Cold therapy for sleep?! Join us as we explore the fascinating world of ice baths and its incredible impact on sleep quality and overall health.
Our guest is Thomas P. Seager, Ph.D who speaks to the measurable benefits he has personally experienced with ice bathes and how it has transformed his health.
But hold on, that's not all! Dr. Seager will reveal groundbreaking discoveries and offer a potential solution for those dealing with declining testosterone levels and anxious thoughts at night. Uncover the latest in how cold can impact this hormone and learn how to reclaim your vitality.
Take advantage of these life-changing insights and control your sleep and energy levels.
Thomas P Seager, PhD teaches Engineering Business Practices at Arizona State University and is co-Founder of the Morozko Forge ice bath company. Dr. Seager's earned his PhD in environmental engineering at Clarkson University (Potsdam NY).
He has published over 180 research articles, been cited in scientific journals over 8000 times, and has won over $5M in research funding from the National Science Foundation, US Environmental Protection Agency, and the US Department of Defense. His expertise in resilient infrastructure systems and environmental sustainability has made him a popular speaker and a consultant to the Army Corp of Engineers and the Office of Naval Research.
Nonetheless, Dr. Seager's teachings in leadership, entrepreneurship, organizational communication, and human resilience have prompted him to reorganize his career around a novel concept called Self-Actual Engineering, in which he applies engineering principles to a fuller realization of human potential. Informed by his own transformational health journey, Dr. Seager’s most recent research reveals the relationship between deliberate cold exposure and human well-being.
In this episode, we discuss:
❄️ Metabolism and sleep
❄️ Testosterone and sleep
❄️ Elevated testosterone levels
❄️ Boosting performance with cold exposure
❄️ Testosterone in men and women
❄️ Screw up your circadian rhythm
❄️ Unusual sleep patterns
❄️ Ice bath and circadian rhythm
❄️ Cold exposure and circadian rhythm
❄️ Intermittent fasting and weight loss
❄️ Managing anxiety through ice baths
❄️ Shivering to release stress
❄️ The dive reflex
❄️ High T levels & enthusiasm
❄️ What could we learn from Dr. Seager's sleep night-habits?
❄️ And More!!
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Welcome to the sleep as 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 as a skill podcast. My guest today is Dr. Thomas Seager. He's an associate professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering at Arizona State University. He is also the founder of a new concept called self actual engineering that emphasizes application of design principles for the top of Maslow's hierarchy of human motivation rather than the bottom.
Seager co founded the Morosco Forge Ice Bath Company and is an expert in the use of ice fast for building metabolic and psychological resilience. We go into the weeds on the topic of utilizing cold therapy for your overall health, but particularly your sleep. I think you're going to really enjoy our conversation without further ado.
Let's jump into the podcast, but first a few words from our sponsors. The CDC reports that more than one in three Americans are sleep deprived, and it's estimated that sleep related issues like trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and sleep disorders affect around 50 to 70 million Americans. This is problematic because as you all know by now, if you've been listening to this podcast or on our Sleep Obsessions newsletter, Please sign up if you're not already signed up or are part of our program.
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goodidea. com and use the code sleep 10 for a 10 percent discount on your first order. Now invest in better sleep and in turn in a better, more energized life. And welcome to the sleep as a skill podcast. Really excited for this conversation today. Thomas, thank you so much for taking the time to be here.
It's a pleasure. Thanks for inviting me. Oh, fantastic. I know we're chatting beforehand on the various directions that we can take things is such a big topic, but I'm going to kind of try to distill it down and begin at the beginning of. How in the world did you get to become such an expert in various areas, but particularly out of this conversation in this, the benefits, the massive benefits of cold therapy, bringing it into your life, and then we'll bridge that to the domain of sleep.
You probably know Molly, or at least we can tell your audience, I'm a professor of civil engineering at Arizona state. So if they call me doctor, it's in the classroom. I have no medical training. And so sometimes people ask me, well, when did you start getting interested in health? And I remember it very well, because it was 2001 when my six year old son was diagnosed with type one diabetes.
So this goes um, Way back. I got to learn about metabolism. I got to learn about insulin. I got to learn about carbs and the Atkins diet and we're keeping journals and everything he ate his entire exercise level, all of the insulin that I was giving him what different type. And that's when I discovered that every dietician, every nutritionist we ever met with was full of crap.
That the advice that we were getting from endocrinologists and people who were being paid by our insurance company to try and help me keep my son healthy were making it worse. And it was because I had the data in his journals and that was the seed. Of distrust in what I would call what Jack Cruz would call centralized medicine, what some people would call allopathic medicine, and it began a journey of doing my own research.
Now, I know that that makes me a target of criticism on Twitter, you know, people who say, do your own research is just an excuse for making up science, except they forget. I've got a doctorate. I know how to go to the library. I know how to read a study. When I'm doing my own research, it's combining the experience of my son, of myself, of the people around me, the people who write to me and the studies that are going on in published in the library, in the peer reviewed journals.
These two ways of coming to knowledge, science and experience, they're very powerful and I learned this by, you know, when a nutritionist said, well, protein cannot increase your son's blood sugar, but here's the journal and it's No, he ate a cheeseburger with no bun, and four hours later, because I didn't give him enough MPH, his blood sugar is going up.
They didn't understand what gluconeogenesis is. They didn't understand that the liver makes blood glucose out of other component parts in the bloodstream. When the science and the experience contradict. You can't tell somebody that's what's happening to them isn't happening to them because there's no peer reviewed scientific study that proves it.
Their experience is incontrovertible, but it's just them. That's n equals one. When you get the science and the experience to agree, now you have a really powerful route to new knowledge. This is what has been happening to me, especially the last five years. My son has grown. I'm not responsible for his insulin or his blood glucose anymore.
And what I discovered is I spent so much time focusing on him. I'd kind of neglected myself. And so I had a lot of weight to lose. I had a lot of thinking about aging to do. I had a lot of metabolic dysregulation myself had to clean up my diet. I had to take care of health things in my life that new things that I had to learn about and ice bass are a big component of that.
Oh, wow. Well, first off, thank you so much for sharing that background and that clear passion may be forged out of some difficulties with that. already established path that many of us find ourselves going down and the allopathic centralized medicine and then you actually taking the reins and it sounds like really making a difference both for your family and yourself and so maybe that's a good place to begin is that the metabolic piece certainly for people with sleep one of the most common things that we hear over here and sleep is a skill is people frustrated around Waking up at 3 a.
m. and the difficulties with quality of their sleep and one of the things that we often can trace to make a difference for that really quickly, hopefully quickly is the realization of that the metabolic health component and that metabolic dysfunction and how often that is showing up. Throughout the course of their sleep and could be the cause of some of those wake ups or difficulty falling asleep.
So maybe beginning there cold therapy and that metabolic health piece. And it sounds like you found that to be a real important marriage. Almost all the research in sleep that I'm aware of treats sleep like it's a mental state and for good reasons, the brain is doing lots of different things and it is a mental state, but when you take exclusively the mental perspective, you overlook the fact that sleep is also a metabolic state and so that aspect of the research is somewhat underserved.
So what's the experience? Uh, you know, I got kids. Yeah. And when they were little, they used to love to play in the snow. Like I would put the long Johns on them and the suits and the hats. Cause parents are always worried that the kids are going to be cold. Kids know when they're cold, like they will tell you.
And my kids were out there. They thought they were at the beach, you know, doing their snow castles and building their sleds and the whole thing I knew. How well they were going to sleep that night. I could barely keep them awake at the dinner table because they were so exhausted. So we have this, this intuition about our kids, about, you know, our dogs, like we know when they're tired, they're going to sleep.
But sometimes we neglect to think about how that is reflected in our own lives. When it comes to cold exposure, there's a lot of work. You can read the articles on the internet about how cold is going to help you lose weight. You can Google this and there'll be 150 hits making this claim. So people do intuitively and scientifically understand the link between the cold and the metabolism.
But it's not going to help you lose weight. This is why there are no before after pictures on Instagram, you know, someone who's overweight like I still am in the same. I eat all the pizza I want. And then I get in the ice bath and look at me now. I'm ripped. You are never going to see, you know, those.
Photographs because the people don't exist. The N I H sponsored studies on brown fat and thermogenesis, they have shown that we do burn burn glucose. We clear it right out of our bloodstream when we're in the cold, we do burn triglycerides. There is a huge metabolic boost that comes from the cold exposure, and we feel this, we know this, but then what happens at night is what's called compensatory metabolic mechanisms.
Mm-hmm. at night, your metabolism. Goes back down. Your body knows your body knows how hard your brown fat was working, how hard you were shivering. Your body knows where your energy expenditure is. And so if you're only measuring metabolism during the cold or for a few hours after the cold and you're missing the nighttime, then you're going to miss the fact that metabolism goes back down.
Your body is compensating for all of the additional energy that it expended during the cold exposure. So what happens when your metabolism goes down, your body temperature goes down, and it doesn't have to be a lot degree, degree and a half Fahrenheit, and this is conducive to sleep because sleep is a slower metabolic state, and you're probably familiar with the circadian body temperature rhythms that said when you go to sleep, some people say sleep cold, you know, and that's Supposedly to help your body drop its temperature.
Now, I don't know if that's true. I haven't tested the cold sheets or the cooling products. I've read some of the articles of the people because I don't need to. I have an ice bath for that and when my body is naturally bringing the metabolism down to compensate for every all the energy that I expended during cold exposure.
I sleep great. Absolutely. And with that, is that something one? I could just check in to the Is there a structure or formula by which you've now developed for the amount of cold exposure that you have found for yourself? And I know we're talking about, you know, bio individuality and it's a big topic in general, but when you say that you've gotten that cold exposure and then that helps support that great sleep, what might that look like for people that have never even experienced cold exposure or are cold exposure curious and might want to start bringing that in?
It's a great question. I use an ice bath. And I'm not recommending that as a start. I mean, it's a thrill. You will get like a huge dopamine hit out of your ice bath, especially if you've never done it before, but I use my Morozco ice bath. I keep it at 34 degrees. I just did three minutes this morning, about an hour before getting on the call.
I do two to four minutes. Every morning. If I'm on the road, then I might do a cold shower. If the tap water in the hotel is cold enough. I try and keep some cold exposure in my life when I'm away from my ice bath. But for me, it's 2 to 4 minutes every morning. Then I do a little light exercise. Um. For me today, it was some curls.
I got my steel mace out. I did my three sixties that Leo Savage showed me. Um, I do some squats. I do some pull ups. It's very light work. And I've found that this boosts my testosterone. There's some good research on this. You get a little bit of a boost right away after cold and exercise. And you know that testosterone It climbs and climbs and climbs during the, at least for men during the night, it's peak in the morning and then it drops throughout the day.
So around 10 or 11, especially when the sun is on my porch, you can see it right over my shoulder. Um, I'll do my cold. It's only two to four minutes. I'll do my exercises. I will get some sunshine. I know other people, my friend, Brian call, he's up in hood river and he's a chiropractor who does stem cell treatments.
A lot of all health. He likes doing his at night. So when he came to visit me and he was in my ice bath at nine o'clock at night, I said, Brian, how can you sleep? He says, I sleep like a baby. My aura ring tells me so, you know, but I get so much energy out of the ice bath. I'm a morning kind of guy. People do have different kinds of circadian rhythms and I don't mean to tell anybody what's right for them.
What's right is what's working. Yeah, that's a great point. Absolutely. So if people are questioning on the where to put that, that kind of paradoxical warming effect that seems to happen for most people after cold exposure, there could make sense to what it sounds like. It's kind of shook out to where you're putting it on that.
potentially first half of the day could align with part of what we're aiming to create, which is that kind of warm effect of our overall body temperature by day, and then that marked drop by night. So I appreciate that, that you're calling that out. And then the testosterone piece, fascinating stuff. I mean, that was actually one of the first ways that I Stumbled across your work.
And so certainly will give people ways to make sure they're following the things that you're doing and certainly following you on social media, et cetera. But if you can double down on that testosterone piece, because one of the things we speak to for people and particularly, of course, for men, but applies across the board of, for that testosterone piece.
Is how important sleep is to great testosterone rates and levels and an overall consistency to continue that across life. Now, what you seem to be pointing to are some marked improvements for people with testosterone and cold therapy. I'm wondering if you can share more about that and how that would support sleep.
This was an enormous accident for me. It goes back. almost six years now. Um, I was getting, you know, the male blood panel in Arizona. You can order a lot of your own blood tests. And so I'm like, I'm kind of getting into biohacking. I'm like, okay, check that box. And I go to the lab and they take the blood out and they give me it all the cholesterol.
And I don't know what it's CRP and a whole bunch of other, these things. And of course, for men, they're going to measure free and total testosterone. Well, that came back and it was like, 700. You know, it's fine. Most people would say, Hey, Tom, you're 51. You're doing great at those levels of testosterone. I didn't think anything about it because it was a big red exclamation mark next to my prostate specific antigen.
It was high. It was almost eight, whatever the units are, and according to the lab report, they're like, well, you should get this checked out. You know, this is an elevated risk of prostate cancer and blah, blah, blah. Now I got to go to the Internet and I got to read about PSA. It turns out PSA is a really big deal.
Unreliable test of cancer. It is not a diagnostic criteria, but it is an indication of inflammation of the prostate. And at the time I'm 51, maybe 52 years old. And I can't remember the last time I had it. It was been 10 years since I had a prostate exam. Cause who the hell wants to go through that? And the more I read the weirder my head starts getting like, Oh, urinating too much.
Am I not urinating enough? Am I feeling it? And This huge anxiety comes up in me about, I know I should go to the urologist. I know I should get checked out. But I started talking with other guys and they're like, Oh yeah, that happened to me. And then we did a biopsy and then I had a prostatectomy and like this whole cascade.
Once you are in contact with the centralized medicine system, and they realize you've got really good insurance through the university that is your employer, they don't want to let you go. There's another test and another test. And it was, um, I can't remember if it was Mark Sisson or somebody else, uh, did a whole thread on how the biopsy that he did on his prostate, um, became infected.
He got sepsis. This was a life threatening, uh, situation. Antibiotics, thank goodness, cleared it up for him. And it was enough to convince me, I don't want any of that. I'm going to do keto, and I'm going to do ice baths, and I'm going to see if I can attack this inflammation metabolically. It made sense to me.
Sure. Six months later, I got to get, you know, the panel again, my PSA is down to 0. 8 and anything less than four is considered normal for me. I'm out of whatever danger zone that might've indicated, but there is a new red exclamation mark on my labs and it's next to testosterone because I came back 1180 nanograms per deciliter and it was way above range, especially for a man my age.
Question is. What's going on? I found this 1991 study from Japan in which they put young men, not my age, but young men in the ice bath, sorry, up to their elbow in an ice bath, not even whole body, just cold stimulation. And then they measure their testosterone. It went down. But when they did the ice bath and then exercise, it goes up.
So I'm like, well, maybe that explains it because I was doing ice baths for my prostate and then I would get out and I'd be all cold and I'd have to warm up and he would walk to work and this is a mile and a half or I would do my pushups, my jumping jacks, whatever, just because I was cold. A little bit of exercise.
Afterwards. So I started doing more reading the Italian rugby team, you know, like there's all of these young male athlete cohorts that have been examining the testosterone and it consistently shows that if you do exercise and then your ice bath, just like your football coach in high school told you to do, or just like the cross country guy said you should do your testosterone goes down.
But if you do the cold, Yeah. And then the exercise in men, testosterone goes way up. So you got to imagine now I'm feeling confident in myself. Cause I got the PSA report. Now I go to my urologist and now I'm like, Hey, clean bill of health. Right. Now, urologist says, uh, well, I think we should just do one more test.
Now he's about my age, maybe a couple of years older, and he doesn't tell me this, but the test is for luteinizing hormone. Luteinizing hormone is a, is a precursor. It's what stimulates the testes to produce the testosterone. He saw my report. He didn't care about my prostate anymore. He wanted the test because he thought I was juicing.
He was looking at me and he's like. There's no way this fat guy in his 50s has a, you know, 1180 nanograms per deciliter. So he ordered another test, one of the ones that I couldn't get myself online. My luteinizing hormone comes back. It's off the charts, big red exclamation mark. And this tells me I'm really onto something.
Even though I'm older than all of the athletes in all of the studies, I'm getting this big T boost from the cold exposure and then the exercise. Well, nothing really happened. I mean, I wrote an article, but nothing really happened until... December of 2022 and I don't know if you follow liver king. I mean, he's worth a good laugh and he's so exaggerated.
It's like everybody knew he was on steroids. Why bother denying it? But he finally came out and he got caught and he's like, okay, I'm juicing. So Joe Rogan did a whole, you know, he was curious about it. He had Derek from more plates, more dates on there talking about the juicing and Joe finds my article.
And he says, you know, I've been reading about this guy and he pulls up my Instagram posts and he says, evidently there's some big benefit to doing the cold exposure before your exercise. He talks to Huberman about it. Huberman's like, yep. Check in with Craig Heller at Stanford. He's done a bunch of studies on this.
You get a huge boost in peak muscle power output. You get a huge boost in endurance. In other words, the cold will postpone fatigue. So there are now two reasons to do exactly the opposite of what your high school coach taught you to do. Do your cold, then your exercise, both for the performance boost. And for the testosterone boost, if what you're going for is the anabolic gains, use exercise to recover from your ice bath, not the other way around.
But Molly, we haven't talked about women. Because all of these studies are, you know, on European football players or something. There is one study of cold and testosterone in women. And it's this classic undergraduate psychology major type study. They took men and women. College age, early 20s, they use the cold presser test, which is the same thing that they did in Japan, just one hand in the ice water.
They measured testosterone in the saliva. Women went way up. Men didn't change. The men have to exercise, but the one study that we have about women says they might get a T boost. Even without the exercise, just get a little bit of cold, you could get an immediate T boost. If you're like the young women that were participating in that study.
But we really need more studies, especially on older women, menopausal women. We really need something better than a saliva test. But so far, the data says women can get the boost even without the exercise. Why would men and women be different? Well, the testes are outside the body. The ovaries, which make testosterone in women, are inside the body.
Why shouldn't they be different? This is one, testosterone is one of those gender differences that could very well respond to cold in men and women. Differently because we have different anatomy, but women shouldn't neglect their testosterone levels. It is the dominant sex hormone in women to healthy women have three to four times the testosterone in their bloodstream.
Then they have estrogen. And you wouldn't know it because if you, you know, do your blood report and you get your female panel and it tells you the testosterone and the estrogen will come back and they're reported in different units. And it looks like for women, the estrogen is higher. You have to convert them to the same units.
And then you realize, wow, testosterone is the dominant sex hormone in men and in women. So women should be watching their levels, especially as they get older, just like men should. Wow, so fascinating. I'm so glad that the work you're doing is getting some of this being amplified and now so many people, I mean, I'm glad I'm able to get you on now before you're even further blown up.
I've already watched some of your social media grow and grow, so huge congrats and just gets to the point of how important this is to get out and it wouldn't be so Blossoming and blooming. If it wasn't a big problem. I wonder if you can share just a little bit about what is the scope of the problem as far as testosterone rates for men.
And if you have any of that information for women, just so we understand a bit more of the scope of what we're dealing with. I think many people know that it's going down, but to what degree are we working with the entire uh, Health of the American population is going down life expectancy in the United States peaked in 2018 long before COVID long before vaccine conspiracy there like 2018 and it has fallen off a cliff since the big question is why and it's metabolism there are.
Multiple routes to mitochondrial injury. Mitochondria are the organelles inside your cells that convert energy into forms, that you can use it in brown fat. The mitochondria will convert glucose and lipids into heat, and that's to defend your core body temperature when you're exposed to cold. So mitochondria are key to your metabolism, and there's three ways to damage them.
One is too many carbs for too long. You overload the mitochondria. Your cells become insulin resistant, perhaps in an attempt to protect the mitochondria from that glucose overload. So one, too many carbs. Two, too many seed oils. The, um, omega 6 fatty acids dominate seed oil, so, you know, they call them vegetable oil, but corn and cotton seed are not vegetables, they are seeds, and you got to get them out of your diet, but they're so cheap that they are in every processed food, they become incorporated into the cell membranes, so.
Because the membrane of the cell is made out of lipids. And if the only lipids that you're given yourselves are these omega 6 fatty acids in the seed oil, you will make cell membranes out of the wrong type of fatty acid. The third way to do it is to screw up your light exposure and your circadian rhythm.
Mitochondria make their own melatonin. And this was like a revelation to me. I was on the phone with Joe Mercola and he's like, well, Tom, I just got this paper. You got to read it. Mitochondria make their own melatonin. He sent me the thing and I couldn't believe it either. If you're going to screw up your light and screw up your circadian rhythm, you're going to screw up your mitochondria.
When your mitochondria. are damaged. Your metabolism is out of whack. And so the way to keep yourself young and vital and to heal is to keep your mitochondria in good shape. That requires you to do three things. Um, manage your carbs relative to your exercise in your cold. Uh, get the seed oils out of your diet.
That's it. And manage your light exposure in your circadian rhythm. So, when we talk about testosterone, you know that it has the circadian rhythm. And many of the metabolic interventions, whether it's intermittent fasting or keto, uh, that support the mitochondria also support testosterone production.
What's happening with young men today? Is that they have testosterone levels that were typical of 65 year olds 20 years ago. This is how far metabolism has fallen off a cliff. And it's these three things that are doing it to us. What has changed in the last 20 years? Well, there's carbs over every processed food.
We've had that for a long time. Seed oils are way up. They continue to become the cheapest way to feed you processed foods. And the introduction of cell phones, smartphones, tablets, everything else is screwing up our circadian rhythm and the production of melatonin at the times we need it. Mitochondria make their own melatonin.
To protect the mitochondria from the overproduction of reactive oxygen species, that is to protect the mitochondria while they're doing their job. And that's why screwing up your circadian rhythm and your melatonin production inside your mitochondria are going to leave them vulnerable to damage and testosterone levels are falling off a cliff.
They don't have to. They don't have to. Yes, absolutely. Another thing that's happened in the last 20 years or so is often a study I say routinely back in 2001 when the EPA was able to quantify that in America, the average American was spending around 93 percent of their time indoors and broke down to Inside in an automobile.
So indoor environments and I was in 2001 before a pandemic smartphones, Netflix, all the things. So it's likely even more. And so how much is that throwing off our circadian rhythm quite pronounced and then static temperature environment indoors. Static lighting and so that divorcing from those rhythms and to your point that bi directional relationship that we start to see when our circadian rhythm is dysfunctional out of sorts and then impacting our sleep and then of course impacting starting all over again at the beginning with that metabolic health.
So, so, so aligned with you on this point. It's so important and impacts our entire. experience of life. If you have this rock bottom testosterone readouts, both for men and to your point, bringing this conversation in for women and how crucial this is. So I so appreciate that. Now, a couple of things. One, we ask every person that comes on a podcast a couple of questions about how they're managing their sleep.
And I'm super curious to go in deeper with you on how you're managing these things so that people can start to see, Oh my gosh, I can work these things into my life and get some of the results that you've measurably objectively gotten. That have really made this difference and giving you a whole new quality of life.
And to the point that most people think enough that your doctors are questioning if you're juicing or whatever, all these things, because it just, it's so rare, sadly, nowadays to see that measurable improvement in that amount of time. So. Let's dive in on our first question that we ask everyone, which is what does your nightly sleep routine look like right now?
What can we learn from you? Well, you just asking the question makes me feel self conscious, like I'm supposed to have one. Like, I, you know, I'm talking to a sleep expert on a sleep podcast and I'm like, oh yeah, I should really be managing my sleep. I bought an Oura Ring, you know, a couple, three years ago, right?
And I put it on and it said, Professor Seager, you're sleeping great. Yeah, it doesn't actually call me professors here, but you got feedback that I get like you're sleeping great. Okay. Yeah, it'll be doing that Right next night. You're sleeping great I was just sleeping great. I gave that thing away. Like, I, if it's, I mean, what am I supposed to do?
But, um, but to be fair, I do have unusual sleep patterns because it could be 830 at night and I'm out. Um, that's all I got. I do a lot of writing. I've been working on my book. I'm going to call it Uncommon Cold. I have two and a half more chapters. This thing is like 140, 000 words. Oh, the only thing worse than writing is going to be trying to read it, Molly.
Like, it's all the scientific studies and stories of people in the cold. And sometimes it gets to be eight o'clock and I don't have any more energy. I want to get up and I want to start writing again because I'm super motivated. You know, I'm a professor. I live like this monastic existence. Sometimes I'm a scholar and so it'll be eight 15 and I go, okay, the fastest way I can get back to writing is to put myself to bed right now and then I'll get up at four o'clock in the morning.
It's that twilight, you know, I'll be able to see the dawn, I'm really happy about it. Everything is quiet and I get right back into writing. So if I'm managing my sleep, part of what I'm doing is I go to bed early. Yeah. If I want to give my sleep a little boost, I'll get some of that stuff that Kirk Parsley told me for, you know, from the sleep doctor.
I go online and I mix a little shot of his powder. If I just want to put myself down on my pillow without, uh, you know, drinking beer or something like that, um, then I'll use Kirk's stuff. Oh, so good. I mean, we had him on the I know we were chatting about this, I think before we hit record. So fantastic.
Some of the work he's doing and it's been supportive of helping for people that have found themselves down the path of pharmaceuticals and sleeping aids and Z drugs and benzos. Now, of course, always the asterisk working with a professional, et cetera, when you're getting off is particularly drugs like that.
And he has done a lot to help sound the alarm of the importance of ensuring that we have alternative approaches so that we're not just long term using some of these and we know how much they can affect sleep architecture, etc. And I love that you also spoke to. I think one of the things that we can get out of what you're sharing is there are times when there's an analogy of sleep hunger and sometimes we don't have as much of a hunger same akin to eating for certain foods as we do with other times and same rules seem to apply for sleep that sometimes we're very hungry for sleep and we might want to have that a little bit earlier.
Other times we might not be as hungry and we go to bed a little bit later and but just having a little bit of that intuition listening to our body and it sounds like it's largely very circadian aligned from what I'm gathering from you. You seem to be early leaning if I'm hearing that correctly.
Mostly my ice bath is on my balcony facing east. I almost always get the dawn and you know in the summer I got to get up a little earlier to get it but I really enjoy it. Because the combination of the cold and the sunshine, it does good things for me. Now, you know, that's good for circadian rhythm, but I heard from a reader who said that, um, he thinks that his ice bath is pushing his clock.
Earlier and earlier, you know, some people are built for like a 23 and a half hour day or a 23 hour day. And he thought his ice bath was pushing him down to like a 22 and a half hour day And I thought that's funny because sometimes I experience that too the next thing, you know It's 3 30 in the morning and i'm up.
I don't think there's anything wrong with that Um, that is to say, I get up and I start doing things and I enjoy those things. But every once in a while, I'll say it might be time for a sleep reset. I should be staying up till, you know, the 1030. I should do something. I believe in intermittent living. So what this means is variability.
I'm not much of a routine guy and some people will say, Oh, you should get your eight hours, your nine hours every night. No, there are some nights I'll get five, especially if I'm in keto. I don't seem to need as much sleep, but there are some nights I will stay up late and I will still get up early. This idea of variable sleep patterns, variable diet patterns, variable thermal patterns seems to be working really well for me.
So if I feel like I'm getting too early and I want to reset, I'll stay up late. I'll put myself into sleep deficit for a day and then I'll see how that works for me. Interesting. I love the, uh, end of one kind of approach and then testing this and seeing what's working, what's not working. That's fantastic.
And so with your sleep cycling to your point around could. This cold exposure be impacting our circadian rhythm because we know that it's not exactly 24 hours and it does seem to be bio individual and for some people a little bit shorter, a little bit longer and things can affect the timing quite dramatically.
given what we're exposing ourselves to and since presumably we think that cold exposure should have a bit of excitatory effect as you've pointed to and the research seems to support depending on the time that we're getting that then it could front load us a bit earlier or if we're pushing it out it might back load us so that we're having a later sleep onset time so I like that.
We should not be surprised if you start a program of regular cold water immersion, we should not be surprised if it does impact your rhythm, because there are hormones and neurotransmitters that are part of our circadian rhythm, you mentioned testosterone, cortisol is another one, and these are affected by what we're doing with the cold.
If you're going to boost your testosterone later in the morning, Perhaps it's telling your body to be on a different clock. If you're going to normalize your cortisol, uh, the cold exposure seems to take people who are low up and some people who are high, it seems to bring them back down. But if you're going to normalize your cortisol with the cold exposure, knowing the cortisol is also one of these sort of circadian diurnal rhythms, then why shouldn't we be observant to changes in our circadian cycle.
We should. So wise. So good. All right. Well, I think we've actually led us into the second question, which is what is your morning quote unquote sleep routine look like with the argument that how you start your day can impact your sleep. And so it sounds like you've got some of this intermittent or cycling effect of the amount that you're getting of the cold exposure and the timing of your sleep, et cetera.
So what would we often see for your morning routine? Well, I was talking to Patrick Porter. He says, you know, I delay coffee. I don't have coffee for the first three or four hours. And, uh, he's the expert on the brain and he's probably right about this. And, but I'm going to say if that's the measure, then I have a crappy morning routine because I will get up and I will make coffee.
I love coffee until I figured out that. The coffee was probably just enabling my heavy cream habit. So I break my fast. I get right into the caffeine and I can give you a list of excuses because for me, the most important thing that happens in the early morning hours is I get back to the book. And I start doing the writing.
You probably read some of the articles. Like, I do a lot of research and I do a lot of storytelling in my writing. And those are the magic moments for me. That's amazing. I love that. That's very inspiring. And you said you do eat in the morning hours. So the meal timing piece. I'll have probably three or four tablespoons of heavy cream.
It adds up to maybe, I don't know, 200 calories or something like this. And so, you know, some people say, well, that doesn't really break your fast and it's zero carb, but I won't get hungry until noon because the heavy cream is working its way through my system. When I weighed 250 pounds and figured out I needed to do something about it.
I didn't know what intermittent fasting was. I was just skipping lunch and it wasn't hard to do because the faculty type lunches that we have on campus are all full of crap and Domino's pizza and that kind of thing. Then I read Taleb's book, Anti Fragile, and this is along the lines of the intermittent living.
And he talked about how the Mediterranean diet isn't as much about what they do eat. It's about when they don't and so all of the intermittent fasting was a big part of me going from 250 down to about 195. Well, I'm back up to between 210 and 215. I probably have too much subcutaneous fat, but I got a healthy metabolism.
I'm not complaining or I would do something about it. Every time I start thinking self consciously. I'm like Tommy used to be 250 and you are unhealthy. Now you're doing fine. Ah, amazing. Okay, I love that. And then the third question would be, what might we see on your nightstand or if you're traveling or what have you, maybe proverbial nightstand apps, ambiance, gadgets, what have you?
Books. You're going to see books on my nightstand. You will see note cards. You will see pens and pencils. Because sometimes you wake up with an idea, let me rephrase, sometimes I wake up with an idea. One of the things that I do, I started this in grad school, is, you know, maybe it's 8. 30 and I'm working on something, I'm going to put myself to bed, but I will give myself a problem.
I will say, here's where I got stuck, and this is what brain, you have a homework assignment tonight, and your homework is to figure out, and it could be, you know, in grad school, it was entropy. You got to figure out what, because I did a lot of thermodynamics in grad school and entropy was a big problem and I'll wake up and I'll be like, that's it.
So, you know, recently it was cortisol. You got to figure out cortisol and I had a crappy article on it and. I needed to make it a better article. So I give my brain a homework assignment and then somehow in the morning I wake up and I want to write that thing down before I lose it. Well, if you don't have a specific homework assignment for your brain, if you're not, you know, guys are like this, you're like, what's wrong with the starter motor, you know, where is that loose wire in the, or whatever they're thinking about.
If you don't have one of those, then I'll pick up a book. What do I want to think about tonight? Ah, the author of the book will put me in the right frame of mind to be thinking about these things right before I go to bed. So I don't have to, you know, I can read a page or two. I can read a favorite passage out of one of my favorite books, and it will put my brain in the right state of mind to think about things.
And then I want to have the pencils and the note cards that I can write that stuff down. Oh, that's fantastic. Makes me think. I wonder if you've seen and you think I'm on Amazon for like 15 bucks or something, but there's these fun pens that have red light at the base of them. So then they can write. So it will glow and you can have.
I have a lot of clients that have them on their nightstand and they have those moments at 3 a. m. or whatever and then you can We'll write it down without impacting melatonin. What a good idea. I know. I only just discovered those not too long ago, but they've been such a cool little addition, but I love it.
Sounds like for you, there's no shortage of the excitement that you stress, that looking for the answers and having the brain going and sometimes tapping into that circadian nature, even in our thoughts. And how the nature of our thoughts change at different times throughout the course of the day from that diurnal piece So I love that you're cultivating that setting up an environment that helps support that that's fantastic amazing Okay, so then our last question I should say the fourth question What would you say has made the biggest change to your sleep game or said another way?
Maybe the biggest aha moment in managing your own sleep What keeps me up, you know, there's this expression. What keeps you up at night? Yeah, and um, we throw it out like it's a cliche, but there's truth to it. What keeps me up is anxiety because my brain will live in the future. There's no data from the future, you know, but we, but these anxieties are fears that haven't even happened yet.
We torture ourselves in our imagination and I'm no different. So I will start, you know, going through all these possible scenarios of catastrophe in my mind and somehow. My brain doesn't want to let go of those, so I get in the ice bath because when you stimulate the dopamine, the norepinephrine, all the neurotransmitters that respond to cold exposure, you get in the ice bath and you are in your present moment.
You're not in there going. I wonder what my treasury portfolio is going to be like, you know, when I reach retirement, these thoughts, they cannot intrude upon you anymore because you are like in this emergency state and you must talk to your toes. You must talk to your body and structure your breathing.
It snaps you back to the present moment. And then here's, um, a tip. Most people in the ice bath are going to try and postpone shivering. They're in there for metabolism. They want to get their brown fat. They've been listening to Huberman, maybe, and they're like, hey, see how long you can go without shiver.
And it's fun. And it's great. But if you are stressed out and anxious, Go ahead and bring that shiver on, like get, sometimes I'll start shivering after 45 seconds in the ice bath because it will reset your central nervous system. There's something called in psychology, trembling, this trembling response.
And, um, if you're a hunter, you've seen it, or if you've hit a deer on the side of the road, you'll see how it will. twitch. Sometimes it'll twitch and it'll get right up and sometimes it'll twitch right before it dies. The trembling response is a way of releasing stress from the body so that stress does not become post traumatic stress disorder.
And I'm getting this from Peter Levine's book, um, Unspoken voice. He's got another one waking the tiger in which he talks about the somatic experience of stress and how it is released through this trembling. But I'm also getting this through the literature on post operative recovery from anesthesia.
People often shiver and they used to think it was because they got hypothermic during the surgery. There's some truth to that, because the core temperature goes down, the body goes into a lower metabolic state as a result of the anesthesia, but if that were the case, then why is it surgery on the limbs that puts people with this greater association with post operative treatment.
Trembling. It's because the immobilization and the invasion of the body, especially the brain surgery is a trauma. And when they come out of the anesthetic, their body starts to tremble, not for warmth, but to release that's Trump. Well, the stress so it doesn't become PTSD. You are having that trouble. Get yourself into the ice bath and bring the shiver on.
It will reset your nervous system. You will structure your breathing. You will come back from it. But all of that shivering is going to help your parasympathetic, sorry, your sympathetic nervous system kind of get that energy that is. Bound up that has no release. Get it out of your body and then let your parasympathetic, the rest and digest division of your autonomic nervous system take over again.
Maybe that's how my friend Brian can do an ice bath at nine and then go straight to bed. Right, sure. Wow. That's so good. I love that. And actually, as you were just speaking, it made me think for anyone that is listening and, you know, blown away, fascinated by the work you're doing, the impact it's making, the studies that you're bringing to light, if they're saying, Oh my God, I, I'm not doing any of this, what would you, do you have a go to kind of like beginner's protocol, like the baby amount that they could start implementing that could make a difference to start with?
Yeah. It's hard in Phoenix. Yeah. You know, it's a 110 degrees here right now. The tap water is about 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It's hard to find the cold in the winter. Um, a good way to start is under dressing. Don't put a coat on. Don't put a sweater on you. Remember when you were little and your mom said, put on a jacket, you're going to get the death of cold or whatever.
And you're like, I'm fine, mom. Yeah. Go out like you were a kid. When you were a kid, you used to love to go to the beach and you didn't care. You're splashing the waves, no matter what the temperature was. So one way to approach this is to be playful about it. It's either called underdressing or go swimming in any natural body of water.
Um, you're not going to get a huge metabolic benefit, but you're going to put yourself in the right frame of mind. And here's what I mean by frame of mind. A lot of people, especially when they get older, They have no brown fat by the time you're 40 years old, 95 percent of Americans have zero detectable brown fat in their body, and that's because they haven't been cold.
So the brown fat is all gone and people tell themselves a story like, Oh, I hate the cold. Oh, I can't stand to be cold. No, you know, we got to turn the thermostat. I have to bundle it. The right frame of mind is to play with it at first to bring yourself back to that childlike state to say, well, instead of just sitting by the pool and sunning myself up, I'll go in for a little bit to stop thinking of the cold as dangerous and start thinking of the cold as playful when you've made that transition.
Now you're ready to do some real metabolic work. And the easiest thing to do is fill your bathtub up at home with tap water. Just cold. People talk about cold showers. I hate cold showers. I know. It makes me angry. Right? And there's reasons for it. There's um, a group of researchers in Finland at this university of, I can't even pronounce it, but it's like Oulu or something like this.
And they're practically on the Arctic Circle and they do some of the best work on cold exposure. So they compared partial. With whole body. Partial makes your heart rate go up. It's called the gasp reflex. When you first put your feet in the ice bath, your heart rate goes up, your liver releases glycogen into your bloodstream.
So your blood glucose goes up and you are prepared for a fight. It's going to be fight or flight. And that's the gasp reflex. But as you Immerse yourself. I like to go up to my neck, you know, and the dive reflex takes over. Now you can bring the dive reflex on all of a sudden. If you cover your nostrils with water, every mammal has a dive reflex.
The dive reflex calms everything down. It slows down your heart rate. It slows down your metabolism. It slows down your rate of carbon dioxide production. Because your body, evolutionarily, is designed to go into the water. Maybe you gotta go get the oysters, or you gotta go, I don't know, spear a fish, or, you know, whatever your ancient ancestors used to do.
The dive reflex takes everything down. Now, if you're in the cold shower, you get all gasp reflex, no dive reflex. Because... It's just, you know, it's here, and then it's here, and then it's there. If you're going to start with cold showers, keep the water off the top of your head. Just let it, there's brown fat up here.
If you've got any, there's brown fat at the top of your back. Let it come over your chest. Let it come off the back of your neck and go over your shoulder. And this is good. It's better than nothing. But the way to get started after you've adopted this playful mindset is to fill up your tub and get yourself Up to your clavicles in tap water, and then you can empty the ice cube tray in there.
You can work your way down from there. Oh, that's so brilliant, and I appreciate that you add some of the why on. That's been certainly my experience. I haven't heard that from others. Just the shower, not having the same effect that you can tap into literally with the tap water and the bathtub. So that is fantastic.
And I think it helps democratize this piece. So instead of you're saying, well, I can't afford, you know, a fancy thing and what have you, this is a way that we can all kind of begin. Hopefully. And I understand there's different seasons that might be more conducive or what have you, but that is really, really helpful.
So we can kind of all get in this conversation. And then even just when it's cool out, like you said, just taking off some layers and exposing ourselves and maybe dismantling a bit of this ideology of I'm a cold person, I'm a heat person, you know, whatever we say to ourselves, maybe that's not exactly the case.
So good. Ah, well, thank you so much for the amazing work you're doing. How can people follow you, the book, the social media, the study, the things that you're writing, all of it? You can find me, your listeners can find me on Instagram at SeagerTP, S E A G E R T P. There's a ton of articles that are all going to be incorporated in my book on morozcoforge.
com. Click on the journal tab. Okay, you'll see a bunch of stuff that I've been writing, and you can read some of my other stuff at seagertp. substack. com. That's a random collection of book chapters, like preview chapters of the Uncommon Cold book, and other thoughts about teaching and entrepreneurship, and Creating value and innovation and relationships.
Ah, amazing. Well, I am so grateful to have the opportunity to speak to you. Like I said, I see it that you're gonna just continue to blow up. So thanks for thank you, Molly. It's been a pleasure. Yeah, and I'm excited for this book to come out. It sounds like it's been quite the labor of love. So can't wait to dive into that.
No pun intended and appreciate so much that you're getting this message out. With such enthusiasm so rare to see that ability for someone to be able to share some of this research with the level of the speaking skills that you clearly have and the energy and the passion and the high key levels and the whole world of it.
So thank you for the work you're doing. It's a pleasure. I'm glad you're getting something out of it. Certainly. I'm gonna, I know people listening will really, really appreciate this. And you're providing the hope for those that are seeing the snows diving T rates and what have you, just the experience of life that that creates.
And you're providing. possible solution for people. So thank you. Thank you. You've been listening to the sleep as a skill podcast, the number one podcast for people who want to take their sleep skills to the next level. Every Monday, I send out something that I call Molly's Monday obsessions, containing everything that I'm obsessing over in the world of sleep, head on over to sleep as a skill.com to sign up.