Hack Your Way to Sleep

Why Dreaming Can Make You Happy

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By Karl Lawrence on Thursday, January 28, 2016
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In this week’s episode of Your Best Life, Karl interviews Dr. Rubin Naiman, who is a sleep and dream specialist and Clinical Assistant Professor in Medicine at the world-renown University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. Rubin is also the founder of the Circadian Health Associates organization and is a leader in the development integrative medicine approaches to sleep and dreams. He is the author of Healing Night, Healthy Sleep, The Yoga of Sleep, To Sleep Tonight, and Hush. During this episode, Karl and Rubin discuss deep sleep, our relationship with sleep, how to keep sleep close, sleep hacking, tips for good sleep, and dreaming.

Main Questions Asked:

  • What is the root of ‘sleep getting worse?’
  • What drives us away from our relationship with sleep?
  • Is it possible to get back into delta waves when you haven’t had that period of sleep?
  • Is being tired after a nap a matter of being deregulated with the cycle?
  • What steps can people take to prepare for sleep?
  • Are there apps to hack your way into sleep?

Key Lessons Learned:

  • Sleep disorders are the number one health problem in the world.
  • There is something fundamentally ‘off’ in the way we approach sleep.
  • The secret to a good night’s sleep is a good days waking.
  • Most people just want to have enough sleep in order to have a good day and treat it like a second-class citizen to the overall health picture.

Waking Life

  • The relationship we have with the way we fall asleep, stay asleep, and the amount of sleep we get has a profound effect on our waking lives, physical and mental health, as well as attitude.
  • Walking life is about accruing and utilizing energy.
  • Sleep is about being willing to relinquish and dissipate energy.
  • People get stuck psychologically by trying to make sleep happen.
  • Sleep is the default in consciousness.

Deep Sleep

  • Our limited perception of sleep comes from the implicit notion that “I can count my sleep.”
  • The number of hours we sleep is important, but isn’t the best measure of the quality.
  • The reason most children are inherently happy is that they sleep deeply (delta or slow wave sleep).
  • Around the age of 11, we start to lose delta sleep.
  • It's difficult to find many men over the age of 50 who get any deep sleep.
  • Women are programmed biologically for more significant deep sleep than men, which is Mother Nature’s way of compensating for pregnancy.
  • Deep sleep is restorative, and the human growth hormone is released during deep sleep, the immune system is galvanized, the brain is refreshed, and our organs are cleansed.

Relationship With Sleep

  • Deep sleep is not just an unconscious biological state.
  • Our relationship with deep sleep is our relationship with deep self.
  • If we restructure our lives and create space for it, then sleep is forgiving.
  • We must ask, “Can we make rest as important as waking and productivity?”
  • We are addicted to waking and believing the more waking we do the greater the rewards of life but this isn’t true.

Keep Sleep Close

  • There is a psychological distancing from sleep.
  • What we call true rest is actually stage one of sleep. Many of us dip into this during the day.

Life in Sleep

  • The assumption is there is ‘nothing there’ in the world of sleep.
  • There is a rich life that is lived in the sleep and dream world.
  • We can understand sleeping and dreaming in terms of levels such as light, deep, and really deep sleep.
  • Waking also occurs in levels. This can be measured with brainwaves.
  • People can be awake at a low level of beta waves or high- altitude beta. This is caused by hyper arousal.
  • The key symptom of insomnia is that they are excessively wakeful.
  • We don’t have to resolve all our waking world problems before we can land in sleep.


  • Naps can be used for practicing sleep.
  • When people try to nap, they realize they are at high-altitude waking and ‘buzzing’ and thinking rapidly.

Tips for Good Sleep

  • We literally cool our bodies in sleep and our body temperature drops a couple of degrees.
  • People who don’t sleep well don’t cool well at night.
  • Light is a source of energy and a pollutant when it comes to sleep and considered electromagnetic caffeine.
  • Blue light tells the brain it’s daytime. You want to block the light and heat.
  • Melatonin dilates peripheral blood vessels and brings heat from the core to the surface of the body and lets us chill.


  • Dreaming is not simply a subset of waking.
  • The last third of the night is spent dreaming.
  • Many believe if we sleep deep enough, we enter a shared dream world.
  • We are probably even more dream-deprived than we are sleep-deprived.
  • Sleep deprivation studies fail to distinguish whether we are losing sleep or dreams.
  • Melatonin promotes dreaming. One of the reasons we are dream-deprived is that we are melatonin-suppressed.
  • Excessive alcohol, sleeping pills, and anti-suppressants decrease dreaming.
  • When it comes to dreaming, the brain is a second gut.

Thank you for listening!

If you enjoyed this podcast and would like us to produce more, please click here to subscribe and leave a review in iTunes!

Links to Resources Mentioned

Rubin Naiman
Healing Night (book)
Healthy Sleep (book)
The Yoga of Sleep (book) To Sleep Tonight (book)
Hush (book)
Low Blue Lights (book)
Discover Shadow (book)

2 click to tweet links! (Thanks for helping spread the word!)

Tweet: What is the secret to keeping sleep 'close'? Find out w/ @drnaiman @wellnessgroup http://www.wellness.com/sleep

Tweet: How does your waking life affect your sleep life? Find out w/ @drnaiman @wellnessgroup http://www.wellness.com/sleep

From Your Best Life Podcast with Karl Lawrence

Dr Rubin Naiman sleep
We have tried everything! Desperate!! My so. Was born 5 weeks early, healthy 5.5 lbs. he has never been able to stop wet tying bed and is 14. He sleeps very deep. Says he doesn't dream. Can u give any thoughts? Advice?
Posted 5 years ago by KP
what a fantastic and enlightening article-you hit on so many ah ha points it blew my mind-I really enjoyed reading it and I thank you
Posted 5 years ago by eric roller

About Karl Lawrence

Karl Lawrence is the host of Your Best Life on the Wellness.com Radio Network. Check out his work at http://www.wellness.com/podcast Read More