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James Swanwick – Why Blue Light is Harmful to Your Sleep

Content by: James Swanwick

Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.

Stu: This week, I’m excited to welcome James Swanwick to the show. James is an Australian American investor, entrepreneur, speaker, health coach, former SportsCenter anchor on ESPN, and host of the James Swanwick Show podcast. He’s the creator of blue light blocking glasses called Swannies from Swanwick Sleep, which help people reduce their blue light exposure and ultimately sleep better. In this episode, we discuss the strategies, tools, and tips that help us to achieve deeper and more restorative sleep. Over to James…

Audio Version


downloaditunesListen to Stitcher Questions we ask in this episode:

  • What’s the big deal with blue light?
  • What can we do to ensure that we stay asleep during the night?
  • What are the most common myths associated with sleep?

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Full Transcript

Stu

00:03 Hey. This is Stu from 180 Nutrition, and welcome to another episode of The Health Sessions. It’s here that we connect with the world’s best experts in health, wellness, and human performance in an attempt to cut through the confusion around what it actually takes to achieve long lasting health. Now, I’m sure that’s something that we all strive to have. I certainly do.

00:23 Before we get into the show today, you might not know that we make products, too. That’s right, we’re into whole food nutrition and have a range of super foods and natural supplements to help support your day. If you are curious, want to find out more, just jump over to our website, that is 180nutrition.com.au, and take a look. Okay, back to the show.

00:44 This week, I’m excited to welcome James Swanwick. James is an Australian American investor, entrepreneur, speaker, health coach, former SportsCenter anchor on ESPN, and host of the James Swanwick Show podcast. He’s the creator of blue light blocking glasses called Swannies from Swanwick Sleep, which help people reduce their blue light exposure and ultimately sleep better. In this episode, we discuss the strategies, tools, and tips that help us to achieve deeper and more restorative sleep. Over to James.

01:20 Hey guys, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition, and I’m delighted to welcome James Swanwick to the podcast. James, how are you mate?

James

01:27 Stu, I’m doing so well. Thank you so much for having me.

Stu

01:30 Thank you. Well, thank you for coming on. I’m really intrigued and interested in hearing your story and also talking a little bit about your passion for sleep as well. So before we get into that, and for all of our listeners that may not be familiar with you, I wondered if you could just tell us a little bit about yourself, thanks.

James

01:51 Yeah, well I’m an Australian American. I live in Venice Beach, California, and I was always a social drinker I guess you could say. I grew up in the Australian culture, having a couple beers each night and wine in the afternoon. Also, we’d have a bit of wine on the weekends. And then I quit drinking in 2010 just for lifestyle reasons, and my life’s been pretty fantastic since then. And I now help entrepreneurs, health conscious people either quit drinking for 30 days or 90 days, or just quit drinking forever. And then I also became somewhat of a sleep expert in that I help people sleep better. I have a sleep company called Swanwick Sleep, and I guess you could say I’m a health-preneur in as much as that I like to create businesses out of my health habits.

Stu

02:45 Yes.

James

02:46 And you know, since I’ve been alcohol free and I’m sleeping great, my happiness level has just increased exponentially. So yeah, living in Los Angeles, loving it. Healthy, fit. Sometimes I’ve got downs, sometimes I get a bit sad about life. But for the most part, 80% of the time I’m pretty healthy and happy.

Stu

03:08 Fantastic. I am really intrigued to kickstart this conversation off and delve a little deeper into the world of sleep. Because I think that it is the one area of health that if we don’t get right, and a huge percentage of us, I’d even go as far as to say most of us, don’t get sleep right, we get issues in some way, shape, or form. But if we don’t, I just think the impact on our health is so huge and so understated, at least in our minds, that we’re not gonna be happy, that’s for sure.

03:48 So, tell us a little bit about sleep and why you’re interested in sleep. What did you start to look into? What did you discover as you tackled this topic?

James

04:02 Yeah, well my sleep was always okay in as much as I would describe it as being a six or six and a half, seven, out of 10. I would sleep seven or eight hours, but the sleep quality was eh. It was all right, it was a bit of tossing and turning. Sometimes, I’d wake up after eight hours and still feel tired but not really understanding why. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t outstanding.

Stu

04:24 Right.

James

04:24 And then I was in Palm Springs, California in a hotel restaurant and a friend of mine was wearing a pair of really ugly safety goggles, kind of like these orange safety glasses, Uvex glasses. And there was a table of very attractive women adjacent to us, and they were kind of looking at him giggling a little bit. And I said to my friend, “Get those ridiculous glasses off. You look ridiculous and you’re making me look ridiculous by association.” And he laughed and he said, “No man, I’m trying to block the blue light.” And I said, “Block the blue light? What are you talking about?” And he went on to explain that too much light at night tricks our body and brain into thinking that it’s still daytime, and so our bodies don’t produce as much melatonin. And so therefore we either have trouble falling asleep or we toss and turn in the night or we wake up feeling tired.

05:21 So, I go back to my Los Angeles apartment and I find a pair of old ski goggles that had a bit of an amber lens to them. And I put these stupid ski googles on, and I start watching reruns of the TV series Mad Men on AMC. And what I noticed is that I started just to get sleepier quicker, and then when I finally removed these goggles, I fell asleep quicker, and then I ultimately woke up feeling refreshed. And so I was like oh, okay. If I block blue light at night from my screen, my TV screen, my cellphone, my bathroom light, my kitchen light, and I block that light with an orange lens, I’ll sleep better. And so I ended up then producing a stylish pair of blue light blocking glasses that I’m wearing now called Swannies, and that’s how I sort of got into the whole sleep game.

06:09 Sleep is just so imperative to our health. If we sleep poorly, all the studies show now that it’s been linked to obesity, diabetes, cancer, relationship breakdowns. On the reverse of that, if we sleep well, we burn fat, our hormones are in order, we look better. It’s amazing when you sleep well, your skin just looks the way that nature intended it to look. You have greater clarity, focus, energy, the ability to make good, strategic decisions. And everything is just so much more harmonious. So, sleep is imperative, and blocking as much blue light at nighttime is super imperative to a great night’s sleep.

07:01 Fantastic. So, I started my sleep journey with the builder’s goggles years ago, and found a pair on the internet, $20. And thought, you know, I’m gonna give those a go. Absolutely looked ridiculous. My wife and kids thought, what are you doing? What a tool. But it was strange because it is very calming, and I didn’t know whether this was placebo. And then I migrated, so I’ve got a pair, so similar. These ones aren’t so good, but they do a similar thing.

07:39 And I realized as well, at the time, that not all glasses are equal in as much as my builder’s goggles, I used to sit there and watch a bit of TV, some Netflix at night. And our set-top box has got a power button that is glaring, piercing blue. And when I put the builder’s goggles on, that light disappeared completely, so completely gone. But when I put these puppies on, I can still see the blue light. So, I know that there is quality issues in the type of glasses that are out there. So, I guess for anybody out there that hasn’t really heard the term blue light before, what is the big deal with it? And is it just our telephones and our computers? Is it household lights? Is it TV? Where’s the source of blue light in our homes in the evening?

James

08:44 So, let me start by just saying how blue light affects us, and then I’ll share where blue light is in our homes, okay?

Stu

08:53 Okay.

James

08:53 So, what blue light actually does is that it stimulates our pituitary and pineal glads, okay?

Stu

09:02 Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James

09:03 Now, when our pituitary and pineal glands are stimulated from that blue light, it suppresses our melatonin production. Now, melatonin is what we need to fall asleep, to sleep deeply, and ultimately to wake up feeling nice and refreshed. So any moment that our pituitary glands or our pineal gland is stimulated, we are not preparing for sleep and we are not sleeping the way that nature intended us to sleep.

Stu

09:32 Right.

James

09:34 So, that’s the problem. Now, likewise during the daytime, even though you’re not planning on sleeping, if you stare into too much blue light, for example from your computer screen if you spend long hours on your computer screen, that blue light causes eye fatigue, eye strain, headaches, migraine, a lack of focus, a lack of clarity, macular degeneration, and a whole host of other things that are not good for you. So, where is the blue light coming out of? Well, it’s coming out of your computer screen. It’s coming out of your iPhone or your Samsung or your smartphone. It’s coming out of your television screen.

10:21 Now, most people think that’s where it comes out of and that’s it, right? But blue light is actually coming out of most light bulbs. So, it’s probably coming out of your bathroom light, your kitchen light, your microwave light, your refrigerator light. The speedometer light in your car, the McDonald’s golden arches as you drive along the street. The street lights, the traffic lights, the alarm clock light next to your bed. All of that light is emitting an artificial blue light, which is wonderful because we get to watch TV and use our phone, and we get to live our life indoors and stay up late because we’ve got light. However, it comes at a cost. And the cost is that our bodies are not sleeping the way that our bodies are supposed to sleep.

Stu

11:12 Yeah.

James

11:14 So, what do we do? I’ll give you the absolute gold standard on how to sleep as flawlessly as one can sleep. You ready?

Stu

11:24 Okay, let’s do it.

James

11:27 Live your life by candlelight. Sit in the dark. Never turn on a light or use any kind of light at nighttime again. Now, that is the gold standard, literally. Remember if you go camping, there’s no electronics and you light a fire, you sleep beautifully when you go camping. ‘Cause candlelight and fire flames do not disrupt melatonin production, right? And guess what? You don’t have an electronic light that’s disrupting your melatonin production, so you always sleep well, right? It’s 2019. Nobody is gonna live their light by candlelight. No one’s gonna do it. We’re too addicted. We’ve got light bulbs, we’ve got bathroom lights, we’ve got phones, we’ve got all this kind of stuff.

12:11 So, all we can do then, if we decide that we’re not gonna live by candlelight and we’re not gonna live in the dark, is mitigate the damage. Now, I’ve come up with a solution. It’s wearing a pair of stylish blue light blocking glasses such as the Swannies that I’m wearing on my face right now. I put these on in the last hour before I want to go to sleep, the orange lens blocks out the blue light, my body prepares to sleep. I remove the glasses just before sleep, I roll over, I go to sleep quickly. I sleep deeply, I wake up feeling great. There’s also f.lux, F period L-U-X, which you can download onto your computer, which strips away a lot of the artificial blue light. Your screen will start to go an orange color as the night goes on, as it strips away a lot of that blue light.

12:57 On your iPhone, you can use the setting called night shift. If you just go into your settings, turn night shift on, it will naturally reduce the blue light exposure when the nighttime comes about. If you have a Samsung phone, you can use the setting called twilight. And those settings are good. They give you about a three out of 10 protection, but they don’t do anything about the bathroom light, kitchen light, microwave light, the alarm clock light, television screen. Which is why wearing a pair of blue light blocking glasses such as the ones that I’m wearing is so imperative, and wearing stylish glasses rather than ugly glasses I think is key. Because if you are not motivated to wear a pair of glasses because they’re ugly, you’re not gonna do it consistently which means you’re not gonna sleep well consistently.

13:44 Whereas if you have a stylish pair of glasses and you can feel comfortable wearing them and go out with friends and they go, “Oh, they’re interesting. Tell me about those.” Then, you’re gonna wanna wear them consistently, which means you’re gonna protect your health consistently, which means you’re gonna sleep consistently, which means you’re gonna feel happy and vibrant and energetic consistently.

Stu

14:04 Got it, okay. So, you mentioned that your friend was wearing them over the dinner table as well, but then you put them on maybe an hour before bed. So, is that the optimal time? Try and squeeze the last hour of blue light out of your evening?

James

14:21 The optimal time is when the sun goes down.

Stu

14:23 Right.

James

14:24 But I’m realistic to know that myself and other human beings are not gonna wanna wear a pair of blue light blocking glasses for the five hours of the nighttime. Let’s say the sun goes down at 6:00 and you don’t go to sleep until 11:00. That’s five hours. Are you really going to want to be psyched to wear a pair of blue light blocking glasses for five hours straight at nighttime, when you don’t even wear sunglasses for five hours straight during the daytime?

Stu

14:52 Yeah, right.

James

14:52 Right?

Stu

14:53 Yeah.

James

14:54 So, that’s why I said the best thing to do is just live your life in the dark. It’s literally like live in your backyard, light a fire, and cook your dinner by the backyard fire, and never look into blue light again. But it’s unrealistic, no one’s gonna do that, right? And no one’s gonna wear these glasses for five hours a night. You can, there are some super rigid bio hackers out there who are like, “Nope, I’m wearing my Swannies glasses as soon as the sun goes down until the moment I want to go to sleep, where I’m gonna take them off and then I’m gonna go to sleep.” You can, but you probably won’t.

Stu

15:31 Yeah.

James

15:32 So, what I suggest is exactly what I do, which is in the last 30 minutes, 45 minutes, a hour, heck even the last 10 minutes before you want to sleep, put the glasses on and keep them on until you’ve got into bed and you’ve switched off the last light. What you don’t want to do is wear them for an hour and go, “Wow, I’m so clever because I’m blocking the blue light,” and then you take them off and go and brush your teeth in the bathroom light.

16:00 Because now that bathroom light is hitting your pituitary and pineal glands, stimulating it … now your melatonin production is suppressed, and then when you go into bed and go to sleep, you’ve now compromised the quality of that sleep. So when you put them on, keep them on, switch off the light, then remove the glasses, then rollover and go to sleep.

Stu

16:23 Got it. Got it. Okay. Good advice. So you’ve taken the glasses off, you’ve rolled over and you’ve gone to sleep. What if you wake during the night? What are your thoughts, suggestions on that? Because I know that then, we’ve got a whole different set of rules coming into play there, and there could be so many factors to consider.

James

16:44 Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Stu

16:45 Any ideas?

James

16:45 So, yeah. So let me give you a perfect 24 hours for your to sleep optimally so you don’t wake up at all in the middle of the night.

Stu

16:58 Okay.

James

16:59 Okay?

Stu

16:59 Yeah.

James

17:05 So let’s start with the morning. So first thing in the morning when you wake up, you want to flood your body with as much blue light as possible.

Stu

17:12 Right.

James

17:12 So what I do is, I go outside and let the sun’s natural rays hit my skin. Because our skin has receptors in it, and when the sunlight hits the skin, it tells our body’s internal clock, which is named our circadian rhythm … it says, this is daytime. This is wake up time. So now all your body starts to go, “Okay, the sun’s hitting my skin, that means this is the start of the day. I’m going to start doing what I’ve done for tens of thousands of years, which is live my life by daylight. Okay?

17:46 What most people do and this is a mistake, is that they wake up and they stay indoors and they’d hardly go outside or, they wake up, they stay indoors for an hour, and only then they go outside and get natural sunlight.

Stu

17:58 Right.

James

17:58 So you really want … whether you have to stand next to a window and let the sunlight come in and hit your skin, or whether you can actually go outside … cause if it’s the summer, obviously it’s nice and warm to go outside, and just stand in the sun for like five minutes. Just let the sun hit you. That’s telling your internal body clock, wake up time.

18:18 Now doing that is actually going to help you sleep later at night because when your body knows what time wake up time is, it will know in sixteen hours time, that’s the time to go to sleep.

Stu

18:29 Yeah. Okay.

James

18:30 Right? So what you do first thing in the morning effects how you sleep at night.

18:37 Second thing. All the studies show that people who exercise in the morning tend to sleep better. And I think this is because of two reasons. One, people who exercise in the morning tend to do it more regularly because life doesn’t get in the way. They do it first thing when they’ve got a lot of willpower. There’s no distractions. And two, if you exercise close to bedtime, your core body temperature rises and what has been shown to be true is that a cool body temperature and a cool environment is the most conducive to a great night’s sleep.

Stu

19:12 Okay.

James

19:12 Okay?

Stu

19:13 Yup.

James

19:13 So exercise in the morning. No coffee after 2:00 PM. Coffee is a stimulant. Some people will listen and see this and say, “oh, well hang on a second. I have a cup of coffee at dinner time or for dessert and I fall asleep just fine.” Now that may true. It may be you might be one of these people who can drink coffee and you fall asleep and sleep seven or eight hours. However, the quality of your sleep is compromised. Coffee and caffeine is a stimulant. And when you have that stimulation in your body, even if you’re sleeping, you’re not spending as much time in that deep, REM restorative sleep phase. Okay? So no coffee after 2:00 PM.

19:54 Alcohol. No alcohol within three hours of wanting to sleep. Some people will say, ” Hang on a second James. I have a class of wine. It helps me relax. It helps me prepare for sleep and actually having a beer or two, or a glass of wine, helps me fall asleep.” That may also be true. However, the quality of your sleep is severely compromised, because your liver is trying to break down that alcohol, when your body is supposed to be doing nothing. It’s supposed to be replenishing itself.

Stu

20:24 Yeah.

James

20:25 You’ve also put toxins into your system. Your body is like, “What am I doing with these toxins?” Your body is not relaxing the way nature intended it to relax. Okay? So no alcohol within three hours of sleeping.

20:37 A cool temperature. 65 to 69 degrees Fahrenheit has been shown to be the optimal temperature for sleeping in the best way possible. 65 degrees Fahrenheit is 18 degrees Celsius. So anywhere between 18 degrees celsius and 20 degrees Celsius has been shown to be the most optimal for a good night’s sleep.

21:06 Blocking as much blue light as possible. Again, I’m talking about the glasses. You want to use night shift on your phone. You want to use flux on your computer. You want to limit your screen time, so stop staring into the screens. Wear a pair of the blue light blocking glasses if you are going to use the screens. And then I like to also use an eye mask and sleep in a very dark room, because you don’t want the light waking you up in the morning. You want to have a very dark environment, so no light is coming in, hitting your skin … telling your body it’s daytime even though it might still be like four or five in the morning. You’re not ready to get up yet. So you want blackout curtains that doesn’t allow light in. And then when you do wake up, then you open the black curtains and let your body be flooded with that light. And then the whole cycle starts again.

Stu

21:58 Got it. Got it. Supplementation then, for those people who want to take it a step further. What are your thoughts? There are so many on the market. Melatonin of course springs to mind, but then you’ve got a whole host of natural herbs that calms and soothes. Do you use any? Have you experimented?

James

22:22 Yeah, and my sleep company, [inaudible 00:22:25] Sleep, we actually have our own supplement called Better Nights, which is all natural. But look, here’s the thing. A supplement is called a supplement for a reason right? It supplements what should ordinarily be good health, so can taking some small amounts of melatonin help you sleep? Sure. If you take it too much … if you take it too consistently, your body starts to rely on you pumping melatonin into your body and now you can’t sleep naturally. Alright?

Stu

22:54 Yeah.

James

22:54 Magnesium is a really good foundation for creating melatonin. So you mentioned a couple of things there like … some products there. Sure, if you take magnesium, that will help build melatonin for sure. Right? And it actually … magnesium has a very calming effect, so it removes a lot of the calcium out of your bones and out of your joints. And that can actually start to relax you even more and help you sleep.

23:21 However, none of those things and none of those supplements, not even my supplement … not even my Better Night supplement which has tryptophan and magnesium and vitamin D and melatonin … all of these kind of things that we know helps promote melatonin production, and therefore helps sleep … none of those things is going to have a huge leverage point as much as flood your body with as much natural light as possible first thing in the morning, and block as much artificial light as possible in the evening. If you do those two things … get as much blue light as possible in the morning … and by the way, the biggest emitter of blue light is the sun.

Stu

24:00 Right.

James

24:02 So get as much blue light from the sun in the morning, and block as much blue light in the evening … that will have the biggest leverage point for your sleep. Supplements, sure, they can help. But not as much as getting natural light in the morning and blocking light at night.

Stu

24:22 Good. Excellent. Good stuff.

24:25 Common myths associated with sleep? Perhaps things that people have been told by their friends and family that simply are not true.

James

24:36 Well the idea that you need to sleep seven or eight hours is a myth. I mean, generally speaking, sleeping seven or eight hours is great.

Stu

24:44 Yeah.

James

24:44 But there are many very healthy people in the world who sleep five hours and that’s fine. That’s just fine for them. It all depends on your body. Like one size does not fit all. Okay? So that’s a common myth.

James

24:59 The quality of your sleep I think is far more important than the quality of your sleep.

Stu

25:04 Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James

25:04 I mean look, anything less than five hours, I think you’re always … most people are going to feel challenged. So my advice is always go for seven or eight hours for sure. But the quality … if you are only sleeping five hours, you want to make sure that the quality is there-

Stu

25:19 Right.

James

25:19 … which means, get the morning sunlight. Block the light at night. Don’t drink alcohol within three hours. Stop drinking coffee. Sleep in a cool room, 65 to 69 degrees.

Stu

25:30 Yeah.

James

25:31 Another myth is that naps … afternoon naps, mean that you’re lazy or it’s not a good use of time, or you’re inefficient. Naps have been proven, over and over again, to really rejuvenate the body and the brain, to the point where now you have increased clarity, focus, energy … and it actually helps you sleep later on for your lengthier night’s sleep. If that makes sense.

Stu

25:53 Right. Yeah it does. Yeah. Okay.

James

25:55 So a lot of companies now are putting in little sleep rooms for their staff, for their employees … which is kind of crazy, right? You think, “Oh, he’s taking a nap? He’s going to sleep? That’ not very efficient. He should be working.” But, what they found is that people who do nap fifteen, twenty minutes, then are so much more efficient in their job there after, because they’ve had that little break.

Stu

26:23 Yeah. Makes sense. So stress and type A personality, monkey mind, racing thoughts … now you mentioned that you work with entrepreneurs and business professionals, in order to help them sleep better. Perhaps talking about the alcohol side of things as well. But I know that these guys, no doubt like you, like me … continually thinking about business and stuff and very hard to switch off that thought process at night. And often times, I think personally speaking, is my biggest challenge. Can wake in the middle of the night, and again, there’s the mind racing again. How do you … what are your thoughts on handling or suppressing the monkey mind in order to achieve optimal sleep?

James

27:24 So, I’ll tell you what I do.

Stu

27:27 Okay.

James

27:29 I have a rule, and that is, I’m not allowed to turn on my phone in the morning until I have written down twenty things that I’m grateful for.

Stu

27:40 Okay.

James

27:41 And I call it “The Daily Twenty.”

Stu

27:43 Yeah.

James

27:44 So when I go to sleep, I put my phone into airplane mode and when I wake up, I wake up to an alarm that is not in my phone. It’s in a little portable $7 alarm that I have next to my bed.

Stu

27:56 Right.

James

27:57 So when the alarm goes off, I put my hand on the alarm, not on my phone. And then I get up, I use the bathroom, and then I grab my diary and I write … one, two, three, four, five, six, seven … all the way down to twenty. And for about seven to ten minutes I write down twenty things that I am grateful for. Only at that point, do I put my hand on my phone, switch my phone on and start my day.

28:23 Now what you may ask … what’s that got to do with stress and anxiety? Well everything. Because here’s what happens. When you almost like force yourself to think of twenty things to be grateful for, you’re activating something in your brain called your reticular activating system … otherwise known as your RAS.

Stu

28:43 Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James

28:44 And what your RAS does, it’s like an evidence seeking missile. It starts to look for that very thing that you’ve been thinking about. So if you’ve trained your brain first thing in the morning, to look for evidence that life is good and for things that you can appreciate and be grateful for … the rest of your day, you will just see things that you can appreciate and that you can be grateful for.

29:12 There’s only two states to live in. There’s a beautiful state of mind and there’s a suffering state of mind. Okay?

Stu

29:18 Yeah.

James

29:18 Now when you’re in a beautiful state of mind, stress and anxiety decreases. Happiness, feelings of well being increase. When you are in a suffering state of mind, stress and anxiety increases, happiness and well being decreases. How do we get into a beautiful state of mind? By living a life of appreciation, not expectation.

29:44 So, how do we make sure that we’re reducing our stress and anxiety, therefore being able to crawl into bed at night, fall asleep quickly, don’t wake up in the middle of the night, sleep soundly … it’s living in a beautiful state of mind. Live in appreciation versus expectation. And feel amazing about all the beautiful things that are going on in your life. That single handedly will reduce your stress and anxiety. It’s not taking a pill. You don’t even need … I mean look … doing mediation is … meditation is phenomenal. Do it. Do it. It’s amazing. It’s incredible. And do it in conjunction with appreciating all of the good things in your life.Those two things there will reduce your stress and anxiety unbelievably.

Stu

30:37 Perfect. That’s great advice. No fantastic. I didn’t think that you were going to say that, so yeah, I’m intrigued … obviously. The brain is so unimaginably complex that I’m sure there are rules … just like you’ve outlined there, that can help steer us into perhaps a slightly different way of thinking. A retraining of years worth of … I guess, routine, that puts us in whatever space we’re currently in. So no, that’s excellent.

31:13 So you’ve outlined the new sleep routine. I wonder if you’d just expand a little bit more about your morning routine. You mentioned the eye mask, clock rituals and sunlight in the morning as well … as best you can.

James

31:30 Gratitude. There’s my twenty things that I’m grateful for every morning. Look at that.

Stu

31:36 Wow!

James

31:37 Pages and pages and pages of it. Twenty things.

Stu

31:40 Again and again.

James

31:42 Twenty things.

Stu

31:43 It’s working. So what do you do after that? You’ve mentioned mediation. Do you do that? What time do you exercise? When do you eat breakfast? How does that work?

James

31:53 Yeah. So yeah, daily twenty. I wake up to a portable alarm.

32:00 Use the bathroom, grab my diary, write down 20 things I’m grateful for, drink a big glass of water. Most mornings, I put my exercise clothes on, and I leave home, and I go either to a gym or I go to like a group exercise class, and I do my morning exercise first thing. That works for me. It doesn’t work for everyone. Some people like to do it in the afternoon or lunchtime, late morning. I like to do it first thing because what it does for me is that it gets me into a routine of doing it, and it releases endorphins, and I feel good throughout the rest of the day.

Stu

32:36 Yeah.

James

32:41 For those days where I’m not lifting heavily in the gym, I will fast. For the most part, I will fast, which means I don’t have my first meal of the day until afternoon, until after 12:00, so I kind of just skip breakfast.

Stu

32:59 Right.

James

33:00 Now, if I go to the gym … I live in Venice Beach, California. If I go to Gold’s Gym in Venice and I have a heavy lifting day where I’m like really lifting very, very heavy, then I will eat directly after that, so I can stimulate growth in my muscles and replenish the muscles, but if I’m doing cardio or some other kind of lighter weight, I’ll exercise and still not eat until after lunchtime.

Stu

33:26 Got it.

James

33:27 Right now, as you and I are doing this interview, I am now 21 hours into a 24-hour fast.

Stu

33:35 Okay/

James

33:38 I do a 24-hour fast at least once a week. This is just a new thing. I’ve done a 24-hour fast occasionally over the years, but recently, I’ve been experimenting with doing this once a week. I’m not going to lie. I’m hungry right now, like I am hungry. However, I’m also really zoned in and focused like my energy level is high. It’s funny because when you’re in a fasted state, you’d think that you’d have low energy because you haven’t got food, right?

Stu

34:08 Yeah.

James

34:08 In actual fact, your energy actually increases strangely. It’s quite peculiar, and so yeah, so for the most part, I don’t eat until the afternoon. I’ll eat in an eight-hour window, so I won’t eat for 16 hours, and then I’ll eat somewhere between 12:30 and 8:30 at night, and then I won’t eat again until 12:30. That’s what I do for the most part, and then once a week, I’ll have my last meal like 7:00, 7:30 on a Sunday night, and I won’t eat again until 7:30 on a Monday night.

Stu

34:39 Okay. Just the fasting effect to your sleep have you found?

James

34:44 It improves it.

Stu

34:45 Right, okay.

James

34:47 What’s happening is that your body is actually functioning the way that it was supposed to function because back in the day for tens of thousands of years, human beings used to hunt bears and eat wolves and forage for food, and we did that for tens of thousands of years, but like food wasn’t always readily available. It was kind of like feast or famine, so we would go long periods of time without being able to eat food. That is our genetic makeup. That is how we’re genetically built. Fast forward to 2019, there’s a 7-Eleven on every corner, there’s a supermarket, there’s a vending machine. Food is everywhere. It is all around us, and so what we’re doing is we’re eating more frequently, we’re eating larger quantities, and our genetic makeup isn’t used to that, which is why we see such large levels of diabetes and cancer and obesity because genetically, we’re fighting tens of thousands of years where we didn’t eat like this.

Stu

35:46 Yeah, of course. Absolutely.

James

35:51 To answer to your initial point like how does your sleep feel when you’re in a fasted state, fantastic because that’s the way it used to be. We used to go regularly 24 hours not eating, and then we’d eat a lot, and then we’d go days without eating again, and then we’d eat a lot, and so forth and so forth. That’s the way that we’re actually genetically designed to live our life, but we don’t.

Stu

36:19 No.

James

36:20 We’ve got this thing behind me. We’ve got a refrigerator …

Stu

36:22 That’s right.

James

36:23 … where we can store food, and all we got to do is walk five paces from the living room and go and like get more food. We don’t need to go and hunt a bear or kill a wolf or forage some food. We just walk five paces to the fridge.

Stu

36:33 There it is. No. You’re absolutely right. I guess on the evolutionary timeline, most of the things that we do today really makes up yesterday from that evolutionary timeline hundreds of thousands of years ago. Agriculture, modern day food, computers, lack of movement, all of these things, they’re so new to us that I think is one of the biggest reasons why we’re seeing this cascade of health issues. It’s just craziness, but no, that is excellent advice. I love what you’ve outlined this morning. I think that a lot of people are going to get lots of things that they can try experiment with, just tap into just to try and dial that quality of sleep up a notch because like we said at the beginning, if we can take control of our sleep, then everything else just falls into place.

37:35 I’m mindful that we’re coming up on time, and I have a question that we ask every guest on this show. I’m conscious that you might have … You probably have outlined maybe one or two of these answers already, but your three top tips that you could think of right now that will make the biggest impact on our overall health, and it could be anything like you could go in any direction with this, what would they be?

James

38:01 Significantly reducing or quitting entirely alcohol.

Stu

38:06 Right.

James

38:07 I have not drunk alcohol since 2010, and that has been a huge factor in improving my health. Alcohol is a poison and a toxin, and the World Health Organization says there is not one single bit of nutritional value from alcohol to the human body. Despite claims that one drink a night is good for cardiovascular health, that study has been debunked several times over the decades. What happens also when you quit alcohol and you go alcohol-free, and by the way, you don’t need to be an alcoholic to quit alcohol. I wasn’t an alcoholic. I was just a societally acceptable drinker, but when you quit alcohol, it opens up a cascade of other healthy habits.

38:50 You start having more energy and clarity and focus. You start moving towards things like meditation. You start doing yoga. You start exercising more. You start being less irritable, so now, you have a better relationship with your husband or your wife or your kids, which increases your happiness level, which inspires you to want to eat in a more healthy way, which inspires you to want to exercise in a better way, which makes you happier and releases more oxytocin and more dopamine. All the studies show that happy people make more money, so it actually makes you more money, and now because you’ve made more money, you have more freedom, and because you have more freedom, you’re happier, and so forth and so forth and so forth. It’s all just intertwined, so I would say cut out alcohol.

39:33 I have a program called 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge where I help people quit drinking for 30 days. I have a program called Project 90, which helps entrepreneurs, business owners, and executives quit drinking for 90 days, and people’s lives are transformed by just removing one simple bad habit. Remove alcohol, your whole life will transform.

Stu

39:59 Yeah. Absolutely. Oftentimes, it’s the very habit that people enjoy the most that causes them the most pain and will be the hardest thing to remove, so I’d say yeah, I’m intrigued.

James

40:18 Well, there’s an opportunity cost. You might think it’s giving you pleasure, but it’s temporary illusionary pleasure.

Stu

40:25 Right.

James

40:26 It keeps you stuck in a vicious cycle of stress, anxiety, low energy, irritation.

Stu

40:36 Yeah, and it messes with your sleep.

James

40:40 Ah, you want to sleep, fall asleep? Quit alcohol. Get sunlight in the morning and block blue light at night. The end. You’re welcome.

Stu

40:50 Perfect.

James

40:51 No, that’s great. We’ll use that little snippet for Facebook. I think that’ll work well. Excellent, so you mentioned alcohol. Two more. Do you have two more?

Stu

41:01 Yeah. Two more big health things? One of them I mentioned, which is write the daily 20, so write 20 things you’re grateful for every morning. That is a health tip like you might be thinking, “Well, is it food or exercise or something that you digest?” No. Live in appreciation rather than expectation because that will reduce your stress and anxiety, increase your feelings of well-being, and that will improve your health, and then lastly, this is a really big one. The world’s longest running study is a study out of Harvard University, and it’s on people’s wellness and health and happiness level. What they found is that the biggest contributor to someone’s happiness and someone’s well-being was community.

James

41:48 Yes.

Stu

41:50 Feeling part of a community, which means friends, family, acquaintances, colleagues that you like and get along with, groups, clubs, organizations, your neighbors. Getting into a community and feeling part of that community and seeing familiar faces has the biggest impact on our overall health. Let’s move away from going to the doctor and having the doctor prescribe us anti-depression pills, Valium, Xanax, so we can sleep better. Let’s stop going to the chemist or the drug store and buying Panadol, paracetamol. Let’s stop buying all these, waste spending all our money on supplements. Some of them are good, but it’ll give you a 10% impact versus just be part of a community, sleep well, eat well, feel great.

James

43:01 Excellent. I want to impress as well for everybody that’s listening that when we’re talking about community, we’re not so much talking about our Facebook friends and our virtual community. I think human and daily interaction is key and will trump any type of virtual or digital connection every time.

Stu

43:22 100%. In fact, they’ve done studies now that show that being more connected digitally actually increases the rate of suicide in children. It’s tripled in the last 15 years, in fact. It’s kind of insane like when did the iPhone come out? 2007, so in the last 12 years, the suicide rate amongst children has tripled, and that’s because they say, they suspect, is because we’re online and like talking to people and getting in organizations, but now, we have comparison analysis. We’re comparing ourselves to others. We’re shaming one another, so yes, you’re absolutely right. Community doesn’t mean an online community. It can if you’re doing it responsibly. It can, okay, because this is an online community. You have a podcast, and someone’s listening to you, someone’s watching this on YouTube, you have a channel. This is a community. This good. This is putting good into the world, but it doesn’t trump physical community …

James

44:30 That’s right.

Stu

44:31 … and interacting with human beings and seeing people’s tonality, and hugging them and holding them and being in their energetic field.

James

44:37 No. Exactly right. Well said. What’s next? What have you got on the horizon? You’re clearly a very passionate individual dialed in to health and well-being and want to help others. What’s next for this year at least?

Stu

44:56 Yeah. Well, my two main businesses are Swanwick Sleep, which produces the blue light blocking glasses Swannies and 100% pure silk eye mask, and then my helping people quit drinking through a 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge and Project 90. Now, those two things keep me very busy, and I love doing them, and I love learning new ways in which to help people sleep better and help people quit alcohol, so that’s … The next big thing for me really is continuing to help more and more people quit alcohol, in particular, entrepreneurs, business owners, and executives because I am an entrepreneur and a business owner, and I get the stress and anxiety that comes with that and really growing that and that Project 90 program. That’s going to be huge, I think, so that’s really what’s on the horizon for me.

45:46 That also and just really trying new things all the time. I like to experiment. I call myself a mad scientist, so I’ll do a 23, 24-hour fast in a row. I’ll do a 10-day silent meditation called the Passioner. I’ll do cold water plunges like for a whole week. I’ll do seemingly challenging things and just go total immersion into it. Now, it doesn’t mean that I’ll do it for the rest of my life, but I love experimenting with that, so what’s next for me is all of that including continuing to be a mad scientist.

James

46:24 Fantastic. For our listeners, for everybody that’s listening to this right now wants to find more about you, your products, your companies, where can I send them? If you’re interested in the Swannies blue light blocking glasses, you can go to swanwicksleep.com. S-W-A-N-W-I-C-K, swanwicksleep.com, 30daynoalcoholchallenge.com is the URL for the 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge. Jamesswanwick.com/project90 is the program that helps entrepreneurs, business owners, and executives quit drinking, and you can find me on Instagram or Facebook at @JamesSwanwick. Send me a DM. I love to hear from you. Send me a DM and say, “Hey, I heard you on the show, and you and Stuart were rocking it,” and then ask me a question. I’d love to answer any questions you may have.

Stu

47:16 Fantastic. Thank you so much. I will put all of the information that we’ve spoken about including the links and everything above and beyond in the show notes, but James, thank you so much for your time today. It’s been it’s been really great to be able to dial into your mind, and I’m looking forward to sharing this across our audience. I know that everybody’s going to get something out of this. Fantastic.

James

47:39 Thank you so much for having me, Stuart. I appreciate it.

Stu

47:41 All right. You take care. We’ll speak soon.

 

James Swanwick

This podcast features James Swanwick who is a New York-based ESPN anchor on SportsCenter, author of ‘Insider Journalism Secrets’ and co-founder of international agency, Crocmedia. He has been a print or TV journalist for 20 years, writing for newspapers and magazines in the US, UK and Australia. These include Associated... Read More
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    1 Reply to “James Swanwick – Why Blue Light is Harmful to Your Sleep”
    Carey Barlow says:

    At 22:54 you state that “magnesium has a very calming effect, so it removes a lot of the calcium out of your bones and out of your joints”. This comment alarms me, as I have osteoporosis which I am trying to treat with diet and exercise. I take Green calcium daily, and often take a magnesium supplement when participating in endurance events. Since reading your comment I have tried to find out more about the effect of magnesium supplements on calcium levels. I have only found articles that disagree with your statement, stating that magnesium is actually required for the absorption of calcium into the bones. I would appreciate it if you could advise me of any research / studies that explain the reasons for and justify your comment.

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