Nathan Zassman: Thank you all for coming tonight to listen to Dr. Hudson. For those of you who don't know Doctor Hudson, I've known Dr. Hudson for many years now and partially through his book "Feel Great Day and Night" which he wrote, how many years ago?
Dr. Craig Hudson: About seven years ago.
Nathan: Seven years ago.
Dr. Hudson was born and raised in Toronto where he attended the University of Waterloo, where he first developed an interest in research science. He earned his medical degree at the University of Toronto in 1988 and became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada in 1993 with a Specialty Certification in Psychiatry. He is a past recipient of the Medical Research Council Clinician Scientist Award, which allowed for extensive post-doctoral research focusing on the role of phospholipids in the treatment of major mental illness.
His current research focuses on natural health solutions to common psychiatric disorders, particularly natural source tryptophan and essential fatty acids. Dr. Hudson is not anti medication, but he likes to include natural health solutions in the treatment of his patients when clinically indicated.
Craig: Thank you for coming this evening, and I hope the microphone and everything is working well.
What I'm going to talk about is basically sleep problems and the biology of sleep, but also the psychology of sleep. So, the first part of the talk is purely about the biology of sleep and the second part of the talk really is the psychology of sleep. I think that both are equally important and we'll talk about that. If you get a jar of anything or if you get a prescription of anything, if that's all you get, then you really don't have a solution to chronic insomnia.
I was polling most of the people beforehand, and about half the people here, is that about accurate? Have problems sleeping most nights, is that true of pretty much everybody? Is there anyone here who has just occasional problems with sleep? Is there anyone here who doesn't have any problems at all with sleep, coming for a family member or somebody else?
Feel free to interrupt me with questions at any time.
I'm a psychiatrist. And I do practice psychiatry and I do use a fair bit of medication in the treatment of all sorts of disorders. But, as Nathan was saying, I like to look at first principles when possible and think about how a natural health solution might work.
If you think about chronic insomnia and the medications that I can choose to treat chronic insomnia, they're really quite woeful, if I can describe them that way. The first choice for many doctors looking at chronic insomnia are benzodiazepines. Has anyone received a prescription for Ativan or Serax? Has anyone ever had that experience? Which is not uncommon, right? And it does work if it's taken on the short term, but over the longer term it causes tolerance and dependence. It also affects the quality of sleep. So, the quality of sleep is very important.
When you go to sleep tonight, hopefully you will go to sleep tonight. The first stage of sleep is stages one and two. That's light sleep. Suppose I got really boring, I probably will, someone falls asleep and they're in stages one and two, and I wake them up. And I say, "Why are you sleeping? You're in my lecture." And they would know exactly where they were and exactly what they were doing and hopefully, offer some explanation.
If I let them go on a bit longer, they might drift into stages three and four where the brain waves begin to slow. That's deep sleep. If I woke them up, they'd be a little bit disoriented when they woke up.
The last stage of sleep, which you will have tonight hopefully, in the last third of the night, is dream sleep or REM sleep. And when you're in dream sleep, your brain activity looks exactly as if you were awake. You cannot tell on an EEG, an electroencephalogram, the difference between dream sleep and waking brain patterns, other than you're in full muscle paralysis. If you're dreaming about doing harm to someone you're hopefully in full muscle paralysis, you're not actually acting out that dream. But your brain waves are exactly the same.
You need all five stages of sleep to wake up feeling refreshed. I was thinking about this in my practice, busily prescribing benzodiazepine, and I thought, "What is it that we're supposed to eat to generate sleep, be it we're not supposed to be taking prescriptions from the doctor?" 100 years ago, 200 years ago you couldn't do such a thing. You might have got a bottle of rye of something, hopefully no one is using that, but that's one solution people would have used. But that's not a very good solution. It's almost like taking benzodiazepine, over time you'd need more and more of it to have the same effect. And it disrupts the quality of the sleep that you're going to have. I want to go back to my medical history knowledge and look at this fellow. Now this fellow is from somewhere in Mississippi. The year is 1915. This is relevant. People are looking at me,"Oh my God, I came to the wrong lecture." He has a rash, but the rash is confined to the parts of his skin, which are exposed to the light. It's what's called a maculopapular rash. It was raised up and it's red. Later on, he'll develop dementia. He'll have problems sleeping, problems with anxiety. He'll have diarrhea, and then he'll die.
And this was seen in epidemics throughout the southern United States and had occurred previously in Europe. Does anyone know what this fellow has?
Craig: Anyway, that's what he has. That's coming in two slides. People knew what pellagra was. No one knew what caused pellagra. And at the time they thought that it was an infectious pox, because it looks like an infection, and it breaks out in a cluster of people and it expands out, looking like an infection. They had the US Department of Medicine. The Surgeon General had smart doctors. They would drop into the areas and say, "Identify the cause, fix it, and tell us what we can do to prevent this from happening." One guy they had was Joseph Goldberger, who was actually a grocer's son, born in Czechoslovakia, I believe, but raised in New York. They dropped him into the pellagra epidemic in the southern United States and they said, "Joseph, find out the infectious cause." He came back and said, "It's not infectious. It's the crummy diet that they have." Which they did not want to hear, because that implied that there was poverty that they weren't treating and so they really wanted him to find the infectious cause. To prove it, he went to a prison farm and convinced the prison warden to give people time off if they could be used in an experiment. Half of the prison population ate what the poor people ate: pork fat, and cornmeal. And when they ate that, they also developed pellagra. And then he reversed it by giving them a balanced diet. That's interesting. So the missing element, which he didn't quite identify in his lifetime, he died very soon after of a kidney cancer, was identified by another fellow. Despite the Scandinavian name, he was working in the Midwest of the States. And what he worked on, and I'll quickly explain this, don't panic when you see this thing. Because the missing element was tryptophan.
The food that the people were eating in the Deep South was deplete in a protein source of tryptophan, which becomes vitamin B3. And if you look on this long pathway over here, it also becomes - and we'll talk about this - serotonin and melatonin.
The origins of tryptophan were actually looked at in Cambridge, UK in the early part of the 20th century. And this fellow won the Nobel Prize for it. And what they demonstrated was - this is tryptophan - it's an essential amino acid. Has anyone heard of tryptophan? You've heard of it?
Craig: Usually in the context of milk, right, or turkey? Jerry Seinfeld, he's giving people turkey and wine trying to get them to go to sleep again. What he's giving them is an amino acid. Amino acids are the things that build protein. And this is an essential amino acid, which means you have to eat it. Your body's not going to produce it. And it is in places like milk and turkey. When it gets into your brain, two quick metabolic steps and it becomes serotonin. A few years ago, I would have had to explain what serotonin is. But now, basically now everyone knows that serotonin is a chemical in our brains that makes us feel happy and relaxed and hopefully, not depressed.
In the dark, and only in the dark, as you've seen here, it gets methylated. So, this gets methylated and a carboxyl group gets added on and that's melatonin. Tryptophan is a precursor of serotonin, which helps us feel relaxed. In the dark, and only in the dark, it becomes melatonin, which induces sleep.
Has anyone ever heard of Julius Axelrod? Julius Axelrod was a Jewish fellow, and the reason that's relevant is that he wanted to be a doctor. But because at that time they had quotas on a number of Jewish students that could enter medicine he went into pharmacy instead, which was actually quite helpful for all of us. He was an organic chemistry genius. And he won the Nobel Prize for figuring out the impact of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine.
And in a laboratory experiment, he blinded himself in one eye. And then became interested in the effect that light has on the metabolism of tryptophan, which again is quite helpful for us. What he demonstrated is, if the light as seen by the retina, if that signal runs into a nucleus in the brain, it runs up to the spinal cord, back into the pineal gland and you produce serotonin from tryptophan. OK?
If it's dark, and I don't mean just dark to for body, but dark for your retina, what happens is that melatonin is produced. So, that very exquisite production of melatonin is very much light dependent. And that's really a health concern for a lot of people.
One of the first things I say to my patients if they have chronic insomnia, I ask how dark their room is. I ask, "Do you sleep in a dark room?" And everybody looks at me like I'm a little bit spaced out and say, "Why would I not sleep in a dark room?" But it has to be so dark that you cannot see the hand in front of your face.
'If one of the problems you have is insomnia, that's one of the first things that you can do today when you go home, really make your room dark.'
If one of the problems you have is insomnia, that's one of the first things that you can do today when you go home, really make your room dark. You'll have to work at that. You'll be surprised at how light your room is.
Now, what I have used and I use this every night, is just a very inexpensive sleep mask, but it's also extremely opaque. So, when I put that in front of this powerful lamp, it blocks out all of the light. A lightweight inexpensive sleep mask could be your first step towards a good night of sleep.
Now that we're producing melatonin, why don't you just go over right now and just buy a bunch of melatonin? That would be the solution for many people and that will work for some. The problem is, melatonin has what's called a short half-life, and a short half-life means that it doesn't stay around your body for very long. If you think about it, that makes sense, right? Your body's producing melatonin in the dark all night long. And so, you're a caveman, and then a saber-toothed tiger is going to eat you. You wake up. You don't want to be sitting there groggy for an hour or so while the tiger eats you. You want to be pretty much instant on. As soon as you see light again, the production of melatonin stops and it's becoming serotonin.
The problem with taking synthetic melatonin is, it does work, but you have to use an awful lot of it to maintain sleep all night long. Typically where it works well is day shifting people from jet lag, and it helps people fall asleep quickly, but it tends not to maintain sleep all night long.
Other things people have heard about are five Hydroxytryptophan, (5-HTP), have people heard of that? OK. 5-HTP, we'll talk a bit about it, is a chemical that also works. It's one step away from becoming serotonin. In two steps, it becomes melatonin. It also has a short half-life. It stays in the body for about an hour, so you have to use an awful lot of it to get it in.
If I can just mention tryptophan, tryptophan is the star of the show. Tryptophan was available. If you want to get any, it is an over-the-counter item in the United States. If you can imagine, you can't do this in Canada, but if you could go down to the health food store and say, "Nathan, I would like a bucket full of tryptophan, please. I have a problem sleeping." Then, in some places, you can buy a bucket full of tryptophan.
This shows the growth and the use of tryptophan in the US between 1980 and before it was banned in 1989. And what it demonstrates is, two percent of the American households were using tryptophan on a regular basis. It was a huge market.
Now, a company in Japan, called the Showa Denko company, decided it was expensive to produce tryptophan. So, they were going to genetically modify a bacterium that would grow it in large vats. And then they would harvest it from the vats and sell it as a drug. Does that sound like a good idea to anybody? It sounded like a good idea to Showa Denko, so they did that. They started selling it into the US, and people started dying of an autoimmune disorder called eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome. Your eosinophils, your white blood cells, would go up. You'd have muscle aches, you'd become sick and you could die. And many people did die. The US government traced it back to Showa Denko and said, "Would you please explain yourselves?" And they said, "We'd rather not." And they didn't. They didn't. They settled out of court for about $1 billion and stayed in business. And tryptophan was banned in most countries. But the US is back in the market, not at the same level it was because of obvious concern. But in many European countries, in Canada, you can get it, just by a prescription only.
I've told you all about tryptophan. And I've told you that milk is rich in tryptophan, yogurt is rich in tryptophan and turkey is rich in tryptophan. So, if you were a bit impetuous, you might say, "OK, I've got all the info I need. I'm going to run home, forget the rest of the talk." -- don't do it; it's not going to work -- and buy a turkey. “I'm going to buy a turkey.” Suppose you got the whole turkey, and you ate it, what do you think would happen?
Participant: You'd be sick.
Craig: You'd be sick, yes. You'd feel not so great, right?
Participant: You'd fall asleep.
Craig: You would fall asleep. Actually, you wouldn't. You'd feel upset and you might have what's called gastric steel where blood's going to your stomach. And you might feel a little faint headed, but you probably wouldn't fall asleep. The amount of tryptophan in your brain after eating an entire turkey would be less, not increased. If you eat a high source of tryptophan it actually reduces the amount of tryptophan in your brain. It's called the tryptophan paradox. And the reason for that is the blood/brain barrier. The blood/brain barrier is supposed to be there. It helps select those things in the blood that belongs in the brain, and tryptophan obviously belongs in the brain. It becomes serotonin, melatonin and it has to get on a transport site to get across the blood/brain barrier. The problem is in the design of the blood/brain barrier -- who knows why -- that transport site is shared between tryptophan and other large nutraamino acids. So, leucine, isoleucine, valine, all those have more abundancy and greater affinity for that transport site.
So you eat the turkey, your blood level's tryptophan goes soaring up, which you would expect. But because the other amino acids in the turkey are better and more abundant at getting on the transport site, the transport site is blocked.
So, have you ever met someone on the Atkins diet? Eating all protein all the time? Has anyone ever been on the Atkins diet? Do they seem relaxed and calm? Not typically. They tend to be sort of anxious and have problems sleeping and that's exactly because of the digestive strife.
So, I'm sitting there thinking in my office. I'm working in Stratford, so I have lots of time to think and I'm thinking, "OK how would we get around this problem?" How does the body get tryptophan in the brain? It must happen. What happens? And I knew the work of two guys at MIT from the early 1970's, first German workers, and they were not interested in people. They were giving rats insulin. And when they gave rats insulin they had the good sense to measure the amino acids. And what they found was every amino acid in the blood went down when you had insulin, yet tryptophan was unaffected. Tryptophan then could get across the blood/brain barrier and get into the brain. It's called the tryptophan paradox. You eat tryptophan laden foods and you get no tryptophan in your body. You eat a carbohydrate that has no tryptophan and tryptophan goes soaring up in your brain. Does that make sense to people?
Participant: Could you say that again?
Craig: Let me explain it. If someone's depressed what do they want to eat? What are the comfort foods?
Craig: Chocolate. Baked goods. Cookies. That's because the body knows it needs tryptophan. You go out and you crave carbohydrates and carbohydrates turn on insulin. Insulin suppresses every other amino acid, tryptophan then gets into your brain. That's the tryptophan paradox. Right? Now, it can only do that for a short while. One or two cookies and you've used up your floating tryptophan. So, there I was thinking away. I was actually having a shower trying to solve the riddle and then the two things actually came together. I looked at a Right Guard bar and I said, "What would happen if I had a very high source of tryptophan with a carbohydrate that turned on insulin very quickly? What would happen then?"
'one single gram of pumpkin seed protein is the equivalent to a full glass of milk.'
So, the first thing I needed to do was find the highest natural source of tryptophan. Does anyone know what that is? Any idea? Pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds are loaded in tryptophan. There's 20 to 25 milligrams of tryptophan for every gram of pumpkin seed protein. To put it in equivalence, one single gram of pumpkin seed protein is the equivalent to a full glass of milk.
That's basically what I did. I took pumpkin seeds, a certain variety. Cut the shells off them. Cold pressed them because half the seed is oil, so if you cold press the seed you de-oil it and double the concentration of tryptophan in the de-oil seed fuel. Then I combined it with dextrose. OK. All right. All I'm showing here is if you drink Zenbev and in ambient light conditions, you're increasing serotonin. You increase it in low ambient light conditions, you're increasing melatonin.
I know a lot of the stuff we've said we've never talked about this today. And for the sake of selling products, and this is a product, but it has to have good science. And my saying it's so and presenting good evidence doesn't make it so. So then, we did this study that was published in Nutritional Neuroscience, which is a good journal. And we compared the product to the drug tryptophan mixed with carbohydrate, and the last arm of the trial was carbohydrate alone.
And what we demonstrated is the drug tryptophan and carbohydrate works. It works best at falling asleep. Zenbev was effective by 40 percent of reducing time awake in the middle of the night.
So it's not a panacea, but it reduces the amount of time awake in the middle of the night. If you wake up, you're more likely to go back to sleep faster, and stay asleep longer. We also did a study during daylight hours now, on social phobia, people who had difficulty speaking in public. Zenbev versus carbohydrate, it showed a 16 percent reduction in perceived anxiety.
So let me talk about the psychology of it now. Does anyone want to try a taste of that? And I made it taste good. OK. Someone to help me pour? The idea is all I'm doing, it's a massive amount of tryptophan. Nothing bad is going to happen to anybody.
Participant: I won't fall asleep driving?
Craig: No. Because of the high ambient light, right? Now, in low ambient light conditions, you would fall asleep. But that methyl-transferase comes on when it's dark. The main thing people do to fall asleep, you could do this with a turkey dinner. You could have turkey and potatoes. That would work. But who wants to have a turkey dinner every single night? What I like to say is that two scoops is like a turkey dinner in terms of potatoes and vegetables. For those who want it, it's just a chocolate drink.
Nathan: It's yummy.
Craig: All that there is really pumpkin seeds with the oil crushed out, bilberry file leaf treated with dextrose. This is chocolate flavor now, rice starch, and guar gum. That's all that's in that. The pumpkin seeds, does anyone know where the only organic pumpkins seeds are growing in North America right now? Does anyone have any idea? I'll give you a hint. It has to be a warm, hot summer, and a cold autumn.
Craig: It could be. It's Wisconsin, actually. Just outside of Duluth. So, it's a very similar environment to here. This is the ideal environment that I was thinking about this, to grow pumpkin seeds. It has to have a hot summer and a cold fall. A hot summer for the pumpkin to grow and cool, so that it has a snap and the leaves come off and it ripens with the sun.
Questions people ask me, "What if I take Zenbev during the day, will I get sleepy?" And the answer is no, you will feel a little relaxed.
“Can't I just eat some pumpkin seeds?” No, all the oil has to come out in order to allow the insulin spike to come and also heighten the tryptophan.
“Why does it have dextrose in it?” Dextrose is the thing that is powering up the insulin, which is suppressing the other amino acids.
“I took some Zenbev last night, and I did not sleep any differently. Why?” One-third of people have a response the first night. Another third it takes a month to have this work. And for the final third it won't work. So, that's why we offer the money back guarantee. It's not going to work for everybody.
The other important thing we found in the study is, we stopped everyone on the third week to see what would happen. So, what do think happens if you're getting better sleep with something like this, if you stop everything? What do you think?
Participant: You go back to where you were.
Craig: No. Because you're actually loading, that's what you'd think, right? But you're actually loading up on a natural source of tryptophan, which stays in the body for a while. The effect will carry over, the benefits. So, we recommend off and on, not to avoid so much to be addicted, but rather just to get the jar to last longer. That jar should last about a month. After a few months on it, that should last a few months. And the benefit will carry over. It also gives you confidence in your sleep again.
Just to show you the difference between the drug tryptophan is an amine, and in a food form, it's an amide. Now the chemists amongst enjoy that sort of thing, it's only one water group different, but it makes a huge impact. If you take the drug tryptophan and you heat it up, you actually break it down by about 30 percent every half hour, depending on the temperature level. What happens if you heat natural source tryptophan? What did your mother say? Did she tell you to have a cold glass of milk or a hot glass of milk? A hot glass of milk. And that actually does increase the tryptophan levels for whatever reason, so there is something to the old wives' tale.
The Psychology of Sleep
I'd like to talk about the psychological aspects. I think the product works quite well. I'm quite proud of what my wife and I have done. At the same time, we have to also talk about the psychology of sleep. Many of you have chronic insomnia. You've tried everything, right? Gravol, Benedryl, medications, prescriptions, just about everything. And the thing you have to consider is you have to take personal responsibility for the insomnia. I'm not saying you created the insomnia. But you've got to find your way out of it to regain confidence that when you go to bed, you're actually going to remain sleeping and get a good night's sleep. That's why I wrote the book with my wife.
Eight Steps to Better Sleep
Here are the eight stages of sleep, things you have to do, it's in the book. It's really easy. It's also on the website. Who here looks after children? Or has young children? Nobody else? You're lucky. Who would take a small child that you're looking after and before bed, run them around the house and give them some chocolate and coffee? Does anyone do that? It's laughably stupid. But we do it to ourselves, right? Because we have to get so much crushed into the day. You've got some washing, you've got some cleaning, and so you run around the house before you go to bed getting all those last minute things in. And then you jump into bed and say, "I don't feel sleepy. Oh no! It's going to be one of those nights." So, one of the first things you can do is say, "OK." You need to restrict the amount of time in bed to when you are actually going to sleep. And the first night seems absolutely paradoxical. But if you need eight hours of sleep, I recommend you cut back to six. Get six hours of sleep, and then slowly expand it out.
(1) One of the things you need to do is take some time every night for unwind time. It sounds like I'm going to indulge myself, but it's actually quite important. Does anyone know how often our brain cycles? The day cycle is 24 hours. How often does our brain cycle, circadian rhythm?
Participant: 90 minutes.
Craig: 90 minutes? That's the sleep cycle that gets you to REM. But actually saying on a 24 hour a day cycle, our brains work on a 24 and a half hour clock. Does that make sense? We have a 24-hour world and our brains work on a 24 and a half hour clock. It doesn't make any sense. But that's why when you're flying East, it's difficult. When you're flying West across time zones, it's relatively easier. Your brain's always a little bit off, but we need what the German scientists called Zeit keepers (time keepers) to entraining us into the day.
(2) So, one of the very important things you can do is set a natural ritual before bedtime, an unwind time can be that. If you have small children you do this naturally. You say, "OK, go brush your teeth and get ready for bed." Unbeknownst to you you're actually initiating the chemical events in their brains, which are going to allow them to sleep. You're saying, "Look, we've got our ritual going every night. It works every night. You're going to do it this night as well.” We do it for children. You need to do it for yourselves as well.
(3) Go to bed when you're sleepy. Does that sound naively stupid to anybody? People with chronic insomnia have a bank account of sleep and they keep a record of how many hours they need. So, someone told them in Grade 8 health class that they need eight hours of sleep a night and they keep a record of that. So, they've had six hours last night, so now they're missing two, right? And then they have another bad night, so they're missing four. That's all they can put up with, they know they're going to get bad health next. When they come home, they walk in the door and say, "Tonight I'm going to bed at 8:00 or 7:30,” whatever it is they think they need in order to recapture all the sleep, but that's not going to happen. All that's going to happen is, they're going to get frustrated. And have less sleep. And they're going to associate the bed with not sleeping. So, one of the first things you can do is restrict the amount of time you're in bed.
(4) Avoid clock watching. People with insomnia have a clock by their bed as a form of torture. And then, they watch it all night long. “Well it's 3:00, 3:30, 4:00.” And by 5:00 they make this fateful decision, "Do I need to get out of bed now and do something productive? Or do I lie here and get more frustrated?" And usually they get out of bed. So, take the clock and set it so you have to get up in the morning, but then turn the clock towards the wall. Don't watch it. You're just setting up a cascade of negative events.
'People with insomnia have a clock by their bed as a form of torture.'
(5) Regular sleep time and regular wake time. You do it with children, right? You don't do what we do to ourselves, which is from Monday to Thursday is one wake time and one bedtime. We to compress as much as possible. On Friday, that's a different wake time, then Saturday is different and then Sunday is different. No one told our brains. Our brains are really exquisitely developed - evolved - over thousands and thousands of years. No one told our brains. Maybe our brains will develop over thousands of years to have that Friday and Saturday night, but that's a relatively recent phenomenon. I know it sounds boring. At least 80 to 90 percent of the time, try to go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time.
(6) The bed is for sleeping. The bed is for sleeping. A worry at 3:00 in the morning is way different than the same worry at 3:00 in the afternoon. At 3: 00 in the morning you've got lots of available time to really worry that thing out. You can think of all the possible permutations and combinations that might occur. You can really get worked up about that. If you're worried like this, get it in perspective. After 20 minutes get out of bed, do something relaxing, and then come back to the bed. If you don't want to go for a walk, put a chair beside the bed. And sit in the chair and associate the awake time with being in the chair and the sleep time with being in bed. That's very important. That's sleep restriction.
Discussing things in bed. My wife and I run a business with very different time schedules and we used to discuss things in bed. It's really not the time. If you want to have a discussion, that should happen in the kitchen or the living room or somewhere else. The bed is really a time for sleep. My wife telling me what I need to do and that's another time people have pent up things they need to discuss, some even hostile. It's really not, like I say as a psychiatrist and a husband, it's not the time to engage in an argument with anybody, let alone your wife. So don't. If you need to have an argument, go do that somewhere else or have the good sense to have that argument tomorrow. Don't watch television in bed. Don't read books in bed. Don't listen to the radio in bed. All those things are things to do, do it somewhere else and then come back to the bed. When you get out of the bed, do something relaxing. Don't go balance the checkbook.
(7) Avoid naps. Naps, you're taking stages three and four sleep from the day and you're replacing it at night with stages one and two. Now, if you're a transport driver, lumberjack or a miner and you've got a job where you have to focus on what you're doing during the day, feel free to take a nap. If I'm driving on the road with you I want you to be well rested, but for the rest of us it's better not to nap. Do that the next day.
(8) Set the right environment. As I said before, it's hard to get used to the sleep mask at first, but after a while this will become like a friend, a zeit keeper. It really will help you sleep. Earplugs can be very helpful. If it's during the day and you hear rain hitting the windowpane it's not loud, but at night that rain hitting the windowpane can be enough to wake you up. And then you're awake and then you have all the problems you have.
Every time I get on an airplane, I'm so happy I have the sleep kits with me. And this is just the same things again. It does help restore sleep architecture. There's no hangover effect. Sleep easily waking up with it at night. There's no risk of dependence or fall risk. The factory recommends this off and on approach. You're not going to feel stressed during the day. It is made from USDA-certified organic ingredients. I just switched manufacturers. We have to re-certify again, but it is made with organic ingredients. We have really good clinical studies. I think this is relatively unique among shelf items. And we have strong patents.
So, that's really all I wanted to say about sleep. I know a fair bit about it. I'm not the world's expert, but I spent a lot of years studying it. Does anyone have any questions they would like to ask, or things I could help you with?
Q & A
Participant: Yes, what about falling asleep to very soothing music?
Craig: OK. So the question is, is it a good idea to fall asleep to soothing music? For some people it is. For some people it's not. It's basically background music, or background noise that you are using really in a way as a zeit keeper. The music is another way of initiating cascade of chemical events that are going to help you sleep. It's also that signal-to-noise ratio. If you've got a lot of background music, the rain hitting the windowpane is not going to wake you up. So, for some people that's the best thing. For other people, if they're frustrated, it can be the wrong thing. And you have to speak with your bed partner about how they feel about the music.
Participant: Does this mean that the blind have more trouble sleeping?
Craig: That's an interesting question. The blind people do have problems sleeping, but not to the same degree. Their problems really are on phase-shifting problems, where if we put you in a very dark room, with no lights, you would cycle at a 24-and-a-half day clock. And that's what usually happens with the blind. They tend to cycle at a different rate.
The interesting thing I find is the incidence of cancer of people who work at night and sleep during the day. Has anyone heard of the Nurses' Health Study? Yeah. So the Nurses' Health Study is 80,000 nurses. And they look at things like, what happens to your health if you work chronic shift work? And if you're working at night and you're sleeping during the day, your risk of certain cancers goes way up. With breast cancer, for example, it goes 36 percent higher in nurses who do that for a long time, 25 years or longer. The blind, interesting, have reduced incidence of this light-based cancers. It's the one - I guess - good aspect of having visual impairment.
Dr. Sid Fleischer: A person clenching their teeth, will not fall asleep.
Craig: Well, bruxism or clenching of the teeth can happen while you sleep as well, which is usually a sign of higher anxiety.
Sid: And they wake up.
Craig: They wake up, and they grind their teeth down. You can buy a bite block, what you have to do.
Sid: Doesn't help.
Craig: Doesn't help? OK. Doesn't want the bite block. But that's a sign of higher anxiety. And if people can have it, having problems falling asleep, it can also happen in the middle of the night.
Nathan: It can also be, this actually is a dentist who is experienced in this area, and we've seen a pretty miraculous results with Dr. Fleischer, who can often correct problems where people are clenching because of a ...
Craig: Stress, yes.
Sid: Not only stress, but isn't it because there's a problem with the bite itself?
Nathan: Which can be corrected in many cases fairly simply... so, you're not clenching because of the bite maladjustment.
Sid: And if I might add ...
Sid: If your back teeth are not touching when you're sleeping, the brain shuts off the elevator muscles. You can't clench.
Craig: That's interesting. And this is a common problem. It's not that uncommon.
Sid: The bite planes that are made by 99 percent of the dentists in Canada are a flat plane. All the teeth are touching.
Craig: That's true.
Sid: The brain doesn't know you're wearing those planes.
Sid: So you're clenching harder on that than you can on your own teeth.
Nathan: Do the back teeth have to touch first?
Sid: No, the back teeth must not touch.
Nathan: Must not touch.
Nathan: Dr. Hudson, I remember reading somewhere a couple of years ago in some publication that while you had designed this product for sleep, there was a tremendous groundswell of people in some other countries that were using your product successfully for fibromyalgia. What's the story with that?
Craig: Yeah, I think one of the issues is that fibromyalgia is better described as a syndrome. And you have problems with chronic insomnia, chronic pain, depression, anxiety. So, we had quite a few people with chronic fatigue syndrome using it with good effect.
I didn't design it in that way, but it wasn't surprising to me that it actually worked. So, you're right. We had quite a few people. We haven't done a clinical study of it per se, but we do have considerable success in treating people with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Participant: The question about launching either computers or computer screens with TVs just before bed, and the light from that ... interfering with the whole sleep mechanism. What's your thoughts on that?
Craig: I am with you on that, if that's the suggestion. One of the things I also believe in is seasonal affective disorder and using light therapy to treating seasonal affective disorder. But I never suggest it before going to bed, because you will have problems sleeping. And it's the same problem if you have chronic insomnia and one of the things you do before bedtime is to look at a computer screen or look at a very bright television. It has to be of considerable intensity, but some people get really close to that screen. It has the physics principle. It falls off the square of the inverse. So it depends on how close you are to the screen.
One of the things I've never done but I've always been tempted to look at is the use of blue sunglasses. Have you thought about that? Because there's actually a fairly specific wavelength that the methyl-transferase is affected by. I haven't done this experiment, I've just always thought about it. But I would assume that blue sunglasses would block out that specific wavelength allowing the melatonin to form anyway. Now, having said that, I'm just speculating.
Nathan: I'm just wondering if that kind of ties in to some of the seasonal affective disorder lamps that have the blue light.
Craig: Correct. It's the same basic idea. That's right. Correct. But then again, you might want to just try that out. I'm just throwing it out there. I'm not saying I have any data to support it.
Participant: So presumably the screen is worse than TV.
Craig: Yes. You're close to it and it's more intense. And so it's definitely intense. There's a relationship between the intensity of the light, and the intensity of light is also affected by how close you are to that screen. Yeah. Absolutely.
Participant: My question is non-scientific. I love pumpkin seeds, and around Halloween, I dry pumpkin seeds. Is it a good idea to dry them in the oven?
Craig: Yes, you can do it that way. Pumpkin seeds have been around for a long time. Typically, they were an Eastern European treat, where they would take the seeds. They would roast them and then crush the oil out. And have the oil as a treat. It's one of the very first Omega-3s actually, which is why it's usually used to treat prostate concerns.
In this case, we're obviously looking at de-oiled pumpkin seed. It's a whole different of application altogether, and it has to be de-oiled. But in terms of a health item, I eat pumpkin seeds. It's just not going to help you sleep a lot. But it is a healthy thing to do.
Nathan: They're good for the prostate.
Craig: They are good for the prostate. I could talk about that, but it's an interesting thing. Yes.
Participant: You're talking about the different types of sleep. The fifth stage being the REM, where you dream, and then you feel rested. A lot of times when I'm sleeping, I'm having disturbed sleep or a lot of anxiety. And often my best sleep is after I've woken up in the morning. And maybe I'm anxious, and I fall back asleep.
And so like the last two hours of my sleep, I'll have a ton of dreams. And even if they're scary, I wake up feeling extremely rested. Can you get the REM sleep even that late?
Craig: The REM comes late.
Participant: Oh, it is the late...
Craig: Yeah, the REM should come in the last third of the night. So, the notion that your best sleep is before midnight is in some ways spurious. The REM sleep will burst at 90 minutes, which is what you were referring to.
But as the night goes on, those bursts become more frequent and a longer duration. And the REM sleep is very important, as is stage 1, 2, 3, 4, and REM. So, you're right. If you can go back and capture that sleep, then you're going to feel better.
I will say a word about sleep apnea. Does anybody here have problems with sleep apnea? Yeah. So sleep apnea happens with typically athletic people who have not maintained all the sports that they did when they were younger. They have bigger muscular necks, and then they let go some of those sports. And then the neck stays muscular but there's a little bit of fat on top of it.
And what happens in REM sleep, you go into full muscle paralysis, otherwise you're going to act out your dream. And so, what happens then is the muscles that hold the neck up or the airway open collapse. And people then, it's like suddenly being strangled in the middle of the night.
Every time you go into dream sleep or REM sleep, then the airway collapses. You go into an apnic episode, and then the brain says, "Hey, you're not pushing any air here. Wake up!" And then there's a big gasp of air.
And you have to have a solution to that, which is usually continuous positive airway pressure, or now if you have a CPAP, it's some way of moving the air back and forth. It's very important. And if you're having problems like that, females or males, it's worth getting checked out. Sleep apnea is a silent killer. And if people are having a lot of apnic episodes, a lot of snoring, they probably should be seeing a sleep expert. Getting a sleep lab study arranged. And if you have it going on to use positive airway pressure.
Craig: I am. It's another option. But again I would look at that in conjunction with a sleep lab assessment to make sure that you're not having the apnic episodes any more. You need some way to keep the pharynx open, is what I'm suggesting. Airway is one way. Physical constructs will also help. As long as you're getting it addressed.
Participant: Does your product work with people that have sleep apnea?
Craig: Yeah. You have to do it in conjunction with. It's not obviously going to fix a structural problem. It makes it easier to fall asleep. You've got a machine going beside you ...
Participant: Oh, I see as a CPAP.
Participant: REM sleep is associated with muscular paralysis. You cannot move.
Participant: I seem to experience dreams with some very violent movement from time to time.
Participant: And I feel it.
Craig: Which can happen. It's called a parasomnia. It could just be a leg jerk, which is no big deal.
Participant: What about punching?
Craig: Punching is a different thing. That needs to be assessed, because this does happen. This does happen. The problem is that you can act out your dream. It can be quite elaborate, sometimes. If that's happening, I would recommend you see a sleep expert. Tell your family doctor about it. It's very treatable, is the other thing. You don't have to worry about it. But it should be treated and addressed. It may be you don't have it to any significant degree. It's no big deal. But if you do have it, it should be looked at and addressed before you do act out. Because there's all these experiments where people have done terrible things, and then later on it shows there was a parasomnia, and it was always treatable.
Participant: Like talking in your sleep.
Participant: That what this gentleman's talked about with the apnea and that. Can that be treated? Is that treated chemically, or ... ?
Craig: Yeah, typically. You have to find out what's going on first. So, talking in your sleep could be fine. That's not the same thing. What we're talking about, violence in your sleep. And there are cases where people have done really quite violent things in the sleep. It goes to court. And it's a very treatable thing, is all I'm saying. It has to be properly diagnosed and then that really is done by a sleep lab expert with a sleep lab, where you get wired up. And lie in basically the same assessment of sleep apnea overnight in a lab. If you have occasional problems, that's no big deal. That's not the same arena at all. If it's disrupting your sleep, I would recommend an assessment, but if it's not, it's not a major concern.
Craig: Well, that's a concern, and that needs to be assessed. It's more likely that sleep apnea is coming through in a different way, if I had to guess. Just taking a ballpark guess.
Nathan: I've also talked to some people who have purchased your product for sleep and now use it, not that I should recommend this to anybody, but I know some people who are using your product successfully, instead of anti-anxiolytic drugs that they were using for depression and anxiety. They have found that this worked as well, and they now use it for that purpose. I don't know if they use it for sleep anymore, but they found that it worked as well as drugs had worked for anxiety.
Nathan: Have you seen much of that?
Craig: Well, we did the clinical trial in the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology on suppression of anxiety in people who are prone to it.
Craig: And we published that.
Craig: And so then I went to Health Canada and I said, "I want to get a dual indication here. I want to get an indication for anxiety, and I want to get an indication for insomnia." And then the debate started back and forth.
The insomnia study came first. It's quite solid. I think it's quite a good study. And they accepted that. Basically it's like a pharmaceutical design study, and we know that it actually works.
I feel the anxiety study works. Health Canada wanted more. So, they weren't willing to let me put that on the label. And I can't make that specific health claim. But you know what I know. You go on the Internet. You go on my website. And look at the abstract and draw your own conclusions. I cannot make that health claim, or I'd be in all Health Canada trouble.
Participant: In the brochure there is a statement that clinical studies seem to indicate that it produces weight loss, or helps with weight loss. What is the mechanism there?
Craig: So again, the brochure should not say that it does. What I'm suggesting, and what has been demonstrated in clinical studies, if you push tryptophan in your brain, and then you go off to a buffet, you will pick a balanced diet. If your tryptophan levels are lower...
Participant: I see.
Craig: Then you'll pick carbohydrates. And that's been well-described, not by our research, but by Jenkins, the high-glycemic index carbohydrate ...
Participant: So, it's a behavioral change as opposed to a physiological change.
Craig: Well, it's a physiological change driving a behavioral change, yeah. That's correct.
Ganlu Zassman: OK, the sugar is the carrier, carry the tryptophan across the blood-brain barrier.
Ganlu: So, it's not safe for diabetes, right?
Ganlu: So, is there any other sugar substitute you can use such as a xylitol, can make a product for diabetes safe?
Craig: Well, we looked at this. So, if you're having a brittle diabetic, you shouldn't be using the product. You probably should not. If it's pre-diabetes, then you do a carbohydrate exchange. During my Health Canada vacation, I developed RestBites, which have agave nectar to replace some of the dextrose. So, I try to get around that as much as I can. The original studies were done on the lemon and the chocolate. And I know that those are, it's solid. It works. The RestBites, it's a nod in that direction.
I don't think the synthetic with the healthier sweeteners, would be as effective in getting tryptophan across the blood-brain barrier. Remember, my nutrition professor was David Jenkins, the one who developed the glycemic index carbohydrate, with a view that we should never use them. Right? And then I realized, this actually works in this case, which I think, is an argument I like to make, is a small amount of high-glycemic index carbohydrates, a small amount can be effective. Because it's allowing an insulin-rich environment, by which the protein can be broken down in. I'm not suggesting we all go on a cookie diet. I'm just suggesting occasionally a small amount can be helpful. But again, I would recommend you talk to your family doctor if you have any concerns that way. And I'd be happy to talk to the family doctor about...
Ganlu: Another question is, I just served this sample. Each bar contains 22g sugar?
Craig: No, 22 grams bar. The sugar is not ...
Ganlu: The sugar amount is 11 gram?
Craig: Less than that. It's a combination of agave nectar, that's the carbohydrates. In the pumpkin seed, it's not just pumpkin seed isolate, there's still some...
Ganlu: Oh, I see.
Craig: There's still some carbs left in it. The oil's gone.
Ganlu: But still, this raises the question for people who want to lose weight that they probably be afraid to take high...
Ganlu: The high amount of sugar...
Participant: And they think it might...
Craig: Right. So, one scoop of Zenbev is like one slice of toast is what I would tell people. Two scoops is like two slices of dry toast in terms of carbs. Now the bar is a little bit more, and I was designing that for people who didn't want to drink fluid at night, who wanted to have a travel pack, and it would work. If you're feeling really conscious about that, then have half the bar. I defy you to do that. It tastes good, yeah.
Nathan: Can we talk a bit about the importance of multivitamins to make sure that this is effective? I know that with after source or any type of tryptophan, if there's not sufficient B3 in the bloodstream, tryptophan converts to B3.
Nathan: So you need to make sure you have a good vitamin for this process to work, correct?
Craig: Absolutely. And so, in the next production, under Health Canada's suggestion, B3 and B6 will be going in, what are the odds of that? Into the product to facilitate the right starch mechanism, basically it's just to help it. The idea is tryptophan becomes vitamin B3. If you're stressed, tryptophan becomes vitamin B3, not serotonin, melatonin. If you have B3, it shuts down an enzyme, tryptophan pyrrolase. And tryptophan then becomes serotonin and melatonin. So, right away it makes sense.
The people who need extra B6 are people who are on hormonal replacement therapy, high dose birth control pills. They should all be taking a little more B6 anyway. And even if you're taking melatonin, I would recommend that most people take B6 with that. Indeed, some of the melatonins now come with a B6 enrichment. I think that that makes sense, and it's just good practice. And it's not a lot of B6. I'm not suggesting that anyone go to mega dose B3 for this particular issue. Basically B3 is small doses. Just 25, 50 milligrams of B3 is sufficient. B6 we're talking five milligrams, one milligram, not a lot.
Craig: A good quality vitamin, just go to someone who actually knows what they're doing. This one of the advantages of coming here and not going to another health food store or pharmacy, is you have people here who can guide you through that. You do need a bit of B3 and B6. If you walk in, the high school student's going to sell you whatever they think, right? But you really want to have a little bit more expertise than that.
Participant: I just had a question about, I don't know a lot about how cinnamon affects blood sugar, or I just know it helps me.
Participant: So, would that be something I would want to avoid when taking this? Like, not take them together?
Craig:There's not a lot of sugar in this. I want to be clear about that. There is sugar, and that's how it works. This is much less than a cookie, for example. Much less, OK? So we're talking about, one scoop is 40 calories total. That's everything in. So, it's not a lot. You just need a little bit to get the insulin up to work, but it's not a huge amount. I want to portray what I'm doing, but at the same time, it's not for example the first ingredient in the product. It's the second or third one down the line.
Participant: But cinnamon wouldn't affect it?
Craig: No, you can do that. It's going to be fine. Other questions? OK.
Participant: Is there another way of treating sleep apnea other than with the machinery?
Craig: Well yeah, the appliances?
Participant: Yeah, the appliances.
Craig: You can do it that way.
Craig: But the pressure...
Craig: Dare I suggest you go back to your athletic ways and lose the gut and play hockey again. That would be an effective solution. It's harder to do as you get older, and usually people who have this were athletic when they were younger. And they're used to doing a lot of sports, and they were a young metabolism so they could eat whatever they wanted. And, as they got older, less and less time to do sports, their metabolism slowed down and you've got trouble. You have to get back into your athletic ways and eat a lot less.
Sid: There's one other way of overcoming sleep apnea.
Craig: What's that?
Participant: A tracheotomy.
Craig: OK. That would also work. Did you ever hear that you could put a tube in there? But that's a little extreme. But, yeah, you do need to treat it is what I'm saying, as your lifestyle changes are always best. I know in a North American society that's the last thing you want to look at, but it really is probably the first thing you should be looking at.
Participant: Would it also be helpful for the restless legs syndrome?
Craig: Not to a significant degree. Magnesium, calcium are effective solutions for restless legs syndrome in particularly females. I don't think Zenbev has ever been a great solution to that, to be perfectly frank.
Participant: Are you going in two parts here or one, or what is this?
Craig: Yeah. So originally we came out with the lemon Zenbev, which is for certain people. That goes in hot water. OK? And then the chocolate goes in rice milk or almond milk. That's the chocolate drink that you had.
And then the other option that we brought out is RestBites, which is the bar. So, if you don't want to have fluid before the night, you want to have a bar, a piece of candy. So, that's the RestBites. Not everyone wants that, but for some people that's the right decision.
Nathan: It's working. I see people yawning in here.
Craig: OK. Thank you for your time. I'd be happy to answer your questions.