Napping, Belief, Agitation & Sleep: Brain-Body Impacts

The Brain Body Contract Live Q&A Session in Sydney, Australia

Huberman, a professor of neurobiology and ophthalmology at Stanford School of Medicine, recently hosted a live event called the Brain Body Contract in Sydney, Australia. The event featured a lecture followed by a question and answer session with the audience.

Huberman thanks the sponsors for the event, eight sleep and ag one. Eight sleep makes smart mattress covers with cooling, heating, and sleep tracking capacity. Huberman emphasizes the importance of sleep for mental health, physical health, and performance, and explains that controlling the temperature of your sleeping environment is key to getting the best possible night’s sleep.

Huberman has been sleeping on an eight sleep mattress cover for about three years and it has completely transformed the quality of his sleep for the better. Eight sleep recently launched their newest generation of pod cover, the pod four ultra, which has improved cooling and heating capacity, higher footage sleep tracking technology, and snoring detection that will automatically lift your head a few degrees to improve airflow and stop snoring.

The Impact of Napping on Nighttime Sleep Quality

Huberman discusses the benefits and drawbacks of napping. He suggests keeping naps shorter than 90 minutes to avoid disrupting nighttime sleep and to avoid napping altogether if it interferes with sleep quality.

For those who experience sleep inertia (grogginess upon waking), Huberman mentions the “napuchino” technique of drinking coffee before a nap. However, he particularly favors the practice of non-sleep deep rest, which involves keeping the body still while the mind remains awake.

Studies from the University of Copenhagen show that non-sleep deep rest replenishes dopamine levels in certain brain areas, restoring mental and physical vigor without disrupting nighttime sleep. In fact, it may even enhance one’s ability to fall asleep, stay asleep, or fall back asleep.

Huberman encourages individuals to consider short non-sleep deep rest protocols if they face challenges related to napping. He also announces the upcoming release of narrated non-sleep deep rest protocols on his YouTube channel, featuring visuals of stunning sunrises over Sydney.

The Power of Belief and Placebo Effects on Cognition and Physiology

Huberman discusses the placebo effect and its powerful influence on physiology. He explains that belief effects, which are similar to placebo effects, can have specific impacts on cognition and performance. A study on nicotine and cognition showed that participants’ beliefs about the dose they received affected their brain activity and performance, even when they consumed no nicotine at all.

Huberman emphasizes the importance of sleep for managing stress and suggests using non-sleep deep rest (NSDR) as a zero-cost behavioral tool to promote relaxation and better sleep. He renamed the practice of yoga nidra to NSDR to make it more accessible and avoid deterring people with esoteric names.

While Huberman acknowledges the value of pharmaceutical tools and supplements, he advocates for starting with behavioral tools first. He also stresses the importance of giving muscles rest days from the gym to allow them to grow back stronger.

The Role of Agitation and Rest in Learning and Neuroplasticity

Huberman explains that the brain requires periods of focused, deliberate learning to stimulate neuroplasticity. The ideal difficulty level for learning is around 85% correct trials and 15% error trials.

The agitation and frustration experienced during learning are crucial for triggering the release of neurochemicals that signal the brain to adapt and change. However, the actual rewiring of neurons occurs during sleep or deep rest, away from the stimulus.

Huberman wishes that the importance of stress and rest in the learning process had been taught in school, as understanding these physiological principles could have been beneficial for personal development.

The Potential Benefits and Risks of Psychedelics for Mental Health

Huberman shares his personal experiences with taking LSD and psilocybin at a young age, which he does not recommend due to the potential risks of tampering with the brain’s wiring during adolescence.

However, clinical trials on psychedelics, particularly psilocybin, have shown promising results for adults without certain psychiatric challenges. Psilocybin sessions, supported by medically trained therapists, have been found to be effective in treating major depression.

MDMA, when taken in the appropriate clinically supported context, can act as an empathogen and help relieve trauma. Clinical trials have shown up to 67% remission of PTSD with proper dosing, frequency, and support.

Huberman’s stance on psychedelics has changed in recent years, acknowledging that these compounds are ways to adjust levels of neuromodulators in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine. However, he emphasizes the importance of caution and the goal of directing plasticity towards positive outcomes.

The Gut-Brain Axis and Its Impact on Mental Health

Huberman discusses the gut-brain axis and the importance of a diverse gut microbiome for mental and physical health. He suggests consuming fermented foods and taking probiotics to support the gut microbiome, especially when sleep-deprived or traveling.

Huberman also mentions funding human studies on topics like DMT and eating disorders through proceeds from his podcast’s premium channel. He aims to accelerate the process of getting research findings to the public more quickly.

Regarding sleep quality, Huberman explains that the best sleep schedule depends on an individual’s chronotype, which determines whether they feel best going to bed early and waking up early or following a more typical sleep schedule.

Optimizing Sleep for Better Focus and Well-being

Huberman discusses the importance of sleep regularity, suggesting that people should aim to go to bed within plus or minus an hour of the same bedtime five nights a week. However, he also acknowledges that life isn’t just about optimizing everything and that it’s good to deviate from routines occasionally.

When it comes to focus and ADHD, Huberman emphasizes that there are both behavioral tools and pharmaceutical options available. He notes that in countries like China, there are efforts to train young people to focus for longer periods through exercises such as visual fixation.

Huberman suggests that individuals struggling with focus should not expect to be in perfect trenches of focus all the time. Instead, they can build up their focusing capacity gradually, like any other skill. This involves removing distractions, such as turning off phones, and practicing techniques like staring at a visual focus point before beginning work.

Leave a Comment