AMA #16: Sleep, Vertigo, TBI, OCD, Tips for Travelers, Gut-Brain Axis & More

AMA #16: Sleep, Vertigo, TBI, OCD, Tips for Travelers, Gut-Brain Axis & More

Introduction (00:00:00)

  • Andrew Huberman is doing an AMA (Ask Me Anything) live from Sydney, Australia.
  • He thanks premium subscribers for their support, which has allowed the Huberman Lab podcast to fund four laboratories at Stanford, Columbia University, and the Salk Institute.
  • In 2024, three dollar-for-dollar match donors will match contributions from the premium channel to additional human studies on various topics, including mental health, headache and migraine, immunology, cancer, mindsets and immune system function, nutrition, physiology, and exercise physiology.

Achieving Key Health Pillars While Traveling (00:02:34)

  • The Huberman Lab protocols are designed to be science-based, actionable, low or zero cost, and are meant to mesh with the rest of life and enhance mental and physical health.
  • To manage key health pillars while traveling, it is recommended to:
    • Get morning sunlight as often as possible.
    • Use red lights in the evening to lower cortisol levels and improve sleep.
    • Stay regimented about exercise, especially in the morning.
    • Combine morning sunlight, movement, social engagement, and caffeine (or breakfast for some) to amplify the morning cortisol increase and improve daytime mood, focus, and alertness.
    • Dim lights and use red light in the evening to aid in the transition to nighttime sleep.
    • Adjust meal times to the local schedule to help shift the circadian rhythm quickly.
    • Practice non-sleep deep rest or yoga nidra for stress control and to replenish dopamine and mental and physical vigor.
  • The Huberman Lab has created NSDR scripts of varying durations (10, 20, and 30 minutes) with a view of a beautiful Sydney sunrise.
  • These scripts will be posted on the Huberman Lab clips channel on YouTube in the coming weeks.
  • Additional meditations are being considered for release on a Spotify album, featuring science-based NSDR and meditations of different durations.
  • The public can express their interest in the Spotify album by commenting on the latest episode of The Huberman Lab podcast on YouTube.
  • All these resources are provided at zero cost to enhance mental and physical health.

Improving Sleep Quality (00:07:11)

  • The criteria for insomnia is excessive daytime sleepiness due to lack of sleep at night.
  • Quality, quantity, regularity, and timing (QQRT) are important for good sleep.
  • Quality of sleep includes factors like consistency, number of awakenings, and whether you remember your dreams.
  • Slow wave sleep (deep sleep) is responsible for growth hormone release, while rapid eye movement (REM) sleep helps unpack and uncouple emotions from prior experiences.
  • Sleep trackers can be useful, but relying too heavily on sleep scores can be risky due to the placebo effect.
  • Regularity in sleep schedule is crucial, including going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time each day.
  • The timing of sleep within the 24-hour cycle matters, with early to bed, early to rise types feeling better with sleep starting around 9:00 PM, while night owls may prefer sleep starting around 1:00 or 2:00 AM.
  • If sleep quantity is limited to five to six hours, consider practicing a 10 to 30-minute NSDR (non-sleep deep rest) protocol upon waking to feel deeply rested and recover missed sleep.
  • More advanced sleep tools may be necessary if feeling exhausted during the day despite these measures.

Understanding and Managing Vertigo (00:13:11)

  • Vertigo is a perception of falling or dizziness that is characterized by a spinning sensation, while lightheadedness feels like falling straight down.
  • The visual system and the inner ear system, which contains three semicircular canals with tiny stones called otoliths, work together to maintain balance by sending neural signals to the brain.
  • Vertigo is often caused by issues in the inner ear, such as viral infections or hormonal changes.
  • To alleviate vertigo symptoms, focus on a fixed point about three to four feet away and slowly move closer to it until you feel your eyes crossing, or look at a distant fixation point and walk towards it.
  • Motion sickness is related to the vagus nerve, and fresh air can also help alleviate symptoms.

Enhancing Brain Function Post-TBI (00:20:44)

  • The human body is resilient and can recover from years of poor lifestyle choices.
  • Prioritize getting adequate sleep, consider interventions like transcranial magnetic stimulation and hyperbaric oxygen therapy for TBI recovery, and elevate your feet slightly during sleep to enhance glymphatic flow.
  • Avoid excessive focus on anti-inflammation, as high doses of turmeric or curcumin can have negative effects.
  • Consider taking 5-10 grams of creatine monohydrate daily to enhance brain function, especially at high altitudes or with TBI.
  • Explore the use of a hyperbaric chamber and prioritize excellent sleep.

Getting Closer to Unraveling OCD (00:26:58)

  • OCD is caused by miswiring in the basal ganglia and dopamine reward system.
  • Compulsions in OCD exacerbate obsessions instead of removing them.
  • OCD requires neurological treatment, including SSRIs, which facilitate neuroplasticity.
  • Effective treatments for depression, including SSRIs and cognitive behavioral therapy, focus on neuroplasticity, not just serotonin levels.
  • Overcoming OCD involves working with a psychiatrist for appropriate medication and engaging in specific behaviors to promote plasticity.
  • Exposure to triggers, resisting compulsions, and using replacement behaviors in a suitable neurochemical environment can help achieve plasticity and reduce OCD symptoms.
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation may also be beneficial.

Adjusting Circadian Rhythms for Travel (00:30:44)

  • To minimize jet lag when traveling across time zones, gradually shift your wake-up time by one to two hours earlier each day in the days leading up to your departure.
  • Expose yourself to bright light between 6:00 AM and 10:00 AM to help signal your body to wake up earlier and avoid bright light before 6:00 AM, especially at night, to prevent disrupting your circadian rhythm.
  • Alternatively, you can force yourself to wake up early upon arrival at your destination, but you may experience tiredness in the late morning and may need a brief nap.
  • Refer to the Huberman Lab episode on jet lag and shift work for more information on temperature minimum and optimizing your circadian clock for travel.

Optimal Dosage for Fish Oil Supplements (00:34:58)

  • Fish oil, particularly its omega-3 fatty acid content, is beneficial for brain and body health.
  • Choose a high-quality fish oil supplement free from contaminants.
  • The recommended daily dosage is 1 gram of EPA, the active form of omega-3.
  • Fish oil, specifically EPA, has mild to moderate antidepressant effects at dosages of 1 to 3 grams of EPA per day.
  • High potency fish oils with 1 gram or more of EPA are available and commonly prescribed for mental and cardiovascular health.
  • The benefits of EPA are supported by clinical and biochemical evidence, as well as established mechanisms.
  • Balance omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acid intake, as most people consume too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3.

Monitoring Hormone Levels (00:40:17)

  • Hormone level testing is recommended to monitor various health markers, including LDL cholesterol, ALT, ApoB, and testosterone levels.
  • It is advisable to check hormone levels once in the late teens, again in the mid-20s, and then every three to five years until age 40.
  • Starting at age 40, annual hormone level testing is recommended.
  • Important hormones to check include growth hormone (or IGF-1), testosterone, estrogen, free testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, cortisol, creatinine levels, LDL cholesterol, ApoB, sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), progesterone, prolactin, and progestins.
  • For women, consistent timing of blood tests during the mid-follicular or mid-luteal phase is recommended for accurate comparisons.

Optimizing the Gut-Brain Axis (00:46:09)

  • Overtraining can lead to excessive sleepiness and fatigue, so it's important to leave 10-20% of energy in reserve after a workout.
  • Consistency in work and exercise is more important than pushing oneself to exhaustion.
  • Prioritize sleep and avoid excessive food and alcohol intake to optimize gut-brain axis function.
  • Consume one to four servings of low-sugar fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, natto, or kefir daily to support gut health and diversity.
  • Avoid overuse of antiseptics and antibacterial products, as they can disrupt the gut microbiome.
  • Exposure to diverse environments, such as owning a pet or interacting with people and animals, can increase gut microbiome diversity.
  • A balanced diet that includes both prebiotic and probiotic fiber from fruits, vegetables, and fermented foods is essential for gut health.

Best Practices for Tongue Cleaning (00:52:04)

  • Brushing and flossing teeth before sleep is crucial due to reduced saliva production at night, aiding in cavity remineralization.
  • Antiseptic, alcohol-based mouthwashes are generally discouraged by dentists.
  • Tongue scraping is recommended when done correctly to remove unwanted bacteria and promote healthy turnover. Avoid scraping the tongue too hard; instead, use a soft toothbrush for gentle brushing. Use a separate soft toothbrush for tongue cleaning and replace it every few weeks to months.
  • Dentists generally do not recommend oil pulling as a significant oral health practice, but it's not considered harmful if individuals find it beneficial.
  • The video is an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session hosted by a speaker from Sydney, Australia.
  • Sleep is essential for cognitive function, emotional regulation, and physical health.
  • Lack of sleep can impair memory, attention, and decision-making.
  • Chronic sleep deprivation can increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
  • Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
  • Establish a regular sleep schedule and stick to it as much as possible, even on weekends.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine to help you wind down before bed.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed.
  • Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool.
  • Vertigo is a sensation of dizziness or spinning that is often accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
  • It can be caused by a variety of factors, including inner ear problems, head injuries, and certain medications.
  • Treatment for vertigo depends on the underlying cause.
  • Some common treatments include medications, physical therapy, and surgery.
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious injury that can affect the brain's function.
  • TBIs can be caused by a variety of factors, including car accidents, falls, and sports injuries.
  • Symptoms of TBI can include headache, nausea, vomiting, confusion, and memory loss.
  • Treatment for TBI depends on the severity of the injury.
  • Some common treatments include surgery, medication, and rehabilitation.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental illness that causes repeated, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions).
  • OCD can be debilitating and interfere with a person's daily life.
  • Treatment for OCD typically involves medication and therapy.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that has been shown to be effective in treating OCD.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  • Avoid eating heavy meals before flying.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing.
  • Get up and move around every few hours if you are traveling by car or plane.
  • Bring snacks and entertainment to keep yourself occupied during long trips.
  • If you are prone to motion sickness, take medication or use acupressure to prevent it.
  • The gut-brain axis is a bidirectional communication pathway between the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system.
  • The gut microbiome, which is the community of trillions of bacteria that live in the gut, plays a role in regulating the gut-brain axis.
  • Dysbiosis, or an imbalance in the gut microbiome, has been linked to a variety of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, and depression.
  • Probiotics, which are live microorganisms that provide health benefits when consumed, can help to improve the gut microbiome and reduce the risk of dysbiosis.

Conclusion & Thank You (00:56:36)

  • The speaker appreciates the audience for tuning in and thanks them for their interest in science.

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