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Science, Celebrity, and REM Sleep for Emotional Health

It has taken a while for mainstream media to catch up to non-traditional media outlets. The podcast platform wielded by Joe Rogan, for example, gets approximately 200 million monthly downloads by most estimates. It’s a staggering number, and when podcasts such as these tackle the subject of sleep medicine, it reaches a much different audience than a typical association press release.

Sandwiched between all manner of pop culture fodder, other shows such as The Peter Attia Drive include more science-based content. As a Stanford-trained M.D., Attia builds on his longevity-focused practice in Los Angeles to promote various new theories on healthy living.

On Aug. 31, 2020, Attia featured Matthew Walker, PhD, a professor at U.C. Berkeley who also appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience (JRE) in 2018. Commenting on the connection between emotional health and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, Walker said that overall dreaming has increased during the time of COVID, perhaps a sign that people are working out their subconscious issues during slumber.

As a way to purge negative emotion and stress, Walker explains: “One of the principle functions of REM sleep is that it seems to provide a form of overnight therapy. REM sleep is emotional first aid, and it’s during REM sleep that we deal with emotional concerns, and even some of the traumatic events that we’ve been experiencing. REM sleep almost acts as a nocturnal soothing balm.”

While acknowledging that professional psychological counseling helps countless people, it’s undoubtedly less expensive to simply get great sleep. “In my sleep-centered practice, we offer oral appliances to address obstructive sleep apnea,” says Shad Morris, D.M.D., owner of Premiere Sleep Solutions, St. George, Utah. “We also offer positional sleep therapy in the form of slumberBUMP, an inflatable bladder that is comfortably worn during sleep, prohibiting sleepers from rolling onto their backs. It promotes better breathing and better sleep.”

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