Podcast: The Science of Recharging Your Energy with Sara Mednick

Podcast: The Science of Recharging Your Energy with Sara Mednick

For today's podcast episode, Leaps.org talks with Sara Mednick, author of The Power of the Downstate, a book about the science of relaxation - why it's so important, the best ways to get more of it, and the time of day when our bodies are biologically suited to enjoy it the most.

Aleksey

If you’re like me, you may have a case of email apnea, where you stop taking restful breaths when you open a work email. Or maybe you’re in the habit of shining blue light into your eyes long after sunset through your phone. Many of us are doing all kinds of things throughout the day that put us in a constant state of fight or flight arousal, with long-term impacts on health, productivity and happiness.

My guest for today’s episode is Sara Mednick, author of The Power of the Downstate, a book about the science of relaxation – why it’s so important, the best ways to go about getting more of it, and the time of day when our bodies are biologically suited to enjoy it the most. As a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of California, Irvine, Mednick has a great scientific background on this topic. After getting her PhD at Harvard, she filled her sleep lab with 7 bedrooms, and this is where she is federally funded to study people sleeping around the clock, with her research published in top journals such as Nature Neuroscience. She received the Office Naval Research Young Investigator Award in 2015, and her previous book, Take a Nap! Change Your Life was based on her groundbreaking research on the benefits of napping.

In our conversation, we talk about how work and society make it tough to get stimulation like food and exercise in ways that support our circadian rhythms, and there just as many obstacles to getting sleep and restoration like our ancestors enjoyed for 99 percent of human history. Sara shares some fascinating ways to get around these challenges, as well as her insights about the importance of exposure to daylight and nature vs nurture when it comes to whether you’re a night owl or an early bird. And we talk about how things could change with work and lifestyles to make it easier to live in accordance with our biological rhythms.

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Matt Fuchs
Matt Fuchs is the host of the Making Sense of Science podcast and served previously as the editor-in-chief of Leaps.org. He writes as a contributor to the Washington Post, and his articles have also appeared in the New York Times, WIRED, Nautilus Magazine, Fortune Magazine and TIME Magazine. Follow him @fuchswriter.
Therapies for Healthy Aging with Dr. Alexandra Bause
Sabine van Erp / Pixabay

My guest today is Dr. Alexandra Bause, a biologist who has dedicated her career to advancing health, medicine and healthier human lifespans. Dr. Bause co-founded a company called Apollo Health Ventures in 2017. Currently a venture partner at Apollo, she's immersed in the discoveries underway in Apollo’s Venture Lab while the company focuses on assembling a team of investors to support progress. Dr. Bause and Apollo Health Ventures say that biotech is at “an inflection point” and is set to become a driver of important change and economic value.


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Matt Fuchs
Matt Fuchs is the host of the Making Sense of Science podcast and served previously as the editor-in-chief of Leaps.org. He writes as a contributor to the Washington Post, and his articles have also appeared in the New York Times, WIRED, Nautilus Magazine, Fortune Magazine and TIME Magazine. Follow him @fuchswriter.
This man spent over 70 years in an iron lung. What he was able to accomplish is amazing.

Paul Alexander spent more than 70 years confined to an iron lung after a polio infection left him paralyzed at age 6. Here, Alexander uses a mirror attached to the top of his iron lung to view his surroundings.

Allison Smith / The Guardian

It’s a sight we don’t normally see these days: A man lying prone in a big, metal tube with his head sticking out of one end. But it wasn’t so long ago that this sight was unfortunately much more common.

In the first half of the 20th century, tens of thousands of people each year were infected by polio—a highly contagious virus that attacks nerves in the spinal cord and brainstem. Many people survived polio, but a small percentage of people who did were left permanently paralyzed from the virus, requiring support to help them breathe. This support, known as an “iron lung,” manually pulled oxygen in and out of a person’s lungs by changing the pressure inside the machine.

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Sarah Watts

Sarah Watts is a health and science writer based in Chicago.