June 15, 2021

34: Purpose Driven Sleep Routine with Jim Davis

34: Purpose Driven Sleep Routine with Jim Davis

Jim Davis is a former professional football player, champion powerlifter and nationally recognized coach. He leads one of the largest and most successful strength programs in the nation at the New Trier High School and was honored as 2018 NASA National Coach of the Year, and was Runner-Up in 2019. He has presented keynote addresses all over the world including Chicago, Boston, L.A., Ireland, and Haiti. 

In this episode we have Jim Davis come back to the show. If you want to know him better you can go to Episode 33 and you will get a run down on who Jim is. For this episode we have a more in depth discussion on eating, moving, and sleeping. 

We talk about: 

  • Why sleep is important
  • What are some things you do in regular life, indicates you need more sleep
  • Will my body adjust from a sleep deprived life to getting quality sleep
  • Napping 
  • How to talk with your athletes about sleep
  • How to improve your quality of sleep
  • How food and travel affect training


Jim’s Information: 

Podcast: The Good Athlete Podcast

Website: https://www.goodathleteproject.com/







[00:00:00] Jase Kraft: [00:00:00] Hey, everybody. Welcome back to the science of sports recovery podcast. I have a familiar guest on the show as you got to hear from him last week, but we have Jim Davis back on the show. We had such a good conversation last week that we forgot some of the important parts that I really wanted to tease out from Jim.

So we already got into concussions. We got into kind of the mental side of recovery today. We're gonna dig into kind of what's the bedrock foundation that Jim puts through his athletes when it comes to recovery. So a lot more in depth on eating, moving, and sleeping. Jim, just a quick reminder, he is a former professional football player.

He's been. A champion powerlifter, nationally recognized coach, author, and speaker. He's been honored as a N a S a national coach of the year, as well as a runner up the following year. His [00:01:00] research focuses on human development, psychology through sport, and the human connection is what keeps him coaching.

So let's dig into it.

You're listening to the science of sports recovery podcast. Each week. We explore how to recover more efficiently from training so you can work out harder and realize your full potential. This is the science of sports recovery podcast.

Jim, welcome to the show. '

Jim Davis: [00:01:35] Happy to be here. Thanks for having me back again. 

Jase Kraft: [00:01:37] Yeah, no it's good. And I loved the connection we made last time and I think we covered a lot of good stuff, but at the end of it, we were like, we didn't talk too much about the recovery, what we had on our list here.

So that's why we're bringing you back. We kind of went through your athletic history before, so if somebody has listened to this now, and they're like, who is this [00:02:00] Jim Davis guy go back and listen to the last episode, you'll get the full, a rundown of who he is, what he's all about. So I want to just dig this one kind of go deep into your your philosophy when it comes to recovery.

Cause I know you have a foundation and then you build from there. Let's start at the foundation. And I eat, sleep and move are your big three pillars. Let's start with sleep. Like what do you see. First of all, why is sleep important? And then we'll get into like how you actually make this happen and a busy athlete's life.

Jim Davis: [00:02:43] Yeah, I think and you push me as to far how far you want to go into the, like the actual science, but I think there's no question that on the whole, we can talk about athletes, coaches, parents, communities, [00:03:00] we don't respect sleep enough. And I actually, I've got an article I'll share with you.

It's the title is a sleep deprived nation. And the truth of the matter is that we are, we're sleeping fewer and fewer hours every decade or so. The national average drops just a touch. And on an average, we sleep significantly less than the CDC national sleep foundation, any governing body who looks at this sort of thing.

We sleep at the averages. 

What's that? Do I know. I think the last time I looked it up, it was like 7.2, 7.4, somewhere in there. I can find that actual number for you. I can find the number for you if you'd like, but the short version forget it. I'll send it to you or I'll look it up before we're done talking today, but the short version is you, you we've got a range and that range is eight to 10.

And people think people like I gotta get eight hours of sleep. [00:04:00] Eight hours of sleep is like a baseline recommendation. It's almost like drinking eight glasses of water a day. These are like easy mantras. Hey, don't forget to drink eight glasses of water, sleep for eight hours and wash behind your ears.

That the real truth is that the amounts of sleep we need is, is different person to person and day to day. So what we need is a lot more self-awareness. Research-based awareness. And then from there, self-awareness about what it is that we need. For example, we work at the good athlete project. We work with primarily youth high school and college athletes, youth high school and college athletes, every one of those groups needs more than eight hours.

If you hit eight hours, you'd be at the very bottom of the CDC recommendations how much, you ought to sleep. So the idea, plenty of, plenty of college and pro athletes are Amy at nine, 10 hours per [00:05:00] night, and they don't waiver from that. So the idea that our, the nation at large is on average below, that is unfortunate.

And then you actually can, we can dig into the complexities of, the how and why, but the truth is the average is thrown off in time. It was by really necessary. Labor and shift work you know, you've heard of all of this, like our country can't run without nurses, doctors, truck drivers, legitimately to the people operating 24 7.

We've got a problem. We've got a problem. And I think there's a whole laundry list of health concerns that ripple out from that one issue. 

Jase Kraft: [00:05:44] So before we get into the science behind, like what happens when you don't sleep, let's dig into just what would be best for the person listening.

So if they're trying to gauge, do I need eight? Do I need [00:06:00] 10? You know, do I need 11 or 12 or whatever?

Jim Davis: [00:06:03] Yeah. 

Jase Kraft: [00:06:03] What are some things that if they're doing in their regular life, that they might need to more sleep because of? 

Jim Davis: [00:06:13] It's a great question. And the answer is that okay. So we mentioned eat, move, sleep is our bedrock, the foundational level of our, what are the framework that we use it for evaluation.

And as you move up, we get into things like stress communication, the way you relate to others, all this kind of stuff. I, I bring that up because just about anything can change your sleep indeed. Obviously if you're an athlete, you done more damage on a cellular level throughout the course of the day more recovery is needed and that recovery happens when you sleep.

If you are like, let's just say, so again, I'll just go CDC numbers, they recommend adolescents go eight to 10. If you're an athlete and you're trying, [00:07:00] if you're taking it even mildly seriously, then you're, there's no question you're at the top end of that scale. And that might seem wild to some people.

We can, I I'll use that as an opportunity to jump right into, the implementation because especially athletes who have extra practice, demand, extra demands on their time, they're like, how the heck can I ever, how could I ever get nine, 10 hours of sleep? How could I make it regular?

That's a legitimate question. So before I, I'm just sort knocking on the door of that. We won't go down that road fully, but the truth is that's what they need. Anything that throws off homeostasis significantly will likely require more rests on the back end. Any stressor requires recovery.

So that could be psychological stress sometimes definitely in the context of our conversation, physical stress. Yeah, so, yeah. 

Jase Kraft: [00:07:51] So the next question is, as athletes we're familiar with training your body to adapt to a certain [00:08:00] stimulus and then improving on that. So there could be this train of thought.

And I've thought this myself before that, well, what if I just gradually get less sleep and I'm training my body to you know, sleep better, like sleep deeper and get more out of that sleep. And will your body ever adjust to that? 

Jim Davis: [00:08:25] That's a  that's a really good question. It's funny that you say that because I thought that too at one point I mean the answer is not, it doesn't really, it doesn't really work like that.

What, what sometimes will happen? So here's a, there's two pieces to that question. I'm gonna address one, one part that stood out to me, especially when I was transitioning from want to be professional athlete to just working professional. I thought the same thing, I was like, I, adaptation is part of what I've done.

 I'll get used to, this is what I often thought and what I found. [00:09:00] In a state of where chronic sleep deprivation. I know now that's what it was. What I found was, the body finds a way the body prioritizes like the sensors of the body are fantastic and well tuned to the needs of the body.

So what was happening to me is I wasn't necessarily sleeping better, but I would drop into deep, heavy sleep faster. And now it's essentially my body's way of saying you know, cause what happens is over the course of a night you move through stages of sleep and I'm sure you've heard of this.

And it's, there's a lot, that's documented still a lot of it's theoretical, but in different stages, like when your brain is in an alpha. Wave state. There's like, our, what are we doing right now? Are we consolidated memories, making sense of things from the day? Are we pruning? Unless, there's a lot of cognitive processing theoretically going on in those states.

And then as you move into the later stages of sleep, that's when the real deep you know,  hormones kick in [00:10:00] your body starts to recover on a physical cellular level. What I've found is that more sleep deprived. I am the faster, my body essentially says, forget the memory consolidation. We're going to boom, drop to the bottom of this, prioritize recovery and get healthy, because if you don't think you still got a shot at the next day, but if you go long enough, I'm in a state of chronic sleep deprivation.

Health outcomes can be dramatically impacted. 

Jase Kraft: [00:10:32] So you said the skip, the memory consolidation. Like 

Jim Davis: [00:10:36] I well, I don't, I really don't want to overspeak I don't know that's a fact, what I do know though, is that the body finds a way to get to the next day. You know what I mean? We do this all the time.

It's it's like fight or flight response, like when you are, when you're scared, say so like you're walking through the woods and you see a bear. There's not a lot of you're not debating philosophy. The [00:11:00] worries you had from work, they go away. In fact, like, resources that normally would have been potentially shunted to like reproduction, all of that's shut down and all of the body's resources are focused on one thing.

It's getaway from the threat. Yeah. That's a dramatic way of saying this sort of like in a state of sleep deprivation, your body's in a state of threat. There are alarm bells going off. If you, if it's traumatic enough and it stay in, it continues for long enough, there are alarm bells going off in your body.

It's why you feel. Terrible the day after you put like an all-nighter or whatever the situation might be. So I'm not saying that when you're sleep deprived, you skip memory consolidation. I'm just saying theoretically, the body will prioritize cellular recovery, staying healthy, getting to the next day before any sort of cognitive process.

Jase Kraft: [00:11:53] Totally. It totally makes sense. Yeah. Yeah, so that, that theory makes sense [00:12:00] and it's playing out in my life. I can tell you know, cause I, I just had my first child four months ago, so sleep has been, kind of one of the first things to go and, and stuff. So I can tell if I go a day or two or three, less sleep, less quality sleep.

The first thing to go is the mental state, like the mental sharpness and clarity. Like I can still go and workout. I can still run, probably have a lot less motivation to do but physically I'm still there mentally. It feels like it goes first. 

Jim Davis: [00:12:39] Jase, I want to hear more about that because I think that's, I think that's you're exactly right.

And I'm glad that you're self-aware enough to tune into that. And I, because what you're mentioning is something that is happening almost all the time. At least that's what I believe that number that I mentioned that sub eight number when, you know the national average is in the sevens. [00:13:00] K, but it's not in the force.

If we were in the fours, we would be totally debilitated as a nation, but, but if we're, if we're in the sevens, like you said, you can get through a day. You can, you you can operate like, you can be there but like you say, Tell me that phrasing again, but you're just not functioning as high as you otherwise would have.

Does that feel right? 

Jase Kraft: [00:13:24] Yeah, I think like the first thing to go is mental clarity. And you just feel a little bit more in a fog. You need caffeine to help. For me, it's like caffeine helps motivate because I'm just not into the level where I need to be, or, oh, I guess maybe arousal might be the right word.

Not like in a sexual way, but arousal to the task at hand, you have to have some sort of motivation, short-term motivation to go do a task. And that seems to be lacking [00:14:00] unless I have that extra caffeine that, helps me kind get over the edge and wake up, more or less.

But the physical aspect is still there for me. It's just the mental part that makes it a lot harder to think. 

Jim Davis: [00:14:16] Yeah, I think you're exactly right when we, we do a lot of workshops and surveys both from the team level and on the professional level in this area. And you're describing is really common.

That's a, that's what a lot of people say, fog, brain fog is usually one of the first things clarity ability to sustain focus. It's funny because what we find, and you're a perfect example of this is like high achieving folks, like people who are motivated to do great things are sometimes the most at risk for this sort of low level chronic sleep deprivation, which is you know,  graduate students and [00:15:00] professors and doctors and they're the ones that are, they're sleep deprived oftentimes.

Once you understand, what did he graded state does to your cognitive capacity, to your ability? You recall your ability to retain information and pull out existing memory banks? You're like, I got to read 300 pages today as a graduate student or whatever, or this, over the course of these days but, and I'm going to stay up late to do it, but as I stay up late, I am not only am I not focusing as well now, but I'm predisposing myself to tomorrow.

Also not being able to focus, it's this, it's this really challenging ripple effect. And you mentioned a big one. I'm holding a cup of coffee right now, but it's, it's funny you watch, if you watch. Here. This is a kind of a toy theory I'm playing with. But if you assume that the amount of Starbucks locations is somehow related to the total amount of caffeine consumption by our population, [00:16:00] which doesn't seem like a terrible stretch, there's a market for, so you watch the rise of Starbucks locations and you watch the sort of downfall, just basically you have to change the scale for the graph to be compelling.

But  the, the amount of the national sleep average going down, these things are almost inverting, one beside  the other. And the truth is we don't we trick ourselves, I think, through these other strategies, like with caffeine to thinking that we are well rested but we are not.


Jase Kraft: [00:16:34] yeah, we're staying busy  doing a lot of low level tasks that. Keep your body busy, but your minds is not there. And I think that ultimately what we talked about, burnout a lot on the show and you know, that's kinda, my story through college is burned out from my sport a little bit and a [00:17:00] lot of and I think sleep has a lot to do with that.

And I can, I can tell based kind of early signs of burnout back in college too, now I have a lot going on with, I started this podcast production company. You know, I obviously have this podcast, I just had a baby is deaf. So there's a lot going on. And it's all stuff that I love, so I should be on top of the world.

But I can sense sometimes I can sense the early stages of burnout. The only thing that keeps me going right now is I get I nap. Nap every afternoon. And then that resets my like motivation and stuff. Otherwise I would just like that afternoon is so hard for me. If I don't get that in.

So I, I want to ask you about napping. What's your thoughts on napping as far as a tool to [00:18:00] supplement nightly sleep or a tool for recovery? 

Jim Davis: [00:18:06] I think napping is amazing. I think napping is it's the healthy alternative to coffee, and unfortunately it's just stigmatized, there's, if we were a purely science driven country or people not forget, I don't mean to say country just humans in general, if we were if we were willing to confront some trubes of science, we would say starting work at a certain hour is silly. We would say stigmatizing naps and things like that is silly. There's so much that we do that's counterproductive and counter even to our organizational missions oftentimes. And that's where that's, when some of the you know, we do some, we do education consulting and when we go into a place, the first thing we start with is does your behavior match your goal?

We do these like very purpose driven [00:19:00] workshops. Does your behavior match your goal and to get to the napping idea, if on a very basic rudimentary level, if you say as, as say, you're the CEO and you want your people to be happy, healthy well, and important for the company productive. Okay. Let's just say you want that.

There are studies that show. I remember this because of the amount of twos involved that if you, if you take a nap around two o'clock for about 20 minutes, 20 minutes around two o'clock you're about 20% more productive down the back stretch of your day. And it, it's funny because if you were to go to one of those CEOs, not say that you're talking about sleep, not say to you're talking about naps and say Hey, I got I got this pretty much free thing.

That, that all, it's going to require some professional development within your building. I've got this free strategy that is going to improve [00:20:00] productivity across your workforce by 20%. Are you interested? I think conceptually people like, yeah, but then you tell them it requires 20 minutes away from work people, people bristle him in and it doesn't sit right with them.

You know, and I think it's largely to do. Go ahead. 

Jase Kraft: [00:20:21] It's the whole concept of regrouping before pushing again. And then you'd take this, like into your workout regimen. See a lot with  especially in the high school age where high school students,  they're really motivated and they want to make it to professional level and they're fed all this like raw work, as hard as you can, as long as you can, wake up at 4:00 AM, do this eat only whatever.

And that's all good stuff, good intention stuff. But when [00:21:00] it comes at the expense of actually recovering from that's when. We get into trouble. Same thing, like with this nap idea, it's hard for those athletes to take a step back and be like, Hey, if I'm not doing anything today, like if I'm not working my butt off today, I'm going backwards.

Not forwards where it does not actually the case. I see that with napping as well. Yeah. 

Jim Davis: [00:21:24] I'm sure you're right. And you're at an all of those ideas. I think the truth is that's. Why does your behavior match? Your goal is such an important part of who we are as an organization. It's maybe some people need to be kicked in the butt, if motivation is low and then those like hype videos motivation has its place.

It's just recognizing what the problem is. You have to see the problem clearly if you want to solve it. You know, if you want to be successful, then I think too often we cut and paste this. Grind mentality on people. [00:22:00] Assuming that lack of motivation is the sole concern. And we don't teach people the right way to navigate that.

And even every individual person. So I'll say this cause I've written about that before. I've spoken about it before. I'm about to cuss. I think the, I think some of those some of the, I don't know what you'd call them influencers, who I believe are well-intended are just spewing like dangerous, bullshit to young people.

And I have one guy in particular who like I think, I believe, I think I believe in him. I think he's probably changed people's lives for the better on the whole, but he's preaching thing. There's a direct quote in one of his speeches. That's you've got, gotta be willing to give up sleep.

You got to go four hours a night on sleep. Like how can you like, and that's such a, you hear that a lot. It's an unbelievably dangerous. Concept it's silly. Like it doesn't make any sense from a scientific perspective that [00:23:00] they're trying to motivate. And I get that totally. But what happened, it's almost like worst case scenario.

They actually listened to you, and, and like, and maybe you get more done in a day, a couple times, but all of a sudden, and this is real, all of a sudden, you've got someone who is, like you mentioned burning out at far greater risk of mental health concerns. Okay. Like far greater and that you can break down they call it YRB S youth risk behavior survey.

You can break that down on a national level and compare sleep deprivation. It's low levels of sleep. It's not true sleep deprivation the way they measure it. But that, to all the mental health concerns, including like feeling sad and hopeless making a plan to attempt suicide and actually trying to harm themselves.

I don't know if that is a. I dunno if that's a, yeah I'm sorry to just throw that out there. I hope that's not. No, I mean like it doubles almost every category [00:24:00] being sleep deprived. So these guys are, it frustrates me a lot. 

Jase Kraft: [00:24:06] It's a slow creep too. It's not like it's not something that you notice right away, but like you gradually get less productive in your work or in your workouts.

You know, even like we talked about before on this show about intentionality and what you're doing in your workouts, like you can, there's working out and, knowing what you're doing, why you're doing it, how you're doing it. And then there's working out, that's just going through the motions and I'm supposed to move my arm like this or whatever, and those are going to have two different impacts on your performance later.

One being, you need that intentionality with it. And I think you just [00:25:00] slowly lose that when you're in that sleep deprivation  and stuff. But let's get into how to actually how to get sleep a busy life, how to make the most of, the sleep that you're going to get prioritizing, that kind of stuff.

What do you talk about with your athletes on how to do this? 

Jim Davis: [00:25:22] So I, we, we do, we go through a few steps. The first one is just identifying purpose. I think that's one of the things that people so often forget to do. They say I'm, process-oriented I'm purpose driven. I got goals, all that kind of stuff.

That's fine. But I don't think people take enough time to really think through that to no fault of their own. We talked on the last podcast I've been to graduate. You know, I've got multiple degrees at, and I say that now I'm not bragging. I got a lot of student debt. That's all I'm saying. But, and, and I never, throughout the course of my education learned to do this stuff well.

So I I'm, I'm both [00:26:00] critiquing and forgiving everyone. Who's I'm goal directed here, but doesn't understand that the sort of ancillary the components, the factor, all the things that go into it. What I would say is the first step we do always is you know, going back to that idea, does your behavior metric goal?

First we have to identify what your goal is. Oftentimes that includes addressing the fact that goals are not ends in and of themselves. They're signposts along the way to the fulfillment of a bigger purpose. And that's just, that's true. And I think that's healthy in a psychological way from all angles.

So identifying what some goals are and working with someone to say, okay, this is your cluster  of goals. Can we pull out a more overarching purpose from that? So purpose goals that are going to let you know, if you're on the right path, that's really essential. And then the phrasing of that [00:27:00] thing is important.

Does your behavior match your goal? The next part of it, I said, first part is goal. Second part is your behavior. So it's analysis, not of necessarily the world at large, but what are you doing? What are the steps you're taking to move down that path? What what, what from, what is under your control?

Are you looking closely at what are you doing well and what needs to be adjusted? So that's a lot. I haven't even gotten to your, how do you sleep? Question, but you really can't get to it. Until you do that more base level work because if you don't do that base level work and then do some work to understand how sleep is going to influence that purpose, that process, all that kind of stuff, then it's, then it doesn't click at 2:00 AM that, okay.

I need to go to bed because of all these, the rationale is not there. People don't like being told what to do. People like making decisions that align with [00:28:00] the outcomes that they want for themselves. 

Jase Kraft: [00:28:03] And I think you did answer the question because it's not necessarily everybody knows how to go to sleep.

You go to your bed, you lay your head on your pillow and then, you just, you do sleep that's right. The problem comes in with the motivation to actually do it. And I think that's really what you were touching on is the purpose of if you know, The purpose of your life at this you cause goals, purposes, life goals, change.

But if you like what you're working to, and then you understand like, Hey, sleep is a part of this, then you're more likely to have that intrinsic motivation to go and do it rather than somebody like your coach saying, go do it. So if you're a coach and you're listening to this [00:29:00] rather than saying, Hey, make sure you're in bed by 10 o'clock tonight all right, you hear this all the time on like trips where this is a business trip, go to bed at X time, gonna walk the halls and make sure everybody's going to bed. I was on a team that. We need that. In, in college, like it was, we were all purpose-driven we knew, like we're going to nationals for a specific purpose.

We've worked, X amount of time for it. Like it wasn't that we needed that external motivation. We already done that work of, Hey, this is, this night of sleep is important for the race to come for the training to come. So when you connect those dots, it's easier to go to bed. 

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Jim Davis: [00:31:15] You're totally right. I think that's and, and I'll throw out there just I hope any coaches listening this, we have a podcast as well. We've we talk about sleep all the time and, and things like that. And in goal directed behavior and how to get your team on that page, I'd throw out there that if any coaches want to know to some, it sounds really easy to get everyone on the shared purpose and then remind them to go to bed.

It really it's more challenging work. So if anyone wants to, if anyone's interested in a workshop, that's literally the stuff that we do is we work with teams and coaches to set that roadmap up because you are exactly right. It's I can't tell you how many times a coach, I think about, college football games sleeping in a hotel, and the coach [00:32:00] saying exactly that, and, lights out at blank and look discipline, or fear of punishment has never made me sleep well.

And we're just using sleep as the thing here, but it's also never really changed me for the longterm in any way. You know, the behavioral shifts that we all go through. They happen. Like you use a word intrinsic motivation. It always happens from the inside out. You hear this all the time.

What kind of athlete are you when no one's looking. That is, that's not just a cliche. That's a really legitimate question. And and, and I want to say that I would into any athletes who might be listening to this, forgive yourself if you're not there right away. Cause cause that's something that can certainly be built.

I mentioned that I went through two rounds of grad school, never knowing how to do this dude. My last, I don't know if this is interesting, but it might be helpful and shine some light on some ideas. My last project in grad school was all about how exercise [00:33:00] influenced cognitive states and aspect of states, mood, focus, wakefulness.

That's where I was. How does exercise influence those things? When I finished that project, I started looking at all the confounding variables and the most powerful of them all was sleep. And I say that because it wasn't until a year or two out of my second round of graduate school that I really started to prioritize sleep in my own life.

And it has been one of the biggest game changers that I've experienced, but it didn't happen in any real way until I understood it, prioritized it, aligned it with the things that I was trying to achieve. Only then could I find the discipline to do it? 

Jase Kraft: [00:33:46] So how much, yeah, how much sleep did you start getting after that?

Jim Davis: [00:33:53] I am at nine. I am at nine hours and I say that because you [00:34:00] know, there's that idea that you hit what you aim for? Oftentimes, but I don't hit nine that often. But I aim at night and I think, I aim at nine. It's rare these days that I don't get eight that said it doesn't mean that I'm asleep for eight hours, because now we really can get into sort of the nitty-gritty habits of sleep, different things.

Like what did I eat that day? When was the last time I had caffeine? What did I have for dinner? Did I have a heavy fatty dinner? And my body's processing it. And therefore my internal body temperature is up and I'm having a hard time falling to sleep. Do you know, it's summer right now in Chicago and it's getting humid and warm, the temperature of the room matters.

So there's all these other sort of factors, but I'm pretty disciplined to this. At least a, I call it a sleep opportunity to giving myself a minimum eight hours sleep opportunity. And I find that if I if I do that regularly enough, that [00:35:00] feeling pretty good. 

Jase Kraft: [00:35:04] Yeah, I think most people. But I'm not gonna speak for most people.

For me. I always like, especially with this nap routine that I had, I always struggled with like identifying myself as lazy for taking a nap or identify myself as lazy for, and I think that goes back to the whole culture around it. So it's not true. You're actually, smarter, more productive afterwards.

And I've learned that I can take a nap for 15, 20 minutes and then my afternoon, like a, it's just like my morning instead of, less productive. But I want to get into the quality on that. 

Jim Davis: [00:35:47] Yeah. 

Jase Kraft: [00:35:47] How to improve your quality of sleep. And I've heard this quote, I think it was actually from Nick little Hales.

Who's the sports sleep coach. We've had him on the show back in like [00:36:00] episode 10, 9, 10, 11, somewhere in there. He says that sleeping, the quality of your sleep is actually determined by what you do when you're awake. And it's like this mindset shift where it's once you're you're asleep, you can't control that.

It's what you do leading up to it, what you do during the day, that's going to affect the quality of your sleep. So I'm curious to know from you what are some things that you can do before bed in your opinion, or what you've seen work to improve the quality of sleep, help get to sleep faster, et cetera.

Jim Davis: [00:36:37] Yeah. I think Nick is exactly right. I think that's, I think that's right. It's  okay. A few quick things. Number one, going on Nick's idea, the more active you are during the day, the more your body's just going to naturally gear itself toward sound quality rest. And that's something that's really come up through the pandemic actually is, more and more [00:37:00] sedentary behavior.

And more sleep concerns. Not necessarily and there's all sorts of, you don't know which direction that's going in. Are people stressed out from the pandemic and they're not sleeping well. And that's why but one very real factor is if you're  sedentary all day your sleep drive will be lower.

And if you're, whereas if you're active you, you stay in this sort of regular, very human embodied. You know, it was a set of inclinations, so active during the day, you're hungry when you're hungry, active during the day. And when you get tired, you go to sleep. So that's the first one be active caffeine past, I've said noon now.

I don't have caffeine past noon if I can help it. The latest I will go, even if I'm having like a real grind of a day and I just got work, work. [00:38:00] I still won't have, I won't touch it past two. That's like the absolute latest I'll go. And I'm just like religious about that. I used to think, and I think it was inspired by my grandma who used to have a cup of coffee after dinner or something like that.

But yeah, but used to go, I'll I'll have a small cup of four or five just to finish, just finish out the day. I'm very, I'm very thoughtful about caffeine consumption. So we've hit two things active during the day, monitor caffeine consumption the sort of food that you eat relative to when you eat it matters.

If you think about this, like your body ratchets down, like it turns down the temperature when you move toward rest. So the more you ask it to do from a, the digestive  system to do at, or near  sleep, it's counterintuitive from the food coma idea. Cause if you have a big, heavy fatty meal late.

You're processing that. And a couple things are [00:39:00] happening now, you're getting nutrients, including sugars and things like that are getting into the bloodstream. Probably don't hit until, say you go to bed at 11. Maybe you're not hitting till 12:31 AM. So it's this there's latency stage there, but then all of a sudden you've got a spike in blood sugar, also your internal core temperature, because it's trying to break down all this food is higher.

So I try, I definitely try not to eat heavy late. That's a really important one. That's a good transition. Yeah. 

Jase Kraft: [00:39:31] Would you suggest having a heavier breakfast, lighter dinner, like reversing what normal America do does or does as long as you're having your dinner, two, three hours before bed, does it really matter?

Jim Davis: [00:39:49] That's a really good question. I think I, it totally context dependent. I would say that we're tapping on one of the most complicated. Parts of that bedrock concept, eat, move, sleep. [00:40:00] The eat part is one of those complicated because it's individualized. I actually, I don't eat heavy early. I eat very light on the front half of the day.

I have tried to develop some self-awareness around you can call it like a late breakfast or early lunch. But for, for me a ribeye is like my favorite dinner. And I just make sure that I'm not eating it at 10 30 at night, so I don't, I don't necessarily front-load the day.

I don't technically intermittent fast either the proponents of intermittent fasting might say that I do because I don't have a big healthy breakfast. So yeah, I, I, that one is that's super individualized, so I'm not sure that I could, 

Jase Kraft: [00:40:51] because culture has pushed to the heavy dinner.

Yeah. We talked about It's just harder to bring a big lunch to [00:41:00] work. And then if you have a big line to naturally want to take a nap afterwards, because your body's working on digesting that and stuff, which you know, in some cultures they have a siesta, which I'm all for after lunch. That's 

Jim Davis: [00:41:15] actually, 

Jase Kraft: [00:41:17] yeah.

That's actually what I do. I have my lunch and then I take my nap. That's great. So anyways, I have five meals a day. I have breakfast, smaller and spread out. Yeah. So I wouldn't say I ever sometimes I Gorge myself on like dinner fits at a party or something that's really good, or going out to eat.

Just because I like food, I like taste and it's enjoyable, and I think it's. Okay. To have the experiences long as you're not, doing it every  day. Yeah. But yeah, anyways, maybe I started track to do there. I think you were going 

Jim Davis: [00:41:55] into no, I think you're right. I think just to put a pin in that idea [00:42:00] first of all, yeah, I think it is okay to indulge in food every now and then you don't want to build any negative stigmas around that, but, it's just, you don't necessarily want that to be the norm, but it's okay.

Especially with family and friends to go have a meal and you know yeah. And yeah, just  enjoy that. That feels like a great idea. In fact you know, but does your behavior match your goal? The more you're onboarding, big, heavy feeds and lots of calories, the more your body's going to change in accordance with that behavior.

You just gotta know what you're getting into. But yeah, so that's important. And then you transition temperature. Temperature's a big one. Temperature is one that I did not. Understand well enough early enough to maximize, but I'm so I am so glad that get it now. You know, when I was a kid, we didn't have air conditioning in our house.

We had some window units. So I would find myself in the summer, I'd be [00:43:00] sleeping on a couch down by downstairs  window unit because it was so cause I would get so hot. And I think back to that, and I'm like, man, I wonder how many nights of sleep I missed out on. Cause it's almost like sleep deprivation.

You get used to sleeping in the warmer weather, but you, you might not ever get to the ideal state where max recovery is happening. And it's one of the reasons people claim to sleep so well in hotel rooms you know, nice clean beds but temperature control, so temperature has been a big one for me.

I Yeah, temperature has been probably the biggest game changer in my sleep quality aside from just like prioritizing and having the discipline to turn off Netflix and go to bed. And that would actually probably lead me to the last one. The last one is a psychological stimulus in all its variations.

People talk a lot about light, which is important. And I think that is that's true. [00:44:00] But when you think about where the light is coming from down the final stretch of your day well I'll touch on the lighting just in case people haven't heard of it. There's this thought that if you have light coming in blue light has been especially demonized, but the truth is that it's just about any kind of light.

If lights coming in you're you are not receiving signals that it's time to go to bed. Theoretically but truly, melatonin, which is a naturally, it's a sleep supplement now, but it's naturally produced melatonin. Doesn't start to kick the way that would, lend itself to a normal circadian rhythm.

And and, and you could potentially stay alert or in a state of arousal, like you mentioned for longer, the sort of hidden piece of that is that, you consider the source of light at that time of night down the backstretch of your day. And there's almost always a psychological, not almost, there is a [00:45:00] psychological component there that ought to be considered.

What's the  input. Is it is it mindless  scrolling on social media? Is it a deadline at work that you're trying to figure out? Are you watching a movie because there's obviously like stress and there's reaction that goes on there. All of these factors are important. So considering not only the light that's coming in, but the source of the media that you're intaking late is really important.

And you think one way to think about that is go all the way back to when you were a kid and you're, maybe your parents didn't let you watch a scary movie before bed. You know, w we should consider those things too. Are we getting all riled up by political commentary right before sleep, while we're going to have to wrestle through that?

Before we can throttle down, calm ourselves down and go to bed. 

Jase Kraft: [00:45:51] Yeah. So dig into this psychological stress. Cause I don't, it's something that we really haven't talked about on this podcast yet. [00:46:00] And I'll give some examples of What I see, cause I know exactly what you're talking about in my life.

And then I'll let you share like some things that happen that rile you up or things that you put away before bed to make sure you sleep well. One is so our brains, like stories and I hate going to bed. If I watch half a movie or half a TV show, especially if I haven't seen it yet, cause it's leaving me like what's going  to happen, and I need this close  loop on it. I, I try to is something that I've gotten better at. Cause my wife doesn't necessarily always like to just finish things up. She's okay, we're  going to bed. And, but for me that like bugs me because I need to know that the end the other thing is [00:47:00] if I in the middle of a project.

Work or my business I know I need to finish that before going to bed. But not always finish it. Just have a to-do list for the next day. Yep. Done put away. So then I don't have to think about it. And then I don't check any emails. Late at night, I shouldn't say that I try not to check an email late at night.

You know, because there's, those are where all the fires come through as far as work and those kinds of stuff. So I don't want to see anything that might trigger oh, what's this going to happen? Or how do I deal with that? They can wait until the end of the day. I have my phone to set on do not disturb at eight o'clock eight, 8:00 PM every night.

So then I'm not getting any of those notifications. But I do have it still. So my immediate family can call and get through to me. But anybody else is shut off. So those are just some things that I've done. [00:48:00] What about you? 

Jim Davis: [00:48:01] I want to know more. Okay. So how do you, what's the setting? That's a really good tool that I think people should have.

How do you set it on do not disturb? Do you click certain contexts that are exceptions to that? 

Jase Kraft: [00:48:13] Yeah. I have a Google pixel. It's Android. I know you can do it on any Android advice. It's just in your settings, you go to your like, do not disturb settings and you'll you can schedule then the do not disturb.

Yeah. And then on your contacts list, and then I think it says do not disturb except for these contacts. And then I have just, starred contacts of any of my immediate family or in-laws they can call or text and I'll still get the notification and the ding and all that kind of stuff.

So if somebody would call me in the middle of the night yeah. Have it. 

Jim Davis: [00:48:59] Does that [00:49:00] work for iPhone? They must have something semi comparable. 

Jase Kraft: [00:49:03] Sure. It does. I'm iPhone illiterate. So I wouldn't know, but I gotta look that up. 

Jim Davis: [00:49:09] JaseThat's a really good tool, right? Because I think you have, and that's such a, self-awareness is the number one skill that we try to support people with self-awareness and that is so interesting because you know, people don't want to just shut down from the outside world.

And I like this exceptions thing. I'm going to try to figure out how to use it on my phone because to sh to cut everyone else off at 8:00 PM actually seems really healthy psychologically. You know what I mean? Because like you said, you don't want to start a thread that you can't finish, and now that's on your mind as you're trying to fall asleep, but you also don't necessarily want to close out.

Your mom or whatever your, your sister who just bought a new house and might need help, whatever. So if you can create a [00:50:00] little, a short, I would recommend people, a short list of exceptions but shut down the rest of it. That is a powerful, that's a powerful tool. Cool. 

Jase Kraft: [00:50:10] And then allows you to leave your sound on.

Yeah, so then you can you're going to sleep easy knowing that if your wife's traveling or if your kids are out traveling or whatever, they can call you, you can still get ahold of you. You know, wow. But anyways, is there a routine or some things that you do that or you tell your athletes to do or seeing.

Happened before sleep. That really helps you get into that sleep mindset. 

Jim Davis: [00:50:42] I think yes. The one I give athletes is especially important. Most of the work that we do with athletes is after the school day. So we start at three 30 or  four o'clock and you consider like a long practice would go, I don't know, say you're 6 37, something like that.

[00:51:00] I mean, that'd be a long day, but you get the idea. What, one thing that's really important for sleep quality is we try to front load hydration, posts, post training. And, and that's a big one. You probably know this, but if you, if you're trying to make up for, if you're feeling dehydrated 11, there you go.

Hydrating as we speak. 

Jase Kraft: [00:51:19] Yeah. You said hydration made me, 

Jim Davis: [00:51:23] but if you're trying to, if you're feeling dehydrated at 10, o'clock 10 30 and you're trying to you know, get good rest for the night. But you chugging water before you go to bed. You getting up to pee is a very real sleep disturbance and that happens to everybody.

And so that's one that we really try to be sensitive to. So front-load meaning as soon as you're done training start the hydration process. We try to shut that down. Within a couple hours of intended bedtime, that's a really big one for athletes for everyone, really, but [00:52:00] for athletes the food thing we already talked about you know and being strategic about that.

And now that I think about it, one of the biggest things, Jace that people miss out on is they forget to count what I mean by that is they forget to count from their needed wake up time backwards to figure out when they actually have to be in bed. So like it was called a high school kid. They've got to, okay.

They start school at 8:00 AM. Say. And, you've gotta be some self-reflective how long it's taken to get ready. How long it's take me to get there, whatever to do this. I've gotta be up by 6 45. I don't know how, but we'll use that as the number. Okay. 6 45. If you want, if you're getting up at 6 45, you can't just go to bed when you're tired.

If you're able to 6 45, you have to count backwards. So let's round that to seven, just so I don't look down and do easy math seven, you're going back to 11. If you are, you must be in bed you know, on the pillow [00:53:00] throttling down by 11, or you got no shot, right? And the real truth is you probably need call it like a 15, 20 minute buffer.

So you name it like 10 45 for a 7:00 AM, wake-up call. But the, but as we've been discussing you, can't just shut it down at 10 45. So one thing that we actually ask our athletes to do is we start with these. Go way back. We call them character by design workshops, but these purpose workshops we asked them to identify one of the most poignant goals.

One of the ones that has the most emotional resonance with them and take that with them as a reminder, as they progress through whatever their process looks like. And I say all that to get to this idea. If you're, if you've done your counting, here's when I have to wake up. Here's what I have to be in bed.

Here's my buffer time go an hour ahead of that. Set an alarm with a reminder of your goal and start throttling [00:54:00] down for the night. So in that case, we've got kids. If let's just use that those numbers at 9 45, 9 39 45 it's conference championship, let's go throttle, whatever. And then you start your pre bed routine.

You give yourself a little clearance to start ending conversations you might be having finish up the last little bit of homework. Decide whether or not you have time to finish the episode on Netflix, but you start that sort of reflective throttled down process. That's been a very helpful thing to it to all of it.

But the truth is these are I mentioned, five or six different like areas, temperature, psychological stimulation, habits, counting back, all these kinds of things, what to eat. But the truth is it all, it has to be purpose driven. And and that that's the [00:55:00] one missing component. What we find oftentimes is especially in an Instagram age, a lot of young people know a lot of young people are aware of the tools, but they don't they don't know how to use them.

So they might hear that no blue light, for example, that's a poppy thing that's important, but. But if you don't have, if you're not driven toward this ultimate purpose and you're not intrinsically motivated enough to turn off the blue light, then your understanding doesn't align with your motivation well enough to change your behavior.

So it is definitely, it's a composite picture. There's no one-off answer. It is it's necessary work. It's complicated at first, but much like a runner like you, that you develop a fitness for it, and then all of a sudden you're doing these things and putting these pieces to get together in your life, and then you find yourself liberated.

It sounds like a lot of work once you've got it, it's it really is not. And and you feel much better while doing it. So 

[00:56:00] Jase Kraft: [00:56:00] yeah. It's all about just building the habit muscle to make it a routine. 

Jim Davis: [00:56:06] Yeah, exactly. 

Jase Kraft: [00:56:08] Exactly. It does get harder when you travel. And when you know you put in.

In different situations and stuff. So we don't have a ton of time left, but if somebody was traveling do you, I what are some kind of core tenants to say? These are definitely what you keep the same. You can let go of some of this or is it all just keep the same as much as possible.

Jim Davis: [00:56:41] Maybe if you're talking about something like sleep routine matters. So the closer you can get to normal, it is what it is, but that's why you, so when I travel and I pre pandemic traveled a lot, I hope to get back to it. One of the things that I do while I'm on the plane is I do I just write, does your behavior [00:57:00] match your goal?

It's just, it's a mantra. It's not a thing that I throw out there. It's part of my life and everyone involved with our project I just  asked myself what is, what are the next two days going to look like? I'm at a conference, I've got a presentation say at this time, I got to wake up at this time.

I just think through it, the big thing is I forgive myself. I tried to forgive myself pretty easily if I don't get my eight hours sleep or whatever, but I also try not to get sucked into it. If I don't get eight hours, there's something intentional. Like for yesterday I had an early morning training about twenty-five minutes away, but that 25 minutes could have taken me an hour with traffic.

So I just left extra early. I knew I wasn't going to get eight hours. And I was, I was I just made peace with that and said, okay, the next night, I'm going to be really sure that I gave it hours. I'm gonna make peace with it for today. I'm going to deal with it. I'm going to manage it. And then tomorrow I'm gonna be [00:58:00] better.

And that actually, sort of as just to bring the whole thing together that comes back to, I think we talked about self-talk a little bit in our last conversation, but that's a powerful factor to the self-talk like, if you are. If you prioritize sleep or you want to get sleep and know it's important, find yourself in a situation where you're not going to get it worrying about not getting it is self-defeating.

So it's a really good practice I would say, is being grateful for the sleep opportunity that you do have knowing that like your body's going to do its best to take care of you. And the next chance you have to get a full night's sleep, you'll go for it, and you try to alleviate stress. I found that, yeah, 

Jase Kraft: [00:58:47] you don't want to, you don't want to add to the lack of sleep by worrying about the lack of sleep. 

Jim Davis: [00:58:56] Sure. You've been there for it. That happens, dude. That is [00:59:00] regular. That happens all the time for people. 

Jase Kraft: [00:59:01] Yeah. Yeah, totally. Awesome. Well, this has been a great conversation about sleep and about mindset and about finding your purpose and really how that's going to get neck to all of your habits.

 You had mentioned your podcast, it's called the good athlete podcast, right? 

Jim Davis: [00:59:21] Yes, sir. 

Jase Kraft: [00:59:23] Awesome. Yeah. So go check that out, especially if you're a coach, go check that out. You also have more resources thegoodathleteproject.com. I know the 

Jim Davis: [00:59:33] so good athlete project.com. We also have two websites or three websites now that we're building out.

We have beyond strength.net team embrace.net  team embraces focused on embracing the conversation of mental health and athletics and a new one that kind of while lines of what we're talking about today. Bedrock edu.com. So bet like bedrock education, [01:00:00] bedrock, edu.com. So building those all out to try to support coaches, athletes, parents, and just people moving through their lives.

Jase Kraft: [01:00:09] Yeah. Awesome. Jim, it was great to have you back on the show. I'm glad that we got to have this conversation there. We definitely wouldn't have done it. Justice trying to squeeze it in at the end of last week. Thanks so much for being here and everybody go follow him on social and his podcast.

Appreciate it, man. All right, episodes over. Have you found value in this episode, please consider giving us a review on iTunes and if you haven't already yet subscribe, do so now. So you don't miss any important topics in the coming week. And if you have any questions or suggestions for the show, please send them my way.

I am most responsive on Instagram. That's at J cheese, J a E T is like the food or email me directly at J S J a [01:01:00] S E at science of sports, recovery dot Tom toxin.


Jim Davis

Former professional football player, Champion powerlifter, Nationally recognized coach.

Jim Davis is the Director of Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. He founded the Good Athlete Project. Jim leads one of the largest and most successful strength programs in the nation. He is also the Founding Director of the Illinois High School Powerlifting Association.