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

The Next Step’s Purposeful Rebrand Paves the Way to Wellness.

Originally known as The Next Step Spinal Cord Injury Recovery, the centre was established by Rhiannon Tracey in 2012. It emerged from both Rhiannon’s personal lived experience as well as the evident shortage of recovery options available to her and the spinal cord injury community. Notably, it remains the only recovery facility in Australia founded and operated by someone living with a spinal cord injury.

Now rebranded to “The Next Step SCI Recovery and Wellness Centre,” the facility has evolved significantly over the past decade, which is why rebranding was important.

We changed our name from “The Next Step Spinal Cord Injury Recovery” to “The Next Step SCI Recovery and Wellness Centre” on purpose. We dropped “injury” from our name because we know that some people may have their condition for a long time without fully recovering. Our new name shows that we care about more than just fixing the injury – we’re all about your overall wellness.

We understand that not everyone can fully recover, but we believe everyone has the chance to live well despite their condition. Our focus is on helping you live a good life, even if your recovery is a journey, not a destination. By calling ourselves a “Wellness Centre,” we want to make it clear that we’re here to support you in feeling good, not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally. At The Next Step, we’re dedicated to helping you live a strong, joyful life, focusing on your well-being even if a full recovery isn’t in the cards.

Over the last 10 years of operating the facility has expanded in both knowledge and research.

The team have a remarkable understanding of the benefits of exercise and being up to date with the latest research and recovery techniques allows us to offer a comprehensive array of modalities that promote optimal health, wellness, and performance in everyday life.

As an industry leader in treating a diverse range of medical conditions, including but not limited to, Spinal Cord Injury, Stroke, Spina Bifida, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Traumatic Brain Injury, Musculoskeletal/Joint Injury Rehabilitation, Chronic Pain, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Weight Loss, Behavioural Change, and Diabetes TNS is proud to be an all-inclusive centre.

Embracing the philosophy that even the smallest step can lead to significant life changes, at The Next Step, we view our clients as athletes on their recovery journey. Unlike the conventional view of disability, we acknowledge our athletes for their capacity for growth and progress regardless of condition or prognosis.

Recovery and wellness looks different for everyone, so we want to work with all individuals to create an accessible exercise program that is not only functional, but fun. We aim to encourage individuals to feeling like they don’t feel like they have to exercise, but want to.

At The Next Step, the emphasis goes beyond immediate recovery. It’s about empowering athletes to work toward achievable goals as long-term outcomes, holistically mind-body-soul. Through a combination of evidence-based recovery models, the latest therapeutic options, and a deep understanding of the physical and psychological aspects of spinal cord injury (SCI) and neurological conditions, The Next Step offers a lifeline to those seeking not just survival but a thriving life beyond their injury.

We provide a comprehensive support system, guided by expertise and fuelled by compassion, empowering our athletes (clients) to navigate the challenges of their condition and forge a path toward a brighter and more independent future.


Download our application pack

At The Next Step Recovery and Wellness Centre in Melbourne, our mission is to provide tailored programs and services for athletes recovering from spinal cord injuries and neurological conditions. Our Athlete Scholarship Program secures generous funding for athletes without financial support.