How the colour red can help you sleep better, and more changes for vitality with author and trainer Evan Brand #6
How was your weekend? I'm back from my South American holiday. It was an super time, and a big highlight was visiting the stunning Iguacu falls, where the spray from the falls wrecks a decent selfie, but who cares, it's an overwhelmingly beautiful place.
If you ever get a chance to go then do, the sights and sounds of the falls are awe-inspiring.
Okay, from Brazilian jaunts to this week's Zestology. It's not all been holiday messin you know, as I grabbed an interview with the inspiring Evan Brand.
He uses diet and fitness as the starting points for health and happiness, but adds many therapies including meditation, stress-management training and custom supplementation protocols to provide a well-rounded solution a variety of health struggles.
He also, as you'll hear, is an expert on sleep, and you might be amazed by some of the ideas he has on how to improve your sleep (I was.)
When you listen you'll hear:
Living with more energy
- How early in the day does your body start making melatonin?
- Why you need a "technology sunset"
- What's the perfect amount of sleep?
- Social media do’s and don’ts.
Easy, everyday tips for vitality
- Diet staples that you need.
- An organic cookie is still a cookie… and other bad habits that need to stop.
- Bio-individual: Defining your individual needs instead of comparing yourself to other people.
- How a negative mindset can unravel your positive health choices.
- Why the mirror is a reflection of your inner and outer peace.
- Why you should stop coveting other people’s success.
- By Evan Brand
- By Evan Brand
- By Steven Pressfield
For more information
Here's how you can listen to today's episode:
- Listen to this episode on iTunes
- Stream by clicking below.
Hey! It’s Tony Wrighton and this is the podcast all about living with motivation and energy, and a bit more zing in your step. I think I just made up a new metaphor there. It’s been a few weeks since we launched, and going really well actually. We’ve been regularly in the iTunes top 2 or 3 of the self-help podcast chart. Really chuffed with that. Really helps with kind of getting the message to even more people. But we can do even better I think. Maybe today’s show will help us do that, because it’s a really good one. We’re looking at some outstanding changes that you can make for more energy and vitality. It’s really inspiring. Including, how the colour red can help you sleep better. Today’s guest is a fantastic one – Evan Brand, is a researcher and author; and host of the ‘Not just Paleo podcast.’ He kind of starts off with diet and fitness, but as you’ll hear, he soon moves away from diet and fitness into lifestyle changes. He looks at sleep, he looks at how you wake up in the morning, what you’re doing in the evening, and the colour red. Intrigued? Let’s crack on and have a chat with Evan Brand.
Tony Wrighton: Today’s guest is Evan Brand. He’s a writer, podcaster, nutritionist, and founder of ‘Not just Paleo.’ And he’s with me now, Evan – how you doing?
Evan Brand: Hey, I’m doing great! I’m actually feeling super energetic today for some reason. So, you caught me on a great day.
Tony Wrighton: Well, that’s bang on message for what we’re looking to achieve with Zestology as well. Evan, before we go any further, tell me and everyone listening, a little bit more about what you do, and your philosophy, and your approach.
Evan Brand: I basically teach people that diet and fitness are two tiny tiny tiny pieces to the puzzle of health, and happiness, and what it means to be a human. And that, there’s so many industries built on teaching you that diet and fitness are all that matters; but yet, 90% of my clients are people already doing things, like – the Paleo diet, and they’re already working out in the gym 4-5 days a week. And they still are not fulfilled. And my goal is just to help people figure out what are the missing pieces to that. So, whether it’s spiritual health or emotional health, or even just finding your passion and trying to chase that. I try to just uncover… uncover these things. These mysteries. There’s so many depressed people like, the centre for disease control, they say that depression by 2020, so in 5 years, will be the number 1 leading cause of disability worldwide.
Tony Wrighton: Wow!
Evan Brand: Why? There’s so many reasons. But why? And how can we expect our global economy to continue to flourish and operate at a functional if all of us are too depressed to do anything, you know. We’re tired, fatigued, and grumpy, you know. So, it’s… my goal is to basically try to put a dent in that statistic.
Tony Wrighton: Yeah, definitely. And of course, you are a nutritionist but what you are essentially saying is that, diet is just a small part of the jigsaw. And actually, you often focus on lifestyle changes rather than diet.
Evan Brand: Definitely, yeah. I mean, diet is something that definitely has to be in place because of the food-mood connection. I mean, if you’re blood sugar is completely unstable; and you’re eating refined foods and refined sugars where your blood sugar is rising and falling. Your moods are going to rise and fall as well throughout the day. So, I mean, I do have to focus on that first but I quickly digress off of that, on to some other things.
Tony Wrighton: Okay well, I’ve got a long list of questions for you. But let’s just start with diet since you focus on that first. And then we’ll move on to the other stuff - the lifestyle stuff. There’s a lot of stuff about sleep I wanted to ask you as well, because I know you’ve done some stuff about sleep. But tell me first, just about the diet component of what you do and how… it then develops into lifestyle.
Evan Brand: Sure. So, essentially when it comes to diet, I just make sure that people are eating frequently enough. I’m not a person who says that you need to eat 6 or 7 meals per day, and you need to have tons of complex carbohydrates in your diet and things like that. I really try to keep my dietary approach simple. Eat organic food whenever possible. That doesn’t mean organic cookies. An organic cookie is still a cookie, right? So, ensuring that…
Tony Wrighton: But it’s organic… it’s organic Evan…
Evan Brand: It’s silly… it’s so silly… you know, so basically getting even the healthy processed food; trying to get that out of the people’s lives and just trying to encourage people to get back in the kitchen. The kitchen shouldn’t be a place just where you throw something in a box. Making sure you’re actually pulling real foods out of your refrigerator each day and eating those. I recommend a lot of, you know, high quality organic vegetables. I’m a big fan of organic broccoli. You can get a bag of organic frozen broccoli here in the States for $2. And there’s not much cheaper bang for your buck there. You throw some organic butter on that with some Himalayan salt to get some of your trace minerals in. I’ll throw you a little 4 to 6 ounce steak of grass-fed beef or bison. I really really love bison. You can do that. And you’re on the way to, you know, a really healthy day. So, I mean, meat and vegetables are sort of the 2 priorities of quality that people should have in their lives. And then, we can do some tweaking on the edges. I put some of my clients who are high performers and athletes on organic white rice and things like that. Just to really help support the blood sugar there and just provide a little bit more carbs. But, honestly, I’m not a person who counts much of anything. You don’t need to count. If you are counting, if you have a scale to weigh your food. You need to throw it away.
Tony Wrighton: You just like to be a little bit out talk. A bit of a kitchen maverick. And just throw in bits as it comes.
Evan Brand: Yup, definitely. And you know, diet is something that a lot of people trying to convince you that it’s cookie cutter. It’s really not cookie cutter. It depends, you know, on what works for you. It’s going to depend on your stress level and that could mean, emotional or physical stress. If you’re a high performing athlete or somebody doing a lot of high intensity work, your sleep quality is going to affect your diet as well; and how well you sleep and how well you recover. So, I mean, there’s a lot of different to pieces to play. But, I mean, definitely the number 1 and number 2 things that you should have in your life, or, you know, good quality organic meat and vegetables.
Tony Wrighton: Okay. So, that’s the diet component of it sorted. I’ve got to say, I doubt I’ve ever eaten bison. I really don’t think I’ve ever had it. Is it good?
Evan Brand: Awe man! It’s delicious. It’s a little bit sweeter in my opinion, than the taste of grass-fed beef. But, I mean, it’s the original… it’s the o.g… It’s the original gangster animal of North America. I mean, around the world, there’s tons of different species and you know, I guess you call them genus of bison around the world. It’s an incredible meat that has a really good fat and protein ratio. Sometimes, you may even get it cheaper than grass-fed beef. I kind of get sick of beef sometime, so I kind of switch over between that and bison, and some venison. So I’m always trying to keep it interesting because even if you eat grass-fed beef every single day, your body could eventually reject that and you’ll start running to the bathroom more frequently than you should. You’ll know that you’re starting to get sort of an allergic reaction to it.
Tony Wrighton: Okay. Bison’s going to be on my shopping list.
Evan Brand: Yeah, me too.
Tony Wrighton: Yeah. Yeah. I will. Yeah. Yeah. So Evan, after that, then you look at lifestyle. You’ve mentioned stress, and you’ve mentioned lifestyle, and you’ve mentioned sleep as well. What do you do with your clients, and what can people listening do to start making lifestyle changes towards being kind of happier and healthier?
Evan Brand: Yeah I mean, you just have to stop beating yourself up. I mean, that’s one of the number 1 things. I do it myself as a business owner. If I get 100,000 downloads of a podcast. I want a million. If I get a million, I want 2 million. I’ve had 2 million, now I want 5 million. You know, some…
Tony Wrighton: It’s kind of human nature though, is it?
Evan Brand: It is.
Tony Wrighton: We become very quickly acclimatized to positive changes in our life. But negative changes, we beat ourselves up about.
Evan Brand: Oh yeah. I mean, you could get, and people can apply this to their own life in some shape or form. You could get a hundred compliments about yourself and then you get one negative comment. And that one negative comment will outweigh a hundred. And it’s sort of ridiculous how the brain does that, but I mean, it’s probably part of evolution. If you would have gotten burned, you’re not going to remember all the good campfires. You’re going to remember the time where you really burned your hand on that log because you thought it was far enough out of the fire and weren’t hot, and you grabbed it and you burned yourself, you know. So, negative experiences do stick in the mind much greater. And that’s… It’s not necessarily a bad thing but you just have to remember to appreciate the good things in your life. And this is kind of where I branch off from a lot of the diet/fitness gurus. Because they don’t… they’re not tuned in to their hearts. If you’re going to keep beating yourself up, you have to counteract that with gratitude and just appreciation for what you have. So, I mean, I just moved in to this new house. I don’t have everything yet. I barely have a chair to sit on for this interview but I’m so much happier because I chased my heart to move back home, when I was in a different state, a thousand miles away. Just doing things like that. No matter how much you diet and exercise, if you’re homesick, that’s probably going to override the benefits of your food. Emotional sickness or emotional traumas, can leave you more sick than food can counteract. So that’s a little bit…
Tony Wrighton: Hmm-hmmm…
Evan Brand: …It’s a little of a tangent, but I’m basically, just trying to remind people that – if there’s a hole in your heart somewhere, there’s some sort of emotional piece missing that it keeps bubbling up on you. Unless you take care of that emotional piece, you’re probably not going to get better. It doesn’t matter how much bison you eat. If you don’t fix that emotional trauma which that could be a long time, you know, thing to work on. Your results are going to be limited. So, I’m kind of for people that aren’t going to see this video. You know, if your potential is up to your head, you have an emotional trauma. Your emotional… or your potential may only come up to your collarbone. So, you may feel happy and pretty content but you’re still missing that final little filling of your, you know, complete fulfilment.
Tony Wrighton: Final chunk of the puzzle.
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Tony Wrighton: I mean, personally, you mentioned gratitude. Personally, I’ve spoken about this to a couple of other guests, I write a journal in the evening. I wouldn’t say it’s a gratitude journal but I kind of write down what went well on the one column which says good; and then on another column, I write better. Which is what could be better the next day. So, there’s a kind of gratefulness for what’s happened during the day. But then, there’s also a kind of re-framing of what… I mean, I could have 2 columns – good and bad; but by having good and better, it’s a nice way to kind of spin the day. Practically speaking, how does it work with your clients? Because it’s very easy to say you got to stop beating yourself up. But I know from my experience and from working with other people, you know. It’s harder to put it into practice sometimes, isn’t it?
Evan Brand: Oh definitely and people will laugh at that idea because they’ve done it for 30-40-50 years sometimes, you know what the older clients, so… I mean, honestly, this is sort of a take it as your own, practice with your client if you like. But I tell people, I want you to go look in the mirror. When you look at yourself, and you take a look; do I have bags under my eyes? Do I have dark circles? How are my eyebrows looking, you know? If you’re losing your outer 1/3 edge of your eyebrow, that’s an indicator of some thyroid issues, you know. So, in a clinical experience, that’s sort of where that comes in.
Tony Wrighton: Really?
Evan Brand: Yes. So, when you lose that 1/3… that outer edge of the hair. If you’re sort of bald there on that outer edge…
Tony Wrighton: Yeah.
Evan Brand: …and you look like you don’t have a full eyebrow. That’s likely a thyroid indicator.
Tony Wrighton: Hmmm…
Evan Brand: A lot of people have thyroid issues or epidemic. I mean, that’s whole other issue over podcast but… so, taking a good look at yourself, trying to check if you have puffiness in your cheeks, you know signs of inflammation, things like that. And really just taking a deeper look into your own eyes and kind of looking into your soul. And kind of feeling out how do I look? That’s your starting point. So as far as practicality, where do you go from that? Well, you can start looking for different jobs; you can start looking for people like you and I; to try to figure out how you can get your diet and your lifestyle in check, so you can pursue these passions. But I mean, honestly, just doing a weekly check in the mirror, I think that’s a really helpful exercise to really take a good look at yourself and really see like, ‘man! I’m a wreck,’ ‘what’s going on?’, ‘Oh I’m not sleeping good.’ Okay, now maybe I should focus on removing some artificial light at night time so that I can sleep better because I’m suppressing my melatonin levels. Because I have an iPhone that I just have to check one more time before I roll over for the night.
Tony Wrighton: Don’t. Don’t. I’ll come on to that in a second.
Evan Brand: Yeah. Yeah.
Tony Wrighton: But just on the mirror thing, I mean, it’s interesting that I don’t think I’ve never really heard that theory before. I mean, I wonder if it’s possible that you might look at yourself in the mirror and check in with yourself on the mirror; and you might see something there on the surface. Looks great. You might look awesome. You got a ton, you’ve been on holiday, you’re in shape, and yet inside… things aren’t going to plan. Is that possible as well?
Evan Brand: Oh absolutely yeah! Which is why I kind of mentioned you have to look in to your eyes.
Tony Wrighton: Into your eyes.
Evan Brand: Would you… you know they always say the eyes are the… you know, the door to the soul.
Tony Wrighton: Window… yeah. Window to the soul.
Evan Brand: Window. Yeah. I like window better. So, I mean, yeah you could look tan and attractive or whatever. You have your hair perfectly styled but you look into those windows into your soul. You’re going to see and you can’t lie to yourself. I mean, you can for so long but eventually, your subconscious is going to slap you in the face and you’re going to get your ego smashed. But when you look into those eyes of yourself, you’re going to see what sort of lacking no matter what out here on the exterior whether it’s you know, plastic surgery or otherwise. You’re going to see through that eventually.
Tony Wrighton: You’re doing a lot of good hand and finger movements here which people aren’t going to see because it’s not a video podcast, it’s just audio. But I’m seeing it and its good and people are going to imagine that. Okay…
Evan Brand: Thank you.
Tony Wrighton: So, that’s good. And then now you mentioned sleep and artificial light. I do want to talk to you more about that and checking that iPhone one more time. I mean, it’s just… there’s something so addictive about technology and that little dopamine hit that you get from an email, or a message, or whatsapp, or whatever it might be. How does, in your experience, how does it affect our sleep though?
Evan Brand: Oh I mean, it’s huge. It’s actually a multifaceted thing. I mean, one of the things is just the neuro-pathway that you create, right? So if you love ice cream, you have a neuro-pathway carved, the sort of idea of brain plasticity. You have a pathway carved in your brain that every time you go to get ice cream, you’re going to start secreting dopamine, maybe some serotonin. You’re going to feel happy, good, relaxed. You have that same pathway carved for social media, for email, for texting, whatever. So, that’s the one pathway that’s going to be getting lit up. So, that’s sort of that aspect. The second aspect is artificial light. So, melatonin is not just a sleep hormone. Melatonin actually fights cancer. Melatonin is a powerful anti-oxidant. So it’s not just, oh everybody here’s melatonin they only think sleep. No. melatonin is an anti-cancer hormone. And there’s several different places in the body where it’s produced; some in the brain; some in the gut. But in multiple studies, even just a small light. Small enough like the size of a quarter, I don’t know, what is that in London. Would that be a pound piece?
Tony Wrighton: I guess it might be a 5 pence piece. They’re really small.
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Tony Wrighton: Yeah.
Evan Brand: Well a quarter.
Tony Wrighton: 5 pence.
Evan Brand: Yeah. So there we go, so maybe a 5 pence piece.
Tony Wrighton: Yeah.
Evan Brand: Even just that small of a light on the back of a study test subject’s knee was enough to suppress melatonin’s levels. So what that means for you is that, if you… you don’t even have to have an iPhone right in your face. Everyone does. But you could simply have a light behind your kneecap and that’s going to be enough to turn down your sleep hormone levels. So, what I’m saying…
Tony Wrighton: Hmm-hmm… even if it’s not… even if your eyes aren’t seeing this light. Your body somehow reacts to it?
Evan Brand: Yes. Your skin… your skin is sort of a sun dial itself. Your skin picks up on light signals and sets your circadian rhythms themselves and a lot of them are regulated by light. So…
Tony Wrighton: A lot of people are listening to this will have alarm clocks that have a light, that light up that show the time with the light.
Evan Brand: You have to remove them. You have to get them out of the bedroom. What you can do I mean… I’m okay with using alarm clocks if there’s… I get deep man. I’m telling you, we could make this very deep but…
Tony Wrighton: Yeah. Yeah, go deep Evan.
Evan Brand: Okay. Well, you do not want to set your body up for stress, the first thing you wake up. I’ve had friends that have nuclear bomb sounds for their alarm clock. I mean it’s like wreeeeeeee. You know, it’s this crazy siren. That’s ridiculous, okay? You have to use a calm… sort of, peaceful, whether it’s the sound of the forest, the sound of birds, you know…
Tony Wrighton: Yeah.
Evan Brand: Apple and all these new androids. They really stepped up their alarm tones. I’m sure you can find a peaceful tone on your phone if you’re going to use that as your alarm clock. Keep it away from your head. Put a charger in your phone in the corner of the bedroom, you don’t want it next to your head for several reasons that we probably don’t have to dig into today. But keep it away from your head and use that peaceful tone to wake up. Get the alarm clock away. That light is not good for your sleep. You’re not going to recover as well, you’re probably going to wake up in the middle of the night and have to go to the bathroom. Your body is just never getting the full signal that it’s time to sleep. So, that’s sort of the take on alarm clocks but just sleep in general, a lot of people have poor sleep because they don’t have any… they don’t have any time to think. So, you’re working all day. You’re in your car, you’re listening to podcast, you jump on email, you watch tv, you cook dinner, you spend time with your family. Boom! All of a sudden you hit your head in the bed. How did I even get here? I have no clue. I’m just in bed all of a sudden.
Tony Wrighton: Yeah.
Evan Brand: All these stuff is still in my mind and all of a sudden I’m supposed to sleep? It’s not going to happen. So, there’s got to be a small decompression window at the end of your evening. Whether it’s an Epsom salt bath, whether it’s you listening to a couple peaceful songs, whether it’s you journaling, doing some of the gratitude you mentioned. There’s got to be a small decompression practice at the end.
Tony Wrighton: Where the technology goes off?
Evan Brand: Yes. Preferably. If you just have to absolutely have to use technology, you need to make sure that you have, it’s called F-Lux. I just call it flux. But it’s F-L-U-X, and it’s an application you can install on your windows or your mac computer and when the sun sets, your screen will dim to an orange colour and remove some of the blues. And if you’re going to be doing some work on your phone, or your tablet, or whatever. Android has an app that I recommend called twilight, and the same thing. When sunset happens, my android screen goes completely… not completely, but pretty red and removes all the blue light.
Tony Wrighton: Right. Is that possible on the iPhone as well or not?
Evan Brand: I know that they do have a couple apps, I don’t know right off. But I’ve heard of a lot of people having to jail break them.
Tony Wrighton: Yeah.
Evan Brand: To actually do that. So, and I have my phone right here which is ringing so you know, I apologize for that. That’s always rude. But…
Tony Wrighton: No problem. I can’t hear it so, you know.
Evan Brand: Oh perfect.
Tony Wrighton: Yeah.
Evan Brand: So yeah, twilight’s what I use. I’ll show it to you real quick. I know people can’t see it but I’m going to crank it up and I’ll just show it to you.
Tony Wrighton: I’ll try to describe it to people – oh my goodness! Okay, so…
Evan Brand: You see how red it is?
Tony Wrighton: I can see a screen which is almost totally red. I mean, it looks weird.
Evan Brand: I’ll turn it off.
Tony Wrighton: Your whole mobile phone screen has gone red.
Evan Brand: See how? Now it’s back to normal.
Tony Wrighton: Yeah, now it’s normal. Now, you turned it off and it’s normal. Now the screen is totally red. This is uhmmm… I mean this is revolutionary. So, what does the red screen do?
Evan Brand: Well, red light doesn’t suppress your melatonin levels. So, blue light, if you think of a blue sky that’s telling your brain, hey it’s day time. Let’s wake up, let’s make energy, and let’s get going. And when you see a sunset. The sky isn’t actually turning red, and orange, and pink, and all of the beautiful colours of the sunset. The sky is just actually getting the blue spectrum removed. So, from an evolutionary and biological perspective, when you’re looking at the sky and the evening is coming, the blue is simply getting removed. And that’s going to trigger some different reactions in your body and your body’s going to start… usually around 7pm, your body is going to start making melatonin and other hormones to get you ready for bed. So, you’re basically doing the same thing with your phone. Instead of telling your brain it’s daylight by shoving all these blue light in your face. Now, it turns to red. It’s basically a technology sunset, essentially.
Tony Wrighton: And so you’ve done that and your body starts making melatonin. But just let’s kind of drill in to that a little bit more, why melatonin is so important. I’m thinking about my bedroom for example. I live in the middle of London, and it’s hard to block out all the light and I’ve done my best. But there are one or two chinks of light that can come in from outside. Is that good enough? Or do I need to do better?
Evan Brand: I would say, it depends on how you sleep. If you’re waking up in the middle of the night, or if you’re waking up in the morning and you’re not feeling rested. There’s many things that I would like to tweak, you know. If you were a client, I would tweak many different things for you there but it all depends on how you feel. If you feel like you wake up and you still feel, ‘ahh I didn’t really sleep that well, I’m still fatigued.’ Then, I would probably go to that as one of the simple fixes. Making sure that, you know, if you have black out curtains that you’re completely tucking them around your windows. So that not even a peep of light is coming in cause you want them pitch black. Some people that argue well the moon is bright; and the moon could shine in, and that’s natural light. But, we’re assuming that you’ve lived around artificial light at night time for a long time.
Tony Wrighton: Yeah.
Evan Brand: You really need to be in a pitch dark for a while to reset that.
Tony Wrighton: Hmmm… and so then, if one does say goes to the loo in the middle of the night, and you see a little bit of light. If your eyes see a little bit of light. Does that switch off the production of melatonin totally?
Evan Brand: It depends who you ask. In my experience, it definitely makes a difference. I had a guy on my podcast, this guy – Dr. Richard Handsler.
Tony Wrighton: Yeah.
Evan Brand: He might be a cool guest for you. He runs the website it’s called ‘lowbluelights.com.’ And he actually worked as a… I’m not affiliated with him. He’s just a really cool guy. He’s in his late 80s right now. And he worked as a light bulb creator for his whole life and then he felt guilty because he found the link between low melatonin levels, and cancer, and third shift nurses. So he became really guilty and developed these light bulbs that…
Tony Wrighton: Third shift nurses would be nurses who worked through the night?
Evan Brand: Correct. Night shift.
Tony Wrighton: Okay. Yeah.
Evan Brand: Yeah. He found a huge correlation between night shift workers and cancer.
Tony Wrighton: Wow!
Evan Brand: And so he felt really guilty. So, he’s been on this journey to try to basically get people to convert their lights over that they’re going to use at night time. That are basically, they have zero blue light. To answer your question, I mean he would say that, no light anywhere near the white or blue spectrum is acceptable at night time. But it just goes back to how you feel. I personally just try to make it a cave man, to be honest with you.
Tony Wrighton: Yeah.
Evan Brand: I just kind of take things to the extreme if I’m going to do them.
Tony Wrighton: Me too.
Evan Brand: It’s not a bad thing.
Tony Wrighton: To the annoyance of those around me sometimes.
Evan Brand: Exactly.
Tony Wrighton: But I think it’s a good thing. Now, I mean, you mentioned making it a cave. And obviously, you’re mostly using… are you Paleo? You’re totally Paleo as well?
Evan Brand: Not really. I mean…
Tony Wrighton: No.
Evan Brand: I like to eat organic white rice. I like to do raw cheese sometimes, you know.
Tony Wrighton: Yeah.
Evan Brand: Which kind of why I call it ‘not just Paleo’, just because everybody goes there as a good starting point. But I like to go beyond that because I really want to get more results.
Tony Wrighton: Great. And in terms of sleep, I mean did cavemen and women, sleep better than us?
Evan Brand: Who knows?
Tony Wrighton: We certainly live longer than them, don’t we?
Evan Brand: It depends. I mean, as far… I kind of stay away from the cavemen topic because everybody gets all. I don’t even know what you would call it, not defensive but they get so silly, ‘Oh they’re not here, who knows what they did.’ Well a lot of infant mortality was around which sort of kind of swayed the average life expectancy and things like that.
Tony Wrighton: Yeah.
Evan Brand: But I mean, we don’t even have to go back that far. We could go back to just tribes people and if you’re going to be around animals that could potentially hunt you, people are going to sleep in a more of a poly-phasic, you know, multi cycle thing where you may sleep for a little bit. But you have to wake up to stoke the family fire to keep the family warm. You may have to ward off some sabre-toothed tiger that’s going to come get you in the middle of the night. So I mean it’s hard to say what our ancestors even slept like. I mean, there’s a lot of people that argue that we’re not even built for 8-hours in one chunk and then get up. A lot of people say that we’re built to sleep a few hours, and sleep a few hours, and sleep a few hours. I experimented with it and I was completely miserable so it wasn’t for me.
Tony Wrighton: So, it’s that poly-phasic sleep? Or…
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Tony Wrighton: Yeah. So what happened there? What happened with your experiments?
Evan Brand: Oh I just became angry. I became grumpy and I just felt…
Tony Wrighton: How long have you been sleeping for at a time?
Evan Brand: Maybe 4 hours.
Tony Wrighton: And then?
Evan Brand: 3 or 4 hours and then you’d wake up and you’d be up for maybe an hour, try do some work and go back to sleep for another 4 hours…
Tony Wrighton: Yeah.
Evan Brand: …and then wake up and then maybe a nap during the day. This was I was in college when I was experimenting with it. It just wasn’t for me. I’ve never felt fully rested. So, I just sort of went back to just sleeping in one chunk. I tried to get to bed around 9pm and usually get up around 7:30 or 8. I try to wake up with the sun, you know, as much as possible.
Tony Wrighton: That’s a good chunk of sleep. So you’re sleeping more than 8 hours.
Evan Brand: Yeah. And sometimes I will wake up in the middle of the night. Sometimes, I’ll lay there at first and sort of think and brainstorm. But honestly, it try to put off a really big block of sleep. I take it seriously.
Tony Wrighton: Yeah. Yeah. I once read something which was the perfect amount… it’s the eternal question, how long should we sleep? And it said the perfect amount of sleep is how long you need as a person. There’s no perfect amount. Some people can get by on 3 or 4 hours of sleep. They’re a few people. And some people need say 9. 10 hours. There’s no perfect level. Would you agree with that, don’t you think?
Evan Brand: Oh yeah. Everything is bio-individual like I mentioned at the beginning…
Tony Wrighton: Bio-individual? I like that. That’s a good one. I’m going to nick that one.
Evan Brand: …yeah. Please. Please do. Yeah. Diet, you know, stress. How does your husband or wife treat you? I mean did you get into a fight at dinner? And that’s going to be raising your stress hormone levels and preventing you from going in a deep sleep. Do you have a big test the next morning? Do you have to lead a meeting at work? Do you have to meet the new boss or the new manager? I mean, all of those things factor in. so, it’s very… which is kind of why I do individualized coaching you know, because everybody is so specific. But there are some blanket things that we’ve talked about that can be really helpful.
Tony Wrighton: Hmmm… I mean that sleep stuff that you talked about is so helpful. Thank you so much for that.
Evan Brand: No problem.
Tony Wrighton: In terms of the stress and the lifestyle, how do you reduce people’s… what is your experience with people’s stress levels, and why are they so high? In this modern life that we lead. I personally feel that technology had such a profound impact on the last 5 or 6 years. I mean, 5 or 6 years ago, none of us had a device on us all the time. And now, I feel like we never quite switch off. And one of the really important things is depth, isn’t it? Just go really deep. Deep into thought, deep into conversation. Having a great night out when you just spent time with family and friends and just deep conversation. And I feel like depth is the thing that’s compromised by technology.
Evan Brand: Awe man, that’s profound and I’ve never heard the word depth used like that. That is perfect man, and I love it. Yes. Society on a global scale has become very shallow. And this is a little bit of a tangent but it’s okay because it all ties in to what I was going to say which you already said; Technology is the number one reason people are stressed in my opinion. Because they’re… for multiple reasons. I mean, we’ve talked about the sort of environmental-biological stress of the artificial light that’s constantly telling your brain and your body that it’s daytime. So you’re not going to be recovering. You’re going to be exhausted. So what you’re going to do - you’re going to Starbucks and get coffee, and caffeine and other stimulants like sugar, because you’re tired. Because you had artificial light suppress your sleep hormones and you never recovered. So, you’re exhausted. And then there’s sort of the social level, where you’re lonely. You’re so lonely. You can have 5,000 friends; 20,000 followers and you can be so lonely sitting in your kitchen all by yourself and nobody cares about you. That’s a stress. And also being envious of others, and we all do it in the online business world. We look at other people’s business and see their success and we become envious. It’s a very toxic, toxic habit that I’ve learned to manage by simply… I’ll check somebody out, cool, applaud them, and then I’ll go back to doing my work. And so for anybody, even if you’re not somebody whose an entrepreneur. You have to be really be careful with envy. So even if you’re just getting on Facebook. You know, you can use Facebook as a great networking tool to connect with friends, and family, and plan events, and things like that. Or, you can use Facebook as a horrible productivity killer that’s going to kill your self-confidence by looking at your friend from high school; and seeing what kind of house they just got, or their new car, or oh look how cute their new dog is - ‘I wish I had a golden retriever’, you know, so, it’s sort of a really multi-faceted thing. But I mean, you hit the nail on the head. Technology is a huge stressor and that’s some of the deeper aspects that I go into of why it is a stressor.
Tony Wrighton: Yeah and practically speaking what kind of changes do you work on with your clients? And people listening might be jogging now or walking around, what kind of changes can they make on a day to day level in terms of reducing stress?
Evan Brand: Hmm-hmmm… so, a little bit of a shameless plug here. I did create a program which I’ll have to send you a copy called ‘stress solutions.’
Tony Wrighton: Yeah. That’d be great, thank you! Yeah.
Evan Brand: And it’s an eBook and it goes… because stress is such a big word. So I break down the environmental, you know, some of the biological, the nutritional stress, the emotional stress, the spiritual stress, and what to do about it. Then I have 4 doctors that come on and give their personal take but; you know, a really good take away while were on this subject of technology stress is that you have to wake up and avoid social media in the morning, avoid email in the morning. So, if I wake up for example, like I said, use this and apply this to your own life. If I wake up and my goal for the day is write a blog article, or to create a podcast. I’m going to wake up and I’m going to do that podcast or I’m going to do that blog article, once that’s done; or once I’ve brainstormed some notes; now, I’m going on social media; now, I’m going on email.
Tony Wrighton: This is becoming a theme with other people I’m speaking to. Do you not check email or social media before you’ve done your big work for the day?
Evan Brand: I don’t touch it. It’s a death trap.
Tony Wrighton: Really?
Evan Brand: Yes. It’s very tough, I’ll tell you. Because I had to disable… I disabled all notifications on my phone. I still get text and call notifications, but anything social media, email related, it’s completely turned off. If I see that little thing flashing, you’re going to want to jump on it and see what’s in there because you may have just got a million dollar deposit from a coaching client, you know? You never know.
Tony Wrighton: But then that great idea that your mind, your unconscious mind, has been percolating overnight has gone?
Evan Brand: Oh it’s gone. You lose it. It’s like waking up and trying to remember your dream and then you jump on Facebook. ‘Oh what was I dreaming about? Oh who cares?’ and then you move on. So yeah, it’s a very very hard habit to break but you know, I just encourage people to try it. Try to jump in your groove, whatever your groove is. If you’re a piano player and you need to go practice piano; if you’re a fitness trainer and you need to go work on some of your protocols. Do that first and then jump into the world of potential distraction.
Tony Wrighton: We’ve got some practical stuff. I’m straight away… I have heard about that program to make your screen red. Well actually, I had heard about the program, I thought it just dimmed your screen. I didn’t realize it made your screen so red. And as I say, until you showed me your mobile phone then, I had no idea that it was all about red light and cutting out the blue light. So, that’s something I’m going to be taking action on within about 15 minutes of us talking on this podcast. I’ve been asking everyone. If there’s one book you could recommend, and one action that we could take to live our lives with more energy, vitality, and purpose; what would it be? So, one book and one action.
Evan Brand: The one book would be…
Tony Wrighton: It can be your eBook if you want, Evan. You can plug your own stuff if you like.
Evan Brand: Hey, I’d like to think that my stuff is pretty good. So, if people… I will tell people about them just so they can check them out.
Tony Wrighton: Definitely.
Evan Brand: The stress book and program is called ‘stress solutions’. And if you just type in Evan Brand in Google, you’ll find me. You’ll find my website and all of my programs. And the one on sleep, which has been extremely successful called ‘Rem Rehab’, if you don’t sleep better after getting that then I give you your money back. And I only had one person do that, because they asked for a return; because they said, ‘Evan I’m already doing everything in this program.’ ‘Wow! You’re a superstar, alright here’s your money back.’ So, there’s those two. But my actual, not my product book, would be ‘The War of Art’ by Steven Presfield.
Tony Wrighton: Okay.
Evan Brand: It’s just a really… can I say ass on this program?
Tony Wrighton: Yeah.
Evan Brand: It’s a really kick you in the ass book. And he really just calls you out and says, ‘look, here is why you’re not succeeding; here’s why you’re not taking action in life; and here’s what you need to do.’ So, it’s not a book that you have to read cover to cover. It’s a book where you just… when you’re feeling kind of down, and you open it up and you jump on a page and the page just… ‘Awe man!’ he hits… he hits you hard. You’re like ‘man, he’s so right.’ And then you go, and you do the work that you need to do. He’s got another book called ‘Do the work’ that’s great too. But the war of art…
Tony Wrighton: What’s his name?
Evan Brand: His name is Steven Presfield.
Tony Wrighton: Steven Presfield, okay. That sounds good. I’m going to check that out. And how about your one tip. Your one action for living our lives with more energy, vitality and purpose?
Evan Brand: I would just say try to follow the sun’s schedule. If the sun’s down, you should be simmering down. If the sun’s up, you should be simmering up. And I know a lot of people have crazy work schedules in the modern world. I used to work 3rd shift. It wasn’t… soon as I did some of the research about you know, huge increases in cancer risk working night shift, I quit. I don’t care how much I get paid. My health is more important than a pay check now. My long-term health is far more important. I understand you know, there’s a lot of third shift workers and stuff out there, or night shift workers but; trying to align yourself to the sun. When the sun’s up, you should be getting up and being productive. If you stay in bed too late, 9, 10, 11am you’ve already missed most of the sunrise and sort of that really meditative spiritual peace of the day. And you’re going to feel rushed your entire day. So if someone’s feeling like they never have enough time in the day, it’s because their circadian rhythm is off with the sun cycle. So you need to get up with the sunrise, one day and reset that. And I promise you’ll feel like you have more time. It’s sort of like a trick but a lot of people feel like they’re always just chasing… I mean look at convenience, foods, and things like that. We never feel like we have enough time to do anything. A lot of people are not aligned with the sunrise, that’s why. So, wake up with the sun.
Tony Wrighton: Yeah. That’s great. And I have to say actually, my TV schedule means that I used to work a lot of late nights. They kind of died of recently. But my body clock stayed on the late schedule. I kind of got to sleep about between 1 and 2. Every night. And what you said, just in the last, probably 2 to 3 weeks only, I’ve shifted it back. And now, I’m going to sleep about midnight, which is early for me and that’s late for you, right?
Evan Brand: Oh that’s super late. Yeah.
Tony Wrighton: Yeah. Yeah. But I’ve noticed so much more time just by shifting it earlier. I have to say it’s been a real difference for me, you know. And in terms of just feeling more energy, I’ve felt that as well. But there would be people who are listening, and they’ll be saying, ‘well I like to go out every once in a while, I don’t really want to be tucked up in bed at 9pm.’
Evan Brand: I’m 24 years old and I go to bed at 9pm. That’s what cool people do. This is a new trend.
Tony Wrighton: Hey listen, I mean, you are living… you are walking the walk, as well as talking the talk. And that’s just emphasizes it by the fact that you’re living in line with your circadian rhythm and going to bed early. And it is after 9’oclock in UK time right now. So, it’s probably time for us to say good night.
Evan Brand: Definitely. Definitely. Go to bed.
Tony Wrighton: Yeah. Listen, thanks so much. Really inspiring chat. And look I’m going to take some action right now. So, thank you.
Evan Brand: Absolutely. No problem. My pleasure and if people felt overwhelmed. Take one little step and then just go from there. That’s what life is. It’s a series of baby steps.
Tony Wrighton: Yeah. And just remind us of your website one more time?
Evan Brand: Sure. Its notjustpaleo.com, that’s p-a-l-e-o. Or you could just search Evan Brand. B-r-a-n-d. You’ll find me and my website, and my podcast, over a hundred episodes now. The books, the programs, I have a 6-week health course. There are all sorts of stuff that you could check out.
Tony Wrighton: Great stuff, Evan. Thank you so much for coming on the show.
Evan Brand: No problem. Thank you, Tony.
Here's to another great week, full of energy, vitality and purpose.
PS: please do leave a comment over in iTunes - I'd love to hear about what you think so far.
Zestology Guest: Evan Brand