Dr. Andrew Huberman — A Neurobiologist on Optimizing Sleep, Enhancing Performance, Reducing Anxiety, Increasing Testosterone, and Using the Body to Control the Mind (#521)

Artist's rendering of Dr. Andrew Huberman
Illustration via 99designs

“Use the body to control the mind.”

— Dr. Andrew Huberman

Andrew Huberman, PhD (@hubermanlab), is a neuroscientist and tenured professor in the Department of Neurobiology at Stanford University’s School of Medicine. He has made numerous important contributions to the fields of brain development, brain function, and neural plasticity. Andrew is a McKnight Foundation and Pew Foundation fellow and recipient of the 2017 Cogan Award for his discoveries in the study of vision. Work from the Huberman Laboratory at Stanford Medicine has been consistently published in top journals including Nature, Science, and Cell.

Andrew is host of the Huberman Lab podcast, which he launched in January of this year. The show aims to help viewers and listeners improve their health with science and science-based tools. New episodes air every Monday on YouTube and all podcast platforms. 

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform.

Brought to you by Athletic Greens all-in-one nutritional supplement, Theragun percussive muscle therapy devices, and Helix Sleep premium mattresses. More on all three below.

You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#521: Dr. Andrew Huberman — A Neurobiologist on Optimizing Sleep, Enhancing Performance, Reducing Anxiety, Increasing Testosterone, and Using the Body to Control the Mind

This episode is brought to you by Helix SleepHelix was selected as the #1 overall mattress of 2020 by GQ magazine, Wired, Apartment Therapy, and many others. With Helix, there’s a specific mattress to meet each and every body’s unique comfort needs. Just take their quiz—only two minutes to complete—that matches your body type and sleep preferences to the perfect mattress for you. They have a 10-year warranty, and you get to try it out for a hundred nights, risk free. They’ll even pick it up from you if you don’t love it. And now, to my dear listeners, Helix is offering up to 200 dollars off all mattress orders plus two free pillows at HelixSleep.com/Tim.

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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.


Want to hear an episode with someone else who casually enjoys the thrill of a cage-free shark adventure? Lend an ear to my conversation with TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie, in which we discuss serial entrepreneurship, his own pattern disruption with the Hoffman Process, a public service announcement for the psychedelically curious, the relationship dynamics of conscious uncoupling, and much more.

#446: Blake Mycoskie — TOMS, The Hoffman Process, Conscious Uncoupling, and Psychedelics


  • Connect with Dr. Andrew Huberman:

Website | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram


  • Why might vision be a secret to surviving 2020 — or any year, for that matter? [05:41]
  • Visual considerations for optimizing sleep quality. [15:11]
  • A simple new routine that’s been elevating my mood in the mornings, and what Andrew recommends for timing circadian biology to, as wise bards of yore have proclaimed, accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. [18:25]
  • When is the ideal time to get morning light exposure, and how can we use an understanding of our body temperature minimum to shift our circadian clock if we want to avoid jet lag and the impact of working at odd hours? [23:55]
  • Why Andrew is not a fan of melatonin as a sleep aid, and what he recommends instead. [31:03]
  • Andrew’s thoughts on taking phosphatidylserine before sleep to help blunt cortisol release, and what he uses to similar effect. [37:15]
  • The real reason why Andrew applies the term NSDR (non-sleep deep rest) to yoga nidra and a free hypnosis app called Reveri, and the value someone might find in their practice no matter what they decide to call them. [42:26]
  • What are physiological sighs, and how can we use them at any time to reduce stress without the burden of preparation other protocols demand? [47:43]
  • Andrew explains what hypnosis is and determines how susceptible to it I would be. [52:26]
  • What are some of the most practical applications of hypnosis, and do the states induced by it have any shared characteristics with those induced by psychedelics? [56:27]
  • Considering the future of beneficial brain change and the synergestic combinations that might just get us there. [1:04:06]
  • With a past that wouldn’t suggest a tenured future in academia and a penchant for fighting, what happened to Andrew on July 4th of 1994 that changed the trajectory of his life? [1:07:58]
  • Why taking a leave of absence from university isn’t the same thing as dropping out — no matter how many tech founder origin stories like to paint their subject in the glamorous, devil-may-care light of the latter rather than the pragmatic former. [1:15:02]
  • How Andrew’s “magical” childhood pivoted to one of tension, disruption, and depression almost overnight, and what he did at the time (and in many ways is still doing) to cope. [1:17:38]
  • What is the Hoffman Process, and how has it helped Andrew? [1:28:44]
  • If Hoffman was just one of four or five things that had a disproportionately positive impact on Andrew, what are some of those other things? [1:33:00]
  • On pets and mortality, canine research with rapamycin, and why any scientist gunning for a Nobel Prize might not be amiss by changing their surname to Sabatini or Kornberg. [1:37:46]
  • If you like tales of adventure, listen to Andrew talk about that time he went exit cage diving with great white sharks, a bunch of madmen in Mexico, and breathless undersea technical difficulties — for science! Then marvel at what he did to purge himself of the fear, anxiety, and trauma of the experience. [1:39:11]
  • How does Andrew define fear, and has he always been fascinated by it? [1:47:00]
  • What is turmeric’s effect on DHT? Would finasteride (Propecia) behave similarly? [1:50:15]
  • Underscoring how powerful DHT is with the phenomenon of the Dominican Republic’s guevedoce. [1:55:57]
  • Does Andrew think a compound responsible for DHT inhibition could influence the gender of a pregnant woman’s offspring? A late colleague’s story might have some answers. [1:57:44]
  • What does Andrew recommend for optimizing testoterone? [2:00:05]
  • It’s very hard to get a biological free lunch: the perils of testosterone replacement therapy and other testosterone-boosting efforts done haphazardly. [2:05:45]
  • Why messing with hormone balance can actually accelerate aging. [2:09:44]
  • Andrew’s thoughts on cognitive enhancement from the pharmacological/supplement side. [2:12:27]
  • Why yerba mate is my favorite caffeine vehicle, and a recommendation from Andrew. [2:15:09]
  • Why you might benefit from waiting 90 minutes to two hours after waking to ingest your first cup of caffeine, and what we can learn from Roland Griffiths’ excursions into the realm of caffeine research. [2:16:43]
  • Is there a way to counteract the effects of caffeine? [2:18:24]
  • What is the vagus nerve, and why is it fascinating on the fronts of physiology and psychiatry? [2:21:57]
  • What books has Andrew gifted most to other people? [2:28:43]
  • What would Andrew’s billboards say? [2:31:20]
  • Parting thoughts. [2:34:05]


The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 600 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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31 Replies to “Dr. Andrew Huberman — A Neurobiologist on Optimizing Sleep, Enhancing Performance, Reducing Anxiety, Increasing Testosterone, and Using the Body to Control the Mind (#521)”

    1. Martha, check out Huberman’s own podcast (the Huberman Lab) – the first bunch of episodes are all about sleep. My recollection (which might be faulty) is that he talks briefly about CBD and is not a proponent of it. Hope that helps.

  1. This should be labelled as “Super Treat” episode. Thanks so much and looking forward for the part 2, 3, 4…and more!

  2. I would like to know what brand of ashwaganda either TIm or Andrew Huberman recommend please. There are so many brands out there I won’t know what is actually good quality, effective and very importantly safe. Thanks Lis

  3. Hi,

    When it comes to restitution after a workout, is resting = sleep?
    eg. let’s say I have worked out (isometric exercises mainly, not HIT), then I wake up after not enough sleep. Now I can’t really get myself to sleep, but do I gain the same benefit by just closing my eyes being completely relaxed on the sofa?

    All the best,

    1. Thanks Tim for the very valuable material in this episode. Great work, as always. I just wished you’d have asked about his thoughts on pine pollen and the difference with the other supplements he mentioned. Are those supplements better than pine pollen?

  4. Tim, thanks for being a champion for mental health and for the important role psychedelics are increasingly playing in the treatment and management of mental disorders. I am a chronic sufferer of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and substance abuse disorder. Thanks in part to your content; content your have recommended; and aided by an incredible support network of friends, family, and medical professionals; I received my first clinically guided ketamine infusion yesterday. I am thrilled to feel significant relief of symptoms in only 1 day. Thanks again! Keep up the good fight of challenging the cultural stigma of mental health issues, and specifically the role psychedelics play in that fight!

  5. Hi, what was the name of the free hypnosis app that was mentioned? I looked but couldn’t find it.

  6. Hi,
    The dosage of Magnesium Threonate is confusing : Andrew mentions taking 200/400mg, but the bottles talk about 144mg of Magnesium FROM 2000mg of Magnesium Threonate.

    What does this mean, and which dosage is to be followed, the “magnesium from” or the Magnesium threonate?

    1. Yes this would be appreciated. I’m ready to pull the trigger for these items online but need to know how much to get.

  7. Not specifically related to this specific episode, but do you offer a bound /printed version of the Tao of Seneca? Thanks

  8. Whenever there is a episode about sleep, I am always curious about the experts thoughts on thee impacts of caring for babies, and the trade off of the adults sleep/wellbeing. I know infant sleep is a hot topic (sleep training- ugh!) in an of itself and that’s not really what this comment is about, more about how to reconcile disordered/disrupted sleep in the context of caring for a brand new human. The first time I heard Matthew Walker speak I thought I was going to have a stroke based on how many years I had gone with poor sleep (first child did not ever, ever sleep through the night until he was 3!). Would be curious to hear about optimizing that season in life. Thank you!

  9. HIs highlighting of Tongkat Ali for Testosterone is odd. Per Examine.com (which he also recommends): “On the testosterone side of things, the literature appears to be needlessly promising. No peer-reviewed evidence currently establishes Eurycoma as a testosterone booster in otherwise healthy persons or rats but many studies are quick to cite presentations by an M.I Tambi claiming these boosts in testosterone. None of Dr.Tambi’s research presented in conferences appears to be indexed in Medline and the claims expressed cannot be proven.” Also, most studies that show any effect for anything related to the herb use an extract, whereas he seems to take the pure herb (which would I think be much weaker). Any explanation for these discrepancies?

  10. That is actually a misnomer – even the act of “using the body to control the mind” first requires the conscious awareness to do so. A decision always comes first. Everything is mental.

  11. I’ve been a big fan of Andrew ever since hearing him on the JRE a while back. His podcasts are incredibly interesting and are very high quality. Tim, I’m really glad you sat Andrew down and dug deeper into his story – I found it fascinating and inspiring. I look up to you both and I’m eternally grateful for the work that you do.

    I hope I’m right in that I detected a bit of a bromance! Really looking forward to a part two.

    Best wishes from Scotland,

  12. For herbal supplements look for those that are standardized to the active ingredients that are believe to give the benefits people take them for. That way you get some consistency in what you’re getting in every batch. For tongkat ali, 2% or more eurycomanone is thought to be good. For ashwagandha, the KSM-66 standardized to equal to or greater than 5% withanolides is popular.

  13. Wow! What an incredible conversation!
    This episode if full of treasures!

    Thank You So Much Tim
    For being a bridge for us to get this knowledge.
    And For being a bridge for this knowledge to reach us

  14. Great episode, been following you both for years. On the topic of death in your recent Email, I came across a cover song by Bright Eyes that really helped me to embrace death, I Flirted With You All My Life. Give it a listen. Original song by Vic Chesnutt, a folk singer who struggled with being disabled a majority of his life from an accident and recently died at 45.

  15. Two brilliant guys who have spent a lot of time working on themselves talking about to optimize oneself (mainly if oneself is an adult man). I was fascinated with the initial discussion of ocular and respiratory function, the circadian rhythms and how they operate best in harmony with the sun. I would have loved to have heard the conversation turn a charitable eye toward children and how their visual experiences affect their emotions, stress hormones, sleep cycles. That soda-straw vision is a lot of what most kids take in these days via screens in hand, on lap, and on large TVs. As a mom, I would love for you guys who have learned so much about the world to help apply it to those who need it most. Those of us in the trenches creating the next generation can look at you guys like, wow, they’re so amazing, they’re so smart and accomplished, they know everything. We’re listening; but instead of employing this data to help our testosterone levels or our own personal metrics, we’re interpreting how this can help our children, who live in an increasingly unnatural environment, with increasingly unnatural consequences. I’m sure I’m off-base because I’m not your audience, but you could be making a real difference with just a little openness to helping those other than yourselves. I hate feeling like the smart men of the world are more interested in the next generation of robots than the next generation of kids. 😢 Apologies if this feels too critical; it’s meant to be more a plea than a criticism. Even if you go on helping middle-aged men better themselves, it may indirectly benefit the rest of us—but there is heavy lifting being done around you to keep life afloat and I’d love to sense you know it.

  16. Amazing, long, super interesting episode; I love this guy – he’s a mix of Henry Rollins, Jocko, Charles Poliquin and a neuroscientist all wrapped up in one.

  17. I loved this one, I had never heard Huberman talk about his personal journey and It was inspiring.
    I have to admit that I get lost in the more medical technical parts and so I would love to hear on your podcast from Christian Angermayer, he has expressed that he would like it on my twitter account and I have a feeling that if you invite him on your podcast good things are going to happen, maybe you can discover a more applicable source of psychedelics to improve day to day well being. And it’s not just you, there are millions of people who can benefit from it.
    He talks a lot about visualization, so I’m already vizualizing a podcast with you two 🙂

    Here’s a recent podcast with him
    [Moderator: link to “E72: A Billionaire’s Guide To Healing Your Mind And Extending Your Life – Christian Angermayer” on YouTube removed due to Youtube link policy.]

    Best regards,

  18. Such a fantastic episode!. Thank you Tim and Andrew. I expect myself to listen to this over and over again. Lots to digest and implement.

  19. Great episode, Tim. Thinking about how directly connected our sight and breath is to the nervous system was paradigm shifting for me. Thanks for the great content!

  20. Extraordinary session. One of the most valuable ever. Thank you both x 1000. Please do another session!

  21. Hello, I am trying to find the research article or articles that Andrew is referring to from this comment in the podcast: “I just call it biology. I mean, when I learned, for instance, that I’m taking a thousand milligrams per day of EPA, essential fatty acids, not just fish oil, but getting above that threshold, is as effective as antidepressants. In double-blind, placebo-controlled studies….”
    Also, does anyone have any recommendations or links to products with good sources of EPA?