On a scale of 1 through 10, how good is your sleep right now? (If you’re not at a 10, there’s a lot of room for improvement.)
If you want good health, you’ve got to get your sleep nailed down. Artificial lights from your phone, tablet or computer can mess with sleep, as can drinking alcohol.
Today’s guest was more of a social drinker who decided to take a break from alcohol, and then life got a lot more interesting.
James Swanwick is the Australian-American entrepreneur, author, speaker, podcast host and co-founder of Swanwick Sleep who makes those cool Swannie glasses.
On this show with James, you’ll learn:
- The psychological effects of light (specifically blue light)
- How to socialize without drinking booze
- Simple steps to better sleep
- What taking a break from alcohol looks like for James (and me)
- And tons more…
Let’s hang out with James.
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James Swanwick: Spirits, Sleep, and Blue-Blockers
Abel: Alright, Mr. James Swanwick is an entrepreneur, podcast host and author of The 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge. He’s all that and more, folks.
I’m really psyched that you’re here, James. Thanks for coming on the show.
Abel, awesome to be here, mate, thanks for having me.
Abel: It’s been a few years, but you’ve been doing a lot of great work from a ton of different directions.
So let’s just start with your 30-day experiment, not drinking alcohol, as a social drinker, not necessarily as an alcoholic or anything like that.
I’ve had fun reading through your book, and I’d love to hear you explain more about it in your own words.
Well, I was a social drinker, but I grew up in Australia, which is a very heavy drinking culture.
It was just normal to, you know, 18th birthday party, get drunk, 21st birthday party, get drunk. And then through my 20s and early 30s, backyard barbecues with friends, have a few beers.
And at night time, I might have a couple of glasses of red wine with dinner. Nothing too serious, but then it just kind of caught up with me.
I remember I was in Austin, Texas at the South by Southwest Festival in 2010, and I had two gin and tonics at this industry party on a Friday night.
I woke up the next morning and I just felt average, like I had realized that I had put on about 20 pounds over an 18 month period.
My face looked weathered, I didn’t sleep particularly well, and I just said to myself, “You know what, I’m going to take a break from alcohol for 30 days, because this is obviously slowing me down. It’s not putting me in the gutter or ruining my life, but it’s just keeping me stuck at like 6 out of 10.”
And so I said, “Let’s just see what happens after 30 days.”I quit for 30 days, I lost 13 pounds of fat. Click To Tweet
My skin got better, I slept better, I had more clarity and focus, and I started attracting a higher caliber of person into my life.
I ended up getting this amazing dream job hosting SportsCenter on ESPN, which I credit from being alcohol-free and having energy.
And I just said, “You know what, I’ll just keep on going and see what happens,” and I haven’t drank since.
I haven’t had a drink since 2010.
Abel: Wow, congratulations!
I think you mentioned in your book, what happened after one year? You were going to celebrate and get a Budweiser or something like that, right?
Yeah. Well, I was back at the South by Southwest Festival in 2011, exactly one year to the day, and I went to this pub, which is closed now, called the Lustre Pearl.
Abel: Oh, I remember Lustre Pearl.
Yeah, on Rainey Street.
Abel: Of course.
And I walked in there and I went to the bar and I ordered a Bud Light and the bartender gave it to me, and I had every intention of celebrating one year alcohol-free.
And I smelled it, it smelled pretty good and I went to put it up to my lips and then right at the moment before I started to drink it, I had this thought in my head.
And the thought was, “Hang on a second. In one year you’ve lost 20 pounds. You have the body that nature intended you to have.”
“You have amazing new friends, you’re hosting a television show on ESPN, which you’ve credited from being alcohol-free to landing you that position.”
“You’ve got more energy, you’re sleeping better, you’ve created a side business. Life is just simply better without alcohol.”
And all those thoughts came into my mind. And so I put the Bud Light down.
I called the bartender over and I said, “You know what, it’s ok, I’m not going to have it.”
And I ordered an ice water with a piece of lime instead, which is my favorite drink, and I just kept going alcohol-free. And like I said, I haven’t drank since.
For me, it was just this realization that life is simply better without alcohol.
Abel: Let’s dig in into that a little bit. And I’ll add some background, too.
I’ve mentioned this on the show before, I take breaks from the Internet, and I take breaks from alcohol, too.
And kind of like you did, it’s not for any particular space of time, it’s not for forever, it’s just kind of like, “Let’s just take a break for a while.”
A lot of times it’s when I’m having trouble sleeping.
Like right now, for example, we’re living up in the mountains, but we’re not living too far from a place where they park all of the buses for the school. Which means at like 5:30 in the morning, it’s beep, beep, beep times 200, all at the same time, just like an alarm clock.
And so anyway, I had been drinking a bit of wine and some other things that I enjoy drinking.
Not a whole bunch, but once that started happening, and my sleep was getting ravaged, I’m like, “Alright, let’s just not drink for a while.”
And my wife, Alyson, was raised Mormon, they don’t drink. And so, in her 20s, I really introduced her to the joys and the lows of drinking.
And I think it was last October, we were just like, “Let’s take a break.” And here we are more than six months later and we haven’t touched alcohol, haven’t thought about it.
We’ve had plenty of opportunities, but it’s just like, “No, it feels really good to not drink right now.”
And one thing that I can say I’m enjoying is the difference between how you feel in the morning.
Because you can say that you’re not hungover if you had one or two drinks the night before, but compare that to not drinking for two weeks and waking up in the morning, completely different feeling.
Can you talk about that a little bit?
Yeah. So let’s just say you have one seemingly innocent glass of wine at night time after a day at work to seemingly reduce your stress and anxiety.
Now, that one seemingly innocent glass of wine, beer or other drink is enough to compromise your sleep.
Now, some people say, “Well, hang on a second, I have the drink and it relaxes me, and I tend to fall asleep easier because I have the drink.”
Now, that may in fact be true; however, your sleep quality is compromised.
Alcohol is a toxin, and your body has to work to break that toxin down.
So when you have that drink, your sleep is just a little bit compromised. And then when you wake up, you’re just a little bit irritable.
And when you’re a little bit irritable, you tend to be a little bit late for work.
Or you tend to sometimes just say, “Ah, I’ll skip working out this morning,” or you snap at your husband or your wife or your kids. Or you get into traffic and then you get irritated by the person who cut you off in traffic.
Or maybe you get frustrated because you’re waiting in line at the supermarket, because the person in front of you is taking too long.
Or maybe at work, because you’re just a little bit tired and irritable, you reach for a sugary drink to try and give you an energy boost, because you didn’t sleep very well.
And so now you’re drinking like a Gatorade with sugar in it or you’re having a Kit Kat at 10:30, or you’re having a bagel or something to give you that temporary energy boost, because you didn’t sleep very well.
And unbeknownst to you, it was probably because you had that seemingly innocent glass of wine at night time.
So your whole day, your happiness, your productivity, your efficiency can be severely compromised by this one seemingly innocent glass of alcohol.
Abel: The way I think about it, it’s taking a little bite out of your future.
It’s stealing just a little slice of your possibilities and opportunities for the next day, or even a couple of days depending on how much you tie one on.
And one thing that’s so problematic, and I’m sure you could comment on this, is that in the social culture that we live in, whether you’re talking about Australia, Great Britain or America, certainly the Western world, there is hardly anywhere you can go, that’s adult-oriented, that doesn’t have alcohol.
Alcohol is the pinnacle of almost every cultural event it seems like we have.
So, how do you navigate that when you decide to be someone who simply just doesn’t drink that toxin?
Yeah. Just before I give you a couple of tips on that, it’s interesting, the word alcohol actually comes from an Arabic term. And it actually is “al kuhool.” And what that means is “body-eating spirit.”Alcohol or 'al kuhool' is Arabic for 'body-eating spirit.' Click To Tweet
Abel: Is that right? I didn’t realize that.
Yes. Body-eating spirit is what the Arabic term “al kuhool” means, and that’s how we came up with that.
So literally every time that you have “al kuhool,” you’re eating away at your body.
Abel: I also heard that’s why they’re called “spirits” because it’s easier to become possessed when you drink hard alcohol.
Abel: If you’ve seen an angry drunk, it doesn’t matter if you believe in that or not.
Yeah. And it’s interesting as well, the World Health Organization says there is not any amount of alcohol that is healthy for you.The World Health Organization says there is not any amount of alcohol that is healthy for you. Click To Tweet
Like, alcohol simply has detrimental effects on you.
How do You Socialize Without Alcohol?
Even in a society where everyone’s all smiling and going, “Oh, let’s have a nice enjoyable glass of wine.”
That’s fine. You can smile and say it doesn’t affect you, but it does affect you. The World Health Organization has literally done studies on this.
Not any amount of alcohol is beneficial to you.
Now, getting back to the social situations, I get this question more than anything, which is pretty amazing.
How do you socialize without alcohol? How do you network, how do you do business deals with a client?
Abel: Isn’t that a strange question? It just freaks me out thinking about it, how weird of a question that is.
Isn’t it? But that’s how indoctrinated we are as a society.
The people who are smiling at us and encouraging us to drink, I call them smiling assassins.
It’s the waiter or waitress who comes over at the beginning of your meal in a restaurant and says, “Oh, can I get you started with some drinks? What would you like?”
And they’re smiling. It’s like, “Oh, that’s a smiling assassin, they’re trying to kill me with this toxin.”
It’s the friends who you meet up with.
“Oh, let’s meet up for drinks. Hey, how are you? Let me grab you a drink, what would you like? Do you want a beer? Do you want a glass of wine?”
It’s the smiling assassin. There are smiling assassins everywhere.
This is what I coach people on when it comes to those social environments.
The way that you tell people that you are alcohol-free is far more important than the words that actually come out of your mouth.
If you say it with a smile on your face, and you’re light-hearted about it, you even make fun of yourself being alcohol-free, then people drop their pressure, they drop this idea that they’re trying to like, “Go on, just have one.”
If you can look at alcohol as you’re not depriving yourself of something fun or pleasurable by being alcohol-free, and you can present to people that you are not depriving yourself of something fun or pleasurable, then people let it go.
I’ll give you two scenarios.
Here’s one, someone says, “Hey, can I get you a drink?”
You say, “Oh, no, no, thanks, I’m not drinking at the moment. I’m taking a break.”
And they say, “Go on, just have one, you’ll be fine. Go on, have some fun, we’re out.”
“Oh, no, no. I can’t, I can’t.”
And so now your energy feels like you’re depriving yourself of something fun and if you fuel that energy, you will always continue to drink and you’ll always feel that negative energy.
And people will always keep pressuring you to have a drink, because they think that you’re depriving yourself of something fun and pleasurable.
Here’s the second scenario.
Person says, “Hey, can I get you a drink?”
“No, no, no, actually, I don’t drink. I’m not drinking at the moment. Grab me a soda water, that’ll be great.”
And they say, “Oh, you’re not drinking?”
“No, I decided to take a break.” Or “I’m good, I’m actually alcohol-free at the moment, but watch me get drunk on this soda water. I’m going to go crazy tonight.”
And you just make a little joke about it, you’re just light-hearted about it.
People drop this pressure and not only that, you feel a drop in the pressure. That pressure just kind of like falls to the wayside.
The way that you explain that you’re alcohol-free, being open and fun and light-hearted and positive, is so much more important than saying, “Oh, no, I’m not drinking at the moment.”
Abel: That is so powerful, because that’s what socializing is.
And I think it is somewhat fair to call them assassins, whether they mean to or not, that’s the effect that they can have on someone who is challenging themself or may be struggling with not drinking in social situations.
For me as a musician in Austin for years, I was paid and tipped in alcohol, you know what I mean?
It’s so ingrained in the culture, it’s ingrained in the music.
But one interesting thing that people may not realize that comes up in your book a number of times is how many familiar actors and actresses and faces that they see on television or in movies that do not drink at all, or at least quit long ago.
Can you fill us in on that?
Yeah. So Bradley Cooper, one of the world’s most famous Hollywood actors, he doesn’t drink.
In fact, I used to be a journalist who interviewed movie stars for a living in the 2000s, and I actually interviewed Bradley Cooper when he was promoting the film, The Hangover, which was his first breakout role.
I was in a hotel in Beverly Hills in Los Angeles, it was the SOS Hotel on Le Cienega, and I was drinking at the time.
This must have been 2009, somewhere around there.
And I was a social drinker still, and I remember sitting down and I was interviewing him about The Hangover.
And he told me, he goes, “No, I don’t drink.”
And I was like, “What?” I was shocked. I was like, “What, you don’t drink?”
And I’ll tell you what my inner dialogue was, “Ah, this is not a guy I’d want to hang out with, then.”
Abel: Right. This guy doesn’t drink, he goes to bed early.
I know. And I was literally judging him in my head. Totally.
I’m like, “Argh, I’m not going to hang out with this guy.”
And then he went on to explain that he drank too much and it culminated in one infamous night in LA where he banged his head on a concrete floor, and he woke up the next day and said, “That’s it. I’m done.”
And he hasn’t drank since.
Chris Martin from Coldplay, same thing.
When I realized Chris Martin didn’t drink, I was like, totally judging him, going, “Argh, that’s not a guy I’d want to have a beer with.”
And also, Donald Trump has never had one sip of alcohol. His brother was actually an alcoholic and died from alcoholism.
Abel: I didn’t know that.
Yeah, so Trump hasn’t drank alcohol.
Calvin Harris used to drink heavily, but now doesn’t drink.
Russell Brand, the comedian, doesn’t drink.
A few of these people, they had real serious drinking problems and they really let it get to them.
In terms of lifestyle choices, Kristin Davis, the actress who played Charlotee in the Sex and the City series, she’s just chosen to remain alcohol-free.
And I think Tyra Banks also has chosen to be alcohol-free, as well.
So there’s a real movement that I have noticed particularly in the last few years where people are actually saying, “I don’t have to be an alcoholic to quit drinking. I can actually just be a generally healthy occasional social drinker to quit drinking, and I get all these amazing benefits from it.”
Abel: And maybe it would be different if we didn’t live in such a toxic world where we’re being assaulted from all sides, whether we’re talking about the water we’re drinking, the unclean air, the terrible food, any of that. All of it adds up with how you’re sleeping, how your metabolism is working.
And if you can take out just one of those inputs that’s not doing good, then you’re going to win.
I know that for me, and I’ve mentioned this on the show, whenever there’s a little hiccup in how things are going, alcohol is the first thing to go.
Whether it’s body composition, or I want to get faster if I’m running or whatever it is, it’s such an easy thing to kick out.
But honestly, I think one of the reasons it is, is because I was totally straight edge until college.
Actually growing up, a few kids close to me who were a few years older were busted at a party, lost all of their scholarships, and couldn’t get into college.
Abel: So for me, growing up and having an older brother who struggled with addiction, it was easy to stay away from alcohol. But then once I got to college, I learned a lot of bad habits.
I went to an Ivy League school, and at these schools drinking can be very entrenched in the culture. They teach you how to drink.
And basically, this is the thinking that they tell you anyway…
If you’re going into consulting or banking, you have to pay off your loans, like most people have to, right? You have to learn how to drink, because otherwise, someone’s going drink you under the table and take advantage of you. And so, you better learn how to drink.
And it’s like, “How did that work on everybody,” you know?
Now I’m in my 30s, but back then, I mean, we all totally fell for it. We all went nuts with it. Why does that happen?
A very smart marketer, somewhere in history, decided to associate alcohol with a good time.
And then very smart marketers today continue to perpetuate the idea that alcohol is a good time. So we see it.
If you’re watching football on a Sunday, all the commercials for Bud Light, Coors Lite… And what do the commercials have?
They have these goofy guys having fun together, doing silly things and it’s creating this idea that if you drink this product, you will be part of a tribe, you will be part of a community.
This is just what fun people do to create bonds, to create kinship, to create fun and feel like you’re part of a community.
There’s a billboard on Sunset Boulevard with George Clooney, very famous Hollywood actor. He actually created a Tequila brand with Randy Gerber, and it was like a billion dollar evaluation.
So there’s this billboard on Sunset Boulevard, and it has him in a black leather jacket on his motorcycle looking back, looking super cool, super suave, and then there’s just the bottle of Tequila. As if to imply, if you drink this Tequila, you are cool and you’re suave, and you’re sophisticated.
When you see hotels and vacation packages promoting their products, it’s always an image of a man and a woman over a candlelit dinner toasting a glass of red wine.
But who says that you have to have the glass of wine in order to have a romantic dinner?
You just take out the wine and you have a romantic dinner.
Abel: Yeah, candlelight and wine, they just go together in the American psychology. I don’t know if that’s true everywhere.
Absolutely. And then also, weddings or celebrations, right?
What happens at a wedding? Guess what? We toast the bride and groom and what do we do? We do it with champagne.
So the smiling assassins come around and they pour champagne and we hold up our glasses and say, “To the bride and groom!”
Now, a very clever marketer at a champagne company somewhere in history came up with the idea, “Let’s associate champagne with celebration.”
So you think about it, you know, you have a boat race, it’s like, “Oh, let’s celebrate with champagne.”
You win a football game, the Premier League title. You know, I remember seeing shots of Michael Jordan when he won…
Abel: I remember that, too. The cigar and champagne.
Exactly. Somebody created the idea that if we have this monumental moment in our life, like a child being born or we win a sporting event or something monumental happens, let’s pop a cork and celebrate with champagne.
And let’s drink this poison and drink those toxins. Let’s do that.
Somebody very clever came up with that.
And now in today’s world, we associate this toxic liquid that we willingly pour down our throats and into our body that causes all this disruption, and we do it with a big smile on our face.
Because we’ve been indoctrinated for decades that that’s just what you do.
And so, you see it everywhere now.
All of a sudden, you start to open your eyes and you go, “Oh my goodness, this is everywhere.”
I mean, it’s literally everywhere, people pushing this product on you.
Abel: Oh man, talk about the assassins. I’d be playing shows, I’d be up on stage and people would be bringing me these shots all night long.
And if you’re note taking them, they call you names, they totally razz you.
Oh yes, razzing.
Abel: Let’s talk about the razzing. I’m sure it happens to women, as well, but especially for men, men can be ostracized so easily for not drinking, right?
I used to play rugby, I played rugby for 20 years. And when I first moved to Los Angeles, I played for the Los Angeles Rugby Club.
And after a match we had a pub called Sharky’s on Manhattan Beach, a very famous pub down there Manhattan Beach.
Abel: Yeah, I remember Sharky’s.
Yeah, it’s like 30 minutes south of LAX at the airport there.
And if I was unfortunate enough to be the MVP in that game, my reward was chugging a big pitcher of beer with all of my teammates going, “Chug, chug, chug, chug, chug.”
And I’m like, “This is what you get for being the best player on the field? This sucks.”
Then I’d go outside and I’d be sick, or I couldn’t drive home that night because I drank too much.
I’m like, “This is no reward, this is a nightmare.”
Abel: It’s hazing.
It’s hazing, yeah. And people don’t actually realize the cost.
And it’s not just the physical cost. There is a financial cost.
And when I say financial cost, I don’t mean the money that you spend on alcohol. I mean, currently, I work with a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners and executives in a coaching program where I help people quit drinking for at least 90 days.
It’s called Project 90. And when they’re first joining I ask them, “How much money do you make in a year in your business?”
And often, they’ll tell me. And let’s just use this example, I’ll just come up with a hypothetical figure.
Let’s say you earn $100,000 a year with your drinking habits the way they are. How efficient and productive are you in your work, in your career?
Now most people will say, “I’m probably at about a 6 or a 7 out of 10.”
And I say, “Ok, great. So you’re operating at a 6 or a 7 out of 10, and you make $100,000 a year.”
And then I say, “Well, let’s just say that you are alcohol-free for at least 90 days and you have clarity, focus, energy, you’re strategic, you got more done, you slept better, and you are just rocking on all cylinders. How would you feel? How efficient would you be?”
And they say, “I’d probably be like an 8 or a 9.”
I’ll say, “Ok. So at a 6 out of 10 you’re making $100,000, how much money do you think you’d generate for yourself if you’re operating at a 9 out of 10?”
And then, it ranges what they tell me. Some people say the amount of money they would generate would be double. Some people say it’s half, but let’s just say it’s $150,000 instead, right?
So the difference between $100,000 and $150,000 is $50,000.
So your drinking is costing you $50,000 per year in revenue or income that you do not generate because of your drinking habits.
Now, that’s not even including what you spend on alcohol and alcohol-related activities.
Abel: Which adds up.
Which adds up, as well. So, at least $50,000. So, if you’re listening or watching and you’re thinking about this, do the math.
I call it the Alcohol Loss Revenue Calculation or Calculator. ALRC, the Alcohol Loss Revenue Calculator. It’s like…
Abel: Painful, but worth it.
I mean, your drinking is costing you $50,000, at least, in that scenario.
Abel: Sure. If you’re not an entrepreneur and you’re listening to this, that sounds a little nuts. But as an entrepreneur speaking to another one, that’s totally how it works.
I would even argue that maybe if you’re at that 9 out of 10, then you have a little jump in your step, a little sparkle.
People want to cooperate with you, people want to work with you. Opportunities start coming your way.
That’s a real thing. It really is.
It’s a massive thing. I mean, the only thing that happened to me when I quit drinking was that I hosted SportsCenter on ESPN.
I started a program called the 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge, which has now helped tens of thousands of people around the world quit alcohol.
I started a sleep company called Swanwick Sleep, which helps people sleep better.
Abel: We’ll have to talk about that, too.
I got to speak on stages, and travel the world. All of a sudden, I became super health-conscious and got to meet amazing people doing incredible things in the world.
I raised money for charities. I attracted incredible relationships.
I have a much greater connection with my family and friends. I’m a much better communicator.
I mean, not much happened when I quit alcohol.
Abel: Well, there’s another physical body type thing that happens, for me at least, and with Alyson, as well.
If you have your habits nailed pretty well and you know what’s healthy, then you can follow them and stay pretty healthy and maintain your weight, and maintain your body composition.
If I’m drinking, I have to work harder.
If I’m in that phase when I’m drinking, I need to do some calculations. I need to work that out.
If I’m not drinking, then I can have an extra slice of homemade Boston cream pie when I want to.
And I can color outside the lines a little bit more and get away with it, and not feel that disruption in sleep, in particular. To your point, it’s not like you wake up tired every time.
It’s like, by 10:30, you need something, and by 3 o’clock, you need something, and by the end of the day, you need something to help yourself unwind. And that’s what it gets you out of.
You get that decent sleep. It’s not even the best sleep in the world or whatever, if you’re not drinking. You don’t need the best sleep in the world, it’s already better.
And so, you’re just kind of cruising through your day, and you have that extra RAM. You have that extra energy to use and apply towards something. It’s measurable.
But you can’t just do it for 3 days, you can’t just do it for a week. I think in your book you say, it’s at least 7 to 10 days for most of the toxins to leave the system. I give it 2 weeks.
I don’t consider myself thinking rationally about alcohol until I haven’t been drinking for 2 weeks, you know what I mean?
Otherwise you will want it at 5 o’clock every day.
Yeah, you’re absolutely right. It takes 7 to 10 days for the toxins from alcohol to be completely out of your system.
That’s pretty crazy, 7 to 10 days.
It actually stays in your hair and hair follicles for up to 30 days, which I found really interesting.
Abel: Yeah, but you don’t have to worry about that.
No, I don’t. I shaved all my hair off. I couldn’t fight it any longer.
Blue-Blocking Glasses for Better Sleep
Abel: It’s a good look, especially with the Swannies.
So, we do have a little bit more time, but I want to make sure that we talk about those. Because blue-blocking glasses, blue blocking software, this is stuff that I’ve been into for 7 or 8 years now.
In fact, my wife Alyson was a professional video game player and those blue-blocking glasses of various kinds were a small niche thing for a while.
We’ve been nerding out on this for a while, and I was really psyched when you started up Swannies.
I actually have the case right here, but my wife stole mine.
So tell us a little bit about why it’s important to manage the light, especially in the age of devices that we live in?
Well, let’s talk about sleep and how light affects your sleep.
Too much light at night affects your sleep.
Each night, if you are looking at your cell phone, watching TV, working on the computer, even if you brush your teeth in the bathroom light, that light is enough to compromise your sleep quality.
Now, artificial blue light comes from your screens and from light bulbs, and things like that. And what that electronic light at night actually does, it tricks your body and brain into thinking that it’s daytime.
And it does this by stimulating your pituitary and pineal glands.
Now when your body thinks that it’s day time even though it’s night time, it does not produce the melatonin that nature intended you to produce.
So what happens is that a lot of people either have trouble falling asleep, or they toss and turn in the night.
Or they wake up feeling tired and lethargic, even if they’ve had 7 or 8 hours of sleep.
Without realizing that the culprit for their poor sleep quality has been simply exposing yourself to too much light at night.
So, what can we do about that?
Now, I’m wearing a pair of my Swannies blue light blocking glasses. I create and produce these.
The orange lens blocks out artificial blue light.
Orange is the exact opposite color of blue. Blue is the opposite color of orange. Blue light cannot penetrate.
So what I do is, I put on my Swannies blue light-blocking glasses about an hour before I want to go to sleep.
And then I will continue to look at my cell phone, work on the computer sometimes, brush my teeth in the bathroom light.
And only once I have crawled into bed and switched off the final light, do I remove the glasses.
And then I roll over and I go to sleep.
What you don’t want to do is wear the glasses for the last hour, and then in the last five minutes, remove them, go into the bathroom, and now you’re exposing yourself to that bathroom light.
Which is tricking your body and brain into thinking it’s day time.
Which is now suppressing your melatonin production.
Which is now waking up your body and making you think that it’s day time.
And now your sleep quality is compromised again.
So, wearing these glasses in that last hour before sleep can have a profound impact on your sleep quality.
And certainly wearing them sporadically throughout the daytime when you’re on a computer can filter out a lot of that blue light and give you extra clarity and focus.
And reduce your eye strain, your fatigue and headache sometimes.
Abel: I’ve been using various blue-blocking glasses, including Swannies, for a while and it’s really helpful for me.
I’m looking at a big light right now while I’m recording, and other times when I’m on stage. I kind of just put up with a small headache, because I’m very sensitive to light.
And actually, I went through the whole Irlen program, and I have those, as well. And did all the testing.
I was really surprised by how painful the testing was. How obvious it was that I was struggling through certain things, like glossy paper with certain fluorescent lights, and all of that, whether it’s night time or not.
And so, whenever I’m not on camera, I’m often wearing blue-blocking glasses, even though I don’t need actual glasses. And Alyson does that, as well.
And sleep sounds boring.
“Getting more sleep? Yeah, whatever. I can handle living without sleep.”
But melatonin is pretty cool.
Like, if you don’t want to get cancer, get some melatonin.
And the way you get that is by honoring your sleep and honoring, like you said, the pre-sleep ritual or process that we all have.
Which, if we’re going to be honest, is kind of arbitrary.
We all brush our teeth, and go into the bathroom and turn the lights on or whatever, as automatically as we could go in and have our glasses on and do it right.
It’s not really adding that much complication. And I can definitely say that it makes a big difference.
You squint immediately, if you take them off and you make that mistake, right? So, what else is it doing?
Yeah, if that light is triggering you and you’re not sleeping well, it’s been linked to obesity, diabetes and cancer.
If you’re someone who’s trying to lose weight, for example, and you’re going to the gym and you’re eating all the right foods, and you’re doing all that kind of stuff, but you’re still frustrated that you can’t lose an extra 3 pounds, 5 pounds, 10 pounds, whatever it is.
There’s a good chance it’s because you’re exposing yourself to too much light at night.
Too much light at night is keeping you, I don’t want to say fat, but it’s slowing down your metabolism.
It’s reducing your ability to burn fat. And also, if your sleep is compromised, like we talked about before, then guess what?
Now, you’re going to reach from more of a pick me up, like a sugary food.
You’re more likely to drink a juice, or something like that, in the morning. Which has got a lot of sugar in it. And now you’re storing more fat.
Same thing with the alcohol. It causes irritability, if you’re not sleeping well.
On the flip side, if you sleep well and you do block light at night, then you wake up in the morning the way that nature intended you to wake up.
I mean, I’m not saying that by wearing the Swannies that it will give you additional superpowers.
I’m just saying, by wearing the Swannies, you will have the powers that nature intended you to have all along.
Which is clarity and focus, energy and connection.
And your metabolism is working the way it’s supposed to be working. I mean, your show is literally the Fat-Burning Man, right?
It’s like, you want to burn fat? You want to be the fat-burning man or the fat-burning woman?
Block blue light at night.
I mean, it’s insane.
Technology is amazing. I love my iPhone, it’s a spaceship in my pocket. It does so much stuff, I love it.
And I don’t watch much, if any, TV. I mean, I will watch Game of Thrones, I must admit.
I love all that technology, but I’ll tell you, I’m using all of that technology now by blocking blue light with a pair of glasses.
Here’s one other thing I would say as well. And of course I’m biased because I produce the Swannies glasses, but I deliberately make my glasses stylish and cool.
Because people don’t want to look like a meth chemist wearing an ugly pair of blue light-blocking glasses.
Abel: I’ve got some right here.
Have you? You’ve got an ugly pair? Put them on.
Abel: I mean, take your pick. We’ve got this one…
They’re all dirty, but you can see how much I use them and try different kinds. It’s mostly just because I want them around.
If you don’t have it right there, you’re not going to use it. And so, it’s important to have them around. Oh, here we go.
Have you got some aviators like mine?
Abel: These ones are actually Irlen.
Oh, good, nice one.
Abel: And I can offer another thing that happened when I started wearing them, like right now looking into this iMac and looking into this light.
I feel like I’m looking into a lamp, because I am.
If you’re watching TV, you’re looking at a lamp.
If you’re on your computer, or you’re on your phone or whatever, it’s a source of light that’s beaming into your eyes.
When you start wearing blue-blocking glasses like this, it almost turns everything into an even plane, where it’s not popping out and kind of jabbing you in the eyes anymore.
It’s like you can look at it, and read as if it were a book.
Abel: Not exactly, but it’s more like a book. It’s not this thing that’s popping out at you as much.
For me that makes a big difference. Because if it feels like it’s popping out, it almost feels like a psychological subliminal threat in some way.
Because it is, it’s unprecedented. Our bodies are not designed for this.
None of these lights are good for our bodies. They’re just there because they’re in technology right now.
Yeah, I mean, think about it. When you’re staring into your computer screen or you’re looking in your iPhone or your Android, or whatever you have, you’re literally staring into a mini sun.
It’s a mini sun. Ok? And yet, we’re all doing it.
So there’s a couple of things I’ve noticed about our devices.
One is—do you notice how much more we’re looking down?
Like when you look at a phone your head moves down.
And it’s something crazy like, for every 2 cm that you look down, it adds an extra 10 pounds of pressure on your spine, or something like that.
So there’s that. And then also, you’re staring into that mini sun. And that is blasting artificial blue light.
Artificial, that’s my Australian accent, artificial.
Candlelight is fine. Candlelight flame is beautiful.
And think about it, for centuries, tens of thousands of years, we would wake up, we would go and do our work, and live out in the sun.
We’d go and hunt a bear or kill some animals, or forage, and then the sun would go down. And we’d light a fire, and we’d sit around the fire. And then we would go to sleep.
And we did that for centuries. Here’s where it turned.
Thomas Edison mass produced the light bulb in the late 1800s, early 1900s, and that was the moment where our whole life changed.
Because now we are staying up later than we ever did, and now we’re staring into artificial man-made light that isn’t candlelight.
Which now we know stimulates our pituitary and pineal glands, and compromises our sleep.
2007 was another monumental year where everything changed. That was the year that Steve Jobs released the iPhone.
So the phones with a little bit of light, and we use the phones.
As soon as that iPhone came out in 2007, we spent hours and hours and hours on that device.
So now we’re staring into artificial light all day, which nature never intended us to do.
And that’s causing headaches, eye strain, macular degeneration, it’s compromising our sleep, it’s causing us to store fat, causing us to be irritable, relationships are suffering, and so forth.
So, the first step is awareness. Second step is just block the blue light any way you can.
Experiments in Fasting
Abel: I love it. Now, before we started recording, you were mentioning that you’re doing some fasting experiments right now.
So, let us know how that’s going.
Yeah, I’ve just done three 24-hour fasts in a row.
Abel: Oh, it’s in a row?
Yeah, back to back.
So I had my last meal at 6:37 pm and I went 24 hours, and then I went to a Thai restaurant, and I ate for Australia.
I represented Australia in the world eating championships.
I ordered three meals and ate it all. Felt really, really good.
And then I woke up the next day and said, “Oh, I’ll just do another one.”
So I continued on. Went to the same Thai restaurant the next night and ordered another three, and ate.
And now I’m just completing my third one.
Abel: Oh, you having Thai tonight?
You know what? I thought I might change it up a little bit.
Abel: Yeah, okay, there you go.
But I’ll tell you what’s happened. It’s amazing to me how after the second one I noticed how much tighter I was around my belly.
I’ve just noticed, it has burnt literally in 48 hours, it’s like my whole body just went whoop! And it just kind of tightened up.
So I’ve noticed I’ve burned fat, for sure. It was uncomfortable around lunch time for me.
It was like, that’s ordinarily when I would eat. Like, I can skip breakfast.
But around lunch time, I was like, “Oh, I kinda want to eat,” but I pushed through.
Now, I’m a little bit irritable like around 2:00 until 4:00.
Abel: Who isn’t, though?
Yeah. But then what was really interesting was that from 4:00 until 7:00 when I ate again, wow, I was in the zone.
I noticed I had a lot of clarity, and I had energy and I had singular focus.
And strangely, I lost my hunger. And in fact, when I went to the Thai place and sat down, I actually could’ve… I feel like I could’ve gone to sleep that night without eating.
It was like, “Oh, I’ve gone 24 hours? I’d best eat now,” and I ate food.
Now, when I ate the food, it was delicious and I ate a lot. But it was funny, in the moments before I actually ordered the food, I was like, “Oh, actually I don’t have the hunger anymore.”
So anyway, it’s given me clarity, focus, energy. I’ve definitely burned fat. I feel tighter.
And I know that there are monumental health benefits from it that maybe I’m not even aware of right now.
Abel: Sure, even science isn’t.
It’s amazing how much good you can do by doing nothing, or abstaining, right?
Like, you don’t need this magical pill or this magical product. There’s so much that you can do just by taking a break from whatever, whether it’s food, alcohol, technology, we all need a break.
More than ever we’re just assaulted by all these things that we’re not designed for.
So, I think one of the reasons that people are so into meditation and mindfulness and all of that, is because we all just need a break.
You don’t need to meditate, you don’t need to cross your legs or anything. Just take a little break from all of this stuff.
I think that’s kind of the point from today’s interview.
But before we go, I want to make sure that you have a chance to talk a little bit more about the 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge, as well as the Swannies, and anything else you might be working on.
Yeah, thank you. If you’re interested in quitting alcohol for 30 days and maybe longer, you can check out 30daynoalcoholchallenge.com.
And you can also grab my book, you can go on Amazon and just type in 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge, and you’ll find my book there.
If you’re an entrepreneur, business owner or executive and you’re wanting to quit drinking for at least 90 days, I have a program called Project 90, which has helped entrepreneurs make more money, reconnect with their families, lose weight, and all that kinda good stuff. You can just go to jamesswanwick.com/project90.
And with the Swannies glasses, the company is called Swanwick Sleep, so you can check it out at swanwicksleep.com or we sell them on Amazon.
Get a 15% off discount on a pair of Swannies by using this coupon code during checkout: WILD
We’ve got aviators, women’s glasses, and cat eyes. We’ve got glasses for kids, too.
We didn’t talk about that actually. Children are actually the most susceptible to the dangers of blue light.
As we mature and age through adolescence and adulthood, we actually have more of a natural barrier to blue light.
But kids who are on iPads all day and playing video games, they’re actually doing long-term damage to their eyes.
And they’ve done studies that actually show that kids’ grades suffer at school because of this over-use of screens and electronics.
So yeah, we’ve got kids’ styles over at swanwicksleep.com, as well.
And just to wrap it up, look, even if you don’t want to quit alcohol and you think that’s too much of a step, just quit for 30 days. And just get a glimpse of what it feels like.
And I would be shocked if you didn’t feel amazing, had more clarity, energy, focus, be more productive, had better relationships.
And just block as much light as you can at night time.
Because if you’re not sleeping well, your whole life is just a 6 out of 10, you might not be in the gutter or at rock bottom or anything like that, you might just be average, things might be average.
But do you want to be average or do you want to just live the way that nature intended you to live, which is outstanding?
I’ve made my choice. I don’t know about you, I think you’ve made your choice too.
Abel: Yeah, I think you’re in good company, my friend. You can hear it in your voice, you can see it in your face, you’ve got that jump in your step and it’s rare these days.
I mean, it’s not that hard, right? It’s just a matter of being disciplined about it, and doing it, avoiding that blue light, making sure you’re getting decent sleep, you’re treating your body well.
We should all be doing this. And since we’re the minority and we’re all flukes we need to band together as much as possible.
So James, thank you so much for taking the time, I really appreciate the work you’re doing.
Abel, thank you so much for having me, I appreciate you.
Before You Go…
Here’s the review of the week. This one is from Trish, who says:
My family and I went Wild in March and the results are incredible. We’ll be joining the Wild Tribe soon and sharing the physical changes there.
The Fat-Burning Man is the perfect compliment to anyone looking to get informed on thriving in this life, not just surviving.
You can tell how much him and his wife pour into the work they do and we appreciate that hard work.
The guests are informative and often have great perspective on life, wellness, both physical and mental, and are easy and a fun listen. – Trish
Trish, thank you so much for writing in. I love hearing that you’re getting wonderful results, and getting your family involved, too.
I know how challenging family can be, and oftentimes, it takes time and a lot of patience and being gentle, especially if you’re eating or living a little differently than the people around you.
If they don’t want to get healthy, it’s not going to happen. You really need to want it. You need to be ready.
But to the extent that you can, if you can get the people around you excited about making positive changes, that’s a really, really good thing. Because being healthy can be contagious.
So, kudos to you, Trish. Thank you for your support. Thank you so much for the kind words. We do work very, very hard on this show, and you probably see more of me, but my wife Alyson probably works even harder than I do. She’s behind the scenes making sure that all of this is coming to you.
So, I really appreciate you recognizing that it is a lot of hard work, but we believe in it so much we’re very happy to work hard. This provides meaning to our lives.
If you have a story to share, then please get in touch. If you’ve been listening to the show for a while, if you read my book or watched that silly TV show I was on or anything else, all you have to do is sign up for my newsletter, hit reply to the email with free goodies I’ll send you way, and let me know how you’re doing. I read all of them, and reply to as many as I can.
Now I just want to mention, we’ve been doing a lot of other shows, as well. I’ve made a whole lot of live-looping music videos filmed in 360-degrees, as well as educational virtual reality adventures at wacky places around North America.
If you want to check out any of that stuff, be sure to go to abeljames.com where we’re sharing a brand new 360-degree VR video every day for the next year.
And if you’d like to support all of the cool stuff that we’re making, then head on over to wildsuperfoods.com for the health supplements that Alyson and myself have been taking for years.
Every time you purchase from there it directly supports the Fat-Burning Man show.
We just launched this year and it’s going well. People are really enjoying the taste of our greens powder, Future Greens. It has certified organic fruits & vegetables, plus 6 additional superfoods, and digestive enzymes. And since it has only 1 gram of sugar per serving, you’ll be getting a ton of nutrients without spiking your blood sugar.
It’s just one step closer to helping feed the world good nutrition. Because we would like to physically help feed people as well as educate you, and weave through all that misinformation and toxic food out there.
So, thanks for your support. Check out wildsuperfoods.com to see what health boosting goodies we have for you. Right now it’s only in the U.S., but hopefully we’ll be international soon.
What did you think of this interview with James Swanwick? Drop a comment below!
Max Hug says
I stopped drinking alcohol around 5 years ago.
Sometimes it’s weird in social situations.
I might have a quarter of a glass of wine when we are sharing a bottle but that’s it.
What I find harder in terms of socializing – combined with biohacking habits – is to go sleep at 9pm _every_ day. Because I want to get up at 5 and do my workout.
Would love to hear your thoughts on that!
Ryan Collins says
I actually stopped last year and can attribute so many positive changes.