#149 Optimise Your Sleep, Optimise Your Life – Michelle Olaithe

Sleep is one of our most critical functions as Humans, yet there is so much we either don’t know or take for granted about it – so increase your knowledge and learn how to optimise your sleep with Perth based sleep expert Michelle Olaithe.

Michelle explains in depth why we sleep and further detail about the different stages of sleep and their individual importance. She then goes on to provide clear steps of how to improve ‘sleep hygiene’ which will optimise your recovery and restoration in life.

Most importantly Michelle underlines the importance of sleep and details the nature of the relationship between sleep, well-being, immunity and high emotional and mental functioning. She points out that even prior to Corona Virus we were significantly impacting our health as Australia was suffering an overall sleep deprivation epidemic.

We also get into some of the fascinating current leading-edge research within sleep including a study which highlights how consciousness is something quite separate from brain function.

Michelle is very engaging and enthusiastic to share her wealth of expert knowledge making this truly great conversation.

As the listener you will have clearer idea of the importance of Sleep as a key tool to optimising your life.

Read Full Transcript

Bryn 

Hello, and welcome back to WA Real. I’m your host, Bryn Edwards, WA Real follows the oldest form of learning that of listening to the stories and the experience of those around us. Why? So we can dive into that and explore where we sit and find ourselves.

Today’s guest is the sleep expert, Michelle Olaithe, Michelle, welcome to the show.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Thanks for having me on Bryn. It’s nice to be here.

 

Bryn 

Super. So one of the first question I’m asking guests at the moment is, how are they finding isolating here in Western Australia at the moment?

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Yeah. Okay. So totally mixed feelings about it. One part of me absolutely loves how slow things have gotten. Yes, it’s really lovely. And because I’m not commuting every day to work, I’m spending the mornings with my kids in the evenings with my kids, which is lovely. But then on the other side, last week, I had a bit of I noticed myself get a bit of a mood dip, and it was just that lack of social. Yes. So mixed feelings. I think it’s,

 

Bryn 

I’ve had them. I’ve had weeks where I’ve been last week coming up. But the week before I was very well, and I think he’s just being kind to yourself and just go, okay. This is where I’m not trying to fix it.

 

 

Yeah, yes. Yeah,

 

Michelle Olaithe 

exactly. Yeah. Or digging deep into that pocket of positive activities that you’ve got. So mean, just even doing like a zoo cast like this with yourself. It’s stimulating and it’s interesting. So that that’s been I’ve found doing something that’s stimulating is is important.

 

Bryn 

Yeah. There’s a reason why I’m doing two episodes a week now. Not one. Ah.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Good on you.

 

Bryn 

So I thought it’d be really, really good to talk about sleep at the moment, because there’s a whole I mean, it’s important to talk about to the best of times, but particularly in the moment with fear levels, anxiety, immune system interrelatedness, and all of that, and You’re previously with expert. But before we dive into that, and how did you get into this?

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Right? So a bit of an unusual path I started off during my undergraduate degree, and to be able to support myself doing that I went off and did worked for a men as a polysomnography. So that’s a sleep technician. So I would spend my days studying and my evenings working in a sleep lab. And that was how I got into sleep you I saw some of the most peculiar behaviours, and I just found it so interesting. And then the reactions that people would have with poor sleep and how that would impact their mood. And I was like, I want to I want to know more. And then I met an amazing woman called Rama box, and she pulled me on board for a PhD and I started researching sleep and so that’s how I got in.

 

Bryn 

Mm hmm. Um, what is it you do now?

 

Michelle Olaithe 

So Gosh, one of the many projects. So now I continue to research sleep, but I also work as a clinician. So when I’m researching sleep, I’m researching different types of insomnia. I’m researching sleep apnea. And I’m looking at how that impacts someone’s thinking skills and impacts their mood, and how we might be able to as clinicians intervene to be able to either improve someone’s sleep or figure out who is most at risk. And then in their clinic, I work on helping people get better sleep as a psychologist and I also work on helping people improve their mood, because mood and sleep they sort of go hand in glove.

 

Bryn 

Yes. And a lot of people will not see the connection between the two, I imagine, oh, not necessarily not saying that downplay it.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

They might not understand how important sleep is I know as a society in general, that one of the first things that we will get rid of when we’re busy We have lots of commitments to our family will go to sleep.

 

Bryn 

Yeah. One of the things we’re finding interesting at the moment, particularly for myself, but I’m hearing it from lots of other people sleep that during during this isolation Isn’t that interesting? Yes. I mean, I’m finding myself sort of like getting really yawning about nine 930 and then going to bed and then up a little bit later. And, and, you know, I haven’t we’ll, we’ll probably get into sleep tracking devices and things like that, but I normally wear an aura ring, and I’ve just watched my sleep stocks go up and up and up.

 

 

What what getting better? Yes.

 

 

Oh, that’s interesting.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

So because spending more time in bed and getting more sleep is not necessarily a good thing. Is this amazing study out there that shows that people who are getting more than that sort of seven to nine nine hours. So getting above 10 hours of sleep per night, or getting less than six hours sleep per night. That’s actually really bad for you. It’s such it’s associated with bad health outcomes. Right? Yeah. So mostly, it’s not necessarily a good thing. It’s about quality more than quantity.

 

Bryn 

Yes, yes. I’ve noticed my heart rate variability is going up my deep sleeps going up. But we, this is not a one to one session, which is one of the benefits of doing the podcast. Anyway. So let’s start with a big, big, big question. Why do we

 

Michelle Olaithe 

write so lots and lots of reasons you sleep because it’s a fundamentally important thing. It’s part of your biology. It’s necessary and it’s necessary because it clears waste from your brain. It’s the only time that your body can actually use

 

 

waist,

 

Michelle Olaithe 

waist waist. So when you’re Okay, so let’s say, when you’re let’s imagine that you’re a car when your car is going all day, it predicts uses all that fuel consumption. So for your body, that’s sugars and things like that. And then what does it produce, it produces a whole bunch of of waste. So the car would produce carbon monoxide, and it spits it out of the exhaust, but you’re going to produce sort of metabolites and amyloid beta and a whole bunch of other sorts of metabolites and things that will accumulate in your brain. And these things will form little nets in your brain, and they’ll get stuck there and your neurons and slow your processes down. But during night, you have this amazing sort of Peri vascular system that opens up to about 60% more, and the cerebral spinal fluid can then push through there and wash all of this waste out and replenish all of your sugars as well. So it’s the only time you can do it.

 

Bryn 

Wow.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

That’s one thing. There’s links between not getting sufficient sleep and having a higher risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia later on in life. And they’ve just added to find little bits of research that show that people who are at a higher risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s might not be flushing these metabolites out of their brain well enough at nighttime.

 

 

So one of our one of the great

 

Bryn 

leaders for that with Margaret Thatcher with the whole I can roll for you four hours sleep a night.

 

 

Yes, yes.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Yeah, yes. Yeah. Yeah. And it does there is an association between one of the questions I’d love to look at at the moment is so mothers who have more time because women are at a higher risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s, so mothers who have more children who would you would think then have more disturbed sleep do they then have a higher risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. What’s that gendered link that’s there? I think that would be interesting. Yeah. And there’s a lot of other proponents of little sleep out there. I’m so productive because I get little sleep. It’s actually far as we can research, it’s actually a bit of a lie. You’re actually more productive on less time and using less of your resources if you’re getting more sleep. Hmm.

 

Bryn 

That’s really interesting. Because even just the other day, I saw a little meme that basically said, to the rear, where’s it says I’m at 5am the time when real winners are either getting up or going to bed.

 

 

Nice, my. Sure go right, brother.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Yeah, sure. If that’s the way your body works, then go for it. There’s an amazing man called Tim Cronenberg, and he actually researches the way that people should sleep for their chronic Type to be able to get better mood. So he did this lovely sort of field study where he took people and he got them to go to sleep with the sunlight. And they can sleep in as their body wanted a bit later and then just go to work later or they could wake up early and go to work early and then finish earlier as well. And they these people, their mood just got so much better because they were able to work with their body’s natural rhythms. Hmm.

 

Bryn 

So I was asleep before normal for why?

 

Michelle Olaithe 

That’s right, right. Why do you want to sleep? So it also releases growth hormone so when you’re little it’s good for growing but for adults, that’s also good for us to be able to stay looking younger for longer and to learn to get better immune function. sleeps good. Yes, yes, very key right now. If you’re getting poor sleep right now you want to be getting better sleep because you want to be having good immune function. At the most Went.

 

Bryn 

So sleep isn’t just head on pillow, wake up, we go through different stages.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Yeah. So we’ve kind of touched on this before sleep isn’t just about getting lots of it, it’s about getting good quality sleep. And so good quality sleep means that you’ll be going through all sorts of different phases, you’ll go from a shallow sleep where you’re easy to be woken up, and you’ll go down into deeper stages of sleep. And it’s at the moment we think those deeper stages of sleep are the most important ones. They’re the ones where if you try to wake someone up, it’s actually quite difficult to wake them up. And then after you have that sort of phase, which goes for about 90 to 120 minutes, this whole cycle from shallow to deep, you’ll go into dreaming sleep as well, which is REM sleep, but that’s a bit of a misnomer. So you actually dream the whole way through all of those stages of sleep, but REM sleep when they’re the most cohesive kind of looking dreams. About four or five times a night, and that period in the morning to three o’clock,

 

 

we’re usually 60 to 90 minutes.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Yeah, yeah, or 90 to 120 minutes yet you’ll keep cycling. And you’ll get longer and longer phases of deep sleep earlier in the morning. So the longer you’re asleep, that sort of better sleep you’re getting as well. That’s why you want that one consolidated phase of sleep.

 

Bryn 

Hmm. Is it is it worth then when considering going to bed and when you’re waking up to break it down into multiples of 90 to 100 minutes, rather than chopping it in the middle?

 

 

Oh, what an interesting question. Okay,

 

Michelle Olaithe 

I can’t directly answer that.

 

Bryn 

I had in my head that we go is 90 minutes through a sleep cycle. And so therefore, a scenario and a half, so I should either be going to bed for six hours or seven and a half.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Yeah, yeah. Well, I like the way you’re thinking. You want So you could, you could try and break it up that way. But your sleep phases will get longer as the night goes on. So you’d be getting like 120 minutes at 3am. But your sleep cycle might be sort of about 90 minutes earlier on. So I suppose you would have to get sort of those these wicked devices out there and I won’t drop names, but there’s some that you can actually get at home that track your EKG. And you could theoretically, try and have a look at what your cycles look like using these devices and try and plan out the optimum night’s sleep.

 

Bryn 

Where you can get home a J.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Yeah, so some companies have just brought them out across the world and you can find them online. They’re amazing.

 

Bryn 

Amazing, and then a comfortable to wear.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

The one that I’m thinking of in my head, they’ve actually created it like a headband. And so you just slip it on. It looks like it actually when you wear it, it looks like you’ve got a backwards a hat on backwards. Like a cap,

 

 

right?

 

Bryn 

So, so I guess, you know,

 

 

I mean,

 

Bryn 

how what does a good night’s sleep actually look like? And what are the sort of habits leading up to? And afterwards? I mean, we’ll look at what less than good looks like in a minute. But what does good really look like? Well, okay, I’m sure it’s individual, but there’s got to be some universal things. I mean, our bodies Yeah, we might have slightly different genome size but bodies of bodies when they all

 

 

work.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Yep, yeah. Okay. So you’re onto it with the individualised thing. That’s, that’s definitely the rule. If your sleep isn’t working for you, you need to experiment with it and figure out what does work for you. But you’re also right there are some fairly universal rules that we can apply to To this, so you want between about seven to nine hours sleep if you’re an 18 year old or over, you want to be waking up at the same time every morning. And that is really crucial waking up at the same time every morning. So if you actually wanted to figure out how, how to get a good night’s sleep, you want to have routines you want to sort of fix that 7am wake up. You want to work back about seven or eight hours, how many hours you get to sleep, and that becomes your sleep time. So keeping that routine, you want to make sure

 

 

even at the weekend, isn’t it

 

Bryn 

previously, we’re all rich. Did you know Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and then Friday and Saturday.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

That’s it. You’re right. You’re right. You want to keep it the whole way through because what your body’s doing is it’s releasing cortisol in the morning, essentially and it’s releasing melatonin at nighttime wants to know the same times every time sure release it. And if you put us exactly we’ve adapted to sleep that way. So if you check us back in the wild as soft little monkeys, you’re going to be going to sleep when the lights go out. And you’re going to be waking up when the lights come back on in the morning. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So you want to be doing those things you want to the other thing you really want to do is avoid these kinds of devices. So you find anything emitting blue lights,

 

 

exactly.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Your computer screen or your tablets, anything that’s going to be emitting blue light you

 

Bryn 

want to avoid.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Yeah, so for lots of reasons. So that blue line so your body, the way that it works is your your sort of major clock that tells your body what time of day it is, is sitting behind your eye and it’s called the super cosmetic nucleus. And you want to say that 10 times fast You sound like Mary Poppins, so it sits in behind your eye, and it resets all your other body clocks and the read the way that that’s mostly set is by sunlight and the sunlight is it cause a lot of blue in it, and the lights that come out of our technology devices a lot of days, also a lot on the blue spectrum. And so it tricks your body into thinking that it’s daylight. Right. And it will push your sleep phases your sleep sort of rhythm, you know, push it, like forwards. Right? Yeah. Yeah. So you can get you can either just not use the devices go back to old fashioned books,

 

Bryn 

or

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Yes, or you could actually get these these really cool applications you can get on most devices now or you can download them and they are blue light filters. And we spoke last time and you had some really funky orange glasses and you can use those too. They look super cool.

 

Bryn 

They know the phone Oh looking

 

 

Yeah.

 

Bryn 

Now are quite special. But then they really do work. Just from experience you know, I, for many years I couldn’t work I would tell people I don’t really get tired at night. I just have to go to bed I tell myself to go and then after a while I realised it’s because I’m doing this or the TV or this and then about a year or so ago I bought start off with I had some of the more like safety goggles type ones entry point and, and immediately I start to feel tired at night. And now I’ve got some money, Martin and Bono looking type ones and the better do I start to feel quite fatigued. And it’s even things like if if I had to go to the loo in the middle of night, or I’ve got thirsty and I want to go in, grab some water out of the fridge, okay, they’ve all got lights involved. And, and just now, pop them on. And then I feel like Not woke up and just minimally woke up functionally, then gone back to sleep.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Oh, I like that. I’ve not heard of that before. I like the idea that you might be able to put them on when you wake up during the night and that can kind of filter the lights that you’re getting in when you wander around.

 

Bryn 

idea the fringe one, the fridge one, you know, you open it and it’s just like it’s almost like I feel it inside waking up and then you got to go back to sleep and to just pop them on. You can put the light on that you need, but it’s not. So it’s like a wake up that much about sleep.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yes. You sound really in tune with your body. Sounds awesome. Trying.

 

Bryn 

What about things? What about like sort of? I’ve read things about room temperature, taking a shower before bed. Stuff like that.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Okay, so the kinds of things if anyone, if we miss anything while we’re talking here, the kinds of things that you’re talking about right now is sleep hygiene. So people might go and Google sleep hygiene and basically it’s the idea of, of cleaning up your sleep at nighttime. So you would have a room temperature that is cool. So about 19 to 20 degrees Celsius, you want to have your room that’s fairly dark and for obvious reasons that we’ve just talked about, and you want your room to be quite quiet as well, because otherwise, what will happen is, is that during those those shallows shallow stages of sleep, you’ll hear little noises, and that’s what will wake you up and then if you’ve got any stress or anything, we’ve got one of those really busy minds, that’s when the brain starts up. And that’s really what interrupts your sleep as well. You want to have a nice comfy mattress. You want to make sure the only things you’re doing in bed asleep and sex as well. Because otherwise you start to associate bed with lots of fun You want to try and keep that kind of minimal. And no parties, no board games in bed, try and keep up the TV as you can as well. Yeah, and warm, warm bath before bed that does work. Because it can actually help you when you get out your body temperature drops. And that’s one of the things that our bodies naturally do when we’re about to go to sleep is that our core body temperature will drop.

 

 

The warm milk unfortunately doesn’t work.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Not unless you’ve managed to sort of pair it up. So that kind of nighttime routine, if one of the things that you always do before bed is have a cup of tea, we would normally say look out for the caffeine. But if that’s part of your routine, and that’s part of how you get to sleep, you’ve probably managed to link a warm cup of tea to sleep and your brain kind of then starts to get sleepy because you know much like with kids where you’re getting them to go to sleep, you give them quite a solid routine to get them to go to sleep. It’s the same with you. You want to retain Hmm,

 

Bryn 

I guess we we talked about sleep hygiene in terms of the entry into sleep. What about the exit from sleep?

 

 

Yeah, okay, so

 

Michelle Olaithe 

sleep during the night too. I’m gonna like, pull back from the exits at the moment. Sleep during the night. You can have some sleep hygiene tips during the night too. You want to make sure your phone’s off. don’t check email. If you wake up during the night. You really want to engage in calming activities like mindfulness or meditation. Little bit of research that says Tetris might be good to do. If you wake up during the night

 

 

your glasses on. Yeah, as long as you get your glasses on.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

And if you’re awake for more than, say, roughly 20 minutes, but you’ve got to kind of guesstimate that time not to do clock checking. You probably want to get up and do something relaxing and then go back to bed. Yeah. Now when you wake up in the morning You want to you’re going to experience this thing called sleep inertia. And sleep inertia is this normal period of time while your body is adjusting from one phase of existence to another phase of existence, and you want to just allow that kind of sleepiness to happen. Normally, it’ll last about 30 minutes. Back to that oversleeping that we were talking about at the beginning of the session. If you oversleep, you’ll actually extend your sleep inertia out even further.

 

 

Right.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Then you want to go and get some sunlight. And there’s, there’s there’s, I don’t know, have you ever heard brain there was this piece of research that came out that said that you could get sunlight on the backs of your knees, and this was the ideal place to get it. Now this is a load of poppycock. The research turned over, but it came really quite popular for a while because it was so crazy. It’s a bit like that bit of research that came out about wearing a hat and if you wore a hat that would keep you warm. Did you You ever hear that bit of research as well? So there was a bit of written this is all research that’s done on people in the army. So there’s a bit of research that was done that if you wore like a full body kind of wet suit and stayed warm, it wasn’t enough. Ideally, what you needed was a hat on, but it’s all just been kind of like it’s all been debunked. There’s all these lovely bits like like eating spinach is one of the best ways to get iron. Also debunked as well. It was a era a printing era from where they put the decimal point as well in the publication

 

Bryn 

where we go around sleep that we should be aware of

 

Michelle Olaithe 

myths around sleep. Well, I don’t know that would be really interesting actually to write up a thing on the myths around sleep. I’m not sure they tend to look for the facts.

 

Bryn 

Tell me about the impact of things like stress and anxiety and how that plays

 

Michelle Olaithe 

So, I mean, I think everyone can really relate to this, your stress and anxiety is not good for your sleep, it’ll stop you getting to sleep, it’ll make you wake up more during the night and it can make you have early morning awakenings as well, it’s really quite linked to insomnia. And then part of the nasty thing of that too is that then once you start having that anxiety starts impacting your sleep, then you’re you start to get anxious about not getting good sleep, and then that can make your sleep even more painful too. So they tend to sort of run hand in hand there as well. So there’s lots of tips that we tend to give people who have a lot of anxiety just before sleep as well about planning their day out more for doing their to do lists or debriefing with friends earlier in the day so they’re not doing worry and rumination just before bed. And if you’re because if you’re anxious And that’s impacting your sleep, then the impact on your sleep will unfortunately stop you from being able to emotionally regulate properly. And then that will make you more anxious, which then impacts your sleep and it just goes around a vicious cycle.

 

Bryn 

Yeah, it’s not just one night one thing then snowballs becoming less aware less, you know, our ability to down regulate our nervous system is impacted. Hospira?

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Yeah. divorce rates higher for people who have poor sleep as well. Yeah, because you can’t. Part of what we think happens when people get Poor Sleep is that they can’t use their executive functions, which is all of these frontal lobe kinds of activities that help you when you go to swear it at something not swear. Or when you mad at your partner. Instead of yelling, these these parts of your brain help you go maybe I just need to calm down Or maybe I need to talk about this in a cool way. Those parts sort of get really affected by a lack of sleep and so it impacts your relationships with others.

 

Bryn 

Yeah. And such as from asking bigger, better questions. Yeah. And so I can imagine right now with a lot of people, and this residual anxiety about How’s his Coronavirus thing going to map out? Well, it locked up in my house. What’s the future look like with certainty? We can imagine there that’s playing havoc with people’s nervous system in the daytime but also

 

 

during sleep time,

 

Michelle Olaithe 

with everything you just spoke about is a beautiful recipe for not getting a good night’s sleep because it means you’ve got all that worry and concern for that carries off into night time as well. And have you ever noticed how when you wake up during the night During periods of stress, you might get stuck on something. And during the day, you wouldn’t get stuck on it. You’d be like, Oh, I can’t do anything about it now I’ll put it aside. But at night you’ll get stuck.

 

 

Yes, yeah.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Yeah. Yeah. And and not just worry about their Coronavirus. I mean, we’ve got so many people who are because of the Coronavirus, even if they’re not concerned about catching that themselves, they’re losing their jobs, or they’re stuck in their house now outside of routine and with a whole bunch of other frustrated people. Exactly. Yeah. So it just it’s just stress on top of stress on top of stress. Yeah.

 

Bryn 

The recipe for disaster. I think you’re pointing out to me in a previous conversation that we’re almost at a sleep epidemic. epidemic already? Oh,

 

 

yeah. Yeah,

 

Michelle Olaithe 

we are. I mean, so there’s there’s lots of businesses that are starting to try and make sleep a priority. And not just sleep a priority, but things like mindfulness and health a priority that Dally around reward their staff to be able to get better sleep, because we are we having? I mean, I think it’s I think the Australian stats that came out said about 70% of Australians either aren’t getting sufficient sleep, or aren’t getting good quality sleep. So that’s a huge proportion of our population that are quite sleep deprived. And if you’re getting less than five hours a night for about five hours or more, it’s an you go driving your car. It’s about the equivalent of driving with your blood alcohol at point oh five.

 

 

Yeah, that’s just that dangerous.

 

Bryn 

So you take that into consideration. 70% of the population didn’t have good enough sleep prior

 

 

Oh 70% of the population that potentially got come For most immune systems,

 

 

what Kobe

 

Bryn 

did last, oh, it just becomes more cumulative and not being able to process uncertainty fear, as well as you know, not looking after their body’s immune systems today. I guess you know, I’m, I’m talking to you today about phone to other people before and I’m starting to see how all this stress and anxiety and fears coming in all angles and where it’s picking us off. Almost, if that makes sense.

 

 

Yeah, yeah. And,

 

Michelle Olaithe 

yeah, it’s been a very complicated and very interesting picture that we’re having a look at lots of weed and we just don’t know what’s going to be the outcomes. At the moment. There’s lots of research going on behind the scenes to try and send out surveys to people and ask them how COVID has impacted their sleep or their health or their job or their mood or their risk of self harm. as well, so lots of research that’s going on behind the scenes at the moment so that we can be better prepared. should this happen again?

 

Bryn 

Yeah, yeah. And it’s interesting as well, when you consider that we’ve had, it was only when I first started talking to you this idea of sleep epidemic, because it seems here and why a lot of people take their health seriously. So was hitting the gyms and trying to be active and stuff like that. And slowly people are starting to pay attention to their food. But do you then link that with sleep? Yes. Was it? Is it like food, sleep, mental well being and then exercise in that order or something?

 

Michelle Olaithe 

What are you talking about sort of like your hierarchy of needs? Well, there was in the 60s before ethics was really important. They did a whole bunch of nasty bits of research. And they took us to get

 

Bryn 

to the points a lot quicker in

 

 

the psychology degree I love that Milgram experiment where there was wrapping paper and putting papers in prisons, we learned a lot.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Oh, it’s terrible. And because that research enabled us to get to the point a lot quicker that we still refer to it a lot. But yes, I am glad that we look after our research participants a lot more than we used to. They did a whole bunch of research on people, they were able to make them sleep deprived. They after about three days you start hallucinating. The longest you can survive without sleep is two weeks. You start getting ulcerations all over your body. organs start shutting down that kind of thing. So two weeks, I’m pretty sure you can actually go for 21 days without food. So I think it’s oxygen, water,

 

 

sleep,

 

 

sleep food. Yeah,

 

 

yeah, but that’s definitely not the priority. That’s not the way we prioritise.

 

Bryn 

No, it’s no, it’s no, it’s very much about pay. And while we’re looking at things that impact, like, Tommy, tell me about alcohol.

 

 

Yeah, I

 

Bryn 

just had a little cheeky one time we got to sleep.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Yeah, and it will help you go to sleep, no doubt, but what’s gonna happen is it’s, it’s gonna keep you in a shallow stage of sleep. And so you won’t get down to those lovely deep stages that we were talking about that are really important. And also as well if you have more than the Australian standard guidelines, so you’re having about more than four drinks on any one occasion, then that is enough to make you wake up you need to go the toilet as well. And then you’ve got all of the light exposure to

 

Bryn 

Okay. Is it the alcohol itself or is it the sugar in there? Is it a mixture?

 

Michelle Olaithe 

It’s the alcohol itself and probably The sugars as well, they probably spark you up a bit, but it’s definitely the alcohol. It messes with your ability to sort of in train your brain down into those deepest sleep states.

 

 

Hmm, yeah.

 

Bryn 

What’s a life? If you could shake people and say these are the really the top five things you really, really need to do and take seriously about your sleep? What would they be?

 

Michelle Olaithe 

What would I say, okay, don’t stress about it. But however much I’ve been talking about how important it is the number one thing would be having some awakenings during your night is normal. Having an off night once or twice during the week is normal, your sleep. The amount of time that you get to sleep shrinks as you get older, it’s normal. being mean to yourself and not getting enough sleep or messing it up on the weekends is normal. So I would say just Just relax. First off yeah. Second, I would say at least one to two hours before you get ready for bed at night, I really would love if you put your devices down. Or if you put a red light or a blue light filter on them or where brings amazing glasses. Maybe not bring specifically because he is for himself. But I would say if you’re going to drink alcohol or have a heavy meal, try to plan that earlier in the evening. If you are really worried or stressed or concerned at the moment, try and again, plan for something earlier in the evening to debrief with someone, write in your journal, write a to do list those kinds of things. Yeah, yeah. So I guess those are the two things I would say,

 

Bryn 

Superman, or some of the, because you must be across a lot of research. What are some of the sort of fascinating things that are coming out to sleep research because? Well, I’ll let you answer that first.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

No, no, sorry. I lost Research. So the clinical work has been amazing because it helps me shape what I’m looking at in the research and makes my research a lot more applied. But I’ve got to admit for a love for just research for researchers sake. So one of the things that I’m researching at the moment is different types of insomnia. And there’s a type of insomnia where you have short sleep duration, so you get under your required amount. And then there’s a type of insomnia called normal sleep duration insomnia. In this, the person will report to you that they haven’t slept. They’ll say I did not get any sleep and but however, when we look at their eg, they’ve had just as much sleep and just a good quality as someone who doesn’t have insomnia. So there’s this area in the brain that we think might be implicated in this paradoxical experience of being awake when you’re asleep, called the default mode network, then this is an area of your brain that should turn online when you go to sleep books. For some people doesn’t turn online. And so you’re still able to be conscious while your brain is asleep.

 

Bryn 

So that’s fascinating because what you’ve now done is separated consciousness from being in the brain.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Yeah, so, yeah, we, we don’t know enough about consciousness no one has, I’m sure that someone will get a Nobel Prize for understanding what consciousness actually is. We don’t actually fully understand the networks in the brain or the components that make consciousness yet there’s some crazy theories out there. delve into all sorts of things, but yeah, we don’t know.

 

Bryn 

Hmm. Cuz there’s all sorts of there’s that you know, during our sleep, your body cleans itself up and just the way you talked about where we are pointed questions go somewhere else. Oh,

 

Michelle Olaithe 

yeah. Yeah, I’m sure there’s there’s lots of different explanations. I’m trying to think of the book that I’ve been reading lately because I’m not I can’t real physics. It’s in physics, but I can’t remember the name of it. Biological. I’ll try and come up with it later. But it’s it delves into this really bizarre version of consciousness where it’s an extension. It happens between the molecules and happens between the atoms as well. But yes, it’s, I don’t know, interesting. We don’t even know where your memories are laid down yet. We know that it’s somewhere in your brain and somewhere in your body, but we’re not entirely sure about that yet. I know. That too, I found fascinating because you can’t actually pin down someone can’t find a memory in the brain. No, no, you can’t. So we have all these kinds of we call them as a psychologist. We call them a latent construct. So it’s basically it’s a theorised thing that happens that we cannot directly measure but we know it does happen because people have experience of it. I think this Part of what I find so fascinating about psychology is we just don’t understand so much yet. Fascinating though, there was a guy and I haven’t looked too much into this research. So I’m not entirely sure whether it’s kosher or not. But there was a guy who could take blood pressure and images in someone’s brain while they were dreaming, and get an impression of the images that they were dreaming about. So I don’t know whether that’s just nonsense. Oh, no, let

 

Bryn 

me say that again.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

So there was a there was a bit of research done while people were dreaming about the blood pressure that they had and the types of active neurons that they had in their brain. And he could draw images out of these images of what the person was dreaming about. So I haven’t followed that line of research much but there’s so much interesting stuff going on.

 

 

Mm hmm.

 

Bryn 

I mean, yeah, the idea that even through sleep research you separate consciousness from the brain, the fact that we can’t quite pin down where memories are. And I was watching some work from a guy called Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, not so long ago ologists from Cambridge University. So this is someone from the whoo channel or something. And he was pointing for the for this idea of morphic resonance, the morphic field and the fact that your brain is really like a sophisticated radio transmitter and receiver your memories in and there’s lots of different ways we can look at it.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

That sounds very similar to the physics theory that I was reading about. I wish I could remember the term for you, but yeah, it sounds very similar to that.

 

Bryn 

Mm hmm. And then that’s it. Oh, goes on and on and on. Fascinating and going back and going back to you. What are you learning about yourself in this current Corona environment?

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Ah so character that I need people more than I thought

 

 

I was

 

Michelle Olaithe 

self proclaimed introvert but I, I need a lot more people to have my left or what I needed. I do miss my people.

 

Bryn 

What is it, you’re missing?

 

Michelle Olaithe 

The challenge people. People are challenging, whether it’s just a social interaction to make sure they get their needs met and I get my needs met and we have a stimulating conversation even that is challenging. But also people, particularly when they’re sitting at home and they’re bored. They have a lot of brilliant innovative idea. ideas. And I want to hear those ideas that people have fascinating, and hence why you’re here doing what you’re doing.

 

 

Yeah, yeah.

 

Bryn 

There we go. And what are some of the things that you’re seeing changes in, in the way people are doing life you would like to see stick after.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

So I actually hope that we maintain some of this stay at home this. So I would hope that the workforce becomes a lot more flexible, and perhaps you only go into the office to have five days, and the other three days you work from home. And the reason that I hope to that is because I think people do spend more time with their families. I think they’re not as stressed and rushed. And I think we’re putting less pressure on the environment. We’re using up less resources. We’re creating less pollution. I think that’s just we’ve got so many benefits there. And also, I like the slowness. So you go to the shops and you get your groceries and people are gentler and kinder and slow up in general. That’s been my experience anyway. They’re more polite. I think that I think in general, people are less stressed because they’re less rushed.

 

Bryn 

Yes. Especially distancing is done. Nothing is made as more spatially aware of the plight of one.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Play. Yeah, I would like to hear that from you as well bring what I would like to hear that answer from YouTube. What would you like to see that we keep?

 

Bryn 

And I think yeah, this I’ve really enjoyed the slower pace of life. I’ve really enjoyed for a long time, and I have felt it. I’ve said that. I said, it’s incumbent upon us to be almost introspective or inside curious for at least 10 to 20 minutes a day. If we can’t understand the first part of motional intelligence, if you don’t even get curious about your own self awareness, then your emotional impact intelligence is going to be impacted. And therefore, you will end up carrying the wounds of childhood and stuff bleed all over your friends for the rest a little bit dramatic. And I’m seeing a lot more people becoming a lot more introspective, coming back into themselves and being with the people around them that they’ve been transiently with, even if it is their family and their kids, just like you said. I’d like to see that more. More introspective and curious, and I’m starting to see deeper, deeper consideration. I for a long time, have had great concern about the general concentration span of the general public. Yeah, Do a long, doing long form nuanced bass conversation podcast. And at the start, a lot of people are saying, Are you going to trim it down from an hour and a half down to 20 minutes, no one’s gonna listen to it. And all the time I just, I was gonna ignore that for a while and I just kept going and going and go. Now I understand why. Because conversations need to be in your own space they need to be and so you know, okay, so I get a lot less listeners to this. But the listeners that I do have or people who do engage, they actually do concentrate. And there’s something about when you do concentrate on one thing for a while your brainwaves start to do something whether they synchronise or slow or we drop out of beta and into alpha. Talk about that with sleep states but similar sort of thing. So you get that more relaxed state of mind and you’re doing a lot more deeper consideration and fat is when you talk To your subconscious, and your instead of being stuck in this fear based washing around short concentration span, it’s either this or this reduction less thing. So I’m seeing a lot more slowing down and then the follow on benefits and I could go on for ages even further about it. But there’s a lot more consideration of priorities and things like that. Yeah. And I want to see that can carry on because part of why I think we’ve got ourselves collectively in such a mess. have not thought things through.

 

 

Yeah,

 

Bryn 

yeah, we’re

 

Michelle Olaithe 

operating at such a fast pace that on top of that mess in order to try and help the mess which is adding a bit more mess on top you do

 

Bryn 

really is that it’s that age old triad or age on track. I think he’s only been in the industrial age. Industrial Age home. trial to a problem is to work harder. Well, they, you do the same thing. You just amplify it. And that’s the thing. Delivering the problem. Yeah, you know, so, if people are taking more time to be with that family, if they take you more time to go for a walk on the beach, no exercise, but walk on the beach with the family, go for the phone, sleep more, which is why it was so important to be prioritising this late, you know, even another hour or something, or just thinking. And, and I said, looking at the sources of anxiety, and you know, some of the most clearest ones at the moment are the media. You know, if you disagree with me on that, then consider this the other day. I watched a little clip before we go into the news on the TV and you know, they give you Top three or four things that they’re going to be talking about. Number three was the dangers of over using hand sanitizer. Oh, fucking real dangerous and based agenda every single month if we can be more sensitive that so, you know, go on my little soapbox here by asking we

 

 

have a podcast on

 

 

it right now I think that’s Yeah, yeah, yeah,

 

Bryn 

yes. And back to you what are some of the things you’re doing to stay grounded and keeping it real?

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Right? play lots of play yesterday I jumped on trampoline for 20 minutes my thighs hurt. Great. I’m going bike riding we have a new puppy so we’re training her lots of things. Lots of really small simple thing.

 

Bryn 

There we go. I learned from another guest that get on your kids trampoline For three to five minutes every morning Not long after you’ve broken up new spinal fluid and everything correct.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Oh, right. Oh, well, I smashed that three to five minutes out.

 

Bryn 

consistent.

 

 

It is, look look tight. I’ll type that it is it’s it’s doing things by retain, indeed.

 

Bryn 

The last question I asked all my guests at the moment, if you could type one little nugget and load it up into the collective consciousness, so everyone just gets it or without

 

Michelle Olaithe 

  1. Oh, look, it’s been a long time coming for me. And it’s Don’t be so afraid. Or if you’re not getting told no, at least once a day, then you’re probably not trying hard enough. It being told no is not a bad thing. It just means it’s a measure that you’re pushing in the right directions. I’ve had to learn that when I get told that an idea I have is is is a no and you can’t do that. It just means that I need to try again or reshape it or reform it or try a different avenue. And I’ve had to really learn that it’s not about me. It’s about just pushing that forward. Definitely.

 

Bryn 

Yeah. And I imagine that’s really important with research.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Mm hmm. Yeah. But even even in your daily life, I mean, one of the things that I asked people who feeling socially anxious to do is to start asking for discounts on things like chewy gums.

 

 

And and you’d be surprised at how many people actually get

 

Michelle Olaithe 

discounts on on chewy gums. So yeah, no, always and then it starts to teach you that most people are there to support you and to help you and they’re not as scary as you think now.

 

Bryn 

Yes. And probably most of the knows that you’re getting in your life are up here before you’ve even guys that titling piously. I got a good friend. Last year. When did they go Buy purchase. That was just him. And he was hesitant about buying as well. Yeah, my wife would probably say no, I think she actually said not exactly talked about it, moved it along. And then next year, she said, Yes.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Exactly. That’s what I’m talking about. Don’t Don’t let this stop you. This thing is a threat detector, and it detects threats that aren’t even there.

 

Bryn 

Indeed, indeed. Michelle, it’s been awesome talking to you today. If people want to find you, where can they come and find you?

 

Michelle Olaithe 

So they can just google me so if they Google my name, Michelle, oh, life, they will find me. But also, we have a new website that would start it up as well called my Theriault. So they can also find me on there as well. But the best way to find me is just a Google me.

 

Bryn 

Excellent. Thanks so much for your time. It’s been super valuable at this point in time.

 

Michelle Olaithe 

Okay, thank you. It’s been so lovely to talk to you. Thanks for having me on.

 

Bryn 

Super

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