mannequin of down syndrome. And the mouse mannequin has extreme studying deficits similar to people with down syndrome do. And Fabian got here up with the concept that… And we take into consideration the nervous system nearly as a puppet grasp pulling strings, you realize, the neuron fires, and the muscle twitches. And what Fabian mentioned is we have a tendency to consider the nervous system an excessive amount of when it comes to excitation, however what about inhibition? You recognize, inhibition is essential. So, the mind has to have a steadiness of excitation/inhibition. So, he thought perhaps it’s the inhibition which is simply too excessive.

So, the very first thing we did is we did research of sleep and circadian rhythms in these mice and we discovered there have been no dramatic variations in sleep. And really, their circadian rhythms have been stronger. So, we knew that sleep and circadian rhythms are concerned in studying and reminiscence, however they didn’t appear to be the issue with the down syndrome mannequin mice. And what Fabian found is that if he enhanced inhibition within the mind… There are specific neurotransmitters, the chemical substances that talk between neurons. There are specific neurotransmitters that are inhibitory. So, he used medication which mimic the exercise of these neurotransmitters. And lo and behold, the training was normalized. These animals that had extreme studying incapacity have been now functioning like their littermates who didn’t have the situation.

After which probably the most outstanding factor on this analysis was {that a} short-term remedy with these medication resulted in a really long-term normalization. So, it wasn’t simply, you realize, you are taking the capsule and also you get an impact. No. The short-term remedy, two weeks of every day doses with the drug normalized the habits for months. So, it modified the way in which the mind was functioning. So, our problem has been, initially, doing as a lot characterization of those drug results as doable to have the ability to transfer it to the clinic, but in addition, to grasp what is modified within the mind. And that’s fairly difficult neurophysiology, which I don’t assume I may describe.

Katie: That’s actually thrilling although. What else is in the way forward for analysis for you? Like I mentioned, I comply with your analysis, so, I’m excited to listen to.

Craig: Nicely, we’re finding out now one other gene, which is triplicated in Down syndrome. And this gene, its identify is USP 16. So, it’s not United Parcel Service, but it surely’s USP 16. And what this gene does is it’s very a lot concerned in figuring out when… You’ve heard of stem cells, cells that may become any sort of completely different cell. So, what this gene does is it performs a job in figuring out whether or not the stem cells differentiate after they divide or whether or not they produce one other stem cell. So, that’s referred to as renewal. So, are they maintaining the inhabitants of stem cells or are they happening the pathway to differentiation? And the triplication of this gene in down syndrome mannequin mice has an enormous impact on growth. So, the brains are smaller most likely as a result of the neural stem cells have differentiated fairly than maintained themselves. Bone cells are affected.

So, the down syndrome mice have a a lot greater stage of osteoporosis-like signs, and that’s improved by eliminating this specific triplication. The opposite method we’re taking is wanting on the… There’s one other gene which could be very vital, which is triplicated and that’s what’s referred to as the amyloid precursor protein gene. It’s very a lot concerned in Alzheimer’s illness. And people with down syndrome have early-onset Alzheimer’s, so we’re finding out what the profit is by normalizing the APP gene in these animals. So, that’s the form of factor we’re doing. Within the case of the human efficiency, we proceed to check the position of temperature in muscle perform. And one of many issues we’re discovering now could be that the manufacturing of lactate by muscle is temperature-dependent. So, we all know there’s the parable that muscle failure, muscle fatigue, is brought on by lactic acid.

Nicely, it’s actually extra accurately lactate, which is produced, not lactic acid. However we all know now that lactate doesn’t trigger fatigue. You may truly elevate blood lactate ranges and it doesn’t impact efficiency, however you probably have excessive efficiency, you get an increase in blood lactate. So, may or not it’s that lactate doesn’t trigger fatigue, however fatigue causes lactate? And what’s it concerning the chemistry, the vitality chemistry within the muscle, that ends in that elevation of lactate? What we discover is that the lactate threshold, the brink of exercise that you just begin seeing rise of lactate within the blood is a perform of physique temperature.

That if we begin folks exercising in low physique temperature, they go lots longer earlier than they begin exhibiting this enhance in lactate. If they begin at a excessive physique temperature, lactate comes up in a short time. So, we’re finding out primarily what the importance of that’s. So, it’s clearly a biomarker of fatigue, and if we may use that as a biomarker, we may maybe enhance conditioning protocols. We may design conditioning protocols that didn’t trigger fatigue so quickly.

Katie: Nicely, that circles again to the place our dialog began. I’m very excited to proceed following that work and likewise to experiment with this myself simply anecdotally as I attempt to get stronger and raise weights, and with my children as athletes. Like I mentioned, I’ve adopted your work for some time, and it’s an absolute honor to get to listen to extra about it right this moment. A few final wrap-up questions. The primary being, if there’s a ebook or a variety of books which have profoundly impacted your life, and if that’s the case, what they’re and why?

Craig: Nicely, I learn very extensively. So I can’t say anybody ebook, however I have a tendency to love to learn novels as a result of they inform me about situations of the world, situations of life, that aren’t in my expertise. So, it broadens my data of what’s taking place in nature and on the planet. I prefer to learn books about unbelievable human performances like Arctic exploration or one thing that’s simply, you realize, wonderful as a result of that I get pleasure from studying about what the true limits are or aren’t for human efficiency. After which, maybe, this isn’t what you may count on to listen to. One of many books that’s had a huge effect on my life is my very own ebook. I’ve a textbook with different authors referred to as “Life: The Science of Biology.” So, we’re now going into our thirteenth version. So, why does this have such a big effect on me? It forces me, each few years, to replace myself in my area broadly. So, if I hadn’t had that ebook to fret about, I most likely would’ve narrowed, narrowed, narrowed my work and my pursuits and fallen approach behind in understanding different areas of my area, basically.

Katie: That’s positively a brand new advice. I’ll guarantee that’s linked as properly if I can discover it on-line and…

Craig: I’ll at all times sustain.

Katie: I really like that. The place can folks comply with you and your work in the event that they wanna continue to learn extra from you or see your analysis?

Craig: Nicely, that’s a very good query. I don’t know. I’m not superb at maintaining an internet site, however we’re constructing an internet site now for our down analysis work and it’s primarily the Down Syndrome Analysis Heart at Stanford. So, that may be pulled up. And CoolMitt website goes to be posting all of our work. It posts already the work that we’ve executed. So, you’ll be able to entry the scientific papers, the research that we’ve executed via that individual entry.

Katie: I’ll guarantee that’s linked within the present notes. For you guys listening, wellnessmama.fm. And, maybe, we are able to do one other spherical at some point with some updates and analysis as issues go alongside. After which, lastly, any parting recommendation for the viewers right this moment that may very well be associated to something we’ve talked about or completely unrelated life recommendation?

Craig: Positive. One bit of recommendation I give my college students is comply with your pursuits. Don’t let different folks let you know what you ought to be doing. Observe your pursuits as a result of it’s when you find yourself concerned with what you’re doing, you’ll do your greatest work. So then you definitely may ask, “What restrictions ought to be placed on that?” And that jogs my memory recommendation that I at all times gave my daughter when she was rising up and she or he hated it. And this got here from the musical, “Hair,” this outdated musical of hippie days. And the quote from the musical was, “Do no matter you wanna do, be no matter you wanna be, simply as long as you don’t harm anyone.”

Katie: I adore it.

Craig: I believed that was superb recommendation. And the opposite recommendation I’d offer you is sleep properly. Sleep is vital. There are three pillars to well being, food plan, train, and sleep. And we are usually fairly good about our food plan and fairly spiritual about our train, however we’re at all times able to sacrifice sleep when there’s one thing else we expect we ought to be doing. And that’s not good.

Katie: Nicely, that’s an ideal place to wrap up. Thanks for sharing your time right this moment and for all of the work that you just’re doing. This was such a enjoyable dialog, and I’m very grateful to you for being right here.

Craig: Thanks. I loved it. And I really like speaking with you. You’re actually an excellent questioner. You perceive what we’re speaking about. Thanks.

Katie: Thanks. And thanks, as at all times, to all of you for listening, sharing your most useful assets, your time, your vitality, and your consideration with us right this moment. We’re each so grateful that you just did. And I hope that you’ll be part of me once more on the subsequent episode of the “WellnessMama Podcast.”


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