[Transcript] – The 3 Most Important & Effective Sleep Ingredients To *Finally* Get The Full, Restful Night Of Sleep Your Body & Brain Craves With Angelo Keely.

Affiliate Disclosure


From podcast: https://bengreenfieldlife.com/podcast/sleep-podcast-angelo-keely-2-2/

[00:00:00] Introduction

[00:00:54] Podcast Sponsors

[00:03:02] Podcast and Guest Info

[00:08:52] What's been up with Angelo lately

[00:22:10] Why Sleep Is Important

[00:31:50] Podcast Sponsors

[00:33:59] cont. Why sleep is important

[00:40:42] The Science Of Sleep

[00:56:34] Possible Purposes Of Sleep

[01:04:48] The Kion Sleep formulation

[01:25:40] Uses of Kion Sleep

[01:27:22] End of Podcast

Ben:  My name is Ben Greenfield. And, on this episode of The Ben Greenfield Life Podcast.

Angelo:  Taking creatine as a potential additional support for inducing sleep, supporting better and deeper sleep. It's shown that if you spend too much time in bed and you can't go to bed quickly, it can actually interfere with later sleep processes.

Ben:  Could I stack with ketones? I mean, really in my opinion, in my own anecdotal testing thus far, the answer is yes. Especially on an active day.

Angelo:  Wake up to my alarm and be like, “You know what, I want to go back into a lighter sleep state, think about this. And, I actually went back to sleep and almost processed it for a while. 

Ben:  Faith, family, fitness, health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking and a whole lot more. Welcome to the show.

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Alright, so what you are about to hear is an interview with my friend, cofounder, and CEO of Kion. The reason that I wanted to feature this podcast, which is a sleep podcast that I released a few months ago with Angelo Keely, my guest on today's show, is because in that last episode we talked about how me and he, that rhymes, actually solved almost all our sleep issues, especially like with travel and stress with one product that's got 3 clinically proven ingredients in it. 

Now, here's the deal. I've been using it ever since that episode. It has crushed sleep for me. I actually have to be careful when I take it because, I time it, like 10 to 15 minutes before bed, if I take it much farther from bed than that, I'm groggy before I even get into bed. But I find that if I get in bed, pop them, open a book, read 10, 15 minutes, boom. I don't even remember falling asleep when I take this stuff and it's supernatural, and you're not groggy the next day. It's called Kion Sleep, K-I-O-N Sleep. Get it at getKION.com. 

Anyways, the reason I'm releasing this interview again, kind of updating it is that we just released this powdered version of it and it works even better. Not only that but it's got a honey–lavender flavor and it's to die for. I just mix it with a little bit of water and it's one scoop. It's all you need. If you take the capsules, it's three of them. I actually liked them to hit my system faster, so I used to chew on the capsules. But now, this honey-lavender sleep powder is so, so good. So, if you want it, go to getKION.com, you can find it. It's called Kion Sleep, and the power that we talk about is the new honey-lavender version. It is so good and so effective. That's going to help you sleep so well. So, enjoy.

You've probably seen me on social media talking about how I have vastly simplified my personal sleep protocol. And, the way that I've done that is by taking just three teeny tiny white capsules of this new stuff called, I never thought of this name wasn't very creative, Sleep. It's the Kion Sleep supplement that I've been popping now. And, as far as how fast I fall asleep, how long I stay asleep, how good my restfulness scores are, it's pretty shocking. More than I actually even anticipated after having kind of studied up on a lot of the ingredients that are in this thing.

So, my guest on today's podcast has joined me multiple times. We did a really comprehensive show on pretty much everything that you need to know about protein powder and amino acids. I'll link to that one in the shownotes. We also did a show about his background and everything from kettlebells and meditation and ketogenic doughnuts, and a whole lot more. That was a fun episode too. And, I'll link to that one in the shownotes as well, which are all going to be at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/SleepPodcast. That's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/SleepPodcast.

If you haven't guessed already, my guest on today's show is the great, the wonderful, straight out of Boulder, the man himself, Angelo Keely, the co-founder and CEO of Kion, and my friend, and a great guy, father, husband, and somebody who is now helping a whole lot of people sleep better. Welcome to the show, Angelo.

Angelo:  I love being here, man. And, it's an honor.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, if we would have waited a couple weeks, we could have done it while we were just sitting in an ice bath or a hot tub, or I don't know, swinging some kettlebells with one hand, holding the microphone in the other up here at my pad. I can't wait to see in a few weeks, man.

Angelo:  I know, man. I can't wait to be there.

Ben:  Yeah.

Angelo:  It's been too long.

Ben:  Yeah.

Angelo:  It's been really long since I've been to Spokane. I feel you've been to Boulder and you're at the retreat last year and stuff. But, I haven't been up to Spokane in a while, so I'm stoked to see you and Jessa and the boys.

Ben:  Yes, you have to come visit.

Angelo:  Eat some steak.

Ben:  Come visit Spokompton. We actually are just opening the kimono for folks. We're going to do a really cool steak and meet a palooza video while Angelo's up here. So, Angelo, probably not a good idea to bring any of your vegan friends, they might go hungry. But, we'll have some carnivore action to go around. So, anyway–

Angelo:  I ate all my vegan friends. So, I'm left.

Ben:  That was nice of you. I'm sure they were tender.

Okay. So, we're going to talk about sleep, man. Let's talk about sleep before we lose all of our plant-loving listeners. 

So, you and I have gone back and forth. Gosh, I don't know how many phone calls we've had about how can we help people sleep better, what are the things that are actually proven in human clinical research to support sleep and support sleep the right way, what are the things that you can consume that help you to sleep but unlike say THC, or high-dose melatonin, or valium, or diazepam, or an antihistamine don't keep you drowsy the next morning, or just F with your sleep architecture big time even if you are sleeping. So, we've gone back and forth and back and forth. And then, last month, we finally brought to the masses this crazy effective sleep supplement that I want to talk about. But, I don't want to put the cart before the horse even though I don't understand what that means because I drive a car. And, I want to talk about sleep first of all because I think it is important despite this perhaps being slightly boring for people, I want to get into laying out some of the baseline of why sleep is important.

But, before we even do that, I would love to just get a quick catch up on you, and in particular, what you've been up to in the realm of sleep because what you've shared with me is that you've been diving in pretty heavily like sleep research, and even psychoanalysis, and sleep, and dreams. So, fill me in, man.

Angelo:  Well, man, just you said, we've been going back and forth on this even before we kicked off the sleep supplement project. It's been years that we've been talking about sleep and trying to figure out if Kion makes a product in sleep, why would we do it? How would it work? Why would it matter? And, from that perspective, it's just important to not just be looking at research and not just being kind of ultra-technical about it but really thinking about what sleep means for people and why it matters. That said, I already loved to sleep, and I think was intrigued by sleep and intrigued my dreams and tracked my sleep. So, it's really just been a deepening of that. And, I think what some people don't realize is it's not just you and I talking about this, we have researchers and scientists and people bringing us ideas and all different types of studies. And so, to be able to really participate in that and break it apart and have super constructive dialogue, you have to immerse yourself in it. So, it's been awesome and I've loved it.

And then, honestly, separate from that, I did about two years ago, I've always been interested in being a better person and that there's potential for different types of therapeutic models to support with that whether they just talk therapy, or somatic, or some type of drug-induced therapy. Just always been curious about that and how to get better. And, I did engage. I got this opportunity to engage in three times a week psychoanalysis. And, I've been doing it for the last two years now.

Ben:  Geez.

Angelo:  And, it's not like it's the most traditional Freudian thing, but it's definitely of that tradition and it's been intriguing and it's really enhanced my dream life. It's gotten to the point where I intentionally try to go to sleep to remember what my dreams are when I wake them up to journal about them into.

Ben:  Really.

Angelo:  Yeah.

Ben:  Okay. So, I want to hear a little bit about that.

Angelo:  Talk about them in therapy. It's been really intriguing.

Ben:  So, tell me because where I'm at Angelo is I know I dream, I sometimes have certain dreams that recur like one is me wandering through some massive city with some friends like trying to solve some puzzle but it just never ends. And then, I get re-injected back into that dream it seems like on a weekly basis. I'm sure there's something that I need to resolve in my life that my brain just keeps coming back to and trying to process. But, despite me knowing and hearing about the value of keeping a dream journal that you can just wake up and write it down before you forget it, or if you wake up during the night, write down before you forget it, I just don't do it. But, it sounds like you are actually doing that and getting benefit out of it.

Angelo:  I am. And, I think there's two ways of responding to you in that, and about why it may be important. One would be more mechanistic and theoretical. Yeah, when you dream, it means this, and you need to dissect it in this exact same way. And, to be totally honest, through my own process of doing this work as well as studying the history of dream interpretation from Freud up into more contemporary like empirical studies, we still don't really know what it is. It seems there's very strong significance of either some form of processing emotional valence of memories in REM dreams. It seems there's a pretty strong sense of that, the degree to which it needs to be interpreted in certain ways or what the things mean. Are they veiled, more distressing thoughts that you don't feel comfortable with bringing up in your regular consciousness unless that's why your dream does it but you'll remember part of it? I don't know about all that. What I can say though now personally kind of my second approach the question is absolutely through the process of bringing more of my thoughts that I have in my mind that maybe I wasn't as comfortable saying or thinking about or admitting or talking through by bringing them out verbally and talking about them. And then, in the same way, doing that with my dreams. So, acknowledging what my dreams are, writing about them, thinking about them. Overall, it's influenced a process for me of being more comfortable with myself, being more clear about what I'm feeling, being more clear about maybe what certain sensations I have at different moments are actually reflecting certain feelings or emotional states. And, ultimately, being a better husband, being a better dad, being more emotionally present.

Does it all go down to the dreams or it is it more about the talk therapy? I haven't been doing some kind of clinical study–

Ben:  No. I mean, I'm sure it's multimodal. Yeah, it's like when somebody, whatever, switches to a low-carb diet. Yeah, maybe it's that their macros have been adjusted, but maybe it's also that they're not eating pizza on Saturday nights, and drinking beer for dinner every night, and having oatmeal with oodles of maple syrup for breakfast or whatever. So, there's obviously a lot of factors. But, do you literally keep? Is it just a journal and a pen by the bedside?

Angelo:  I do. I have a journal that's specifically for recording dreams. Well, I would say specifically for I've adapted it some. Yeah, it's a journal specifically for dreams, so I don't include planning and I don't know cool ideas for business or things like that, it's really just for dreaming. Sometimes I'll journal it before I go to bed, but that journaling will be more dream-like like poetry or almost a prayer to dream, actually explicitly like praying to dream in writing. And then, when I wake up in the morning, writing down whatever those dreams are, journaling about maybe what they mean to me, but without any agenda, there's no formal process I'm following, I'm just kind of doing that.

One other thing I've done too is other points in my life where I find myself colloquially as we would say “fall asleep,” I'm kind of not conscious of what I'm doing. One of those places for me is overeating a dinner. The rest of my day is pretty dialed in. For some reason, I still have this thing at dinner where it's like I'll eat enough and I still want to eat more. I've literally brought my dream journal to the table and write about what I'm feeling right then and kind of try to involve different states of my consciousness in that because something's happening where I go kind of unconscious. If you find yourself kind of emotionally reacting in certain relationships, maybe there's some way you talk to your wife and like, “Nah, I won't do that,” but you do it. I bring my journal to those moments and try to connect it somehow whether or not dreaming will actually impact that, I don't know but it's working for me.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. I'm sure that part of it is just the mindfulness component in general like any time that you're more mindful chewing your food, breathing, paying attention to your bites, finding what I've been calling lately the space between the notes, which is, of course, not just relevant to music but also relevant to eating, and looking people in the eyes, and listening to someone's voice, and driving in your car, finding the space between the notes everywhere when you're actually having to write down, you actually are just paying more attention mindfully period.

But then, the other thing that I'm curious about, oh and by the way, my hack for the eating is I just always have ketones and aminos waiting in the wings. And, I do those after dinner and I'm good. If I know I have those waiting in the wings, I just know like, “I'd have to eat all this food so I don't wake up hungry later on tonight.” However, I haven't tried the dream journal thing. But, one other question for you regarding the dream journal. If you dream and you wake up at night, do you start journaling right away? You just wait until the morning, you journal it all?

Angelo:  It depends. I actually had an experience. I got some pretty crazy dreams this last week. And, on Monday night, I typically wake up around 5:00, but I woke up earlier at 4:30 from the stream. And, I just got up and I started journaling then. But, it's interesting, it was a more stimulating really weird dream. I didn't know what the things meant. I was kind of uncomfortable with it. I was like, “I don't want to write this down.” I don't even like that this is in me kind of thing. And, I think that's what made me like, “Dude, you just got to go for it, write it out, talk about what it is with yourself.” Whereas, on Tuesday night, I had a pretty intense dream but it was really pleasant and harmonious and there was lots of sense-making, it made a lot of sense to me. And, I found myself actually, I set an alarm, wake up to my alarm and be like, “You know what, I want to go back into a lighter sleep state and kind of think about this.” And, I actually went back to sleep and almost processed it for a while and then got up about 90 minutes later and journaled then. So, I don't know.

Ben:  Yeah, you're making me want to journal my dreams, Angelo. I will try. Maybe when you come up here, that could be my impetus. You got to hold me accountable and just make me drag my dream journal to the dinner table. Or, you could just sit in a stool by my bed kind of like Freud, and just kind of sit there watching me sleep because if I know you're watching and I'll wake up, and you would be willing to do that for a friend, right?

Angelo:  We'll offer you this invitation. If you're interested in it, start doing your dream journaling now. And then, when we get there, we can talk about it because that's another thing I used to realize. When people talk about their dreams, I'd almost be like, “I don't know,” it almost freaked me out getting into other people's, hearing about their dreams. And now, I feel more open to it and–

Ben:  Yeah, okay.

Angelo:  It's almost cool. It's talking about kind of, I don't know, it's another thing to connect on. So, I would love it if we could do that.

Ben:  Well, my dreams are also super complex and seem to go for a really long time. So, I have to tell you, I may use the voice memo function on my phone. I don't know if that's cheating but–

Angelo:  That's not cheating.

Ben:  Getting up in the morning, wandering around making coffee, I might just start talking my dreams to myself. I could do that, right?

Angelo:  Totally. Do it. Ain't nothing wrong with that. 

Ben: Okay. Then, I'll send it to you to transcribe.

Angelo:  What comes up though is now I want to try that because I'm like, “Ha, I wonder how the somatic processing of writing versus the oral expression of it might even be different.” So, I'm curious.

Ben:  I'm sure it is. Well, I'll go get my psychiatry degree and then come back before our next show and let you know.

Okay. So, based on all that, all this dreaming and everything. I have my theories, but I want to hear yours. Why do you even think that, not specifically why we dream because you kind of alluded to that a little bit, but why would you say based on what you've learned with this deep dive you've done into sleep research and kind of turning yourself into a sleep ninja the past year or so, why do you actually think we sleep? And, bonus points if you can talk in, what's his name, like a Matthew Walker kind of English accent as you explain?

Angelo:  I don't know if I can hold that. Let me–

Ben:  If I'll tell you, I'd be sleeping. Okay, sorry go ahead.

Angelo:  I'll keep my normal accent for my response. One of the most interesting things about sleep is that we do it so much, on average, eight hours a night for our whole life. Well, a lot more when we're younger and yet we still know very little about it, how it works, why we do it, its purpose, and surprisingly even compared to other bodily, we were studying circulation, we were studying how the heart works, breathing, 200 years before, and really we didn't really get into sleep until–I think Freud kind of brought it up. He said he was doing a scientific study on it, he wasn't really. We were just doing clearly what we were talking about dreams was not scientific. But, he thought he was doing scientific, it wasn't. But then, in the '20s with the development of the EEG, suddenly there was the ability to actually measure brain activity–

Ben:  1920s.

Angelo:  1924, I think.

Ben:  Okay.

Angelo:  I think, guy is Hans Berger. He was a German physiologist who originally developed it. And, the way the EEG works is that it measures brain activity in very large chunks. So, it's not like it's measured measuring exactly how this neuron fires, instead, it's measuring overall brain activity in the entire brain, which is how we have since determined the different stages of sleep, the types of the frequency. Meaning how fast and the amplitude how big the waves move across different groups of neurons firing in our brain is really only in the last hundred years. It's been behind other bodily studies of bodily function.

In the summary of all that research, there's a few different hypotheses that have come up about why we potentially sleep. Obviously, it's homeostatic and it doesn't take a genius to observe that of like you delay your sleep and you stay awake for a really long time. You feel you need to sleep that much more and you do. And, even if you don't have enough sleep for many days during the week, there is a need and a true bodily function of getting catch-up sleep over the weekend. So clearly, there's a relationship where sleep serves a purpose of refilling or recovering from some type of behavior that happens or process from the body that happens during being awake. What exactly that process is or are there many processes I think is that's the real question. The two most, I think, seriously considered are brain energy reserves.

Ben:  Okay.

Angelo:  So, literally the brain being able to refill its energy reserves.

Ben:  And, when you say brain energy reserves, are you referring to the amino acid pool, creatine phosphate, ATP, all the above?

Angelo:  Glycogen stores. It's literally glycogen stores, but adenosine does play a very interesting role in this but really it's about glycogen stores. So, the brain, unlike other organs actually, contains its own kind of private glycogen stores and glial cells that the rest the body doesn't have. And, it specifically has that so that it can make sure that the brain keeps running and going. But basically, as those glycogen stores are reduced, which is similar with the rest of the body, adenosine is released and adenosine naturally has this kind of sleep-inducing effect as well as it encourages more blood flow into those cells. There's been pretty clear studies across many years that when you have increased periods of wakefulness that your glycogen stores in the brain well–so, I want to be real clear here too. What's also interesting all the study of sleep is that we're basically combining human studies that they're either measuring the actual reported behaviors and experiences of humans in scientific studies or EEG observation, and then we're combining that with more mechanistic studies within animals.

So, anytime we're talking about like this is happening in the cell in this exact way, there's almost none of that that's happened in humans. It's almost always happened in animals. But, luckily all animals sleep as well. And, mammals and birds also have non-REM and REM stages of sleep, which we can get into. It's a pretty good model to be going back and forth between trying to observe what's happening in an animal and what's happening in a human.

Ben:  Yeah. And, by the way, the glycogen thing is super interesting because a lot of people, especially people hear about how good the ketogenic diet is for cognition, assume that the brain's primary source of fuel is ketones. You hear that all the time like, “Oh, the brain loves ketones.” And, if you feed it glucose, the analogy here the most is, it's like putting a bunch of chihuahuas with machine guns in your brain running around. But, the fact is the brain actually has glycogen stores like the liver, like the muscles. A lot of people don't realize that. It will actually break down glycogen as well as rely upon lactic acid, similar to a lot of your muscles as a source of glucose. And, technically if you look at trace needs, I've seen data all over the place, but it's somewhere in the range of 30 to 60 grams or so that your brain will actually need as a daily fuel thus dictating that especially for an exercising individual who wants proper neural function and bioavailable glucose, substrates for your neural cells, you technically are going to really short yourself from a cognition standpoint if you're eating fewer than 30 grams of carbohydrates on a daily basis, which many people who do a ketogenic diet granted you can get some gluconeogenesis from protein, et cetera. But, it's kind of interesting to think about the fact that the brain actually needs sugar. Some people don't think about that and I think other people use that as an excuse for a tough day to eat a Snickers bar at the end of the day because you got to feed that brain.

But then, the other interesting thing that I find is how you feel kind of a cognitive pick-me-up after you've worked out. And, a lot of that is obviously epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine. I check the box, dopaminergic response, all the good things that happen, but it is interesting because the Cori cycle will take lactic acid and convert it into glucose. And, the one kind of exercise that really makes this happen is a blood flow restriction training. When you tourniquet the arms and legs, you get this huge dump in in what's called VEGF, which is vascular endothelial growth factor, along with brain-derived neurotrophic factor. So, both these molecules rush to the head, increase blood flow to the head, all the lactic acid gets converted into glucose, that rushes to the head and literally doing a workout and especially workout that produces an appreciable amount of lactic acid literally is a gasoline tank for the brain, which is really interesting to think about. And then, the last thing I'm just kind of thinking as you're talking then I'll shut up is they're–

Angelo:  I mean, you're on point about all these things.

Ben:  Yeah. Anecdotally, there's a lot of people who seem to benefit from using like I do ketone esters and amino acids before bed. And, what do both offer? Well, they offer an alternative substrate to glucose. And, that's interesting because obviously there is going to be a little bit of a cortisolic response to going hypoglycemic in the evening. And so, if you can stave that off not only with adequate carbohydrates with dinner but then maybe throwing in some alternative substrates like amino acids or collagen, or ketones, or MCT oil, it is kind of a hack if you look at this from a brain glycogenic standpoint. So, just kind of a rabbit hole, but I thought that was interesting as you were describing that.

Angelo:  And, I think everything that you just went into is totally around this frame of brain energy reserves. The exercise, I mean, is specifically around actually supporting these glycogen stores as well. And then, yes, the ketone esters being this other potential support. I also think what is really interesting about this is, and I haven't gone enough deep into all the research about why creatine potentially supports sleep. I feel you've honestly done more of that than I have. But, the fact that the increase of not only these other inhibitory neurotransmitters like GABA being the primary, but really adenosine being this primary function that induces these deeper delta waves seems very closely tied somehow to taking creatine as a potential additional support for inducing sleep, supporting better and deeper sleep.

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So, Masszymes, by the way, is a powerful enzyme supplement. It improves digestion. It reduces gas and bloating, provides relief from constipation. BiOptimizer has a lot of great products but Masszymes is kind of their flagship, especially if you eat protein and you want to get the most benefit out of it, or if you have like leaky gut, gas bloating, this stuff helps tremendously. So, you can go to Masszymes.com/BenFree. There's no strings attached, no automatic subscriptions or renewals, nothing to cancel. Masszymes.com/BenFree. M-A-S-S-Z-Y-M-E-S.com/BenFree. 

You know, I'm honestly shocked. Every time I see a bodybuilder or fitness influencer or anyone really promoting branch chain amino acids, also known as BCAA. You see these things all over the place. I just don't get it. They're only have three of the nine essential amino acids your body needs. They can cause issues like messing with your serotonin levels and depleting your B vitamins, they affect your blood sugar deleteriously, and a whole lot more. But the dark and dirty secret and the supplements industry is that you can make a lot of money off of the overpriced flavored water that is essentially BCAAs. So, I use the word “essentially,” I suppose, quite fittingly, because the alternative are essential amino acids. Essential amino acids actually have all the amino acids your body actually need. They are great for energy, great for preserving muscle, great for fasting and keeping the appetite satiated. Great for nourishing the body for sleep, good for cognitive performance. They're like the Swiss Army knife of supplements. These essential amino acids. 

I'm blown away by the number of people who have heard me talk about essential amino acids on the podcast who started using them and who literally feel like they're on steroids without actually being on steroids. Kion is the company that has the perfect ratios, perfectly primed for recovery for muscle maintenance, for muscle building. Kion Aminos are better than not only every branch chain amino acid supplement out there, but because there are essential amino acids in my opinion, based on the ratios, the flavor: watermelon, mango, berry, lime. So good. Better than any aminos out there period. And I'm going to give you a 20% discount for the Kion Aminos. Go to getKION.com/BenGreenfield. That’s getKION.com/BenGreenfield and I'll give you a special discount on your first-time purchase of Kion Aminos.

I think creatine is also just basically based upon that energy availability equation. I mean, as we talked about in one of our last podcasts where we talked about creatine, it's an amino acid, it's an essential molecule in cellular ATP synthesis. And so, any tissues that have high demand for glucose, including the brain, including the muscle are going to be in a more stabilized state or at least experience fewer fluctuations in metabolic rate when the creatine pool is available. And, yeah, there are some studies directly that use EEG analysis and creatine and find that it specifically enhances delta brainwave activity with creatine supplementation. That's not right before bed because your body can store creatine, you can literally take just creatine on a daily basis like 5 grams to keep your levels topped off. And, it's yet another feather in the cap of creatine that I think a lot of people are unaware of. And, again, I mean this analogy just because it makes me sound cool and smart not putting the cart before the horse or the horse before the cart. I don't remember. But anyways, it is kind of cool when you start to think about, okay–

Angelo:  The trailer before the truck.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah, exactly. So, if I've got a really good sleep supplement, and we'll talk about some ingredients here in a little bit, what else could I stack it with to make the ultimate fuel? If I am somebody who exercises a lot say or is a highly glycolytically active athlete, could I stack with creatine? Could I stack with amino acids? Could I stack with ketones? And, I mean really in my opinion, in my own anecdotal testing thus far, the answer is hell yes, especially on an active day.

Angelo:  And, I think the thing about something like stacking with something like a creatine, which it doesn't have as much sleep study as some of the other ingredients that we'll talk about later or why they got put in Kion Sleep is that all these ingredients including creatine, they're supporting your body in such a way that it allows the natural sleep process to work on its own. It's not like you're doping your brain to get it to fall asleep or to go into some specific mode, you're basically just giving it what it needs.

Ben:  Right. Or, the argument with melatonin possibly putting something into your body that from an endocrine or hormonal standpoint may downregulate something your body might be making anyways. I know that was a discussion we had early on. We didn't want to create a scenario of dependency or downregulation of something that you should be making naturally.

Angelo:  Especially for something you want to take every day. I think that's the biggest point around something like melatonin. It actually can have really great benefits if you're specifically trying to reset your circadian clock.

Ben:  Right. Because that's what it's most tied to. I know you've written extensively on this. If you're going to do some type of intense travel internationally, that's actually the time to try to use it when you're trying to reset that clock. But, if you're trying to give your body what it needs every day to just sleep well and you're practicing overall pretty good sleep habits, I think there's more risk than there is benefit.

Angelo:  Yeah, yeah.

Ben:  Now, do you do much tracking or in some of the research leading up to developing this sleep supplement, did you use Oura or a WHOOP, or start to study sleep stages, speed and amplitude of waves during sleep, any of those type of things? Or, did you find anything interesting?

Angelo:  I mean, personally, yes, I use a sleep tracker and I've tracked. As we started to practice with this supplement on our own, I tracked my own sleep to see how to improve both my deep sleep and my stage 3 non-REM deep sleep as well as my REM sleep and it improved both. In terms of actually how the brain wave patterns work and why different wave patterns are associated with different stages of sleep. Yeah, extensively. Is that something you want to get into?

Ben:  Yeah. I would love to get a little bit of an overview for folks in terms of what we're actually trying to target when it comes to these sleep stages and what kind of would be a gold standard from a sleep stage standpoint or from a wave standpoint during sleep. 

Angelo:  Getting back to this around kind of how sleep works and what we're talking about in terms of the waves is if you go back to what I was talking about earlier around the EEG, which is basically putting electrodes on your head and measuring what the neuronal activity is. There are different frequencies and amplitudes, so frequencies like how often the wave is going as well as amplitudes. Meaning how big they are. In a waking state, we call it a beta wave and it's around 14 to 30 hertz. So, this is the highest frequency. It's the most often that it's going. And, the waves are very small. They're very short. They're not these huge amplitude waves. They basically represent a lot of activity across the whole brain that is desynchronized, which would make sense. In your waking state, you're having to deal with all different types of activities, all different types of processes all at the same time so your brain is firing in different ways across the entire brain all at the same time.

Ben:  Right.

Angelo:  The next state is if you say, for example, lie down and close your eyes or begin a breathing meditation, your brain will go into what we call alpha. And, alpha is a slightly lower frequency. It's 9 to 13 hertz. And, again, that's kind of the frequency of how often these things happen in a minute. After that is when we actually talk about what sleep is. We've talked about different stages of sleep in the past, but now we've really gotten down to–there's basically four stages of sleep.

Ben:  Okay. And, I should note, by the way, before you go to sleep, so alpha can still be super relaxing. Some people will use one of these light sound machines, a BrainTap, or NuCalm, or something like that, or even a meditation or a yoga need recession. And, sometimes they'll be just an alpha, but if you're super hyped up and in beta during a lot of the day, even something as simple as a 20 to 30-minute shift into alpha can be kind of refreshing just from a nap standpoint. But, you're right, it's not yet actual sleep, it's kind of just a quick stepping away from full beta or at least a beta/alpha combo.

Angelo:  I would say it's 100% what you described. It's definitely more relaxing. And, actually a lot of the kind of initial studies that have been done around GABA and L-theanine really relate directly to this. So, helping people reduce beta and increase alpha, which is a much more calm feeling, but it's not unconscious. And also, yeah, meditation kind of lives within the alpha and the theta states. So, it's somewhere between alphas maybe those initial stages if you're doing Yoga Nidra. If you really go into deep meditation, you can start to go into the theta state, which theta also overlaps with what is stage 1 sleep. The stage 1, 2, and 3 are all non-REM. And, REM is just rapid eye movement. Meaning in REM sleep, if you look at someone, their eyes are literally moving a lot.

Ben:  Right. And, that's not happening during the first three stages.

Angelo:  That is not happening during the first three stages.

So, stage 1, which is we call theta, the hertz go down even a little bit more. They go down to 4 to 8 hertz. So, it's clear from beta to alpha to theta, there's a lower frequency. And, this stage is defined by what we call hypnagogic hallucinations or maybe when you feel like you're falling and you have those kind of hypnic jerks. But, the hypnagogic hallucinations would be more ultra-realistic visions or little ideas or things that you see. It's not bizarre REM dreams that we associate more with traditional dreaming.

Ben:  Right. But, this would be literally not restless leg syndrome, but when your leg kind of jerks or you feel your partner kind of twitch. That's the type of thing that's happening in that stage 1?

Angelo:  Yes, exactly. And, this theta stage, it's the stage 1, which is theta, is pretty short. It's 5% of your sleep. Well, 5% of an adult. It changes over the course of your life. But, it's pretty short, it's a few minutes. 

Then, you move into stage 2 sleep, which is around the same hertz. It's still like theta waves, but you start getting these things called sleep spindles and K complexes. And so, if you actually look at the EEG, if you're looking at a beta and an alpha wave EEG, they're pretty consistent. It's just these little lines like you would assume. Whereas, in stage 2, you get these sleep spindles where it bunches up really quickly, and then with K complexes, it'll shoot up really high. So, it's some type of processing in the brain that's occurring in this kind of bursts of activity in that way. And, what's interesting is this stage 2 sleep makes up the bulk of our sleep. And, you're pretty deep in here but you're not at your deepest stage. After that, you move into stage 3. And, in the past deep sleep, which is stage 3 was broken apart into stage 3 and stage 4, but since then as they've analyzed more EEGs, it's just gotten simplified into stage 3. And, that's what we call the delta wave, which is the slowest wave. It's less than 4 hertz and it has the highest amplitude.

And, I think what's most interesting about this is if you go back and compare this to the beta wave of wake, which is 14 to 30 hertz. It's really fast. It's these little, tiny waves shaking really fast. And, you maybe equate that to white noise just buzzing. These much less frequent but higher amplitude waves represent the neurons in the brain acting in greater coordination and moving more slowly together. So, it's almost the difference of white noise and a symphony playing all together, a symphony that is warming up during wake with white noise. Everyone's kind of doing their own thing. And then, the stage 3 delta is the whole symphony playing slowly in perfect coordination together. And, that's why we call the delta stage synchronized brain activity and the beta unsynchronized. It's kind of chaos versus very organized–

Ben:  Yeah. Almost when you go to the orchestra and they're warming up in the pit and then eventually they start playing and it's all synchronized. Even though they're doing something and they're getting ready to do something, it hasn't quite synced up yet. And, you're saying in stage 3, that's when everything kind of syncs up.

Angelo:  Exactly. And then, kind of bizarrely, the stage 3 quickly goes back through stage 2 and stage 1, and then you land in REM. And, REM is just not those other stages of sleep, a few things change. From a wave perspective, suddenly you get beta waves again. So, the brain activity looks like you're awake, but you're clearly asleep. The other thing that happens is that your body becomes paralyzed. Basically, certain functions occur in the brain that control all your motor movements and ensure that you're paralyzed. And, the reason for that is because your brain is so active. And, this is the part when you are most likely to dream and more bizarre, weird dreams. And, it makes sense that your body needs to be kind of paralyzed because otherwise, you'd be acting them out and moving around, et cetera. So, basically, this whole phase. So, going from stage 1 all the way to REM is about 90 minutes. And then, we do it again. And then, we do it again and then we do it again.

Ben:  And so, when people say sleep cycles, those are the cycles they're referring to.

Angelo:  Those are the cycles that they're referring to. The main changes that occur in the cycles over the period of night is that progressively, so earlier in the night, the non-REM sleep is longer and the REM sleep is shorter. And, progressively through the night, that switches, and the REM becomes longer and longer, and the non-REM becomes shorter and shorter.

Ben:  So, arguably then, if the non-REM becomes shorter and shorter as the night goes on, you might actually say that you dream more kind of after midnight or closer towards the wee hours of the morning than you do in your early phases of sleep.

Angelo:  Yes. You are spending more time in REM sleep and thus have more opportunity to dream.

Ben:  Interesting. That's fascinating. So, when people are tracking and they're looking at this stuff, that's basically everything that they see. And, obviously, we just had daylight savings time, which kind of throws a little bit of a wrench into this equation. It's great for I think it was World War I or World War II strategy to save on fuel by allowing people to have more daytime light. But obviously, for about the first week, that thing kicks in, it messes with circadian rhythms. There's impacts on sleep. There's impacts on kids' function. There's an impact on productivity. There's even an impact on the overall GDP in the economy just from work loss and people's sleep getting a little bit crazy. But, in terms of these circadian rhythms, do you actually see a significant shift forwards, backwards amount of time splitting each cycle. Did you look at anything like that?

Angelo:  Is your question with changes to daylight savings time?

Ben:  Well, I guess more specifically, yeah, like what are circadian rhythms and how do they affect sleep?

Angelo:  So, circadian rhythms are bigger than sleep. I'd say that's the most important thing to say first. Circadian rhythms naturally all animals that live on planet Earth have lived on a planet that's been dictated by cycles of day and night. And, I'm saying “thus” but it seems pretty obvious. All animals then actually have daily rhythms. And, whether those rhythms include sleep at night and awake during the day or the inverse, they all have some kind of cycle like that. They also have cycles around metabolism. They have cycles around digestion. They have cycles around hormones, et cetera, that can be impacted by sleep but also to some degree actually operate on their own. So, circadian rhythms, sleep is one thing that they impact. And, circadian rhythms actually function inherently within animals and within humans on their own outside of even cues of light and darkness. So, if you take an animal and they've done these studies where you literally take them out of the natural environment and you put them only in dark, literally you will still see these cycles occurring and you can measure the brain activity in similar ways we were talking about earlier based on that. 

That said, light is the number one most important thing that cues the circadian rhythm. There are other things like we talked about earlier with melatonin, you can actually hack it and support it by taking that specific hormone to actually support your circadian rhythm reset. But yeah, so if you get inputs of light at different times, it will impact how your circadian rhythm functions. And, this actually has a lot to do with why people in Nordic countries can end up actually having different types of circadian rhythm disorders. It has to do with why when you travel over long distances why jet lag happens and especially with something like jet lag, our bodies adapted over time to be able to maybe travel over a time zone in a day or travel over maybe a couple time zones in a couple days or something but not travel all the way around the world. So, it's–

Ben:  I don't know. I've got medallion status on delta. I think I've actually evolved as a human being due to my extensive airline travel.

Angelo:  I don't doubt that with you, Ben. I would not doubt that the amount of travel that you've done and the amount of experiments you've done, you might have fundamentally changed your genes. But, yeah, it's very difficult to basically the impact of light which are called phase shifts or phase advances, phase delays or phase advances when the light is introduced can dramatically kind of mess up how your circadian rhythm works. So, overall, what your circadian rhythm does is it tells your body when certain things should happen and basically holds back the need to feel like you need to be tired until it thinks you need to be tired. If you have an issue with that, then it will dramatically hamper sleep.

I think that a lot of the types of things that we're talking about today and even the formulation of Kion Sleep is not directly to shift circadian rhythm.

Ben:  Like melatonin would do, for example.

Angelo:  Yeah. I think circadian rhythm is going to be way more about really good daily sleep habits when you go to sleep and when you wake up, exercise. It's kind of broader behavioral things that will have a bigger impact on that unless you literally have some kind of significantly altered medical issue.

Ben:  Yeah. That being said, I'd be remiss not to mention that when we're talking about jet lag and circadian rhythmicity, obviously light exercise meal when you get to where you're going preferably with a lot of protein in it the first time that the people eat in the new section of the world that you happen to be in, et cetera, et cetera. There's a lot of these sleep practices. But, the one that I think is important that sometimes flies under the radar for people is how impactful the gut biome is on circadian rhythmicity and on jet lag. I think that in the same way that a lot of people will use melatonin. And, I've even referred to that before as a melatonin sledgehammer the first couple of nights when you get to where you're going. Same thing with the biome, actually traveling with some type of a well-formulated probiotic because the link between the biome and jet lag seems to do a really helpful job for a lot of people in terms of re-regulating that circadian clock. But again, these are not things that would be every night type of scenario. And, this is why we're laying down a body of knowledge for you guys in this podcast is be like, okay, so you travel and maybe you're exercising less when you travel, maybe you need less brain food, so to speak, and your travel stack, but let's say anxiety and stress is higher and you're jet lagged. Well, your sleep stack might be Kion Sleep with melatonin, a probiotic, and a little CBD or phosphatidylcholine for the stress component, or maybe you're just in your normal environment so you're rocking it, you're training hard. So, in that case, you could use Kion Sleep and combine it with some creatine, some ketones and some aminos. So, that's what I love is at least in my initial testing so far, you kind of get your base foundation needs met with Kion Sleep and then you can just kind of go on and throw any other little fun things in there that you want to. But, that's what I think I really want to get across to people is it's pretty foundational.

But, there was one thing, Angelo, that when we were talking about the purpose of sleep, we did talk speaking of brain energy reserves about that but we didn't talk about was one other thing that I think is important that we should touch on. And, that's the idea of how, especially if you're learning or you're studying, there's something that happens with learning during sleep, right?

Angelo:  Yeah, absolutely. And, this is an example of significant clinical research specifically on humans actually performing tasks. So, people being given a task to try to memorize a set of figures, information, organize information actually everything from being able to just memorize information to actually memorize information and then pull insights out of it. Say you're trying to go through a task of solving problems that involves memorization but then also being able to discover that there's maybe a cheat code to it or a simpler way of doing it. All of these are dramatically improved by sleep. And, in most cases, sleep that night. So, it's not the kind of thing where you can study really hard and then not sleep and then study really hard and not sleep and then sleep a bunch over the weekend and then it's going to make up for it. No. Literally, you have to sleep the day of when you were trying to perform that task to improve your memory, both memory and the ability for kind of more creative insight problem-solving potential.

Interestingly though too, I think in earlier sleep research, there's a lot of excitement around the idea of like, “Wow, maybe you could listen to foreign languages while you sleep and actually be learning while you sleep.” And, they did studies on it and it didn't work. But, something that they have more recently done, and I think there's a lot of promise for it. Man, I wish I could be part of one of these studies or, I don't know, hire someone to do it for me. If you participate in certain types of learning or memory-based activities during the day and you have a sensorial cue, they've mostly done this with sense, so they have a specific scent that you smell, and then at certain stages of your sleep, they reintroduced the scent, they had markedly improved memory of what you had studied earlier in the day, the next day. So, there's actually ways of cueing the part of your brain. Not only–

Ben:  Cuing in this case via olfactory receptors.

Angelo:  Yes.

Ben:  Yeah.

Angelo:  And, actually cueing the brain then to actually even more deeply process and store that memory. So, just purely there's benefit to sleeping. It's very clear, but also there might be really exciting new ways of improving your memory more.

Ben:  Yeah, that memory thing is it's so relevant. If you're studying for a test, we have a specific type of music or a specific type of scent like lavender, peppermint, or cinnamon, or whatever. Even a specific type of supplement that you have consumed when you're studying that you then take again when you're on the test, it's really interesting how much that increases your ability to be able to recall the thing that your body associates with that sensory stimulus. So, I just think that's absolutely fascinating. Then, the other thing is super interesting when it comes to learning and memory consolidation, a little bit more woo, but I do this. I will program my subconscious before I go to sleep if I have a problem, when people tell you they're going to walk on something or they're going to maybe pray about something. The same thing for sleeping on something, you can literally just kind of program your subconscious to hum away at something while you're sleeping and then wake up and have insight into the answer. And, I do that very often. I'll tell people, “Hey, I'm going to get back to you tomorrow.” And then, that's something that I won't even write it down, I'll just, before I fall asleep, think about that email, or think about that problem, or think about that question.

Angelo:  Dude, I mean, when you say that, I feel you're already doing a form of this dream journaling type activity I was doing before. But, rather than taking the dreams and then interpreting them during your day life, you're taking day problems and sending them back kind of into your sleep world, which I've also definitely experimented with in terms of kind of deeper emotional stuff, which is very interesting that both non-REM and REM are tied to different types of memory consolidation. And, REM is the one that's the most tied as far as we can tell to, as I mentioned earlier, reducing emotional valence of memories. And, that is why people with PTSD have such issues around their REM sleep.

But, another thing I think you're going to love. I don't know if you've heard the story, but it's been pretty well-documented. Thomas Edison actually had this style or this–

Ben:  Oh, yeah. I think I know where you're getting at. Yeah, tell this story. This is fascinating.

Angelo:  It's so interesting. So, he had this approach where he would sleep on this bench, this kind of uncomfortable bench in his lab, and he'd hold ball bearings in his hand. And then, when he hit a certain stage of sleep, which I think was really actually passing from the stage 1 to the stage 2 sleep, it would make it to where he dropped his hand. And, the ball bearings would drop and it would wake him up. I think other people have used this as well that actually in that stage, that stage 1 sleep, which is this kind of lighter theta, which also is tied to certain stages of meditation, you can get very clear direct insight to solve problems.

Ben:  Yeah. It's kind of funny because there's this book, you and I have been talking about recently or emailing back and forth, “The Road Less Stupid,” which is a great business book. But, a big part of that book is related to thinking time like carving out actual thinking time. And, even though he doesn't get into the concept of an Edison-like light non-REM dream state to solve problems, it is interesting because arguably if you're sitting there as this author–I forget the guy's name who wrote the book, “The Road Less Stupid.” I think it was Keith somebody I want to say. Anyways, if people look it up on Amazon, you'd find it.

So, he's sitting there with a pen in a journal, holding a pen in his right hand just minimally distracted probably in a significant alpha zone I would think, and probably achieving something close to that non-REM dream state that Edison was getting into in terms of just shifting the body into or the brain specifically into an undistracted state of being better able to solve problems.

Since I read that book, I've actually carved out time in the morning to just sit there and freaking not be productive and just think. Not even with the intention of meditating or praying, literally just sit there and think about stuff, or think about problems, or think about relationship difficulties. I mean, it's one of those things where a lot of people be like, “I need more thinking time another hole in the head because I can't fabricate an hour in the day.” But, usually, the people who say that actually do need to have more thinking time or meditative time because they're going to find some things that they're doing that they probably shouldn't be doing or discover more efficient ways to go about what they're doing to free up time.

So, yeah, that's really interesting though. I heard that story about Thomas Edison before. It's just fascinating.

Angelo:  Yeah. And, that guy, Keith Cunningham is that author.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah, that's right.

Angelo:  It doesn't even do a sleep, but it's a great book for anyone who hasn't checked it out.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. We know about sleep hygiene. Now, I've honestly kicked that horse to death on the show before. Keep your room cold. Keep things quiet. Don't do business in bed. Don't even keep intellectually stimulating books on the nightstand. Wear earplugs or play sleep noises like Brain.fm or NuCalm or Sleep Stream. We've talked about a lot of that stuff before, but when it comes to specifically shifting the brain using nutraceuticals or chemicals or supplements, I mean that's something that you've taken a deep dive into. So, I'd love to hear that story and what and why you actually settled on as the go-to things to actually shift the brain into the state that you would want to shift it into for getting the sleep quality and the alignment of the rhythms that you've just gotten done explaining.

Angelo:  Yeah, absolutely. And, before I go too much in that detail, I just want to name again, we have a team of researchers and look through all different types of potential ingredients, potential impacts, mechanistic studies, human behavioral studies, just to figure out what's actually worth it–

Ben:  Yeah. You mean at Kion? We have that.

Angelo:  At Kion.

Ben:  Yeah. I think some people think like you and I just go on walks and read Men's Health Magazine and be like, “Oh, this would look good in a bottle,” but there's a lot more to it than that.

Angelo:  This sounds cool. Oh, people really like this, I should make this thing because that's what's hot or something. We really are trying to make the best thing. And, we're trying to learn about it in the process too. What do we want to take? What would actually make sense to you and me that is worth ingesting every day and making that foundation of our daily sleep habits? So, there's a lot of different interesting mechanistic studies that you can look at in animals. But, I think what's most interesting is what do we want as humans, what's going to make us sleep better. And, there really are three key components that come up again and again. And, these are all things that we can measure. The first one is sleep latency. So, when we get in bed, can we just go to sleep? Latency, meaning how long it takes you. Or, does it take you a really long time to even fall asleep. Because if it does, then you're kind of wasting that time in bed. And, not only that, actually, it's shown that if you spend too much time in bed and you can't go to bed quickly, then it can actually interfere with later sleep processes as well. So, you definitely want to get in bed, fall asleep.

Ben:  The way I think about it by the way is latency is late. You think late. I fell asleep later than I wanted to, so I had high sleep latency. So, if you have low sleep latency, fall asleep faster. High sleep latency, takes a longer time to fall asleep.

Angelo:  Exactly. The second one is sleep disturbances. So, that would be, do you end up waking up a lot during the night or do you have kind of more consistent sleep throughout the night? And, it is the case that the younger you are typically during your sleep cycles, you have less sleep disturbances. And, the older you get kind of the more chaotic average sleep every night becomes in terms of waking up multiple times, different sleep cycles getting disrupted, et cetera. And, it's very clear that being able to actually stay consistently asleep in both non-REM states and then REM state is critical to overall sleep quality, which sleep apnea is the best version of that where people sleep basically all night but they're waking up multiple times throughout the night and it's disrupting all of the processes that are occurring in sleep.

And then, the third one is sleep quality. And, sleep quality is really measured most of all by what people report when they wake up. So, when I wake up, do I feel groggy? Do I feel well-rested? Do I feel sharp? And, am I able to perform skills better than I would have been if I had a worse quality sleep? So, that's really what we targeted. That's the main focus.

Ben:  Right. So, latency, disturbances, and quality.

Angelo:  Overall quality.

Ben:  Okay.

Angelo:  Yup. And then, when we take that frame, the next big kind of idea or question is, is this for people with lots of sleep problems? We're talking about earlier. Is it for jet lag? Or, is it no? We're literally just trying to support ourselves and sleeping better every night and what are the optimal ways that we can support that. So, when you take that perspective, it really does become a nutritional perspective because you think about it, it's to sleep better, it's all the daily habit stuff that you've gone through so many times in podcasts and blogs. It's removing artificial light, exercising, but it's also nutrition. And so, how can we supplement, which is the purpose of dietary supplements, how can we supplement our diet to ensure that we have everything that we need to have the best sleep that we can on every night? And, how can we ensure that these nutrients that we're taking in aren't going to cause other problems that they're really going to basically give us what we need, not create side effects, and ultimately lead to lower sleep latency, reduce sleep disturbance and overall sleep quality?

Ben:  Right.

Angelo:  And, you take that approach and you look at every ingredient out there. There's only a few that really do it. And, there's some that are really hot and cool and that people talk about and that you think like, “Oh, you got to put that in there like melatonin or magnesium.” When you review the research, that's just not what comes out.

Ben:  Yeah. By the way just real quick, there were two, well, yeah, I'd say two other big things for me that you didn't mention. That would be A, there's some stuff I can take that makes me sleep a freaking princess but it's till 10:00 a.m. when I'm not groggy anymore. And, that's super high-dose melatonin unless I just blast myself with blue-like devices. And then, any of those CBD supplements that are full spectrum or contain any amount of THC in them. Yeah, you sleep great, but you got to do a lot of stims in the morning and then get on the cycle stimulating during the day, then trying to knock yourself out again at night. That was one train that I didn't want to create and wanted to get off of. And then, the other thing was I wanted something that I could take, but if I stopped taking it, it wouldn't give me insomnia withdrawal. It wouldn't be like, “Oh, I'm on trip traveling, I forgot this, I'm screwed now because I have some dependency on something that my body quit making because I was taking this.” Those were two other super important things for me at least.

Angelo:  Totally, which I think is basically summed up on what can we use regularly for long-term improved sleep quality like I want to use this every day, not have issues from it, it's going to make my life better. And, with that, there's really three ingredients that came out that had more research behind them, and that once we started using them as well consistently and in combination, they proved to have the most benefit. I promise we didn't plan this. Every time I said, I'm like, “I can't believe it,” only because Kion Aminos is our hero product. These are all three amino acids and they're theanine, GABA, and tryptophan. And, they each have distinct reasons about why they work so well.

But, just quick review of the research basically is tryptophan, while it almost sounds cliché. I mean, I just think about when I was younger talk about turkey.

Ben:  Warm milk.

Angelo:  Yeah. Yeah, that's why. That's why it's talked about that way. It's like creatine, everyone wants some new super sexy way to get strong. It's like, “Man, creatine works.” That's why it's been studied for 40 years and has all this research.

Tryptophan is very similar to that. It has so many studies behind it. There's a great recent meta-analysis about a year or two years ago that looked at all of them and that concluded very clearly that 1 gram of tryptophan daily, which is also tied to kind of general nutritional guidance as well. But, 1 gram of tryptophan around 30 minutes before bed directly contributed to reduce sleep latency, reduce sleep disturbance, and overall quality of sleep.

Ben:  And, could you clarify real quick for people. When you say tryptophan, are you talking 5-HTP, which a lot of people hear about? Or, are we just talking about just tryptophan?

Angelo:  L-tryptophan, the essential amino acid.

Ben:  L-tryptophan, yeah.

Angelo:  So, 5-HTP is an interesting ingredient that we did consider as well. And, it's actually tryptophan as a precursor of 5-HTP and 5-HTP is a precursor of serotonin, and serotonin is a precursor of melatonin. The reason why we went with tryptophan over 5-HTP is because way more research, way more proven benefit, and no to very limited documented side effects. Whereas with 5-HTP, it's kind of more clouded, and people having issues with it. It create these other types of, yeah, just issues. I know lots of people can't take it.

Ben:  Yeah. I go back, reach my wife out. She gets just crazy dreams and can't sleep. And, she's in and out and super restless. And, that's actually what I was concerned about when I got some of our initial batches to test. I'm like, “Is this going to do what 5-HTP does? But, it doesn't. I've talked about this. People who have been watching my social media, I'm like, “I don't take the Kion Sleep until I'm at least 15 minutes out and already in bed from my planned sleep time” because otherwise, I get turkey dinner syndrome almost right away. It's too much for me if I take it right before I read my kids their bedtime story or whatever. I will literally fall asleep in their bed while I'm reading them the story.

Angelo:  Which is honestly a remarkable best of both worlds. Because typically, if you take an ingredient like that that's sedating, you're going to feel terrible the next day. There's no way something does that. But, what's interesting about the choice of tryptophan and then the very limited side effects of any is that–And, this is the way that I'm interpreting it. I'm getting into speculation here because there's not enough research of it comparing it against 5-HTP, but that it actually gives your body the core nutrients that it needs, which you could get tryptophan from eating a bunch of poultry, drinking tons of milk, doing other things. It's just an essential amino acid. It gives your body the opportunity to process it, to turn it into the appropriate amount of 5-HTP, and serotonin, and melatonin, and to basically self-regulate itself. And, 5-HTP is not a drug, but you're getting closer to the direct impact itself versus allowing your body to process it. 

Now, if someone could make the exact argument on GABA because we put GABA directly in the formula. That said, with GABA, GABA is a much more mild while it's very predominant and it's basically the primary inhibitory transmitter. It just doesn't have those kinds of effects. It lightly inhibits these other activities of the brain versus kind of the intensity of maybe tons of serotonin.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. Well, yeah, I think GABA again that's why I've described them so many times before. It's like that inhibitory neurotransmitter. It's why people like a glass of wine before they go to bed. A lot of people these days, they will either target the endocannabinoid system by hitting a vape pen, or taking CBD, or using some edible to help them fall asleep, or they will also have alcohol, a glass of wine. I was going to say mug of beer, but that's kind of old school. I'm not a beer guy. I wouldn't even drink beer out of a growler, a beer, a glass of beer, I don't know.

Angelo:  I never drink beer. I don't know.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. Anyways though, so you do that and then–

Angelo:  Now, we're going to alienate the vegans and beer drinkers too.

Ben:  Right, right. And, you get a little bit of a GABA release problems. It just Fs with your sleep architecture big time. So, yeah, just like the pure GABA seems to work. So, the tryptophan and GABA are interesting, but then the last component is really interesting, the theanine, because for the longest time, that's what I've recommended to people to combine with their coffee to make coffee give them this alpha brainwave focus long buzz without the crash and to kind of upgrade a cup of coffee. You have your coffee, but you take about 100 milligrams of L-theanine with it. And so, I think a lot of people associate L-theanine as being like this focus creativity, wake you up, hone you in the zone nootropic. They don't really associate it with sleep. But, holy cow, especially when combined with GABA and the tryptophan, you can almost feel your brain wave kind of just shift and it's kind of weird.

Angelo:  It's actually very interesting about both theanine and GABA. Both can be used during the day very consistently. And, I mean, lower doses of tryptophan as well specifically for mood regulation and really there's tons of EEG studies specifically around theanine moving your brain from the beta to the alpha, as well as GABA which we described as part of the body's natural process of moving into sleep. So, you don't jump from the beta 14 to 30 hertz just immediately into the theta 4 to 8 hertz. You actually go through that alpha process. So, I mean mechanistically, it makes sense but then on top of that, there's very clear studies for the theanine of directly improving sleep latency minimizing sleep disturbance and improving sleep quality as well.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. And, I did a few screenshots of my sleep score after I started taking this stuff and it was 99, 90, and just super-duper interesting. I actually didn't expect it to work that well when I first got it. Sometimes that happens. We're looking at the human clinical research. We're seeing what they say stuff does. But, honestly, it's kind of fun to get the final bottle and try it. You feel a pioneer kind of when you're like, “Alright, well here we go. Let's see how this stuff works.” Did you experience the same thing when you got your first bottle?

Angelo:  Totally. And, even before that, hacking it together with the individual ingredients and trying it, it's fun. But, when you actually get the final bottle and you get it, I mean, there's another point too. I can try to buy really nice other ingredients over the counter, but I know all the highly detoured detailed sourcing and that we're literally buying the nicest absolute highest quality tryptophan, theanine, and GABA. And, when I took it the first time, I was like, “Man, that's like that dank. Theanine, GABA and tryptophan. Gosh, it is quality.”

Ben:  Yeah, it's crazy. Yeah. I think the term “dank” is not in my vernacular at least wasn't until you used it. Nowadays, it's dank, baby. Should have called it “Kion dank.”

The interesting thing that you alluded to though, I think a lot of people don't understand this. We really do look for high-quality shit big time. And, that's a differentiating characteristic. And, we don't have to make this a commercial per se, but can you just touch on that briefly just so people freaking get it?

Angelo:  Yeah. I mean, I'll just give a perfect example of it so that I don't go too much into, I don't know, bragging or something. When you choose GABA, there's tons of different GABAs you could choose. Look at the actual research, it's all done on pharma GABA. And, pharma GABA is a lot more expensive. I don't know. At least somewhere probably between three and ten times more expensive as a raw ingredient than just buying other forms of GABA. The other forms of GABA though I tested them too personally, they didn't really work. And, there's just not even the scientific literature under them to support them. So, it's about making choices like that where that really is the highest quality ingredient. And, on other ones where it's maybe not branded or studied in that specific way like pharma is, we're pouring over the quality specs of these raw ingredients. Everyone we work with thinks we're the most annoying company because we're just so neurotic about every little speck, and every quality thing, and why is it like that? If it's cheaper, why is it cheaper? I mean, if it's more affordable because we can buy in bulk or something, that's great. We don't want sacrifices on anything. I mean, I'm taking this every day.

Ben:  Yeah.

Angelo:  I don't want to sacrifice that. I don't want to put that in the body of any of my friends, or family, or any of our customers. 

Ben:  Yeah.

Angelo:  Just really robust. And so, that's raw ingredient testing, the actual finished product testing, to just degrees that other people don't. I think typically think they need to pay for and invest in and we do.

Ben:  Yeah. I mean, same thing for the creatine, same thing for the whey protein, same thing for a bar, same thing for the coffee. That's what I like because my pantry is just a giant freaking Kion billboard. And, yeah, I know part of it is I get a good deal on this stuff because I co-founded the company with you. But, part of it is that's why we did this, we wanted to scratch our own itch and just say, “Hey, the basic stuff, we don't want to break the bank, we want to be high quality, we want to work, so we want some for sleep, we want some for immunity, we want something for muscle building, we want something for fat loss and carbohydrate management.” And, just the basic stuff, but then, I guess, not fancy but efficacious. But, the fact that it's not fancy and we're not using some fringe superfood from the Amazon, it's affordable. It's not going to break your bank.

I don't even remember. What's a bottle of Kion Sleep cost right now?

Angelo:  It costs $59.95 if you buy one. But, if you subscribe, you get 10% off. And, actually if you use the BEN code, you get 20% off for life.

Ben:  Here we go. I don't even know what the BEN code is.

Angelo:  Well, it's not BEN code actually I think if you just go to getKION.com/BenGreenfield, then you can get 20% off that if you subscribe.

Ben:  Right. So, that's 6 bucks. So, yeah, around 50 bucks. And, it's three capsules. I've tried taking more. I don't get more of an effect from more. Three is the sweet spot. So, that's basically 50 bucks for a whole month of amazing sleep. But, the interesting thing, Angelo, I don't know if you've tried this, but have you taken any before a nap? Because I started to pop it before my nap just theorizing that, hey, like you mentioned, theanine and GABA don't make you drowsy, it's something that you can totally have during the day, it just kind of shifts you into that afternoon siesta mode. And, it's working for me right now to lay down for a nap. But, if my brain is buzzing and all wired up from what I've done for work that morning, it literally just shifts me into that same state but for a nap because I nap typically 20 to 40 minutes. And, I wake up and I'm good to go and ready for this second day that nap gives me, but it doesn't make me drowsy. Have you popped any before a nap?

Angelo:  I hadn't done it until you actually brought it up to me. And then, I did try it and it worked great and it makes sense, again, because of this alpha wave hypothesis. By taking these ingredients, you're reducing your beta and increasing the alpha. And so, just really quickly moving into those calmer more focused space and allowing your body to really enjoy those first two stages of sleep, it makes a lot of sense. So, I get too, intellectually, why it works.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah, totally.

Okay. So, let me think. We covered the L-theanine, the GABA, the tryptophan, what it's actually doing to your sleep stages, what it stacks well with. I mean, if you're an athlete, you could toss some creatine, some aminos, and some ketones in there if you're a hardcore exercise enthusiast. If you're traveling, you toss a little melatonin and CBD in there on top of it. I mean, really if you've got your light, your sound, your silence, your avoidance of business in the bedroom, I mean, this is pretty much it. At least, for me, personally, at this stage in my life, I feel I've actually decoded sleep. It's not a mystery to me anymore at all, which sounds dumb because I'm in the fitness and health sector and I've been in it for 20 years and I'm just now getting this shit figured out. But, this seems like it was the last feather in the cap for me once we came out with this.

Angelo:  I love to hear that, man. And, I mean, really and especially from you where you have, you've experimented with so many things, you've tried everything. And, yeah, man, it's awesome to hear that for someone like you it works.

Ben:  Yeah.

Angelo:  It works for me, it's amazing. I mean I've been on it for quite a while now and it's the best sleep in my life.

Ben:  Honestly, that was really what I wanted to cover as far as everything on sleep, dreams, the ingredients in this stuff. I don't know if there was anything else that you wanted to add in, Angelo. I did want to mention people. Again, I'll put all the shownotes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/SleepPodcast. Although that discount if you want to go straight and get it, getKION.com/BenGreenfield.

So, Angelo, if there's anything you want to add in, let me know. But then, we kind of have to keep up our tradition here. And, before we do actually part ways, you have to at least give people, even if just a very, very short one, a little taste of your beatboxing just because that's our thing, right bro.

Angelo:  Okay. Yeah, I should have prepared, I don't know, a more mellow [01:25:33] _____.

Ben:  Oh, you don't need to. That's mine. I just crushed it.

Angelo:  The one the one thing I will add that I think is important is around how this product works with other products because we've started to get those questions like, “Hey, can I take this with aminos? Can I take this with creatine?” And, clearly, you've just endorsed that that's safe, Ben. It is. And, I would just name that all Kion products we formulate in such a way so that people can take all of them. And so, there's not any kind of major contraindications that occur between them. So, it's totally safe to take with all the other products.

Ben:  Right. You're not going to wake up with explosive diarrhea from a tryptophan overdose if you stack this with 10 grams of amino before you go to bed.

Angelo:  Yeah. That doesn't happen to me. 

Ben:  Anecdotal.

Angelo:  No. Anecdotally.

And, on that point, I think there's one more thing maybe to highlight about how we think about product formulation. There are lots of other good ingredients. And, I didn't mean to say anything bad about magnesium earlier, magnesium is a great supplement for lots of different reasons. Just the clinical studies around sleep, it's just not there like these other ingredients are. And, it honestly plays on similar mechanisms of action around GABA.

Ben:  Yeah.

Angelo:  They just aren't necessary to put into a sleep supplement, but that doesn't mean don't take magnesium or you can't take magnesium with this.

Ben:  Yeah, I take magnesium. I take magnesium and I take it at night, but I don't take it because of the data I've seen on sleep. Well, I should stay with you. I take it because it makes my stool soft the next morning. And, I know magnesium is good for a lot of other stuff, but I literally just use it because it makes me poop better the next morning.

Angelo:  Yeah. So, it's a good reason. I think a lot of people do it for that, honestly.

Ben:  Yeah. And, on that point too, the reason why because we could have included something like magnesium or a host of other ingredients is we just don't include things. I feel we get this feedback sometimes. Well, I looked at this other product and it's got 10 ingredients. Why don't you have all 10 ingredients? It's like, “Well, because those other seven ingredients didn't have the scientific studies behind them on real human beings.” Maybe they had very limited studies on animals and didn't even make enough sense to include them. It's just not something that is really clearly effective and safe for us to take every single day. What I would say some other brands may do and that we work really hard not to do is not just put something in because it sounds good or to put something in at a dose that's not real. If we put in 100 milligrams of tryptophan only, which some other brands do, or some herb, or botanical, chamomile, or valerian root because it's got cool traditional heritage and it makes sense of something to support sleep but we just kind of make up an amount to put in. and, suddenly it's like, “Oh, cool, it's got all these other things in it.” But, there's no clinical studies behind it that actually show that it does works or that it works with that amount. There's a meta-analysis showing 1 gram of tryptophan is when it has this impact on sleep. We're not going to put in less.

So, just saying again, we put in the amount, we don't fairy dust and put in things just because we put in the amount of the ingredients that actually make sense to make people's lives better.

Ben:  Yeah. And, again, not to throw anybody under the bus, but you can take a whole bunch of studies, put them all together, make something that looks fancy, sprinkle a little bit of this, and a little bit of that in and say that is for a particular need. But, that's just not what we do. We look at the human clinical research that shows that it actually works, which I love. And, don't get me wrong, I'm cool with the whole like, “Oh, this has been used in ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years or whatever.” But, we just decided not to do that at Kion, which I'm totally cool with because it seems to be working for people and it works for me. And now, I'm sleeping and now I just came up with a great idea. I think our next supplement should be called “Kion Poop” and just open it up. It's just like ass load of magnesium. Yeah, Kion Poop.

Actually, that is a good idea. Maybe we should grab that URL. Yeah, somebody grab KionPoop.com. And, Angelo, you want to beatbox us out?

Angelo:  Yeah, I'll beatbox us out. I'm trying to do something more gentle.

Ben:  Okay. Fresh.

Angelo:  Yeah, baby. Sleep well.

Ben:  Sleep well. Good night, everybody. Go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/SleepPodcast for the shownotes. Until next time, I'm Ben Greenfield with Angelo Keely signing out from BenGreenfieldLife.com.

More than ever these days, people like you and me need a fresh entertaining, well-informed, and often outside-the-box approach to discovering the health, and happiness, and hope that we all crave. So, I hope I've been able to do that for you on this episode today. And, if you liked it or if you love what I'm up to, then please leave me a review on your preferred podcast listening channel wherever that might be and just find the Ben Greenfield Life episode. Say something nice. Thanks so much. It means a lot. 


Angelo Keely is the co-founder and CEO of Kion, a performance and longevity supplement and functional food company dedicated to helping people fully experience a joyful, active life by providing pure, energy-enhancing solutions. Angelo Keely, along with yours truly, first started Kion in 2017 with a dream of creating something that motivated people to continue on their personal health journeys.

Since 2017, Angelo has taken part in helping to develop many of the highest-possible quality supplements on the market, cultivated an incredibly passionate team, and has helped fuel the growth of Kion.

Angelo was born to hippie parents in Austin, Texas, and raised in an old, funky, hand-built house nestled in the outer regions of the suburbs. They were health-nut pescatarians. He didn’t have a birth certificate or see a doctor until he was six. He didn’t have his first haircut until the summer before fourth grade. So, as you can imagine, he got very comfortable being “weird” early on.

He then had a series of traumatic accidents in his adolescence and early adulthood. Nearly stabbed and beaten to death at 16, he left home and became independent at 17, and was then involved in a deadly bus accident in the foothills of the Himalayas at 21. These events gifted him with the confidence to navigate all situations and a profound appreciation for simply existing.

Angelo spent several years working in Europe and India in his 20s. Thanks to this experience (and a lot of talking out loud to himself), he now speaks multiple languages. He was drawn to these experiences because he loves to see things, and himself, from new perspectives, and he's enthralled by the challenge of understanding new systems.

Angelo is also a multi-instrumentalist and loves to make music with unique variations of vocals, drums, piano, and guitar.

In this conversation with Angelo Keely, a special podcast re-release, you'll discover:

-What's been up with Angelo lately…10:20

-Why sleep is important…22:20

  • We’ve learned a lot in the last 100 years, but we still know surprisingly little
  • Hans Berger
  • What do we know? (specific health impacts and specific brain wave impacts in humans, combined with the mechanism of action studies in animals)
  • We are rhythmic natural beings: sleep/wake is the core rhythm 
  • What we still don’t know? (difficult to analyze mechanisms of action on humans)
  • Brain energy reserves
  • Kion Aminos
  • Kion Creatine

-The science of sleep…40:42

-Possible purposes of sleep…56:35

-The Kion Sleep formulation…1:04:46

  • Why Kion chose to make this product
  • The product development process
  • Mechanistic studies on sleep
    • Sleep latency
    • Sleep disturbances
    • Sleep quality
  • How and why we landed on this formula (optimal nutritional support)
    • Focus on regular use for long-term improved sleep quality (vs unique sleep disruption; e.g. international travel or short term stress)
    • Why specific ingredients and doses?
  • Tryptophan is a precursor of 5-HTP; 5-HTP is a precursor of serotonin; serotonin is a precursor of melatonin
  • Why not other ingredients?
    • Natural sleep system (using dietary approach and knowledge that sleep has shown to regulate over weeks)
    • Daily use; ingredients studied long term with best-supporting research in humans (additional animal research for mechanisms of action also interesting)
    • Effective ingredients at the right price; no fairy dusting or including “traditional remedies” that lack clinical proof (e.g. 100mg of tryptophan or some herb/botanical just because it sounds good to people)

-Uses of Kion Sleep…1:25:45

  • When to use at night? 
  • How often?
  • Can you use it for naps?
  • Why sleep is important for human health?
  • Basics of getting good sleep
  • How Kion Sleep fits into daily nutrition
  • Can be used safely with other supplements, like Magnesium

-And much more…

-Upcoming Events:

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Angelo Keely:

– Podcasts And Articles:

– Other Resources:

Episode sponsors:

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