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Ready For The Sleep Study Results?

by | Mar 13, 2022 | Sleep

And so my FIVE WEEK sleep study using the Cerebra in-home polysomnogram sleep system comes to an end! Of those 5 weeks, 4 were with no caffeine. How much of a difference did that make? Will I be returning to my coffee ways of old ?

That’s it, five weeks of going to sleep with a headset & electrodes stuck to my head have finally come to an end! Morning questionnaires, evening questionnaires, light readings, reaction tests… it’s been an incredible 35 day journey full of awareness & reflection but the best is still to come – interpretion of the data that was sent every night from the tablet on my bedside table to the amazing Cerebra team in Canada!

For details on my nighly brain activity and identification of the time I spent in the different stages of sleep (see the Sleep Quality Terminology article) I will have to wait until April 26th. This will be the concluding episode of what will in fact be a whole month of weekly episodes on the topic of sleep on the Sports Therapy Association Podcast, with every Tuesday in April bringing at 8pm (UK time) a special guest from the world of Sleep Science.

Sharing the data with me on April 26th will be Dr Amy M Bender, Director of Clinical Sleep Science at Cerebra, whom I first interviewed in Ep.63 of the Sports Therapy Association Podcast (see video and link below) in an episode entitled How Sleep Affects Sports & Fitness, recorded back in August 2021. I am very excited to say the least…

Topics discussed in the August 2021 episode:

  • How can we measure quality & quantity of sleep?
  • How accurate are wearable devices?
  • What is Rapid Eye Movement (REM)?
  • Why is sleep important for recovery & performance?
  • How can lack of sleep reduce concentration & cognitive ability?
  • What can people do to improve quality of sleep?
  • How does a person’s chronotype affect their sleep patterns?

It was an hugely informative episode which I recommend anyone interested in the relationship between sleep, performance and injury should check out. The video is above or click here to listen on Apple Podcasts. You can listen to it on iPhone or Android using any popular podcast app, including Spotify.

Caffeine and Chronotypes  

As I mentioned in my introduction to this Sleep Study, for literally decades my primary source of fuel has been caffeine. I will (and frequently do) travel up to 10 miles to ensure I get served a decent Flat White. Basically, caffeine has been my self administered drug to deal with a lifetime of poor sleep, caused by birth membership into the exclusive ‘night owl’ club.

My chronotype (natural inclination of one’s body to sleep at a certain time) is set such that my body does not really get tired until past midnight, and as a result does not really want to wake up until after 8am. As a toddler my desperate parents took me to professionals to help sget me to sleep before midnight – they left with the advice to lock my door and buy earplugs.

Sleep Study
  • Studies suggest around 10% of the population are exclusively ‘night owls’, with 10% being ‘early birds’ and the rest hovering somewhere in between.
  • Anthropologists suggest evolution maintained this variance in chronotype to ensure someone was always awake to protect & alert the rest of the tribe if predators appeared.
  • I am basically the one who keeps you all safe at night – I can live with that.
    Like nearly all living creatures, I have a circadian rhythm controlling my day-to-day sleep-wake cycle, but it’s kind of shifted forwards about 3 hours. For some, this can be the source of insomnia, being forced to get up at a ‘biologically inappropriate’ 6am for work or kids or both, especially if you weren’t ‘biologically tired’ until 1am.

    Teenagers experience this as post puberty there is a natural ‘forward shift’ in circadian rhythm, causing some in research to call out for a change to the traditional schooling hours for learners of that age. Despite popular assumption, teenagers are not all being ‘lazy’ whatsoever – their internal clocks simply don’t work the same time as adults.

    Sleep Study

    Rather than choosing sensible ways to ‘trick’ my circadian rythym into tiring earlier in the evening and waking more alert in the morning (as suggested by Dr Amy Bender in the podcast episode, e.g. modifying light sources, temperature and diet) I chose caffeine…

    There is no doubt that caffeine does the job, it totally delays sleepiness by masking the natural receptors in your brain responsible for creating sleepiness, but the come down and negative long term effects are pretty well documented: prolonged sleep latency (amount of time it takes you to go from being fully awake to sleeping), shorter total sleep time, worsening of perceived sleep quality, increases in light sleep and shortening of deep sleep time.

    This is why my five week study was planned as follows:

    • Week 1: continue my habitual intake of caffeine (up to 6 shots a day)
    • Weeks 2 & 3: cease all intake of caffeine
    • Week 4 & 5: continue taking data now caffeine has left my system

      Join us for the LIVE results of the study   

      So, how did it all go? Was there a difference to my REM and Non-REM sleep as a resut of giving up caffeine? Did I get more deep sleep, the stage in which much of the physical & mental recovery our systems depend on takes place?

      Well, if you missed the live post-run videos I shared during the five week study, you can catch up with them on the Runchatlive YouTube channel. But if you’d like to hear what the data says, join myself & Dr Amy Bender LIVE at 8pm (UK Time) April 26th on the Sports Therapy Association YouTube Channel.

      Go there NOW and subscribe (it’s free), then click on the ‘receive notifications’ button. That way you wil receive a notification when the show has been booked and a reminder before it starts.

      And remember, the whole of April on the Sports Therapy Association Podcast will be dedicated to SLEEP. We have a very special guest for you every Tuesday night at 8pm (UK time) so if you are interested in sleep research then save the time and dates to your diary and join us live for each video recording!

      If you know you can’t make Tuesday nights at 8pm, search for the Sports Therapy Association Podcast on your preferred podcast app and subscribe to receive notifications of when the recording has been uploaded!

      If you have any questions in the meantime, you are as always welcome to email me: matt@runchatlive.com

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