Podcast Ep 6: Dr. Allison Brager, Neuroscientist, CrossFit Games Athlete, and Army Soldier

Waking up Rejuvenated, our Biological Sleep Tendencies, and Sleep Supplementation

My guest today is Dr. Allison Brager. Dr. Brager is an expert and researcher in the fields of behavioral genetics, sleep, and biological rhythms and is a researcher in those fields for the US Army. She serves on the NCAA task force for mental health and sleep, and is the author of Meathead: Unraveling the Athletic Brain, a book that aims to debunk the myth of the “dumb jock.” Dr. Brager is also a two-time CrossFit Games athlete in the Team division and a former Division I athlete in track and field. 

In this episode, we talked about Dr. Brager’s research on sleep, how some professional positions may pre-select themselves based on our individual sleep tendencies, how intermittent fasting is being studied to prolong life, what we can learn about Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin’s sleep habits, and what you need to know about sleep supplements. 

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Show Notes:

3:00 – Career Beginnings “Years ago, I had a mentor tell me to always plan your career around your lifestyle, and not your lifestyle around your career.”

6:45 – Healthy Living & A Career in Research “A good night sleep, in the simplest terms, is somebody who wakes up in the morning and has this feeling of rejuvenation. As if they don’t need anything else to feel rejuvenated.”

9:52 – Everyone’s Own Set Point “The best example I could give are U.S. Presidents and high-performing executives. A lot of those individuals preselect into their fields because they require less sleep in a night.”

14:50 – Time of Night & Sleep Cycle “We evolved to be day-active creatures and sleep at night and when you fight against your biology and your evolutionary programming, that is why these consequences manifest. There’s evidence now to show that night shift work can take up to 10-15 years off your life.”

23:20 – Combating Lack of Sleep Symptoms “Honestly, the lowest hanging fruit is prepping for sleep deprivation just like you would prep for your morning meetings [at work].”

30:24 – Diet & Supplements “I was at the most recent Neuroscience conference and one of the not only most prolific sleep scientists in the world, but prolific neuroscientists, was able to prolong life using intermittent fasting in a mouse model by 15%” 

38:20 – Sleep Animals “Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson used to do a really good job about keeping a sleep journal. [They] practiced these same multi-phasic sleep patterns that you see across the animal kingdom.”

44:02 – Bad Sleeping Conditions “Supplementing with Melatonin does not interfere with your body’s natural production of melatonin.”

52:50 – Caffeine, Melatonin, and Magnesium “Magnesium is 100% the best supplement to take as an athlete, our magnesium stores are depleted very commonly through training and through sweating and the only way to get these [depleted stores] replaced is through supplementation.”

59:10 – Changing Health Practices “After 6:00pm, I pretty much only do low level stuff – I read, I might listen to a podcast.”

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