James Swanwick: All right, welcome again to the Swanwick show. I am James Swanwick and today we’re talking about all things sleep. It is a very early morning where I am in the world. It’s 7 am in Brisbane, Australia and it’s late afternoon in Jackson, Wyoming. For our guest today, Martha Lewis who is a Sleep Consultant to the health-conscious, to high achievers who want to sleep but can’t.
So if you’re watching or listening right now and you’re finding sleep challenging, you’re in the right place. Please do go ahead and type in the comments down below if you’re watching on YouTube, where you are watching from. If you’re on Facebook, go ahead and just type where you’re watching from. If you’re watching on the replay, you can still do that of course, and please do send through your questions about anything and everything to do with sleep. I’m somewhat of a sleep expert and I’ve interviewed all the sleep experts but I think our guest today got a little bit more experience than I have on sleep. Martha Lewis, welcome to the show. It’s so great to have you here.
Martha Lewis: Thanks for having me, James.
James Swanwick: Yeah. I know that you have multiple sleep certifications and you’re an expert in holistic nutrition, which is something I’m particularly interested in. And more importantly, I know we’re going to talk about this today, you’re an expert on gut health. So you combine those sleep foundations and those stress-relieving techniques, and also the science world I guess, of lab testing, to get to the root cause of people’s sleep issues.
You were featured in Thrive Global and you’ve been on our blog and Swanwick Sleep and various podcasts around the world. I know that you’re a passionate speaker on sleep so it’s great to have you here, Martha.
Martha Lewis: Yeah, I’m excited to talk about sleep and give some insight. My sleep has been great lately.
James Swanwick: Tell us about it, tell us about your sleep routine. What are you doing to prepare for a great night’s sleep and then what do you do first thing in the morning?
Martha Lewis: Well, funny, I was going to start with that because what you do throughout the day, prepares you for sleep at night, or determines how well you’re going to sleep at night. So I think it’s actually important to how you wake up, you know, to start your day kind of slowly and not spike your cortisol levels immediately.
Having some sort of morning routine for me is really key. I get up and wash my face, then I meditate and do some journaling, write down what I’m grateful for. Luckily, I get to do all that before my son wakes up, and then I kind of start my day with him and get ready for the rest of the day. That just puts me in a good place of starting at a lower stress level instead of waking up to an alarm clock, which is stressful in itself, and then you know just going all day long.
Then, before bed, I definitely like to wind down, taking at least an hour to relax, prepare for bed is great. Sometimes I do honestly watch TV, and I wear my night Swannies for that. But I tried to, yeah exactly.
James Swanwick: There you go for those people who’ve never tried it before it seems like whoa, but like when you put them on, it’s actually like, you get used to it within about 10 seconds and it’s so relaxing to the mind, isn’t it?
Martha Lewis: Yeah, definitely. I love it for sure. It’s made a huge difference and me being able to watch TV because before I couldn’t, before bed. I would definitely notice that it would wake me up.
James Swanwick: What TV are you watching Martha that’s what everyone wants to know. What TV shows or movies are you watching?
Martha Lewis: Right now I’m watching The Good Wife series.
James Swanwick: Okay, Good Wife series, nice. I just finished Ozark, please continue.
Martha Lewis: But I do try to give at least 30 minutes after watching TV to then still be away from screens before I go to bed. So, I go to bed around 10 every night, I try by 9:30 to be done with my show and then do some reading and relaxing until I’m sleepy and then I easily fall asleep, which is great.
James Swanwick: Yeah, just to say hello to a few people who are watching, we got Mia in Falls Church, Virginia. We’ve got Vani in Daly City, California. Got Mel in Manila in the Philippines. Vani and Bonnie in Tasmania, Australia. Great to have you guys here if you’re just watching go ahead and just type out where you’re watching from on Facebook or on YouTube.
If you have a specific sleep question, please do ask Martha and myself right now. Bonnie actually says in the comments, Martha, chronic migraine and I’m assuming that affects Bonnie’s sleep. Any thoughts or insight into that?
Martha Lewis: Yeah, I mean, it sounds like it could be a mineral imbalance, like lack of magnesium is one thing that comes to mind. But what I think a lot of people don’t know is that you need a lot of different cofactors to absorb magnesium and you need a healthy gut. Looking at that, from a comprehensive view, is really important of seeing what your mineral status is.
That’s one of the five lab tests I do with my clients to get into the root cause of why they aren’t sleeping. It’s cool because, usually, people I’m working with have other symptoms, too, right? Like, it’s not just insomnia, there are migraines, there’s anxiety, there’s sometimes digestive issues, so there’s more than just insomnia going on. But we’re figuring out the root cause of all of that. Something I would suggest is looking into doing some of those tests, or you can at least start with doing a topical magnesium, or soaking in Epsom salts, we tend to absorb magnesium a lot better, topically like that. So that’s one thing to try.
James Swanwick: But when you’re saying people naturally have a lack of magnesium in their body, which obviously helps people relax and helps them fall asleep and sleep deeper. So you’re saying, go out there and get a specific test from your doctor for your magnesium levels?
Martha Lewis: Well, magnesium is very hard to test because it’s not in the blood, so a basic blood test isn’t going to work. What I do is a hair tissue mineral analysis test. So you’re taking three inches of your hair closest to your scalp, sending that in and they’re analyzing your mineral status in your hair. You’re getting your status over the past three month period instead of just some quick snapshot in time like some other tests do.
But yeah, because minerals all interact in complicated ways with each other, there’s not just one simple magnesium test to get. Looking into that hair tissue mineral analysis is something I would recommend.
James Swanwick: What about with someone like me who obviously has a thick flowing mane of hairdo, Martha?
Martha Lewis: Well, head hair is ideal but armpit hair and other hairs will work as well.
James Swanwick: I see. Okay, interesting. So is that something that you might send to a holistic or natural path or someone. Or will your local GP in the US understand and be willing to take your strand of hair tissue or armpit hair and analyze it for you?
Martha Lewis: I don’t think they’re gonna know about that, you need to find someone more holistic. I mean, what I’m kind of doing is in the functional medicine vein. Obviously, I’m not a doctor, but I’m doing similar tests to what they do and kind of putting them all together. So yeah, I would say someone more holistic, natural functional medicine that’s what you want to look for.
James Swanwick: Um, you actually mentioned Epsom salt, so soak in Epsom salt. So is it as simple as running a hot bath pouring some Epsom salts in and just sitting in the bath?
Martha Lewis: Yeah, exactly.
James Swanwick: And what does that actually do? Explain that, because all the women in my life are like, oh, soak in a bath of Epsom salts. Oh, wait, wait, what are you talking about? Explain why that’s beneficial.
Martha Lewis: Well, Epsom salts are Magnesium Sulfate. So you’re literally sitting in, you know, a bath of magnesium that is going to absorb into your skin and into your body. If you don’t want to take a bath and, not everyone’s into that every night. You can also do a foot bath and absorb it through your feet as well.
James Swanwick: Okay. So, is that a short term injection of magnesium, if you like of relaxation, is that something that you would only do if you’re wanting to go to sleep or fall asleep? Is it something that you might do in the middle of the day? Like under what circumstances would you do that?
Martha Lewis: You could do it anytime but it’s definitely nice to do it before sleep because magnesium does help relax your muscles. So it’s not gonna make you fall asleep in the middle of the day, but doing it before bed is a nice time to help prepare for sleep for sure.
James Swanwick: Got it. We have a few questions here. Bonnie asks, How do I get the deepest sleep? Any thoughts on pharma GABA?
Martha Lewis: Well, I found that there isn’t one magic pill that works for everything, right? Magnesium isn’t the magic pill. Gabba isn’t the magic pill. CBD isn’t the magic pill. These things will work if that’s the nutrient that you’re missing. GABA could work for you if that’s actually what you need. If your insomnia is from something else, like a gut infection or blood sugar imbalance or hormone imbalance, that GABA isn’t necessarily enough to fix what’s going on with you.
As far as deeper sleep, I think it’s definitely important paying attention to light. You know, James, I know you talk about this a lot that some people don’t notice that, say you do watch TV until bedtime, and you have the lights on bright, and they don’t know that affects their sleep, but it does affect the quality of their sleep. And even if you’re not waking up, you still aren’t necessarily getting as deep sleep as you need. So paying attention to light is huge.
There are so many factors that affect sleep, it would be hard to get into all of them today. Because exercise, you know, is key to managing stress and looking at your diet, and all of these things affect sleep. So you have to be looking at it from this holistic view and looking at everything to get deeper sleep.
James Swanwick: Yeah. We’ve got a question here from Vanie who says, James, how has your sleep changed since you shaved your head? Well, I’m not sure whether that has actually changed my sleep. My head definitely felt like a wind tunnel in the first few days after I shaved it. It was like, wow, it’s so cold right through here. You just forget how much of a natural blanket hair is and then, when I removed it, was like so cold in here. But whether or not it’s affecting my sleep, I couldn’t say. Are there any thoughts on that Martha?
Martha Lewis: I don’t know anything about the link between hair and sleep.
James Swanwick: So we’ve mentioned a couple of times here about gut health. So tell us a little bit about that, how gut health affects the sleep quality?
Martha Lewis: Well, before I get into that, we need to talk about the main hormone that sabotages your sleep and that would be cortisol. You’re probably familiar with cortisol. It’s one of our stress hormones and it’s an important hormone that wakes us up in the morning and keeps us alert throughout the day and it is part of that stress response.
If you live in the mountains, let’s say if a bear is chasing you while you’re hiking in the mountains, your body’s going to release cortisol and adrenaline and other hormones to help you run from or fight that bear. But our bodies don’t know the difference between being chased by a bear and, you know, constantly rushing around and being stuck in traffic and getting in a fight with your spouse. It still releases those same hormones, even though you don’t need to run from or fight something. So, how does that relate to gut health?
If you have, say, a gut infection, a common thing that people have is a parasite, which I know grosses a lot of people out but supposedly 85% of Americans have a parasite. So it’s a very common thing. But when you have that, first of all, these creatures are nocturnal and it’s at night that they are eating and excreting and releasing toxins and causing inflammation. And whenever there’s inflammation, cortisol comes to the rescue because it’s also an anti-inflammatory hormone.
So that’s a big reason I see that people wake up at three and four a.m hour and just wake up wired. Right? You don’t know why you’re just totally awake and not able to go back to sleep and that’s because your body’s releasing cortisol because of that inflammation and it’s keeping you awake.
James Swanwick: Yeah, and so cortisol can be created by having a parasite. Just explain what a parasite is because I imagine it being little worms crawling around inside of your intestines. Is that exactly what it is?
Martha Lewis: Yeah, exactly, something like a tapeworm, like Giardia, like plasticizers harmonists. They’re creatures, a lot of times you get them from contaminated food and water. But they kind of vary to which species you get from where. Um, but yeah, so it’s not exactly a bacteria. It’s, you know, a different creature that lives in your intestines.
James Swanwick: Right. And you said 85% of Americans have worms.
Martha Lewis: They’re not all worms, I don’t think but yeah.
James Swanwick: Like visually, like parasites. I want to get that worm out of me. So 85% of Americans have parasites. Why is this not something that’s spoken about more publicly? I mean look, because of the circles that I move in, I hear this a lot. I’m interested in health and wellbeing but like, everything at the moment is about the coronavirus or cancer, or dementia or Parkinson’s or etc like all those kinds of things or obesity diabetes stretched. But in very few places am I hearing, parasites, worms. So why is that?
Martha Lewis: I think that a lot of medical doctors first of all don’t know about that as much and a lot of times, they think that they’re not causing symptoms. But they haven’t connected the fact that parasites can cause insomnia and they’re probably causing other symptoms too. But just yeah, you know Western medicine hasn’t really connected that, I would say. That’s why it’s not talked about as much.
James Swanwick: So really the only way you’re gonna get to the root of that is by studying holistic methods and having a naturopath or having more of a holistic doctor because your general American GP or a strange GP is not going to be either well versed in this, or give it much weight I guess or so much authority.
Martha Lewis: Yeah, exactly. I mean, they learn different things in school, like everything. You all concentrate on something different and I just don’t think they’re aware of it.
James Swanwick: What’s the biggest creator of these parasites, all these worms. How does someone get it?
Martha Lewis: Well, like I said, a lot of it’s from contaminated food or water. So you know, I found out that I had a parasite that I probably got 12 years ago when I was traveling in Nepal and India, and I knew that I got really sick. I thought I had Giardia, I took an antibiotic while I was there, but I imagine that’s where I got my parasite. But there’s Giardia in the water in America. So, I imagine where you are too, I’m not sure. But yeah, these things are kind of everywhere.
I think it’s like anything, we can tolerate these things up to a certain point. But once it’s too much because we have environmental toxins everywhere, we have stress and we don’t always eat the best, it all comes together and adds up to more than your body can handle. If you’re perfectly healthy, a parasite might not be a big deal but combined with everything else it just pushed you over the edge.
James Swanwick: Martha, you have a book I believe I read on Amazon what’s you know? What’s your book?
Martha Lewis: I don’t have a book yet.
James Swanwick: We’re back to rock and roll it, creating the foundation of one right here as we go. Martha is the founder of Complete Sleep Solutions and we’ve got a free ebook we’re going to put out today, Five Little-Known Reasons High Achievers Can’t Sleep at the completesleepsolution.com. If you go to the website, thecompletesleepsolution.com by Martha Lewis, Martha is a Sleep Consultant to health-conscious, high achievers who want to sleep but can’t.
And if you’re watching on YouTube or Facebook, keep your questions coming for Martha as we keep doing this Facebook and YouTube Live. Let’s have a look at one of these questions here. I’ve tried B3 niacin a few times a day and I’m definitely awake at 3 am a few times lately. What could be going on there, Martha?
Martha Lewis: Well, B vitamins are pretty stimulating, they give us energy. So, I think the recommendation is to take them in the morning and not toward bedtime. That could be something to tweak there and see if that helps.
James Swanwick: Got it. Solution supplements called Colloidal Minerals. Do you know what that’s about Martha? I don’t.
Martha Lewis: Yeah, I think there are minerals that are easily absorbed in this. I think they can help because we tend to not have enough minerals in general. These days, our soils are depleted of minerals and when especially eating processed foods and things like that don’t have all the nutrients we need.
Definitely a multi-mineral like that can help, but, again, finding out what minerals you’re deficient in and getting that balance back is key.
James Swanwick: Yeah. Betty Bradley on YouTube says, Hi from Western North Carolina, we’ve got some people from all around the world, which is pretty, amazing. Bianca on Facebook asks, I just found out I snore. Any way to fix that without using any silly devices?
Martha Lewis: Well, snoring is the number one sign of sleep apnea. Now I don’t diagnose or treat sleep disorders at all, but I do know that sometimes that can be attributed to weight gain and there’s a physical blockage that could be causing that. So yeah, that’s a tough one, especially if it’s something new. I would consider what has changed recently for you and that’s probably the culprit.
James Swanwick: We’ve put Martha’s ebook link in the comments down below, you can click on that. We’ve also included Martha’s Facebook page there, that way you can like it, and we’ve also included her Complete Sleep Solution ebook there in the YouTube comments as well.
So I was mentioning just before we went live that my sleep has been somewhat challenged in the last couple of weeks. I know that with work recently because I’m in Australia, but my timezone is all out in the sense that I do a lot of work with Americans in America. And if I am not working by 6:30 -7 am in the morning, I miss a lot of meetings or I just don’t catch people because 6:30 -7 in the morning is in Australia as you know towards the later part of the afternoon in America. Because of that, I was still trying to get to sleep around 10 pm, but I’ve noticed that I’ve been thinking about work and thinking about what time I’ve got to wake up and making sure that I’m up and prepared.
For example, this call right here with you, Martha, started with this at 7 am local time. But just knowing that I was to be up at this time and making sure I got up I was thinking about it during the night and I didn’t sleep as well. Do you have any tips for someone like me in those kinds of circumstances?
Martha Lewis: Well, when you’re having trouble sleeping, it’s even more important to make sure you’re following all the sleep rules, I call them. So taking that time to wind down before bed is key. Even journaling can help, you know. Journaling everything that’s on your mind so that it’s on paper, and that releases it from your brain worrying about it.
Meditating is really helpful to kind of get those thoughts all out of your head and get to this calm and relaxed space. You know a lot about dimming the lights and all those things, so I don’t have to tell you about that. Being really strict about it for a while until you get into that routine. And did you just come back two weeks ago?
James Swanwick: No, I’ve been here a while but the work and things have started to come forward a little bit in the time so when the daylight saving changed in America, the clocks went forward and here in Australia, most of the time they went back and so everything moved about two hours early from here.
I wouldn’t say it’s been a sudden shift, it’s been more of a gradual shift, but my perfect scenario is when I’m on an East Coast timezone in the US. Even like the UK timezone, New York timezone to a lesser extent, Californian timezone, although that can also be okay, but the Australian timezone when you’re doing work with America, you got to really get it done in the first few hours where I was when you wake up.
When I was living in the US, I would have a whole morning routine, I would wake up, I would write 20 things that I’m grateful for, very calmly, I would put on some exercise clothes, I’d go to the gym, I’d exercise I’d come back, I might do a little bit of meditation, and then I would begin my day. Whereas now in Australia, I go to sleep and as soon as I wake up, bang, I’m into work mode and so everything gets pushed back, including exercise at times, including meditation, including the daily gratitude because if I’m working from 7 in the morning through 11 in the morning for that four-hour block, which is it’s just constant, cause it’s going from one meeting to another meeting, to an interview, to education and different subject matters. By the time 11 am rolls around, I feel fried many mornings.
So that’s kind of what’s been going on and then, of course, it’s trying to play catch up, try to do exercise and then do some work and do some creative work at the end of the day, which is challenging after you’ve just been like, thrown into it. I eat pretty well, I drink lots of water. I do wear the Swannies glasses. But certainly, as I go to sleep at night, I’m thinking about oh, I gotta be up again at 6:30, I gotta be right into it. I think that’s probably causing my mind to be going through the night. What do you think?
Martha Lewis: Yeah, definitely. And have you always been going to bed at 10 o’clock, wake up at 6:30 person?
James Swanwick: The most I mean, I’m usually in bed around 10 and I’m usually falling asleep anywhere between 10 and 11.
Martha Lewis: But would you say that you’re most productive in the morning or most alert in the morning?
James Swanwick: Um. Well, I feel most productive in the morning now because of being forced to be most productive in the morning. So, I do get the most done, but I also find it the most mentally draining and taxing time.
Martha Lewis: I’m just thinking about chronotypes and, whether you’re a night owl or an early bird or something in between, those are genetically predetermined. And so, it’s something that’s very hard to change. For someone who is a night owl when you’re trying to adapt and go to bed early and wake up early, it’s really hard.
Society revolves around more of the middle of the road or even the early bird and night owls just don’t fit in there, even though there’s nothing they can do about that. So, I would say, yeah, do whatever you can to manage stress during the day and before bed so you’re not worried about what’s happening the next day.
And, again, I think journaling, writing down your schedule, writing down everything you have to do, and getting that out of your head can really help and hopefully, sleep better. And I don’t know if you can wake up earlier and start your day in a more relaxed way, even just for 15 minutes or 30 minutes and then get into your day, if that would help too.
James Swanwick: Yeah, I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining or something but it’s actually the middle of winter here as well in Australia, not that Australia is super cool. But it’s very dark in the mornings as well. So it’s actually like it’s cold and dark. So the idea of getting up earlier than what I do is like Oh!
Martha Lewis: Yeah, totally. Well, you could use a light as well. You know, you can buy lamps that are 10,000 Lux, and they’re pretty inexpensive these days and have that turned on first thing in the morning and help set your body clock that way by doing that first thing in the morning and then again at noon for about 20 to 30 minutes that can help wake you up and make you more alert.
James Swanwick: Yeah, what’s the name of one of those wake-up lights that you’re referring to?
Martha Lewis: So many, they’re also called a happy lamp or a light therapy lamp. There are hundreds of brands on Amazon, I would say. Um, so I can’t think of a specific brand. But yeah!
James Swanwick: Okay, great. And we got another question here. We have, how does one find out if they have a parasite? How do you do a parasite test?
Martha Lewis: Good question. It’s a really fun stool test where you literally send in a sample of your stool, and I do a test called the gastrointestinal map. That’s the one I use, I don’t say I do it. Um, but yeah, that’s the one that I use with my clients and it tells you all kinds of things that are in your gut. It’s showing whether you have a parasite, it’s also showing your bacteria good and bad. Showing fungus, they’re showing if you have H. pylori, which is another bacteria, it shows if you have a leaky gut. So it’s a really cool test to test for about 50 different things in your gut and that’s the best way to find out.
James Swanwick: If indeed someone does have one of those things, bacteria, fungus, H. pylori, leaky gut, what is usually the preferred way of treating that?
Martha Lewis: Well, I prefer to treat it from a holistic view, so I’m using different supplements, herbs, things like that to get rid of, first of all, I always start with the parasite. Get rid of that parasite, then get rid of the bacteria and then, if there’s a fungal overgrowth, which a lot of times there is if you have a parasitic gut infection. Addressing all of those, but you can do it all pretty naturally with herbs and with diet products.
James Swanwick: Yeah, there’s actually a Swanwick light bulb that’s just come out, which is more for nighttime. It takes out all that artificial blue light, and we’re going to be coming out with a morning one as well, which is exciting.
We have a comment here from someone on Facebook who says I work at a call center and it has messed up my sleep. Is that a common affliction that you find, Martha?
Martha Lewis: Yeah, definitely the lights and a lot of office spaces are really horrible. That fluorescent light is very stimulating, keeps you releasing cortisol. It’s really important to get natural light during the day and to have dim lights at night. But yeah, that’s not surprising that affects your sleep. So getting some daytime Swannies could really help with that, especially if you’re in front of a computer a lot as well, that will help.
James Swanwick: Yeah. What’s another big contributing factor to poor sleep or disturbed sleep that you’ve come across? We’ve talked about light exposure at nighttime, we talked about high stress. You know, maybe not, not regular exercise, talk about parasites. What other contributing factors have you seen disrupting people’s sleep?
Martha Lewis: Another one is food sensitivities. So if you’re eating foods you’re sensitive to, and that’s different from a food allergy, where you think of kids with peanut allergies going into anaphylaxis shock. A sensitivity is harder to detect, but your body’s producing antibodies against certain foods that it’s not liking and causes inflammation too.
So, I had a client who was eating broccoli, which we all think of as very healthy food, but it turns out he was sensitive to broccoli and so it was causing inflammation. When there’s inflammation, your body releases cortisol day and night, and that can also keep people awake at night.
For me, I found out I can’t eat gluten, and my only symptom is that I wake up at three and four and can’t go back to sleep. So I’ve given it up many times before and never really noticed a difference and as I’ve gotten older, I guess or whatever it is, a few months ago I actually wasn’t sleeping that well and I decided to give up gluten and now I’ve been sleeping great ever since. So it makes a big impact if you’re eating foods you are sensitive to.
James Swanwick: How does one deal with food sensitivity?
Martha Lewis: Yes, well there are two options. You can do what’s called an elimination diet where you eliminate many allergenic foods like gluten, dairy, soy, corn, and, you know, do that for 30 days. Then you add those foods again one at a time every few days and record your results. So it’s very hard to do and stick with it I found, but that is one way to figure it out. It’s going to take a few months.
Or I do a food sensitivity test with my clients. So you’re finding out very quickly, and they’re testing like 80 different foods to see if you have antibodies against those. That’s the quicker and easier way to find out if you’re sensitive to certain foods.
James Swanwick: And how does one do a sensitivity test? Is it saliva or blood or is it stool? What is it?
Martha Lewis: It’s a blood spot? The one I do? Yep.
James Swanwick: Bloodspot, is it. Okay, yeah. So you can do a food sensitivity test. I’ve heard people say that they’re sensitive to tomatoes, which is interesting because I always thought tomatoes being very healthy but I’m told that some people don’t react particularly well to those.
Martha Lewis: Tomatoes are a nightshade vegetable and some people really don’t like those. So it’s also peppers, onions, eggplant, and tomatoes that are nightshade vegetables. Yeah, in some people, they cause a lot of inflammation, and so they do better without them.
James Swanwick: So it’s possible that some people could be living their life eating these foods thinking that they’re healthy, having all these problems, just can’t get to the bottom of it. And they’re eating what we all consider to be healthy foods, obviously nutritious foods, but that could be the issue. Is that correct?
Martha Lewis: Yeah, exactly.
James Swanwick: Better to go to your GP and just pop a pill, right?
Martha Lewis: Yeah, that’s how you want to do it. Sure!
James Swanwick: So I can tell from our conversation that you’d like to take a more holistic approach to things. And so what are your criticisms of Western medicine? And where do you support Western medicine? And then let me ask you, what would be your criticisms of Eastern medicine? And what would be your support of Eastern medicine? So if I were on a debating team, I’m gonna ask you to, to debate for each side of the coin here.
Martha Lewis: Okay, well, um, I think with Western medicine, the focus is on treating symptoms and sickness. So once people are sick, then that’s when you intervene. And so you’re not like, you joke about popping a pill and that’s not getting to the root cause of what’s going on, right? It’s treating that symptom but it’s not actually making you healthy or fixing the problem. So I think that’s the tricky part with Western medicine, it definitely has its place, especially for emergency medicine. My son’s life was saved in a hospital. So I’m very appreciative of Western medicine, for sure and I even use it by doing this lab testing, that’s Western medicine, as well, by using science to figure out what’s going on. It definitely has its place and its advantages and so I like to use that as well.
Eastern medicine, I’m no expert in it at all. I know you know, that is part of holistic healing for sure but I love anything that’s trying to get to the root cause and fix the problem instead of just a pill for the symptom that’s then causing another symptom and then you take another pill for that and it’s, you know, it’s not actually fixing the problem.
James Swanwick: Okay, got it. Why is the US healthcare system more in Western medicine of treating sickness? Why? I mean, if the answer really is, let’s look at anything that gets to the root cause of the problem, like let’s do preventative health, rather than, you know, taking care of things. Why is it that way? Like, why is it the way that it is?
Martha Lewis: Who knows, I mean, that’s, you know, that’s where the money is, I would say. That’s where it split off however many years ago.
James Swanwick: I’m curious about that. I’m trying to dig into this a little bit more in my own research. Do you know when it split off and the US healthcare system went down the route that it went, which is more kind of sick care? I guess it’s helping people who’ve got symptoms rather than preventing it.
Martha Lewis: I don’t know exactly. I know so much has changed in the past hundred years, with so many things and technology and what we eat, and I’m assuming medicine too. And you know, that’s when people started getting sicker as well as when our diets changed and all this technology came about and so we’ve really quickly just been getting sicker and sicker. So I would imagine it would be in that same timeframe, but I’m definitely not an expert in the history of Western medicine, yeah.
James Swanwick: It’s funny because people will say that we are living longer, you know, the average people, even though we also must concede that people are getting sicker. So, yeah, we’re getting sicker and we’re being kept alive longer.
Martha Lewis: Exactly. That’s the best way to put it.
James Swanwick: Yeah, maybe better to just stay alive longer but be really healthy doing it.
Martha Lewis: Yeah, that sounds good to me.
James Swanwick: We had a question here on YouTube. If you get off your sleep cycle, so days and nights are mixed up, can you reset your circadian rhythm? I heard that staying up an hour later each day until you go around the clock.
Martha Lewis: Yeah, that’s definitely one way to do it for sure and I also like to use light therapy as well. So doing it gradually helps and then using that light first thing in the morning and then again at noon can really help reset as well.
James Swanwick: The anchor on Facebook asks. Martha, do you use Swannies?
Martha Lewis: I do. I have some right here.
James Swanwick: Oh, beautiful. There you go. What time of day or night do you put your glasses on?
Martha Lewis: I put them on around 8:30.
James Swanwick: Yeah, great. And then is that when you put on your TV and do a few things, or?
Martha Lewis: Yeah, exactly.
James Swanwick: And what have you found, what are the effects that you found from doing that?
Martha Lewis: I found I fall asleep really easily, but really, I stay asleep. Like, it’s weird to think that watching TV at night can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night, but it totally can. Because your body isn’t producing enough melatonin to stay asleep all night, so I found it helps with waking up in the night too.
And, just to be clear, too, we all wake up in the night right? Like we transition through sleep cycles all night long and so it’s normal to wake up briefly, maybe remember it maybe not, but ideally, you just go right back to sleep and, and go through those stages of sleep again. So yeah, but I found that it helps me stay asleep as well.
James Swanwick: Is there any science or anything to the idea that we should avoid eating food in the last three hours before we go to sleep or the last hour, for example, Martha?
Martha Lewis: Well, one thing we haven’t talked about yet is blood sugar and how that affects sleep, so that is really important. You don’t want to eat a big meal too close to bed, because you don’t want your body to be digesting when you’re trying to go to sleep. But you also don’t want to go to bed hungry.
So for someone who eats dinner really early, and then they get hungry three or four hours later, I think it’s fine to eat a small snack. I’m talking about 100 or 200 calories at the most and you don’t really want that to be ice cream or anything with a lot of sugar in it that’s going to spike your blood sugar. If your blood sugar falls too low in the night, then your body is under stress and it releases cortisol.
Having really fluctuating blood sugar levels is also another cause of insomnia. But yeah, a small snack making sure it has some complex carbohydrates and some protein and fat so that you’re not spiking your blood sugar too much is totally appropriate. And again, everyone’s different too.
James Swanwick: So what’s happening is if you have a big meal, or any meal, irrespective of whether you have a snack or not, but if you have a big meal, and that really gives you a surge of the blood sugar level, let’s just say you go to sleep because your blood sugar levels so high, it’s going to come back down very quickly. And is it that dramatic drop? That releases cortisol?
Martha Lewis: Yeah, it’s when it drops really low. After it drops high, then it drops low. Yeah, that’s when your body releases cortisol
James Swanwick: Got it. But what happens if you just ate a small meal, but you ate something with a smaller meal, does that mean that your blood sugar levels are not going to drop as much? Or is it still going to drop to the same point as what it would if you’d had the bigger meal?Martha Lewis: The size of the meal actually isn’t the issue, it’s more of what you’re eating. So a really high carbohydrate meal spikes your blood sugar levels, or eating refined sugar, refined carbohydrates, especially without protein and fat are really going to spike your blood sugar levels.
What you’re eating matters if you just eat pasta before bed, your blood sugar levels are going to crash four hours later but if you had that with a meat sauce and some vegetables, then you know, it’s not gonna spike as high and then it’s not gonna crash as low.
James Swanwick: Just thinking about all these restaurants that people go out and eat at, the Italian restaurants. It’s like let’s go out and have some spaghetti for dinner and have a big pasta meal and a glass of red wine, and they’ve got some garlic bread, and then afterward they’ll have a dessert with some sugar. And then they’ll feel really good and they go, oh man, that was an amazing great night and I’ll go home and I’ll go to sleep. What I guess is happening internally is that that blood sugar levels a lot in the night then it’s gonna drop. Cortisol will be released, sleep will be compromised, wake up feeling tired and foggy and sluggish.
Martha Lewis: Exactly.
James Swanwick: Doesn’t change the smiling assassins, the waiter is going “oh can I get you some dessert gets you something”. So interesting isn’t it, like everything when we dig into this and we understand the human body we look around at our culture and how we choose to live our lives and it ends up being like James versus the culture or Martha versus culture. It’s like, oh James versus the supermarket or Martha versus supermarket isn’t it? Because everything is set up to have you do something completely different than what we’re suggesting for optimal sleep, isn’t it?
Martha Lewis: Yeah, definitely. It’s an uphill battle for sure.
James Swanwick: Yeah. Martha, pictorial says do you recommend not eating after 6 pm?
Martha Lewis: Well, that depends on when you go to bed, and again, everyone’s different so a lot of this is experimenting with what works best for your body. You don’t want to be hungry before bed either. So you don’t want to eat too early and have been trying to go to bed five hours later, and then you’re going to be hungry again. It depends on what time you’re going to bed and it depends on your body and what you’re eating and when.
James Swanwick: The same question on Facebook, I hear that not eating after 6 pm helps keep you awake down, so the same answer I guess. I like to do intermittent fasting and that’s been very good at keeping my weight down and my energy levels up at various times in my life. And what I do is I will tend to have my last meal around seven and then not eat again until after in the afternoon the following day. So my dinner cutoff will be 7pm, I won’t eat anything else and then I will eat again as soon as the clock hits 12 pm you know after midday and my first meal of the day will be lunch. It will be a big lunch. And I did that for some time and that really worked for me, that felt great, I felt great. So that’s a good way of keeping weight down intermittent fasting. Are you familiar with that, Martha?
Martha Lewis: Yeah, definitely. And I think I can work well for you know, for a lot of people. I think it’s something you want to be doing if you’re healthy. Like, you don’t want to be stressing your body more if you’re already not healthy, or if you already aren’t sleeping I think that can make it that the intermittent fasting could actually make it worse. But if you’re healthy, I think it’s a great thing to do and try and again, see what works for you.
James Swanwick: Nate Fitzpatrick on YouTube asks what’s a good snack to have before bed?
Martha Lewis: So I’m trying to think like cheese and some whole grain crackers or trying to combine those carbohydrates, fat and protein. Peanut butter and apple, peanut butter and banana, some popcorn with some oil or butter on it, again, carbohydrate and some protein and fat.
James Swanwick: So you mentioned popcorn there, popcorn’s alright?
Martha Lewis: Again, like it is a carbohydrate, so making sure to have it with fat makes it a lot better.
James Swanwick: So without the fat, so if you’re just popping if you’re just having some homemade popcorn, for example, you get some corn kernels, you pop it in a machine, you put some salt on it, you eat the popcorn, and that was it. You didn’t put anything else on top of that, that would be troublesome would you suggest?
Martha Lewis: Yeah, it’s just because it’s a straight carbohydrate. It’s gonna spike your blood sugar pretty high, as opposed to having some fat to minimize that spike.
James Swanwick: Got it. So putting on white grass-fed butter on top of it would minimize the spike?
Martha Lewis: Yeah, exactly.
James Swanwick: Okay. But not grass, not butter that from a movie theater when they give you the popcorn there, I’m assuming.
Martha Lewis: No, that’s not real butter. A bunch of chemicals.
James Swanwick: Popcorn from a movie theater might be okay without the butter though, right? Because at the end of the day, it’s just still just corn kernels or not?
Martha Lewis: I mean, it’s, it’s how they pop it. It’s a salt they use like, you know, I prefer sea salt as opposed to table salt.
James Swanwick: Good point.
Martha Lewis: Yeah good quality food out is hard to find for sure.
James Swanwick: We do have a popcorn machine we’re at home where I am. We have, we use Celtic or Celtic depending on the pronunciation of sea salt and that’s we know that’s really good. But I didn’t know, I actually didn’t know about ensuring that I put some good fat with it, so that’s a good little addition, grass-fed butter.
Martha Lewis: Or coconut oil.
James Swanwick: Coconut oil, that kind of stuff. Got it.
Martha Lewis: Yeah.
James Swanwick: Teas. What about teas? Some people drink coffee, people drink tea. What are your thoughts on caffeine either in the morning or at nighttime teas in the morning or night time
Martha Lewis: You definitely want to avoid caffeine at night and even in the afternoon. Caffeine has a really long HalfLife which means it takes a while for your body to process it and everyone’s different as to how long it takes. Women actually tend to take longer to get all that caffeine out of your body. So caffeine in the morning, if you need it is great. I find that I do better in general without any caffeine at all but that’s my body.
I think teas like herbal teas before bed can be nice. You do want to make sure you aren’t drinking too many liquids right before bed so that you don’t have to wake up and have to go to the bathroom. Again, that’s a personal thing. I have to stop drinking water and liquids at 8 pm and I still get up to go to the bathroom once a night. But luckily I fall asleep right back after so it’s okay. Again, those can be good, it just depends on your body.
James Swanwick: Yeah, I’ve been relating to coffee, I didn’t drink coffee for the first 35 years of my life. And then all of a sudden I moved to Colombia and started drinking coffee and then and since then for the last 10 years I’ve gone on again off again. So I’ve gone years without drinking it and then I’ll go for three months where I’ll drink it straight and then I’ll go off it again. And in the last two months, I’ve been drinking it every morning until three days ago and I think, no, I actually know that coffee doesn’t quite agree with me. I love the taste and I love the ceremony of having it in the morning.
I do love the feeling initially, but I find myself being feeling agitated, somewhat irritable throughout the day, even eight hours after I’ve had the coffee and then when I get off after a few days of being offered, I start to feel pretty good, I don’t feel as agitated or irritated. It could be just my genetic makeup, like some people don’t respond well to it. Is it possible that coffee just doesn’t react well to some human beings?
Martha Lewis: I mean, it could be that for sure. Caffeine is a stimulant. So, again, it’s definitely going to depend on your body and how well you can handle that and what else is going on in the big picture with what you’re taking. It can be hard on the adrenals to process, so for people who aren’t having optimal functioning adrenals, it’s definitely something to stay away from. It adds to our stress, all these things can add to it and at what point are you overflowing and it’s too much is the answer.
James Swanwick: I tried dandelion coffee this morning. Have you heard, are you familiar with dandelion? It’s like a coffee substitute.
Martha Lewis: Did you like it?
James Swanwick: Yeah, I mean, I didn’t love the taste but I liked it enough that I’m gonna keep going with it and I’m hoping that I’ll acquire the, you know, the taste, etc. So yeah, it was fine. I mean, I would certainly, it wasn’t as tasty as when I had my morning coffee but I hope that changes.
Martha Lewis: I haven’t found anything good, you know, that’s the same or that replaces it. So I’ve just gotten out of the habit of having something which takes some time and it’s hard to adjust to for sure.
James Swanwick: Have you tried dandelion coffee before?
Martha Lewis: I haven’t tried to stay in the line. I’ve tried others, I’ve tried chicory root and it’s okay. And I’ve tried something called rasa that I really wanted to like because it has adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms in it. And I could just taste some mushroom and it just I couldn’t find a way to make it good but I could drink it.
James Swanwick: What were those two coffees called, the first two drinks?
Martha Lewis: One’s called chicory root, so that’s a common coffee alternative and then rasa coffee it’s called Rasa, It sounds amazing.
James Swanwick: Chicory root. Okay, great. I’ll research that. Thank you. I’ll give it a try. See if it tastes any better than the dandelion. I’m told reliably that dandelion coffee it’s very good for lowering cholesterol levels. So…
Martha Lewis: Oh, yeah. All these herbs have good benefits as well.
James Swanwick: Talking to Martha Lewis. We’ve got a few minutes to go here. Ah, we’ve got a few last questions here. Let’s roll through Pamela King who asked Martha, what does nightshade food actually make?
Martha Lewis: I don’t know why they’re called that but like I said, it’s the tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant. So, you know, there’s something that classifies them all in that family, some chemical compound, I would say. I’m not sure why they’re called nightshades though. It’s a good question.
James Swanwick: We’ve got a question here from Dfinston on YouTube. Night owl issues, productive (even if tired at 9pm) but wide awake till 4 am, more puzzling. If I go to bed at four, get rested deep sleep. If asleep earlier, not feeling rested. Is this all in my mind?
Martha Lewis: Well, it sounds like you have what’s called a delayed circadian rhythm. So it’s gotten later and later and later, to where now your body’s programmed to go into bed at 4am. Yeah, and it can be hard for night owls to wind down for sure. So that’s one of the really important to pick a time that you want to go to bed, keep that consistent, make time to wind down, make sure you’re dimming the lights, and using that light therapy in the morning can help get you back on track.
James Swanwick: Veni Sharky says a nice cold gel mask is good for sleeping. What are your impressions of that matter?
Martha Lewis: Well, our body temperature does naturally lower as we fall asleep, that’s an important part of the sleep process. So having something cool, keeping your room cool is definitely key. Some people just like that pressure on their face, if it’s blocking out the light too if there’s any kind of light going on in your room and that blocks it out and that’s great. You know, I think that’s a great tool to use if that’s what you like.
James Swanwick: Anything about pillow or sleeping positions? Can that help or hinder sleep?
Martha Lewis: That’s all pretty personal, you know, comfort. Being comfortable is obviously really important. So there is something to be said for having a comfortable pillow, having a comfortable mattress and sheets that you love and, all that is definitely key.
As far as sleeping position, I think that’s something that we prefer and it’s really hard to change. I cannot sleep on my back, I just can’t fall asleep that way. I can’t do it and that was really hard during pregnancy when that seemed like a comfortable way to try to sleep but I couldn’t do it. So I don’t think there’s one position that makes you a better sleeper, there are all kinds of fun articles out there about what your sleep position means about your personality and, fun things like that, but I think it’s just personal preference.
James Swanwick: Great. Well, Martha, thank you so much for your time and your expertise. We appreciate you joining us here on the show. And thank you so much to all those people who asked us questions on YouTube and on Facebook. Fitzpatrick says I’ll be taking a short ashwagandha for sleep seems to help, thank you. We’ve got some other cool comments here that have come through any final words of wisdom just on sleep Martha that you want to give us just to wrap things up?
Martha Lewis: Definitely. I mean, I think what I haven’t said yet is that I think that you’re meant to sleep well, like unless you have some kind of rare sleep disorder. Most of our bodies need to sleep, our minds need to sleep and so if you aren’t, to me, that means there’s something going on that is keeping you awake. The good news is that we can figure it out. So I just, I know so many people struggle with sleep and I just want you to have hope that it doesn’t have to be that way and you can figure out how to get the sleep you need.
James Swanwick: Yeah, wonderful.! Martha Lewis, thank you so much. We appreciate you being here. Just remember, you can grab Martha’s free ebook, Five Little-Known Reasons High Achievers Can’t Sleep, And How To Fix It. You can go to completesleepsolution.com. We’ve put that comment down a few times during the interview down below. If you’re watching on Facebook, if you’re watching on YouTube, please do go and check that out. Martha, thank you so much for your time.
Martha Lewis: Thanks for having me. It’s fun answering all your questions.