089: Shawn Stevenson on Why Sleep Is More Important Than Diet & Exercise

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Why Sleep is More Important than Diet and Exercise Combined with Shawn Stevenson
Wellness Mama » Episode » 089: Shawn Stevenson on Why Sleep Is More Important Than Diet & Exercise
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The Wellness Mama Podcast
089: Shawn Stevenson on Why Sleep Is More Important Than Diet & Exercise

If you haven’t heard of Shawn Stevenson, you’re about to meet your new best friend in health. I’m excited because he’s also one of the most knowledgeable people on the topic of sleep, one of my favorite things to research. (And something I dream about as a mom!)

You can get to know Shawn by reading his international best-seller, Sleep Smarter, or checking out his podcast “The Model Health Show,” which is usually somewhere around the #1 spot on health podcasts on iTunes.

Shawn has been featured in Entrepreneur magazine, FAST Company, Men’s Health, and so many other outlets … and I can see why. He has this amazing way of explaining his technical knowledge in a way that’s really relatable and easy to implement.

He truly believes that health (and a good night of sleep) is within everyone’s reach!

Shawn Stevenson Shares His #1 Health Secret: Good Sleep

We don’t get far into the interview when Shawn makes a rather shocking statement:

Sleep has more impact on health than nutrition and exercise combined.

Of course, we instinctively know sleep is important. One night of bad sleep and how we feel the next day proves it. But we kind of expect to just lay down and sleep … and that there’s not much more to it.

There are countless ways to “eat right” and exercise. But isn’t there just one way to sleep?

Shawn doesn’t think so. Even if you manage to sleep a decent number of hours per night, you might not be getting the benefits of all that sleep … unless you learn how to optimize sleep by understanding how it works!

In This Episode You’ll Learn:

  • how Shawn overcame degenerative bone and spinal disease (it’s an incredible story!)
  • why sleep—not nutrition or exercise—is the foundation of all health
  • the 4 pillars of health according to Shawn … and why without these supplements are useless
  • how to get more out of the hours you do sleep (must-have info for all moms)
  • what “fake medicine” can actually cure you 33% of the time!
  • the “nocebo” effect: what it is and what it can do to you
  • stages of sleep and what they do to restore the body
  • what powerful anti-cancer hormone your body makes while you sleep
  • surprising connections between sleep and memory
  • easy ways to increase your odds of getting great sleep at night
  • why Shawn advises sleeping naked and braless (it’s all the interest of health!)
  • the form of exercise all women should try
  • an extra reason to exercise that most people don’t know
  • and more!

Resources We Mention

More From Wellness Mama

Do you struggle with sleep? What has helped you? Will you give Shawn’s tips a try? 

[toggle title=”Read Transcript”]
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Katie: Welcome to The Healthy Moms Podcast. I’m Katie from wellnessmama.com. Today, I’m here with Shawn Stevenson, who I’ve met in person. He’s an amazing guy. He’s also the author of the international bestseller, “Sleep Smarter.” And he is the creator of “The Model Health Show” which is usually somewhere around the number one spot on Health podcasts on iTunes whenever I see it. He actually has over a million listener downloads per month, and I’ll make sure to include a link. It’s an amazing podcast. So he has a background in business biology and kinesiology. He founded Advanced Integrative Health Alliance, which is a company that provides wellness services for individuals worldwide. And he’s been featured by everyone from “Entrepreneur magazine,” to FAST Company, to “Men’s Health,” and so many other outlets. And I’m excited today because he’s also one of the most knowledgeable people I know when it comes to sleep, which is one of my favorite research topics. So Shawn, thanks for being here. I’m so excited to chat with you.

Shawn: Thank you so much for having me Katie, thank you.

Katie: So you’re known as “The sleep guy” these days after your really popular book, “Sleep Smarter” came out.

Katie: But you’re also just really knowledgeable about natural health. And I know, when we met, we geeked out on a lot of different health things. But you have an incredible personal story, so to start, can you kind of share with us your own journey of healing, and how you got into this in the first place.

Shawn: Yeah sure. So, it’s so funny because my son, who’s 16 right now…my oldest son. I just took him to school this morning, dropped him off. He’s working on getting his license, that whole thing, after track season. But he just wrapped up his track season. And it was during this time, when I was the same age as him, that when I was in track practice, and doing that 200m time trial that’s basically, you know that’s the half of the track, all out sprint. And as I was coming off the curve into the straightaway portion of the track, my hip broke. It just broke from running. You know there was no trauma, nobody ran into me. Actually, I pulled the muscle from my hip and when I did that the top of my iliac crest came with it. And so I went through what’s called “Standard of Care.” And basically, you know the physician was like you know, “This is interesting, just stay off the leg, take these anti-inflammatories, you know these NSAIDs. And you know you will get better, you will heal.” And I did. You know when you’re 16 you have the hormones of like a Greek god or something and so you know, stuff is stacked in your favor to get well.

But nobody stopped to ask, “How did this kid break his hip from running?” You know those type of things that usually reserved for people who are much, much older. And it wasn’t until four years later…so four years, about a dozen more injuries, and I finally get this diagnosis of something called degenerative bone disease and degenerative spinal disease. And my spine essentially was deteriorating rapidly to the degree that my physician, at the time told me I had the spine of an 80-year-old person when I was just 20, which isn’t very enlightening news to hear.

And you know just to kinda make the long story short with this portion, you know I asked, “What is it that I can do to try, you know to get better?” And he basically told me that there’s nothing that you can do. “This is something that just happens and you’re gonna have to find a way to live with it. I’m sorry.” And so I went into the physician because I was having some kind of just annoying pain, and now fast forward two weeks later, I’m like in chronic pain. And this is something I’ve been dealing with for about a month. And so what happened was he implanted something called “The nocebo effect.” And as you know, you know this is the opposite of a placebo effect which is that’s an appositive injunction that something beneficial is going to happen. You know when a physician gives you a certain treatment or a drug. And a lot of people don’t realize this Katie that, placebos are 33% effective on average. So we’re talking about, it’s a fake medicine, a fake operation. 33% of the time on average, the person has a full recovery based on that fake medicine. And some things are upwards of 80%, 90% effective. Now, a nocebo effect is when you tell somebody that something bad is gonna happen. You’re on negative outcome and negative side effect is going to happen, and they believe it. And I did, you know because I had held the physician in such high esteem, and that’s what we do kind of in our culture.

You know it’s changing right now. And it’s justifiable for sure because they do hold many keys to sustaining our livelihood. But this was a very negligent thing to say to a 20-year-old kid. And from there, I went into depression, just gaining a lot of weight. I gained about 45, 50 pounds. And I was definitely kind of lost. And to you know kind of wrap the story up is, it wasn’t until two and a half years went by, and the pain was so bad that it literally had me in fear, because every time I stood up from sitting down or laying down, I’d get this sciatic pain that on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most unbearable, scary pain you’ve ever had, it would go 10. But it would be for just half a second. But it was so bad that it’d literally make me like physically jerked back. And like it was embarrassing and it was scary. And so I just didn’t move very much. And that set me on a path that thing is just getting worse and worse because if you don’t move it you lose it basically. And so two and a half years go by, I saw four other physicians to get multiple diagnosis and recommendations but they also the same thing which…by the way, little side note, everybody listening if you ever do get some news about a chronic illness for you or your loved one, make sure you get a second, third opinion before you… we jump into h harsh medications and surgery because that can literally change the course of your life. And so everything changed when I…and this is something super simple I don’t people pass over either, I actually decided to get well. And the crazy thing is, and I’ve done this clinical work you know, I work with thousands of people in a one on one context. Most people never actually decide to get well. It’s like, “I’ll take a chance, and we’ll see what happens. I’ll give this a try.” You know I wish this will work. And it’s very disempowering in the approach itself. It’s already giving you an out.

When you make a real decision about something you cut away the possibility of anything else but that thing happening. “Come what may, I’m going to get to this destination.” And so I decided to get well. And I’d like to you know mention that this wasn’t like a seemingly miracle happen and I just like got up and walked normally all of a sudden and then the clouds parted. It was really a process. And fortunately, I’m a pretty analytical person by nature. And so I put a plan together that entails three specific components. And of course, we’re gonna talk about them today. Specifically one of them, but one was nutrition. You know, and this is not a joke. And I just told somebody this who went to high school with me the other day at my son’s track meet. And you know she sees me today and she just thinks that I’m like you know this health expert, and just like you know, Shawn has got it made in some kind of way. And I told her like, “When we were in high school, I was dying inside. You know like I didn’t eat a salad until I was 25-years-old.” That’s the first time I ate a salad. And people really can’t even rationalize that, “How is it even possible? How did you even make it?” You know I barely made it. And so I begin to give my body the raw materials it needed to regenerate itself. It’s really as simple as that. Your body cannot regenerate tissues unless it has the raw materials to do so.

The second part was movement. You know I came across research and this is something I want to talk about today and how important movement is for healing the body, regeneration, and assimilation of nutrients. And the third part and this was the real game changer was sleep. My sleep was the biggest struggle for me every single night. When I laid my head down the pillow I didn’t know what was gonna happen. Because again the pain was so bad, if I even changed positions it will wake me up. And so my sleep was terrible for years. And if you’re not sleeping you’re not healing. That’s where all the anabolic the most anabolic processes are happening and repairs of enzymes and all that stuff to regenerate the body and the brain. And so once I got my sleep dialed in, due to lifestyle practices that I was doing during the day, it’s like the floodgates opened. Over the course of about 6 weeks, I lost 28 pounds. And this pain that had me in fear for two and a half years was gone. And fast forward, I did get a scan done a few months later, and I regenerated the tissues that you know, they said it was impossible to regenerate. And my two herniated disc retracted on their own, and not only did I get my life back, I got a better life. Because now after these several months, people were asking me for help, they were asking me how I did it. And that was really the birthing of my career.

Katie: That’s an incredible story. And to really speak to it, I think you’re right that mindset gets overlooked and people kind of dismiss it as not that important. I know that’s something, for many years, I ignored it as well. But when we look at the nocebo effect not only…like you said, people get better from surgeries, when no surgery was actually done. They just made an incision. But also you see people who the doctor told them they had a terminal illness of some kind and they die, and the autopsy finds they didn’t actually have it. But they thought they were gonna die so they did.

Shawn: It’s crazy, crazy stuff. You know and that…and being to look at the…you know I’ve known about this for many years now, looking at the work of like Dr. Berty Segal and folks like that. But even today with Dr. Lissa Rankin, if people are interested in looking into that more, “Mind Over Medicine,” and understanding how powerful our minds are at affecting change in our body. And just a really quick example, we know this but oftentimes we don’t pay attention to it. And the fact that, when you have a feeling which is the cause of the feeling is first you wanna be a thought. You know like maybe you think about something potentially negative about somebody that you care about. You know something bad happening. And it creates a feeling of anxiety or fear. That thought literally creates a change in your biochemistry. You know your hormones are changing based on your thoughts. Your neurotransmitters are changing based on your thoughts. Your DNA is literally changing what its doing based on your thoughts. It is that powerful. And this is why today, more than ever, with so much distraction, so much stuff coming at us, that takes us away from paying attention to how we feel, and the thoughts that we’re carrying. For us to be adamant about getting around information like this, you know what you’re providing for people, to really keep them in more of an inspired and positive mind frame because you know there is again, there’s so much negativity that can be accessed. And you could…all you have to do is turn on your phone. But we have to take back control of our minds, and that is really kind of the bridge for us to take care of our bodies as well.

Katie: Absolutely, and I love that you said that you made the decision. And obviously it wasn’t an overnight thing, but that it was actually a pretty rapid recovery for you once you really were all in to recover. And I want to definitely dealt into sleep and movement. But before we move on, can you also just touch on nutrition. People always love to hear like, what do you eat? How do you eat? And how was that instrumental in your journey?

Shawn: Sure. Well, I went through a lot of…who say a lot of versions of nutrition over the years. You know in the very beginning, what was so fascinating was I started to find out about all of these specific nutrients. You know different compounds that were essential in building bone and building tissues that I had never heard about before. You know and I had biology in college or whatever but it was like it just didn’t apply to my life. And so, you know for my bones, things like you know sulfur-bearing amino acids, and the role at things like polysaccharides play, silica. You know all these things that I had no idea about. All I knew about was calcium, you know because they have great marketing. And after understanding that I was like, “Okay, so I want supplements first, really.” You know, like I’ll just take all these different supplements. And it just felt wrong. And so, I coupled that very quickly and I started going to a place that heretofore doesn’t exist called “Wild Oats.” And I go to Wild Oats, and so I started with juicing, right? To get some of these nutrients into my body that I was not gonna eat because again I wasn’t eating any salad. And still it took about two years later until I actually ate a salad. But I would start to get these compounds into my body via you know juicing food, and making…you know blending things together, and these “super foods” that were coming along at that time as well. And so like, I’ve been utilizing things like…I mean, you see it like even at a regular grocery store now. The cacao and all stuff. I actually did a TEDx talk on it, I think maybe like 7 years ago now. But you know maybe 10 plus 12 years ago, and just getting those things into my body that had so much dense nutrition. And it was very…it will be difficult to not get better.

And what people don’t usually understand is that, you can’t just heal one thing in your body. When you’re healing one thing, you’re healing a lot of other stuff as well. You know your body doesn’t care like, “Oh, I was just gonna go and fix the calcification of arteries or whatever it is.” It’s always gonna work on your thyroid, it’s gonna work on your ligaments and tendons, it’s going to work on your brain cells. Good nutrition is going to heal your body in every way possible, in ways that we don’t even understand. And then from there transitioned into…you know I didn’t like a stint of a lot of raw food at one point, and stint of…you know I’ve tried every protocol, but initially it was just the nutrient diet. Like I just ate whatever I could get into my body that was nutrient dense. And you know did some vegetarian stuff, I did some paleo stuff. I probably 20, 25 different protocols, but I did them from the perspective of a scientist. And that’s really what I would encourage people to do as well because we have to be honest with ourselves. Especially because these diet frameworks can be very dogmatic and when especially if you feel good with something and it starts to work for you, you can be like, “This is the way, this is the only way”. Everybody else needs to know this.

And I was definitely that person, at different stages. But I evolved out of that in understand that, “Its right for you, its right for a certain person right now.” Everything could change. You know we are very dynamic creatures. And so over time, we have to have the wherewithal that if something that was working before is not working anymore, we have to have the willingness to change. And I don’t think that people readily have that capability because we’re so again, we create so many religiosities in our minds about our diet frameworks. So that’s pretty much it. You know today, I just really employ the best of all worlds. That’s kind of my approach. And I tell people…and I think that this is why you know my show has been so successful and also, you know and my practice. Is that everything is an option. We’re not here to bash anybody about anything. You know some things are silly. Like we can look and it like, “You know what, that’s kind of stupid.” You know if I am doing the Twinkie diet…there’s a professor who did a Twinkie diet study and he lost weight, you know. But what happened to his health is the question. What happened to you know your insulin sensitivity, what happened to your liver function. You know so on the surface it looks like, “Okay, doesn’t matter calories are calories.” Just not true, you know. So everything is an option because even a Twinkie, Katie, zombie apocalypse, guess what? Twinkie can be your friend. You know like, if you need to sustain yourself for a little bit to get away, so be it, you know. But if it’s a choice, we wanna eat real whole foods. And so my approach is really something very simple, which is the majority of what I eat and what I recommend for people is food that you can still recognize where it comes from, you know. And then we can do some beautiful, amazing, pleasurable things with those foods. Well I don’t know if that sounded right, but we do some amazing things with these foods to actually enjoy the process of getting well and enjoy the process of eating.

Katie: I love that, and that balance probably also helps with the mindset so much because like you said, people can get so dogmatic, and then there’s all this guilt associated with food and all these negative emotions that come with eating, which doesn’t help you digest anything at all. And I just love your positivity. And having met you in person, I would say that you don’t look like someone who has ever struggled with degenerative disease. Neither does your wife. You guys both look way too young to actually have a 16-year-old son. So that must be working.

Shawn: Exactly. Yeah, it’s so funny because that reminds me, you know my son was telling me that even at the girls at the school…kids like follow me on social media, like his friends and stuff. It’s like “How often do you hear something like that?” you know. And I just tell people with really simply, you know it just “It’s the way we live.” You know this is attainable for anybody. There’s nothing special about me. You know outside of anybody else, we’re all special and unique. But our genes expect us to do certain things and when we provide those things, it’s just amazing how phenomenal the human body really is.

Katie: It’s so true. And I wanna transition a little bit because your area of at least most recent expertise is sleep. And I’ve said for years that seems to be the one thing that all health experts can agree on. When it comes…like there’s is all these opinions to that diet and everything else, but I’m yet to hear anyone say that you’ll be healthier from getting less sleep. So we know sleep is important but there’s still all these misunderstanding. So how did you get into sleep? And let’s start at the beginning and talk about, what are the basics of sleep that we need to know?

Shawn: Sure, you know so initially of course, it was my own struggles. And I was on this cocktail of Celebrex and Tylenol PM seemed to work for me to get some pseudo sleep. And that’s one of the big distinctions to take away today, is that you can be unconscious for a certain amount of time. That doesn’t mean you’re actually getting rejuvenative healing sleep. And what that really boils down to…and this is probably a big foundational understanding with sleep because trying to understand what sleep is, sort of like trying to understand what life itself is. It’s like this big philosophy. You know like Forrest Gump “Life is like a box of chocolates.” Sleep is sort of like practicing being dead in a way, it’s so weird. Like we just kind of go unconscious, and we’re not moving, and we’re not aware of our surroundings. It’s so weird. And you would think that it’s maybe even an evolutionary disadvantage, but because we would evolve out of it if it wasn’t important. But the thing is it is so important. As a matter fact is the most important thing. And I’m a clinical nutritionist, so for me to really embrace this, it took a lot. It’s more important than your exercise and your diet combined. Because sleep is this anabolic state, it is the anabolic state. You know when we’re awake it’s catabolic period, even if you’re sitting there watching “Scandal.” Like your body is still breaking down faster than it can build itself up. Sleep is that edge, it’s that advantage state where you are building up faster than you’re breaking down. And nothing else can replace that no matter how many antioxidants you consume.

And so, having that experience myself, but because my sleep was so good I stopped thinking about it. And that’s when you really know that you’re well is when you forget what it was like before. And I did that, and I was working with all of these patients over the years, and seen some amazing things happen, just so many incredible stories. You know, we worked with a lot of chronic illnesses. You know, a lot of times of those people who were told like, “There’s nothing you can do. You know, you have stage four cancer, you know, and there’s nothing you can do.” Or “You have diabetes, this is incurable,” which today we know that specifically, type two diabetes, is totally reversible. And this still not couldn’t even talk about before through lifestyle change, you know, because it’s lifestyle activated. You know that’s something that, you know, is called, “Adult onset diabetes,” which is not even for adults today, so many kids have it as well, but this is something that can be fixed.

And so we would see around 80% reversal rate for type two diabetes. But what bothered me…and you know, helping people get off, like, their metformins and, you know, sometimes insulin, that kind of thing. But what bothered me was the other 20%, Katie. Sometimes, ironically, it would keep me up at night, like, “Why can’t this person get the result that these other people are getting?” Because I really cared. And I would try to figure out ways, like, “Okay, let’s try this with the diet. Let’s try that. Let’s try this different form of exercise for you, some stress management practices.” But it didn’t occur to me, until about six years ago now, to ask my patients, the clients, about their sleep. It just didn’t occur to me. And when I did…like, I remember the first person, and I was sitting there, you know, because they weren’t getting the result. Like their blood sugar would just not normalize. And I had to hold my jaw up, like on my desk with my fist…because it would have been down on my desk when they were telling me about their sleep. I could not believe they’re walking around.

And the majority of people I found who weren’t getting those results had sleep issues. And so that’s when I shifted my focus. And this is really the big deal and kind of what sets “Sleep Smarter” apart because it’s been the best-selling, and most favorably reviewed, most reviewed book on sleep. And there are amazing people out there, like a friend of mine, Dr. Michael Breus who is “America’s sleep doctor,” who are putting out this information. But what I did differently was I understood the mindset of the average person, which is, “We don’t wanna have to change our life too much to get these results. Like what things can we do that we don’t have to turn our world upside down and feel better?” And so I sought out what clinically proven strategies people can employ to get them some big advantage in shifting their sleep quality fast, that they don’t have to turn their entire world upside down? And so we employ those things in the clinic and it’s like, again, same thing that happened to me in a way, the floodgates open and all of a sudden, their blood pressure normalized and they were able to get off the to those interpril and the statins and all that kind of stuff. And it was because of optimizing their sleep. And when I saw that happen, I could not ignore it. And it really quickly, I guess, just to give a summation of what this looks like. A big portion of…and we can come back…actually, we’ll talk about this in a second, about how it relates to your physical appearance, which is just mind blowing. But before we get to that, just a fundamental thing, so, I mentioned earlier that sleep is this anabolic state. So what is that even mean? Well, this is when you’re producing things like human growth hormone, the majority of human growth hormone. But also, melatonin is very powerful for regulating different activities in your body. It’s a very powerful anti-cancer hormone. As well, it’s a very powerful metabolic hormone, which again we’ll talk about in a minute. But the big kind of understanding is that…and in my book, so it’s called, “Sleep Smarter” not sleep more. That’s the key, it’s not about sleeping more.

And to give an analogy, today, and I know you’ve told so many people about this as well, that it’s not about calories in calories out. All calories are not equal and so people are really getting that today. And so they understand that the calories in broccoli…if you eat 200 calories of broccoli, it’s gonna affect your body way differently than 200 calories a Twinkie, right? So it’s not the quantity as much as the quality. The same thing with sleep. But it does matter, the quantity does matter. But the quality is what’s essential. Ad so today, many people are getting Twinkie sleep, in a way. You know, the quality of their sleep is terrible, so they wake up, even if they sleep for eight hours, they wake up feeling like they’ve just been, like, the piñata at the party yesterday. And that’s no way to live. It’s ironic that we wake up feeling tired, that’s ironic. It doesn’t even make any sense.

And so understanding that what does it actually mean to get higher quality sleep? That all boils down to what’s happening with your brain. Your brain waves are the indicator of the different stages of sleep. And so what we work to do is to optimize your sleep cycles, not necessarily sleep more. How can we make sure the sleep you are getting is amazing, and you’re actually healing your mind and your body? So, our sleep cycles on average are about, just on average, we’re talking 75 minutes to around 120 minutes on average. Somewhere in there is going to be a complete sleep cycle where you’re going through all the different stages, so the REM sleep and the non-REM sleep. And this is basically cycling. And I’m just throwing this out here really quickly, I know just to get through this portion but Beta is a normal waking state, to Alpha, to Theta, to Delta, which is deep anabolic…that most anabolic non-REM sleep. That’s where we get the most kind of this human growth hormone production. But all of these stages are critical, is even REM sleep, this rapid eye movement sleep. That’s a big phase of sleep where something called memory processing takes place. That’s where people that are…you’re listening to this right now, this information gets converted into your short term memory, during that phase of sleep. If that phase of sleep is disrupted…and one of the big disruptors, actually, and I did a section of this in my book, is alcohol. Alcohol is clinically proven to help you fall asleep faster but it destroys your REM sleep. It’s something called a “REM rebound” effect. And I know nobody listening has ever had this happen. Or you know, Katie, you probably don’t know anybody this ever happened to. But some people out there have drunk so much they don’t remember what happened the night before, right? And I’m not going to say I did it or that I know anybody, I know nobody has done that, but it happens. You know, and so the reason that is is that alcohol disrupts your REM sleep. And so you literally are not processing and converting what happened into your short term memory.

So just to give you a little fun fact on that. But you know, to wrap this point, so we want to set up structures in our life to optimize these sleep cycle so that we’re moving to our sleep more efficiently. And that’s really what Sleep Smarter was all about. It’s 21 strategies to make that happen.

Katie: I love that. Because speaking of zombies, I think a lot of moms kind of feel like that. Because when you’re in phase of life where you are up during the night, several times, and you can’t really get great sleep for extended periods, a lot of your strategies are still really applicable. Like you said, to improve the sleep you’re getting. So can you just touch on a couple of them, like practical things people can implement? I know there’s a lot more in your book, but maybe just give people a couple?

Shawn: Sure. Sure. So let’s…So the big headline is this, is that a great night of sleep starts the moment you wake up in the morning, right? A great night of sleep starts the moment you wake up in the morning. So the first thing that we can employ, very low hanging fruit to improve our sleep quality, is based on a study that was conducted by Appalachian State University. And they took exercisers, and they had them to complete three different phases of a study. In each phase of the study, they had them to exercise at a very specific time, and they tracked the results. So they had them, on one phase of the study, exercise exclusively in the morning at 7 a.m. Another phase, exclusively in the early afternoon, 1 p.m. And the final phase was to exercise exclusively in the evening at 7 p.m. So, 7 a.m. 1 p.m. 7 p.m. At the end of the study, they found that the morning exercisers had more efficient sleep cycles. They tended to sleep longer and they spent more time, far more time, in the deepest most anabolic stages of sleep. And they also had, on average, about a 25% greater drop in blood pressure at night compared to the other two times of exercising. And that decrease in blood pressure at night, that’s correlated with the activation of our parasympathetic nervous system or this kind of rest and digest part of the nervous system, and turn off the sympathetic, AKA, fight or flight system. All of that, from getting some exercise in the morning.

Now, that’s not saying don’t exercise later in the day. You know, if you are exercising after work. What I am saying is that even getting in four or five minutes in the morning, is going to show up better for you when you go to bed at night, because…and so also, I’m very big on “Why?” Like, some people can hear that and they’re like, “Cool, I got it. Five minutes of exercise in the morning, done.” Some people need to know why. And so I’m very big on “Why?” And teaching people that. So, what it does, clinically, we call it a “Cortisol reset.” And so we would see people that we would call, essentially, tired and wired. Where their cortisol was too low in the morning and too high at night, which is causing massive disruption with their sleep, with them getting to sleep. And them feeling very fatigued, and very difficult for them to get out of bed in the morning. Because cortisol, which is crazy, you know, I’m about to say this. I know this is like gonna sound so counter culture but cortisol is not bad. Cortisol has just been beaten down and blamed for so many things today. You know, cortisol is giving me anxiety. Cortisol is it making it so I can’t lose weight, cortisol making me break up with my boyfriend, whatever it is. Like, people are blaming cortisol for so many things. And it’s true, it can cause some problems. But cortisol is one of the most important hormones we have. It’s important for our thyroid function, for example. The problem is when it’s produced at the wrong time and in the wrong amounts. That is where the issue is. Because if we look at evolutionary biology, the normal function of the human body is our cortisol should actually be spiked, like it should be at a peak between the hours of about 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. in the morning and gradually drop down, bottom out, in the evening. That’s how we’re designed. And so what happens is it gets in a pattern. All of our hormones work on a pattern.

And so by getting up and doing a little bit of exercising in that first part of the morning, we’re helping to encourage that cortisol secretion so that it can reset itself and gradually drop out and be low in the evening to help to facilitate sleep. And the bottom line kind of piece for that is that cortisol and melatonin have sort of an inverse relationship. So if your cortisol is elevated, melatonin is suppressed. And that’s not good. Because melatonin is kind of like a gear shift for us changing stages of sleep, it’s very important in initiating that. And so that’s one strategy.

And Tabata, that’s four minutes of exercise. People could do that. I’ve got this mini-trampoline. You know, you could jump on a rebounder. Just go for a quick power walk or take a couple of laps around your block. You know, maybe this is the time that you go to a gym, and you make that a habit. But even if you work out in the later part of the day, which I don’t recommend working…and I actually just did a post about this yesterday. And this is all based on the research. If you wanna have that evening workout wrapped up, if you wanna get optimal sleep, you wanna be done three hours before you plan on going to sleep, because it elevates cortisol and it elevates your core body temperature, which is another issue.

And so, that’s kind of a good transition is sleeping cooler. You know, people have probably heard a lot about this, and again, I’ve been pushing this in the culture for several years now. But our bodies have a process called thermal regulation. And there’s an essential drop in our core body temperature at night. We’re designed that way to help facilitate sleep and sleep programs. You know, certain neurotransmitters, hormones, repairs of enzymes, are all keyed up when our body, when the core body temperature comes down. Because in culture we’re taught…and this is what I was taught in university setting, 98.6 degrees, that’s what the human temperature is. That’s not true. It’s fluctuating all the time. And at night it’s actually a little bit lower. However, if your environment is too warm, and your body has to fight to try to lower that temperature, it just makes it a little bit more difficult for it to initiate those processes. So what the research shows is that between 62 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal temperature for facilitating great sleep.

And there’s a study…and I cited this in “Sleep Smarter.” They actually had individuals with chronic sleep disorders, so insomniacs. And they fitted them with these cooling caps that lowered their skin temperature just one degree, just one degree difference. And it essentially cured their insomnia. And so, to the degree that they fell asleep as fast as people that don’t have insomnia, the controls, and they slept almost as long as a control group who does not have insomnia. Simply from cooling off their head one degree, all right. So that’s how powerful that is. So just lower their temperature. And some people will look at me like, that now is too frosty. And my wife, she’s actually from Kenya, and so she doesn’t…right now she’s probably upstairs sitting. And it’s like nice outside, but she’s probably sitting by the heater. But she found that even her, she sleeps better when she’s cooler. But you know we had to work on this over the years. And so we basically at night I’ve set it to about 68 is kind of our agreed upon place. And in the morning I just get up and turn the thermostat up for her because her issue was getting out of bed in the morning when it’s cold like the covers are so warm. And so, you know there’s workarounds for this, but those are two really simple strategies that improve your sleep cycles.

So I mentioned that a good night of sleep starts the moment you wake up in the morning, sun exposure. “Innovations of Clinical Neuroscience” published a study that found that, getting sun exposure between…specifically between the hours of…again, same as the cortisol, 6:00 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. in the morning helps to do something really interesting, which is it normalizes cortisol. So what they found was that individuals who get access to sun exposure from natural sunlight had their cortisol levels drop lower in the evening. So getting sunlight helps you sleep better. Why is that possible? Well it helps to regulate the circadian timing system. You know your biological rhythm that helps your body to actually realize that it’s normal again. And how often are we actually getting sun exposure during the day? For most of us, it doesn’t happen. You know our lives are existing indoors now. And we’re seeing the results of that. So simply getting some sun exposure and it depends on your complexion, all these different things how much time that is. That’s a whole other conversation but it’s something you need to start paying attention to, to getting that light exposure. And there are devices that you can use. You know if like it’s not possible for you, you know whatever. Maybe it’s a certain time of year, whatever the case might be there are hacks for that. But we need to keep our eye on that of getting more sun exposure because that’s actually gonna show up better for you when you lay your head down at night.

Katie: Yeah, for sure. And I love that you back that up so much in your book. About both the temperature and light, because those two, I found, for me make a huge difference. Even if I’m up with the baby, I feel so much more rested if I get those factors right. In fact, I’ve been using…I’m sure you have heard of it, something called a chilly pad.

Shawn: Yes.

Katie: That cools on my entire bed, and it’s amazing. And I’ve like slowly worked with that colder and colder, but definitely a different level of sleep for sure.

Shawn: Yes, actually I mention the chilly pad in the resources in the book. And it’s just, for some people, you know especially because you can actually put on just one side of the bed as well if your significant other isn’t into you know being like that cold or they tend to run a little bit cooler. Because that’s another thing that’s unique about us you know we’re talking about…this is when at no point ever in “Sleep Smarter” do I need…do I say you need to get blank hours of sleep. You know fill in the blank. Because that’s inappropriate, we’re all different you know. But there is a range there, and to give people a barometer, we’re looking at a baseline like lowest possible input here of four complete sleeps cycles. So that generally gonna be somewhere around six hours for most people. And that’s the bare minimum that we wanna hit to really rejuvenate our mental function and our physical body. But we’re gonna generally move up from there, so four, five, or six complete sleep cycles. So that’s gonna be in the range, somewhere between six and nine hours of sleep for most people. And so we can’t go by this cookie cutter thing of even…you know if you’re…again, if your body tends to run warmer, we need to adjust for that. And simple things that we can do today can help you to sleep better instantly by paying attention to your unique physiology.

Katie: For sure, and you even had, I think a tip of what to wear to bed, right?

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Katie: What should people do about as far as what to wear to bed?

Shawn: Awesome, yes. So people don’t ask this is as much as I would like because it was very interesting. Because you know we just put on clothes. It doesn’t really matter but it actually does. What you wear to bed matters and I had no idea. And part of that is what we just talked about. You know the thermal regulation. You know if you’re wearing clothes that really insulate and even create more heat, it can be problematic for your sleep. And you know we all know what it’s like when we go to bed and we’re kind of sweaty. It’s like it’s terrible like it doesn’t feel good if you’re hot. So we wanna wear clothes, pajamas that actually facilitate our body keeping it cool, a cool state. So things that “sleep cool” and are not trapping heat. So and the same thing goes true with our sheets, that’s another big thing. And I’ve talked about this on my show as well. But we don’t wanna too get too neurotic about it because the easy outlet here is crazy enough, is to sleep naked. This is a great opportunity to go without clothes. And there’s a positive benefit here. Firstly, and this is just with…if you have a significant other that you’re sleeping with, that both of you being naked actually increases your oxytocin. Just being skin to skin contact. And oxytocin is clinically proven to aid in upgrading the quality of your sleep. And one of the studies that you know I cited in “Sleep Smarter” as well found that oxytocin basically neutralizes the effects of cortisol. You know again these little things that help you to sleep better. And so that’s one aspect.

Also, we’re getting rid of something that’s terrible that still isn’t being talked about enough. And I did an entire show dedicated to this but there’s a book, “Dressed to Kill.” You know and talking to a medical anthropologist, Said Singer and his wife as well, and seeing the work that they’ve compiled, and looking at…and this is Harvard research found that you know women who habitually wear their bras…so we’re talking about you know 24 hours a day, basically, you know outside of taking a shower, have like 50% greater incidence of breast cancer, which is crazy in some populations. You know sometimes the numbers are lower, sometimes they’re higher, but in general it’s increasing this risk of developing breast cancer. And it’s like, “Why? What kind of stuff is that it’s just a bra?” Well, your bra like if you’re peeling your bra off and you’ve got those in indentations in your skin or your shoulder, around your back. That’s an indication that is cutting off your lymphatic flow, and especially the breast with the lymphatic flow is so important there, and there’s a lymph nodes right there that can get essentially blocked and clogged up. And your lymph system is, to put it simply, it’s sort of like your body’s internal waste management system. It’s kind of this extra cellular waste management system moving debris and toxins in and out of your various tissues and also cleaning things. And so when that system is blocked, we’re creating the foundation or creating conditions for disease to manifest. And so this is a great time to go at least bra-free. Please, please at least go bra-free when you go to bed at night. But why wouldn’t women do this, Katie? Why would they keep their bra on?

Katie: Yeah, seriously they’re not even comfortable. Like no reason to keep it on.

Shawn: A big reason though, in this crazy you know psychology, is the fear of the breasts sagging. And that was actually disproved…and I believe it was a Princeton University. Or this is a study that was conducted by researchers in France. And they found that women who wear bras less often actually had greater…what they called “nipple lift,” and they also had more developed muscle tissue that helped to keep the breasts elevated. Because they were actually using them, you know what a concept. And so that was disproved, but it’s still a fear. And this goes back to our societal conditioning about what things are supposed to look like. You know how we’re all supposed to be this “cookie cutter” way and not understanding and appreciating our unique beauty, you know. And that’s another big thing that I’m very passionate proponent of, so we kind of get out of some of this. And you know it’s even more prevalent today with social media. But it’s just waking up to realize like sometimes we’re really hurting ourselves trying to you know, fit into what the societal expectation is supposed to be, which is often times twisted. So I hope that adds a little bit more understanding or value there as far as what to wear to bed, what not to wear to bed. Wear looser clothes, wear things that aren’t insulating heat. And definitely, do not wear clothes that are restrictive like bras and tight underwear. And for the guys as well, you know tight undies and I shared a study in “Sleep Smarter,” leads to a reduction in sperm count and some other issues as well that people often don’t think about. So those are just some little tips and examples to use for that as well with as far as what we’re wearing to bed.

Katie: Yeah, I kind of compare to the whole barefoot movement. When they realized like us wearing shoes with arch you support all the time actually is hurting our feet, not helping it, same thing with bras at night. And since you mentioned significant others, I wanna switch gears to talk about a completely differently subject, if you’re okay with it. Which is, that I follow you on Instagram, and I noticed that you’re always posting videos and pictures of working out, and almost always with your wife. And you guys are adorable. It’s easy to see like how much you love her, just in those Instagram posts. But I love that you work out together. So how often do you guys workout together? And how did you start that system of working together with your wife?

Shawn: Yes, such a great question. Wow, so this is so funny. And I haven’t talked about this very often but we actually met…I was working at the university that we were both going to, in the gym there as a strength and conditioning coach, that’s where we met. And there was this girl, she was coming in with her friend, and was just like, it seemed like she was really going hard like she was on the treadmill just going at it. And I was like, “Oh, that’s cute.” Even though I had never used treadmill personally…you know that’s a whole other subject I didn’t mean to bring that up. But there are some issues with treadmills that we could talk about, but I just thought it was very admirable. Like I thought that was cute. You know because I was just there focused on doing my job and you know working on my clients. But apparently she had an eye on me a little bit, and one day, you know we struck up a conversation because she had dropped something and I picked it up for you know so cliche. And you know we just started talking. And eventually, you know we started you know kind of talking more frequently. But after we actually got together, I didn’t see her at the gym anymore. And so it was like “What?” She was there working out to get in shape for a trip, a spring break trip with her friends. That wasn’t her thing like she was not somebody who’d want to go to the gym, just because. Like she felt like, “Uhm, you know I’m pretty petite, I’m good.”

Katie: That’s hilarious.

Shawn: I know, right. And so many years later…and this is my life, my lifestyle. And she would occasionally come to the gym. It wasn’t like…but definitely it was not a passion of hers. It definitely was not a consistent part of her life. But it really wasn’t until after having our son, our youngest son. And her having her particular ideals, and wanting to feel strong in her body, and to be in a certain shape you know and so…and of course like I was reaffirming how beautiful she was period, regardless. You know but seeing…also I think having me there as the example and seeing what I was doing, what was possible, how I was changing. It really just inspired her. But the thing was …and this is important for everybody listening. You know being in a relationship, it’s important to not you know berate and hammer down stuff on our significant other because that generally doesn’t work. You know from…I remember saying things to her like about food and things like that. Not a good idea, not a good idea. Because there’s like…and she would tell me her…like she would tell me, “This is what I want. I want this result.” And then, you know maybe she’s you know eating an ice cream and I’m like, “Babe, but you know you said that…” And then she’d just give me that look like, “I will stab you with this ice cream spoon,” you know. And so I just like, I really opened up things to allow her to enjoy whatever she wanted to enjoy. And if she wanted to join me, as far as I go into working out and stuff, that I’m open to that.

And so we start to work out together a little bit more regularly. But it would change from time to time. You know really kind of based on my schedule, based on my older son. Like driving around with him and taking him different places and things like that. But what changed was I didn’t know how much it meant to her that we were working out together. And she actually put it on a vision board, like we were making these vision boards and she put us working out together, as like something she really wanted to be a part of her life. And more recently, when we moved to the home that we’re in now, it’s about two years ago. We got this gym membership and you know it was like we decided then…like I love working out with her, period as well. And so we just made it a mandate like, “When you go I’m going,” you know. And for the most part that’s just what we do. So we go together to drop the kids off in the morning and then we go to the gym together. And that’s just kind of how we start our day. You know some things change, of course from time to time, but you know she’s my best friend and my you know my gym buddy as well. And so like we kind of push each other a little bit, and that’s kind of how it all came about, and that’s kind of what it is today.

Katie: I love that. And I noticed at least from the videos, you guys lift a lot of weights together and I love that. She’s a testimony absolutely to the fact lifting heavy weight does not make a woman bulky. She’s just very, very strong. But how did you guys find that program? Do you do the same program or how did you find the system that worked for you both together?

Shawn: Great question. So of course, I’m coming into this with you know over a decade of experience. You know closer to a decade and a half of working with people in the concepts of you know, fitness and gym, and program creation, and all that stuff. You know I don’t do the clinical work anymore, you know since all the other kind of responsibilities I have now with you know speaking, and writing, and things like that. But I’m coming into it with an understanding of what I’ve seen firsthand with again, the majority of the people I’ve worked with in the gym is probably slanted a little bit more towards women. So probably 60%, and I’ve worked with elite athletes to you know stay at home moms to you know a busy, just like stressed out lawyers. I mean you name it, dancers. And seeing that there was this really interesting thing where you know getting caught up in this idea of doing a lot of cardio early on, just wasn’t cutting it. When people would stop the cardio, they would immediately, immediately start gaining weight so quickly. And just like, you shouldn’t have to do this for the rest of your life. Like to go hard doing all this cardio, doesn’t make any sense.

And so really shifting to you know the strength training and really focusing on you know supersets and doing more kind of high-intensity interval training with weights, in a way. and they’re also progressive loads. So people, when they see my wife, you know she’s like fit and pretty, petite like…I’m just kind of getting a little bit distracted right now. She’s really built like nicely. Oh, my goodness. But you know she has…everybody has her natural blueprint, but it’s just the strength training really helps to, help your genes expects you to lift heavy things. And they put it like that. And when you do that, you allow that genetic expression it changes your body composition. You know so you are strong in places you should be strong in, and you know everything kind of just starts to really create the best body composition possible for you. And so when people see that and they see her lifting like, you know doing 170-pound dead lift with her size, just like, what? You would think that you would get bulky doing that, right? But nothing could be further from the truth because lifting heavy things does not make you big. Food makes you big, that’s the thing. You can’t grow unless you eat. And I promise you, and I’ve done this. Guys all over the world are trying to get big. All right, they are trying hard and just can’t seem to do it without taking all of these supplements, eating seven meals a day. Starting you know like watching the clock. It’s a very difficult to get bulky from lifting weights. You have to like eat, like it’s your full-time job.

And or you know many women that we do see like that because you know people will see that example as like, “What?” And even still they have their choice on what they wanna do with their own bodies but you know, I’ve known over the years, you know many women are… if they are getting putting on the muscular size like a man can, oftentimes it’s taking some kind of an anabolic substance as well. Which is again, you know that’s their personal choice. I don’t recommend that kind of thing. But women don’t have the biochemistry, they don’t have the hormonal makeup to put on a lot of muscular size anyways. Again, but if you are eating like it’s your full-time job, and lifting heavy weights, you know five days a week, sure you can put on some size. But you’re gonna have to work hard at eating to do it. Not the lifting weights part.

Katie: Especially yeah, we don’t have the testosterone in either. That makes a big difference.

Shawn: Exactly. You know and lifting weights what that does is, especially the way that we do it. Our program looks like this. Generally what we do is there’s something that I call hybrid-training. And we’ll go in and we’ll do, the first exercise we do would just be more of a power lift. So whether it’s a deadlift, whether it’s a squat, whether it’s a bench press, whether it’s some kind of a pull ups like she…she went from like negative five pull ups to being able to do pull ups with her body weight. You know she could do like you know two, but that’s huge. The first time she tried to do a pull up, a couple years ago, I’m not kidding, she grabbed the bar and then she was trying but she literally did not move like not even a centimeter. It was just like, “Are you trying?” She couldn’t happen. But she worked on it. And now she could do pull ups on her own. And so even with a little assistance though…you know you can use like resistance bands or things like that, I mean she can do probably, 20 pull ups with a resistance band. So we do something that’s really difficult. You know so it’s something where we’re in the range of maybe no more than five reps because the load is so heavy.

So we do the power lifts first with lots of rest in between the sets. Oftentimes maybe even two minutes. And then we’ll shift gears and we’d do more of the superset type training where we’re combining two exercise together back to back a lot faster pace, a lot more metabolic kind of like analytic work. So we combine it all in one in one workout. And that’s why we’re able to work out as little as we do. Funny enough, you know we maybe lift three times a week and just kind of doing some other stuff on some other days. You know like maybe she’d do some yoga or something maybe go to the track and do some sprints. But it’s because of the format and structure. And she does what I do. So to answer another part of that question, everything that I do she does. We just change it up. We lower the weight a little bit where still challenging for her though. And it’s just an attitude that you bring to it, and it’s an attitude that she’s developed and brought to it as well. Like she really…is like a little monster in there. You know it’s just so…to me it’s cute, but you know she probably…and I don’t know she’s going to listen to this. but you know for her, she really feels like you know…and I see it though, that she is a lot stronger. And she just feels tough when she gets in the gym. And that has transferred over into so many…and this is another big point I really want everybody to get.

In my clinical work and having you know asking people about their sleep, asking about their relationships, asking about work. I would see when a woman is feeling that she’s being cut adrift, she’s being taken advantage of, and she doesn’t really feel empowered in her life and in her body. I would immediately set up a session for her to go and do a strength training program. And seeing that transformation that happened, 99% of the time, what happened was, they would develop this… because of the physical strength that we turn over into strength and empowerment in their lives, they literally felt more in charge. They literally felt stronger to make decisions, and stronger to handle the things that come at them in their lives because they were physically stronger, you know. And again 99.99% of the time they got smaller. You know they reduced their size and their shape, you know through that. But at the same time they actually felt stronger and more capable. Which is such a beautiful thing. So for every person who is listening, for every woman who’s listening, that is not embarking on a strength training protocol. This is something your genes expect you to do. Throughout the evolution of your ancestors, they were lifting heavy things throughout the day. You know gathering food, carrying heavy baskets, carrying the kids. You know helping with the…even in some instances, helping with the hunt and carrying you know what’s been harvested from that as well. And today what do we do? It’s not a lot of work to you know pick up a remote control or to pick up you know the little small things we do throughout the day. You need a big stimulus to really elicit these amazing programs for you to have this shape and strength that you truly desire. And that is from lifting weights. So I just want to put out that PSA to definitely if you’re not doing that right now, definitely look at doing that because I think it can be game changer for you.

Katie: That’s such great advice that I’ll echo that I definitely feel my best when I’m lifting really heavy weights, and really the heavier the better. It’s such a fun process and so challenging. Like you said, it helps with the mental toughness as well. And to wrap up, I’d love to ask this question. And I can’t wait to hear your answer. Which is what are three things that people don’t know or understand about your particular area of expertise? And what would you tell them about those things?

Shawn: Wow, that’s such a good question. You know for me, I think that the first thing that comes up is that there are all these different diet programs out there and exercise programs and you know I’ve gone based on what has worked for the majority of people. But even still there’s always anomalies. Nothing replaces personal experience and experimentation. So that’s one thing that people don’t know or understand about this field. And about what I do, is that you have to get in, and you’ve got to test things for yourself. That’s the bottom line. And you need to give it a good…you know give it the old college try. Like you really need to get in and go…you know like I did. Like, make a decision to actually implement it. You know don’t just be like when I said the college try, is a joke. You don’t want to try, you want it to make a decision to embark on it and put into play. You know over the years I’ve done various diets, supplements, detoxes, and many of them to great effect. You know because I decided to make them work, really you know. But at the end of the day, I’ve come to a place of just really enjoying myself, enjoying my experience with food, enjoying my experience with exercise. So I do the things that make me most happy. And we all can do that. But we have to experiment and find out what those things are, that keep us happy and healthy. Because you can have both, this is a both end world. So that’s number one.

Number two, I’d so often we’re looking for the next new supplement. We don’t even know it. You know this next new thing is come out. You know like there’s this new MCT oils or there’s this new kind of water that’s going to help you to burn more fat and you know you’re gonna have more electrolytes. Whatever it is, that’s gonna revolutionize our health. That’s just BS. Those things are great, no disrespect, and no disrespect to MCT oil. And just regular water, but the bottom line is that the basics will reverse more than 80% of our health problems. I’ve seen it. I’ve studied it. I’ve tracked it. We don’t need these small things. You know supplements are just that, they’re supplemental to having a healthy approach to life. You know just eating real food, movement, great sleep, and great relationships. If we don’t have these four things covered, don’t talk to me about you know Vitamin C supplement. Like we don’t even need to talk about that, we need to have those things honed in on. And it will reverse over 80% of health problems. So we’re talking about heart disease, we’re talking about insulin resistance, and we’re talking about autoimmune conditions. Simply focusing on the basics, and also you know having that opportunity to talk to the foremost people in these fields, and finding out that they’re saying the same thing. There are supplement protocols that’s like half of a percent importance. We’ve got to focus on the basics. That’s more important than anything.

And the final thing I would say is that, exercise in of itself is actually not about looking good. That’s a big misnomer. You know exercise…funny enough you know this is derived from the word exorcism, which means you know that if you exorcise something, that means you get it out, you remove it, you let go, you get it out of the space. So exercise is really about detoxification first and foremost. The side effects of changing your body composition is a side effect, it’s just that. The real purpose of it, your body requires movement in order to heal itself. It requires movement in order to assimilate nutrients. Your simulation of the good food that you’re taking in radically increases when you’re exercising regularly. And seriously, a lot of stuff is wasted on us. You know we’re spending all this money for these different you know high-quality foods and supplements, but your body, your cells aren’t even taking it up as accurately, and as effectively as it could if we were exercising.

And also we talked about the lymphatic system earlier. Your lymph system, this waste management system, doesn’t have a pump like your circulatory system does. And you have four times more lymph than you have blood. It doesn’t move unless you move. And if that waste management system isn’t moving, guess what? It is just literally filling up with debris. And we feel like that. Like we feel like we’re filled up with you know like we’re feeling like we’re weighed down. And so that’s what it’s about is detoxification, elimination, and assimilation. That’s why exercise is so important. And for so many people it’s often overlooked. And it’s really an important mandate of what I do to help to change the perspective, to really get people engaged and excited about doing this so that they can actually be healthier.

Katie: Such great points. And lastly, I’ll make sure I link all these in the show notes, but where can people find you?

Shawn: Yes, so where they’re listening to your awesome podcast they could find my show as well. It’s called “The Model Health Show.” The Model Health show.” And as you mentioned, I’m very honor to say we’re frequently featured as the number one health podcast in the country and in several other countries as well. And it’s just a testament that you know we really do care. And just creating master classes on whatever particular subject matter that we’re talking about so that you can get the definitive guide to whatever that subject matter is for that day’s show. And so people can check us out on iTunes, its themodelheathshow.com, or Stitcher or Sound Cloud. Wherever you are listening to this you can find us. Or you can check it out on the website it’s themodelheathshow.com. And we also do videos for a lot of the episodes. You can come and hang out with us in the studio. I do some pretty epic articles there too. All my social media. There you can follow me. And you could find me on Instagram, of course there as well. About my Instagram, is Shawn Model, if you want to check me out there, S-H-A-W-N M-O-D-E-L. And you can pick up “Sleep Smarter” from there as well or anywhere you buy books. But the themodelheathshow.com is where you can really get connected with what we’re doing, and I would love to connect with you. And Katie you are the best. Thank you so much for having me on today. This is awesome.

Katie: Oh, thank you. You’re such a wealth of knowledge and such an inspiration. And I’ll make sure all those links are included. Thanks Shawn, and thanks to all of you for listening. I’ll see you next time on the “Healthy Moms Podcast.”

If you’re enjoying these interviews, would you please take two minutes to leave a rating or review on iTunes for me? Doing this helps more people to find the podcast, which means even more moms and families could benefit from the information. I really appreciate your time, and thanks as always for listening.

Read Transcript

Thanks to Our Sponsors

Today’s podcast is brought to you by Four Sigmatic. I have been using and loving and Instagramming their products for years. They have an amazing instant mushroom coffee … yes! mushroom! Believe it or not, it’s not only the best instant coffee I’ve ever tried, it’s also pretty high up on the list of best coffee I’ve tried, period!

Four Sigmatic coffee is made with superfood mushrooms with big health benefits like Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, and Chaga mushrooms. The result is energy and mental clarity without the jitters from traditional coffee.

If you aren’t a caffeine person, they also have a variety of mushroom teas and other caffeine-free products. I love them so much that I reached out and they agreed to give a discount to my listeners. So, go to foursigmatic.com/wellnessmama and use the code “WellnessMama” to get 10% off!

This podcast is also brought to you by Thrive Market. If you live in a real food desert like I do, it can be difficult to find certain organic foods, specialty foods, or allergy-friendly foods. Thrive Market helps me solve this problem. They carry thousands of the non-perishable foods that I use most often, and at discount prices!

I think of Thrive as a combination of Costco, Amazon, and Whole Foods. They are online like Amazon, have a yearly membership fee to unlock discounts like Costco, and carry high quality foods like Whole Foods.

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Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


11 responses to “089: Shawn Stevenson on Why Sleep Is More Important Than Diet & Exercise”

  1. Kerry Avatar

    Curious if when he said no exercise completed 3 hours before bed—is he meaning high intensity only or does that include walking? I don’t get great sleep but I feel like my walks help clear my head— though I always do them about an hour before bed…?

  2. Maria Avatar

    Wondering if Four Sigmatic is safe to drink while breastfeeding? I have been looking up information but haven’t found a solid answer. The individual mushrooms fall under 1A safety rating but I wasn’t sure about the amounts and other ingredients that may be in there.


  3. Christina Avatar

    two thoughts/questions…
    1. i cannot sleep at all if i’m slightly chilly. I do tend to run cooler (98.9 is a fever me), not sure if that has an effect or not– but I often have to get up and get an extra blanket and wrap it around me under our sheets and blankets! I do best with flannel and sweatshirts, long pants and shirt tucked in. What’s up with that? If I fall asleep chilled I wake up cramped from trying to huddle in a locked position for warmth! I will have back pain, shoulder pain and a headache!
    2. I sleep with a bra while nursing bc I leak so much if I don’t!! (that’s why some women wear bras to bed. Mine are comfy, no underwire, and I don’t really notice it when I have em on.)

  4. tiffany Avatar

    Loved this whole thing from start to end. He is my new best friend. Thank you.

  5. Hallie Avatar

    Is there any concern about EMFs with the chili pad? I’ve always avoided heating blankets for this reason…

  6. Teneko Avatar

    I just happened to spot some mushroom hot cacao mix packets at Sprouts by the coffee today and picked up a couple different ones to try because I remembered your mushroom drink comments. Turns out these hot cacao packets are made by the same company (Four Sigmatic) that makes your coffee! I’ll try the “dark & spicy” one made with cordyceps, but looks like I’ll have to return the “sweet cinnamon” one with reishi. According to my research, reishi can lower blood pressure. I have extremely low blood pressure and can’t have anything that’ll lower it more. In fact, I had to start looking for alternatives to some of my favourite herbal teas because most are made with hibiscus and were making me faint from lowering my blood pressure too much.
    It’s a really good idea to carefully research any new supplement. Remember that what works for one person may be dangerous to you.


  7. kaila Avatar

    Chilipads are too expensive for me at this point. Where can I find a good cooling cap?

  8. Sharon Avatar

    My husband has been working the graveyard shift for over 20 years at the hospital. What can day sleepers do?

  9. Tess Vowels Avatar
    Tess Vowels

    Looked, but not sure where/how to find about “how Shawn overcame degenerative bone and spinal disease (it’s an incredible story!)”… would like to share with my 75 yr old sister having neck surgery 8/10… she has spine problems… Help, please?

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