The Science Behind Sleep Optimization with Meeta Singh, MD – EP 145

Interview with Meeta Singh, MD

Brian Preston

The Science Behind Sleep Optimization with Meeta Singh, MD

Over the years, I’ve met a lot of hard-charging entrepreneurs who struggle to quiet their minds, leading to poor quality sleep and a decline in performance across all aspects of their lives. The relentless pursuit of success often takes a toll on their well-being, leaving them drained, overwhelmed, and unable to function at their best.

I too have experienced issues sleeping. Ultimately, I ended up hiring Dr. Meeta Singh to help me uncover what was leading to my restless nights and how to resolve them.

Dr. Meeta Singh is a psychiatrist specializing in sleep science who has served as a consultant for multiple NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA teams. She has also worked with large organizations, CEO’s and other C-suite executives, helping them achieve peak physical and mental performance, day in and day out.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

✅ Why ​​sleep optimization is a crucial factor to health, wellness, peak mental and physical performance, and overall quality of life.

✅ How poor sleep can sabotage your personal and professional relationships, holding you back from reaching your full potential.

✅ The effect that food, caffeine, and alcohol have on your sleep – and simple strategies you can model to make sure you can still enjoy these things, without sacrificing sleep quality.

Featured on This Episode: Meeta Singh, MD

✅ What she does: Dr. Meeta Singh is a board-certified physician and psychiatrist specializing in sleep science who has consulted for multiple NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA teams. Her deep expertise and evidence-based approach integrate medical, psychiatric, and behavioral sleep science with applied experience and individualized coaching to improve clients’ abilities to achieve enhanced health, mental strength, optimized performance, and quality of life.

💬 Words of wisdom: “When you work really, really hard, you can achieve really good things if you meet the right people. And I think that I can attribute my success to surrounding myself with the right people.” – Meeta Singh

🔎 Where to find Meeta Singh: LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Key Takeaways with Meeta Singh, MD

  • Transitioning from the Mayo Clinic to consulting top-tier MLB, NBA, and NFL teams.
  • The importance of self-care before illness.
  • Understanding sleep patterns and metrics
  • How we sabotage our health by neglecting sleep.
  • What happens to your brain and body when you give them a full night of sleep.
  • The key pillars for longevity and mental well-being you might be missing.
  • Tempted by a late-night espresso? Think twice.
  • Alternative stress-relief methods that don’t involve alcohol.

Unlocking the Secret to a Good Night Sleep with Meeta Singh, MD

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Meeta Singh, MD Tweetables

“Anything that you do during the day, anything and everything you do during the day, affects how you sleep at night. And then how you sleep at night affects everything that happens during the day.” – @meetasinghmd Click To Tweet


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Read the Full Transcript with Meeta Singh, MD

Justin Donald: Well, hi, Meeta. It’s so great to have you on the show. Excited to have you here.


Meeta Singh: Justin, thank you for having me.


Justin Donald: Yeah. This is going to be a lot of fun. There’s so much that we can talk about. There are so many cool things that you’ve been up to in your life, things that you’ve experienced. You know, for those of you that are just listening and not watching, you’re going to miss this incredible background that you have. And you’ve got signed footballs and signed baseballs and just all kinds of cool memorabilia because you’ve worked with a whole bunch of different pro sports teams, Olympic teams, Olympians, really doing some incredible stuff in the world, playing at the highest level. I mean, we’re talking NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, Olympics as I mentioned, but I think you had a really cool stint with the Washington Nationals that maybe holds a special place in your heart because while you were coaching them if memory serves me correctly, you coached them during their run to win the championship, the World Series, right? And you help them achieve their most impressive record on the road, which is generally the hardest to really help optimize.


Meeta Singh: Right, right. And actually, really I consider myself really lucky for being at the right time and the right place and I have to tell you like the United States is a wonderful place to be. When you work really, really hard, you can really achieve really good things if you meet the right people. And I think that I can attribute my success to surrounding myself with the right people. I mean, I was introduced to I really, you know, I did my fellowship at Henry Ford Heart Health System. I did my training. So, I have a medical background at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. And I was in training here when the local team doctor for the local NFL team asked me to come help out. And, Justin, there’s something called the Fort Knox effect in the world of professional sports, which means that entry-level, it’s really high. It’s difficult to get in. And so, when somebody invites you in and then you try your level best to do good work, it’s a small world, people move from one team to the other, from one field of sports to the other. And that’s like it’s all word of mouth. So, yeah, it’s kind of fun.


Justin Donald: Oh, it’s incredible what you’ve been able to build. And so, it’s also interesting because I’d love to talk about your journey from being at the Mayo Clinic to saying, “Hey, I actually want to go out on my own. I think I’ve got what it takes to be a business owner and kind of leave the comfort of the nest. I mean, it’s all that you’d known. You had a good corporate gig going, right? By trade, you’re a psychiatrist.


Meeta Singh: Yes, I’m a psychiatrist and a sleep medicine…


Justin Donald: Right. And a sleep expert. And so, you could have fallen back on that and just said, “Hey, I’m going to work in the most well-renowned hospitals in the world.” But you said, “Hey, I actually want to be an entrepreneur. I’m going to go out on my own.” I’d love to hear why you did that and kind of like your path in doing so.


Meeta Singh: Absolutely. And I’ll tell you. So, I’ve had the luck of training at the best place like Mayo Clinic is the best place to train. And I have to tell you, for sleep medicine, Henry Ford Health System is one of the best places to train at least at the time that I was training there because Dr. Thomas Roth, who’s like the grandfather of sleep medicine, he is one of the editors of the main book, was based at Henry Ford. And I did traditional health care and medicine and psychiatry for a while and then developed this niche of working with professional sports. And so, I built that sports and sleep program at the Henry Ford Health System. But what I wanted is different. So, in traditional medicine, Justin, people, especially in Western medicine, we wait for a disorder or an illness to happen and then we go in and we treat that but we don’t have to, right? What we want is to start up with a healthy person and then use advanced diagnostic, use ways to keep them healthy. You don’t want them to get to when they’re sick. So, that model of taking care of when you’re somebody’s physician and health care and it begins with the person doesn’t exist in our traditional health care system.


And it was kind of scary to leave it because in all my life all I had was a salary position, which is really easy but I did have… You know, when I first walked into that NFL team, I have to tell you, I did not grow up in this country. I do not know NFL and I tell the story and I’ve told this many times that I went into the building, I had like a bunch of people ask me questions. And I remember I came back home and I said in my family that this guy asked me a question and he’s like, “Well, what was his name?” I said, “His name was Matthew Stafford.” And he said, “Oh, he’s a quarterback,” and I was like, “What’s a quarterback?” So, I didn’t really, you know, so I’m not scared or hesitant about trying new things. So, it wasn’t that much of a leap in that way but it’s a steep learning curve because when you are a physician, you’ve taken all these years to train, and what I’m really good at, at least I hope I’m good at, is being a physician. It’s the business part that it takes a while to learn that.


Justin Donald: Yeah. There’s no business classes. You don’t go to medical school to learn how to be an entrepreneur. You have to learn that on your own. It’s trial by fire, right?


Meeta Singh: Yep. Totally.


Justin Donald: Yes. You get medically trained but those that end up growing the biggest practices are the ones that go to private practice and start their own, right?


Meeta Singh: Yes.


Justin Donald: And you can make the argument by default or by proxy that those are the individuals that could or may have the most impact. I think all medical professionals have a tremendous impact and do amazing things. I think as you scale, you leave, you start your own business, you scale that, the impact that you have on a private practice, stand front to the levels that you can scale, it is vastly different than working inside of another system, right? So, I think that’s amazing and incredibly commendable because most of the doctors, most of the medical professionals I know just don’t have the courage or don’t have the know-how, like maybe can’t pull that trigger until they were to know more but maybe aren’t putting themselves in a place to know more. So, I think that’s amazing you did do that. Now, I want to back up here for a second because there was something that you said I wanted to kind of dive a little deeper in it because you said, “Hey, I’m so thankful to be in this country, to be in the United States.” And you and I have talked about this.


Meeta Singh: Yes, we have.


Justin Donald: What would it look like if you never made it to the U.S.? What would it look like for you as an Indian woman with your opportunity to be a business owner had you never made it here?


Meeta Singh: Well, it’s difficult to kind of look back and say, well, again, there’s an Indian saying which is like, “If my grandfather didn’t have a mustache, you’d be my grandmother,” but there’s no good way to look back at it. And I have to say that the country that I come from, which is India, again, I don’t want to be disrespectful to many other countries. There is a lot of respect that’s given to women. However, in this country, I think that in this country, when you work really, really hard, the chances that you are going to be successful are really high. So, in most other countries, working really hard doesn’t always translate into success. And I’m really humbled by the fact. So, I had this moment, I think it was 2017, perhaps 2016 I spoke and I’ve spoken there multiple times. I spoke to the NFLPS, which is the physician society at the NFL combine. And this was the medical doctors with the medical trainers. Now, I want to say, Justin, this was in the mid-afternoon, there were about four women in the audience, and there was me, there was waitstaff, and there were two women in the AV, you know, who were helping with the audiovisual.


And I really kind of looked around and said, like, “I’m really grateful.” I come from a different country, have an accent, have worked really hard, but I’m giving this presentation to the elite physicians of this country. And so, I think I think the better way for me to answer this question is to look at the success that I’ve… So, legitimate hard work, I received legitimate rewards for it.


Justin Donald: That’s amazing.


Meeta Singh: And I know that in other countries, I mean, when you look, there are roadblocks. There is like, you know, and it’s very difficult. I think maybe Americans don’t realize it like you have to… There are bribes to be paid. It’s who you know and who you know and that’s how people get to places. I don’t think that’s how it works here. I think you make sincere relationships and you give your level best and you get the best back.


Justin Donald: Yeah. Well, it’s amazing that you’ve had this opportunity and you’ve been able to do such great things here and you’ve had tremendous impact. I love it. And so, the way that we met is I hired you as my sleep consultant and expert because I was having some issues sleeping. And for most of my life, I’ve been a pretty decent sleeper. I just go through phases where maybe it’s not the case and sometimes it’s, you know, maybe what’s on your mind and what’s going on, and maybe stress plays a role and this can be like family health issues. This could be business, this can be whatever. But I meet a lot of hard-charging entrepreneurs, both male and female, who really have a hard time shutting their mind down and really don’t sleep well. And I think long term, that’s really holding them back. And I think with learning how to sleep well through whatever is going on only opens up more opportunity and more potential. And so, I remember hiring you and I remember thinking, “Okay. Well, I need to optimize my sleep. I need to get better here.” I’ve got some, you know, I’m probably not in as bad of shape as many of the people that hire you but I saw room for improvement.


And the first thing you had me do after a pretty intense or lengthy deep dive onboarding process, learning everything and anything about me is you had me tracking my sleep with different questions. There’s this worksheet that I would fill out every morning and every evening, and I got into this rhythm and habit of doing that. But I’d love to hear you talk about just the simplicity of that and the patterns that you see and just some simple solves that you’re able to figure out. Because for me, mine was easy. We figured it out through a pattern in my sleep tracker. And if I wasn’t tracking, it’s the whole thing. Like, what you measure, you can impact, right? You have the ability to move it. And because I started tracking it, we saw some patterns and we were able to make some moves to enhance or perfect or better my sleep.


Meeta Singh: Right. So, first of all, I have to say that, Justin, you are highly disciplined and that may be not the norm, that may be more extraordinary than ordinary. But I think that when it comes to any habit, I mean, the fact that we need to sleep well, we need to eat healthy food. We need to exercise regularly. Unless you’re living under a rock, you know what it is. But it’s not what you have to do but it is how you do it and doing it on a regular basis, that is an issue. And that accountability, creating that accountability really helped because I think that for you, even filling out that sleep diary gave you a sense of control over what you were doing allowed you to see a pattern, and allowed you to say that, well, when I said, “Justin, maybe we need to make a few changes here or there,” you were like, “Yeah, that makes complete sense because I see it.” I mean, I don’t need to tell you what to do. I really want to be your partner in this and I want to take you along on the journey with me, and then we can both discover it together by we collect information in real-time and then make any changes that we think that are necessary. And sometimes it’s almost like stepping back and saying, “Well, I want to let go of this. Like, I don’t want to obsess too much about something,” because if you do, then it’s likely to be a problem. Does that help?


Justin Donald: Yeah. It’s fantastic. And the partnership approach is wonderful because you’re not telling me you got to do it this way. It’s like, “Hey, let’s look at the chart. Let’s look at the data and make a decision.” And you see the patterns just like I see the patterns. So, it’s really neat. And by the way, this is tracking anything from caffeine intake to alcohol intake to the time of day. Did you nap? Did you not nap? Did you eat food or drink alcohol within 3 hours of going to bed? How many hours did you sleep? You know, did you wake up in the night? I mean, just all kinds of different data points that is so valuable. And as entrepreneurs, a lot of us do this in our business. We have these metrics and we measure all these things but then often we don’t do it in our personal lives for our health journey. You know, that’s part of why I love the Oura Ring where you’re getting real-time data.


Meeta Singh: Just like a tool. Yes.


Justin Donald: That’s right. Total tool.


Meeta Singh: Yeah. Just think of all of these as a tool on the tools that you need on your journey to feel better. And improvement in your health has to be small continuous steps. And if you get off track, you just have to kind of bring yourself back on track because, again, in your case, Justin, I have to say like it was simple and you made my life the job easier because you were like, well, again, I’m going to hold hands and I’m going to make you walk in this direction as fast as or as low as you want me to. And sometimes for some people, they have, especially if you’re an entrepreneur, and I experienced this when I stopped working as a salaried physician, there are stresses and there are the kind of stresses, the kind of worries that you regularly don’t have. And these can keep you awake. It changes the relationships that you might have with your family members because now suddenly your work becomes your life because you’re building something and managing sleep during that time became really important because I can clearly tell when I’m making right decisions or even the way that I’m like speaking to the CEO of my company is that everything is affected by not getting enough sleep.


And I work with people who live busy, complex lives. They’re not going to go away. You’ve had the wisdom as well as the luxury that you’ve created for yourself to have off time, to be able to travel, to be able to relax. And often the people that I work with don’t do that. So, a general manager of a Major League Baseball team will say, “There’s no way I’m going to turn my phone off for the night because if somebody gets into a car accident, they’re going to call me. Somebody gets arrested or something happens, they’re going to call me.” So, then it’s up to me to work with them to figure out if they could like have a team that works with them, delegate some of it, and yet be in charge. I mean, because we sometimes do feel that the work we do is really important and it is important, and yet balance is you can make it healthier for yourself and your family members.


Justin Donald: Yeah. I love having you on the show because I just think if people take, I mean, so many people take their health seriously and they’ll cut out smoking or eating certain foods or whatever but often people don’t take their sleep as seriously. And if you can figure out a way to get a consistent 8 hours of sleep.


Meeta Singh: Right.


Justin Donald: I mean, all the research shows that not only do you get more longevity but you’re just more high-powered, you have more mental clarity. Cognition goes through the roof. I mean, it’s night and day with getting enough sleep or not getting enough sleep. And no matter how good or bad of a sleeper you think you are, there are ways to solve for it. And so, I’m excited to have you on the show because you have helped so many people. You’ve done it at the highest level with athletes that most of us sit around and watch on TV two extreme athletes, to very prominent businessmen and businesswomen, entrepreneurs in general. But then even down to just those that have a corporate gig. And to some people, I almost think I hear all the time, well, if I made more money, I wouldn’t have any problems. That’s not true.


Meeta Singh: That’s not true.


Justin Donald: It is not true. You will have other problems. Now, it’s better to have better quality problems. If you can have problems that aren’t financially related, that’s better but just because you solve that, a lot of people are like, “Well, I don’t sleep well because I don’t make enough for whatever.” Well, actually, that’s probably not it. And once you solve that, you probably still won’t sleep well. So, why don’t we just work on the sleep because great things can happen and that can actually probably help you lead to a path that helps you earn more money. Would you agree with just quality of life being enhanced by quality of sleep?


Meeta Singh: For sure. So, I want to circle back to something you said. You know, you’re like, what, 8 hours is what everybody needs. And so, typically adults need between 7 to 9 hours and people are different. Like, I may need 8.2 hours. You may need 7.9. So, there is a slight variation. Figuring that out is important. You know, if there’s like these resources that you have, there’s time and there’s health, every day is a good time to work on your health. Otherwise, you run out of time. You really have to start working on your health now. And that’s why I tell people that I understand that when – so the NFL season is going to begin in a month. I understand that you’re not going to get enough sleep. Well, then let’s try to fit sleep into your busy schedule as much as we possibly can so that you wake up well-rested. So, anything that you do that is related to your brain, which is so essential for us to make money is a function of a well-rested brain. So, anything you learn, so memory consolidation happens in your sleep. Creativity and innovation, again, something that happens when you’re well-rested. Your judgment gets impaired if you don’t get enough sleep, which is you need to be quick thinking.


You need to be able to look at to say proposals and give it your level best and decide will A be better than B, even though they both look or one of them looks better and that sort of innovative thinking and weighing the risk, the risks versus benefits function of a well-rested brain. But also, I think that people forget that emotional intelligence, self-awareness, what things people consider as soft skills, but are absolutely vital for your relationships, you know, not just the relationship in your workforce but also for your family members, how you can talk to your own children, your spouses. I mean, that is a function of a well-rested brain. So, again,  you can get hold that you’re in any direction. It points to being well-rested allows you to show up and be optimal the next day.


Justin Donald: Yeah. There’s no doubt.


Meeta Singh: And then I think that because building a business and growing a business is stressful. If you’re well-rested, it allows you to cope with that better. You know, you show up better because you are now well-rested. So, that’s another reason.


Justin Donald: And there’s truth also around getting the right amount of sleep that’s going to have an impact. I mean, so you talked about like creativity and just durability and cognitive clarity but let’s talk about health even down to like chronic disease or mental health. Like, this is a big component to kind of curing or moving disease or mental health in the right direction, right?


Meeta Singh: Yes. Absolutely. So, I want to answer that in two parts because mental health deserves its own answer. But I tell people that when you’re sleeping, it’s a state of mind in which you’re physically inactive, and your brain is actually pretty active. But because you’re physically inactive, rest and recovery happen. So, every body, organ, and every physiological system recovers while you’re sleeping so it prepares you for the next day, your cardiovascular system. So, we now know, for example, that we know that your immune system you need to be well-rested for a healthy immune system. You need to be well-rested for good metabolic control over your glucose. So, your ability to take in nutrition, to utilize it effectively, to build muscle, to prevent dementias or neurodegenerative diseases, to prevent heart disease, you need sleep for all of that. So, every function of your body. You know, obesity is… Not getting enough sleep is a risk factor for getting obese. So, all physical health and functioning are sleep-dependent.


But in addition to that, of course, we have this really ancient and bidirectional relationship between sleep and any sort of mental health issue. So, we know that if you sleep poorly, that sets you up to develop depression, anxiety, substance abuse, etcetera. But then when people have depression and anxiety, they have, you know, not sleeping becomes an integral part of that. You want to treat that so that you can move forward. And so, we’re living in a world today, Justin, where we want to destigmatize mental health issues. That’s why you want to pay attention to that. So, I mean, you want at this point of the interview, Justin, to get me off this track because I can talk for hours. There is newer and newer research coming out, and there’s never any research that says, “Oh, by the way, forget everything you’ve learned. This mental or physical health aspect is not affected by sleep.” Never. You know, if it’s not sleep duration, it’s regularity. It’s like there’s always something new that we’re discovering.


Justin Donald: Well, while we’re on the topic of it, I’d love to talk about any research linking better sleep and better mental health to increase longevity and just overall well-being. Any info that you have there, I think can be powerful for our audience.


Meeta Singh: So, at the molecular level, DNA repair happens while you’re sleeping. And that’s what’s linked to longevity. And again and again, what you want, when we are thinking about living a long, healthy life, it really boils down to simple common sense things. It’s eating healthy. It’s getting enough and regular sleep. It’s exercising on a regular basis and it’s relationships, and it’s having meaningful relationships and having meaningful work and connections that makes us happy and live longer, which prevents stress. And I have to tell you again, in my mind, that Venn diagram, it always comes down to sleep because if you have not slept well, you do not regulate your emotions. You don’t manage relationships very well. You know, you have a tendency to self-isolate, etcetera. So, it always comes down to that and that’s what you want to do. You want to do all the things and you want to do them on a regular basis. You want to try to stay on track.


Justin Donald: Well, I think it’s interesting because people always do these studies on happiness and where the happiest countries in the world, where the happiest people in the world live. There’s this whole blue zone where people live long and are happy somewhere in Japan. But there are all these different zones around the world where it’s almost like, “Oh, was there a fountain of youth there?” And I wonder how much of this is actually sleep-related, where people are in an environment where they sleep well, they sleep what their body needs, that that’s a cultural norm and they’re not around a lot of like noise or even like electromagnetic pulses or whatever else it might be. So, I’d love to hear your thoughts on that. Just sleep with overall like happiness, wellness.


Meeta Singh: And so, I’ll tell you that most of the studies and, in fact, the longest study on happiness what they found was that the most profound effect happens on connections and relationships. And to me, good relationships and good connections, good social connections on an individual level to know that you are accepted and you belong to a person or a family or to a tribe, the fact that you feel that somebody else has your back, I think that means a lot. And actually, it’s, again, intricately linked with sleep. You really can’t separate sleep out without talking about all the mental strength or the things that happen and behaviors that might be driven by them. So, I’m a psychiatrist and a sleep medicine specialist and I believe I know that sleep is a behavior. And so, anything that you do during the day, anything and everything you do during the day affects how you sleep at night. And then how you sleep at night affects everything that happens during the day. So, it’s really the true way to approach anything is always to do it holistically.


Now, Justin, you’re absolutely right. There is a role for physicians for treatments, say for cancer or if somebody has a fracture, you definitely want to go to a doctor and get it. You want it to be evaluated and then you want it to be fixed. You know, if you have a life-threatening illness, you want to go to the hospital and get it treated. You want that to be a small percentage of the population. You want most off, you know, for the lack of healthcare dollars to be spent on holistically helping people achieve a happier, healthier life.


Justin Donald: Yeah. There’s no doubt. And by the way, something else I found pretty interesting is caffeine and the role that that plays. So, there are so many people that drink coffee. And this is, by the way, if you drink it, great. If you don’t drink it, great. But something to be aware of and you talk to me about this is how long caffeine stays in your system. And I’d love to hear you share that because most people think, “Oh, I drink it at noon. I don’t feel anything. You know, it’s worn off or I can drink it at night and no problem. I can still go to bed.” That doesn’t mean that you’re actually getting great quality sleep. I’d love to hear your thoughts on caffeine in the body.


Meeta Singh: So, this is how I would think of caffeine and I love coffee in the morning. That’s just something that’s a ritual. I really like it. I like the taste of it. Caffeine takes about 15 to 20 minutes to kick in but then its half-life is 5 to 6 hours. Now, there is some individual variation. So, some people are fast metabolizers, some are slower metabolizers, which means that if at 7:00, I’ll talk from my experience that before a 7 PM NBA game, if a player drinks a lot of caffeine, by the time 11:00 rolls around, half of it is still in their system. And then 5 hours later, a quarter of it is still in your system. So, for many people, sometimes when we are figuring out why they’re having difficulty falling asleep, it’s easy to point to culprits that are right out there, which is how much caffeine they’re drinking. What are they doing? You know, how much light exposure they’re exposed to? Like, are they on their phones? If you’re going to be answering emails and then put on your computer and say, “I’m going to fall back asleep,” that’s not how sleep happens. You really have to allow for the right circumstances for you to fall asleep. The second thing is that if you drink caffeine on a regular basis, you develop a tolerance to it, which means that you need more and more for the same effect.


And the third thing is that for people who say that, “You know, I can drink an espresso and then still go to sleep,” well, it may just happen that you are able to fall asleep, but you don’t reach the deeper stages of sleep. And because you don’t reach a deeper stage of sleep, you’ll wake up the next morning, you’re still unrested, well, what do you do? You reach for another cup of coffee. So, it’s a vicious cycle. And I think that even a simple exercise like what we did is in which you kind of monitor how much caffeine you’re drinking, it kind of gives you an accurate idea of where you’re at and whether you need to make changes to that or not. I typically will not tell people to stop caffeine or to do this but I’m happy to stand right next to you while you figure it out and decide how and whether you should be drinking caffeine and when you should be drinking it.


Justin Donald: Yeah, I think that’s great. And more than anything, I want awareness around a bunch of things that can help people sleep. And for me, I had a huge discovery when I got my Oura Ring. And so, I’m an early investor in Oura. I invested in them back when they were 100 million. I think they’re at like 1.4 or 1.5 billion now. And I’ve been using them in their data for years. And so, prior to us ever meeting, that data was huge for me because I learned that if I ate within 3 hours of going to sleep, that my sleep was messed up, that my heart rate was elevated. I learned that if I drank alcohol, which I don’t drink much, but I love a good glass of wine and I’m telling you, a small pour, like a three-ounce or six-ounce pour and three ounces, it’s like a really small serving, even that size would mess up my sleep. My heart rate would stay elevated. I wouldn’t get into deep sleep. It really messed me up. Caffeine, I don’t drink much caffeine. Periodically, I will, and I try to not ever have it past noon if I am going to have it but there have been extenuating circumstances.


Maybe I’m traveling abroad and I’m trying to stay up to the next night after not sleeping well on the flight where I’ll have some caffeine later and it really jacks with my sleep. So, whether I fall asleep or not, I’ll look at my Oura Ring and I’ll say, “Oh my goodness, my REM sleep was not good. My deep sleep was not good. My total hours of sleep tossing and turning, elevated heart rate most of the night. Sometimes it will lower later. Sometimes it never lowers and it’s just a really high heart rate,” like I’ve learned all these things. And so, I was able to put the habits in place and sleeping in a colder environment, all these things. So, when you and I met, I at least had this baseline of healthy habits and then you and I tweaked it a little more but I just find it fascinating all the things that we can discover and my sleep has never been better than it is today. Thanks to you, thanks to Oura Ring, thanks to data. And so, I’m just really thrilled to help others experience this.


Meeta Singh: So, what you described about caffeine of how you use it like you don’t use it on a regular basis but there was this one day when you knew you didn’t have enough sleep and you were in a different country, that’s the right way to use caffeine, right? It gave you alertness. So, you were able to go through your day. That’s how you strategically use caffeine. I mean, there’s studies that show how you can strategically use, how airline pilots or the armed forces use caffeine to strategically help them in performance when they have not had enough sleep the night before. Kudos to you. I think that’s a great idea. But another way to think for your audience is to think that when you are about to fall asleep, don’t think of sleep as just happening in your brain. It’s not just that your brain, everything slows down and you’re falling asleep, but all your body systems are falling asleep. So, if you eat a large meal really close to your bedtime, well, you’re sending the signal, your stomach is like, “Hello. Did you just send me another big task to do?” So, obviously, you’re not ready to fall asleep. You’re going to have difficulty sleeping, right?


Now, if the food was spicy, that would be another reason for you not to sleep because now you’ve added physical discomfort to it. If you drink alcohol, I hate to be the bearer of bad news because, in fact, a lot of people, Justin, will drink alcohol because it helps them relax and it does. Initially, alcohol does help you relax and it does help you kind of de-stress from the day. It might even help you fall asleep easier, but then as it gets metabolized, it fractures your sleep. And so, you don’t get going to deep sleep. You don’t get enough REM sleep. Your heart rate is all over the place. But the overall result is you didn’t get good sleep. You know, I mean, not to be recommended, but I jokingly tell people that apparently, the best time to drink is either at late breakfast or early lunch because then at least it’s out of your system by the time you get. And hopefully, that’s what you were doing on your vacation.


Justin Donald: I love it. I actually joke with people that not only has this data show me that I shouldn’t drink as much and so I’ve totally cut down on how much I drink, it’s that I’ve become a day drinker. So, I always tell people, “Well, I don’t drink in the evening anymore. I’m a day drinker.” And because there are less opportunities in the day than evening to drink, I just drink way less overall, which I know is good for my body.


Meeta Singh: Right. Right.


Justin Donald: And then I did a Huberman podcast on alcohol here recently, and it was a two-hour podcast and all kinds of data around alcohol. And basically, I mean, even at a once-a-week cadence, the habitual nature of that and what it can do on your body, it was really eye-opening. I mean, there’s a really good argument to be made that alcohol likely, I mean, based on the research and everyone can do whatever they want. I’m not saying do this, do that. But based on his findings, his research, all kinds of peer-reviewed stuff, there’s very little argument for having alcohol at a regular basis. And when having it, it makes most sense to have it infrequently and then if you are having it, to have it during the day.


Meeta Singh: Well, that’s what I would tell people, right? I mean, if you did everything correctly and if you had to spend 3 hours or 4 hours every day exercising and you had to like eat only like the healthiest food and you could not have a drop of alcohol and you could never eat a chocolate, I’m not sure that’s exactly the kind of life you want to lead. So, that is why moderation is a good idea. It’s good to have moderation but I think it’s even more important to address the issue on hand, which is like is, for me, if somebody comes to me and they’re drinking like three glasses of wine, the question is not what’s happening with the wine. It’s why. What happened to you during the day that you feel the requirement to kind of decompress? And is this the only way you can decompress? I think building a better set of tools that allow people to de-stress or better able to cope with their stressors. And I think that is a more effective way of dealing with that stress rather than those three or four glasses of wine. I think that’s where the focus should be.


And of course, that kind of work takes time and it’s the kind of work that you sort of have to come along on that journey because somebody else has to commit to, A, that I’m going to be first have self-awareness and then, B, I’m going to commit to kind of working on it so this can get better. And it’s going to take a while until we get it to be better. And I think that for a lot of people, they’re on the go all along. Like, the day is so busy, it’s busily packed. They have no downtime and then when they get to bed at night, that’s the first time they get to relax and all of these thoughts come crowding in and now they can’t fall asleep because their minds racing. Or when they’re sitting in front of TVs, they can’t stop thinking, well, maybe one glass of wine helps and like three months’ time, it’s like four and a half glasses of wine or more, and that’s the problem or that’s the issue.


Justin Donald: This is powerful. How can you get relaxation? How can you decompress? How can you do it in a healthy way? How can you set up proper sleep habits? And I just think the work you do is changing so many lives and doing so many things for the better. And I want people to know about you. So, where can people learn more about you, Meeta?


Meeta Singh: Well, so I do have a website. It’s called I am on Twitter. I’m on as of recently on Threads, but on Instagram as well as LinkedIn. And always happy to answer questions. Always happy to, you know, especially if people have questions about their sleep or with mental health or mental strength.


Justin Donald: Well, I love it. I highly recommend you for anyone that wants to learn, you know, what else can be done. I mean, the other thing I think that’s really cool is you’ll analyze just some simple things at the beginning and you’ll know right away. “Hey, you should probably get a sleep test or you probably don’t need a sleep test. It’s not severe enough.” And so, even early on, you can figure out just from some data how deep of work someone’s going to need. And for anyone that’s not sleeping well, a sleep test is probably one of the best things you can do anyway, just for clarity, to learn what’s going on. So, I love what you’re doing. So excited to have you on the show. And I love leaving my show asking my audience one simple question, and that is this. So, to anyone watching, anyone listening, what’s one thing holding you back today from living the life that you desire on your terms? This could be financial freedom. This could be optimizing health. This could be sleep in today’s case. But what did you learn today from this episode that you can implement in your life and really kind of take it to the next level? I would love to hear about it. Send me an email. We’d love to support you and thanks for tuning in here this week. We’ll catch you next week as well.


Meeta Singh: Justin, thank you so much.

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