When it comes to business content, most entrepreneurs are focused on finding a strategy that will help them stand out and get results. But what if it wasn’t about the next strategy, but rather how you’re showing up and creatively approaching the tactics you already have available to you?
Many jokingly use the phrase “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” as a badge of honor while they do whatever it takes to achieve their goals. But how can you expect yourself to be creative, think clearly and show up energetically to attract an audience if you’re physically (and mentally) exhausted?
Sleep isn't just a nice to have to feel good, it significantly impacts our performance.
And on today’s episode, you’re in for an incredible conversation with my guest, sleep and biohacking expert, Tanessa Shears, as we talk about sleep and how it impacts us as entrepreneurs. She shares actionable tips on how we can optimize our brain and body with biohacking, feel well-rested and get healthy while running our business.
Grab the show notes and full episode transcript here. http://heathersager.com/blog/142
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All right, we're kicking off the three part series with a topic all around sleep. Now this might not be the sexiest topic, but this is something that you're going to want to pay attention in regardless of your life season you're in, maybe you're like me, a mom with young kids at home, maybe you're like my guest today, pregnant with another baby on the way, maybe you have kids out of the house, but you're in a phase of life where you are hustlin and building your business, wherever you're at sleep is something that levels us all in terms we all need it and we can't function without it.
So I brought on my guest today today , Tanessa Shears. She's a health consultant and host of the Becoming Limitless Podcast which is stellar, by the way, if you're looking for an addition to listen to. Tanessa helps entrepreneurs scale their business by optimizing their health focus and productivity with science and biohacking. Now that term I don't know about you, but when I hear the term biohacking for some reason, I think Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Terminator. I don't know why. It has just a masculine ring to it. We're actually going to break down what exactly biohacking is and how you might consider applying some bio hacks to yourself so that you can show up more present in your life, so I am so excited for you to hear this conversation with Tanessa.
We dive into a lot of things around what sleep really look like. Do we have to be morning people in business? The answer is no. How you actually can sink into your own rhythm, how you understand what that looks like. We talk about trackers like a Fitbit or an aura ring. Do you need them? Do you not? We talk about brain fog and what the difference between brain fog and just being tired? Wat that looks like and how being tired or having brain fog really impacts how you show up when you speak? We geek out and talk about what it means that when you start traveling and speaking on stages what you want to consider if you're sleeping in a hotel the night, before how to make sure that you show up at your best and just some simple things that you can do to ensure that you show up for your next live video, your next launch, your next podcast interview, your next stage keynote, you can show up as the best version of you. So in this first, in a series, I really want to start the conversation by talking about your sleep. Let's dive into the episode.
Alright friends, welcome back to another episode. I am thrilled to have Tanessa here. Hey girl, welcome to the show.
Tanessa Shears 5:02
Hey, thank you for having me, Heather. I'm excited to talk about all the stuff today.
Heather Sager 5:05
All the things, we're gonna have so much fun in this conversation which I would say, depending on the person listening, they're gonna think that this is like the sexiest topic that they're lusting after of how do I get more of this in my life? Or someone's gonna be like, this is the thing that we're talking about? And yes, it is the thing. I'm dying to know. We're talking about sleep today and how sleep impacts us as entrepreneurs, but also specifically how we show up in a more magnetic way for our brand. So I'm dying to know right out of the gate, what made you besides, I know you're pregnant and in your third trimester right now, so you're craving sleep, but why is sleep the thing that we need to be talking about today?
Tanessa Shears 5:47
I love that you said the fact that like, it's not the sexiest thing because I'm going to be frank, when I first started seeing like sleep becoming a thing that people talked about. I feel like it was like a good six, seven years ago.I remember skipping Instagram stories and being like, yawn, I sleep fine. This is not relevant. So like, when I learned what I'm hoping to share with you guys today, I was just like, this is a turn on, like, and on top of that, what it does for my brain and my business, like, just let me tell you. But anyway, so how I figured all this out was during my first pregnancy, I was like, I'm going to be the fittest pregnant lady because I've been a personal trainer for years. And I was like, I'm gonna get myself a Fitbit, and I went got myself a Fitbit because I can see all of my steps. Nobody tells you the amount of pelvic pain that comes with pregnancy and so like, I was capped at, like, 2000 steps a day. And I was like, Okay, what else does this thing do? And I was like, oh, it tracks my sleep. Look at that. And I was looking at all these numbers and I was like, good gravy, my sleep is nowhere near what I thought it was going to be because I mean, our brains don't have a printout in the morning that says, amazing job, you actually got enough sleep and as much as you think you did.
Heather Sager 7:00
Imagine if it did, I would be chasing that goldstar. I am the kind of person that likes to get credit for my work, so I would want this certificate every morning.
Tanessa Shears 7:10
Right, right. Well, I wasn't getting that. Well, I didn't think I had a problem. And I think this is the biggest first thing we need to talk about is the fact that most of us think we sleep good enough, and I'm using air quotes on that. But until you can actually see what's going on and then you start to tie that into the difference you feel especially how sharp your brain is, and how energized you feel and clear you feel which makes a huge difference in our businesses and you tie that back to improving the quality of your sleep. I was just like, oh, let's dig into this and that kind of began that door of my business opening that had been just I feel like it was waiting for me.
Heather Sager 7:47
It's interesting. I mean, we're in this series right now on the show around to, it's all around the idea of paying more attention to our bodies, what's going on the inside, how we're physically feeling, our energy levels but the point around all of this is we're so typically focused as entrepreneurs as like, what's the strategy? What's the tactic? What do we need to be doing to get results? But really, today's conversation and these other shows we're having is really around what are some of the questions we'll be asking ourselves around what's going on with our bodies and how to sleep impact it. So can you create the cross section for us of how the sleep affect us the most as business owners?
Tanessa Shears 8:26
Yeah, so I find that a lot of the entrepreneurs that I work with. I mean, honestly, even if we talk to any of our colleagues, we all look around at each other and we're all you know, doing that midday energy crash thing. We're waking up a little bit tired jumping into the coffee right away and we work all day. We go, go, go, go go and then we get to the end of the day. And we're just like, oh my gosh, I need to shut down, shut off. Whether you know, you get the kids to bed, you walk the dog, you make the dinner, all the things, throw the laundry in. And then the kids finally get to bed, you have two hours so you zone out watching Netflix while your phone is in your hand scrolling along, you know what I mean and you're never really feeling recharged so you stay up later and then you get poor sleep and we're waking up and all of this, this poor sleep. And I'm not just talking about not enough length of sleep, but the quality of sleep because of what's going on in our evenings. What's happening is we are creating brain fog. And brain fog is preventing us from thinking clearly and sharp. Like if I want to show up whether that be you know, on a stage, or on Facebook Live, or I'm doing a podcast like, I want to be clear. I want to have my thoughts coming through sharp. I want to be able to communicate clearly. And we all know that feeling when we've gone to talk and our heads feel thick and nothing comes out clearly and it just doesn't feel like it's good. The energy is low. And I think that our audience picks up on that and what makes us make magnetic is our ability to draw people in and we can do that with our energy and if you're not sleeping properly, it is compromising your energy and therefore that's affecting your business.
Heather Sager 10:02
Yeah, and how do you tell, I know that you talk about brain fog. We talk about being tired. Can you distinguish that? Like, is there a difference between the two? Just tired cause brain fog, is there a difference between the two?
Tanessa Shears 10:15
Yeah, absolutely. So there is a type of tired that is completely normal and that is based on something called our sleep drive. So the longer we stay awake during the day, I'm going to keep this simple. There's a chemical that builds up in our brain that causes us to feel sleepy, this is normal. What I experienced this it is and what most people do is we wake up in the morning and we have the energy we need to get going. Then throughout the day, we feel like we're able to stay focused on the tasks at hand, we're able to execute, we have the energy we need without that crash midday, and in the afternoon, you can slowly start to feel your energy just kind of relax a little bit. And I like to think of this as like a almost like a luxurious slide into sleep where you can feel yourself, you know, just winding in, needing some of that downtime, maybe we do pop on some Netflix, like quiet time at the end of the day. That is tired to me. And by the time you're ready to fall asleep, it's awesome. You're just, you know, you just love that feeling of falling. This is kind of like when you fall asleep reading, you know that feeling when it's just like, ah, it's so good. So that is just a normal kind of tired that happens. When we're talking about brain fog. You wake up and you're just like, another day. Your head feels sick, you already have started the day feeling tired. You go through the day, everything takes longer than it should because your brain is not working properly. You're procrastinating and things just don't feel easy. Your energy is low. Usually, we're finding we're hitting that crash mid day and by the time you hit your pillow at night, you're asleep so quickly because you are exhausted. That is a different feeling from a luxurious slide from a clear focus morning into sleep.
Heather Sager 11:57
And okay, so I have like so many like detailed questions. I'm just gonna pop out whatever comes out of my brain right now. How do people typically deal with that brain fog or that like sluggishness in the morning? I'm assuming coffee. But there are things that we do that counteract that tiredness, which I would imagine, I'm assuming most of those are unproductive and actually make us more tired, more foggy.
Tanessa Shears 12:19
Yeah, you know what the interesting thing about brain fog is a lot of us like I was saying, look at our colleagues and we're all experiencing it. Like how many people do you know just wake up feeling a little tired? How many people do you know that say, I feel great in the morning? I feel clearer. So we never actually question if it's normal in the first place because so many of us are looking around thinking like, this is just how people wake up. I've got kids, I've got a business to run, my schedule is full. Like, we don't actually think about that. And so instead of taking time to actually ask, like, is this normal for me? Like, do I want to wake up feeling like this? What the heck is causing that? We then like you said, we do turn to things like caffeine and we plow through and try to be productive and get to those to-do lists because we made them. We don't really think about the fact that what am I doing that is causing me to wake up like this in the first place.
Heather Sager 13:12
Yeah. Okay, so well, that is the question. So what are we doing that is causing us to wake up in that way?
Tanessa Shears 13:18
Yeah, so one of the first things we got to look at is sleep in general when we're talking about the length of sleep, so here's what I learned in those early days of Fitbit wearing. I used to be the type of person that went to bed at you know, 11 on average and I woke up at seven so my brain does math. And I'm like, that sounds like eight hours, I have enough sleep. But when I started really looking at this data, and now that I've worked with so many entrepreneurs, and I track my clients data from wearable trackers on beautiful spreadsheets that are color coded with graphs because that is how my brain works. And I'm going to tell you, the average person spends between an hour and about an hour and 20 minutes, hour 15 awake every single night. We don't think about the time it takes to fall asleep, tossing and turning, wake up to use the washroom, early morning when our brain isn't fully asleep. All of that contributes to wake up time. So now you take your eight hours and you are awake an hour 20 Last night, you're getting six hours and 40 minutes sleep and now technically your brain is not getting enough sleep to perform the next day. So we wake up, already it's experiencing a little bit of like almost like a jetlag feeling because our brains aren't getting enough sleep so definitely that's the first one.
Heather Sager 14:36
One of the things that I heard you talking about, we have mutual friend. You were on Katie Wussow, The Game Changer Podcast. And I was like geeking out because Katie and I are friends. She's been on the show before and I'm like, Oh, I'm gonna come after and ask her the follow up question. So one of the things I thought was pretty fascinating, that you guys discussed was what actually happens to our bodies and our brains when we sleep because there is this restorative nature of what happened. I mean, I think it's just easy for us to categorize it as like, oh, we sleep. Our brain needs to rest but there's actually cycles and stuff that happens. So can you describe a little bit about what's actually going on in that recharge period that we need that time in order to feel more rested?
Tanessa Shears 15:17
Yeah, so to keep it super simple, there are three different, we'll call them phases that our brain goes through as we sleep. We have deep sleep, we have light sleep, and we have dream sleep, which is called Rapid Eye Movement, or REM sleep. Now, each of these play a critical role in our ability to perform the next day and feel sharp. So we need to be spending time and enough time in each of these separate areas. So I'll go through them just briefly. So deep sleep is restorative sleep. It's what helps us consolidate memories. So think of like taking your files off your desktop and putting them on a hard drive. That is what our brain does to a lot of our experiences during the day, it is also a great time for our body to recover from our workouts. And our brain gets what I call a brain bath or spinal fluid gets up in there, cleans it all up from the day and helps us keep our memory and our brains intact as we age, which is super important. So that's deep sleep, and it primarily happens a lot of it at the early part of the night. So think 10,11,12, 1, even 2. Then on the other end of the night is when we start experiencing the majority of our dreaming and that's our rapid eye movement. Now, this is the type of sleep that I like to call entrepreneurial gold. And I find that when you are sitting at your desk and you're trying to write copy or do something creative, or you're just feeling just really like your thinking is slow. It's usually REM sleep that we are lacking on. Now REM sleep has some pretty cool functions. So number one is it helps us be extremely creative and it helps us think outside the box. So whether you're trying to come up with a story to supplement your speech with or you're trying to come up with some kind of analogy to make it interesting, your brain is less capable of doing that when you don't get enough REM sleep. So if you're sitting there feeling uncreative, you might be lacking on REM sleep, so that is a huge thing. The second thing is it inhibits your ability to read other people's facial expressions and body gestures. And honestly for me, whether I'm on a live or I'm recording a podcast interview, or I'm speaking to a live audience, like I want to be watching their faces, and I want to be reading what is going on so that I can pivot if I need or explain something that maybe wasn't clicking the way I wanted it to. And for me as a coach, like I want to know with my clients, I want to be able to read their body gestures and do my job and show up better as a coach. And to me that is so important is to be able to really tune into that. And the last thing that getting enough dream sleep helps you do is it helps you manage your emotional life, like we've all had not enough sleep, woke up, felt a little irritated and that is usually a lack of dream sleep. So if say if we get someone that, you know, leaves us a negative comment or you know, is not very friendly to us, or some client feedback which hits, you know, hits a bit hard. I want to be able to deal with that with integrity and respond with emotional control. And it is a lot less likely that I'm going to do that if I don't get enough dream sleep. So deep sleep is about restoration. storing memories. Light sleep is kind of what happens as you transition between them and dream sleep is basically what makes us entrepreneurs, what gives us that juice that makes us really good entrepreneurs.
Heather Sager 18:42
This is so, this is so good. One of the things well, first of all, I can't get the movie, the Pixar movie, Inside Out. I can't get it out of my head, right? If anybody has children, they know that movie is really great for talking to kids about emotions, but it's from the brain right? And they go to sleep and exactly what you're saying with restorative sleep with the analogy of cleaning off your desktop to your hard drive. Like every night that happens the movie, they take out the important memories in that catalog them to. So that's the one thing I'm thinking of right now is that movie. You have kids. Have you gotten to that point the age where your kids are watching that movie yet?
Tanessa Shears 19:19
Oh, yeah. So my husband and I, just short side story. We actually had our honeymoon in Disney World. We had Disney to begin with. And I will tell you, no lie, if I wake up in the middle of the night right now because baby is kicking in my tummy. My head is currently launching into the Encanto playlist which is the new Disney, and I swear it's not even fair how often those songs play in our house right now.
Heather Sager 19:43
We always say life is a musical. With or without kids, everybody is welcome to watch Disney movies or cartoon movies. Side note, we'll do another side note. I remember back before my husband and I had kids. So I traveled a ton for my old job and when we had kids and we started digging through, like movies, I was blown away with how many times my husband was like, oh, yeah, I watched that. And I'm like, when did you watch this animated cartoon? He's like, Oh, when you were in Chicago, or when you were in Memphis, or when you like, and I was laughing so hard. I'm like, my husband was watching the movies. Anyways, Inside Out is what I'm thinking, but you we're having this conversation of the restorative sleep piece. And I'm wondering, you mentioned the REM piece with creativity. One interesting conversation came up with one of my clients a couple weeks ago, how we were both talking about is in the wee hours of the morning when we're still sleeping, all of the sudden, we both have all of these creative ideas. And if we don't shoot out a bed and write them down, we're still in dream mode where we forget them later. Where does that fit in in what you were just talking about?
Tanessa Shears 20:51
Yeah, you know what I think it is. I think, I read this concept in a Cal Newport book. It was called Digital Minimalism.
Heather Sager 20:56
I love that book.
Tanessa Shears 20:57
Yeah. And he was talking about this concept called solitude. And I almost think that this is where the overlap is asleep. So just to bring it up to speed, what he says is, as humans, I think especially as entrepreneurs, we need to spend time every day without the input of other people's brains and without the like, whose ideas don't come to them in the shower. I'm surprised my phone hadn't water damage by this point from like, oh, my gosh, that's my next masterclass, pop out, type it in my phone. But I think what it is, is that it's that combination of your brain just being really imaginative and active and that intersection point of it being without input. I mean, all of us, we listen to podcasts while we do the dishes, and we're watching a YouTube video when we fold laundry, like our brains are always receiving other people's ideas and information and this is one of those times a night where we get to explore our own thoughts and process our own feelings. I think that's when the good stuff bubbles to the surface.
Heather Sager 21:36
Yeah. Okay, I love, I love that. So we need to get more sleep, we need to create time for those moments of, by the way, Digital Minimalism, such a great book. What are some things we can do to optimize our sleep? Thinking about it, one of the things that comes to mind right away is the phones in the bedroom or the phone light at night, that slash what are some other things we can do to really optimize our sleep to make sure that we're actually getting what we need?
Tanessa Shears 22:23
Yeah, first place I love to start with most people is to ask them like, Okay, do you have a routine surrounding your sleep, and specifically, I'm talking about your circadian rhythm. It's a fancy word. It basically means that all of our bodies follow a clock, a 24 hour clock. And yours is different from mine because we all have different genetics. Now, I never knew this before but I think so many things follow our body clock, like our temperatures go up and down at certain times, our heart rates go up and down at certain times, our hormones come in and out at certain times, like everything is so beautifully synchronized. So one of the hormones that I like to talk about often is we have a natural production of melatonin that boosts up right before we go to sleep, right. So when we are following a consistent circadian rhythm, that means going to bed within a one hour window and waking up within a one hour window. Consistently, we use those hormones in the best way to enhance the quality sleep. So we get enough of that deep sleep, get enough of that REM sleep. So for example, if we want to go to bed at 11, and we are consistent with that, melatonin will start being released at a time that helps you fall asleep and stay asleep easier on time. Now what we do is we'll go to bed at one on the weekends and then sometimes it's 10, sometimes it's 11. And your social schedule meaning what you do on the weekend or don't do during the week is giving you something called social jetlag and it's actually that experience of throwing off your body clock. So if you think about like, the idea of when you get off a plane in a new time zone and you feel a little off, you're doing that to your body over and over again. And so beyond just the fact that we're throwing off that rhythm, when we stay up a couple hours late on the weekend although that's really fun. We might not just missing a couple hours of sleep, but instead we're cutting into the majority of our deep sleep, because a lot of that happens in the early part of the night, right? So we're compromising the quality of our sleep by constantly shifting the times we go to bed and wake up. So the best thing that you can do is be as consistent as possible. I mean, given you want to have a human life and do some things on the weekend, but be as consistent as possible with establishing a bedtime and a wakeup time. That hands down is one of the best thing and then to touch on your point about what you mentioned about phones in the bedroom and blue light blue light is one of the most fascinating things beyond just the fact that we know about blue light blockers. It actually acts as a brake on that hormone we talked about called melatonin. So when you look into a bright screen, you have bright overhead lights, you have white lights in your house at night. What that does is it tells your brain, it's the middle of the day, don't get tired, don't fall asleep, we need to stay wide awake so we're on our computers and we're on Netflix, right up until we go to bed and then we try to fall asleep and we lay there and our brains start going, we can't fall asleep. This is usually because our melatonin hasn't ramped up enough to fall asleep. And if we're exhausted enough that we can fall asleep, we usually find that we're waking up frequently or we're not achieving the quality of sleep that makes us feel good in the morning.
Heather Sager 25:31
Yeah. And how does one know, this is a maybe a weird question. How does one know if they're getting the right amount of sleep?
Tanessa Shears 25:39
Yeah, so I would ask yourself, How are you feeling when you are waking up? Because the interesting question is, there is no one answer for how long we should sleep. And I mean, honestly, you could ballpark it at seven to eight hours because that's what we see everywhere, but the amount of sleep you as an individual need is dependent on what's called your chronotype. So we all have a gene that dictates whether we are early morning people or late night owls, whether we struggle with insomnia, we all have this gene. So what's called your chronotype that we are, will dictate how much sleep you need each night. So those of us that either get up really early, naturally, genetically, or stay up really late, or struggle with sleep, tend to require less sleep than people who keep a 10:30 to 7 schedule, or 11 to 7 schedule, so it's actually quite interesting. There is a book that I read. It's called The Power of When by Dr. Michael Bruce, and he has designed, he's actually known as the sleep doctor. He's quite famous in this area for designing an easy to follow prototype for these chronotypes. But he has a quiz on his website which will tell you based on extensive series of questions which chronotype you're likely to be because I always used to just 10:30 to 6, sounded good to me. Get up in the morning, go to the gym. But when I took this quiz, I figured out that I fall into the 15% of people that are actually extreme early birds. So I'm in bed by sleeping by 8:40 mow and up by five, and oh my gosh, I can't tell you how much better I feel than when I used to go to bed at 11 and wake up at 7, and it doesn't seem logical but when you are working with your genetics, you're no longer feeling like you're doing that uphill battle with your energy.
Heather Sager 27:23
You know, it's something I hear a lot, a lot of people give a lot of flack for a lot of people have opinions on this is the whole quintessential morning routine for entrepreneurs, the 5am Club and all those other things. How do you find out, and I don't know, maybe this is outside of your scope of work? How does someone discover that they are really a morning person? If they're like you, you were waking up at seven, right? You had your own schedule going. I know a lot of people that are like, I'm not a morning person but maybe they are. Like could it be possible that their closet morning people that they just don't know?
Tanessa Shears 27:59
Yeah, so if you're really wanting to find out for sure, honestly, Dr. Michael Breus has a quiz on his website which will tell you based on your answers. I always tell my clients use it as a guide. Don't treat it as like the law because we get really regimented about stuff like that. But here's what I often find with my clients because I do extensive watching of how their data changes. When we start with where we are, we usually have a lot of like unintentional habits that are affecting our sleep, things like blue light before bed, washing our face and getting ready for bed with bright overhead vanity lights on, eating too close to bed, eating high carbohydrate dinners. So many of these things throw off our sleep, and so what these things do is they artificially delay sleep, meaning like, if you have a big meal, your body is not gonna go to sleep. If you're looking at a screen, your body's not producing the sleep hormone, melatonin. So all of these things will push your sleep later and make you think I just must not be a morning person, when in fact, it's your evening habits and routines that are affecting how your body uses sleep. So to that end, I always like to do a quiz on day one, make a whole bunch of modifications over the span of a couple months and then retake it because I find that once you take away all of those artificial factors, you kind of reveal what your real chronotype is this happened over and over again. But regarding the 5am Club, no, not every, It's really small. It's like 15 to 20% of the population are actually known as those early morning risers. And if you are one of those people that should be a late night owl genetically, and you try to fit into that 5am Wake up chronotype it is always going to feel hard. It should not feel hard. It should feel good to follow your chronotype and if it always feels exhausting, I would question, maybe we're just going to bed and waking up at the wrong times.
Heather Sager 29:50
Yeah, it's understanding that you know, I'm definitely one of the morning people. I don't know if that's my natural tendency or not, but I find that when I'm consistent with my bedtime and when I wake up I don't I don't use an alarm. One with my hearing loss, I can't hear an alarm so my husband's usually the one that'll hit me if I set an alarm, he gets annoyed but I don't need it. When I'm on a consistent schedule, my body will wake up at 445. I don't have to do anything. But I'm wondering, I know for you, you health fitness like that's your whole world of what you teach. Can you talk a little bit about how exercise and how fitness plays a role with our sleep and energy? Because I know one of the things I hear a lot from entrepreneurs is they're so busy, managing their business, attending to their kids. There's a lot of like, Haha, one day I'll have time to like work out, but I'm too tired to work out. Personally, I have found my sleep improve because I work out consistently. Can you talk about that correlation in what you find to be true with your clients?
Tanessa Shears 30:52
Yeah, well, one of the things I just want to say right off the bat is that it never has to be a choice between having a successful business and your health. That is just a dichotomy that we have created because we haven't found a solution yet. Now when I find that we are well slept, think about this. Think about the days that you show up to your business and everything feels harder, you don't get through things as fast, stuff gets pushed to the next day, nothing goes as planned. It is one of those clunky brain fog days. Now I want you to picture the alternate day where you show up really clear and you get everything done. And you have a couple hours left and you're like, should I fill it with work like or do I take the day off? Am I allowed to do that? Is the boss around? Like, I often find that when we start improving our sleep, and our brain works more efficient, we no longer need to be slaving away at our desks so long because our brain is not performing. So I love working on sleep first so that it creates that productivity and efficiency of thinking because it opens up a window for us to start including exercise. So just a quick example. I'm working with a client right now. And she's working about eight to four right now. She's a CFO. She's very, got a lot of clients on her hands and everything like that. As we work together, and she's waking up more well rested. She's shifting her schedule, she's off by noon now and it was great. She just messaged me last week. She's like, so I guess I have time for exercise now so that's kind of what comes, right? And so beyond that, going into your question, exercise is one of those amazing things that helps us reduce stress. And one of the main reasons we don't have solid sleep is because our body is locked into fight or flight. So if you've ever woken up at 3:45 in the morning, and your brain is like, oh my gosh, what are we doing tomorrow? Did I get that done last night? Did I prep my lunch for tomorrow? What are the kids, oh my gosh! If your brain is doing that, it is likely because you're stuck in fight or flight and I find that exercise is one of those beautiful outlets that allows our brain and our body to release some of that. And on top of that, like it's just such a wonderful way to help our brain grow. So while we exercise, there is something called brain derived neurotrophic factor, not important to remember. Point is it helps us regenerate new brain cells and it helps us make new connections between brain cells which makes us smarter. So there were so many wonderful things about that on top of that. The only caution I ever have around exercise and sleep, specifically is proximity to bedtime. Because if you think about any workout session, I mean, unless you're doing a gentle yoga stretch or something like that, our heart rate goes up, our blood pressure goes up, and our body temperature goes up. And on top of that adrenaline might go up or cortisol might go up, the hormone, the stress hormone. These are all things that are counterproductive for sleep. So I always like to recommend like if you're going to do a workout and you want optimal sleep, try to wrap up by at least three hours before you plan to be asleep in order to protect that time for our brain while we sleep.
Heather Sager 33:51
Yeah, excellent tip there, especially for somebody out there struggling with sleep. That would not be a great way to go about it.
Tanessa Shears 33:58
Heather Sager 34:00
Okay, I want to pivot and talk about this sexy term that I've heard a lot more and more in the entrepreneurial space on different podcasts is the concept of biohacking. So and I know this is something that you love talking about. Can you talk about what is biohacking and why that's maybe making the surge for entrepreneurs to be talking about?
Tanessa Shears 34:21
Yeah, when I started getting into biohacking I was like, Oh my gosh, this entrepreneurs understand this. To break down the term, by the way, don't go Google biohacking, because you're gonna see the extremes of biohacking. You're gonna see like the, you know, the cryo therapies and the ice baths and all of us and while all of that stuff is amazing, and it has a lot of very cool benefits, it's not meeting most of us where we're at. The idea of most of us jumping in an ice bath right now, that's not where we're at. But in terms of biohacking, it's essentially hacking your biology. You're proactively making changes to your environment around you, whether that be light or temperature, or you're making changes to the inside, managing stress, balancing your hormones, what you're eating, how you're sleeping. And all of these things serve to create more energy, longevity, wellness and clarity of thinking. This is the point of biohacking and where I find biohacking is different from like, well how's that different from just being healthy or doing health habits is if you if you've ever talked to a bio hacker and I do consider myself one of those. We are obsessed with the return on investment. Now that's a term entrepreneurs know and that's how I knew it was going to be such a good match because we want to be getting more energy out than we put in. Our goal is not to pile on all of these health habits and be like I don't know what's working and like you said, I don't have time, haha. Where am I gonna fit this healthy lifestyle in. But if you knew that by implementing this change, it would have a result you'd be much more likely to stick to it because you would see the result. So what we do is we wear wearable trackers, like right now, right on I've got a Fitbit on. I've also got an aura ring on and these are giving me constant feedback as to how my body is processing stress, how I am sleeping, how I am feeling right now and it is giving me a measurable way of seeing if, okay, I have been eating specifically keto style dinners this week. fascinating thing. My dream sleep went through the roof. And I only know that that works personally for me because I am watching and that's why I love biohacking. It's just so efficient and with, you know, a population of people like entrepreneurs that has so much stuff to do, and our brains are constantly going, we just want to know what works, like tell me what works. I want to be able to show my clients Hey, look at that, that showed up in your data. How fun is that? Let's keep that instead of being like yeah, well, this is a healthy habit. You should just do it because, right?
Heather Sager 36:57
It's about having curiosity and finding different things to try, and the whole point is around optimizing how you feel and how your body performs, correct?
Tanessa Shears 37:05
Yeah, optimization is a beautiful word to use for that. It's all about how can I go to that next level based on how my own body responds, how somebody else's body responds.
Heather Sager 37:17
Yeah, it's just so funny because the term biohacking I laugh at it because it sounds so like a robot. It sounds so like, I don't know, like the cool kids over the corner with the secret of things, but we've just broke it down. It's very simple. What are some different things, like for some that come to mind, for me, I'm actually curious what your favorite like biohacking techniques are? Is that how you say it? I don't know. But like things that I thought were crazy town that I'm now in love with our cold showers. Those who listen to this show, if you've been a longtime listener, you know I did 75 Hard last year. I started doing phase one, which that's one of the requirements. Yeah, I thought it would be torture and it was and there were some awesome benefits from it.
Tanessa Shears 38:05
Yeah, so one of the ones that I really love is I've invested in a pair of blue light blocking glasses that have red lenses in them and my husband at the beginning was like, alright, so you're sitting there with your sound machine, your earplugs, your sleep mask, your red glasses, like you taking your mag these. What is going on here? And I was like, no, I feel amazing. It's fine.
Heather Sager 38:25
This feels excessive.
Tanessa Shears 38:28
But mind you, this is what I do. And my love, I'm testing everything on. Let's just go back to the glasses. So these glasses the thing is when I put them on an hour before I plan to be asleep, and what it does is it simulates sunset in my brain. Like if you think about what happens as the sun goes down, the sky goes from you know, blue to red to pink to oranges, and then it goes down. Well, I am helping my brain produce melatonin more effectively. So I love these glasses. Side note, husband got a pair last week and get sleeping better. So that's one that I really love. Specifically, with regards to having a really clear brain, one of the things I like is to biohack my sleep with food choices. So if you've ever heard of like a constant glucose monitor, that's something that biohackers are into. It basically is a way of constantly monitoring your blood sugar levels. Now we always think of blood sugar is related to maybe illness or diabetes. But if you really want to optimize the performance of your body, your blood sugar is key. So when we think about how can I have really good sleep, we want to be eating at least three hours before we want to be asleep I find four hours works best for me and keeping our dinners plenty of healthy vegetables, fats and protein so things like thinking like brussel sprouts, asparagus, salad with salmon, maybe some chicken. These things are all going to foster good sleep. One other one like I said, I love the cold showers. I haven't done them since I've been pregnant because I feel like I'm like, well, we'll get back to that.
Heather Sager 40:02
Yeah, let's look take a pass on that during this.
Tanessa Shears 40:06
Yeah, yeah, one of the ones that I really like, actually is how we engage with light as we sleep. So most of the time, I do a bedroom audit, for example. There will be light coming from everywhere. Our blinds are inefficient. There is a face on a clock that is lit up, there's some like blinking thing going on in the corner over there, there's a light on our cell phone that's going off, and all of these things can interfere with our sleep. So in addition to wearing a sleep mask to sleep, which I can tell you almost every client I ever worked with has said it makes a difference even if they didn't think it would. I love the idea of getting roller blinds or blackout curtains. Now, I wouldn't go and order them online because I've done that a whole bunch of times. You get them home, you hang them up, and there's still light coming through. So you take a fun little trick, get your phone flashlight. I did this in the middle of Home Depot. I did get a funny look, it's all good. And you shine them through the back of the curtain. And if you can see yourself from flashlight, it is not truly hotel quality blackout. So when you get these up on your wall, fun little hack, we actually got double sided velcro and velcro the edges to the wall, so it doesn't let all the extra light through. And this is something that really, especially with an urban area where the street lights and stuff like that neighbor's porch lights. It is a wonderful way to enhance your sleep, so these are examples of biohack. They're not crazy, but they're things that have results.
Heather Sager 41:29
It's just going how can I make it better? Okay, this guides me back to I think speaking, right? People speaking on stages. One of the things I hear is a lot more of my clients are wanting to get out and speak at live events which y'all the world is opening back up and we are starting to travel more again. In fact, I'm doing a keynote talk this weekend in California. And instantly when you were talking about, I was reminded back that the night before a presentation, your sleep get screwed up, especially when you travel. So hotels, the travel piece, just knowing that the people that are listening have the desire to speak on stages. Do you have any, applying what you just talked about, any tips or recommendations for someone who has a big event the next day, but their sleep is probably going to be compromised? How do we manage that?
Tanessa Shears 42:19
Ooh, let me clarify this question. Are we talking about if you have to travel to speak or if it's just local?
Heather Sager 42:26
Either way, so I'm thinking more so in the travel scenario, but also I mean, there's an event happening the next day, so even with or without travel, you can answer those separately. But I know that's one of the things is people have a big event coming up and they're up late stressing over it or practicing or whatever else sleep is impacted, and then on top of it, typically, there's travel.
Tanessa Shears 42:46
Yeah, so funny, I found a research study that was showing that when we are in a new environment for the first night, our brains kind of act like dolphins. So dolphins sleep with one half of their brain and they're scanning for danger. That actually happens the first time we sleep in a new environment. And that's probably why you find that first night in a hotel, you're just like what is going on? So if you have the luxury of showing up an extra night early, that would be great. Second thing, when you are in an environment like a hotel room, I feel like they're the brightest rooms. There's like a fridge light flashing and the Wi Fi routers, honestly throw T-shirts over everything. That's what we got to do.
Heather Sager 43:21
We got towels from the bathroom. I order extra towels, grab the extra pillows out of the closet. Cover it all.
Tanessa Shears 43:27
Yes, absolutely. And I also find that a lot of them aren't dark enough. Period. So I often will bring a sleep mask. Like I said, earplugs are fantastic. And if you can travel with a sound machine at all, and you sleep with a sound machine at home, it's a lot of replicating those things. One last thing for travel to really help I discovered actually. It was just a couple of weeks ago. I discovered an app called Timeshifter. And basically what you do is you put in your flight time, and then a bunch of things about your sleep, like what time you go to sleep, you usually wake up and all of this stuff and it'll give you suggestions to alter your light exposure, sleep, naps, caffeine, and melatonin use so you show up in your timezone that you need to speak in with no jetlag and it's literally meant to boost brain clarity. So this is an app that like I have a couple clients testing it right now but it helps you to prevent that jet lag feeling which I know, just feeling that low energy and clarity can really, or lack of clarity rather can affect the way we speak. But if we're just staying at home and you know it's down the road, and we're just like my brain is going too much. What I would do is, whether you're traveling or not, I would spend intentional time thinking about those hour or two before I go to sleep. Because if we're not able to fall asleep because we're nervous or excited or brain is reviewing things, it's probably because we were doing that right up until we fell asleep and we did not get a chance to disengage from that fight or flight response that we have put our body in. So I always like to think of the hour before sleep kind of like how I described sleep at the beginning of our conversation as like a gradual slide from alertness into sleep. And the way I kind of like to explain it actually is shifting brainwave frequencies. So when you are preparing and going over your notes and what am I going to do and how am I going to walk and all of those things like that your body, your brain is in a frequency called beta, alert, focus, attentive. We love it. We want to be this on stage. This is where we want to be. We need to make time to make sure in the hour to before bed, that we are shifting it into alpha which is a slower brainwave state. It is associated with that experience of relaxation. And notice I didn't say doing things that we think make us relax, like have a bubble bath, read a book. I'm talking about the experience of feeling your body come down a level. And this can honestly include things like taking a nice warm shower, it can include things like a skincare routine, stretching, if writing helps you empty your head out, not productive business work. But I mean, just like you know, thought downloads and stuff like that. But using that time to meditate and to take your brain out of that, that panic state is going to help you sleep so much better and prevent those wake ups where you can't get back to sleep or a ton of tossing and turning.
Heather Sager 46:11
And this is really a good reminder for people. I think especially those who are newer to speaking, newer to whether it's virtual speaking or in person or even doing, maybe you're doing your first live for your first launch, whatever that looks like. I think the tendency for most is they want to get it right so they fill up all that time the night before even up until the presentation with like cram more information in, practice it, that information. But there comes this point where you can't cram it anymore to perform better. You just need to like create that space for, as you were talking about, for your brain to recover, restore, for you to be able to show up in a more magnetic way. It's not about memorizing, it's about presence and that presence requires space around sleep and then also before a presentation. So that was a really beautiful, beautiful reminder and great travel tips.
Tanessa Shears 47:00
Heather Sager 47:01
Okay, cool. So we're gonna we're gonna wrap it up here, Tanessa. So when when we think about sleep, when we think about biohacking, we think about putting these things into action for ourselves. Where can people go to learn more about what it is that you do and how you work with clients?
Tanessa Shears 47:17
Yeah, so if you're like, if you're an entrepreneur at this point, and you're like, I'm resonating with that, like I'm waking up tired, my energy crashes midday, my brain doesn't feel very clear. Help! And the whole idea of biohacking is like, I like it return on investment. This is my game. I have an entrepreneur's playbook called, 12 ways to biohack your energy. And over the years, I have culminated a list of 12 bio hacks that have had the most bang for our buck and have been the most effective in creating those productive mornings and those high energy days. So you can grab that at tanessashears.com/energy, and you can just start applying them as soon as you get it. They're really perfect.
Heather Sager 47:55
I love to do that. And be sure y'all will link to that in the show notes. Be sure to take a screenshot of today's episode, post it and share like which technique that you stole from that that you're using. Give Tanessa some love on Instagram for sure. Is that the best place for people to connect with you online is on Instagram?
Tanessa Shears 48:10
Yeah, either. Instagram, I'm always on there posting all the time. I'm @tanessashears but my podcast Becoming Limitless is a goldmine of like every episode diving into a specific biohack and how it will improve how you show up in your business.
Heather Sager 48:22
Perfect. Okay, I'll link to all of that in the show notes. I'm so glad that we had this conversation today and just scratched the surface around how we can help entrepreneurs be more magnetic by just taking care of themselves. So simple things there. I appreciate you so much for being here. Thank you. Thank you.
Tanessa Shears 48:38
Thank you for having me.
Heather Sager 48:40
All right, friends. Thanks again for listening to this show. Be sure if you like this episode, like I said, screenshot it. Share it with your friends. We need to be having more conversations about sleep, more conversations around taking care of ourselves so we can show up for our audiences but also for our lives outside of business. I hope you found this series to be super helpful and I'll see you on the next episode.