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Ask a Longevity Doctor |Ep. 3| How does sleep affect our health and longevity?

1 March 2021

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Ask a Longevity doctor is a new show, hosted by me, Chris Curwen, where I discuss all things longevity, health and aging with our friend and colleague Dr. Oliver Zolman.

You can keep up-to-date with the newest episodes by subscribing to the Gowing Life youtube channel.

In this episode of Ask The Longevity Doctor episode, we discuss how sleep influences our mental and physical wellbeing, our metabolic health, our risk of chronic diseases, and our longevity.

Here is what we talked about:

Question 1: We often hear that we should be getting 8 hours of sleep a night. How crucial is this?

Oliver: Quality is more important, and it depends on your other biomarkers. As long as all other biomarkers are optimal any amount of total sleep time is fine.

Question 2: Does the quality of sleep matter more than the quantity? What determines sleep quality, and stages of sleep?

Oliver: Yes. There are 32 markers of sleep quality, which you can read more about on my website.

Question 3: What are some suggestions for good sleep patterns for better health and well-being in general? ​

Oliver: Go to bed at plus or minus 30 minutes same time each day and similar with waking up, even on weekends

Question 4: Does lack of good sleep impact skin ageing?

Oliver: Yes in fact at a population level, at least 7 hours total sleep time on average is associated with slower skin ageing. It is one of the most sensitive biomarkers to total sleep time

Question 5: Does good sleep, or lack of of it, directly impact on my risk of diabetes, or heart disease, or cancer, or ageing in general?

Oliver: Yes, all of them! But normally it has to be worse than you think for it to contribute… the population studies are majorly flawed.

Question 6: Margaret Thatcher famously only needed 4 hours sleep a night. Why do some people need less sleep than others?

Oliver: 1% of people have familial short sleeper syndrome where they may have a more efficient glymphatic system. But you need to optimise all 33 sleep markers regardless.

Question 7: Are there any medications that can help a person sleep more soundly, so that they may not only have better and longer sleep, but also be less tired during waking hours?

Oliver: Yes. Check out my website for more information.

Question 8: Is there any link between obesity and lack of good sleep? And, Is it possible to lose weight through improved sleep alone?

Oliver: Yes and yes. If you have short sleep you have low glucose in the prefrontal cortex very likely so you crave weight gaining foods to boost brain glucose levels.

Question 9: What is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and does it have health impact?

Oliver: Yes particularly if it is moderate or mild. It is where your breath strength decreases by over 50% or over 80% for over 5 times for 10 second intervals per hour.

Question 10: How do I find out if I have sleep apnea, and what can I do if I do have it?

Oliver: There are 10 or so therapies we have for it, you can see them all in the presentation here. WatchPAT, Hope2Sleep foundation or Philips Alice Night One are the best devices for diagnosing it.

Question 11: How should I manage my weight if I have OSA? Are there any specific diet recommendations for managing my weight if I have OSA?

Oliver: Yes a calorie restriction diet is great. Food Hourglass diet or Longevity Level 1 diet are great options. Extra virgin olive oil 25- 50 mL a day causes weight loss in over 10 trials and is very healthy so thats good too. Try only eating e.g. 10 am to 6 pm as this helps make calorie restriction easier. You can get a resting metabolic rate test from PNOE and AI guided diet which can help. You can buy a freestyle libre for £50 which can help. And you can track calories in chronometer app.

Question 12: What is insomnia, and what can I do about it?

Oliver: Taking more than 30 mins to fall asleep for more than 3 nights a week for more than 3 months. CBT-I is the best therapy for it, as well as exercise and a bunch of other things we go over in and in this presentation.

Question 13: Is there anything that can be done during the day to ensure better quality of sleep at night?

Oliver: Yes, not eating for a few hours before bed, especially foods that cause reflux like fatty foods. Also morning exercise and day time bright light are excellent.

Question 14: What are the most important things I can do to maintain good sleep quality as I age?

Oliver: Use Whoop Watch, ask your GP for a sleep apnea test or go to Hope2Sleep website and get one for £60 or 80 for 2 nights. WatchPAT, blackflash or Philips Alice Night One are all good sleep apnea tests. And sign up to

Question 15: Sometimes, the longer I sleep in, the more tired I am. Why is this?

Oliver: This is often to oversleeping and disrupting you sleep regularity

Question 16: Can you recommend some web resources for individuals interested in improving their sleep quality?

Oliver: and The Insomnia Coach on YouTube is great too

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