Dr. Azure Grant joins the podcast to discuss how our bodily rhythms relate to our sleep and overall health. Learn how you can live in alignment with different bodily rhythms as well as seasonal rhythms. Learn the benefits of self-tracking and why you may choose to work with a professional.
Crescent Health has wearable data trackers that can help you become aware of your sleep quality and improve your sleep. Try them with the promo code listed below!
Dr. Azure Grant is a researcher at the intersection of metabolic and hormonal health, and biological rhythms. She studies how peripheral timeseries can be used to predict discrete health events. Her graduate work at UC Berkeley mapped autonomic predictors of reproductive development and metabolic disruption from adolescence, to adulthood, to pregnancy; and used these findings to co-develop tools for real-world reproductive health monitoring. After graduation, Azure began directing fertility research at Prima-Temp recently joined the Crescent Health team as a "Scientist-in-Residence". Her goal in each project is to create collaboration among academic, non-profit, and private partners to promote research in metabolic & women's health.
In this episode, we discuss:
🧘How your bodily rhythms relate to your sleep and overall health
🧘Three types of rhythms: Ultradian, Circadian, and Infradian
🧘How your ovulatory cycle impacts sleep
🧘How to live in alignment with seasonal rhythms
🧘How technology and coaches can help you improve your sleep
🧘The benefits of self-tracking your sleep
🧘Why you may want to work with a professional to help improve your sleep
🧘How Crescent Health’s wearable data trackers can help you become aware of your sleep quality
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.
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Welcome to the sleep is a skilled 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. My guest today is Dr. Azure Grant and she is a researcher at the intersection of metabolic and hormonal health and biological rhythms. She studies how peripheral time series can be used to predict discrete health. Her graduate work at UC Berkeley mapped, automatic predictors of reproductive development and metabolic disruption from adolescents to adulthood, to pregnancy and used these findings to co-develop tools for real world reproductive health monitoring.
After graduation, Azure began directing fertility research at prima temp recently joined the Crescent health team as a scientist in reside. Her goal in each project is to create collaboration among academic, nonprofit, and private partners to promote research in metabolic and women's health. And as a quick aside for women of menstruating age, she has been really instrumental working with aura and to help ensure that we can have.
Awareness in what's happening with our menstrual cycle, as it's related to some of the metrics that are coming through on the, or ring as it relates to our body temperature and then starting to connect some of these changes and track our cycle within the app. So really exciting stuff that she's up to as well as her work with Crescent health, which is a great team that we've been connected with for quite some time, love the work that they're doing.
She's also linked up with levels health and looking at how our glucose relates to our sleep. So lots to discuss. I think you're gonna really enjoy this conversation. Let's jump in. 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.
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 a 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 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.
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And welcome to the sleep is a skilled podcast. I am so excited to get into this topic today. Uh, we are talking about a lot of things today with our guests, and I'm so grateful that you actually were able to take the time to, you know, deliver your massive amount of information. I know we're starting to.
Dive into it before we even hit record. And I knew that this is gonna be one of those ones where it's gonna be jam packed with lots of actionable takeaways. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you for taking the time. Thank you very much. I've been listening to your podcast lately and I'm very happy to be here among so many cool people that you've had on the show.
So hopefully it won't feel like an overwhelming amount of information and it can be pretty intuitive too. Absolutely. Oh, fantastic. Well, you are. Good company. I'm so excited with your background on all the things that you've done, really pioneering to make a difference in this area of, in trainmen and how many, many things that we are doing and putting ourselves in an environment in each and every day are impacting our health and wellbeing as it relates, of course, to our sleep, the sleep is a skill podcast.
So from that place, I'm wondering if you can just kind of start at the beginning and share with us. First, how you even found yourself in this arena and how this all connects so perfectly to this world of sleep optimization. Absolutely. So I'm a physiology and biological rhythms researcher. I did my grad work at UC Berkeley in the neuroscience department.
And, and now I'm working on the interactions between metabolism, female reproduction and sleep. Largely. I got into this kind of before I knew I had gotten into it. And that was when I was little, a couple people in my family started taking a pretty experimental form of hormone replacement firm menopause.
And that introduced me to the idea that a there were. Monthly rhythms that women had and then lost at some point, and that it might be possible to bolster or replace those later on. And so fast forward, like 10 years, at least I was at Cal and I was introduced to a lab that was studying biological rhythms.
And so that was everything from within the day to our daily rhythms and, and sleep wake cycles to ovulatory rhythms and longer—time scales. And so I was pretty fascinated with the idea that our bodies don't just change in a straight line. They change in a predictable manner and it reminded me a lot of the way we enjoy music and things that are are rhythmic and in a sensory way.
And I just thought it was kind of beautiful that our bodies work this way too. And it turned out to be not just beautiful from a scientific perspective, but also really useful for how we live our. Wow really interesting background. And I like that analogy to music. I haven't heard that before being quite spelled out in that way, which I think is so, so beautiful.
And I think this is a fantastic place for us to begin to really have this episode serve as a nice guide for people to really break, break down all things rhythms. So if you can help be. Sherpa in that topic. Uh, that would be fantastic. How can we think about these rhythms and why are we even talking about these as it relates to sleep?
How are they connected guide us? Okay. I really like that. I think I will aspire to be a rhythms Sherpa some way yes. So, uh, I think the, the musical analogy really is accurate on a number of levels. So if we think about listening to a symphony, we've all probably heard this one before at this point, but we have multiple overlapping rhythm.
Played by different instruments and they all work together, coordinate in time to produce something that is more than the sum of its parts. And it can also fall out of rhythm in a way that is remarkably similar to the way our bodies can fall out of rhythm. So if one system or one player in the symphony gets outta tune or out of time, that actually messes with the hole and in a similar way, when one of the systems in our body.
Out of tune or out of time, be that from jet lag, sleep loss, mistimed meals, ovulatory dysfunction, and a wide range of things that can also create chaos across our body and, and take a while for different systems to come back into time together. So I think the basic thesis of rhythmicity across the body is that it occurs at, at multiple time scales, that they all have to work together in order for us to be healthy.
That they're sensitive to disruption. And then the kind of nice part at the end is that these are things that we actually experience. They're not totally invisible to us, and we can learn to tune in, pay attention to them, and then take actions that help reinforce and support our bodies at each one of these time.
Scales. Fantastic. Okay. And then to kind of break them down further, cuz to your point, they can be so all encompassing. When we think about these, maybe we can even just zoom in on some of those three that we were speaking to a bit, the all ultradian rhythms, circadian rhythms, and INFR rhythms. Absolutely.
So if we start in the middle, because we've mostly heard of circadian rhythms nowadays is that Nobel prize came out and this is a really amazing field that has gotten so much more attention lately. So circadian rhythms, circa DIA, meaning about a day in length are actually present across. Systems all over the body and organized by this part of the brain called the super cosmetic nucleus or SCN that you guys have talked a lot about.
And the idea here is that our bodies learn to synchronize with and anticipate the day night cycle. And that every one of the systems in our body's pretty much has a time of day at which it can do its thing the best and a time of day in which it needs to get out of the way. Rest recuperate and let other systems work.
So if that's circadian rhythmicity and that's a big part of why we wanna sleep well is to support our circadian rhythms. We can also think about things that are happening a little bit faster and things that are happening a little bit slower. First, the things that happen a little bit faster are called old Traian rhythms.
So ultra di uh, I guess it means beyond today, but really these are things that happen about every one to five hours. And they're also present in systems all across the body. They are a little less studied than circadian rhythms. But it's also thought that they originate endogenously via coordination of systems within the brain, maybe within a place called the AIT nucleus, which is actually pretty close to the SCN.
Maybe also getting some input from our key motivational system that makes dopamine in the, in the BTA. But these rhythms are something that we can learn to tune into and feel. And we're probably already familiar with them, even if we haven't heard the name before. So a good example is our sleep cycles.
About 90 minutes in length. Those are old Traian rhythms. And interestingly, it's not just our brain activity that is changing during those sleep cycles, all kinds of things across the body are changing at about the same time. So for instance, during. REM sleep. You have increases in body temperature in testosterone, in lactate, in triglycerides, and those are all happening in a coordinated manner.
So sleep cycles are a great example of ultradian rhythms. Another might be that you get hungry a few times a day, that you feel motivated to get up and move around a few times a day. I think we kind of think about these things as maybe. Totally volitional, but they're actually biologically programmed too.
So that's the faster side of things. And then on the slower side of things, these are ones that will have definitely heard of. Um, if you have ovulatory cycles, that'll be a big one for you about a month long and all of us, um, pretty much have seasonal rhythms and more extreme ones, depending on if we live a little bit closer to the polls.
Oh, fantastic. Okay, great. And the way that these all connect to our sleep. So of course, with the, within a day rhythms, the all trading rhythms, um, you spoke so perfectly and well to this topic of our sleep cycles and really breaking all those down. And then of course, with INFR rhythms, I think a lot of people might be new to this concept of why, why do we think about that as it relates to our.
Yeah, it's a really good question. So I'll start with the ovulatory cycle. This one is very near and dear to my heart because I worked on this a lot in, in grad school. And I think it's, um, a place that needs a, a lot more, more study and recognition overall, but basically the phase of ovulatory cycle. So think of it as if a person is either before ovulation or the release of an egg or.
After an egg has been released that has, um, a big impact on sleep. So historically I think why we might not have seen this as much is because ovulatory cycles actually vary quite a bit from person to person. So they're not all 28 days in length. That assumption used to get made a lot more and also they can vary quite a lot within.
An individual. So depending on what's going on in one's life, it might not be stable. Ovulation might not even happen every single cycle. So that's made it a little bit harder to study in the past. But some things that do seem really consistent is prior to ovulation, things are kind of great body temperature, deviates, a little bit lower.
Yeah. Resting heart rate is lower. Heart rate. Variability is higher during sleep, even sleep consolidation is a little bit better. As opposed to after ovulation body temperature rises a little bit. Some people can notice this subjectively others have trouble, but might notice that you're kicking your covers off more often after ovulation that heart rate being a little bit higher at night.
And that HRV being a little bit lower is associated with slightly more. Wake up some studies have. Found it to be associated with a little bit less REM. So it's not like sleep becomes terrible, but it's actually really common for people's wearables to say, Hey, you really need to slow down during your Lal phase.
Yes. And I, I think the takeaway there is these are real effects. It doesn't mean you're sick, but it does mean, uh, you might wanna. Take a little bit extra care to set up your sleep environment. If you know, you're between ovation and menses, and then don't be hard on yourself when you see that your, your temperature is up and all that, because that's what it's supposed to be doing.
Absolutely. And I love how you pointed to. This concept that I think also might be a bit outside of our culture to point to actually all the benefits that are happening even during our menstrual cycle, certainly before ovulation, as you pointed to, because certainly from the quantifiable source from looking at the data, so many improvements there, and yet there seems to be this conversation or societal conversation of when we get our period.
Then, okay. This is when we need to, so, well, I I'll let you speak to that. How has that kind of gotten confused with, uh, some of the things that we see in the data? Right. So, um, tell me if this is, or isn't what you were getting at. Yes, but often when there are discussions about the ovulatory cycle, it tends to be about PMs and all of the, not fun things that can happen leading up to and during menstruation.
But to me, that's a little bit like saying. My God sleep. It's terrible. Nothing's happening. You're out like a light you're, you know, incompetent. God, it's terrible when, uh, really it's just the, the other half of a coin and premenstrual symptoms for most people are really just a, a couple of days. It's, it's not the entire Lal phase and it's definitely not the whole cycle.
So just like a, a sleep wake cycle. And ovulatory cycle is a time when different activities are best suited to different phases. And so, you know, your heart rate goes down and, and HR V goes up during part and in the other half, it's the opposite pattern. And so it's just an opportunity I think, to choose what activities you wanna do.
That best match the phase that you're in. And so that might be, yeah, absolutely. So a hundred percent, I think this is so, so important and can be so life changing for so many people that are listening of mens streaming age, or know someone who is, because the thing I'm getting at there is that. There seems to be that the more we live in accordance with these different cycles and understand that there's so much that we have a say in how they go that from that place, when you get your period, which in the past many people would say, oh, okay, party over.
I got my period I'm out. And unfortunately would often have a lot of symptoms or symptomology that would take them out in a lot of pain and various things from a hormonal perspective. And it seems as if, and of course there still needs to be so many more. Studies, uh, in this world, but it seems as if the more that we do live in accordance with that, we can take advantage of some of those changes that do happen from literally the day that we get our period and that we see those measurable changes in drop in body temperature, often improvement in HR V and the lowering of heart rate, lowering of respiratory rate.
So that we can actually maximize those benefits that take place at certain times, the more we're educated on this. So I so appreciate you doing the work you're doing to share this. I think it's a, a super exciting topic and opportunity to learn more. I mean, I think, especially with things like studying personal exercise performance by phase of cycle, very carefully, you know, a lot of female endurance athletes, if they're cycling.
Pay attention to this and have a time of cycle where they know they can perform a bit better. Often that will be a late follicular phase or occasionally in the Midal phase before PMs onset, if a person experiences it. So there's, there's a ton to learn there, I think. But you asked about seasonal rhythms as well.
Yes. And I wanna make sure I don't forget about them because they're super interesting and I think they. Very easy to overlook if you're, um, you know, if you're someone who doesn't live close to one of the poles I'm out here in the bay area where seasons are kind of like an, an idea rather than an experienced thing.
but that doesn't mean that our bodies still aren't attuned to change in day length. So most people listening here have probably heard of melatonin. Probably have taken melatonin at some point to help them get to sleep at night. But melatonin is actually released when we are in the dark. And so it should rise when we are getting ready to go to bed.
The lights are dimmer out, be high during the night, and then, uh, be actively suppressed and at lower levels than our brain during the day when we're exposed to sunlight. And so one of the products of this is that our brains have a nice seasonal clock built into them. Because when we have longer day lengths during the summer month, we should have overall lower melatonin and a slightly lower sleep need.
As opposed to the winter months, ideally we would be getting more dark exposure, have melatonin elevated. For a longer period of time and then actually get a little bit more sleep. So we're not bears hibernating. Um, but this is one of those maybe lost cues that most of us living in, uh, somewhat artificial environment.
Aren't getting that seasonal change. Our lights are on when the sun goes down until we wanna go to bed all year long. So I think living seasonally is something that's often discussed in the food world for people who, you know, Alice Waters and, uh, and her crowd as far as eating seasonally, but sleeping seasonally, taking more time, uh, to do restful activities in the winter, or even just being kind to oneself about feeling more tired in the winter, because it's, it's part of a, a natural process.
And it's something that even humans do not just, um, other species that are migrating or, or borrowing down to hyper. Excellent. No, thank you for touching on the seasonal component. And so from that place, if we are looking at this topic of even the seasons, are there some ways that you suggest for people to begin to manage their seasons a bit more?
Should. You know, sometimes people will wanna fight that and bring in light boxes at particular time throughout the winter. And try to shift that. Do you suggest that, are there any kind of guides or call outs that you wanna make for people as they look at really living in alignment with those rhythms? I think it's a hard question in part, because of how much we move around nowadays and how much we move now in relation to how our ancestors moved.
And I mean, I think all the, this is annoying for us as individuals wanting to know what to do with ourselves. Yes, sure. It's very interesting from a research perspective as an opportunity to learn more. So for instance, if a. Is from a background that lived near the poles. So for instance, um, reindeer have very, uh, I don't wanna say poor circadian rhythms, but they're predominantly old treatian creatures because day length is changing so much for them way up there.
And. Think like Lapland that maybe it barely makes sense for a reindeer to be circadian or at least their, their sleeping patterns that have to change tremendously across the year. And so there's this question of, if we are someone who is from a far Northern region growing up there and living there, we're probably gonna show more seasonal change than someone who has a background from an equatorial zone and is living in an equatorial zone.
But this is a little bit different for a lot of us who maybe have, uh, Northern ancestry, but then come and live in a more equatorial area. Let alone people who say, move up to Alaska for a few years, then move down to San Diego and, and vice versa. So all I'm getting with there is to say that this is something where I think each individual could think about where they're living, whether it's a predominantly seasonal or not place.
How different is that from where they grew up as a kid? How different is that from where their ancestors came from and then paying close attention to how does it feel for this person to either live more or less seasonally? So I think a, a great personal experiment for everyone to do is to try turning off the lights a little bit earlier in the wintertime to try if you have access to it, using firelight as your source of light in the wintertime, as much as you can.
And for pretty much everyone to try to eat seasonally available foods in your area because that insulin sensitivity rhythm is, is definitely a strong, a strong seasonal one. And then try not doing that for a year. um, See how you feel if you more pay attention to your circadian stability over your seasonal stability.
So all that to say, I think this is one of the trickier ones and we have a lot of room to do wearable studies at scale about people with different backgrounds and different habits and how seasonal rhythms associate with their sleep quality. But I think this is something with a little bit of dedication, or I'd say putting it on your goal list at the beginning of the year, you can learn a good deal about what works for you.
Yes, absolutely. And well said, and I appreciate you kind of sifting through the nuance of this because it really the importance. I think that one of the things that there is to leave the listener with is that it's not a cut and dry, uh, topic. And that's why certainly over here we make the argument that's.
Sleep really has become a skill set with our modern society. There's so much for us to learn about how our behaviors and our environments impact our results with our sleep and our health. And to that point, I know you are certainly linked up with two exciting companies that are really looking to make a big difference in this whole topic.
So I'm wondering if you can kind of break down a bit of. The aim of those two companies, what they're looking to do to help us make sense of all of these rhythms and all these things that we've spoken to. How can they help make this more clear? Yeah, absolutely. So one of them is called Crescent health, and this is a startup that brings in different data sources, predominantly wearable data.
Right now that measure temperature, heart rate, heart rate variability, as well as a platform that lets you. Input different behaviors that are very important for your sleep and very important for your overall health things like light exposure movement, what you eat Zeit GERS. If you're familiar with circadian terminology, things that talk to our clocks.
So Crescent is a service that combines that wearable and manually input day coaching and dashboarding to try to work at the level of the individual to help solve specific sleep problems. So. Think they're a group that is really trying to take in all of the newest information about how we look at time series from an individual perspective, and then not justify one size fits all advice, but do a little bit more than each one of those wearables.
Even if their sleep oriented can do on, on their individual platforms. And then the second one is called levels health, which is a company that uses CGM data, continuous glucose monitor data to help you learn how food affects your health. And I think there's actually a lot of overlap in the goals of these time series companies, because they're taking something that goes beyond what has been traditional in medicine.
The checkup or the quarterly blood draw. And they're giving people data that is collected very frequently. I think every one to 15 minutes to both show them their biological rhythms and how their daily routines can translate into, um, stability in life and better health. But there are also ways that you can very quickly see how an action that you take now.
Is impacting your near future self. And so that combination, I think is really an interesting one for behavior change, because we're not just able to ignore how something that we've just done is impacting us. You have the data right there in front of you, and then you kind of have to pay attention to it.
So whether that's the. Blood sugar spike after you had a bowl of pasta, or whether that's your sleep data. Looking back at you in the morning with a, a kind coach and some extra annotations telling you how staying up late gave you a lot less deep sleep. Those are both kind ways to help you face and understand and embrace.
Reality. Absolutely. I mean, one of the reasons that we're so focused on this topic of tech and sleep is that it's just such a fantastic way to bring self-awareness and kind of self-development if you will, through technology, through data points, and then to suddenly put us back in the driver's seat of our own health and wellbeing.
Particularly an area like sleep where historically many people have been in a dialogue of this is you're either good at it or bad at it, or, you know, you're, you're skilled. No, you're not. And yet suddenly even in this conversation, I know we're only touching on the very top level we've even gotten. As very, very new nuances.
I know it can be. And yet from that perspective, it's so clear that there is just so much for us to learn and discover and experiment with. And really dare I say, have fun with this realm of improvement optimization. So really fantastic for anyone listening to that wants to learn more about levels. In particular, we have had, um, a great podcast.
With some of the folks over at levels and other CGMs as well, and yet levels is doing some really incredible, um, and exciting work in this area to really gamify this. So absolutely check that out if you do wanna go a lot deeper as well. And so then for the sake of time, I'm wondering since Crescent, this is the first time that we're speaking to Crescent on this podcast.
What do you see as possible for listeners as they're hearing about this, that they could, how could they utilize this? Even for the listener? Is not even tracking. So they're hearing all this and maybe mind's blown of all the things that go into sleep, but maybe they wanna dip their toe in the water. Is there room for them or is this like next level kind of techies that only belong there?
No, no, I hope that, yes. So I think the, the really lovely thing about Crescent is that it combines all of that fancy data with really skilled, educated kind coaches. Who are able to work directly with you and they can take all of that information, analyze it, look at their dashboards and then help you very carefully test out things that can improve your sleep.
And in the process, like when you improve your sleep, you improve your entire life. So these are really people who are guiding you through how you drink your coffee. When do you exercise? How are you treating yourself? What is your relationship to how you're sleeping? Um, are you unnecessarily stressing yourself out and how do you create a little bit more of a kind and objective attitude towards your sleep so that you can help it?
So I think as a service, that combination of, yes, it's information rich, but it's also humanity. Rich is really essential, uh, yes. To helping people who. Tired and not like functioning mentally at their best, or they wouldn't need this service in the first place. Yes. So there's room for everyone. And it's actually really nice as a gateway into self tracking.
I think a lot of us see self tracking as something that maybe only the most tech savvy people do, or the people who are wanting to get from 90 to a hundred. On the scale of life will do, but I think it's can even be like a meditative practice of learning to observe, get a little bit of dispassionate distance from the observations that we make about ourselves and then kindly problem solve about them and having a, a person to tune in with you and, and help you do that.
I think just makes the whole process a lot easier and more successful in the. Absolutely. Okay. And then on the flip side, on the other end of the spectrum for the person that's listening, that they've got all the trackers, they are, you know, maybe I've even had some people that will send me their Excel spreadsheets and their cross referencing different wearables and all the things.
So for those individuals bit more advanced or they're still things for them to sort of glean. Why can't they just look on their own as some, you know, kind of dive through the data themselves, what can they gain from this. Yeah, it's a great question. I think that even very data savvy folks will often be sifting through the numbers, running their linear regressions, trying to see what causes what, and still coming away with a little bit of confusion.
And I think what Crescent can bring in is the perfective of biological rhythm. Because background in signal processing in looking at the full stack of rhythms, if you will, from old Tridian circadian, ovulatory and seasonal, that's something that is quite special. So for those who do have all the trackers that are tracking them every minute throughout the day, it's a smarter way of interpreting those numbers so that you're taking into account.
They are underlying rhythmic structure in a way that is, um, that is really smart and that can. Having 1440, the number of minutes in a day times as much data every day, a lot less daunting, even for someone who's a very talented analyst and, and is able to put together their own dashboards. So yeah, I think there's something for everybody.
Absolutely. And even for the most skilled mathematician, uh, that's diving through the data. There is so much to learn because. So much of this, that is lifestyle dependent, as you were speaking to. And sometimes there can be some blind spots or some things that we might not have seen, or maybe don't want to admit, oh, shoot that extra cup of coffee, that extra drink, that what have you, until it's really, you know, hit over our head and maybe a voice of an external person and, or bringing that accountability or the gamification of that.
So curious if you've seen any, uh, noteworthy kind of case studies or things that. To mind that you've seen of people that are going through the platform, just kind of with some interesting or noteworthy takeaway. I think a, a lot of them tell me that people can learn a lot of the same things. Sure. And that even for a really, really high powered person, it's easier, easy for us to miss fairly simple things.
So I see a lot of people learning that they really don't wanna have that glass of wine in the evening, or people getting some very specific coaching on how they can adapt to a new time zone or someone even learning how to, um, Sleep more effectively with the partner or something that's like way under discussed and really impactful for a ton of people.
So I think that kind of brings it back to this idea of humans or social creatures. Our bodies operate even better when we're in a social environment, all these concepts of di synchrony and, um, and living with others. And I think that makes it really important to have other people kind of keep in an eye on us.
We do have huge blind spots, no matter how technically skilled or self aware we are, there's always someone who's gonna be able to know you well and point out something that's totally obvious that you didn't, uh, see about yourself a hundred percent. And as I'm even saying these things, obviously I'm so preaching to the choir on, uh, just the importance of this area, because I think.
That for so long, this has been an area that it's just, we don't even think twice about hiring a personal trainer, hiring a nutritionist, having those extra eyeballs or guidance or support. And yet this area has been so wildly neglected. So I think this is such an exciting and important and needed intervention to start to bring about that support dialogue, accountability, awareness, skill, kind of transference, all of that, which is just so fantastic and exciting.
Cool. No, thank you very much. And I mean, a lot of these coaches, I'm, I'm not a coach on the platform. I'm, I'm just the background research person trying to help out where I can, but they come from these other realms of coaching, personal training or nutrition they're coaches that have then gone beyond that and said, Hey, I want this whole extra skill in understanding the physiology of sleep, the psychology of sleep and insomnia.
And so they're super well trained, smart people. Yes. No, it's so exciting. Cause I think for so long, there's been sort of a couple approaches. It's been C B T I, which you know, really obviously an important area of study and there's been the route for people of prescriptions or supplements or what have you.
And I think that all of these conversations that we're in are of new things that we can bring into the conversation that can really make such a fantastic difference in our sleep results. So really, really exciting. And what we've seen is that when we bring people on that are so knowledgeable in the area of sleep, people wanna know, well, what are they doing to manage their sleep?
So we'd love to just learn a little bit about how you are approaching your own sleep. And so the first question that we ask everyone is what does your nightly sleep routine that look like right now? Right now? I will say the routine that I am aspiring towards that I've done. Oh yes, very nice. Most of the past several years, but I don't wanna pretend like I do this every single.
I appreciate you saying that because a lot of people might be painting the picture of all these amazing things they're doing every single night, but the truth is sleep is dynamic and life is, you know, changing. So thank you for saying that. And that brings in that continual improvement piece. So really great.
Oh, yeah, there's definitely always room for improvement. So I try to get off my computer at a reasonable hour. For me, that's like seven or 8:00 PM. Although I would like it to be earlier. I usually have tea. I sleep in a room that doesn't have a whole lot of artificial light coming into it, which I feel quite lucky about.
And I try to keep it a little bit cool. And I try to give myself time without my phone in the evening. So. plug it in, in another room as much as I can, uh, at least half an hour before I try to go to sleep. And then this has not always been me, but nowadays I, I try to avoid things like melatonin just to let my natural melatonin sensitivity and, and production be the predominant factor.
So I think. For me, it's about unwinding for a while before I go to bed, knowing that it'll take me a little bit to calm down and then removing things that feel like they give me that tug of, oh, I need to engage or, oh, I need to do something so that I can just, you know, remember what it's like to, to be a person.
Read in a book or, or writing and not doing, doing a with others. I love that. Okay, perfect. Amazing. And then we've recently added in this other question that often gets discussed in some way, shape or form, and then we wanna formally put it in here, which is what does your morning routine look like? And we're making the argument that that impacts our sleep results.
Uh, so what would we see from. I love that question because I think for me, at least what I do in the morning and throughout the day is way more important for my sleep than whatever I do in like the one hour or two hours before I go to bed. Yes . So I think the, I think the thing that helps me the most is I, um, I.
I'm lucky to not have to use an alarm clock. So I tend to wake up a little ways after the sun has come up and I really try to let myself sleep in a little more when I know I need it. Even if it pulls at that side of my brain, that says you should be up and doing things. Now, if I need the sleep, I, I try to give it to myself and, uh, You know, I drink, uh, coffee, try not to drink too much or, or any in the afternoon.
And I also try to get my run in for the day, first thing in the morning. And I think doing that stably is part of that process that I'm hoping is helping my morning court pulse be stable. So my morning blood sugar, uh, response be a little bit more predictable. And that also, you know, gets me tired enough that I'm gonna wanna sleep well at the end of the day.
I guess last one would be, this is maybe in the future. You'll ask people about their, uh, their dinnertime routines too. So literally just, that was weird. It was almost like you were in my brain because of course, with your relationship to levels and your knowledge of these rhythms, this is often another piece that we, you know, touch on and I was actually gonna ask.
You that, and to your point, I'm sure that's probably gonna end up working its way into another question that we'll ask people, but yes. Please share about your dinner routine timing. Cause I think that one alone can be huge for sleep. Yeah. At least for me it is maybe I'm a, a delicate flower in this regard or something.
But, um, I same. Yeah. I, I like to eat pretty early. I mean, if I can eat my dinner at, at 5:00 PM, like in the good old days, I'm very happy. Same. All right. We got a dinner date in our future. Okay. Amazing. yes, please. It can be us at the over 65. Yes. The early bird crowd. Let's go. oh, but I, I think it's great having the time for that, uh, meal to digest means I don't have that big glucose spike in the beginning of the night that distracts my sleep.
I don't have a stomach ache, have time to walk around after dinner and get things processed. And, um, yeah, so I'm a big fan of the, the early. Oh, fantastic. Well, while we're on the topic, I'm curious if you can share any of your insights that you might have gleaned through the rhythms that you are so knowledgeable in and what you've seen with levels around possible ways that people might wanna think of.
I know this is a big topic, but just even any, any tips or tricks around kind of breakdowns of types of food throughout the day. Cause often people will say, well, what can I eat to improve my sleep? Do you have any cots? Carbs at night or not, or types of protein or those breakdowns. Again, I know this is a big topic, but any big takeaways.
To make it a big takeaway. I would say people are very different from one another. Yes. And a lot of the research in this regard has been done on populations that are in the prediabetic state that have type two or type one diabetes already, or that are at least looking to lose weight. So if a person falls into one of those categories, Good news is that there is a lot of awesome information for you.
We are more able to process carbs earlier in the day. So front loading carbs, and then having a little bit more veggies, protein, light dinner in the evening is a general strategy that I think works pretty well across the board. But the caveat there is that if you are someone who is an endurance athlete or you're burning a lot of calories, you're in a very active job, or you are way outside these traditional study groups, you're female, you're a little bit older.
You're pregnant. You might have some more deep dives or some more particular advice that applies to you as far as something that I think can benefit everyone. This actually comes from work with Dana Lewis in the open. Artificial pancreas system community. So looking at blood glucose and in type one diabetes, but meal timing, stability.
So both 24 hours circadian rhythm stability overall, as well as that old Traian within a day stability. So eating your meals at the same time each day does seem to let your body. Trained to and anticipate that they're coming and then process them a little bit better. So having your breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or your brunch and line at about the same times every day.
And combining that with a little bit of movement is, is probably good for most people. Great. And for you, have you played with that, is that, do you find any strategies that you implement at different times, like around productivity or things that work for you as far as carbs in the morning or night? Or what have.
For me, it really depends on how much I'm, I'm running. I really like to run and nice when I do more of that. I start eating breakfast again, and I eat a lot more. If my mileage ledge goes down and I'm not training for something long, then I usually don't need breakfast. And I have a little bit more of like a late morning through early evening, intermittent fasting ish schedule though.
That's for. For food for the rest of life. I definitely have times of day during which I can, you know, do my, any sort of code that I have to write. That's like a good evening activity for me. Writing is usually a good morning activity for me talking to people like talking to you right now is usually a good middle of the day activity.
Yes, I do feel a little bit OCD about these things sometimes, but at least for me, there are definitely times of day that are better for different kinds of, uh, mental, invisible task. Absolutely. And I, I totally hear that, how that can, can occur as falling in the OCD category and to your credit and to, uh, the credit of anyone listening that is looking to leverage the knowledge that we can gain around the workability of these rhythms.
That can just be this bit of a superpower that the average person isn't unfortunately aware of. We're looking to change that, but for the time being, the more we can learn about these and see to your point around bioindividuality and how they fit. Every person's individual needs and constructs are just really, really important.
So thank you for breaking that down. And so then the next question is what could we see on your nightstand, but it could be your proverbial nightstand too. Like if you're traveling, maybe apps, ambiance things in your environment, anything to call out. Yeah, I think in this regard I try to keep it pretty simple.
So I do have the Crescent app. I like using it as well as working with them on stuff. So I have that on my phone. I do wear Garin watch and my aura rings and my CGM. So those are kind of things in the background, but as far as things that I pay attention to in the evening, I try to just keep it to my book, maybe a journal and earplugs, if I need it and nothing.
Beautiful. The simplicity, uh, I think can, we can learn something there. That's so important to kind of keep things simple in the evening as we wind down. So really great. And then the last question is really, when you think back on all the things that you've learned in this area of sleep and how you've managed your own sleep and your own life, what would you say has maybe made the biggest change to your sleep game?
Or maybe the biggest kind of aha moment that you've had around sleep and, uh, how you relate to it. This one will, I guess, understandably sound a little bit personal, but I think it wasn't until kind of well into adulthood that I learned that it was okay to sleep when I wanted to sleep. Not when I thought would make me the most, uh, like societally reproductive person who can wake up at five in the morning or, you know, that would adapt me to roommates or a partner.
So I. Owning that I know what my chronotype is and I live better when I stick to that made a huge difference for me. And obviously I feel very lucky to have that luxury that I don't have to get up at five in the morning for work every day, but trying to organize my life such that I can sleep as much.
And when I want to has made a huge difference for. Now that will probably all go out the window when I have kids at some point . But, uh, but for now, for now. Yes, absolutely. That is great. And actually, um, I know I keep tagging on new questions to these questions, but you did mention chronotypes and as our kind of rhythms Sherpa for today, I'm curious if you could touch on a bit more on your thinking of chronotypes and how people, um, might wanna think of them as it relates to these rhythms and how to navigate this Chron time in their own.
Yeah. So prototype is a really fascinating concept governed by both whether our internal circadian clock is running a little bit faster than a day, helping us get up earlier and earlier and being a morning person or running a little slower than a day, having us get up a little bit later and later and have a night tendency.
I think it's a. Something that most of us feel intuitively that we know about ourselves, whether we're morning this, or eating this, or most of us fall somewhere in between. But I always try to remember these awesome camping studies. Lots. That's what I pick of too. Yes. Oh yeah. Yes. I always go to that. Well, Maybe your audience knows this perfectly already, but Ken Wright in Colorado is, is one of the, the guys who had started these at this lab of taking them out camping.
And basically when you put people in a naturalistic environment, so Starlight, firelight, daylight, even for just a couple days, they. All shift a little bit earlier, unless they're already a very early morning person. And so there's this idea that most of us, even if we're night owls can adapt to living with what the, uh, the external world is providing to us and keeping in tune with the day and night, the seasons and all of that.
So I guess my take on chronotype is to try to live with what one knows one's chronotype is, but also. Try to make time in life, to go out and synchronize with what the environment is doing at that time of year. Try to do it at least a handful of times of year. And that will kind of reset you towards being a little bit more in tune with the environment.
And hopefully I would guess that would help us stay a little more healthy too. Absolutely. I'm so glad that you pointed out that study and because I think that's so, so important for people to also know that while they can be informed by some of these tendencies that they've, you know, kind of seen for themselves that might fall into particular buckets of types that it's not as if these are fixed states.
Totally. They might be, um, tendencies and natures. And there's, we can kind of have some say within those, but it's kind of finding that balance and striking that balance. So I think that's really, really important. And finally, as our sleep Sherpa and rhythms Sherpa for today, is there anything that we left out that you think is important for people to think about or take away when they think about sleep and rhythm?
I wanna say that it doesn't always have to be super complicated. I think I generally fall back to if we were able to follow grandma's advice about sleeping regularly, sitting down for meals together at set times, taking time to relax. That pretty much all of us would have a, a higher quality of life and, and greater health.
I think the challenges come. In that it's really difficult for each individual person to figure out how to implement grandma's advice. Yes. So I guess it, it would be the, the combination of knowing that the answer to the sleep problem might not be insanely complicated. It just might be complicated for you to implement and using that information to.
Be a little bit easier on yourself and believe that things can get better and that you don't have to add a ton of personal confusion on top of struggling to implement grandma's advice. So I guess what I'm saying is we can all be a little bit nicer to ourselves about sleep because things are challenging enough.
And, and I think we all have very real ways in which we can sleep a lot better. Mm oh. So well said, I so appreciate that. That kind of making that argument. While there's all this that we could learn and we can get so in depth, um, on the seasons and the rhythms and the, this, and the, that, uh, which can be fantastic and so important and illuminating.
And at the same time, some of this has a kind of beautiful simplicity of it that has been happening for thousands and thousands of years. We just might have deviated a bit from those more traditional kind of structures or those rhythms that are occurring with, or without our cooperation. So it's an opportunity to kind of.
Experiment with how we could bring more of that in that kind of natural solar rhythm into our own lives. So really, really fantastic. Now I'm clear anyone listening is likely gonna wanna learn more about you and the companies that we spoke to. So I'm wondering if you can share the best ways for people to do that.
Absolutely. So crescent.co is the, the website for Crescent and where people can sign up to be part of that service levels. Of course, uh, has its own website coming up as well. And then for me personally, I have a website Azure grant.com. I'm also on Instagram as scoop me science, uh, and on Twitter is just my, my name.
So we're all over the place and, and fairly easy to reach. Fantastic. Uh, well, thank you so much for taking the time. Really appreciate it. So excited about the work that you're doing. It's so needed and looking forward to following all that you are a part of and creating. Thank you so much again, for having me here.
Really excited to be among the many people on your show. And just love how much you, you already know all of this stuff. And I think you're probably helping your audience kind of get all of these things down, pat. So it's really cool. Oh, thank you for saying that. And yeah, we, I think we're on shared, um, missions to share so much of this knowledge and how much this can just make such a lasting difference for people.
So fantastic to be connected and then looking forward to. 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 Molly's Monday, obsessions containing everything that I'm obsessing over in the world of sleep head on over to sleep is a skill.com to sign up.