148: Optimizing Sleep for Sharper Performance with Dr. W. Chris Winter

By April 28, 2017Podcasts

 

Sleep doctor W. Chris Winter shares the effects of sleep and best practices for getting a better sleep, synthesized from years of working with elite athletes.

You’ll Learn:

  1. Insight on what it takes to achieve better sleep
  2. Handy tools to enhance sleep
  3. How Chris helps professional athletes sleep best

About Chris

Dr. W. Chris Winter has spent over half of his life involved in the study of sleep and the treatment of sleep disorders. As a board certified neurologist and double board certified sleep specialist, Dr. Winter brings a tremendous amount of scientific knowledge to his book, The Sleep Solution, and state-of-the-art sleep clinic in Charlottesville, VA. He’s served many professional sports teams, including the San Francisco Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates, Washington Capitals, and New York Rangers.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

W. Chris Winter Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Chris, thanks so much for joining us here on the How to be Awesome At Your Job podcast.

W. Chris Winter
Thank you, Pete. I appreciate the invitation.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, I think we’re going to have a lot fun here. The sheer density of jokes in your book The Sleep Solution is any indicator this should be a riot of a conversation.

W. Chris Winter
That’s good, yeah. I think when a doctor writes and tries to be funny, there’s a creeping suspicion that it’s funny to you but to nobody else. So, that’s good to hear.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, no, it was good. If I could, there was one moment that I laughed out loud, and my wife in another room said, “What’s going on?” And it was the following, you’re talking about vigilance. “Wake up at night to a quiet, dark house and your quietly-sleeping spouse, and as you roll over vigilance is low, and you go back to sleep, sometimes not even remembering you woke up. Wake up at night next to a grinning clown with tangled red hair and enormous shoes and sleep is suddenly nowhere in your immediate future.” What a terrifying image.

W. Chris Winter
It is. And, interestingly, that response that people have, they can have it certainly with the clown, I think that’s an appropriate response.
I had a patient recently who talked to me about her hellish sleep. That was her adjective. I thought that was powerful, “Please, patient, tell me about your hellish sleep. Like what does that mean?” She said, “Well, sometimes it’ll take me an hour or two to fall asleep.” And so I was waiting for the hellish part, and then that was it.
And so it was interesting that people can create a “clown in their bed” if given enough time, versus some people who might wake up or it takes them two hours to fall asleep and they kind of like it. Their boss isn’t yelling at them. Their kids aren’t making a mess of their house. It’s just kind of quiet time in a dark, cool, comfortable bed where you can just sort of plan out your weekend or think about your celebrity crush or whatever you want to do. So it’s interesting how people’s perspectives color sleep.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that is interesting indeed. Well, I have a feeling I’m going to get too interested and ask too many questions for the time we have. We had a Dr. Michael Breus earlier on the show, another sleep master, and that was a ton of fun. So I’m going to start right from the get-go. Can you tell us, if you’re thinking about this audience, professionals who like to make it happen, what would you say are some key sleep perspectives right off the bat you think they should keep in mind to be on top of your game sort of day after day?

W. Chris Winter
Sure. I think that when it comes to sleep you want to control what you can control. I work a lot in the field of sports and I like the idea of a baseball player controlling his nutrition, controlling how he takes care of his body, controlling what he does at practice. But what he does at the plate when he steps up to bat is really outside of his control. But if he’s controlled all the variables he can control he can kind of let go of any anxieties. That one he can do and the rest is kind of up to fate. And I think that sleep is that way.
So, one of the things I talk to patients about, or players about, is, first and foremost, there’s no such thing as not sleeping. So, if you’re listening to this podcast and you use phrases when you’re at dinner parties, “Well, I just don’t sleep,” or, “I’m a bad sleeper.” I’ve never understood exactly what that means. It always conjures up images of airplanes when people say, “I have a drinking problem,” and then they miss their mouth with their water and it goes all over the place, “I’m a bad sleeper.” What does that mean? You miss the bed when you jump into it?
To me, I think that what you want to control is, “I’m going to make sure I’m in bed at a certain time. I’m going to make sure I’ve got enough time set aside to sleep, that I protect that time.” But what happens once you get in bed is really kind of outside your control in some situations. So I think that people who are very successful share traits of being Type A detail-oriented. And I think if you take those traits with you into bed at night it could be kind of an issue. When you go to bed you want to be kind of Dave Matthews, flip-flops, hackey sack, “Yeah, whatever happens, happens. No big deal.” That’s not necessarily a great trait for a person who is really successful.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that is handy. Okay. So that’s a big part of it is just to relax and let go and sort of do what you can do in advance. And so we’ll dig into some of those details. So, can you let us know, in what ways is sleep kind of often broken or what are some mistakes folks are making prior to getting into the bedroom?

W. Chris Winter
There’s a lot of them. One of the things I would say about people who truly have broken sleep is sleep is interesting in the sense that you can kind of divide people with sleep problems into two camps. The first camp is the group that “can’t sleep.” I put that in quotation marks. Struggle to fall asleep, struggle to stay asleep, any little sound makes them up, that’s it. They’re done for the night.
Then there’s the group that’s excessively sleepy. Can’t make it through a church service, has trouble staying awake at stoplights. They go out to movies, they pick the movie and frustrate their partner because they’re asleep before the opening credits are finished.
So, to me, that group that’s excessively sleepy, those are the people who really have broken sleep. And, to me, they really kind of fall into two categories. They’re either not setting aside enough time to sleep. So my guess is a lot of people who are listening to your podcast and working on being awesome at what they do, one of the ways they can sort of push towards that goal of being awesome is to work more, to work harder, stay up late, getting more things done, wake up early, go to the gym at 3 o’clock in the morning to get your to get your workout in. So I think that if we’re not setting aside enough time to sleep, or through no fault of our own, we’re working two jobs to pay a mortgage that can sort of shortchange the amount of sleep we’re getting.
The other group is, no, they’re getting plenty of time in bed but there is something intrinsically wrong with their sleep. They snore loudly, their partners have been telling them for years. They stop breathing. They have sleep apnea. They kick a lot. They have restless leg. They have narcolepsy. So there’s something like 88 different things that can be wrong with somebody’s sleep.
So, to me, the bigger ones that we want to look out for, people who are having breathing disturbances at night, people who have excessive movement when they sleep at night, and then people that when you look at them, seem sleep a lot yet still, strangely, are quite sleepy all the time. I gave a lecture about narcolepsy today. The average narcolepsy patient is like a 15-year gap between symptom onset and diagnosis.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, wow.

W. Chris Winter
That’s a long time to think you’re depressed or think that something else is going on tick by, or Vitamin D deficiency when, in fact, you’ve got this chemical that’s missing in your brain to help stabilize wakefulness. So those are the things I would think about.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, certainly. So, I guess, outside of sort of a disease, I guess I’m thinking about your folks who they’re sleepier than they want to be on most days, or maybe half of days, and they seem to have a reasonable amount of time in bed. What kind of jumps to mind in terms of, I don’t know, tips, tools, tricks, tactics, other T words, that enable you to take your sleep from, “Oh, it’s okay,” to optimal or best-in-class?

W. Chris Winter
Sure. So, to me, now we’re getting into sort of sleep hygiene tips which I think that when you look at the media message about sleep seems to be the entirety. Like everything is about your mattress, the darkness of your room, the temperature, when in fact these things, as you sort of correctly put it, generally are things that are going to take your sleep from being good, “Yeah, I sleep pretty well,” to being really good.
If you have terrible sleep, or something dramatically wrong with your sleep, eating some walnuts and tart cherry juice before you go to bed at night, I’m doubtful is what’s going to make the difference. But, to me, if you’re somebody that says, “Look, less sleep is okay but I’d really like to take it to another level,” and, “I’m getting enough sleep,” then it does become, “Is your room really dark? Can you sit down in your bed at lunch time, turn off all the lights and close the blinds, put your hand in front of your face and not see it?” That’s the kind of darkness we’re talking about when we’re talking about bedroom.
And people tell me, “I’ve got a skylight I can’t cover,” or, “There are certain sources of light that I have no control over.” And if that’s the case maybe an eye mask would work really well for you. It’s something that takes a little while to get used to, but ones that are out now are fairly cheap and can be very comfortable. So, to me, thinking about our senses, eyesight, making things really dark, rooms need to be quiet, so the TV that’s sitting in your bed and you’re watching one Game of Thrones episode after another, or right before you go to bed, or episodes of Walking Dead one after the other, not a great thing right before you go to bed because zombies are as scary as hell. It’s not a great thing to watch before you go to bed.
But just that light and sound in your face is not good. And when I give lectures about sleep I always ask the question, “How many people sleep with the TV on all night long?” I would estimate it’s like 15% to 20% of athletes. So, when people say things like, “I just like some noise in the background.” Not a great thing to have.

They did a great study where they put individuals and PET scanners, and when they fell asleep they would play them words, either adjectives or verbs, and you could see the brain sorting the words even while the individual slept. So the idea of even Spanish in your sleep is not true but the idea that your brain is not paying attention isn’t true either. It is listening.
So if you have to have your TV on before you go to bed at night, just set a timer so once you’ve fallen asleep your endless episodes of Friends, one after the other, finally turns off and the room is quiet and dark. If your room is noisy because of traffic noise, or neighbors, or a snoring spouse, yeah, I think using a noise machine can be very helpful.
So, we’ve talked about sight, we’ve talked about sounds, smells I think are really important. Lavender has been shown in a couple of studies to actually improve sleep. Beyond that, I think lavender is really nice because if you’re always spraying it on your bed at night when you’re at home, if you’re somebody who travels or spends time in hotel rooms, if you take a little container of your lavender with you, once you get to your hotel room you can spray it on your pillow there.
And so now your brain smells that lavender, and maybe the lavender helps you sleep a little bit better, but even if it doesn’t, we tie, as a neurologist, I always tell people, “We tie memory most closely to smell.” So when you get in this room and it’s dark, and you close your eyes and smell this lavender, it kind of tricks your brain into thinking you’re home.
Even now, I’m 44 years old, and I’ll be in a mall and some woman will walk by wearing a perfume that’s exactly the same as whatever some girl in college who dumped me, and immediately I feel sad. My wife will look at me and like, “Why are you so melancholy all of a sudden?” I’m like, “I don’t know. It’s probably because I grow up, I’m thinking, ‘Oh, it’s Laura. It’s Laura’s perfume. She dumped me ruthlessly. Curses galore.’” Right?
So smells, sounds – feel is important, too. I, sometimes, will take a nap in my office at a designated time if I’ve been traveling a lot. I’ve got this blanket somebody gave me one time that it’s completely fake but it feels like fox fur or something like muddy. And so when I stretch out and turn the lights off and get ready, I’ll put this blanket over on top of me, it’s not so much because I’m cold, but I like the idea when I feel animal fur on my body it kind of tells me, “Oh, okay. Well, this is, again, another trigger that it’s a sensory trigger that, okay, it’s nap time.”
So, again, darkness, smell the lavender, hear the silence, feel the animal fur, or there are some really cool bedding that you can get. There’s a company called DEEPSPORT that makes this very unique bedding that wicks away moisture, it’s FDA-approved, it prevents acne of all crazy things, but it’s kind of a really cool. And I don’t mean like awesome. I mean, cool as in temperature feel. And then the cool thing is they make this little travel pack that looks like a sleeping bag made out of the same material so when you travel to the hotel where you can unfold this thing inside your bed and climb inside of it. And now, with your lavender, you can create a dark lavender-scented environment, and it feels to the skin like your bed at home feels.
So, I think, those are things that can really help people. If you plan those things out, it really kind of elevates your sleep game.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that’s really cool. Thank you. Now, you just got me thinking. So if lavender, so you’re saying you smell it before bedtime, or you want your brain to be having some exposure to it during the actual slumber time.

W. Chris Winter
Yes, so what I do is just keep a little bottle. I have two bottles. One is next to my bed, and I set it right there by my clock so I see it. So as I’m pulling the covers back and getting ready to go bed, I just take it and spray a little on the pillow. But then I keep another one in my travel bag and it’s two ounces so you don’t get hung up in your line. And so when I get to my Marriott Hotel I’ll just walk in and spray that pillow so I’ve got that consistent smell of lavender whenever I sleep.
Pete Mockaitis
Okay. So you are kind of “smell it” as your unconscious as well and that is part of the benefits in the studies?

W. Chris Winter
Exactly. They did two that I’m aware of. One was they had two groups of individuals in rooms to sleep. One was infused with, I think, sweet almond oil as a control; the other room lavender, and the lavender people slept better. And then they crossed them over, so the lavender people went to the other room, and vice versa. They didn’t really know what to expect. And in both groups the lavender did better.
They also did a study, I think, at Johns Hopkins where they actually used the lavender in an ICU setting and found that it helped with the patient’s sleep there too because that’s a very, very difficult place to get any kind of quality sleep.

Pete Mockaitis
Intriguing. Okay. So, now, this gets me going in terms of saying, if your brain is registering different kinds of words differently, well, then might another sleep hack be to have a recording of words like rejuvenation, slumber, refreshment?

W. Chris Winter           
Well, there’s a study, where they had a group of individuals, as they were going to bed, repeat the mantra, I think it was like, “Go deeper,” just kind over and over, said, “Deeper, deeper.” And they were asking the individuals in the study to imagine themselves descending down.
I think the image they tried to get the patients to use was you’re actually in a diving suit and you’re in the water and you’re going deeper and deeper under water. And as you kind of go deeper, the light penetrating the water becomes less and less. They were trying to get people to say, “Go deeper,” and visualize descending deeper and deeper into the water. And they found that the individuals who did this exercise as they went to bed actually displayed more deep sleep, which is the sleep that kind of makes you feel better the next day.
So I’ll admit that when I have a situation, travel has got me to a place where I’m arriving at 2 o’clock in the morning, I’ve got to up at 7 to go give a lecture, I always make it a habit when I feel like I don’t have quite enough time in bed to get the sleep that I need, I utilize that. And I’ve convinced myself it definitely works. I kind of visualize myself. You remember watching these kind of sci-fi shows where they go to Jupiter, they always put people in this kind of hibernation chambers, and then they kind of wake them up when they get to Jupiter. I always kind of think to myself in a pod like that, sort of going deeper and deeper into space, and kind of repeating that. And I always feel like it’s making the most of the limited time I have in bed.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that’s so good. Thank you. Well, now, let’s cover off, it seems like blue light is often the enemy that is causing all kinds of troubles. And so, first of all, I want to cover, when you talk about blue light we’re talking about sort of devices and screens, iPads and computers and such. So can you give us a sense for is that like a big win or a small win to get that under control and not be watching Netflix on your laptop immediately before bed?

W. Chris Winter
I think it’s a huge win. I certainly am somebody who’s not anti-technology. But the fact of the matter is there’s a lot of stress with our phones, the light in our eyes is really negative, the little beeps and things, people tell me why I have it face down on my end table. Yeah, but every time you get paged, you get the little Star Trek kind of notification, or little flashing light. And, to me, it’s just kind of a vigilance thing.
I talked to a professional football player one time in a training camp, and he said, “I’m fearful I’m not going to make the team this year.” And I said, “Why do you think that?” And he said, “Oh, I know why. It’s because of my phone.” And I said, “What do you mean by that?” And he said, “Well, because I’m clearly addicted to my phone.” He said, “I don’t really talk about it but I get home and I will stick it in the back of a drawer just to get it out of my hands.” And he said, “An hour later I’m sitting there on it, and I don’t really remember how it got back in my hands.”
So, people are on these things so much. It’s so easy to spend so much time and having that light in your face is terrible. So I think, yes, if you can get your phone under control and put it somewhere like in the kitchen at night that is great. Now, yes, if that’s your only line of communication you might need to turn the ringer up or have some sort of situation where you’ve set it so that only certain things go through at night.
I talk to kids about their phones all the time, and I love the excuse of, “Oh, I need it in my room because of the alarm clock.” It’s like children, and my own were probably included, have no idea that we had alarm clocks before the phone came out. And I had said, “You know you can get like a Darth Vader alarm clock at bed at Bed Bath & Beyond for about 10 bucks, right?” And so I think that people come up with all kinds of excuses.
So, yeah, if you can get that phone out of your bedroom, or your laptop, or your pad, or whatever, read a real book. Chuck Zeiser did a wonderful study several years ago that said, “Look, if you actually read a physical book with an indirect light it’s much better for your sleep than reading and e-reader.” Now we talked about blue light as being the enemy, it’s a great thing in the morning. Knock yourself out with that phone in your face when you first wake up in the morning. That’s wonderful. We want light in our face in the morning. It’s just that at night you really need to kind of create a situation.

Arianna Huffington sells on her Thrive Global webpage this little bed. It’s like a Barbie doll bed but it’s for your family’s cellphones. And so it’s a symbol where you put this thing in your kitchen, and everybody puts their phones to bed at night.

Pete Mockaitis
I’m assuming it’s connected to the AC outlet for charging purposes.

W. Chris Winter
It does.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Good.

W. Chris Winter
It’s all tied to that little thing so it’s a wonderful symbol for your kids. I’ve tried to instill it. When we get in the car, our phones go in the glove compartment. It’s just a nice way to teach people the responsible way to use these things but they are a real negative when it comes to sleeping.
I’ve ran into like scouts. Scouts will tell me, for these pro teams I work with, “I have to be on my computer at night because I have to have my scouting report done and ready for the team the next morning.” If you have to be on something like that at night for your work they have these real cheap blue-blocker glasses that are great. Just put them on and at least you’re filtering out the blue-green light from your monitor, or get something installed on your computer.
There’s an app called f.lux. Apple makes sort of a dimmer thing. So, basically, when you’re looking at your phone at night it tends to dim the blue-green so your screen looks a little pink but you’re getting rid of some of those more negative wavelengths of light.

Pete Mockaitis
So I’d love to get your professional take on this. I’ve wondered for a while, so I do have the f.lux or Flux. I don’t know how to say. There’s a period in the middle of the F and the lux.

W. Chris Winter
I always say F-lux.

Pete Mockaitis
“F-lux, buddy.”

W. Chris Winter
I thought Roy Orbison was blind until just a couple of years ago, so my perception of things mean nothing.

Pete Mockaitis
So that’s great. I use it. I have it. It’s on. I also have some blue-blocking lenses, the Uvex or Skyper. Is that the brand?

W. Chris Winter
Yeah, exactly.

Pete Mockaitis
And so that’s cool. I’ve got that. But if you had to hazard a wild numerical guess, like if watching a straight up unfiltered full blue light episode of something amazing on Netflix right before bed is 100 points of badness, and reading a book is zero points of badness. Where would you put watching a Netflix show with the f.lux and/or the Uvex or Skyper shades?

W. Chris Winter
I would probably say you’ve gone from 100% badness to 50%. Again, some people would argue, “Probably you should be reading somewhere else. You shouldn’t be reading in bed.” Whatever. To me, if somebody looks, “Look, I like to read in bed. It’s comfortable. It’s warm. I read for 15 minutes. I turn my light off. I go right to sleep.” I don’t care if you read in bed.
So, to me, and thinking about Chuck’s study where people fell asleep faster, they’ve got several minutes more sleep at night, or efficiency was better. I think you’ve gone from a 100 to at least 50. I think it’s a big gain by really taking advantage of things to minimize that light in your face. And then trying to do something, and then the content of what you’re watching too. Instead of watching something about North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, it’s not a matter of if they strike the United States, but when. That’s probably not something great to watch. How about a documentary on Spandau Ballet. There you go. That’s a perfect thing to watch before you go to bed. There was some new romantic music as you fall asleep.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that is good. While we’re talking music, thank you for mentioning that, is there some optimal stuff to listen to while winding down? I’ve heard, is it Marconi Union, had a tune called Weightless, or Breathless, or something which was like allegedly proven to be the most relaxing song in the world. It’s like, “Whoa, is that a real thing?” And how should we think about potentially using music as a relaxing force for slumber enhancement?

W. Chris Winter
A lot of people asks that, “Can I listen to music before I go to bed at night?” I don’t really have much of a problem with that. I think it’s just important that if you’re listening with headphones or some sort of device that it’s set, “Okay, I’ll listen to 20 minutes, and then it’ll cut off.” Now, if you’re still awake 20 minutes into the music-listening session, I don’t really have a problem with you going over and turning it back on for another 20 minutes.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Thank you. Well, now, let’s talk about temperature for a bit. I guess the traditional wisdom is your bedroom should be a sleep sanctuary that resembles a cave, it’s cool and dark and such, and quiet. So, I’m wondering, what is the optimal temperature? And what if that feels too cold to you? Should you just find a way to adapt or should you just make it more comfortable for yourself?

W. Chris Winter
People who have kind of explore this thing are thinking, “You know, temperature may be as important as light. Maybe even more so.” So, to me, my guess is that optimal temperature is somewhere around 65. If you said, “Hogwash, it’s 68.” I’m not going to argue with you.
So, to me, I think that it’s important here, that the bottom line is cooler is better. So if you argue with your spouse, as many do, whoever thinks the cooler environment is better probably wins. It’s like the one thing men are right about in general. My wife and I kind of fight about that too. She’s like, “My God, it’s so cold.” She’s walking around with some bare skin on rug, she’s like something like out of a revenant. You know, 11:00 o’clock at night comes around and she’s freezing. I’m cruising around my boxers thinking I’m still really warm.
So, to me, it has a lot to do with, “Are you a night owl or a morning person when your body temperature is dropping?” So, cool is better. If you’re somebody like my wife who’s cold at night, then you really need to kind of pay attention to what your bedding is like. So, to me, you want to go to bed wearing relatively little and then really modulate your temperature with your bedding.
So, if you’re cold then you should have blankets and duvets and quilts and things like that, that you can easily push off and pull on as the night goes on because our temperatures change dramatically throughout the night, not only over the span of the night but as we dream. When we dream we’re kind of like a snake sitting on a rock, we don’t really regulate our body temperatures when we dream.
So, if people will tell you to go to bed cold, but you wake up sweating. A lot of our athletes tell me horror stories that they wake up literally in pools of sweat, and they have to get up and take their shirt off, and put a towel down in this little puddle, and go back to bed. If this is what’s happening in your bed at night you really need to pay attention to either controlling the ambient temperature of your bedroom or finding something.
There’s this great device called a Chilly Pad. By the way, I have no financial connections to these products. But this a company that makes these little mattress topper that has these little tubes in it that pump water. And you can cool your bed down to 50 or heat it up to like 119 or something like that. And the great thing is you can buy one and it’s got two zones. So your partner, they can do whatever the hell they want to do over there in their neck of the woods, in your side of the bed you can have it exactly the temperature you want it.
The cold of that device is no joke. You can make your bed really cold to the point where it’s kind of tough to get used to. But I like a very cold bed. I feel like I sleep much better. And my wife would even tell you that though even she doesn’t, the nights where I don’t use the Chilly Pad I’m much more restless and tend to move around more. So she’s usually the one who says, “Oh, don’t forget to turn that Chilly Pad on because I want to get some sleep over here.
Pete Mockaitis
Well, it seems to me though that if it’s cold such that you’re uncomfortable and having trouble falling asleep then that would be counterproductive. Is that fair to say?

W. Chris Winter
Yeah, you’re probably got a little too far-fetched if that’s the case. No, when I get in bed, initially it’s like, “Woo,” that’s pretty exhilarating there but it doesn’t take long for me to sort of normalize. It’s not like that all night long. Although I’m sure some people would be. Now, your body temperature will raise the temperature of the side of your bed. When you get in bed the temperature will say at 55. If you look at it later at night it might say you’re 63 because it can’t quite cool the bed that low with your 98.6-degree body and it can keep it quite cool. You’ve got that feeling of coldness sort of all through the night.
Pete Mockaitis
What can you tell us about when you are traveling, you have a jet lag situation, what are some approaches to managing that? I understand there’s something you can do with fasting.

W. Chris Winter
Yes. So there’s a couple of things you can do, and I find this kind of interesting because this is what we do a lot with our athletes. Number one, if you’re somebody who’s sort of a night owl, generally speaking, night owls tend to travel better than people who are more morning-oriented, which is kind of interesting. So, to me, when it comes to travel, it’s really about a couple of things.
Number one, what is your purpose in traveling? Are you traveling from New York to L.A., you’re going to give a lecture and then come back? Or are you traveling from New York to L.A. and you’re going to be there for 10 days sightseeing and having a good time looking around California? Because that sort of influences what you want to do.
So an NFL team, several years ago, the base who said, “You know what, our approach to travel is going to be we’re going to keep ourselves on Eastern Standard Time no matter what.” Which was nice that they were actually thinking about this issue but very short-sighted in the sense that sometimes when it comes to us feeling our best, adapting to a new time zone is the better thing to do. Sometimes, frankly, it’s not. Depending on you.
Most people are sort of intellectually and athletically at their peak, somewhere around 4 to 5 o’clock in the afternoon which is funny when you think about school start times. Our kids are literally getting off the bus just as our little kid brains are starting to kind of hit on all cylinders which is kind of an unfortunate thing if your child is a night owl who has to take a test at 8 o’clock in the morning.

Pete Mockaitis
Is that true for adults as well?

W. Chris Winter
Probably so. Yeah, as we get a little older I think there’s a general shift to being more advanced. Meaning that maybe when you’re young, 5 or 6 o’clock is your peak. Maybe when you’re retired and living in Sarasota, Florida maybe it’s 3. So there’s a general movement from the college night owl person to being sort of, “Yeah, we’re living in Brockworth Town and we get up at 3:00 o’clock in the morning, get our vitamins out and we’re on the golf course at 6:00. We’re watching MacNeil and Lehrer and go to bed at 7:00 o’clock at night.” It’s kind of like, “Where’d grandma and grandpa go.” “Oh, they went to bed.” And we’re like, “God, the sun haven’t gone down yet.”
So there is a tendency to kind of move that way but not everybody. So when it comes to travel, if you are a bit more night-oriented you might have an advantage with that. But it’s also important to kind of pay attention to what direction are you moving. It’s generally easier for us to travel west than east. When you think about dinnertime, it’s a lot easier for somebody to delay their dinner an hour or two than it is, for me, to advance your dinner.
If you’re used to eating dinner at 6 and I told you, “Hey, let’s go out and have some dinner at 3 o’clock,” you’re probably not particularly hungry. So it’s a lot easier to stave off sleep or stave off hunger than to artificially create it. Like, “Okay, be hungry now.” “Well, I can’t. I’m not hungry.” So that’s kind of how sleep is. When we travel west we do have to stave off a little bit later, it’s not that big a deal. We’re in Vegas. Vegas is exciting. When we come back east, it’s 11:00 o’clock, it’s time to go to bed, we don’t feel like it because we’re still on West Coast time.
So, anyway, traveling you kind of have to look at the person you are, you have to look at the direction you’re moving. And, to me, it really starts to rely on, “Okay, what are the things we can do prior to leaving?” So, getting yourself kind of moving towards a schedule of where you’re going prior to leaving is important and we can use light, we can use exercise timing, we can change the composition and timing of our meals. These are all great things we can use. So all the light manipulations we were talking about.
If the sun comes up at 3 o’clock in the morning where you’re going, you might want to get on your laptop, or on your computer, at various times to kind of get your brain starting to understand that, “Hey, the sun is going to start coming up early where we’re going.” There are training facilities out there for athletes that have windows that looked like windows but they’re not really windows to the outside. It’s like frosted glass. And when you’re in there shooting your free throws you can see the sun going down outside. Well, it’s really not going down. It’s a simulated sunset to get the athletes inside ready to be on East Coast time even though they’re out West.
So there’s all kinds of interesting little light manipulations you can do. There’s all kinds of websites that you could go on then. There’s this really cool device called Re-Timer. It’s made in Australia. It’s these little goggles that make you look like Tron. You put them on, they shine up blue-green light back into your eyes. If you go on their website you can actually enter in, “Okay, I’m going to New Zealand. I’m going to take the Lord of the Rings tour. I’ll leave in seven days. I’m really excited about it because I’m a huge Tolkien fan and you’re whatever.” And you can actually plug in your travel dates and it’ll tell you, “Okay, well, we want you to use these goggles at these various times and the days leading up to your travel to help prepare you.” So those are very important things you can do.
We actually made little cards for NBA scouts because they go all over the world and have horrible travel situations that allow them to, when they arrive in a city, they could calculate how many hours east or west they’d moved, and then it would tell them, “This is what you need to eat, protein-heavy meals, carb-heavy meals, when you need to eat it, when you should seek light, when you should avoid it, when you should exercise, when you shouldn’t,” to give them sort of a framework for how to better combat these types of things.
The thing that you referred to in terms of fasting is, Cliff Saper did some interesting research up at Harvard looking at what happens when you fast a rat. And so what happens is we have this circadian rhythm kind of sits in our suprachiasmatic nucleus in our brain. And so if everything is working well that’s our timekeeper, kind of tell us what to do. Now, if all of a sudden, we stopped eating, your brain starts to panic a little bit and say, “You know what, it’s not a great idea for us to go to bed now since we haven’t eaten in a while.”
So what your brain does is it turns over control of your circadian rhythm from your suprachiasmatic nucleus to the part of your brain called your paraventricular nucleus. What happens then is your brain says, “Okay, look, we need to eat. That is our top priority now.” Once you arrive in your new time zone and you eat then your brain sort of picks up the circadian rhythm again, but from that time. So we tell people, “Hey, look, if you can do it, when you’re flying from New York to Heathrow, try and get up in the morning, try not to eat, just drink a lot of water, and not eat until your first meal in London.”
And it’s amazing how business travelers will tell you all the time it really works. And the funny thing is a guy wrote about it many, many years before and called it, I think it was called the jetlag diet, and he advocated fasting. But it wasn’t until many years later that they actually figured out why it works. So how does the other guy knew it would work is really baffling to me. It’s interesting. But, anyways, so if you can do it and try it, you could give it a shot and see what you thought. And then there’s also medications that are available out there for your doctors, they’re prescriptions that can help with shift work and jet lag that might be useful to you.

Pete Mockaitis
Now when you say medications, I’d love to get your quick take on melatonin and any sort of warnings about drugs, just a public safety message.

W. Chris Winter
Sure, yeah. I think that drugs have their place. Certainly if you’re somebody out there listening to this who’s been diagnosed with restless leg disorder, I think that certainly there’s medications that can treat that and make you feel worlds better. If you’re somebody who says, “Look, I need a sleeping pill to sleep.” I think you’re wrong. You need a pill to sleep about as much as you need a pill to get hungry.
I’ve never gone out to lunch with a bunch of people, and the chicken sandwiches and salads arrive, and somebody looks at the chicken sandwiches, and, “Oh, God. I’m really not that hungry. Does anybody have an appetite-stimulator I can take to make sure I eat this food because I certainly don’t want to starve to death. I’ve seen that. It’s not the way I want to exit this world.”
People think differently about sleep than they do with food. Most people would look at that chicken sandwich and, “Oh, I’m not that hungry,” and they just move on with their life. Nobody is, in the back of their mind, doubting whether they’ll ever be hungry again. But, man, if somebody gets in their bed, and has this idea they’re going to bed at 11 o’clock, and now it’s 11:22, it can be a real hellish situation for some people.
Me, I think that there is a role for medications or sleeping pills but they should be defined.

To me, a sleeping pill should have a plan. And the plan is not, “I’m going to take this until I see a white light and dead family members coming to greet me.” That’s not a great plan for a sleeping pill. It should be defined. And if you’re somebody who feels like, “Oh, I can’t sleep without a pill,” you need to get control of that situation because you’re shortchanging yourself that great sleep that we were talking about earlier.

Pete Mockaitis
Very good. And so, melatonin, would you put in the same category there with the other user?

W. Chris Winter
Yeah, melatonin has this kind of rap for it. You take it because it’s natural, your brain makes it anyway, and it’s not FDA-regulated. But we make melatonin. If you want to take some melatonin, take it naturally in the sense that get up in the morning when your alarm goes off, and seek the brightest light you can find. And if you can’t find anything bright, of if you’re waking up and it’s still dark outside, or you live somewhere where it’s kind of dark and grey like in Seattle or London, then get a light box, or get those Re-Timer goggles.
And every morning when you wake up you sit next to that light box, check your email, lots and lots of light in your face in the morning. And then dinner time, go to Home Depot this weekend, get some dimmer switches, just put them all through your house so when your dinner is over it should look like sort of a Barry White  kind of a romantic situation going on the house. Like you’re not tripping over stuff and falling down but it’s dark. Dim and dark and moody.
That’s why people when they go camping they have all these great ideas, “Okay, we’ll get the kids in the tent and we’ll make some s’mores and I’m going to sit up and read my new book I got about David Bowie,” and all these grand plans when the power goes out whenever you’re camping. The fact of the matter is, I start yawning and I’m like, “I’m tired. I’m going to bed.” I look at my watch, it’s like 8:17.
We respond very strongly to a diminishment of light. So if you really want to make the most of melatonin, help your body out. Lots of bright lights when you first wake up, dim lights in the evening after dinner. When you get into bed it is dark, dark, dark. I mean, pitch black. Melatonin is great for shifting your circadian rhythm. If you’re somebody who’s taking melatonin every night, everybody always takes melatonin right when they go to bed. So what’s happening is you’re getting in bed and you’re getting this surge of melatonin when you take it.
Well, our melatonin naturally surges when the sun goes down at 7 o’clock in the evening. The sun goes down we get a bump in melatonin. It’s called dim light melatonin onset. Well, what happens is when people take it themselves, they’re getting this big surge at night and after a while your brain kind of thinks, “Oh, well, this must be when the sun is going down.” Well, 11 o’clock at night is not when the sun is going down. It’s somewhere around 7 o’clock.
But now your brain thinks the sun is going down at 11 so it’s preparing for sleep at, what, 2, 3 o’clock in the morning. So a lot of people who take melatonin every night will say, “Well, at first, I start taking it, it really worked well, but it didn’t really seem to do much for me anymore. In fact, I’m kind of back to having trouble sleeping.” Why? Because now you’ve convinced your brain that the sun is going down much later than it really is.
So, if you’re going to take melatonin, kind of surprise yourself with it. Again, have a plan. My plan for melatonin is I take it when I travel. Or if you’re a baseball pitcher, I’d take melatonin in the first two nights when I’m in a new city, and then that’s it so your brain never has a chance to get used to it being there.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Very good. Thank you. Well, so now, I’m curious to hear. So you have these cards in which it says, “Hey, at this time do that, at this time do that.” In the world of feeling energetic and non-fatigue, non-sleepy all day at work and afterwards with the natural lows that pop in during the course of the day. What are some of your top perspectives I’d say even beyond sleep? In terms of if you want to be a zesty, energized, alert rock star professional, and then family man or woman afterwards without being dragged in and exhausted, what are some of the other key things that should be done?

W. Chris Winter
I think that we can learn a lot from looking at elite athletes. I think, number one, you’ve got to take care of your body. I tell patients that your exercise needs to be like brushing your teeth. You don’t have to set the world on fire every day. And I think that’s something people struggle with, they’re like, “Oh, I don’t have time to do my 10-mile run today so I’ll just do it tomorrow.” Well, why don’t you just do one mile? Get on the treadmill, run a mile and call it a day. Everybody has their off days.
But exercise has to be a part of your routine. I think exercise first thing in the morning in a light environment that happens at the same time every morning, get up at 6:45, have bagel and some orange juice, take the dog for a walk or a jog 15 minutes, 20 minutes out in the sunlight when you wake up if the sun is up at that time, is about the best thing you can do for your sleep and really good for your body.
So, to me, got to take care of the body. Nutrition is extremely important. We have to fuel ourselves properly to feel good during the day. These guys, these athletes, do a fantastic job of it. They eat the right things, they have good timing of their meals, they’re very consistent. There’s a really interesting study a while back that looked at people who ate a candy bar. And they had this study where people are given a candy bar either at random times during the day, or at the exact same time every day. It was amazing how much better the body dealt with the candy bar almost as if it wasn’t even a problem if you gave the candy bar to the person at exactly the same time every day.
So I always think about military. Say what you want about the military. Their idea of consistency is awesome. You get up at the same time every day, and a big mistake a lot of people make is when they don’t sleep well, they give themselves this little get-out-of-waking-up free card, “Well, I didn’t sleep well last night so I get to sleep in until noon.” Well, it’s better if you don’t. It’s better if you create a situation where you set aside your seven, eight hours of sleep at night, or whatever works best for you.
If you get your seven to eight hours, great. You get up at 6:45, exercise and start your day with a bagel and some orange juice. If you don’t sleep well, it takes you a couple of hours to fall asleep or you, God forbid, woke up in the middle of the night, you’re up for one hour. Big deal. You still should be getting up at 6:45, “Well, I might feel tired the next day.” Sure, you will. But that’s a great message to your brain to, “Hey, next time you wake up in the middle of the night, let’s not be awake for an hour.”
You want to make your brain kind of feel it.

Really what’s underlying a lot of people’s problems with their sleep is they fear not sleeping. And why wouldn’t you? God, every message that we get about it, “You don’t get your eight hours of sleep you’ll die of a heart attack or stroke or some God-forbidden combination of the two.” So it’s important that they understand, yeah, sleep is important but if you have a difficult night, you still want to start your day off at the same time. Avoid napping and just try again tomorrow night. It’s not that big a deal. My guess is the second night it should be a lot more.

So if we want to kind of reinforce to our brain, “Here’s all your eight hours. Use it or lose it. You’re not getting any other time.” Just like if you were in the army. I always tell people, “If I fail you as a sleep doctor, join the military. A lot of your sleep problems will be fixed in a week.”

Pete Mockaitis
Well, then, could you now share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

W. Chris Winter
A favorite quote. I’ll share this. I don’t know if I ever shared this with anybody. We have some secret quotes in our sleep clinic that we always felt like if we ever made T-shirts in our sleep clinic these would be the things we’d put on them. And the two that I like the best, number one is, “Sleep always wins.” And I think that’s important because I think a lot of people think they have a lot more control over their sleep than they really do.
The other one is, “You can’t fall asleep hanging sheet rock.” So what I mean by that is a lot of carpenters will tell you things like, “Well, I’m fine as long as I’m busy.” You shouldn’t have to be busy to not fall asleep. So, if you have trouble making it through a church service, or a college class, or your kid’s soccer game without nodding off, that’s probably something to pay attention to.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Good deal. And how about a favorite study or experiment, or bit of research?

W. Chris Winter
Oh, God, there’s so many good ones. One of the things I like is, I think that in terms of setting the stage for sleep, neatness is important. And maybe I’m more sensitive to this because I’ve got an 18-year old daughter who, man, can she tear her room up. It’s just unbelievable. Like she’s, “I know everything, there’s a system to it.” So there’s all these studies that talk about people who are sloppy are actually much more intelligent, so she must be a freaking genius if that’s the case.
But, anyway, if you think about your bedroom, it should really be a neat, clean place. Keep your clutter somewhere else. Keep your laundry somewhere else. When you walk into that bedroom, it should be a real, nothing scattered, the bed is clean. I like showering before you get into your bed. I think that’s an important thing.
And they did a study where they looked at little rats. And the ones that slept in dirty cages did not sleep as well as the one in clean cages. So I’ve always thought that’s a nice little tidbit of something you can control and always kind of liked that study.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Thank you. And how about a favorite book?

W. Chris Winter
A favorite book. I’ve got a lot of them. As a doctor I always liked House of God by Samuel Shem. It was a book that I read when I was an undergraduate before I went into medical school. And then I read it as at some point after I went through residency. It was like a completely different book. It was the book that St. Elsewhere, the TV show, many years ago with Denzel Washington I think got his start in television, it was based on. So I always liked that book.
I also like the book Into the Wild. I always thought that was a really interesting book. I like the idea of sleeping in nature. There’s a real cool study that showed that men, if they slept in an environment that were close to nature, had access to nature, they slept better. So I always thought that was kind of cool.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, yeah. And how about a favorite tool, a product or service or app, something that helps you sleep well or be awesome at your job?

W. Chris Winter
Let’s see. We’ve covered a lot of them. One of my favorites is – and I’m telling you this, you need to gift for somebody, this is the gift to give them – is a device called NapAnywhere. So it’s this little, it looks like a Frisbee. It’s super lightweight, it’s like the shape of a dinner plate. It can easily slide into your travel bag or your computer bag if you travel a lot. So when you get on the plane, you unfold it, and it gently perfectly cradles your neck.
So it’s the best combination of function and size. I love sort of a decadent sleep pillow or something for the plane, but the problem is your plane has arrived, you’re now in New York, and now you’ve got this massive pillow and nowhere really to put it. This thing is awesome. So, if you’re listening to this, I would say get some little foam earplugs, buy a little $8 sleep mask at Amazon, get yourself a NapAnywhere, and you just keep them in your travel bag. And the other nice thing is you don’t ever have to worry about packing it. It’s just there all the time.
Man, I put that NapAnywhere on one time and I fell asleep and I woke up as the plane was coming up to the gate, and I said to the person next to me, I said, “Oh, God. Is there something wrong? Why are we going back to the gate?” They’re like, “This is the gate in L.A. You’ve been asleep for eight hours.” I was completely out.
The guy who designed it is a physician, so he designed it to really pay attention to your cervical spine and supporting it properly so you don’t arrive at your destination unable to move your left arm because of the way your neck kind of fell when you slept. So it’s a slam dunk and it’s not that expensive. It’s very durable. I’m still using the same one I bought many years ago and it’s awesome. It comes in all bunch of different colors. So that, to me, is the product you have to have.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Thank you. And how about a favorite habit, a personal practice of yours that helps you flourish?

W. Chris Winter
A favorite habit. Here’s a life-changing habit, for me, was sometimes if I’ve been really traveling a lot, I would be sitting there talking to patient at 11 o’clock in the morning, thinking, “My God, I can barely keep my eyes open. I’m going to take a nap at lunchtime today.” I’m really excited about that. And, finally, you make it through your morning and, “Oh, God, you’re great.” I tell my assistant, “Hey, please, just hold my calls. I’m going to take my 30-minute nap.” And I usually try to nap at the same time every day if I nap. And I rarely do nap, and if I nap it’s always between 1:30 and 2. Again, that scheduling aspect.
So, completely sleepy. I can barely keep my eyes open with my patients. I get in there, recline fully, dark, got my little fur blanket all ready to go, and then I’m sitting there thinking, “My God, I’m not falling asleep. What on earth is going on here?” So, to me, what really changed the way I approach sleep is I don’t go to bed to sleep. I go to bed to rest. And there’s awesome studies that showed that resting, if you do it effectively, can be 70% of what sleep does in some testing domains.
So, to me, I don’t nap. I rest. And by just that mental change of going in, “Okay, I’m going to have a 30-minute rest,” it takes that performance anxiety out of the mix. So, if you have kids, don’t call it naptime. Call it rest time, “I need you all to go to your bedroom. Mommy and your daddy needs some time to themselves. I need you all to have a rest.” And that doesn’t imply sleep. Now, a lot of times you’ll sleep, and that’s what I find. When I stop trying to sleep I sleep almost immediately.

In fact, I’ve had this idea for an article where I’m going to get in bed, I’m going to rest for the next six to seven hours. So the whole night I’m going to be relaxed, I’ll think about how many state capitals I can think of, I’ll try to name as many major league baseball teams, I’ll plan out a dream vacation. I’m obsessed with Giada, she’s all I think about. She’s my celebrity crush. Giada and I are going to be somewhere in Italy having great Italian meals. Of course my wife is invited too if she wants to come. It’s great.
So I have all these ideas, the things I’ll think about at night, go through six or seven hours and then see how I really feel the next day having just rested at night. I can’t do it. I’ve tried it so many times and I feel like I’m making a 15 minutes. The next thing my alarm clock is going off.
And if you have trouble resting, another really cool device is a thing called MUSE. It’s a little device you put on your forehead, it measures your brain activity and it converts it into the sound of the ocean. So, during the day, you have lunch, and you’re sitting there in your office, put this thing on your head, get it all hooked up and you practice relaxing your brain by listening to the sound of the ocean. And if you’re successful the ocean gets quieter and quieter. If you’re not successful and you’re thinking about your mother-in law all of a sudden, then the ocean gets all stormy and violent.
So it helps you practice and track your ability to calm your brain. It’s an awesome, awesome app and it really helps to underscore the idea that people who say, “I can’t shut my mind off.” That is not a trait like eye color. It’s a skill like riding your bike that you can get better at.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, thank you so much. And when you say resting, is there any sort of key other than you’re lying down, your eyes are closed, you’re not moving? Is there anything else missing from resting?

W. Chris Winter
I think that’s it. I think you’re horizontal, you’re in a dark, quiet environment and you’re at ease. Every now and then I would get in bed and kind of realize, “Wow, it’s 10 minutes since I’ve gotten in bed and turned the lights out, I’m still awake.” I love it. I really do. I’m like, “Oh, it almost makes me feel giddy.” I enjoy that time. I certainly don’t fear, like, “Okay. Well, here, what could I talk to Pete about the next time he calls, about ways to be awesome?” And I’ll think about that for a little while and then, “Maybe it’d be kind of cool to build an outdoor fireplace. I wonder what’s involved in that.” I’ve tiled before, I wonder if it’s any different than that.
I don’t mind having time alone with myself at night in a dark environment. And I think that when you start to extract the fear and loathing from the situation, and you actually enjoy that time and you’re relaxed about it, it really changes everything.

Pete Mockaitis
Perfect. Thank you. Now, I was going to ask, maybe you just shared it, is there a particular nugget that you share in your writings or in your consulting, your coaching, your speaking that seems to particularly resonate with folks that gets them nodding their head and saying, “Yes”?

W. Chris Winter
That’s a good question. I think that the people who struggle the most sometimes with their sleep, or the people who are really trying to sleep. And I think that one thing that kind of resonates with people, too, is it’s very easy when people feel poorly during the day, to immediately wake up and point a finger at their sleep and think, “God, if I could just sleep a little bit better, I would feel awesome.”
And that might be the case but there are a lot of things that can make people feel poorly that have nothing to do with their sleep. So that’s one of the things I would always talk about with sleepiness and fatigue. We don’t use words precisely like sleepy, tired, fatigued, exhausted, pooped. We just say them. And some people who say, “I’m tired,” mean, “I’m having trouble staying awake because I am so driven to sleep, either because I was up late last night or my sleep is terrible.”
Other people might say, “I’m really tired because I just ran a 10K race, and I don’t have a lot of energy in my body anymore.” I think that one thing that really resonates with people is when you’re struggling because you don’t feel optimally at this point in your life, really differentiate when you go see your healthcare professional. Are you feeling sleepy? Like, driven to sleep. “I am struggling to stay awake during work meetings. I fell asleep at a stop light and a guy behind me honked and woke me up.” Like, is that what you’re describing or are you saying, “Look, I just have no internal energy or motivation to do things”? Or, “I walked up a flight of stairs and I feel like my body has lost all of its energy like I’ve got the flu.” That, to me, is fatigue not sleepiness.
And you can have both. But I think starting a dialogue off with your healthcare professional where you’ve done the work to separate those things can really help get your improvement off on the right path. I think because a lot of times when people feel tremendous fatigue when they wake up in the morning, they’re having an incorrect thought that if they could just sleep more, or sleep better, that fatigue would go away.
And a lot of times if that fatigue is because you have vitamin D deficiency, or your B12 is low, or you’ve got a tick-borne illness, you’re going to drive yourself crazy and spend a lot of money on sleep studies and things of that nature in an individual who’s not particularly sleepy. They are fatigued. So, doing that work for your primary care physician can pay huge dividends.

Pete Mockaitis
Great. Thank you. And, Chris, if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

W. Chris Winter
Well, I would hope that people would read my book. If you’ve tried all the little tips, “I’ve had my room dark and I’ve got the blanket and this and that,” and things aren’t working for you from a sleep perspective, I really feel like my book is a step back from that, to say, “Okay, let’s really think and talk about sleep fundamentally and move forward from there.” So I think that’s a good resource.
I think if you’re somebody who is medically struggling and you’re not getting support you need from your primary care physician, there are wonderful sleep specialists all over this country. Reach out to them. Sleep, strangely, even though it’s one of the top seven complaints patients bring to their doctors, doctors sort of moving patients towards sleep specialists is not something that’s always on their mind.
So, if that’s the case, you might need to advocate for yourself a little bit and do that. So, to me, I think those are important things. And seek out good sources of information. The National Sleep Foundation, the American Sleep Association, all have wonderful websites. They have really good evidence-based scientific stuff about sleep on there.

I’m a neurologist, I’ve been involved in sleep since before I could legally buy a beer, so hopefully my book will help to kind of bridge that information gap that sometimes is lacking out there and, hopefully, do it in a fun way because sleep is fine. Those guys are super fun, and I hope that my book makes it that way.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, good. Thank you. And do you have a final call to action or challenge for those seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

W. Chris Winter
Yeah, I think that the biggest thing for me when I work with a business or a team is create a culture of sleep. I think that’s step one. Forget the device on your wrist and all that stuff. You want to create a place where if you’re an employee or you’re the boss of people that they understand that sleep is important, it’s important to you. Arianna Huffington naps and keeps windows open in her office. Everybody can see she’s doing it. She doesn’t want to hide it.
It shouldn’t be something where you’ve got to sneak out to your car and do it. You want to be in a place where you foster a supportive and sort of a sharing environment where if you’re not sleeping well, you’re having trouble with sleepiness, it’s not looked at as a weakness any more than if you had a headache or, God forbid, somebody in your office had a seizure. These are all medical things. And the person who has a seizure doesn’t mean he’s weak. It just means he’s got some electrical instability in his brain and we need to talk about it and figure out ways he or she can fix it, and move on with our lives.
So, I think if you’re in a position to influence culture in your workplace, I was just up in New York with LinkedIn. They did a whole sleep fair at the LinkedIn New York office. It was awesome. From 10:00 to 2:00 they had speakers come in, and products, and just threw this big kind of sleep party people were given pajamas and encouraged to wear them. It was really fun and informative. And if there’s a little way you can do that with the place where you work, where you make sleep fun and tangible and exciting, I think you could really change the way not only do you feel but the way your office feels too. So I think that’d be a great step towards more success.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, perfect. Well, Chris, thanks so much. It’s been a blast and I hope that your book and practice are just explosively successful.

W. Chris Winter
Hey, I appreciate that. I really do. And good luck with your ventures too. I think what you’re doing is very important.

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