#193 - AMA #31: Heart rate variability (HRV), alcohol, sleep, and more

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Episode Description:

In this “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) episode, Peter and Bob first answer a variety of questions related to heart rate variability (HRV): what it means, why it matters, and how to measure, interpret, and potentially elevate it. Next, they dive deep into the topic of alcohol, beginning with a discussion on the negative impact that it can have on sleep. They then break down the confusing body of literature suggesting potential health benefits to moderate levels of drinking compared to complete abstinence and point out the limitations of these studies. Finally, they conclude by analyzing data on the impact of moderate and heavy drinking on the liver and on risk for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Please note: this AMA is audio only. If you’re not a subscriber and listening on a podcast player, you’ll only be able to hear a preview of the AMA. If you’re a subscriber, you can now listen to this full episode on your private RSS feed or on our website at the AMA #31 show notes page. If you are not a subscriber, you can learn more about the subscriber benefits here.

We discuss:

  • What is heart rate variability (HRV), and why do we measure it? [2:10];
  • The association between low HRV and mortality risk [10:00];
  • What high and low HRV means and why athletes strive for a high HRV [15:30];
  • Factors that can raise or lower HRV [18:00];
  • How and when to measure HRV, and the best wearables [19:15];
  • Interpreting your personal HRV number and why there’s so much individual variation [23:15];
  • How Peter’s morning HRV reading impacts his decision to train [28:30];
  • Alcohol’s impact on sleep [31:30];
  • Metrics to track the impact of alcohol on your sleep [34:00];
  • Alcohol’s impact on the need to urinate during the night [39:00];
  • Alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD) [41:30];
  • Individual differences in the way people metabolize and react to alcohol consumption [44:15];
  • Analysis of epidemiology studies suggesting moderate alcohol consumption lowers mortality risk [52:00];
  • Alcohol consumption and Alzheimer’s disease [1:05:15];
  • Heavy alcohol consumption and risk of dementia [1:08:30];
  • Chronic effects of alcohol on the liver [1:17:45];
  • The relationship between alcohol, sleep, and automotive deaths [1:20:45]; and
  • More.

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