Shawn is a best-selling author and creator of The Model Health Show, featured as the #1 Health podcast in the country on iTunes. Shawn has been featured in Entrepreneur magazine, Men’s Health magazine, ESPN, FOX News, and many other media outlets. He is also a frequent keynote speaker for numerous organizations, universities, and conferences. To learn more about Shawn visit TheModelHealthShow.com
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Things we chat about today :-)
- New research on sleep deprivation and work performance.
- The impact of sleep on our relationships (this is juicy stuff).
- 3 tips to begin sleeping smarter TONIGHT so that you can wake up and crush your day!
Shawn Stevenson: I’m beyond ready, John. Let’s do it.
John Lee Dumas: Shawn is a best-selling author and creator of the The Model Health Show, featured as the No. 1 health podcast in the country on iTunes. Shawn’s been featured in Entrepreneur, Men’s Health, ESPN, Fox News and many other media outlets. He’s also a frequent keynote speaker for numerous organizations, universities and conferences. To learn more about Shawn, visit TheModelHealthShow.com. Shawn, take a minute. Fill in some gaps from that intro and give us a little glimpse into your personal life.
Shawn Stevenson: Awesome. Well, John, first of all, thank you so much for being who you are and creating this amazing show. You just keep delivering great stuff, man. As mentioned, I’m a best-selling author. I’m very honored to say that. I’m a nutritionist by trade. That’s what I went to school to be when I grew up. I also studied business and started my own company while still in school and, actually, was working with a lot of my professors and fellow students before I even graduated. So, I was doing really well right out of the gate. That evolved over time into speaking and into writing books, obviously, and into my show. My show is a super labor of love.
I know you know intimately, but it’s a great joy in my life to be able to take what I’ve taught so many people clinically and package it up and put it together into my shows. John, as you know, your show is really about being the definitive guide on whatever that subject matter is, so if we’re talking about weight loss or reversing type two diabetes or reversing depression naturally or body image issues, we’re making sure when you click play, you’re gonna walk away feeling like you know more than 99.999 percent of the people. You feel hope and you actually locked in a very solid and sound education, and you had fun along the way.
John Lee Dumas: One way that I use to describe your podcast episodes to my friends who need help with health and fitness and sleep is, I say, “Shawn Stevenson conducts a master class on any given topic.” You can look through his title feed, Fire Nation. What do you need to work on? No. 1, we all need to work on every one of those things, but what’s that thing that could really help you out? That’s gonna be a master class: hydration, sleep, intermittent fasting, the list goes on. That’s why I love your podcast because every episode, interview and show is that stand-alone master class. This is a little off-topic, Shawn, but we’re friends. You’ve been a personal mentor to me.
You’ve flown out to my home in San Diego. We’ve hung out for the weekend. You’ve stayed in my guest bedroom. We’ve really connected on a friendship level, and I love that. I will say this, when I bring you on, there is a big disparity. Here I am this little pipsqueak dog that’s full of energy jumping around. Then, I hand the mic over to you, and you’re a suave speaker who’s bringing the heat. Do you remember that cartoon back in the day where that big bulldog was going down the street and that little dog is jumping over him, “What are we doing? What are we doing?” He’s, “Just follow me.”
Shawn Stevenson: I remember that one. That popped in my head before you even said it.
John Lee Dumas: Come on, really?
Shawn Stevenson: Yes. I think it was in the Bugs Bunny genre. You know how Bugs Bunny would have special guests on the cartoons every now and then.
John Lee Dumas: That was it.
Shawn Stevenson: I remember that. I think his name was Butch.
John Lee Dumas: Now we’re really going down that road. Amazing, Fire Nation. I’ll probably have an image on the “Show Notes” page. Fire Nation, this is not Shawn’s first episode on EOFire. He’s back because something amazing has happened in his world. We’re gonna talk about some things that are really gonna help you as entrepreneurs in this field, but what’s really exciting that I just wanna mention right at the top, and I’m gonna talk about it throughout, is Shawn’s official launch of Sleep Smarter. What you’re gonna wanna do is make a mental note of this. You can even press pause if you want to, but you’re gonna want to go to SleepSmarterBook.com and see what’s going on there for the launch of Shawn’s book, Sleep Smarter, which I’m holding in my hands.
It is beautiful. I’m actually holding the soft cover, but the hard cover’s coming out in a couple weeks, which is gonna be that next level as well. Here you were. You said, “I know my stuff on sleep.” You did your own research. You conducted master classes. The book absolutely crushed as a self-published book. Now, you’ve turned it into a mega book deal with a major publisher. This is a dream come true for entrepreneurs. We can sit down now and write a book on a topic that we love and know and put it out into the world. It does great on its own, as yours did, but then be approached by a mega book deal with a major publisher? Talk to us about this.
Shawn Stevenson: Oh, my goodness. You said it. It is a dream come true, for sure. The process is interesting in and of itself because I know probably everybody listening likely feels like you have a book in you. You have information and value to share and probably in the form of a book. If not everybody, then the majority of people listening. I just wanna say, it’s beyond possible. It’s probable. Today, I really wanna get across the position that you’re in and how powerful that is with publishers, if you wanna go that route. It really starts with you how to create value in the form of a book. For me, I took something that was lacking in the market. That’s always a good place to start.
I could have written a book on hormone function. I could have written a book specifically on weight loss or the thyroid function, but in my clinic, I was seeing people coming in who were doing a lot right with their diet, who were exercising too much a lot of times, but they weren’t getting the same results that other people were getting. After deeper introspection and asking deeper questions, I would find out they tend to keep having issues with sleep. Once we would fix their sleep, the floodgates would open and they’d start getting all the results that everybody else was getting.
With that fueling this assumption, I tested it with my show. This was probably 50 episodes into my show. I looked at the downloads, and I saw clearly that episodes I did on sleep were my top ten most downloaded. I was, “People wanna know about this stuff.” So, I took a valid idea, and I tested it in different places. Then, I put together the book to surround that. That’s an important first. Make sure people wanna read it. Out mutual friend, Pat Flynn, is a great resource to look to for that. Will it fly? Just making sure that the idea is on point. Now comes the mechanics of writing the book.
John Lee Dumas: So, when it comes to actually writing the book, Shawn, this is where you need to say, “I’ve proven the validation process. I know that this is something I can add value in and that I have knowledge, tools and resources to share.” Now, let’s actually sit down and put pen to paper or finger to keyboard and take that next step. What does that look like?
Shawn Stevenson: A big advantage that people who are in the blogosphere have is being able to communicate stuff in succinct points. That’s how I would structure out the book, the top ten, 15, 20 things because we like numbers in marketing. So, my book is Sleep Smarter, 21 Essential Strategies To Sleep Your Way To A Better Body, Better Health and Bigger Success. So, finding that bullet idea and fleshing those ideas out. You get the structure of the book done and you write the book, and that’s a process of learning and putting butt to chair or I recommend a standing desk to do your writing.
John Lee Dumas: I’m on my anti-gravity mat right now.
Shawn Stevenson: Love it. Was that a gift from me?
John Lee Dumas: Yes.
Shawn Stevenson: Love it. After that experience of putting the book together, now here’s where the real work starts. For me, because I’m a writer, I love the process of writing the book. For other people, it might be more of a challenge, but you can get that part done and maybe the fun stuff is in marketing. Here’s what’s important in selling a lot of books. Within about a year, we sold over 10,000 copies of Sleep Smarter self-published. It wasn’t like I was hustling and running all over the place trying to sell books. I was just giving value, doing interviews on great podcasts, making sure it was included in my auto-responder. I’m gonna give you guys some points in a minute.
Here’s the thing. Once you get the book written, now you need to bring on people as if it’s already a major published book by a major publisher. We hired professional editors who’ve worked on New York Times best-selling books. Trust me, they don’t cost that much. It’s a per-project basis. I know dozens of times people have talked about sources like Elance and oDesk and getting out there and connecting and putting up a job and hiring people who are great at what they do. We hired top designers who have worked on major books before to do the cover. Even if you’re not going for the top designers, a great resource for that is 99designs. Obviously, it’s a great resource where you can get great feedback and get to see and choose from tons of different ideas for your book cover.
You do that in structuring the book and putting together a professional book, not just some weird pamphlet that’s not beautiful and engaging. Here’s the thing. Selling online, it’s about the appearance first. The first judgment is gonna come when people see that book cover. Make sure that you get everything professionally done. You don’t want people emailing you for a year after pointing out errors in your book. We did everything professionally from start to finish. Then, we launched on Amazon.
Here’s a little strategy for when you launch your book. This is gonna sound crazy, but there is a program on Kindle. We went to No. 1 on Kindle the first day. We gave the book away first. It wasn’t to my audience. We didn’t give it to my email list, but my team went on to different forums where they share books, and they gave the book away to about 300 people. I think it was closer to 500 actually. We just said, “There’s this great book on sleep. We just ask that you leave a review over on Amazon for us.” From that, we got 40 reviews on Amazon for a free book. Amazon gives you five days you can give your book away for free.
We did three days, then we switched the flip up and made it a paid book. Now it already had all this weight on Amazon with all these reviews and downloads. Once it went paid, it was No. 3. If you typed “sleep” into Amazon, my book was there. It’s been No. 1. We’re talking about sleep supplements to eye masks, but my book is the No. 1 thing there. A huge leverage point is giving your book away free when you first launch it. Then, sell to your email list, mark it on Facebook, do Facebook ads like you learned about here on Entrepreneur on Fire.
One last little tip I wanna give everybody is to make sure that it’s tied into your auto-responder, if you wanna sell a lot of books. So, when people are signing up for your email list, give value first. Give them some cool stuff and information, but have that lead into a soap opera series where you start a conversation that leads to an offer to get your book, maybe in the third email. That should be on automatic, so you’re making sales every single day, even when you’re not out doing something “proactively.” That’s the foundational thing on how we made Sleep Smarter successful through self-publishing.
If I could say one more quick thing, you really have to lead with giving first. This wasn’t an accident. I really cared about the message and helping people. It might seem a little bleak at spots during the mission, but it paid off so big, and especially what we’re gonna talk about next.
John Lee Dumas: “Try not to become a person of success, but rather a person of value.” Albert Einstein, Fire Nation. He was a genius. Let’s listen to him. You type the word “sleep” into Amazon, and Shawn is right there at the top of that list. Think of the organic traffic that results every single day for him. If you type the word “podcast” into Amazon, I am one of the top results for my book, Podcast Launch, which has been in the Kindle store since February of 2013. Think of the organic traffic that drives us for our key words every single day. What are your keywords? You have a book in you, Fire Nation. Believe me. Get it out there.
I love that information you gave, Shawn, about the autoresponder. Of course, we have our sponsor, 99Designs.com/Fire, if you wanna go there. You’re gonna get a $99.00 upgrade for free, Fire Nation, for that book cover. You’re on the road to success. Huge on so many levels. You just shared tons of value bombs. I just wanna make sure you realize, Fire Nation, that you are called to action for all of this. SleepSmarterBook.com because like Shawn said, what unlocks the floodgates? Well, sleep. If you want to have the energy and the desire and mental capacity to do all of this, let’s start with sleep. If we get around to it, remind me at the end, Shawn, if I forget, I have a pretty recent story about sleep that’s spot on here.
Shawn, I’m gonna talk about a lot of awesomeness when it comes to sleep specifically. The first half of the show was awesome. It was about why everybody has a book in them, how to bring that book to reality, and some incredible tips, tools and tactics to make it a top-ranked book in your keyword category. All of these things are so key, Fire Nation. That’s a re-listenable section for sure. I wanna talk about where Shawn is really a value-adder, and that’s in sleep. Shawn, there’s been some new research on sleep deprivation and work performance. Break that down for us.
Shawn Stevenson: This is the hallmark and foundation of a lot of things in our life. Oftentimes, we know experientially how it feels when we’re not well-rested, but we don’t truly understand the negative impact it’s having in our lives. There was some research done at the University of California, Berkeley, and they took 26 healthy volunteers and they either had them get normal sleep or they made them sleep-deprived, which basically kept them awake for over 24 hours. Then, they put them in an fMRI, which is a functional magnetic resonance imaging system. A lot of people might have had an MRI before, but they’re specially looking at what’s going on in their brain. What happened is shocking.
They showed the volunteers different images. The images started off neutral, like a picture of a spoon or a basket. Then, it started to get progressively emotionally negative, like seeing pictures of people who are hurt badly or an attacking viper right in your face. Please understand that they’re sitting in this containment center. It’s not real, but it’s presented to their mind. What they found was, the people who were sleep-deprived were actually 60 percent more reactive to the negative stimuli, and it was harder for them to turn it off mentally. Already you’re more reactive in your day-to-day life for negative things, and it’s harder to get back to the “positive side of things.”
You know with being an entrepreneur you gotta keep shifting over and looking over at the optimism and being able to see the solution rather than the problem. It’s not about ignoring the fact that there’s a problem. It’s about being able to find your way out. It’s very difficult when you’re sleep deprived. That’s just one of the things.
There was another study done. This was a physician study, so this was actually done on physicians, and they had them complete a task. Then, they sleep-deprived them for 24 hours and had them do the same exact job. They ended up making 20 percent more mistakes and it took them 14 times longer to do the same exact job. When you’re sleep-deprived, you think you’re getting work done, but it’s actually taking you longer to do the same thing and your work is messier. You gotta spend more time trying to fix the problem. These are just a couple of the things in reference to what’s going on with our work-related tasks, our performance. If you really wanna make sure you’re optimizing your time and energy, make sure you’re sleeping smarter first, so you show up to that task that you’re doing and execute like you never have before.
John Lee Dumas: Sixty percent more reactive to negative stimuli. Fire Nation, you hear me end every episode with “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” If just one of those five people is negative, and you’re gonna be 60 percent more reactive to that, think of that. Think of that spiral that can start. Let’s talk about the juicy stuff, Shawn, because I’m not afraid of talking about the juicy stuff. You’re not afraid about the juicy stuff, which I love in your book, and there’s a whole chapter on that, which is incredible. Talk about the impact of sleep on our relationships.
Shawn Stevenson: Time to get juicy, John. I always mention this whenever I have the opportunity. I have seen this firsthand. I truly feel that the No. 1 most influential factor on our success in our life and on our health is our relationships. I did a whole show on this which will be available by the time this comes out. Let me take a step back because this is really important. It’s not just about the negative things that can happen. What really fuels us and keeps us going is when we get positive results. What they’ve found is, sleep-deprived people were actually less positive after having an achievement. It just didn’t matter to them as much versus them being able to celebrate.
Compare that with people who are well-rested. When they had their particular achievement, they actually enjoyed it more. You can check the research out and, of course, come on over the TheModelHealthShow.com to find out more information, but they found that the worse people slept the night before, the more they reported fighting with their significant other the next day. This was consistently seen across the board. I know that we all know this. When you’re tired, your best friend can look like your worst enemy. You’re more reactive. Stuff is just a problem. You’re irritated more.
Then, you carry that over to your business relationships. You’re nitpicking your business partner or the person you’re trying to work with, and you get an email back that might be very neutral in how it’s saying, “No, I don’t think this is the way to go,” and you’re just, “What do you mean?” You wanna start up a big problem, and it wasn’t even meant that way. I want people to understand going into this that if you’re not well-rested, you’re gonna have a tendency to damage your relationships. Sometimes they can be damaged beyond fixing, so it’s really important to take really good care of your health.
This is where the juicy stuff really starts. If you’re in an intimate relationship, they found that it doesn’t matter if you slept good. If your partner experienced poor sleep quality, you’re more likely to experience fewer positive emotions the next day, more negative emotions, and be less able to take the other person’s perspective. John, just to summarize why all this is happening, UC Berkeley did brain imaging scans, and your amygdala, which is basically the reptilian part of your brain that’s only concerned about survival, is lit up like the Fourth of July. The more evolved parts of your brain, your prefrontal cortex, is ice cold. That primitive part of your brain is only concerned about you. It’s very difficult to put yourself in the shoes of the other person.
So, there’s gonna be less happiness, less communication and less sex. That’s one of the things I talk about in Sleep Smarter. There’s this huge connection and one of the beneficial things with improving your sleep quality is sex. In our modern lexicon and culture, we know this already. Especially for the guys, the guy’s gonna get sleepy and go to sleep. The same thing happens with women too because we release a chemical cocktail of hormones when men and women have an orgasm. This includes things like oxytocin, which is known as the “love hormone” or the “cuddle hormone.” It’s been clinically proven to improve your sleep quality. They injected laboratory animals, which I’m not saying is okay for them to do, with prolactin, and they became sleepy immediately.
We all release prolactin when we have orgasms. Norepinephrine is another thing. That helps to regulate your sleep cycles, so you’re going from REM sleep, which is rapid eye movement sleep, where you’re dreaming to deep sleep in a normal, natural fashion. A lot of us are waking up tired, even if we get eight hours of sleep because we’re not going through our whole sleep cycle normally. All in all, John, when you’re not sleeping well, a good remedy could be hooking up. At the same time, what’s found is that good sleep also leads to better sex. There was a study done with women, and they found when they got a great night of sleep, they were 14 percent more likely to have sexual interaction the following day.
Just a word out there for everybody, especially for people who are with a woman in your life and you want to be closer to her, make sure she is taking care of herself. Do things that help create the conditions where she gets good sleep and where she feels good. I promise it’s gonna pay off for you in the long run.
John Lee Dumas: To flip that script a little bit, is it safe to say that if you want to have less sex, sleep less?
Shawn Stevenson: Absolutely.
John Lee Dumas: Shawn, I love everything that we’ve been talking about today, and I truly wanna end with a bang. Talk to us about three tips, so we can being sleeping smarter tonight, so I can wake up tomorrow and crush my day.
Shawn Stevenson: Yes. I like to go with the low-hanging fruit first. Everybody knows the importance of exercise, but how about we give it even more leverage? You understand that exercise actually helps you to sleep better, if timed properly. There was a study done at Appalachian State University, and I’ve shared this before. I think we talked about this the last time I was on. They broke exercise up into three groups. Exercisers in group A worked out at 7:00 a.m., group B at 1:00 p.m., right there in the afternoon, and group C worked out at 7:00 p.m. in the evening. Group A spent up to 75 percent more time in the deepest, most anabolic rejuvenating stages of sleep. Right there, in black and white, if you work out in the morning, you’re gonna have a tendency to sleep better at night.
I like to always tell people that a good night’s sleep starts the moment you wake up in the morning. Make sure you’re getting some activity in during the first part of the day. It works because it spikes your cortisol, which might sound bad, but cortisol is not a bad guy. It’s only bad if it’s coming at the wrong time. Your cortisol should naturally be high in the morning. A lot of people are waking up tired because their cortisol is low. So, getting some exercise in will start to reset your cortisol rhythm, so it drops at night and you can sleep better.
The other part of that that I didn’t mention to you before, John, is that working out in the evening can actually be detrimental. I was just at Rodeo, at my publisher. There’s a team of 14 women there. Rodeo is run by some powerhouse, amazing women. She was sharing at our group pow-wow that she was having trouble sleeping. Somehow or another I figured out that she was working out at 8:00 at night and wondering why she’s tossing and turning in bed for hours. When you work out, you’re spiking your cortisol, like we talked about earlier, which is a stress hormone. If cortisol is up, your melatonin is in the basement because they have an inverse relationship.
If you’re working out in the evening, that’s cool, but just make sure you’ve given your body about four hours for your hormones to get back in normal rhythm and in normal sync. Also, your core body temperature goes down. That’s tip No. 1. Make sure that you get some high quality exercise in the morning. This could be four minutes of tabata, John. Do you guys know what tabata is? You want me to tell them really quickly?
John Lee Dumas: Expound, yes.
Shawn Stevenson: Tabata is a super simple form of exercise. It’s 20 seconds of exercise and 20 seconds of rest. You do that for four minutes straight. Set the timer on your iPhone or your Android for four minutes and you hit it every 20 seconds. We’ll just use squats. You’re doing as many squats as you can with good form, of course, in 20 seconds. Then, you rest for 20 seconds. Then, you’re back on again. You just do that for four minutes. It’s gonna be a great workout to start your day. Even if you made time to get to the gym, it’s not gonna interrupt that. You can still do that in the afternoon. That’s tip No. 1.
John Lee Dumas: Shawn, I know when I was first exposed to you and what you had going on, I was able to look into my bedroom and see a number of things that were going wrong as far as why I was probably not getting a great night’s sleep. I’m not gonna step on tips No. 2 and 3, but I am excited to expound upon them when they come. So, take it away.
Shawn Stevenson: Here’s another big deal with the performance aspect. Some of the top athletes in the world say that sleep is a part of their training, from Usain Bolt to LeBron James. Let me see if I can find that quote. This is what Usain Bolt has to say about sleep. He said, “Sleep is extremely important to me. I need to rest and recover in order for the training I do to be absorbed by my body.” Your body actually changes while you’re asleep. When you go into the gym and work out, you’re actually in worse shape than when you walked in the gym. Your body changes while you’re asleep. I just want to reiterate again how important it is to get exercise in, not just for your sleep, but for your body and making sure that good sleep is gonna help you get the benefits from the exercise.
This is a little bit higher-hanging fruit. This one’s a little bit tougher. Tip No. 2 is taking a screen break. So, giving yourself a screen curfew. Why am I saying that? Well, there was a study done at Rensselaer Polytechnic, and they found that two hours of iPad use before bed was enough to suppress melatonin. So, being on your device right before you go to sleep, and I know almost all of us listening are guilty of this at one point or another and many of us consistently. We kiss our phone good night and we go to bed. It’s the last thing we do. We’re not understanding that we haven’t been around this technology, John, except for the past 100ish years, as far as even having electricity, let alone just the last two decades of being able to have constant access to the Internet and specifically to our phones.
John Lee Dumas: A blink in history.
Shawn Stevenson: Exactly. It’s an eyelash. It’s half an eyelash. We’ve evolved having normal cycles of night and day. Effectively today, we can manufacture a second daytime. Forget what the planet’s doing. We can turn on all the lights in our house, get on the computer. In particular, there’s a blue spectrum of light that’s beaming back at us that’s especially troublesome to our sleep quality. The best form of action for this is to give yourself a screen curfew. Just get off the device an hour beforehand. A lot of people are, “What do I do?” Don’t just sit there and twiddle your thumbs. You need to connect. We have all these Facebook friends, but talk to your real friends. Talk to your partner. Talk to your kids. Talk to a real person. What a concept. This is a good time to implement the half tip I gave earlier about having sex. I bet that will be fun.
John Lee Dumas: That might be fun.
Shawn Stevenson: You can do that. You can read a book, these relics called books, and not be on your device. Play a game. Play some games with your family. Play some cards. Just do stuff that you would normally do, if we weren’t over obsessed with our devices. John, the big issue is that we are, in fact, addicted. I want everybody to be able to walk away with this today and understand. You can try and not get on your phone tonight, but it’s gonna be a tremendous struggle. It’s because of the dopamine system.
The dopamine system is really about seeking. It’s about finding and looking for pleasure. This is why illegal substances like cocaine, for example, are tapping on that system. It’s gonna make you keep seeking. Instagram is perfect for that because you keep looking. I don’t know about you, John, but have you ever gone online to Google something and an hour later, you’re looking at something totally different?
John Lee Dumas: I’m, “How did I get to squirrels and trees?”
Shawn Stevenson: Exactly. This is the Internet black hole that you stepped into. It’s because of this seeking brain. The trouble is, we get instant gratification with the Internet too, which is an opioid hit. So, we’re getting the dopamine and opioid, and it becomes very addictive. We become a mouse and some cheese. We’re constantly going after it. To break that addiction, you gotta make sure it’s something equally as fun as being on Instagram. I love Instagram by the way. John, you’re crushing it on Instagram. I remember sitting there having the conversation. You were, “Shawn, I’m about to get serious about Instagram.” Whenever you go for something, you do it. I’m at shawnmodel on Instagram, by the way.
John Lee Dumas: Follow this dude, seriously.
Shawn Stevenson: I’m sharing some cool stuff there, but it’s really important to understand that you’ve gotta fill that void with something that’s equal to or better than the thing you’re trying to change. That’s one, and a quick hack for you guys, if you’re not doing this already. Just simply get some apps for your devices that pull out the most troublesome spectrum of light. Harvard University found that it wasn’t just the fact that this light was beaming at you, but it’s the type of light. So, it’s the color of the light that’s beaming at you.
You can get apps like f.lux that will pull the most troublesome spectrum of light out of your screen when it gets dark in your area. It does it automatically and you don’t have to think about it. You can still do your work. If you’re looking at a design or something, you can just pause it for a second. Super simple. There’s apps for PC, Mac as well. Or, if you wanna take it to another level, there are orange-tinted glasses you can get. I don’t know if you remember the BluBlocker infomercials, John.
John Lee Dumas: Yes, I do.
Shawn Stevenson: The guy was rapping. The BluBlockers were blocking blue light, so you can get yourself a fancy version of some orange-tinted glasses or you can get some super inexpensive ones for $5.00.
John Lee Dumas: On Amazon, you can get Gammas. Those are good ones.
Shawn Stevenson: Exactly. There are so many now. Different companies are coming out with some fashionable ones as well. That’s another little hack that you guys can use. Those are two tips. No. 1, get some exercise in during the first part of the day for so many parts of being an effective entrepreneur. And the second thing is, make sure we’re giving ourselves a screen curfew and, I recommend, a solid 60 minutes. It’s not the worst thing in the world. And/or using some devices to eliminate that blue spectrum of light.
John Lee Dumas: A quick side note on that. F.lux is on my computer and every now and then it will pop off for a second because it’s doing a reboot or something. When I wake up in the morning, I’m, “This is what I used to look at?” It’s super bright. “This is so intense.” To me, f.lux is a nice calming and relaxing thing. I love it. Shawn, let’s end with a bang.
Shawn Stevenson: Absolutely. This one can’t be stressed enough. It’s important for many aspects of being an entrepreneur. A lot of people struggle with turning their mind off when they’re going to bed at night. All these thoughts and ideas are running around in their mind. A lot of times it’s stressors or things we’re worried about or problems we need to fix. All this stuff that we’re thinking about that we need to do, and we can’t do any of it because we’re in our pajamas and/or you’re naked. You can’t go and handle this stuff right now. This is a good time to shut your mind down and recover. The problem is that a lot of people don’t know how to do that. There’s a section in Sleep Smarter called “Calm Your Inner Chatter.”
In my profession, we say you have a lot of inner chatter going on. That’s actually a good thing. There’s nothing wrong with you. Your mind is expansive. That’s awesome you can think of a lot of things, especially in today’s environment, but you wanna be able to close those windows when you want to, rather than having them all stay open all the time. So, how do we do this? How do we calm our inner chatter and why is it important? There was a study done that was published in the Medical Science Monitor that advanced meditators have higher baseline melatonin levels than people who don’t meditate. American Academy of Sleep Medicine published a study showing that meditation is an effective treatment for insomnia.
Over a two-month period, it improves sleep latency, total sleep time, total time spent awake is lessened, sleep efficiency, which means they are cycling through those sleep cycles normally like we talked about, it improves sleep quality and lowered symptoms of depression without medication. All this from employing some meditation practice. I like to take the “sitting cross-legged in the cave” thing out of it, even though that would be cool. Dr. Pedram Shojai is a good friend of mine aka The Urban Monk, and he’s spent time in the Himalayas bringing that brilliance back. You don’t have to do that today. I like to call it “brain training,” rather than just meditation. What you’re effectively doing is changing your brain waves instantly by employing some simple strategies. So, John, have you talked about meditation on your show before?
John Lee Dumas: Not enough.
Shawn Stevenson: Exactly, yes. I would say that same thing, even on my show. We talk about it pretty frequently, but definitely not enough. What we wanna do is, employ something very simple. This is gonna be something everybody can take away for their lifetime. You’re gonna wanna do this now. Why does this work? Right now, you are stressed, trust me, unless I am soothing you with my voice right now. Outside of that, we are constantly in this beta state with our brain waves, and our sympathetic nervous system is active. We don’t have any real threats around us. We don’t have to worry about a bear chasing us or a saber-toothed tiger, an example a lot of people like to use, or trying to find your food.
The hardest thing we have to do is go to the grocery store. As a matter of fact, we don’t even have to get off our couch. You can just call Domino’s and just leave the door open. “Come in.” We literally don’t have to get up to get our food anymore. We don’t have those problems. The problem we do have is, our minds are so expansive and beautiful and there’s so much potential there, and we can manufacture problems and think about all these negative outcomes and negative things that could happen. It stresses us out. Dr. Pedram Shojai calls it “death by a thousand cuts.” It’s not this big hulking thing that drops down on you. It’s these small things that are causing your overall stress load to go crazy.
To change this, meditation is really the key. You can instantly shift out of your sympathetic nervous system, which is the fight or flight system, to your parasympathetic nervous system simply by changing your breathing. Here’s how we do it. Your breath is tied to your autonomic nervous system. It sounds like “automatic,” and that’s what it is. It’s controlling your heartbeat, which is cool. It’s controlling the dilation of your pupils and digestion. These are all jobs that you don’t wanna have. You don’t want the responsibility of trying to focus when you look at something or beating your heart or digesting your food. I promise you, it would suck all the time, if you had to do that.
What’s interesting is, your breathing is part of the autonomic nervous system, and you don’t have to think about it, but I promise you you’re thinking about it right now. Your attention has gone there. Your breathing and this part of the autonomic system is automatic, but you can jump in there and take the wheel. You can jump in and take hold of the ship. It’s so interesting you can do that. Why is that possible? Again, it’s tied to our evolutionary biology where we’re not exposed to all these stressors anymore. So, your body can mistake something as a stressor, and you can calm yourself down. Many of us have had the experience where we’re walking and we see a stick. We think it’s a snake and we freak out.
A lot of us would just continue to carry that around, where if you simply change your breathing, you’re gonna be able to calm down and slip into the parasympathetic system, which is the rest and digest system. So, simple breathing exercise for everybody, and it works like a charm. All you have to do is sit up nice and straight. It can be in your chair or on the floor. It’s not a problem. Just sit up nice and straight. The first thing we have to do is learn how to breathe, which sounds totally crazy. When a lot of us breathe, our shoulders and chest stick up. You’re a chest breather. It sounds like a bad word. “You chest breather.” You don’t wanna be a chest breather. You wanna breathe from your abdomen, your lower belly.
When you take that deep breath in, you wanna have your belly stick out a little bit. In our society, you’re trying to be sexy all the time and suck your gut in and make sure your abs are constantly on. In actuality, you’re creating this hypertonic situation where your diaphragm isn’t getting to fully extend itself and you’re half breathing. When you take that deep breath in, you fill up your belly. You wanna think about pouring a vase of water into your chest or into your lungs, which doesn’t sound right, but you are filling up with water. You are filling up with air instead. So, you’re pouring in from the bottom up.
We’re gonna do this exercise together, so sit up nice and straight, head back, nice and tall. You’re gonna close your eyes. If you’re driving, don’t close your eyes. Sit nice and tall, take a deep breath in, fill the bottom of your belly with air, and I want you to breathe in for two seconds and hold it for five seconds. One, two, three, four, five. Now, breathe all that air out. Hold it out for five. Five, four, three, two, one. Let’s do it one more time. Let’s breathe in for five seconds. You’re gonna hold it for five. One, two, three, four, five. Breathe out. And hold it out for five, four, three, two, one.
If you followed along, you’re likely gonna feel a sense of calm and more of a sense of peace and presence just from two long breaths. What we would recommend as a practice is doing three to five minutes of that a day. You’re gonna be golden. You’re building this neuro-association from “I’m stressed” to instantly calm your nervous system down and get to that place of peace. This is what my life experience is today. No matter what chaos is going on around me, I still have this sense of peace and presence that I didn’t have when I first started off in business. I definitely didn’t have it when I was a teenager. It’s because I built that circuitry. It’s just from doing three to five minutes a day. If you’re a superstar, ten minutes.
There are a bunch of guided meditations out there you can do as well through apps like Headspace. This is something you can do for free anytime. It’s just building that circuit. Make a commitment starting today, if you’re a power player, or tomorrow to do three minutes a day minutes. Five minutes, you’re a rock star. There you go.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, there are so many things that are easy to implement into your lives that can make massive differences. A couple things that Shawn came in and rocked my world with is putting blackout curtains in my room. I had the Bay moonlight streaming onto me all night long. I wasn’t thinking about it. Our skin has sensors, and I was sensing that. I always overheat at night, and I would wake up sweating and I’d throw the covers off. That’s a huge disruptor of sleep. So, I got the Chilly Pad and that made all the difference in the world. Then, there’s exercise. I do my now famous Bay walk every single day, and I’m okay with that, thanks to Shawn.
Shawn is somebody I know I can trust in the fitness world, and if he said it’s okay and good to do an actual walk for exercise, then that is good exercise. Now, I can do that and feel good about doing that nice powerwalk every day in the sun, doing my breathing exercises even while I’m walking sometimes. So, Fire Nation, you have just been taken through an entire episode, a master class, on sleep on EOFire. You can only imagine what you have waiting for you over at Shawn’s podcast, The Model Health Show. Again, the book that will be so worth your investment, both time and money, SleepSmarterBook.com. Head over to that Web site, check it out.
You wanna make sure that you understand what it would look like to open up the floodgates. I love to use that word, Shawn. Just open up that floodgate and see what good sleep can start as far as the snowball effect for you. Fire Nation, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You’ve been hanging out with Shawn and JLD today, so make sure you’re keeping up that positive heat. Shawn, end today with a parting piece of guidance, the best way we can connect with you. Then, we’ll say goodbye.
Shawn Stevenson: Absolutely. I can’t say anything else without thanking you again. For the people who don’t get an opportunity to get to know you personally, I’m telling you that John is the real deal. This is the person he is. He cares about people. He cares about delivering amazing content to people every single day, and he’s dedicated to that. He’s just a great person. I just wanna thank you again, John, for that.
John Lee Dumas: Thanks, Shawn.
Shawn Stevenson: My parting piece of guidance. I wanna circle this back around. It’s a dream come true to be able to walk into Barnes & Noble and my book is gonna be there in the center console. That’s a dream come true for a kid like me, coming from the situations that I’ve come from. It’s entirely possible, but it’s creating a great product. The best form of marketing is creating a great product. Then, from there, doing the small things to make sure it’s all done excellently and professionally well. Then, from there, busting your behind to market it and making sure you can bust your behind by getting great sleep.
Here’s another insider secret. The game has changed and you can compete with anybody right now. The only leverage point that publishers have is deep pockets and the ability to get your book into different locations a little bit easier than you can. Why would you wanna work with them and how do you work with them? What they want today is people who have built their own platform. That’s gold to them. Not somebody who has a great idea or even a great product. You gotta build your platform. So, do the work, put in those hours growing yourself and making yourself capable and ready. Then, shop around, find yourself a good literary agent to connect with the different publishers for you and the process will take it from there.
I just wanna circle back around to that to give some real hardcore value. You can take that idea you have and turn it into a real book and make sure that along the way you’re enjoying the process and you feel good. That’s gonna give you a leverage point and advantage over everybody else. You know this experientially. When you don’t feel good, everything else in life is a struggle. It’s not easy to get up and get going. It’s not easy to motivate yourself, but those days that you feel great, you feel unstoppable. You can have that more consistently by making sure that you’re optimizing your sleep. You can connect with me at TheModelHealthShow.com and, of course, pick up your copy of Sleep Smarter at SleepSmarterBopok.com and I’d love to connect with you. Thank you again, John, so much for having me on. You’re the man, and I appreciate you beyond words.
John Lee Dumas: SleepSmarterBook.com, Fire Nation. Get your little behind over there and check it out because this is the beginning of the opening of the floodgates. Shawn, thank you for sharing your journey again with Fire Nation. For that, brother, we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flip side.
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