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The Matt Walker Podcast
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The Matt Walker Podcast

Author: Dr. Matt Walker

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The Matt Walker Podcast is all about sleep, the brain, and the body. Matt is a Professor of Neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of the book, Why We Sleep and has given a few TED talks. Matt is an awkward British nerd who adores science and the communication of science to the public. 

83 Episodes
#77 - Sleep & CBD

#77 - Sleep & CBD


Matt continues his series on the impact of cannabis, THC, and CBD upon sleep this week with an examination into the intricacies of cannabidiol (CBD), which, unlike its psychoactive counterpart THC, does not induce a high but is recognized for its potential therapeutic effects. While studies suggest that CBD may aid in alleviating anxiety, movement disorders, pain, and addiction, in this episode, our host focuses on exploring CBD's potential influence on sleep quality while examining its bioch...
In this week’s intriguing episode, Matt delves into the topic of precognitive dreams, exploring the idea that some people can predict future events through their dreams. He explains that while this concept might seem appealing, it is actually a result of statistical chance. With around 8 billion people in the world each having multiple dreams per night, the sheer number of dreams increases the likelihood of coincidental matches between dreams and real-life events. Matt also discusses a g...
In this 7th installment of their AMA series, Matt Walker and Dr. Eti Ben Simon dive into strategies for improving deep non-REM sleep. They highlight the benefits of vigorous exercise, citing a study by Kaspar Vogt that shows how exercise enhances the quality and stability of deep sleep. Additionally, they discuss how temperature manipulations, like using high heat capacity mattresses, can also improve sleep quality. Interesting insights include findings that intense exercise can improve deep ...
Dr. Chris Barnes, renowned Michael G. Foster Endowed Professor of Management at the Foster School of Business, University of Washington, returns to the podcast today to continue his discussion with Matt regarding sleep's impact on business productivity. This time around, Dr. Barnes shares research indicating that sleep-deprived leaders exhibit abusive supervision, reducing employee engagement and productivity. Exploring sleep's broader implications on corporate culture and economic perfo...
# 74 - Sleep & THC

# 74 - Sleep & THC


Matt continues his exploration into the intricate link between cannabis and sleep, focusing on THC in this second installment, beginning with a reminder to listeners of the historical insights from doctors like O'Shaughnessy and Clendinning in the 1800s regarding cannabis's sleep-inducing effects. He shifts to how THC affects sleep today, noting that while it initially reduces sleep onset time and early night awakenings, chronic use worsens sleep quality, leading to frequent disruptions, espe...
Matt and Eti team up again today for another entertaining and informative AMA episode. This time around, they dive into the intriguing world of lunar cycles and their potential influence on sleep patterns and dreams. From ancient beliefs to modern scientific findings, our duo unpacks the subtle yet fascinating impact of the moon. They then go on to explore the calming effects of weighted blankets on children and adults alike, revealing how deep touch pressure therapy enhances sleep quality an...
Dr. Chris Barnes from the University of Washington's Foster School of Business joins Matt to discuss the often overlooked importance of sleep in boosting workplace productivity and ethical decision-making. Together, they delve into how sleep deprivation affects job performance, the impact sufficient sleep has on business environments and organizational success, and the hidden costs of sleep loss.Dr. Barnes presents compelling evidence on how businesses can use sleep as a strategic asset to cr...
Matt introduces his series examining the complex relationship between sleep and cannabis, exploring both the historical context and contemporary scientific perspectives. The narrative begins with Dr. W.B. O'Shaughnessy's canine experiments in 1849, tracing the evolution to the foundational work on cannabis for sleep conducted by Drs. Clendinning and Bradbury. Despite anecdotal reports suggesting cannabis enhances sleep, the scenario is complicated by factors such as regulatory constraints, va...
This week, Matt dives deep into the complexities of REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD), a condition where individuals physically act out their dreams due to the absence of normal muscle paralysis during REM sleep. He meticulously breaks down the mechanisms of normal REM sleep, where the brainstem induces muscle atonia to prevent dream enactment, contrasting it with the failure of this system in RBD cases. Further expanding on the topic, Matt explores the etiology, diagnosis, treatment opt...
Eti is back for another AMA episode with Matt to answer questions that have been submitted over the last little while. Today’s installment dives into a number of topics including the intricate relationship between sleep and pregnancy, exploring how sleep disturbances impact pregnant women and the postnatal period. Additionally, the hormone prolactin, essential for milk production, is highlighted for its sleep-promoting benefits during the postnatal phase, illustrating nature's intricate balan...
In today's podcast episode, Matt welcomes back Dr. Michael Gradisar to delve into the evolving understanding of screens and sleep. Initially holding the belief in the detrimental effect of screen light on sleep, Matt finds this notion challenged by Dr. Gradisar's research, which emphasizes a more nuanced perspective. Their discussion highlights the shift from simplistic concerns about screen use to acknowledging the multifaceted influences on sleep, including content and individual difference...
#69 - Sleep & Menopause

#69 - Sleep & Menopause


Matt explores menopause and sleep disturbances today, noting the impact of hormonal changes, including a drop in estrogen and progesterone, and the role of hot flashes in disturbed sleep. He enumerates different types of sleep impairments related to menopause such as insomnia, sleep-disordered breathing, restless leg syndrome, and various sleep stage disruptions. Treatment options are discussed, with an emphasis on hormone replacement therapy, though controversy surrounding this approach is a...
It’s another AMA episode and Dr. Eti Ben Simon returns to not only share some of her own sleep routines, but also to help listeners gain a rare insight into Matt's personal sleep habits as they respond to a listener’s query. Renowned for not sharing much, if anything, regarding what he considers his “boring” self, Matt is coaxed into offering a candid exploration of his bedtime routines, shedding light on both his successes and challenges in achieving optimal rest. From his dedication to regu...
Matt Walker welcomes his dear friend, the epic sleep researcher and clinician, Dr. Michael Gradisar, to the podcast to join him in exploring the profound influence of light on sleep quality. Dr. Gradisar's groundbreaking research and clinical proficiency in pediatric sleep disorders and circadian rhythm disruptions have reshaped the field, guiding both scientific comprehension and practical interventions. His conversation with Matt here today delves into the intricate interplay among light ex...
This week, Matt explores the intricate connection between sleep and weight, shedding light on the alarming reality of how inadequate sleep contributes to weight gain. He emphasizes the staggering correlation between the rise in obesity rates and the decline in sleep duration over the past six decades, backed by meta-analyses showcasing the significant associations between insufficient sleep and heightened obesity risk. Our host delves into experimental studies revealing how sleep deprivation ...
Dr. Eti Ben Simone is back with Matt Walker to delve into a range of intriguing topics surrounding sleep, circadian rhythms, and the impact of shift work on our health, all within the engaging context of today’s installment of their increasingly popular Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions. Their conversation begins by exploring the intriguing link between the APOEε4 genotype and sleep disturbances, particularly concerning Alzheimer's disease. It's noteworthy that individuals carrying the APOEε4 va...
Matt’s back this week to delve into the intriguing phenomenon known as Exploding Head Syndrome (EHS). A genuine and significant sleep disorder, EHS is part of the broader category of parasomnias, which includes various sleep-related disorders like night terrors and sleepwalking. The core experience of EHS involves patients perceiving sudden, loud, and shocking noises, akin to explosions or gunshots, as they are either falling asleep or waking up from sleep. These hallucinations are distressin...
In this second installment of their fascinating conversation together, Matt Walker and Michael Grandner continue their discussion regarding the crucial role of sleep in the lives of athletes. Together they delve into the unique challenges athletes face, such as irregular schedules, early mornings, late-night competitions, and travel across time zones, all of which can disrupt their sleep patterns. Dr. Grandner emphasizes the need for athletes to "bank sleep" by ensuring they get sufficie...
In this week’s episode, Dr. Michael Grandner joins Matt to explore the critical role of sleep in athletic performance. Together, they emphasize that sleep is not just about physical rest but also plays a significant role in mental performance, decision-making, and motivation.Dr. Grandner discusses how sleep is essential for various aspects of athletic success, including physical performance, mental performance, recovery, and mental health. He highlights that sleep isn't just a passive activit...
#63 - Yawning Explained

#63 - Yawning Explained


In this podcast, Matt explores the fascinating topic of yawning. He begins by pointing out that although we all yawn and assume it's a sign of sleepiness, science hasn't provided a definitive answer regarding its purpose. Matt delves into the etymology of the word "yawn" and describes the five distinct steps involved in the yawning reflex, shedding light on its physiological process.Matt then introduces three leading scientific theories explaining why we yawn. The first theory suggests that y...
Comments (12)

Sylvia Chukwukezie

much love ❤️

May 12th

Andra Jensen

So great. The John Delony show sent me here.

Mar 29th

Mehran Azimi

Got excited with every episode being released

Jan 4th

Mahnaz Amiri

I'm so glad to reach you through this ap and I'm sure it'll be useful for me to become aware of how to live with pleasure as an adult 😀

Dec 8th

marziyeh khalesi

I really enjoyed all of the episodes. thank you for tellin these fascinating informations with your calming voice😃

May 5th

Ryan Wanner

Loved his book and the pod casts are a great refresher. I'd love it if they were longer. The commercials are a bit too long considering the length of the podcast. I hope they're paying him mad cash for all the air time they are getting heh.

Apr 27th

Mohammad Banifatemi


Mar 15th


Listened to the audio version of his book, which is really good. These episodes are way too short. And commercials are like 20% of the content 👎

Feb 4th

Hosna Ch

Hi!thank you for informations.I've been suffering from insomnia since 10 years ago and it ended up getting addict to Zolpidem and its ridiculous drug tolerance.I wish one night,just one fucking night I could sleep and have dreams.

Dec 4th

Ben P. Ashton

thanks Matt. really enjoying learning more about sleep.

Oct 14th

samira same

Thank you very much. I love the information I learn from the scientists.

Sep 11th

Amir Samson

I wanted to thank you for just starting this podcast. and I will be following your work. Awesome!

Aug 19th