The Brain Body Contract with Dr Huberman

Recently I had the privilege to see the famous Dr Andrew Huberman live for his talk in Melbourne ‘The Brain Body Contract’; Here are my take-aways!

Dr Huberman is an American Neuroscientist and podcaster who is also an associate professor of neurobiology and ophthalmology at Stanford University School of University.

I ran a personal development presentation with our team here at TNS on what I learnt at Dr Huberman’s talk and was pleased to hear the feedback that they found this information interesting and useful, so I thought why not share the knowledge with all of you as well.

Firstly, the topic of the sleep wake cycle and circadian rhythm, the 25-hour (adapted to 24 hours due to the way we live our lives) activity rhythm of physical, mental and behavior changes we as humans experience every day. Dr Huberman explained the importance of exposure to the morning sun and evening darkness for our sense of where and when we are in space. This is critical for our body’s natural waking and sleeping mechanisms, the suppression and release of melatonin and cortisol at the right times during the day. Studies have shown that with an increase in direct sunlight exposure through the day, mental health also improves.

Cortisol, the body’s ‘stress hormone’ has been linked to insomnia, waking up during the night and less sleep time overall. To assist with sleep, cortisol peak should occur early in the day compared to later in the day, meaning if you have something tough to do today, try to get it out of the way in the morning.

Here are a few other tips for your sleep wake cycle:

– The best evening light is candlelight and red light as they mimic the waves of the sun and promote the release of melatonin to induce sleepiness. Red light is shown to decrease your cortisol levels.

– Natural light morning and evening

– Dim to zero light 10pm-4am

– Limit naps to 90 minutes and only if they do not disturb your nighttime rest

– Limit caffeine in the 8-10 hours prior to sleep

– Limit blue light at night

– Wait for 90-120 minutes after waking before you drink your first coffee. This allows adenosine levels to rise slightly, making caffeine more effective at blocking receptors and keeping us more alert throughout the day. This allows some adenosine to fix itself on receptors prior to consuming coffee.

Dr Huberman touched on how the deliberate release of catecholamines (dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine) increase your resistance to stressors. This can look like cold water exposure or hard exercise. In relation to stress, there are two ways Dr Huberman explored to switch your body from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system. The first is a physiological sigh, receive an inhale, but before you get to the top, take another inhale. Then, expel all your air with an exhale. The second way is to switch your view from focal to foveal vision, as panoramic view decreases stress in real time. To do this, look at a spot but try to view as much above and below you, as well as side to side, without moving your eyes.

Neuroplasticity, very high at an early age, assists you to learn things. As you age, neuroplasticity declines and shifts at 25, but adults still have neuroplasticity. To encourage this, focus and sleep are required. Sleep is so important; it is where the modification occurs! The key to neuroplasticity is to make sure that the desired thoughts (e.g. Thinking about completing the movement) and the behavior (e.g. Completing the movement) happens at the same time.

Dr Huberman explored Non-Sleep-Deep-Rest (NSDR) and Yoganidra on the effects they have on reducing stress, improving sleep quality, self-direct relaxation and enhancing neuroplasticity. NSDR is a state of rest that is like deep sleep but without sleeping. Yoganidra is a practice where your body is completely still, and your mind is active. If you are more interested in the research and benefits behind these, I highly recommend you dive deeper into research or hit me up!

That’s all from me for now, please stay tuned for the next entry regarding pain, chronic pain, inflammation and phantom limb pain, motor injuries, traumatic brain injuries, acupuncture, ice vs heat and other treatments.

Until next time, 
Alisha Richards
TNS Allied Health Assistant

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