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AMA #14: 2023 Philanthropy, Evening Routine, Light Therapy, Health Metrics & More


ANDREW HUBERMAN: Welcome to the Huberman Lab podcast, where we discuss science and science-based tools for everyday life.

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I’m Andrew Huberman, and I’m a professor of neurobiology and ophthalmology at Stanford School of Medicine. We are now live today with our annual and lifetime members of the Huberman Lab podcast premium channel. First off, I just want to welcome everyone. Thanks so much for being here.

I hope you’re having good holidays, and I’ll wish you a Happy New Year at this point and again at the end. I want to kick off our discussion today by just highlighting some of the incredible things that you all have already done. The premium channel, as most of you presumably know, provides support for important research.

And when I say important research, we can define that as research that is done on humans with humans, with their consent, of course, that we believe stands the highest probability of leading to new, quality treatments and improvements in mental health, physical health, and performance. So support from the premium channel– that is from you– has already allowed us to make several substantial gifts to various laboratories as well as some other endeavors.

So I’ll just quickly tell you where those funds have gone, and then I’ll tell you something really truly exciting about where we’re headed in 2024. We’ll get to the questions in a moment, but I think this is important to hear.

First of all, we made a year-long gift. And when I say year-long gift, we’re talking gifts that, I certainly can say from my perspective as a researcher who’s run a laboratory for a very long time, these are the size gifts that allow researchers to do research that they otherwise would not have been able to do. They pay salaries. They pay for materials in the laboratory. They pay for the sorts of things that allow science to happen that would not otherwise happen.

We made a gift to Dr. Alia Crum’s laboratory at Stanford in the Department of Psychology. She studies mindsets. Some of you may have seen the episode with Ali, as she’s called, Dr. Crum, on the Huberman Lab podcast. She’s studying mindsets, and how they affect both mental health and physical health in children and adults.

And that work, hopefully, we’ll get a report back on at some point soon about how those mindsets can improve performance in school, work, athletics, and other areas of life. So the idea here is that you supported that work through the premium channel, and then that work can happen, and then we can get the information about what the conclusions of that work are out into the general population, meaning into the public, so that people can benefit from that knowledge right away, and in many cases, implement that knowledge.

We also made a gift to Dr. Satchin Panda at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Satchin Panda is an expert in circadian biology and intermittent fasting. And the study he is using those funds for relates to intermittent fasting as a specific tool for improving mental health.

We also made a gift to Dr. Carla Shatz at Stanford University School of Medicine. She’s studying how the immune system and maternal conditions, especially infections of various kinds that pregnant women sometimes encounter or get, can affect the developing fetal brain, and that work also relates to stem cells. I know there’s a lot of excitement about stem cells nowadays, so I’ll give you an update on that as soon as I can.

We also made a substantial gift to Dr. Joanna Steinglass at Columbia University School of Medicine. Dr. Steinglass has not yet been on the podcast, but hopefully, she will have time to come on the podcast at some point soon. She’s studying and developing novel treatments for eating disorders. If you didn’t see the episode on healthy and disordered eating, sadly, anorexia nervosa is the most deadly of all the psychiatric conditions.

That is a great number of patients that have anorexia nervosa unfortunately go on to die of malnourishment and things related to malnourishment, so it’s a critical, critical issue that’s not talked about enough, and frankly, is not well-funded enough at the level of federal funding. But through your support, there’s now funding siphoning into her laboratory, and she’s directing those funds directly at novel treatments based on neuroscience and habit formation for eating disorders, anorexia and others eating disorders.

Dr. Nolan Williams, also at Stanford, who does work on transcranial magnetic stimulation, which is a tool to non-invasively alter neural circuits in the brain for purposes of relieving depression and PTSD. And excitingly, Dr. Williams’s laboratory also combines TMS– Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation– with psychedelic treatments, in particular, ibogaine, but also psilocybin. I know there’s a lot of excitement about that.

And then last but certainly not least, we also funded a chronobiology conference. They were desperate for funds, reached out, and we were delighted to provide the funds for that conference. Those funds allowed graduate students and postdocs who come from laboratories that couldn’t afford to send those students and postdocs to that conference to attend that conference.

And I must say, from a lot of years of experience in the scientific community, the ability to attend these high-quality meetings is absolutely critical for those young scientists to be able to glean important information, and go back to their own laboratories, and to make novel contributions. It also can be the difference between a new collaboration being sparked up or not. And I should just mention that the research laboratories that we fund were at a much higher level than the conferences, but the conferences, I think, are also a really important way to direct funds.

For those of you that don’t know, chronobiology is how the timing of light, temperature, and exercise, and eating affect health. So all things that I think people are interested in. So that’s it for what we covered and what we supported in 2023. I’m very proud of the support that we were able to provide thanks to your help.

And I am very, very excited to announce that while in 2023, it was Scicomm, us, the Huberman Lab podcast, through your premium channel support that allows us to make that support, and we had a matching donation, dollar-for-dollar donation, from the Tiny Foundation. Heading into 2024, Tiny Foundation is going to continue to do a dollar-for-dollar match– excuse me– which is exciting. And we’ve brought on in addition to that two other donors who are going to also do dollar-for-dollar donations.

So in other words, for every dollar that the Huberman Lab premium channel has or raises in 2024, there will be $3 to match that. So this is phenomenal, and what it means is that Scicomm and the Huberman Lab podcast are now doing what’s considered on university campuses as major philanthropy, so very exciting.

And so thank you oh so very much for your support. You are making a difference in the research. And I don’t just say that. I know any time there’s fundraisers or things of that sort– by the way, this is not a fundraiser. This is us saying thank you to you.

But it’s always hard to know where those funds go, and we make sure that the whole process is very streamlined. We cut the fat in every dimension so that the money can go to discovering new tools for mental health, physical health, and performance. So thank you so much.

OK, first question is up. Caroline A writes, “I am interested in studies about the anterior mid-cingulate cortex.” Oh, yes, such an interesting structure. “Would you please share any information regarding those? Thank you for all you do in the advancement of science.”

Thank you for all you do in the advancement of science, Caroline and others listening. OK, so the anterior mid-cingulate cortex, for those of you that may not have seen the episode on willpower and tenacity, but even if you have, is a region of the brain that is involved in leaning into difficult challenges of all kinds.

This is an area of the brain that gets larger when we embrace effort that leads to a bit of internal anxiety, but it’s something that’s good for us, an adaptive thing. And this is an area of the brain that gets smaller when we don’t engage in challenging endeavors. Now, we need to define challenging endeavors very specifically.

Challenging endeavors that stimulate the growth of the anterior mid-cingulate cortex are challenging endeavors that we would prefer not to do. We may want the end goal, right? So we may want the consequence of the exercise, the consequence of the learning, the consequence of whatever the challenge is, but that the challenge itself feels uncomfortable. And here, of course, we want it to be uncomfortable but safe challenges is what’s going to grow the anterior mid-cingulate cortex.

Now, another thing about the anterior mid-cingulate cortex that’s important is that for people that end up being successful dieters, successful pursuit of fitness, for people that complete a degree, or finish an exam, or things of that sort, the anterior mid-cingulate cortex gets bigger. For people that fail to do the work required to prepare– so the preparation, that is– the anterior mid-cingulate cortex actually shows a bit of atrophy.

So the anterior mid-cingulate cortex is an anatomical and neural reflection of willpower and tenacity. And I think what people get wrong over and over about these sorts of findings is that the anterior mid-cingulate cortex is really responding to a variety of inputs– it has a lot of different inputs and outputs, we know that based on neural circuit tracing– but it absolutely responds best to things that feel like that they are indeed difficult, that they are a challenge.

So if you’re like me, and you enjoy certain forms of exercise, and it’s just pure bliss for you the whole way through, that’s not going to grow your anterior mid-cingulate cortex. However, if you add a bit of, let’s say, higher intensity work– I like doing a long run or hike on Sundays. I don’t do sprints too often at the end of that. But if I were to do a couple hill sprints at the end, and I really was like, oh, this is rough, this sucks, that’s actually the sort of thing that’s going to stimulate the anterior mid-cingulate cortex.

The anterior mid-cingulate cortex, since, Caroline, you asked about studies, was actually discovered in cases where people were stimulating this brain area. And the subjects– these were people receiving neurosurgery for other reasons– reported feeling like something was impending, not impending doom, but there was some challenge, like they were going to head into a storm, something challenging was coming.

But the other subjective feeling that they reported was feeling like they could lean into it, like they’re ready for it. They were ready to meet that challenge. So what you’re looking for when you are interested in growing your anterior mid-cingulate cortex– and I’ll tell you why that’s a good thing to do– is you’re looking for that feeling of leaning into challenge, that friction.

If something’s too easy, or it’s too delightful, then it’s not going to contribute to your anterior mid-cingulate cortex function and growth. It might contribute to other things, indeed, it will, and life isn’t all about leaning into challenge. But why would you want to stimulate your anterior mid-cingulate cortex in this way?

And by the way, those challenges can come from physical endeavors, it can come from language learning, it can come from a hard conversation that you’ve been putting off that’s hard for you to have. Lord knows we all have those aspects of our lives– the things that we’re putting off, or that are hard for us, or that feel difficult.

Again, keep these endeavors safe. You never want to do anything that would damage your mental health or physical health. But leaning into challenge in that way does seem to activate and grow the anterior mid-cingulate cortex.

Now, the advantage of that is that there are studies– excuse me– showing that the so-called super agers, the super agers, I don’t like that name so much. It’s a bit of a misnomer. They call them “super agers,” but they really should be called “super non-agers,” because these are people who seem to maintain healthy cognitive function much longer than most individuals. Their memory, their IQ, remains stable into their much, much later decades of their life or even improves over time.

And then the correlation– and again, this is correlation– but these people’s anterior mid-cingulate cortex does not atrophy. And in general, what the studies point to, and there still needs to be more data collected on this, is that these people are regularly engaging in things that are hard for them and challenging, and they’ve embraced that challenge. So lots to say about anterior mid-cingulate cortex, but I think that grabs the top contour.

And I’m a big fan of trying to do something difficult, at least one thing, ideally every week, and perhaps even every day, a little bit. It doesn’t take much. Maybe even just 5 minutes. It’s that friction, that feeling, oh, I don’t want to do this, I can’t do this, and then continuing to practice, or continuing to lean into that challenge, safely, of course, that is going to grow that anterior mid-cingulate cortex.

And I just think that’s amazing, right? We hear so much about brain atrophy, and memory loss, and et cetera, et cetera, as we get older. A lot of data now about how to preserve healthy physical function. Here, we’re really talking about how to maintain healthy cognitive function, and the anterior mid-cingulate cortex seems to be a barometer of how well we are doing that.

Mark S. asks, “would love to hear more about an evening routine and not just morning, especially when it comes to light.” Oh, I love this question. I love this question because I’ve made a lot of changes in the last year related to this, because there’s this guy on the internet that talks about the importance of getting morning sunlight– just kidding.

There are several of us, and gals, but I suppose I’ve been quite vocal about the importance of getting morning sunlight as soon as possible after waking. And of course, of course, of course, unless you have powers I’m not aware of, if you wake up before the sun comes out, people always ask, what do I do? You wait till the sun comes out.

It’s overcast? You get outside a bit longer. If you want to wake up before the sun comes out, turn on bright artificial lights. These days, I’ve actually been playing around a little bit with some bright artificial lights because I tend to wake up before the sun is out. It’s the winter months.

But in any case, I’ve talked a lot about the morning routine in the early part of the day and a bit about the afternoon part of the day. Evening routine. OK, well, I’ll tell you ideal, and then I’ll tell you what I do.

I’m always shooting for ideal, but I’m human. I think there’s this idea on the internet that I’ve seen that my whole life is protocols. Protocol, protocol, protocol. And indeed, sometimes, it looks like that, and indeed, sometimes, it doesn’t. I’m human. Things happen. We all encounter different challenges.

So to answer your question directly, Mark, I think it’s– I know it’s very important that if possible that you get a little splash of sunlight in your eyes in the afternoon and evening. Why? Why is that important? And what we’re really talking about here is not necessarily seeing a sunset at the beach– although that would be great if you could do that– but getting some sunlight in your eyes before the sun goes down, maybe for 5-10 minutes.

It’s not as important as the morning sunlight, but it does have a great benefit. And the benefit is it adjusts the sensitivity of the neurons in your retina and in your brain such that it protects you against brighter artificial lights later in the evening. Now, it doesn’t protect you completely, but what it does is if normally– and this is true– bright light viewed for 15 seconds or more between the hours of 10:00 PM and 4:00 AM.

I’m talking about somebody on a standard schedule, not a shift worker. Bright lights viewed for 15 seconds or more between the hours of 10:00 PM and 4:00 AM can dramatically quash melatonin levels. Melatonin being the hormone that’s involved in feeling sleepy and falling asleep. It does other things as well, of course. It’s secreted from the pineal.

We know, based on a really nice study published in Science Reports, that if you view that afternoon, late afternoon, evening sunlight, you don’t have to be too strict about the time. pop your sunglasses off, as long as you can do that safely, get some sunlight in your eyes, or if you can’t look directly at the sun, and by the way, never stare directly at the sun, at least getting some daylight in your eyes before the sun goes down, that can offset that melatonin reduction by about 55.0%, which is pretty impressive.

Now, you would still do well to dim the lights in the evening. And one thing that I’ve been playing with recently is using red lights. So a lot of people, when they hear “red lights,” they think, oh, you’re talking about red light panel, which that has its uses– those tend to be very bright red lights– or portable red light. I actually use a small portable red light. It looks like a thick piece of toast. I use that for other reasons.

This is not what we’re talking about with evening routine. With evening routine, it can be beneficial and very, very cost effective to get some red bulbs, and put them in, say, the bedroom, where you read before you go to sleep, or in a particular room in your house that you tend to spend time in the evening. Makes for a nice, mellow feel, but also does several other things.

First of all, if they’re the correct red bulbs– and I’ll mention the ones that I’ve been using in a moment– they eliminate all the blue wavelengths that tend to be stimulating for what we call the noradrenergic system– so adrenaline, noradrenaline, cortisol, et cetera. Indeed, there’s a study that shows that when shift workers who have to be up at night use red lights of the type that I’m describing, when they work under red light, they have less of a cortisol increase than were they to work under standard fluorescent lights or even standard LED lights.

So number one thing would be dim the lights in the evening and at night as much as you safely can to perform whatever functions you need. Don’t fall. Don’t burn yourself at the stove. If you have to write and do work, as I often do, you need light.

But to the extent that you can shift to red lights, that can be helpful. And many people, many people, and myself included, find that you get sleepier when you do that. So I might just do this for the last hour of the evening, even if I’m up till 10 or 11, or if I do it earlier, then I tend to get really sleepy.

But those red lights– I put a little lamp above my bed, I’ll do that if I’m going to read in bed– make it much easier to fall asleep, probably because of the reduced cortisol associated with eliminating the blue wavelengths. And they tend to be fairly dim.

Now, there is one brand of red light that actually will work on a dimmer, so this is important. I suppose you could use red party lights or Christmas lights– those could be very affordable. Some people do that, puts a kind of festive feel in the room. Other people, like myself, will use a red light that’s dimmable.

I want to mention that what I’m about to say, I don’t have any financial relationship to this company in terms of the bulbs. Red light panels are different. I use the Joovv. I use Joovv type. But for red lights for the purpose I’m talking about that would go into a standard lamp and that you dim, where that’s a very different purpose, right? The red light panels have a very different purpose than red bulbs that you would put into a standard light fixture.

The dimmable ones, you can find them as red light, and you just put “BON.” The technical name of the company is– sorry, forgive me for googling this now. Yeah, it’s a BON CHARGE. B-O-N, separate word, CHARGE. And those are dimmable, and they have the proper wavelength.

So that’s what I use. They’re not super cheap, but they’re not expensive either in comparison to most red light therapies or something. So we’re not talking about red light therapy. We’re talking about reducing the overall amount of blue light in your environment, et cetera.

Now, for many people who don’t want to purchase something new– and again, I have no financial relationship to BON CHARGE, so I don’t glean anything. I buy them with my own money. And I just have one or two of them, and I dim the lights. Even those red lights, I dim while I’m reading at night and then fall asleep.

If you don’t want to use red lights for whatever reason, then you would be wise to just dim the lights that you have, and where possible, to have those lights be set fairly low in your room environment. Now, why would that be? OK, well, first of all, the cells that activate the alertness system in the brain via the retina, your eye, tend to look up into your environment. And that makes sense because they’re essentially there to view sunlight, and the presence or absence of sunlight.

But in addition to that, think about it logically. If I take a flashlight, and I shine a beam on the ground or at a tree in the yard, it looks very bright. But you’re not getting all those photons in your eyes, right? You’re seeing it at a distance. As opposed to shining the light in your eyes, it’s very, very bright, OK.

So when you have lights that are overhead and going into your eyes, it’s very different than the light being on the floor or on a surface. This gets back to something that I often get asked. How could it be that viewing sunlight through a window takes 50 times longer to activate your circadian system than it does when you step outside?

Well, let’s think about that. When you step outside, there’s sunlight everywhere. If you face the sun, there’s even more coming at you. But when you’re inside, unless there’s a beam of light coming through that window, and the window is very clear or open, for that matter, you’re not really getting the light in your eyes in the same way that if you’re outside with the sunlight in your eyes, right?

It’s the same thing as looking at a beam of light from a flashlight against a wall versus the beam of light going at your eyes, OK? So we talked about dimming the lights, setting them low in the room. It’s not red light therapy, but changing over to red lights. BON CHARGE is probably just one of many out there.

I’ve seen it done pretty nicely with just people grab red party lights. Go on whatever your favorite search engine, sales site, “red lights,” and you could do that. That’s going to be better than any blue lights.

And then if you’re going to be on your screens, here’s what I suggest. There’s a shortcut function in your phone where you can triple-click to switch your phone over to eliminate all the blues. This is very different than just using the nighttime function, very different.

And I think we should probably put out a video on how to do this, but what you do is you go into the Accessibility function on your phone. You go into Color Filters. And then you drag down the blues. But that’s not how your phone is going to be set all day, because then you don’t see anything that’s in blue, but you can introduce a triple-click function. I’ll put out a clip soon on how to do that.

And so when I go to sleep at night or in the evening, what I’ll do is I’ll triple-click, and I’ll switch my phone over to red only. And that’s completely zero cost, by the way. It doesn’t cost anything. And then in the morning, when I wake up– click, click, click– I turn it on, although I try and get the sunlight in my eyes before I look at my phone.

OK, Tom M. asks, “light therapy recommendations for those that live in Northern regions with limited morning light, or too cold to get outside for morning light, dark when waking. Do red light therapy?” Great question. I’m going to take a sip of this bone broth because at the rate I’m speaking, if I try and keep this up for an hour and a half, I might get a little hoarse.

Red light therapy is different than what I just described. Red light therapy is the use of red light panels– that can be smaller panels, like the small Joovv that I use, which is a unit about the size of a piece– I guess they call it Texas toast, right? A thick piece of toast. I don’t know. Maybe someone knows why it’s called Texas toast. I guess it’s big.

It’s about the size of a piece of toast, provides very bright red light. And in between those red lights on there, there tends to be near-infrared light, so far red. So to a biologist, red doesn’t mean as much as the wavelength of light. So wavelengths in the 650 to 800 nanometers is what we’re talking about, whereas blue light is down in the 400 and 500, and really like 535 to low 6s. Like the rainbow, right? Red, orange, yellow, green, blue.

There are also larger red light panels. And nowadays, I also see a lot of advertisements for red light panels you can actually lie down in– red light beds. Here’s the story– red lights will often be marketed as the most powerful, the most intensity, the most lux. Most important is the proper wavelengths, or are the proper wavelengths.

So that’s why I use the Joovv, because Joovv has the proper wavelengths of red and far red. The distance to view a red light of that sort, generally, is about 18 inches, sometimes a little closer. Now, sometimes, people will put red light on different parts of their body.

I covered a bit of this in the “Light and Health” episode, but red light, because it’s longer wavelength light, can permeate through tissues to a fairly substantial depth. How deep depends on the tissue. If you put it up against your skull, is it going to get down into your brain?

No. It’s not going to get through your skull. Maybe a little bit if it’s a very high-powered red light. If you’re holding a red light of that power at home, something’s wrong. That’s a medical device.

However, Joovv are medical-grade red light and near-infrared lights, and they are quite powerful. They’re the right wavelength. Actually, that’s why I prefer Joovv, because they are medical grade.

They can be directed at your eyes in the morning for the purpose of– there’s a study out of– two studies, actually, out of Glen Jeffery’s laboratory at the University College London, showing that viewing red lights at a distance of about 18 inches or so in the morning for people who are over 40, but not for people younger, by the way, that can offset some of the age-related reductions in mitochondrial function and vision loss.

So I look at a red light, my Joovv Texas toast light, or I have a Joovv panel, at a distance of about, I confess, I stand about 12 to 18 inches away. And I do not force myself to look at that light. I don’t hold my eyelids open. I allow myself to blink so I’m comfortable.

Truth told, you could probably close your eyelids, and some of that red light is going to get through your eyelids. Not a ton, but some, so no problem blinking. You never, ever, ever want to look at any light, sunlight or otherwise, red light, any light, so bright that it’s painful to look at. If you have to blink, it’s too bright. Step back.

If you have to blink every once in a while, that’s OK. But if you have to blink, close your eyes in order to protect your eyes, then you’re standing too close. In the morning, you can do red light therapy on skin. You can do it on eyes.

Will it wake your system up? Will it provide the kind of cortisol increase, which, by the way, you want early in the day, and adrenaline and dopamine increase that sunlight can provide? The answer is no. Sunlight is unique in that way.

However, if you live in an area of the world that’s too dark, or you wake up long before you get sunlight in your eyes, what can you do? Well, you can flip on artificial lights. You would do that the opposite of how I recommend in the evening. You’d want to flip on overhead lights as bright as possible.

If you have the disposable income, and you want to invest in a 10,000-lux light panel, or a 900-lux light panel– again, I have no financial relationship to these companies– but there’s a light panel, 900-lux drawing tablet, that I’ve set on my desk for a number of years.

Recently, I confess, I’ve started experimenting with some of the 10,000-lux light panels that sit on your desk– excuse me. And those are very, very bright. And I do use that now if I wake up really early, and I’m going to do some work. I’ll turn that thing on, and it sure wakes you up.

Now, is it as good as sunlight? No. It doesn’t have the right color features and alternation between yellow and blue that morning sunlight has and that evening sunlight has. And without doing a whole tutorial, when the sun is low in the sky, so-called low solar-angle sunlight, you’ll notice, if you take a picture with your phone, provided it’s not a cloudy day, you’ll see that there’s a lot of blue-yellow contrast, and that’s the optimal stimulus.

That said, if it’s overcast out, you should still get outside, because some of those wavelengths are coming through, even though you can’t perceive the blue and the yellow. So you could get a 10,000-lux light, but if you can’t afford that, or you don’t want to– oh, and by the way, those you set on your desk.

You turn on for 5-10 minutes while you’re making coffee or things of that sort. They actually recommend that you don’t keep them on too much. Some people actually can feel a little too euphoric or maybe even get a little headache because it’s a lot of blue light. So that’s one thing.

The other thing you can do is that if you can’t access light of any kind, it’s a dark, dark, dark, that’s where the cold shower really can help because you get that adrenaline bump early in the day, which is good. So early in the day, provided you’re not going into states of anxiety as a consequence of it, getting adrenaline, dopamine, cortisol increases is great.

And then as the day goes on, in the evening, and nighttime, certainly, you want to taper the levels of those neurochemicals off. Now, of course, there’s always going to be some cortisol. There’s always going to be some epinephrine. There will always be dopamine in your system.

If you go out dancing, you go to a party at night, should you worry about the lights? No. OK, I am not– despite what you might presume, or hear, or read– I am not the sort of person to wear sunglasses at a party.

Although the other day, I was at a party, and someone was wearing sunglasses. I think that was for other reasons. That gives the impression there was something bad going on. I think they were just looking cool, by the way. And they did look cool. But I don’t do that.

And if I drive at night, I don’t wear sunglasses. I do and I have been exploring the use of blue light filter glasses in the evening and those red lights in my house. But I think for most people, if you get out every once in a while, you go out to a late night, or you go out dancing, or you have a party with friends, when you get home, dim the lights, maybe use those red lights, get to sleep.

Early in the day, bright lights, ideally from sunlight. Bright, bright, bright, bright, bright. How bright? As bright as possible and as many as is reasonable, except to the extent that it could damage your eyes. So don’t be staring at any bright lights excessively, OK? I think that pretty much summarizes it.

And then of course, early day, it’s really about sunlight or light of other kinds. Cold water, if that’s your thing. If that’s not your thing, that’s fine. There was no tablet that descended down to us telling us that we had to get into cold water each day. It’s an option. It’s all an option.

Dennis from Munich. I love Munich. I haven’t been there in a while, but I used to go at Max Planck in Munich a number of times per year, and I miss the food. I miss the schnitzel.

“As we approach a new year, what health and fitness metrics do you recommend checking?” Oh, good one. “And could you share your annual medical fitness check routine?” OK. What I’m about to say I’m sure will generally jibe with what Dr. Peter Attia– who I’m sure you all know and who I respect tremendously, also grateful to call him a close friend– basically asserts is important for fitness.

I think if you’re going to do a fitness test, Peter’s got it in mind, and I generally agree, you Deadlift your body weight 10 times in the same set, hang from a bar for a minute or more in the same set, these sorts of things. I tend to be far less PE class about it, frankly.

My goal is always the same. I’m 48 years old. I’ve been doing the same training program ever since I was 16, more or less. I mean, I’ve had peaks and valleys in terms of my consistency, based on other obligations.

And of course, when I’m sick, I don’t train. Sick people, stay out of gyms, please. Nothing makes me more frustrated than people showing up to get their workout and getting everybody sick. Here’s the deal.

I try to be capable, that is, ready for various things. What? The ability to go on a long hike. What’s a long hike? 5 to 10 miles with some hills. The ability to sprint for the airplane without blowing a gasket.

That means hurting oneself or having a heart attack. The ability to carry some heavy furniture, with assistance, safely. Or, god forbid, to take a trip and not damage myself. And of course, to have some level of agility and coordination.

So how does one do that? So what health fitness metrics do I recommend checking? Well, I’m going to do this next week because it’s the end of the year, but pretty much every week, it’s the following. Three cardiovascular training sessions. One is long, meaning an hour to 90 minutes.

That’s going to be slow for me. So this could be a weighted hike, so a weight-vested hike, or you could just put some weight in a backpack, or just be a hike if it’s really steep, or a long, slow jog, once a week. For me, it’s jogging or hiking. For other people, it’s cycling or swimming.

Sometime in the middle of the week, I’m doing a 35-minute run. So maybe 5 minutes of warm-up and then a faster 35-minute run. You can also do it on a rower. You can also do it on a bike.

But you’re really pushing up around– I don’t know, maybe– I don’t tend to measure heart rate, but where I could not hold a conversation. I’m working. I’m working. I’m working. I’m not sprinting, but I’m working.

And then another time during the week, a shorter workout of about 12 minutes. It’s going to be 3 minutes of warm-up, some calisthenics, a little bit of cycling on an assault bike or something of that sort. Assault bikes are the ones where you have the handles with the fan. Or it could be a rower, or it could be sprinting a hill.

And then doing, sometimes, 1 minute on, 1 minute off, for 12 minutes, sometimes doing 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, for eight rounds. And it’s real work. It’s getting the heart rate all the way up– VO2 max.

The combination of those three types of cardiovascular training sessions are that I’m ready to sprint for the airplane. I’m ready to take a long hike any time. I can go out for a 2-mile run and really enjoy that if I need to. It’s a readiness thing, and I think it covers all bases.

Am I ever going to be a marathoner, or a champion sprinter with that, or a miler? No, but that’s not my goal, and it never has been. I ran a cross-country race in high school, and we’ll tell that story another time. It was a lot of fun. Until I hit the second mile.

The other thing I do three times a week is I work out with resistance training. I train my legs one day, so that’s calves, hamstrings, quads. I train my torso, so I do some pushing for my shoulders and upper chest, and some dips, that kind of thing, some pull-ups, some rowing, this sort of thing.

I train my neck because I’m a big believer in that, for the upper spine, but don’t go at it heavy. It’s just really to maintain posture and to make sure that upper spine is supported– something that most people neglect.

And then one day a week, I do smaller body parts, like I’ll train my calves again, biceps, triceps. I’ll make sure that if there are any small body parts that I happen to miss during the middle of the week because of scheduling, like rear delts or something, I’ll do that. Maybe a little bit more neck work or some ab work.

OK. Those are spread out about a day apart. I don’t get too obsessed with the spacing between those workouts, but they’re not all stacked against one another. So it might be, in my case, it’s long run on Sunday. This is just how I do it. Monday tends to be off.

Excuse me. Long run on Sunday or hike. Monday is legs. Excuse me. Monday is always legs. Tuesday off. Wednesday, I generally would do that shorter run or the torso work. I’ll flip-flop them depending on how my legs are feeling.

And the next day, I do whatever I need to do, either the torso, resistance training, or the 35-minute run. And then Fridays that faster-clip cardio. Saturday tends to be the smaller body parts– biceps, triceps, et cetera.

I must say, these days of the week always have the ability to slide one way or the other. So for instance, if I’m traveling, and I don’t get back on Sunday until late, if I was not able to do that training while I was on the road, then I will do it on Monday. And then I’ll just slide things around so that I finish off the week with everything done, and I can get back on schedule.

But the way I’ve arranged it, every body part gets hit twice– once directly, once indirectly. And the cardiovascular training covers all bases. Why train this way? Well, it ensures strength.

It ensures whatever aesthetic changes you want. You can emphasize working harder and more sets, perhaps, for the things that you want to bring up certain body parts that are weaker. You can certainly recover, because you’re only training legs once a week. But guess what?

You’re doing them on Monday, and you’re sprinting on Friday, so they’re getting hit indirectly on Friday. Even if it’s on the Bike, that fast, hard pedaling with resistance is going to make sure that your legs aren’t going to atrophy, but you can still train them again on Monday. Again, so this schedule is designed in a very specific way.

None of the workouts except the longer workout on Sunday, that jog or run, is longer than an hour, ever. It’s 10 minutes of warm-up, and 50, 5-0, minutes of work in the gym, sometimes 60. Sometimes, I’ll truncate it to 45 or 40 if I have a bunch of things going on.

So this sort of schedule sounds like a lot, but it’s not. It’s actually a very small investment. It’s about an hour a day, and not even on Tuesday, which is a rest day.

So what are the metrics that I recommend checking? Well, I’m a big believer that if you’re sleeping well and your appetite is consistent and you’re feeling generally good, that’s an important metric. It’s a very subjective metric, but that’s important. Are you sleeping well or are you waking up sore and you’re not able to recover? Are you feeling like no matter how much sleep you get, you can’t feel rested, these kinds of things. Now there could be other factors involved, but that’s the– sort of a basic one.

The other one is how much energy and pep are you bringing to your workouts. That’s important, and it relate to caffeine and fueling and all those sorts of things which we’re not talking about right now, it’s far too much to talk about here, but we did cover in the Foundational Fitness Protocol. By the way, all of this is put into a PDF that’s available online at hubermanlab.com, zero cost. Simply go to the Newsletter tab under the menu and you can scroll down, below that, find the Foundational Fitness Protocol. Gets into sets and reps and loads and all that kind of stuff. Completely zero cost.

I do take my morning resting pulse rate. I know what my pulse rate ought to be. If it’s elevated substantially and I’m not particularly stressed about something, then I might pay attention to that and back off a little bit on the intensity on things. If I have a throat tickler, I’m not feeling very well, I’m careful about working out. Sometimes I’ll do it, sometimes I won’t. I’ll make sure that it isn’t just some sort of dust or allergen in the environment.

But if I’m feeling under the weather, I’ll take– I’ll just skip. I just skip that workout. And somebody will go, oh, you skip because you– I’ll be honest. I’m 48. I’ve been training very consistently. I am fortunately, knock on wood– a little bit superstitious– knock on wood, I have avoided major injuries. I’ve been able to train consistently.

And I’ve also don’t tend to succumb to colds and flus I think about once every 18 to 24 months I’ve had a cold or flu of some sort for many years that’s been the kind of cadence but not more frequent than that. And I think in part because I don’t tend to push really hard. When I’m sick, I tend to be the guy who goes, all right, I’m feeling under the weather. Should I train? Maybe not. OK, I’m going to take a hot shower and get in bed at 6:00 PM, reading, go to sleep. If I wake up at 3:00 AM because I went to bed too early, just chill in bed and read, maybe fall back asleep, maybe not.

I think taking care of oneself in that way is very beneficial. And then people say, well, you haven’t had kids. Oh, well, I’ve had kids in the house, and I also know what it is to get sick because of roommates and all this stuff and working with people and working in a medical center, you’re always exposed to things. So I hear you loud and clear. We can’t avoid exposure to infectious vectors, as they’re called. Delightful in the form of kids, but the reality is, I try and back off when I’m not feeling well. I push when I’m feeling good. I’m not one to do two-a-day workouts.

And I’m very careful about not exceeding my program. I’m very careful about that. I don’t go crazy. I don’t do two Pilates classes and then go to the gym. And I’m also not the guy who’s complaining about his back or always being sick. And I do not have phenomenal genetics with respect to fitness. I’m small-jointed or relatively– I have a medium-sized joints. I’m not particularly strong, nor do I have particularly strong endurance. I think I’m kind of in the middle.

So in terms of medical fitness check, I do blood work every six months. I find that to be– that is identified a few things that for me needed taking care of. And I pay a lot of attention to overall feelings of well-being and I chart them, frankly. On my calendar is my– are my workouts. I put the level. I put L1 to 10. Typically my workouts are in the 6 to 8 out of 10 intensity. I’m not measuring this by any kind of device.

And if I get sick, I tend to look back and say, well, what was going on before I got sick? If I’m getting substantially weaker or I’m feeling fatigued, I take stock of what’s going on.

So I think some people get the impression that I’m like hyper-analytic about all things. And I would say Attia is much more into measuring things, and I love that about him. I’m more of the mindset like, if I’m feeling good and I feel like I can move my body well, not too many aches and pains– occasionally I get a little something, I have a little disk bulge or something, but– and then I take care of it.

But in general, it’s about being able to feel good seated, feel good moving, be able to have that readiness, readiness, readiness. For me, that’s the foundation of health. So other things. Get a regular eye exam. I do have an appointment at the Ophthalmology Department.

Do that air puff test for glaucoma. There are treatments for glaucoma, but you need to know if you have it, a lot of people don’t know if they have it. It is the second-leading cause of blindness worldwide, second only to cataract. It’s a very easy test. You can get from optometrist or ophthalmologist. Get that eye test, your vision is so precious. I mean, vision is so precious, so I can’t overstate that enough. It’s generally pretty inexpensive as well, especially from the optometrist. And the drops work.

Pablo asks “What do you do with waking up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep?” Oh, such a good question. I have three different tools that I use. First of all, long exhale breathing just to try and calm myself. I also try and relax my face. If I do this right now, it’s going to be funny, but relaxing the face tends to relax the jaw, and then I’ll do a progressive body relaxation.

I do use the Reveri– R-E-V-E-R-I– app. And they have a specific hypnosis for falling back asleep. Hypnosis is self-directed hypnosis. David Spiegel, who’s been a guest on the podcast, his voice is terrific for hypnosis– even just thinking about his voice makes me want to go under. Typically with Reveri, you practice the falling asleep– falling back asleep hypnosis. It’s only eight minutes long. You practice that in the daytime and then you can use it in the middle of the night if you need to. That does require that you have your phone present.

And by the way, if you’re going to do that hypnosis, you can select whether or not you’re going to do the one where you have to interact and speak or not. I like the one where you don’t interact. Also, if you sleep next to someone, it won’t wake them up.

Reveri is great for this purpose, and you might think hypnosis, that’s wacky or that’s magic carpet stuff, but it’s not. This is– hypnosis, by the way, is one of the few approved medical treatments for various psychological and psychiatric conditions. We’re not talking about stage hypnosis, people clucking like chickens. We’re talking about you learning to self-direct relaxation, which is a skill that you can enhance in hypnosis such as with Reveri.

I think reverie now has a free trial. And it’s available on Android and Apple. And it’s a nominal cost when you compare it to things like supplements or sleeping pills. It’s a few dollars each month. Maybe 7, $8, something like that. Someone will tell me. But if you think about the cost relative to some other purchasable, it’s relatively low.

The other thing, and this is something is completely zero cost and I can’t encourage it enough is that you get into a regular practice of Non-Sleep Deep Rest, NSDR, or yoga nidra, and then you do that during the daytime. There’s a 10 minute NSDR that I did, which is available on YouTube. You just put NSDR Huberman. It’s available, completely zero cost. It will teach you how to self-direct your own relaxation.

And you can also use it in the middle of the night if you wake up. Many people fall asleep during NSDRs, that’s fine, or yoga nidras, many of which are available on the internet free, completely free. Yoga nidra is a little bit different than NSDR. It is a category of non-sleep deep rest that includes intentions and things of that sort, self-directed relaxation. But relaxing is a skill.

Now, there are a few things that you can do to avoid waking up in the middle of the night. One is try and limit the total amount of fluid that you drink in the last couple of hours before sleep. Don’t go to bed with a super full belly. Some people find that if they take theanine, which is something that is in the sleep stack that I recommend– and by the way, I don’t necessarily believe that everyone needs to take supplements in order to sleep.

I think you should get the behavioral stuff– the light, the exercise, not drinking caffeine too late in the day, avoiding alcohol ideally completely, but maybe late in the day, especially et cetera, et cetera. And if you can’t get your sleep right that way, then perhaps you start to rely on or enhance your sleep capabilities with supplements, but they’re certainly not a requirement.

The sleep supplement theanine, which is in the so-called Huberman Lab Sleep Stack, which includes magnesium threonate and apigenin and theanine, theanine for some people can really create vivid dreams, and then they wake up from those dreams and they have a hard time falling asleep. In that case, I would just reduce the dosage of or eliminate the theanine.

Some people like to use inositol, 900-milligram inositol because they prefer that, and that works better for them than the sleep stack, or some people even take it in addition to the sleep stack. As long as dosages are followed, there’s no reason to think that any of this stuff isn’t safe, but of course, check with your doctor before adding or removing anything from your supplement protocol– or any protocol for that matter. I say that to protect you, not to protect me.

The other thing that you can do if you wake up in the middle of the night is to not look at the time. Now that’s a little bit difficult if you’re going to look at your phone, but this is something that folks at the Stanford Sleep Clinic taught me, that people who look at the time when they wake up in the middle of the night generally have a harder time falling back asleep.

So to the extent that you can refrain from doing that– and certainly don’t get on your phone and start scrolling social media. Try NSDR, try the Reveri app, try yoga nidra, try some long exhale breathing. All those protocols, by the way, include long exhale breathing.

And if you’re taking melatonin before sleep, oftentimes you’ll fall asleep very readily and then wake up. So if you’re taking melatonin, you might want to reconsider that. Melatonin does have its place for treatment of jet lag and things of that sort in the acute situations and not taking it too often, but in general, dosages are too high, people take too much of it and too often in my opinion, but that’s just my opinion.

And then I would say, if you wake up in the middle of the night and you simply cannot fall back asleep, just remember that you can survive one night with minimal or no sleep. Unfortunately we’ve all had to deal with that. If it starts becoming a chronic condition, then you may want to talk to a sleep specialist, but we’ve done multiple episodes of the Huberman Lab Podcast.

The Master Your Sleep, Perfect Your Sleep. We have a Sleep Newsletter that you should definitely download. It’s zero cost. Again, hubermanlab.com, Newsletter. Go to Menu, Newsletter, and you can find that. For those of you who subscribe to the premium channel, I’m guessing that you’re aware of these various tools.

But one thing we know from the Sleep Lab at Stanford is that when people are excited about their next day, sometimes they wake up and that their sleep actually can be less than normal and they can function well the next day. In fact, there have been two studies at least that I’m aware of– two studies, there may be more– showing that when people are given a, quote-unquote, poor sleep score, their cognitive performance and physical performance is diminished even if they slept really long and really well. So they’ve lied to them in these studies.

Conversely, if people haven’t slept that much and they receive a great sleep score, they perform really well. So these sleep scores, while I like them, I look at my Eight Sleep sleep score or WHOOP sleep score– some people use Oura Rings and things of that sort, you don’t want them to drive your perception of how available you are for hard work and cognitive function.

That’s why I tend to rely largely on subjective measures. Unless we’re talking about things like ApoB or cholesterol levels. Subjectively guessing what your ApoB level is not a good approach. Or resting heart rate, they’re real metrics. But you want to be careful about relying too heavily on biometrics gleaned from devices even if they’re accurate.

Don’t put too much weight into them. Take the average. See how you’re doing lately. If your sleep score is dropping each day by 15, 20 points, well, then, pay attention to that. Or your heart rate’s going up or it’s going down, averages, averages, averages. And so be a scientist of yourself.

Coach Ruby writes “What’s the best protocol for strength training without hypertrophy for women?” Great question. When I’ve lifted heavy weights, I tend to bulk up fast. OK, want to embrace more resistance training without the bulk. Great question.

So here’s the interesting thing about weight training that’s kind of cool. You will never get larger than the so-called pump that you achieve in a single workout. What do I mean by that? Well, a lot of people, and women in particular, are concerned about getting, quote-unquote, too big, too bulky.

And indeed, some women– some men– react very quickly to weight training. They have high-fiber density, and for whatever reason, could be hormones, but it probably also has to do with different types of proteins that are expressed in the muscles and even the connective tissues. Some people just grow, quote-unquote, faster from weight training.

But I will tell you this. No one’s ever looked at a weight or picked up a weight, done a set, and then hypertrophied so much that it was permanent. The so-called pump, the blood flow that you get into a muscle gives you a little window into what that muscle might look like if you feed it and rest it properly so it can recover in hypertrophy.

So does that mean that you should avoid the so-called pump, the blood flow into the muscle? No. What do we know from– gosh, I guess it’d be 40 years of physiological data and probably hundreds of years of just outside-the-laboratory data, that very heavy weights in the range of 1 to 3 repetitions generally make people stronger, but there isn’t much hypertrophy.

When you get from 3 to 5 repetitions, you’re still in the mostly strength, some hypertrophy range. When you get out towards 6 repetitions, out to even 30 repetitions, provided the sets are going to failure, you can’t perform another repetition in good form, well, then you’re stimulating hypertrophy.

Now there are exceptions to this. There are exceptions. If you do, for instance, a 1-repetition set with a weight, but that weight allows you to do that set over the course of 75 seconds, that’s a lot of time under tension and you can get hypertrophy. In addition to that, weight training that involves an accentuation of the negative, the eccentric, the lowering portion of each repetition also will stimulate hypertrophy, but also strength gains.

So if you’re somebody who wants to strength train, and strength training is oh-so important not just for muscles, but for neural function in the brain and elsewhere in the body, and you really don’t want to put on any size whatsoever, I would encourage you to explore some of the protocols that Dr. Andy Galpin and I discussed on the exercise series that we did with Dr. Galpin, and that would be largely training– after a warm-up, of course– in the 1 to 3-repetition range.

And even some training that’s done strictly for power, moving the weight quickly at loads that are substantially lighter, although for some people, just because their genetic makeup, they are going to react with hypertrophy to that kind of training. So I would say if you want to weight train, which is a great idea, and you don’t want to put on size but you want to get stronger, train in that 1 to 3 repetition range.

Now that does not necessarily mean 1-repetition maximums. You know, eking out the absolute last single rep that you can with the most amount of weight. Maybe you back off on your single repetition maximum you’re still just doing 1 repetition, but of course, if you want that repetition to be of any value in inducing strength, then you should be getting close to your 1-repetition max.

But keep in mind also that if you’re doing 3 repetitions, heavy weights, but you’re only resting 30 to 120 minutes between sets, well, then you can get a compounding effect where you can induce hypertrophy. So if you react that well– and by the way, many people do– or there are some– excuse me, most people do not, some people do, too low repetitions, then you may have to increase the weight and lower the repetitions even further, long rest.

Just to make sure that if you’re doing that kind of training, if you’re concerned with overall health and not just power lifting or being really, really strong, that you’re also doing some cardiovascular training, which includes walking plenty and the sorts of cardio that we talked about earlier.

Steve says “What are your thoughts on these full-body scan MRIs that are becoming quite popular? Do you think these are beneficial or are they unnecessary?” Well, I got one. And I paid for it. I didn’t get it comped or anything. And I must say, I learned a lot.

Fortunately, I learned I don’t have any tumors, at least not of the size that could be detected by that MRI. Also learned that I have a disk bulge. That explains a lot of times in my life where I do a certain movement– there’s one or two movements that I do in the gym or running in a certain stride where that thing goes and confirm that.

So I’ve managed to– I’m very grateful that I only had one white spot on my brain. The white spots are considered naturally-occurring– typically– lesions of neurons. Everyone has these. You’re allowed one per decade of life before they start to consider it a potential problem. I think I have that right. There’s not a whole lot you can do for those, by the way, except don’t get any more head hits if you’re doing a contact sport or construction or something where you can– but some people still have to continue to work, and if that’s their work, they have to work.

So yeah, I think it was informative for me. I watched a Netflix movie in there. It was pretty cool. The movie wasn’t very good, but it was cool that you can watch a Netflix in there it’s pretty easy to do. They’re not cheap. They’re a couple thousand dollars minimum.

It was reassuring to me to not see any tumors on my liver, tumors on my kidney, knock on wood. I mean, and to see that I didn’t have a lot of visceral fat or anything like that. I mean, I doubt I’m the healthiest specimen that has ever rolled through there, but it was reassuring to me that I wasn’t dealing with a bunch of white spots on the brain, I wasn’t dealing with that sort of thing.

And is it necessary? No, no it’s not. Also, some people don’t want to know what’s going on under the hood. Is it unnecessary is what you asked. That’s a tricky one. I mean, it really depends on finances and how curious you are.

I will say this. My good friend and former guest on the “Huberman Lab Podcast,” Dr. Eddie Chang, who’s a medical doctor and Chair of Neurosurgery at University of California San Francisco, when I asked him about it and I told him I got one, he said, oh yeah, we get people coming in all the time. Patients all the time who’ve gotten these whole-body scans for recreational purposes or because they were curious, and they will identify issues that need to be resolved with neurosurgery.

Now, that splits my answer in two because that’s kind of scary, right? That. could there be– could we be walking around with tumors on the brain and not even know it? Yeah, absolutely, for a lot of tumors or benign, a lot of tumors don’t impinge on areas of the brain or body that create problems and never create problems and others create problems. And do you want to know? Do you want to get that tumor excised? There are a lot of noninvasive ways to deal with tumors nowadays.

I guess it’s a question of whether or not you want to know. And when I say want to know, I mean, obviously everyone would love to know that they have a clean bill of health under the hood, but do you– are you prepared for what might happen psychologically and medically and what you would have to do in order to remove an issue that– maybe not an issue, right? It’s possible that you have a growth or a mass that’s benign, but then you have the anxiety of the period in between, so it’s tricky.

Some tissues like prostate tissues or different tissues in the female reproductive tract can be enlarged but not be problematic. But then people might want to make changes that to ensure that the enlargement doesn’t continue. I’m a big believer in data. I like data. So while I’m not big on tracking my sleep every night– I do track it at night, but I don’t necessarily put too much weight on any one individual night’s sleep score.

And by the way, if you a really lousy, lousy sleep score, chances are you know slept poorly. If you get a great sleep score, chances are you slept well. It’s the stuff in between that gets people interested. I don’t know. I think for me, I was happy to get the bill of health I did. And had I discovered something that needed dealing with, I guess I’d be grateful that I went in for it. So that’s my answer. But again, they’re expensive. I hope the cost comes down. I hope insurance will cover these eventually.

Orca la Vista, what a great name. Orca la Vista. Awesome. Asks “Would you as a dog-lover considering doing an episode on dog wellness and communication?” Yes. Yes, absolutely. I love dogs. I love dogs so much, it’s ridiculous. I just do. I just– I like being around them. I like thinking about them. I like hanging out with them. And they’re family members.

Costello’s a family member, and I’m eagerly anticipating getting another dog probably when we get back from touring Australia– from Australia. I’m not going to bring back an Australian shepherd, they have way too much energy for me. I like the mellow dogs. I like economy of effort in a dog, which is why a bulldog or a mastiff is probably a good one for me. Yes, yes, and yes. Pet health is key. Relationships with pets are key.

Don’t get a dog that you can’t take great care of, and Bulldogs are a ton of work and they’re very expensive. Plan on spending at least, I’m not kidding, $20,000 a year in medical bills on a dog to keep– a Bulldog to keep them healthy. Adopt if you can. A lot of dogs out there need to be adopted.

Heidi says “I need advice. I’m 32. I’ve been working out for two, three years, but my left arm is weaker than my right. How do I balance muscle strength between sides? Different weights or strategies?” Great question. Well, I guess you’re assuming there’s a lot weaker. I mean, I am a big believer in doing unilateral movements. I can’t remember the last time I did a barbell curl or the upper arm or limb to get stronger, is that mind-muscle connection.

It means presumably, unless there’s some sort of underlying neurologic thing– and I don’t want to scare you– it’s always possible, but seems unlikely based on the way you word the question, is that you want to make sure you’re gripping the handle the weight really tightly. By the way, that will increase your strength in performance on a set to grip tightly. There’s neural reasons for that.

And that you’re really working hard to contract the muscle. And also use weights that you can control. Remember, when you lift weights for sake of getting stronger, it’s not about lifting weights. You’re actually using the weight as a tool to stimulate strength and hypertrophy increases. So it’s a tool, and you don’t walk around with the weight number on your body, you walk around with the muscle development that you achieved and the strength that you achieved with a particular weight, and no one cares what that weight is.

So if you’re know if you can’t carry two bags of groceries up the stairs, it doesn’t matter if you were able to carry 400-pound dumbbells through the gym. I mean, that’s why I think the readiness thing is key. I think we think so much about the gym as the endpoint, but the gym is a place for training for the rest of life in my opinion. It also happens to be fun for me.

But if your left arm is weaker, I would emphasize– well, you could perhaps do more sets. Certainly I would do– you could do all your left arm sets first, then your right arm sets. If it’s really substantially different, may actually want to stop training the right side as intensely for a period of time and get that left arm up there, things like that.

But I like unilateral work. I don’t do a lot of unilateral work for my legs. I think I do leg curls. No, that’s both legs, same time. I definitely try and pull with both legs same time. Leg extension, same time. Hack squats, same time. Glute hammer, same time. OK, yeah. Just keep training it, but don’t over train it. If it’s really weak because you’re giving it 25 sets, make sure you’re allowing time for it to recover.

And by the way, I don’t know how– I don’t recall because the question’s gone now, how old you are, but give your body time. Give your body time. I started training when I was 16. Give your body time. It takes time to train correctly and it takes time to develop a strong mind-muscle connection. Don’t rush, don’t run out there and start using– don’t get cavalier with pharmaceuticals or anything else. Just take your time. Enjoy your training.

The best advice I ever got about training was somebody very accomplished, and he said– and I really internalized this. Learn to– and you may delete the “learn to.” Learn to enjoy training really hard. Or just love training hard. I love training hard. I love it. I love it, I love it. So just learn that. Lean into that process and enjoy it. And if you– and if there are certain parts that are challenging, remember, you’re increasing the size of that medial and anterior midcingulate cortex.

Last question. Really? That was– I was hoping we just keep going. Maybe I’ll do like a 24-hour marathon of this and then we also do it as a study in sleep deprivation. Does anyone want to vote for that? I’ve done that before. I used to work 36-hour stretches when I was in graduate school, no joke. We would do these physiology experiments. My producer here is sitting here going like, don’t do it.

But that’s right. By the end of those experiments, we’d be wearing tinfoil on our heads and we were doing these experiments, but we built a lot of resilience. We used to survive on In-N-Out burgers and I was like, don’t eat the bun because the carbs will make you sleepy, and then we’d argue about it. And we’d start to hallucinate somewhere around the 30-hour mark. And my friend, Colenso, he’s now a professor back at University of Maryland, so he can vouch for that story, but gosh, that was fun. I don’t miss it. I was in my 20s– 30s. Yeah, no, 20s. Late 20s.

But if people think it’d be– maybe we do a fundraiser, like to raise extra money for research and I’ll do 24 hours of just answering questions around the clock and just see at what point I just completely– konk! And then I can also teach you guys how to do a proper all-nighter because there are tools. And one of the main tools is don’t trust your thinking between the hours of 2:30 AM and 4:00 AM. So maybe during that time we just all meditate together.

All right, last question until we do the 24-hour Huberman Lab AMA Marathon. “Do you have plans to produce more content or protocols specifically for children’s development and health?” Yes. We’re going to do a children’s– or child development series that also extends into adolescence and young adulthood. I’m also going to be doing episodes on that. I have some amazing guests for that. I’m going to do some solos as well.

“Are there any current resources you recommend for this topic?” Yeah. I like Allan Schore’s book. It’s a little detailed, a little technical. S-C-H-O-R-E, Allan Schore. I think that’s how you spell it. Let me check, let me. Check at UCLA. Little tech– Allan Schore. Yeah. A-L-L-A-N, separate word, S-C-H-O-R-E.

He’s a psychologist and researcher, really talks about regulation of the– he talks about right brain-left brain in a way that actually is accurate. There are very few people talk about right brain-left brain accurately. He does. And he talks about attachment and emotional regulation. And it’s mainly focused on early childhood development.

There’s some beautiful– there’s some beautiful stuff out there that’s been– comes from the psychology literature and neuroscience literature on this, but I’m also going to get my friend, Dr. Linda Wilbrecht, on the podcast. She’s a professor up at Berkeley, studies adolescent development. There’s just so many great folks out there that we want to bring onto the podcast, and we will organize that into some protocols and things of that sort.

A lot of work to do for us to get it all succinct. I realize sometimes podcasts are long sometimes. People ask– I often get asked, what are the plans for 2024, what are you going to do? Keep improving the content. We actually have some shorter-form content coming out. I don’t want to give away what that is. Some 30-minute episodes that capture the essence of the most important protocols in science.

And yeah, the goal for 2024 and forward is just keep improving the content and trying to make it as succinct and digestible for you as possible, but also as thorough. If I go real short-form, then important details will get lost. But child development is extremely important, and remember, we’re always in development. Development doesn’t stop when we hit 25. Development is an arc from birth until death, which hopefully will be a long time from now for all of you. And there’s just a ton to explore there, a lot of science, psychology protocols, so we’re going to get into all of it.

So I was told that’s the last question. I confess, I’m a little bit sad about that. I could just keep going. But maybe we’ll do this again at some point. And I think we should do that 24-hour marathon as a fundraiser. I don’t know what you think, but I would do it anyway. That’s the truth, I’d be here anyway.

I want to thank everyone for tuning in. Thanks ever so much for your support, of the labs I mentioned earlier. If you know somebody who you think might be interested in the premium channel, let them know that they can watch the early parts of those premium channel episodes on YouTube and listen to them on Apple and Spotify without having to log on for– not having to pay, not everyone has the resources.

For those of you that have devoted resources to the podcast, the premium channel, just know that it helps support the regular podcast, which, of course, is available cost free to everybody. It really subsidizes that, and it’s also subsidizing this research that’s taking place in these laboratories, and we’re going to expand the research. We got that 3 to 1 dollar match for 2024.

So I really enjoyed today. That’s the truth. I love your questions. I could do this all day every day. We have– we’re to record an episode today and tomorrow. And I’m basically just going to keep talking until they tell me it’s time to stop. So when someone in the corner goes like this, then I’ll stop. If you’ve ever been to one of our live events, like they’re supposed to end at 9:30– there we go. They’re telling me to stop. Time’s up.

Thank you, everybody. I hope you had a great holiday. I hope everyone has a very Happy New Year’s. If you’re like me and you’re going to sleep by 10:30 on New Years, enjoy the good night’s sleep and enjoy New Year’s Day. I’m a big New Year’s Day guy. Get out on New Year’s Day and enjoy something.

And just remember, whether or not you’re doing behavioral protocols or you’re super into the supplements or the red lights, the most important thing is those pillars of sleep, nutrition, exercise, stress management, sunlight– I guess we’re getting up to six, and social connection. So it’s a lot to try and do all the time. Don’t pressure yourself.

Meanwhile, thank you for everything that you do for us. And last but certainly not least, thank you for your interest in science.

[MUSIC PLAYING]



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