#49 Hack Your Sleep by Blocking Blue Light - with James Swanwick

The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast


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"Blue light comes from all different light sources around us, especially laptops, mobile phones, and TVs at night. But when you stare into that light at night, it actually disrupts your melatonin production, which ultimately compromises your sleep quality and overall health."

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In Episode 49 of The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast, Natalie Douglas, Kate Callaghan, and their guest, James Swanwick (co-founder of Swanwick Sleep) discuss how blue light affects sleep and practical life hacks for better sleep.

  • James’ journey into hacking his sleep
  • How light affects your sleep/wake cycle
  • What blue light is, when we want to block it and when we don’t
  • The main sources of blue light in our environment 
  • What blue light blockers are and why they are not all created equal
  • What to look for when purchasing a pair of blue light blockers
  • The difference between orange and clear blue light blockers- when and why to use both
  • What makes Swannies (Swanwick Blue Light Blockers) different
  • Best time of day to put your blue light blockers on
  • Other ways to hack your sleep including temperature, eye masks, and noise cancellation
  • Alcohol and your health 
  • James’ very successful 30 day no alcohol challenge and his personal journey to reducing his intake
  • Health benefits of removing alcohol and dealing with the “haters”
  • The importance of gratitude and why James’ chooses to practise this daily and his specific tip on making it even more effective
  • James’ 3 tips for living your best life 
  • A special offer for you guys to WIN a pair of Swannies valued at over $115AU including shipping.

James Swanwick
Health & Wellness Entrepreneur

Intro 0:00
Hello and welcome to The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast, with your hosts Natalie K. Douglas, Thyroid Healer, and Kate Callaghan, The Holistic Nutritionist. Nat and Kate are degree-qualified dietitians and nutritionists, certified fitness instructors, speakers, and authors. If you love unfiltered banter, unedited bloopers, and authentic heart-sharing, then we are your ladies! Now it’s time to sit back, relax, and get ready for our latest tips on living your healthiest life possible.

Natalie K. Douglas 0:41
Alright, welcome back to the podcast everyone. Today, Kate and I have a super interesting interview lined up for you. You all know how much we love sleep and how important we think it is for achieving optimal health. And so we thought we would take the opportunity to take a deep dive into one of the biggest issues that comes up in relation to getting good quality sleep, which is our constant exposure to blue light. And who better to walk us through that topic than James Swanwick. So, besides having an awesome last name, James is the Australian-American investor, entrepreneur, speaker, former Sports Center anchor on ESPN, host of the James Swanwick show podcast, and the author of The 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge. Forbes listed James as one of, as one of the 25 professional networking experts to watch. And perhaps most relevant to this podcast is that James is the co-founder of Swanwick Sleep, which we’re going to learn much more about as we move through the podcast. So, James, welcome to the show. And thank you so much for joining us,.

James Swanwick 1:48
Nat and Kate, thank you so much for having me.

Kate Callaghan

Natalie K. Douglas 1:50
Our pleasure. So, before we actually jump into the questions, we always ask all our guests the same question, which is, what did you have for breakfast this morning?

James Swanwick 2:01
I don’t eat breakfast, I do intermittent fasting. So, I skip breakfast and have my first meal of the day after 12 o’clock or after 12:30. I guess you could say I had a mug of lemon squeezed into hot water. It’s not quite tea, but I guess you could say it’s lemon water. That was that was my breakfast but in terms of having any real substantial breakfast, I avoid breakfast all together.

Natalie K. Douglas 2:27
So, what did you break your fast with to kind of get out of it?

James Swanwick 2:32
Yeah. I went, I went to the Erewhon supermarket here in Venice Beach, California. And I got some food from the hot box. I had organic turkey meatballs with some broccolini and some tahini cauliflower.

Natalie K. Douglas 2:47
Oh, yum.

Kate Callaghan 2:49

Natalie K. Douglas
It’s good.

Kate Callaghan
Not party pies and sausage rolls?

James Swanwick
No. No. I do love those.

Natalie K. Douglas 2:56
Oh, funny. Oh, well, that sounds actually good. I haven’t had breakfast yet myself. So that’s now, I’m kind of getting ideas about making turkey meatballs with with exactly what you had. Anyway, that’s all right. So we, you know, you have a really interesting background. And I’m actually really curious to know what made you so interested in sleep? Is it something that you personally struggled with yourself?

James Swanwick 3:21
Well, my sleep was always okay. I mean, it wasn’t terrible. And it wasn’t outstanding. It was kind of like, you know, maybe a 6 out of 10. Some nights I may have trouble falling asleep, other nights I might toss and turn in the night. You know, other nights, maybe I’d fall right asleep and sleep quite well. So, it wasn’t outstanding, but nor was it great. And I was out in Palm Springs in California about two hours outside of Los Angeles. And I went out to dinner with a friend of mine. And he was wearing this really ugly pair of Uvex safety glasses to dinner.

Natalie K. Douglas

Kate Callaghan 3:53

James Swanwick 3:56
And there was a table of very attractive women sitting adjacent to us. And I said to my friend, you look ridiculous and you’re making me look ridiculous by association. And he went on to then explain. He said to me, no, man, I’m trying to block the blue light. And I said blue light? What are you talking about? And he said, all the blue light that’s coming from these, you know, the lights above us here in the restaurant, and the light from your phone, and your computer, and your TV screen. When you stare into that light at night, it actually disrupts your melatonin production, which then ultimately creates poor sleep. And so that can show up as either having trouble falling asleep, or tossing and turning in the night, or waking up tired even if you’ve had a full seven or eight hours sleep. So, that was really my first interest in and I had no idea that blue light was compromising my sleep. And from there, I went back to my place in Los Angeles and put on a pair of old ski goggles that had a kind of amber lens to it. And I put these stupid ski goggles on for a week while I was watching reruns of the TV series Mad Men on AMC and I realized that I was getting sleepy a quicker, and then when I ultimately remove these goggles I went to sleep. I realized I was sleeping much better. And so, I was kind of sold on this whole idea of blocking blue light with with an orange lens.

Kate Callaghan 5:19
Yeah, my husband wears the safety Uvex ones. I’ve in the past and recommended them to friends because they’re only about eight bucks. No, just don’t wear them on a hot date because it’s not going to do you any favors.

James Swanwick 5:34
No. He’s obviously still doing okay with you though, if you’re still married.

Kate Callaghan 5:37
We’ve been together for too long. And he’s we’ve got two kids. So, you know, he’s loved it.

James Swanwick 5:44
Well, I’ll tell you what I’ll do, I’ll do you a favor, and I’ll be able to suggest a much much sexier pair of glasses for him shortly. So you don’t have to stare at him wearing these Uvex once.

Kate Callaghan 5:54
Thank you. I do have a little chuckle every night when I look at him just wearing this Uvex safety goggles, but you know, get into the course. So, you just told us about how blue light affects our sleeping and how it disrupts our sleep. What about light and its overall impact on our circadian rhythms?

James Swanwick 6:11
Yeah, so here’s the thing, we want to expose ourselves to as much blue light during the day. Okay, and and most importantly, as soon as you wake up in the morning. So, when you wake up in the morning, what I do is I go outside, and I let the sun hit my skin because your skin has receptors built into it. And when that sunlight hits your skin, you’re basically telling your internal body clock, which is called your circadian rhythm. This is daytime. This is wake up time, this is the start of the day. Now, the biggest emitter of blue light is actually the sun. So, during the day, we want sunlight. We want to expose ourselves to blue light from the sun. But then at night time, we want to block as much light as possible and as much of that blue light as possible so our body can then start to prepare for sleep. The problem is, is that in today’s society, we are exposed to too much light at night, we’ve got the TV screen, the cell phone, the iPad, the bathroom light, the kitchen light, the speedometer light in your car, the alarm clock light, the golden arches of McDonald’s as you’re driving down the street. There’s all of this light at night, which is tricking our body and brains into thinking that it’s still daytime, even though it’s clearly nighttime, which means we don’t produce as much melatonin, which means we don’t fall asleep as well as we could. Which means we don’t sleep as deeply as we could. Which means we wake up feeling tired and irritable.

Natalie K. Douglas 7:48
Yeah, and so true. And I know I’ve definitely experienced that, in there like I have blue light blockers myself and I definitely have experienced when I block the blue light that my sleep is much deeper, and I do wake up feeling more refresh. Now, for those people listening that perhaps have not entered the wonderful world of blocking blue light with blue light blockers. Can you explain what exactly they are for anyone who hasn’t seen them before or heard of them or anything like that?

James Swanwick 8:21
Sure. So, ultimately, if you have a lens that is the color orange, and a very particular color of orange. Orange is the exact opposite of the color blue. Blue is the opposite of the color orange. So, when you have an orange lens and you wear that orange lens on your face, blue light cannot penetrate, it cannot get through. Therefore, when you’re wearing an orange lens, like a pair of blue blockers, like the pair that I produce, then the blue light doesn’t get through, your body is able to naturally start readying itself for sleep. Your melatonin production flows the way nature intended it to flow. And you’re able to sleep much more deeply when it comes to bedtime. Now there are a number of blue light blockers on the market which are not orange in nature. Some of them are Amber, some of them are yellow, some of them are clear. For sleep purposes, the only pair of blue light blocking glasses that can help you with your sleep must have an orange lens, okay? It must have an orange lens. So, we produce pair of glasses called Swannies from our company Swanwick sleep. We have Nighttime Swannies which accord, which, sorry, our orange lens, so you would wear those particular glasses at nighttime. We also have a pair of daytime glasses called Daytime Swannies, which have a clear lens. Now those clear lenses cannot help you with your sleep. However, they can help filter blue light throughout the day when you’re on your computer, or on your electronics. And what that does is that it just gives your eyes temporary relief from staring into a blue light screen all day. So, those clear lens blue light blockers will actually give you greater clarity, greater focus, and more energy when you want to be productive in the day but then you must switch to the orange lens, blue light blocking glasses, like the Swannies from Swanwick Sleep, which will then block enough of that, block enough of that blue light that is responsible for disrupting your sleep.

Kate Callaghan 10:35
I’ve often wondered about that, because I’ve seen the clear ones on this Instagram, like how do they actually work? So they’re more for daytime use? And so you’d say you wear them when you’re on the computer and on your technology. Take them off when you go outside in the sun?

James Swanwick 10:52
Yes. I mean, having said that, you can wear them when you go outside in the sun. A lot of our Swannies customers do wear their blue blockers out in the sun and it’s quite okay. You know, it’s a fashion. Ours are deliberately stylish because we want to inspire people to get into the routine of wearing them. So, a lot of people do wear them out in the sun and you can wear them as a sunglass but really their main purpose, the ones with the orange lens is really to help improve your sleep quality at night time.

Kate Callaghan 11:20
And what was, that was that the biggest? The style? Was that a huge factor in your creating your own brand of blue light blockers?

James Swanwick

Kate Callaghan
Because other ones were just a bit daggy?

James Swanwick 11:33
Yeah, well, yeah, I mean, I’m sure your husband looks great wearing his Uvex glasses. I’m sure you look at him every night and go wow, my husband is so sexy wearing does.

Kate Callaghan

James Swanwick
It was really you know, I’ll tell you where I got the idea for for a pair of stylish blue light blocking glasses. I was, I was in my home in Los Angeles. It was a Friday night. I was watching, I was watching Mad Men, I have these ridiculous ski goggles on. And I got a text message from my friend saying, hey, we’re at the Laurel hardware restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard. I know that you live in close by in West Hollywood, come come on over. And I really wanted to sleep well that night because I was getting up early in the morning. So, I did not want to remove these damn safety goggles. But at the same time, I wanted to go out and socialize with my with my friend. And that’s when the idea hit me. It was like how can I produce a stylish enough pair of blue light blocking glasses that I would feel comfortable wearing them if I went out to a trendy Hollywood or West Hollywood bar or restaurant. And so, I created this pair of stylish blue light blocking glasses which are called Swannies and customers all over the world almost 100,000 now, wear them when they go out to dinner with friends. They wear them out when they’re socializing, they wear them indoors late at night. And because they’re stylish, people are inspired to wear them on a nightly basis versus if you have some of the other blue light blocking glasses on the market, which I’m sure are equally effective but they’re just ugly as sin, you’re not going to be inspired to want to create a routine or a ritual of wearing these glasses at nighttime and blocking up blue light. So, the stylistic factor, while we might laugh and go oh cool, yours are stylish. And you know that makes us feel good because we’re kind of like making a fashion statement. The real purpose of it looking cool and stylish is so people are really motivated to want to wear them on a nightly basis.

Natalie K. Douglas 13:37
Yeah, I definitely agree with that, because I have been that person in the ugly blue light blockers at night. And I can tell you a lot I’ve gotten a lot of looks like a lot. I mean, my family already think I’m a little bit special when I just like the blue light blockers when I started to wear those quite consistently and I because I have reading glasses as well, I was that person that had a reading glasses on and then the blue light blocking glasses on over the top, which is really all kinds of unattractive. But you know, I was committed to my sleep. So, I definitely have appreciated your more attractive glasses. And I think everyone around me has as well. Now, one thing I wanted to just ask you about. So, you mentioned before that it needs, they need to be a particular color. And is there besides just looking at the color and people are purchasing them, is there any like on on these manufacturers websites, are there any specific words or descriptions that they should be looking out for? Like, should it should it say orange as opposed to amber, or is there any way of telling besides just looking online and seeing that there are really orange color?

James Swanwick 14:55
Yes. You want a pair of blue light blocking glasses that block up to 520 nanometers. So, what you’ll find is you’ll see the letters NM, N for Nancy, M for Mary. And so, our lenses, the Swannies blue light blocking glasses lenses, they block 99% of blue light up to 520 nanometers. And that 520 nanometers is the limit where all of the studies have shown is the is the wavelength of blue light responsible for disrupting your melatonin production. So, if you see a pair of glasses, and they say they blocked 75% up to 450 nanometers, then that’s good. I mean, it’s effective, it’ll be able to block blue light when you’re working on your computer during the day but it will, won’t be able to help you with your sleep. Likewise, if someone says, if you wear a pair of glasses and says all the blocks 100% up to 450 nanometers, great for daytime use, completely useless for being able to help you sleep better. All of the studies have shown that you must block the blue light that is responsible for your melatonin production. And that means you want to look for anything that’s up to 520 nanometers.

Natalie K. Douglas 16:22
Awesome. Okay, well, that’s good to know because I think that I definitely have had some people say to me, oh, I’ve tried wearing blue light blockers because I often tell all of my clients to to get them or have done in the past. And I haven’t really been as specific as I should be in terms of which ones to get, at least prior to learning more about blue light. And I think that if there are people listening that have tried blue light blockers but not had a positive response to using them, I definitely encourage them to have a look more in detail at that those nanometers and, or if they want to skip all of the, all of the hard work. It sounds like you guys have done the hard work for people and have plenty of options on your, on your website for people using them. And I have a pair of your Swannies myself and I, I do really love them. So, both me and my partner pop them on at night time and they definitely work well. On that note, one other question we had is what time of day do you actually recommend people put on their nighttime blue light blockers, like at what point because I’ve heard different things. Some people say when the sun goes down other people say an hour before bed, and that might be quite different as in someone might be going to bed at like 11 pm or 10 pm or something and only put them on at 9 pm. Is that too late? Like when do you recommend putting the blue light blockers on?

James Swanwick 17:46
So, here’s the thing, the absolute gold standard is to live your life at night by candlelight. It’s literally, don’t use any light bulbs, don’t use any electronics, you don’t even need a pair of blue light blocking glasses. When the sun goes down you just light a candle or a fire in your backyard and you live your life by a candlelight or fire. Because candle light and flame does not disrupt melatonin production. Now, we live in the modern world. I don’t think you, I don’t any of us here talking and anyone listening is going to do that because you know, we have light bulbs, we have computers, we’ve got phones, there’s just light everywhere. So, what I say to people is this, sure, you can put those blue light blocking glasses on as soon as the sun goes down. And that would be you know, the silver standard, I guess. But I think what’s more important is put them on in the last half an hour to an hour before you want to sleep. Keep them on, do not remove them until you’ve switched the last slide off, then remove them roll over, and go to sleep. So, I can just tell you as I wear of glasses for the last three years, I put mine on in the last 30 to 45 minutes before I go to sleep and I sleep almost flawlessly. It’s kind of, I mean, while putting the glasses on as soon as the sun goes down is terrific. I also know human beings and I feel like it would be unrealistic that someone’s going to wear put their glasses on at 6:30 pm and keep them on until 11:30 pm without removing them. So, the best standard I think that’s that’s realistic, and that will give you the most benefits is put on your Swannies glasses in about 30, 45 minutes before you want to go to sleep, and just do that every single night consistently, and only remove them once you switch the last slide off. And if you can do that, I would be shocked if you didn’t get at least the 20% improvement in the quality of your sleep.

Kate Callaghan 19:46
That’s good advice. Especially because here in New Zealand in the summer, our sun doesn’t go down until 10, 10:30 with daylight savings so.

James Swanwick 19:53

Kate Callaghan 19:53
Often will, I’ll be in bed and hopefully asleep before the sun goes down. So, yeah, putting that on, putting them on, you know, half an hour, 45 minutes before I go to bed. That’s that’s more doable, because otherwise I’ll never put them on.

James Swanwick

Kate Callaghan
And so, let’s say that people have bought a pair of your awesome Swannies but they’re still not sleeping great. And they want to further hack their sleep to get that good rest for optimal health. Do you have any other tricks, tips, or products, or tools that you’d recommend beyond addressing stress and diet?

James Swanwick 20:27
Yes. Let me give you the best, the perfect day, you wake up in the morning, and within five minutes you go outside and let the sunlight hit your skin. So, your circadian rhythm knows that it’s daytime, you exercise in the morning because studies have shown that people who exercise in the morning sleep better at night. I think this is because of two reasons. One, people who exercise in the morning tend to do it more consistently, which means they’re healthier in general, which means they sleep better anyway. And two, if you exercise close to bedtime, you raise your core body temperature, and the and we actually want our core body temperature to be cool for optimal sleep. No coffee after 2pm. Coffee is a stimulant and even if you drink a cup of coffee before you go to sleep and you go oh, I fall asleep just fine you are compromising the quality of your sleep. No alcohol. I mean, I don’t drink alcohol at all anyway, but no alcohol certainly within the last couple of hours before you go to sleep. Well, you might think oh, but it relaxes me, and a glass of wine it just you know, relaxes me and gets ready for sleep. That may actually be true. However, again, your sleep quality is severely compromised because now your liver is working to break that down. Which means your body is not in that deep REM restorative sleep, which means you don’t sleep as deeply as nature intended you to sleep. Cool environments, in Fahrenheit 65 to 69 degrees is the is what all the studies have shown to be the perfect temperature for sleeping. That’s about 18 degrees between 18 degrees Celsius and 20 degrees Celsius. So, if you have an air conditioning unit, just set it to that temperature. Cool environment even in the even in the winter or the summer is what you want to be sleeping in. And, and I also find that just reducing stress and anxiety any way in life. And I do that from daily gratitude, I write 20 things that I’m grateful for each morning, tends to reduce my stress and anxiety, which tends to help me sleep at night, as well as well. Now just a couple of other things you can buy, if you want to even take it a step further, a sleeping mask. Swanwick Sleep has 100% pure silk sleeping mask, which is oversized, it blocks out all of that light, so no light gets through. And then if you can have really dark curtains, so sunlight doesn’t wake you up in the morning. So, you’re sleeping in a very dark place that can also really improve your sleep. And then there are a couple things like lavender oils or burning essential oils from an oil diffuser can help calm you and relax you before you want to sleep as well.

Natalie K. Douglas 23:13
I love it. And then what about, so I personally have the sleeping mask, and I actually tried several cheap ones from the chemists before buying one of your Swanwick ones. And I definitely can say yours feels like flying first class. It’s just that’s that’s my best explanation. So, I, but thank you so much for making that because I really love that. The other thing I was curious about is I noticed, well, I know because I have them as well is that you make earplugs. And I was wondering if you could share what the benefits are to actually canceling out noise when you sleep. And yeah, what was the motivation behind offering those as well as all of the other sleep technology that you’ve got?

James Swanwick 23:57
Yeah, I mean, it’s just exactly for what it’s designed to do and that is just to block out the noise because if there’s just you know, noise that’s not relaxing noise, then that noise is stressful noise. So, there’s two states of mind and two states of being that we can live in. And in every moment, there’s a beautiful state of being, and then there is a suffering state of being. And a beautiful state of being is where we get optimized sleep. And a suffering state of being is where we don’t. So, I like to just make it so easy for people to always be in that beautiful state of being. And if you can block out any kind of noise from traffic on the street, or a television in the next room, or any kind of harsh sounds that would somehow disrupt your relaxation and your destressful time and your and the quality of your sleep. And, you know, I’m I’m all for that.

Kate Callaghan 24:49
I’m going to get some of those because I wear earplugs but minor rubbish. I would like to say I’m looking looking at traffic, but I’m but I’m blocking out a snoring child next to me. Can I take a little a little backtrack? So, when you were talking about your other tips and tricks for sleep, so you mentioned alcohol. Now, I know you’re really passionate about not drinking alcohol, it’s a big journey that you’ve been through yourself. As an Australian yourself, I’m sure you know the drinking culture is pretty bad in Australia and New Zealand. I mean, it’s everywhere you know, we have wine to relax as a mother in the afternoon, alcohol to have fun. It’s it’s absolutely everywhere. And you know, if I recommend to people to not drink alcohol they go oh, that’s going to be really hard, even though it’s going to improve their health in a massive way. I see, you know, that’s really hard they’ve got such and such event coming up. And you know, and the other day I said, I haven’t been hangover since 2014. I got a really, really funny look from from people. And, so what would you say to people who are struggling with the idea of giving up alcohol, juice that social pressure.

James Swanwick 26:01
Well, I can tell you. I have not, I haven’t drank since 2010. And I was never an alcoholic. I was just you know, what an Australian or New Zealand on my core. Just a good social drinker, I’d have a couple drinks each night on the weekends, I might have a few more if I was watching the 40 or going to the cricket or something. And I very rarely got drunk but you know, I woke up one morning in 2010 and I looked in the mirror and I went wow, James, you put on a little bit of weight, and you look a little tired. And yeah, you only had a couple drinks last night but you know, I can feel that hangover. And so I said to myself, you know what, I’m just going to take 30 days off and not drink for 30 days and just see how I feel. And so that’s what I did. I quit for 30 days, and I lost about five kilos, five kilograms in 30 days. My skin got better, I slept better, I was more productive, I was happier, I started attracting a higher caliber of person into my life, and I just liked how it felt so much it just kept on going and going and going. Now, to answer your question. When I first quit, I had people saying an Australian who doesn’t drink? Are you crazy? And I must admit, the first week when I wasn’t used to it, I was kind of like a bit self-conscious. And I was like, oh, wow, I’m really ostracized here, I really feel like I’m, I’m on the outer here like, I really do have to drink in order to fit in. But by the second week and the third week, after I’d gone out to a few bars and restaurants and just ordered a soda water or ice and a piece of lime, and started to have a good time and started to fit in. I was like, you know what, wow, I can have fun without alcohol. And not only can I have fun without it, but I get to wake up feeling refreshed, and energetic, and with clarity, and focus, and with energy. And then the coolest thing happened in month two, which was I just started naturally attracting people into my life, who either didn’t drink, or drinking was not a necessity for them. Maybe they just drank occasionally. It was really remarkable. And so, I wouldn’t say that I cut off my social network or my existing friends I didn’t, I didn’t, you know, consciously go, I’m not going to hang out with them anymore but what happened is I just naturally started moving towards a new group of friends and a new group of people who had health and positivity mindsets in their vision. And now I can go out to nightclubs. I mean, I’ve been one nightclub in like one year, but I say that kind of figure. What it mean is, what I mean is is that I can go out to any social situation, including a nightclub, including a Las Vegas nightclub, for example. I go out to work dinners and restaurants and social engagements. And I don’t drink alcohol, I just drink water. I said a piece of lime or a little bit of soda water, and I’m fine, I’m engaging. It’s not, it’s not even an issue. Like people don’t care. I mean, really, they just, we think that people care. People don’t care. They just, they only care about themselves. They don’t care if you’re not drinking. And if you can come across with this mentality and with this, with this, or about you where it’s like I’m good. I’m feeling great that no one can give you a hard time. I created this program called The 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge. You can see a video of my whole story there at 30DayNoAlcoholChallenge.com. And we’ve helped almost 20,000 people around the world now quit drinking for 30 days and beyond. And you know, the number one problem they come to is like, oh, I’m scared, I won’t be able to have fun without drinking or I’ll be ostracized from my friends. And then they go through the challenge. And they go oh, actually, that wasn’t true at all. And I’m just getting better friends anyway. So, it’s.

Natalie K. Douglas

Kate Callaghan 29:52
Yeah. No, I totally agree. And I just saw in your social media a little bit earlier that quitting alcohol led you to meet Bon Jovi. So, if that’s not enough.

James Swanwick 30:04
Yeah, I got to meet Jon Bon Jovi. It was pretty cool.

Natalie K. Douglas 30:09
Awesome. And I, I really kind of resonate with a lot of that story, because I, well I personally have never been much of a drinker growing up, and like going through teenagers and early 20s. I, I really, I’d actually don’t, I just generally don’t like the taste, but I felt a lot of the pressure. And a lot of people reacting in a similar way to what you were describing in the beginning, but, and I was really self-conscious about it at first as well. And sometimes I would even avoid social situations when I was younger because I didn’t want to feel like the odd one out. But like you, I kind of just became more comfortable with it. And also realize, you know, people often react for the first few times, and it’s usually more about them than it is about you. But then once they just get used to you not being a drinker or not someone who, you know, orders alcohol when you’re out to dinner them, they just stopped caring, and they just stop asking. And so, I yeah, I think it’s it’s really interesting. And I definitely have had a similar experience in terms of a lot of the people who I used to hang out with that were, you know, social drinkers quite a lot, they’ve just naturally kind of moved away from me. And then other people come into my life that don’t, don’t hire it, don’t hold it as a, you know, an essential thing to do, to have fun or to socialize, etc. So, interesting that there’s a lot of parallels there. So, yeah, thanks for sharing that. And we will actually put the link to that program in the show notes for people to check out because I definitely think that there’s probably plenty of people listening that could benefit from that, or at least know someone that could benefit from that, that that challenge as well. And it’s really, it’s really good to do it in a kind of group environment and to have that support going through it. Because I think sometimes if you’re the only friend only person in your social network that is eliminating alcohol, it can feel that isolating but if you’ve got, you know, a group of people, whether it’s in person or online to actually connect with them, and share the initial struggles with of of starting to eliminate that that’s that can be really beneficial.

Kate Callaghan 32:18
And the reality is that it does have a huge impact on our health. I think just because it is so normalized in our society, we don’t think about those negative impacts that it is a drug. It’s just so pervasive and normalized in our society that we don’t equate it to a drug that’s impacting our liver and our hormones. So, thank you for raising that awareness, James.

James Swanwick 32:38
You’re so welcome. Yeah, it’s just one final point on that. People think that just having one seemingly innocent glass of wine or a beer each day after work is not really affecting them. However, here’s the thing. If you have that glass of wine before you go to sleep, then you don’t sleep as well as you might. And because you don’t sleep as well as you might, you wake up feeling just a little bit tired and just a little bit irritable. And if you’re just a little bit tired and irritable, maybe you snap at your husband or your wife or your kids, and now your relationships are compromised. Maybe you’re just two minutes late for work and your boss notices that, and so you don’t get that promotion, so now it’s costing you money. Maybe your focus is just a little bit compromised throughout the day, so you don’t perform as well as you could perform. Maybe your energy levels are just a little bit lower than what they could be throughout the day. And so you eat a sugary food just to give you a little bit of energy throughout the day. And then because you eat that sugary food, now you’re putting on just a little bit more weight, because you’re putting on a little bit more weight, and you don’t have much energy, and you’re tired. At the end of the day you come home and you pour yourself a glass of wine to sit down and relax. And then the whole vicious cycle starts again. So, I’m not saying that alcohol is the devil, I’m not saying you should quit entirely, but I am inviting you to quit for 30 days. So, you can get a glimpse of what it feels like to live an alcohol-free life. And for me personally, eight years into this, I can say with 100% conviction, life is simply better without alcohol.

Natalie K. Douglas 34:15
Yeah, agreed. Agreed. And why not buy some blue light blockers to help further improve your sleep while you’re at it. Now, um, thank you so much for sharing all of that with us. I think that there’s so many key takeaways. And I certainly relearnt some things I had forgotten about blue light, and how it kind of affects our sleep. What we really like to do with all our guests as well is to ask a few questions towards the end. So, what I wanted to get from you is, what are your top three tips for living your healthiest and happiest life possible?

James Swanwick 34:55
Well, number one is, I write 20 things I’m grateful for in my diary every morning. I have a rule where I’m not allowed to touch my phone until I’ve written 20 things I’m grateful for each day. And only then can I put my hand on my phone and switch it out of airplane mode. And that has been a huge driver of my happiness levels. In particular, this year, just creating that one simple habit, definitely blocking blue light at night any way that you can. I’m just being really conscious of that because sleep is so important to our happiness and well-being. If we don’t sleep well, then we’re not living well. But if we do sleep well, if we do sleep the way that nature intended us to sleep, then we have greater energy, clarity, focus, our bodies relax, we replenish the glucose that we’ve we’ve used throughout the day in our brain, we just feel happier. And then I would say just reducing or quitting alcohol is going to have a huge driver in your success and happiness levels as well because alcohol is a depressant and it does create all these other nasty habits around it. If you have to drink of wine over dinner in a restaurant, and the waiter comes over to you and says, would you like some desserts? You’re more inclined to say yes to the desserts because you’ve just had the alcohol. Whereas if you’re not drinking it, maybe you’ll turn the the deserts down. And you’re not putting on extra fats and you’re not putting more calories into your system. There’s all these huge health benefits if you can just reduce or quit alcohol entirely. So, yeah, I would say live in a state of gratitude, block blue light at night and optimize your sleep, and reduce or quit alcohol.

Kate Callaghan 36:40
100% agree. I’m a big, big gratitude fan as well. I always get my clients to practice gratitude. And I personally practice gratitude myself. I write down three things I’m grateful for each night, but now I feel doing enough. 20 is good news. 20 is amazing. Okay, all right, I need to do more.

James Swanwick 36:57
Do you want to know, do you want to know why 20s? I’ll tell you why 20 is better than three other than you know it’s obviously.

Kate Callaghan

James Swanwick
Obviously. Well, I’ll tell you why. I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you the scientific reason why 20 is better than 3. Because when you have to write 20 every day, you are now an evidence seeking missile looking for proof that everything is good. And that life is working in your favor. And so what happens is your reticular activating system, which is called your RAS, kicks in the gear. And now you are just looking, searching for the good in everything. Sometimes I get stuck on like number 10, 11, 12, 13. I’m like, man, what else can I be grateful for? And I’m like, thinking, searching, looking, and then I’ve got ah, I’ve got it. And then I write that down and then go, what else oh, that? I got it. And what happens is you go out into your day, and instead of just walking around with a resting bitch face on your face, now you’re walking around going wow, the sun is shining. Wow, look at those birds chirping. Wow, look at that lovely person who just smiled at me in the street. Oh, I think I’m going to go and get a lovely green juice. Oh, hello barista who’s serving me my coffee, so lovely to meet you. Wow, isn’t it great that I get to be out and meeting people and feel part of a community. Now you’re an evidence seeking missile just looking for proof that everything is good. And when you’ve live in that state, you live in a beautiful state of mind, and all of your life can be beautiful.

Kate Callaghan 38:27
Definitely, I think you just touched on some really. Those things that you mentioned then that you’re grateful for. I think people do often get caught up when they have to write things that they’re grateful for that they have to be big things in their life. But you know those things that you just mentioned, meeting new people, getting out, the birds, and the sunshine, these simple things that we can all appreciate that we all have access to. It doesn’t have to be some life-changing thing that you’re grateful for.

James Swanwick 38:52
It’s the simple things. It’s the old saying, the simple things in life are often the best. We humans love to complicate life, but really, it’s just get sunlight, sleep well, eat well, exercise regularly, eat with friends and loved ones and family. Be grateful for the little things and your whole life you’ll be grateful for.

Kate Callaghan 39:13
Perfect. Perfect. So, if if you had one key message for listeners to take away from today’s podcast, what would that be?

James Swanwick 39:22
Live in a beautiful state of being. So, the way, happiness is the way, it’s not the way to happiness, right? Happiness is the way. So, start from a beautiful state of being and from there, you’ll make more money, you’ll have greater friends, you have better health. Just always be always, always be constantly putting yourself in a beautiful state of being.

Natalie K. Douglas 39:44
I love it. Great, great advice. And I’m very inspired as well, around your gratitude list. I think I’m going to have to step it up now. So, yeah. I know, right? That’s awesome. And so where can people find you and your company and get the hands on some of your awesome sleep technology?

James Swanwick 40:04
SwanwickSleep.com, that’s SWANWICKsleep.com. SwanwickSleep.com. We’ve got a whole range of blue light blocking glasses there called Swannies. If you’re prescription glasses where we have fit overs that go over the top of those glasses and we can also custom-make some prescription glasses for you. We’ve also got the sleep mask that you mentioned before, and some oil diffusers, and a sleep supplement, and then if you’re interested in quitting alcohol for 30 days, you can just go to 30DayNoAlcoholChallenge.com. And then you can find me on Instagram, and Snapchat, and Facebook at James Swanwick.

Natalie K. Douglas 40:42
Awesome, and I will make sure I pop all of those in the show notes. So thank you again, so so much for joining us. I am sure that there are many things that listeners can take away from today’s conversation. And yeah, I’m looking forward to actually implementing some of the things you suggested and and hopefully getting more of your, your message out because I believe it’s a really good one. And I think I really love your practical approach to sleep as well. I think that it’s making it much more accessible for a lot of people. So, thank you.

James Swanwick 41:15
You’re welcome. And thank you for having me, Nat and Kate.

Natalie K. Douglas 41:17
Wow, what an awesome chat. I hope you guys are feeling really inspired to improve your sleep, reduce your alcohol intake, and practice more gratitude, I know I definitely am. To help you guys get started on your journey. Kate and I are giving away a pair of Swanwick Sleep blue light blockers valued at 82 US dollars, which is like 115 Australian dollars. All you have to do is leave a review on our iTunes podcast page, which you can do by searching for The Holistic Nutritionist Podcast in iTunes. We will be picking a winner on Friday, the 16th of November. If you guys have already left a review on iTunes, please don’t worry, you will not miss out, you will automatically go into the draw to win. Good luck.

Outro 42:08
Thanks for tuning in to The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast. Remember, we love to make the show relevant to you. If you have any questions or topics you’d like us to discuss, just submit them to [email protected] and we’ll get them answered for you. Also, don’t forget to subscribe, rate, and review the podcast on iTunes and share it with your friend. And if you’re looking for more info about how we can accelerate your journey to your optimal health, you can find me, Nat, over at NatalieKDouglas.com and Kate at TheHolisticNutritionist.com. See you next time!


The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast - with Natalie K. Douglas and Kate Callaghan

Welcome to The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast!

If a professional, polished, well-edited podcast is what you’re after…then we’re not for you!

But if you love unfiltered banter, unedited bloopers and authentic heart sharing then we are your ladies.

We also have the most practical tips on holistic and alternative health care too 😉

Have a question that you want answered on the podcast or want to be interviewed? Get in touch!


Natalie K. Douglas | Thyroid Healer

Natalie K. Douglas | Thyroid Healer

Natalie K. Douglas ("Nat") is a Holistic Dietitian and Nutritionist dedicated to Thyroid, gut and hormone healing.

Nat shows stressed, burnt out, overwhelmed women how to value their worth again, change their mindset habits, prioritize healing, and reclaim their vitality. Guaranteed.

Her clients say she’s the right girl to see if you’ve tried the conventional approach and nothing has worked.

Kate Callaghan | The Holistic Nutritionist

Kate Callaghan | The Holistic Nutritionist

Kate Callaghan is a Holistic Nutritionist, Personal Trainer and Lifestyle Coach who specializes in women's hormone healing.

She recognizes that there is no “one size fits all” diet or “magic bullet” which is going to cure all illnesses.

She focuses on having a thorough understanding of your personal goals, needs, likes/dislikes, support networks and lifestyle in order to create a food and lifestyle approach that suits YOU.


James Swanwick | Health & Wellness Entrepreneur

James Swanwick | Health & Wellness Entrepreneur


James Swanwick is a New York-based ESPN anchor on SportsCenter, author of ‘Insider Journalism Secrets’ and co-founder of international agency, Crocmedia. He has been a print or TV journalist for 20 years, writing for newspapers and magazines in the US, UK and Australia. These include Associated Press, Sky Sports, ESPN, WPLJ radio, Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney Daily Telegraph, The Sun, Sky Movie Channel, Q104FM, Loaded magazine, Woman’s Day, The Courier-Mail and much more.


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