Join us for an exciting podcast with Dr. Shelley James, aka ‘The Light-Lady’! Dr. James is an international consultant on light and well-being and a renowned TEDx and keynote speaker.
Dr. James has a wealth of knowledge on all things LIGHT and how it massively impacts your sleep & health. In this episode, discover the science behind how light affects our sleep-wake cycle and the fascinating factors unique to early morning sunlight…and so much more!
Dr Shelley James is an international consultant on light and well-being, TEDx and keynote speaker, WELL Advisor and Faculty Member and Visiting Lecturer at the Royal College of Art. She is also a trained glass artist, electrician and open-water swimmer. Shelley is on a mission to inspire others to harness the power of the humble lightbulb to be healthier and happier and save the planet too.
Current clients include global lighting and technology brands and regulators, healthcare and education trusts, architects and designers, universities and museums. A recent social media campaign to raise awareness of the impact of light on teens was translated into three languages and reached over 2.5 million young people around the world. Her TEDx talk has now reached over 190,000 views and was in the world's top three most-watched in the month after launch.
In this episode, we discuss:
🌞 How did Dr. Shelley James become ‘The Light Lady’?
🌞 Dr. James aims to simplify the fundamental topics of lighting & health.
🌞 How lighting affects your sleep-wake cycle
🌞 What are the distinctive factors present during the early morning sunlight?
🌞 The blue light shower during the early morning light, also called nautical sunrise, is essential in enhancing mood, body temperature, and energy levels.
🌞 What are some practical ways to incorporate more natural light into our lives?
🌞 Dr. James' practical suggestions for lighting after sunset and utilizing blue blockers
🌞 What is Dr. James’ sleep routine?
Huge shoutout to our sponsor: Biooptimizers!They are my nightly source of magnesium supplementation
go to www.magbreakthrough.com/sleepisaskill for the kind I use every night!
The information contained on this podcast, our website, newsletter, and the resources available for download are not intended as, and shall not be understood or construed as, medical or health advice. The information contained on these platforms is not a substitute for medical or health advice from a professional who is aware of the facts and circumstances of your individual situation.
Welcome to the Sleep is a Skill podcast. My name is Mollie McGlocklin, and I own a company that optimizes sleep through technology, accountability and behavioral change. Each week I'll be interviewing world class experts, ranging from doctors, innovators, and thought leaders to give actionable tips and strategies that you can implement to become a more skillful sleeper.
Let's jump into your dose of practical sleep training.
Welcome to the Sleep is a Skilled podcast. Sleep is a skill. I know I say this all the time, it's the name of our company and one of the reasons I say that is I don't think that many people understand how many things that they are doing from the moment that they wake up till the moment that they go to sleep and.
Throughout the entire time that they're sleeping, that might actually be doing them a disservice to their goals around getting and sustaining great sleep, and not only great sleep, but feeling great while you're awake. That's kind of the part of the reason why we're concerned about this or looking at this area, is to have a great balance between a sleep wake cycle throughout the entire course of your life.
Well, What are some of the ways to do that? Really, really dialing in on your light dark rhythms throughout the course of your day, not just the basic stuff that you might already know or discuss, but really getting into the. Science of it and the why of it and getting more nuanced on it. Well, none other than who's known as the Light Lady on Instagram, I love that name, affectionately termed is joining us today.
This is Dr. Shelley James. She's an international consultant on the light and wellbeing, a TEDx and keynote speaker, a well advisor and faculty member, and visiting lecture of the Royal College of Art. She's also a trained glass artist, electrician, and open water swimmer. Shelley is on a mission to inspire others to harness the power of the humble light bulb, to be healthier and happier, and save the planet too.
Current clients include global lighting and technology brands and regulators. Healthcare and education trust, architects and designers, universities and museums. A recent social media campaign to raise awareness of the impact of light on teens was translated into three languages and reached over 2.5 million young people around the world.
Her TEDx talk has now reached over 190,000 views and was in the world's top three most watched in the month after its launch. I think you're gonna really enjoy. Shelley James's passion on this topic, her breadth of knowledge, and just the intricacies around what this looks like in your life we really delve into.
And again, if you ever have any questions on any of the things that we discuss in this podcast, never, ever, ever hesitate to head on over to sleep as skill.com. In the lower right hand corner, we have a little. Sleep Bot where you can ask questions. Also, while you're there, please sign up for our weekly newsletter.
We call it sleep Obsessions for a reason. We're pretty obsessed on this topic, and I ensure that I get out the things that I am just losing my mind over in the realm of. Sleep every single Monday, have been doing that without missing a single Monday for over about mm, four years in change. So would love to have you as a part of that community.
But without further ado, let's jump into this very important podcast. So I get a lot of questions around sleep supplements, and I'm very hesitant to just throw out a whole laundry list of possibilities. One, I don't think it's the most responsible thing to do. I really do believe in testing to see what types of supplements make sense for you.
And two, because I really truly believe that most of the things that you can do to improve your sleep are behavioral, psychological, environmental in nature, and often don't cost a dime. However, there is one supplement that I personally take every day and that I do feel quite comfortable with suggesting for most individuals to experiment with because of couple of reasons.
It's high safety profile and high rates of deficiencies in our modern society. Some put the numbers as somewhere around 80% of the population being deficient in this one area, and that is magnesium. So magnesium has been called the calming mineral, and some report that magnesium can increase gaba, which encourages relaxation on a cellular level, which is critical for sleep.
Magnesium also plays a key role in regulating our body's stress response system. Those with magnesium deficiency usually have higher anxiety and stress levels, which negatively impacts sleep as well. Now before you go out and buy a magnesium supplement, it's important to understand that most magnesium products out there are either synthetic or they only have one to two forms of magnesium.
When in reality, your body needs all seven forms of this essential sleep mineral. So that's why I recommend a product from my friends over at Bio Optimizers. They have created something called the Magnesium Breakthrough, and taking this magnesium before bed helps you relax and wake up, refresh and energize.
And while we don't recommend that you go two nuts on looking at all the sleep stage classifications on all your wearables. I will share anecdotally that many clients have reported improvements in their deep sleep trend numbers. Again, I don't want you going nuts on the sleep stage classification numbers on your wearables, but I do wanna let you know about that because I know that many of you do reach out on questions of how to improve your deep sleep.
So I also love that bio optimizers offers free shipping on select orders, and they offer a 365 day money back guarantee on all their products. Plus they have a customer satisfaction rating of 99.3%. Very impressive, and you can get 10% off magnesium breakthrough. Again, this is the same magnesium that I use every single night.
And finally you can get 10% off magnesium breakthrough. Again, that's the magnesium supplement that I use every single night by going to www dot mag m a g. So mag breakthrough.com/sleep as a skill, and be sure to use the code sleep as a skill for 10% off. And welcome to the Sleep is a Skill Podcast. My guest today, Shelley James, thank you so much for taking the time to be here, Dr.
Shelley James, I should say fantastic human in the world of circadian health and also known as the Light Lady. So we are gonna be, Speaking about all things light today, one of my most valued topics in my life. It's just made such a difference in the management of my life. The more I learn about this area, the more fascinated I become so I can.
It's just such an honor to have someone like yourself that is so knowledgeable in this space and making such a difference. And even as a book coming out later on this year, that is gonna be very exciting. I'm definitely gonna be reading that one. So, Shelley, thank you for taking the time to be here. It's a real privilege to be here.
Thank you. Oh, thank you. Okay, so we're gonna jump right into it. How did you become the light lady? How did this happen? Tell us everything. Not everything, but tell us how. How.
I was born in Jamaica, traveled all over the world and spent. I was really aware as I went in and outta different countries, just how much the levels of light and the quality of light affected me. So yeah, when I was, I went to France to travel to study textiles at the college, and I did my first thesis when I traveled around Europe recording the different qualities of light in different countries and looking at the way that, that I seemed to affect the way that they chose colors for fashion and for their interior design.
Mm. That led on to a first career in branding where I worked with all sorts of organizations, including Visa International and Shell and lots of others, on how you can use light and graphics to shape someone's expectation or experience of a brand or an organization or a product. And that led, yeah, used lots and lots of different sorts of market research.
I got people to put stuff on their eyes and work out where they were looking and all of that sort of stuff. And. But I realized I had never actually understood that myself when I fell off my bike and banged my head so badly that I had to, all the connections in my brain got sort of muddled up and that literal me having train my eye and rain, I had extreme folk sensitivity.
So some people who experienced that will really know what I mean, but, Mm, I realized I had no idea how this thing that I'd been playing with, uh, commercially for so long really worked. So I went back to college, uh, set up a residency at the Bristol Eye Hospital, and, uh, experimented with light and optical illusions and did a PhD and got so passionate about this.
I started to experiment with pattern recognition and neurologist. And mathematicians because they're all about pattern and about small changes in patterns which allow you to identify bigger phenomena happening. So I was rubbish at math at school, but I was great at pattern. So that led to me wanting to work with glass.
Um, worked with some amazing people on that. And I was experimented with an amazing mathematician called Roger Penrose on unc. And using glass, which changed color in different lights to experiment with the way that something looks the same, but in different, from different perspectives. It's different.
And I had, uh, the opportunity to exhibit at the Sachi Gallery, and I couldn't find anybody to help me with. Lights inside these boxes that I wanted to make. So I finally found somebody, but I decided that actually it wasn't rocket science and I'd like to learn how to do that myself. So I trained as an electrician and as a lighting designer so that I could actually wire up lights myself.
Uh, and that led to actually working with lots of other artists to help them to wire up lights and creating a light library so that they didn't have to spend money on stuff which didn't work, so that they could actually experiment. And that's something they continue to do today. And then, Through lockdown that thriving consultancy and and practice wasn't possible anymore.
So I found myself locked down with everybody else and I realized that nobody else understood how this stuff worked. Yeah, I saw my nieces and my, my mom and all the people around me just. Really having no idea how important it was to get outside. To draw the curtain. Yeah. Uh, and actually to make sure that we start when they slept.
So with my amazing brother who runs a PR agency, we thought we've gotta do something about this. And so I set up a focus group. I set up some, some sponsors generously because they weren't jetting around the world. They, I spoke to people like Stephen Locky and others who I know has been on this podcast.
Yeah. Who were generous enough. Cause they weren't on, they weren't in conferences either. They were generous enough. Chat to me and so mm-hmm. Together as a team with the sponsors, with the scientists, and with my team kind team advisory group, we created a social media campaign for teams about life else.
Uh, and it went viral. We had two and a half million teams. We had. 2, 230 5% click through rate on some of the videos. It was just kinda crazy. Wow. Um, with tiny, tiny amounts of Facebook advertising, which I think we spent a couple of thousand pounds in total on all of this, you know, millions of views, which is fantastic.
Um, but they said, look, we don't buy the lights. We can go outside, but we don't buy the lights. It's the grownups. You buy the lights, that's, you're not wrong. Of course. And I thought, well, surely the people who buy lights for hospitals, schools, Know more about this stuff. Mm-hmm. But actually thought they don't, and yeah.
No idea that they're trained on, on budgeting. They're trained on time management, they're trained on all those sorts of things, but they're aren't actually trained on how light, daylight, and artificial light and darkness affects sleep particularly, but also, yeah, wakefulness and attention and mood. And so that's what I, that's what I did next.
So that's what I've been doing a lot of spending a lot of time doing more recently is because if we can intervene in the valley chain for lighting, then we can help people to sleep better. And so I've been working on, in the consumer zone, working in the professional zone, in the healthcare zone, in the education zone to demystify the kind of gadgetry that often gets bolted around this very simple, very fundamental topic.
And so that's how I got into it. It was a good, and I knew it made a difference. And so that's, that's what I do now, and I, and I just love it. Absolutely love it. Ah, beautiful. And it's so important. And to your point, just I love that you saw this need and that so many people were not in this conversation of just the profound differences can make in our health and wellbeing, and certainly in this conversation, the sleep wake cycle and as I love the word that you chose of.
Demystifying. So maybe that can be our place for us to stand is to begin to demystify myth bust, uh, this whole world of light and gadgetry, as you said, because we get this all the time, as people will say, well help. I'm not sleeping well. Just gimme the answers. What do I need to do? You know, they'll say, do I, do I need to buy the blue blockers?
Do I need to get the dawn simulator? Do I need the light box? What kind? What type of nighttime lighting? What you know, how much light is too much or not enough in the nights and yada. So if you can just help us in how we start our days, how we go through our days, and I know this is a big, big area and there's dependencies depending on where you are on the globe and certain other factors.
So I know this can get very nuanced, but just to begin to help with that demystification with, in your experience, what are some big, heavy hitters that people could. Start to ground themselves in, in this conversation of maximizing and strengthening that sleep wake cycle through light. Yeah, it's a pleasure.
I mean, I think it's a bit like diet. People can, you can spend ages, sort of microdosing about Yeah. Whether it's, or broccoli and of course organic. Great. Yeah. But funda, we know that. What we put in is expressed in the way we feel, and it's the same with your diet of light and essentially your, the bit of your, your, what we know now it's only only known relatively recently, is that your eye has two pathways.
One of them is a bit like your ears have one bit for listening, and there's a second bit, which is for. Your whole bunch of other systems which are right in the center of your brain in the dark, and those systems are bit like balance for hearing. So you only know when it's gone wrong, kind of when there's a problem later on.
So yeah, essentially that bit of your brain, which that bit, that second pathway, what we call the non-visual or the biological pathway, it is linked to a couple of really powerful systems. One of them is your sleep wake cycle. The other is your mood modulating cycle and your other one is, and they're all related, but your other is your kind of alerting.
System, and let's just focus on the, on the sleep weight one. But they're all linked in together. Sure, yes. The sleep weight, it's basically is, it's looking for bright light. It's you, you evolve to wake up and be out in the world and your whole, all of your body clock is getting ready because things like blood pressure, digestion, metabolism, uh, immune response, they take a while to fire up a bit like a.
A busy kitchen. You know, if you leave the oven all the time, it's really wasteful. Yeah. What you wanna do is make your digestion's ready when you need it, and then it kind of powers out later. So it's kinda combining signals from all the things that you might be doing, whether it be exercise or food or light, to kind of get you ready for the next thing that you're likely to need to optimize your energy use.
But light is the single most reliable signal of whether you should be out and about or winding down. Of course you can confuse that by having a tub of ice cream late at night. So it's not, it's not a one size fits all, but the basics. Solution is to say, what would my body and brain be looking for? Cause it's living in the dark.
It's like, it's like being in a cupboard, kinda trying to see what's going on outside from the, so from what he can see through it, through a little crack, which is eye, it's gonna be looking for bright light. It is. There's a big old difference. It kind of shoots up. The light levels shoot up really fast. As the light, as light comes popping up over the horizon.
There are some very special things about very early morning light, which is that, yeah, before the light actually the sun comes up over the horizon. There's something called nautical sunrise where. The sun is below the horizon and the light is bouncing off the ozone layer and coming down. Mm-hmm. And as it does that, it has a very, it's called the blue hour in photography and in philosophy.
And it's that quiet moment. In fact, your body is getting ready to wake up, but it's actually a very low point. It's a low air in your mood. It's a low air in your body temperature. It's a low in all sorts of ways. So, If you can give yourself a blast of that shower of bright blue light, even though it may not look particularly bright, that's why that early morning light is so important.
Mm. It's all the things that you that, that non-visual system. It's like the caffeine for that non-visual system. So you're get in a combination of it getting quite quickly brighter, your body clock's going, oh, right, it's time to be up and about. And so if you can get yourself up and out at that time, then you set your body clock up a bit like having a healthy breakfast.
In fact, if you do that first thing, you are even more tolerant a bit later on in the afternoon. So even if you check emails later into the night, if you set your body clock up correctly, your whole system is shifted. If you can reinforce by, so that's, that's the first thing is that morning blue hour shower is the first wake up moment that sets your body clock up and it kind of lets your body lets everything know cuz it's got itself ready to get up.
It's like being all dressed up and nowhere to go. It was all kinda all set up and actually you're lying in bed with a curtain store. It's like, Well, that was a time. So your testosterone levels, progesterone, estrogen, all those things start to ramp up as the sun comes up and you see. Go around the edges of the sky.
But actually if you look up, you'll see it's still pretty amazing new blue. So you're looking for that shower of light from above. And actually, even if you have artificial light indoors during the winter or whatever, if you can create something which is either from the horizon or from above, you'll create that your what is ah, ah.
You know, it's a simple thing in there, really. It, it's very, very basic. It's just looking for that. Yeah. So in. Morning something, which is like, what? And then you can put some, put some tunes on. You know, you can make it a whole thing where, yeah, you wake up and rise and shut. It's like the world is a good place to be.
So that's the first thing. Create that sense of, Sunshine, e sunshine in sort side, even if it's gloomy outside, because even you mentioned that where you are right now, it's not as sunny as it could be. Yeah. But in the clouds are quite useful. They're, they're filtering out some of the, that you, that might be a problem, particularly with climate change and the ozone layer being depleted.
So what, that's that cloud cover. If you were to take a, one of the free apps on your phone, yes. You'd go outside and you'll see just what a different, it's just amazing. The trouble is that most of us are indoors under the windows that we have don't deliver the, they kind of filter out some of the wavelengths that are, allow us to metabolize vitamin D, for example, which is like the kind of gluten of the brain and of the muscles.
So it sort of helps you to just be flexible. It helps you to, it also helps to modulate your mood system. So if you get a blast of bright light, you are less likely to get that sort of manic feeling. Mm-hmm. So it sort of, Settled into a kind of peaceful contentment as opposed to Zoomy zoom thing that you get from coffee and antidepressants and other stuff.
So, sure. That's the first thing. Just very simply, what would, what does my dog or cat want? They wanna be outside. Yes. That's it. Exactly. Model nature. Yes. Model our pets model what, what, uh, nature is doing so well. Yeah. I love your blue hour shower. That's brilliant. I've never heard anyone say it like that.
That's incredible. And I guess just to underscore or check in with some of your points there too, so particularly unique elements that are going on in that early morning sun, does that make it, cuz we get, people will say, well I don't have a lot of time to get outside, so should I prioritize my first half of the day?
Call out. So they'll say like, I gotta maybe 15 minutes or whatever throughout the course of my day, throughout work to get outside. Do I prioritize on the first half? Do I prioritize it later? And then we have the people that say, well, I wake up before the sun's even up. You know, all of those things. If you can help guide us through those.
Sure. So the first thing is to, to decide if it matters to you that you sleep well. Yeah. Thank you. Once you decide. I mean you, it's a choice that you make. Yes. So most of us have decided for ex you, you need to decide that it matters enough to make some small changes. Sure. And that's kind of matter of personal responsibility, and nobody can do that for you.
You need to decide that you're going to switch off your emails at a particular time of day or switch off. You know, you need to set some boundaries of yourself. Because long term, what we know is a bit like doing your teeth. It's boring. Yeah, it's boring, but we do it. We know it matters. Yeah. So you decide that sleep is something that is on your agenda and on your radar.
That's the first thing to say. And then, It doesn't matter. You don't have to be kind of doing anything fancy dancing out there. You can be list checking your messages. You can be listening to this podcast. You can be doing. There's no reason for it to be anything more than simply putting a hat, hat and coat on and doing some of the things you were doing inside, outside.
And taking some of the young people in your loved ones with you because you know, you might be reading the paper if you can sit on your doorstep or on the balcony or open the windows. If you live in a high rise, open the windows and stand there to do some of that stuff. Simply it's most people that you meet will have a but a bottle of water with them.
Yeah, it's the equivalent of that hydration message. Mm-hmm. So if you think about deciding that that matters or Yeah. Feeding your teeth, it's a matter of basic hygiene really. And you, you tend to do your teeth bursting in the morning, and there's no reason not to open the window and do your teeth up, you know, looking out the window.
It's, it's, it's decide that. I mean, we talk about habit bundling, you know, some great people talk about that stuff. Yeah. So that's the first thing is yes, we do know that that first thing thing. The other thing is that it just reminds you that you matter. And so that's, it's just, it's a little sort of gesture of self-care.
So that's the first, yes. If you, you've only got, if you can shimmy your day around so that it is. That first it's, it's early. That's great. Yeah, of course. The bright light all through the day. And in fact, my sister was asking me, cuz her, my nieces, sometimes they don't get up, wake up till three in the afternoon.
She said, is it still, it still worth it? And of course it's, of course it's, yes. Yeah. It's like, you know, doing a tease later is better than not doing them at all. But ideally you do them first thing because then you've got a pretty, you know, you feel fresh at. Yeah. So that's the first. The other thing is, yeah, if you wake up before the sun comes up, Your body's wanting you to get up and stand up and in fact, I uses first thing and then we've gotta talk about my morning routine.
But then, but then when I'm ready switch into work mode, I switch on bright lights. So we know mentioned. Bright light has a kind of hotline to your alerting and activating system. Know that if you want that for me, that early morning is my thinking, dreaming, mapping, visioning time. So I leave the light, soft and warm, but if I want to be up and about and kind of doing, Some kind of calculation or something, or having a meeting.
Then I've got a number of lights around me that I can switch on to create that alerting effect. So it's a bit like using light, like as you would a coffee, you go, right? Or it was, you would, you know, a slash of lipstick or you know, yes. Things you would just kinda go, Jim, shimmy yourself up. You can use light in that way.
And we know it's got a hotline to that part of your brain, which is the kinda wake up system. So the main thing is to, to set your body clock up first thing. With some movement, with some bright light, ideally from outside, but if not from your environment and a bit of. Kind of emotional sunshine, you know, put your favorite record on.
It's, it's your multi, you know, I've put music on. Yes. And that habit bundling I think is so important that you're pointing to this and having people get a little creative with some of the things I heard you speak to. It's like you could bring your, brushing your teeth outside, you could bring the podcast you're listening to outside.
You can, you know, just some of these things that we might not consider having this new environment by which we can have some of these. Really tangible biological benefits at play and really hopefully thinking of light and darkness as a drug-like effect and having a physiological effect on how we feel and yielding response, uh, the times that we want them to yield that response.
So to that note, evening, once the sun has. Set. So any callouts around the sun setting and then thereafter, the blue blockers, the types of light, that whole world help us navigate. Yeah, exactly.
Mentioned. Mm. And that is one thing that, I mean, it's, it's their design. The good ones are designed to be like a kind of a bright horizon. Yeah. So your eyes looking for a wide expanse. So ideally you have a few of them. I've got a shelf here that I've put a few of them on if I need it. Yeah. And so you basically take a sh.
Take a shelf like one of these and put some lights up so you have like a brighter horizon as though you're looking at a bright window. Yeah. And that will allow your, it feels very natural to do it that way. Mm-hmm. And those lights are designed to be, have lots of that blue wavelength in them, that sky blue wavelength.
It's a bit like having a drink with extra caffeine in extra in this. And I've got these packs in an extra punch. So that's why they're designed that way. So they will naturally, and in fact, if you measure things like galvanic skin response or even brainwave response, yes, you see, or pupil response, which is another example of the hotline to your adrenal system, working through that bright light, you will see that the light panels, the sad lamps.
Activating to that, but being aware that the further away the SU lamp is from you, the less light is getting to you. It's like a music, you know, a long way away. You can't hear it as much the closer you are. There's a, an inverse square law, so it needs to be relatively close to you in order for it to kind of pack a punch.
But there is a way that. You either have high dose, like exercise, you either have a high dose short time. Mm-hmm. Or you have a long, you have a lesser dose, but for longer time. So there's a kind of a, you can choose how you want to do it. You either kind of go high intensity or you can go for longer. So I mine are over there and if they're on for four or five hours, then that does the same thing.
It just adds up. Sure. But, Which is your diet of light during the day, light your calories. So there's, and then, so let's talk about the evening. In the evening then your body is going naturally. There's a kind of, almost like a peak at around five or six teenagers. It's a little bit later. Sure. It's your five.
Really, and then you should have quite a quick drop off into a quieter time. And what we know is that particularly young people's eyes and brains are exponentially more sensitive to light at that in that early evening and into the evening time. So what you're trying to do is to dial down on the brightness.
To start with, and if you can eat earlier and if you can reduce strong physical exercise earlier as well, you are kind of creating a coherent signal that, okay, it's time to wind down and review what's happened in the day. And it's a great way to revise. We know that if you can walk through or talk through the things that you've learned during the day, you actually bring them back up into your, almost like your visual scratch pad or your desktop, and that kinda gets them ready to be up.
Uploaded into your, so it goes from your, from the central kind of short term memory into the wrinkly bits around the outside of the brain. Yeah. And that, that, that uploading happens if you bring the information up and reorganize it correctly, then it's ready to, a bit like getting the laundry ready to go into the machine.
It's like, okay, I'm gonna do the, do these ones next. And so you kind of get stuff ready and you can actually improve the retention by up to 40% if you organize the information correctly before upload. In that time before bed. So dial down the brightness and the kind of agitation and the activation as much as you can, ideally for a couple of hours before bed.
There are different sort of stories about that, but hours is apparently optimal, but everyone's slightly different. The brightness is the first thing, and then if you, once you've got to sort of pretty dim if you can then cut out all the blue wavelengths. Some, some of you like allow you to have relatively large amounts of light.
And no blue. But in fact, the relationship between that top line, the caffeine system and the um, light sensing system is we are still working that one out. So yeah, as a general rule, yeah. Can candle light's great and then there's getting that ready and it's a kind of a time to have a conversation with people.
Yeah. Imagine, imagine, imagine that. And just kind of allow your body to just settle and then. So that's, I think just allowing, thinking about what a child needs as they're going to bed. You know that if you gives them a sugary drink and give them lots of scope to kind of leap about, they're going to, they're, they're gonna struggle to settle.
And as grownups, we used to driving through that. The sleep drive, we used to sort driving through it. But in fact, if you would imagine your inner self like a toddler, Who really needs all of that. Kind of get all those games and stuff and all those brands outta the way so that you can just sort of chat through the great things that happened in the day and what's gonna happen tomorrow.
Isn't that gonna be great? Just sort of get yourself into that quiet state. Uh. Even, I mean, cause everybody has dresses, everybody has griefs. You know, it's, it's never, not always gonna be fantastically easy, but sometimes we distract ourselves with agitation before bed, which means that it gets even harder to switch off.
So thinking of yourself like a toddler, I find is really useful solution. How would you comfort a small person who's struggling? How can you get, how can you set up a situation which is really comfortable and reassuring for them so that you're ready for sleep? Beautiful. And so it's in the evening the sun has set and there's a lot of different conversations around that environment.
And I love that you pointed to some, the simplicity of some of the things we can do to dim that light, the candles, et cetera. And then sometimes we'll find further things that might complicate some of this conversation. So people will say, oh, well you need particular types of blue blockers that block blue and green and violet, and then you need red lights that won't impact your melatonin production.
And then, ooh, actually, if you have bright shots of blue light, then that you're gonna deplete your uh, melatonin like that. And so all of these things that start come in, people get stressed. So, Can you help us myth, bust some of those? Any validity to any of that? Yes and no. Yes, yes. Let's begin with the blue blockers, because if to screen, so the idea is that they block out the blue light.
Yeah. For one, probably not because unless they are sort of like swimming Googles, there's gonna be stuff. And if you, unless you are lots like this with, you know, as they, as as you might be in an experiment, as they are in the experiments, they report in their glorious glowing reports. Yes. You know. You know, you're moving around, you get up to get the bus, you get up to get some ice cream, you know, it, it's, the conditions aren't stable.
Yes. And actually the reason you put the blue blocking glasses on is because you still want to check your emails or, or watch a movie. So those other signals are counter confusing. However, even if there was no light coming in, those other things will be telling your brain that actually this isn't quite right.
Yeah. So, and actually if you think about like sort of calories or something, you know, yes. You can eat all the organic. Ice cream that you want in the world. It's, it's, the calories are still in there, aren't they? Yeah. So organic is the kind of incremental bit. So blue blocking glass is a nice idea, but actually the reason you're trying to kind of medicate an underlying situation, which is that actually you are confusing your body by engaging in an activity which is actually going to wake you up.
Yes. So let's just stop the activity and then you don't need the glasses and we don't need the plastic. What about when people say, well, uh, that's all well and good, but TV relaxes me. You know, so that's different than devices. It's a whole different activated brain wave state, yada. I, you know, bully. I hear all kinds of things.
Do you think that all of those little negotiations, to still have all that faux light in your environment is really moot and we need to just be real here and prioritize our. Sleep and say it's all out? Or are there certain things that there can, allowances can be made for? Or is this a longer conversation?
It's, I mean, I think, I mean, you can negotiate away, you know, you can, yeah. Occasional, you know, cigarette or alcohol or, you know, yeah. You can totally negotiate and, you know, life is like, You know, you're not gonna be like a blooming a hermit for sure. Yeah, sure. I mean, the first thing is to say if you've had a good, couldn't have a good breakfast, like good bright light in the morning and got outside and got some exercise and actually manage your mental health correctly Sure.
Then tell isn't gonna be a problem, honestly. Like your tell's gonna be a big deal either because your kind of, your metabolism will be on, on track. Yeah. The problem is when you are, when you've sat indoors all day. Yes. And you are medicating with ED Entertainment. So then you, you get to ask us all the question of what that's about.
Yeah. So I mean, the other great thing about the difference between a tele over there and a screen in your hand is that in terms of the amount of space it takes on your retina. So if you think about mm-hmm. It's actually, it's not so strong, essentially. Yeah. So there is a way in which a tele over there.
Isn't as involving, it's not as demanding. It's not filling as much of your visual field as a, as a screen sitting here. Mm-hmm. So if you, you're better off watching something over there, although those huge screens become a problem. The other thing that some of the, the newer screens do that some of the best quality screens do is actually reduce the amount of blue.
And the other thing that's worth looking at is that, The light levels that you need, the, the brightness that you need from the screen depends on the ambient light. And again, some of the better quality screens like your, like your phone. Yeah. Bid to the light level in the space. So if you have, so you can still see the thing, even though it's not very bright.
So that'd be another way of dialing down on the kind of level of stimulation. You can also do that with the sound. Yeah. Cause it's a thing so you know. Yes. Somebody, my neighbor is like, yes. You hear the blockbuster. Yeah. Totally. Very excited, Tori. Yeah. If, if you think about as you would with a kid, you know, how are you going to kind of, yeah, they wanna watch the tele, they wanna listen to some something.
How are you going to make it as, As calming and as sort of gentle, and as kind of uplifting as you can. So thinking about how you dial down some of those things while you can still enjoy it will be a big help. So just be aware of that, of how these different dimensions of, because your brain is pretending.
I mean, mirror neurons are amazing. So you can watch somebody do something or imagine you're soldier doing it and your body's doing it. When I come back from the cinema, my brain's body's racing. Yes. So think about what you're watching. In the same way that you would, you know, not let a kid watch a thing, a horror movie before it goes to sleep.
You know, that's, that's the last thing that your brain is, is kind of consuming before it switches off. So, and then it's gonna struggle. Mm-hmm. So that's something else. Brilliant. It's just about being conscious of what you are feeding your body clock, uh, and being sensitive to that. Okay, so one thing that I'm already getting in this conversation is if you're available, we have to get you back once you're closer to releasing your book, because there's already so many other avenues I wanna go down.
But I think one thing that could be helpful for everyone is to. Learn and people love to this part. They wanna know how is this person who is on the podcast that clearly has thought so deeply about their particular area of expertise as it relates to sleep. They wanna know how you're managing your sleep.
So I think, we'll, we can learn something like, I'm guessing you're not wearing blue blockers at night and certain things. So we'll learn what's going on for you and how, what we can take away today. So, Our first question that we ask every person that comes on the podcast is, what is your nightly sleep routine looking like?
And you know, I get you might be traveling or might be doing certain things, but what can we learn from that routine that you've created? I think the first thing is that I know it's important to me if I'm going out for dinner, I feel like a bit of a kind of, I feel embarrassed. I say, could we eat at about six 30?
My gosh, I think it too. Yeah. I just booked a five 30 reservation just literally last night. Yeah, totally. Yeah. So, yeah, and, and actually I'm saying goodnight. You know, I'm on my way back to wherever I'm staying by half eight, nine o'clock. So Yeah. And that's late for me. Yeah. Uh, so I just kind of. People know that about me.
I'm up by five. Mm-hmm. And I'm in bed by 20 quarter past nine. That's just how my life is. And yeah, you kind take lovely, love my dog. You kind of take it or leave it. Yeah. And I've made that important to me. Beautiful. Some people have. So I've been, won't eat different sorts of meat or, you know, the, everyone has their own kind of conditions in a way.
And I've decided, and I know that matters to me. So I'd say that's the first thing is that I, I set some boundaries around that. Yeah. I think, and once you've decided that, then the rest in a way falls into place. So, um, then that means kind of, I, I get things, I get things ready. I, I know it's my, my, my, my partners, you know, all the things that we need for sleeping already, you know, just sort of.
This is, um, in the same way that you prepare a meal, it's for guests. Yes. Uh, the bedroom is beautiful. It smells nice. It's, uh, it's a, it's a welcoming, uh, haven. And when I go, go to a hotel or something, that's the first thing you do is kind things away. Just kinda make it, make it so that it's a place that that's ready to welcome you for sleep.
So, and once that's in place, then the rest falls into place. I love that and I love that you started with that framework because I think that's one thing that's missing sometimes. So, you know, we, we ask every single person that question and many people go into the doing of all of it, which is important and helpful and we get lots of value there.
But I think the, what you said is everything. Cuz if we have that choice that we've made, that this is important to us and we have all of the people in our. Sphere like relating to us in that way. We set up a environment by which we're fulfilling on these things consistently. It's not just like a nice idea and every other week maybe we, you know, check mark and hit the ball out of the court or whatever the heck the saying is.
This is totally not the saying, but you know what I said, and instead, By creating that choice consistently across the board. We're actually setting up a, a lifestyle for this, which I think is so important. You become the light lady when this is, uh, something that's important to you, but we can all have this in our lives.
So really, really beautiful. And I guess that would, I mean, I'm not kind of, I'm not religious about it in the sense that it's not rigid. You know, I go out dancing, you know, there's, yeah, there's lots of times when different, but that course, that's the. The baseline and it's, it's, it's a form of respect for myself and other people.
Cause if I'm gonna be up and working, being my best, delivering, serving my best, then I need to create a situation where I can do that. So well said. And I suppose this will spill over into your mornings, which is our next question. And so we ask, what is your morning sleep routine? Which consistently confuses people, but we say that because we believe that how you set up your mornings can impact your sleep.
And I think no one gets that more than you. So what do we see in your mornings? So see, I'm a great fan of Mel Robbins and so even if Oh, you too. I love her. Yeah. The alarm goes off and usually actually I'm awake for, for a while. I mean, 15 minutes before that. And, um, so I'd lie there and do some deep breathing.
Someone like whim is a great, hello. Fantastic. Yeah. And I, even if I'm tempted to lie in bed, Mel Robbins, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Comes into my, I'm up. Yeah. So, and you know, the, the slippers are there, you know, that, that's, it's just, and then it's, I just kind of keep it quiet for the, a glass of water, a meditation. I have some candles.
I say some, some kind of set some intentions for the day. And I do that in a very, sort of, Quite calm environment when, when nobody else is up and around. So it's just a sort of a moment to reset and re reconnect and sort of set my intentions and kind of send some love out to the world and just sort of be in the possibility really of the world.
And then it's a. Meeting with my va, uh, who's in the Philippines. So she kinda sends me messages. I do, I we're twins. It's amazing. Uh, and then I, and I've got my stuff ready to get, and I get on my bike and I cycle down to the beach and I swim, see everybody. So I, I have go get, get frozen cold. Um, yeah, at the moment.
Tumbled about a bit and then come back up here, do some work, have a time. I'm experimenting with shifting my diet. So, um, eating a bit later, sort of having two meals a day sort of, so I've got longer fasting. Mm-hmm. So I eat earlier. So I have two substantial meals in the middle, sort of on at 9 30, 10 o'clock, and one at about 5, 4 30.
And I find that helps with my sleep also because I'm really Yes. Huge. Um, ready for rest. So that's, There you go. Oh, that's beautiful. Yeah, the, and the meal timing is such a huge one. So everyone we work with is wearing, you know, consumer grade trackers, so they're wearing aura rings, whoop bands, et cetera.
But just the difference, a measurable difference when people move their meal timing earlier is profound. The difference in heart rate, H R V, heart rate variability, their body temperature, their respiratory rate, blood oxygen for some apnea instances, for many, it just, Wild. So I love that you're doing that.
The third one is, what might we see on your nightstand or if you're traveling, maybe proverbial nightstand, the apps, ambiance, gadgets, anything in the space or maybe nothing. Uh, sometimes people are minimalists, so let us know. Actually, zero anti gadgets. Honestly, uh, I mean, I think that the one thing that I do carry when I'm traveling is a really soft black eye patch.
Ah, yes. And, and good quality ear earplugs. Yeah. And the squish Sure is. That's what really matters. Yeah. And I think we have a beautiful bedroom, so, you know, having something lovely to look at when you wake up is, is delicious sheets, you know, that, those sorts of things. So just those sort of very simple things, but no pings or dings or beautiful.
It's so important and, and it's, there's, we've seen this trend, uh, on this podcast where there can be different sides of the spectrum where some spectrum is 9 million things, uh, in the space. And then there can be something very beautiful about the minimalism. And so important, I think, for the brain to just have a book, a candle or what, you know, what have you.
Right? So I'm a stack of poetry books. I mean, I, that, that's, yeah. Some of the, um, you know, I've got a stack of books on the, on the shelf, but sure. That's their quiet presence is there's nothing, um, there's nothing quiet, quiet presence. So well said. I'm excited to read your book with your vocab. Fantastic.
Okay, and then the last question, which I'm very curious for, given your background, what has made the biggest change to your sleep game or maybe the biggest aha moment in managing your sleep? I'd say there are two things there. I mean, the first is when I had. Chronic fatigue syndrome essentially. I was tired all the time.
Yeah. And it forced me to kind of work out the difference between sleeping and relaxing. Yeah. I discovered how to take sort of deep relaxation times. Yeah. And I into patches where I do one small activity like stand up or, you know, approach the, kind of put some toothpaste on my toothbrush or you know, small activity and unrest and.
I discovered how important it is to reset through a refreshing meditation. Yeah. Half an hour relaxation, how different that is to sleep. And so that allowed me to actually relish proper sleep and find, so I think that was the first thing that, that was the really important, I realized that. When you wake up month after months, not feeling refreshed, it's, it's so demoralized.
Yes. So I learned how to challenge myself and when I thought I was tired, it might be cause I was feeling sad or anxious or in pain or find ways of. Making a difference between what fatigue meant and how there were times to sleep and times to relax and making a difference between, I think that was, and then I think the other thing that's been useful for me has been to decide that it mattered a lot.
Mm-hmm. And so kinda setting boundaries with loved ones about, no, this is, but you have not note. Yeah, that's, You know, you wouldn't expect me to eat meat if I was vegan, you know, so Sure. This is, this is part of me being able to be the person you want me to be when I'm around. Yes. Is that I'm well rested.
So there's another big point of, there is a way in which I can serve from a position of strength, and that's, that means setting times to be quiet. Oh, I love that. So well said. And one of the things we'll speak to in our programs is sleep leadership and in your world being a leader and sharing, cuz unfortunately many people might experience that sleep is kind of this nice to have or an afterthought, so it can really stand as something a bit radical or outside of the bell curve to prioritize this.
To speak to this and make it important in our lives. Of course. I loved what you said too, cause it's a fine line. We're not trying to also be neurotic and not have spontaneity and fun every so often, but if we can strike that balance where maybe Pareto's principle or what have you, or most of the time we are really having and demonstrating to others what that can look like.
It doesn't have to be something so. Crazier outside of the realm of what's possible for people, that we can have it all, that we can socialize and be with people, but then also honor this area. That's really crucial and important to us. And I love what you said of the impact and the spillover that. If you wanna have me show up in this particular way and then being well rested is important to me and it's gonna be part of that process.
So beautifully said. And now I know people that are listening are likely going to wanna know how can they follow the light lady? How can they be a part of what is happening? And I love that your, you said it was your brother that is a PR guru with some. You out there? He's absolutely agree, yes. Okay, fantastic.
Well, I, we appreciate, uh, the work that he's doing too to support getting, uh, your message out here. And cuz it's so, so important, I cannot wait to read your book. So, like I said, if you're available, I know you're gonna be doing all kinds of things, but if available, maybe down the road to do a part two, cuz I know we just scratched the surface, but how can people follow you?
What's the best way? Well, I'm quite active on LinkedIn. I suppose that's where I spend most of my time is I've been targeting professionals. I trying to get them to kinda put the light on the map. That's a great place to find me and it's always a privilege when people reach out on there. I'm also on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, uh, and we post regularly sort of articles and stuff.
So I'm at Dr. Shelley James on all of those, so you can find me there. And my website is, Age of light innovations.com and I have a weekly newsletter which has ooh, kinda gems and stuff. Enough, so glad, if you'd like to, it's got stuff about what I'm doing, upcoming events and podcasts and, but also I'm passionate about translating the science because I'm privileged to know some amazing scientists, and very often their work doesn't get out as much as I think it should.
So I'm always sharing summaries of what they're up to. So, and summaries of what my other partners are doing. So, So, yeah, pop in and, and say hi. Oh my gosh, I'm signing up for your newsletter right now. I don't know how I missed that. That is amazing. Uh, it, when does it come out? The book comes out in September.
I'm just sending, sending out. I've just got my office proofs and mucking about with the cover and, uh, sending out review copies to a few amazing people. And, uh, it'll be on Amazon by September. Amazing. So good. And so, and you said the newsletter is every week too? On top of that? Every week. Just off an email to Shelley at.
Age of light innovations.com and uh, we'll pop you on the mailing list. It'd be a pleasure to have you there. Just, yeah, I'm always online, so pop in and say hello. Amazing. Well, Fanta, I just signed up for your newsletter to stay abreast of all of those things right now. So everyone listening, make sure you do that.
The light lady. I know I'm biased on this topic, but I truly believe that this is the next big thing in wellness, understanding our circadian rhythms to a practical level. So I think you're ahead of the curve and doing such important work. So thank you for taking the time to be here. It means the world.
Thank you so much for having me. It's been a real privilege. I'm looking forward to welcoming you in London at some point. Ooh, woohoo. Yay. More to come. You've been listening to The Sleep Is A Skill podcast, the number one podcast for people who wanna take their sleep skills to the next level. Every Monday I send out something that I call Mollie's Monday Obsessions containing everything that I'm obsessing over in the world of sleep.
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