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Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning podcast, I’m so grateful that you are here, listening with me at this time when there’s a lot of chaos and uncertainty in the world. I’m sure you are feeling it—I most certainly am—but I do know that this chaos that we are feeling will always be here. There’s always going to be something happening in the world, and we must be prepared and stay in control, without letting outside influences impact our results. This is one of the key strategies used by the most successful people in the world. They have all have developed sound systems, with a clear plan to follow, and they don’t ever veer of their path. This uncertainty surely has the ability to knock the best of us, even the most productive, off course, without a clearly defined plan in place.

My name is Andrea Samadi, and if you are new here, I’m a former educator who created this podcast to bring the most current neuroscience research, along with high performing experts who have risen to the top of their field with specific strategies or ideas that you can implement immediately, to take your results to the next level.

First of all, I want to thank everyone who has followed, supported and shared this content. With this episode, we are now at over 20,000 downloads, reaching over 110 countries. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to create and share these ideas with such a wide audience. This has been the most powerful learning opportunity I have ever been involved with, and with each expert that we bring on here, we are learning the most current success strategies, to help us to all stay on track.  Here’s what we have covered so far on this podcast, so you can see where we started and where we are going.

Season 1 EPISODES 1-33 introduced the social, emotional and interpersonal competencies to help parents, educators and those in the workplace to bridge the noticeable gap with SEL Competencies like growth mindset, responsible decision-making, self-awareness, social awareness, self-regulation and relationship building. We know that interventions that address these competencies increased students’ academic performance by 11 percentile points[i], compared to students who did not participate in such programs. Students learning these competencies also showed improved classroom behavior, an increased ability to manage stress and depression, and better attitudes about themselves, others, and school. The case is clear that these competencies are important for us to practice whether we are a teacher working in the classroom, a parent working with our children at home, or even how we interact with each other in the workplace.  Implementing these SEL competencies are the first step towards bridging the gap that employers have noticed exists in the workplace today.

Season 2  EPISODES 34-67 introduced more high-level experts with cognitive strategies from many different fields, with a focus on improving learning, focus, attention, goal setting, planning, perseverance and problem solving.  These are the core skills that our brain uses to think, read, remember, reason and pay attention and each guest explained how they use these skills for improved, consistent, predictable results in their field.

Moving into Season 3 now, with EPISODES 68 and onwards we are diving deeper into these 5 competencies by connecting them to well-known authors and experts and bringing in a cognitive connection. The more ideas, thoughts, and strategies that we can implement in our day to day lives, with our brain in mind, the more productive we will be. If we can learn to do everything with our brain in mind, the results will not only show up in our personal or academic/work lives, but we will be increasing our emotional intelligence at the same time—a skill that will prepare us for future life success.

This week, episode #71 focuses on applying self-regulation (everything that we do to feel better) with a close look at Dr. Shane Creado’s Peak Sleep Performance for Athletes: The Cutting-Edge Sleep Science That Will Guarantee a Competitive Advantage. [ii]

If you have been listening to these episodes, and studying brain strategies, you will know that sleep is not only important for sports performance, or for elite athletes, but work and brain performance as well.  This episode we will continue to make connections for how we can pinpoint an area of our life to improve our results with these new ideas.

I first heard Dr. Shane Creado[iii] speak on Dr. Amen’s Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, and he caught my undivided attention when he said that “your brain health and sports performance cannot be optimized unless your sleep is optimized. Once this is achieved, your quality of life will skyrocket.” Dr. Amen mentioned that he thinks this is one of the reasons why there’s an increase in mental health issues in the country, because if we don’t get a good night’s sleep, all areas of our life will suffer. If this sentence didn’t catch my attention, I’m not sure what would.

I quickly bought Dr. Creado’s book and have reached out to him personally to see if I could dive even deeper into his work in person. Stay tuned, he will be our next interview, but in the meantime, I will break down the most important concepts from his book, that are not just important for me to share with you, but for me to practice as well. All of us will be at different stages of learning and implementation, depending on how long we have been working on these ideas. Sleep has been a topic that I have been learning, measuring and looking to improve for only the past year and a half and it’s not an area I would say I have mastered, yet, so join me in learning these tips, and I would love to know what  you think, if you learn anything new, and if you were able to implement any new ideas for new results. I would love to know. Send me a message on Linkedin, Twitter or Instagram.

Some quick facts that build a case for our need to put sleep first:

    1. Sleep debt adds up and is non-recoverable, and “getting six, four, two or zero hours of sleep resulted in impairments equivalent to consuming 2/3, 5/6, 7/8 or 10/11 beers respectively.”


    Even a single all-nighter can reduce your reaction time by more than 300%. (p21)Reducing your nighttime sleep by 1.5 hours for just one night could result in a reduction of daytime alertness by as much as 32%.Athletes who slept less than 8 hours/night had 1.7 times greater risk of being injured (p22)72% of sleepy MBA players are no longer in major leagues two years later. (p24)Sleep loss impacts the frontal lobes, temporal lobes, parietal lobes, and the amygdala “impairing judgement, decision-making, and worsens impulsivity (risk taking and moral reasoning), motivation, focus, memory, and learning. (p25)Not getting enough sleep causes people to react more emotionally to negative stimuli because their amygdala overreacts. (p26)Students with better sleep report higher GPAs and insufficient or poor-quality sleep predict a student’s academic performance. (p27)We need sleep not just after we learn something (to back it up on your hard drive so you don’t forget it) but before learning as well to make sure there is enough space on our hard drive to store it. (p28)The parietal lobes, associated with spatial awareness (critical in sports with visual processing, sense of direction) are impaired with lack of sleep putting you at risk of poor form, positioning, footwork and performance. (p29)The most shocking statistic I learned from Dr. Creado is that “60% of people with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) experience long-term difficulties with sleep” (p54) and that concussions cause sleep problems. Most people I know involved in athletics, have hit their head in some way, and I never would have made this connection between brain health and sleep, especially the fact that “sleep optimization is important before an athlete has a concussion, to reduce the risk of concussion.” (p58)Larry Fitzgerald (an NFL player) who I ran into often as our kids attended the same daycare when they were little has said that “on game days, that night I will for sure get 10 or 11 hours. I always get my rest and I think that’s one of the things that people don’t talk often about.” (p30)

I could go on and on and make a case for why sleep is so important for athletes, which easily transfers into our everyday life.  Sam Ramsden, the Director of Player Health and Performance of the Seattle Seahawks says that “sleep is a weapon” (p33) and that there are the countless ways that sleep impacts our health. Todd Woodcroft, former Assistant Coach to the Winnipeg Jets, currently the head coach of the Vermont Catamounts from episode 38[v] was right in line with Ramsden’s emphasis of the importance of sleep with his players in ice hockey, saying that “rest is the single most powerful weapon” and that they schedule sleep for their players all the time. It was interesting for me to speak this morning with Rick Miller, from the Oakland A’s Organization, as he told me that it’s been 30 years since he has played, but there was a stark difference from his experience with training. He told me that there was not a push to eat right or sleep well at all. It was the survival of the fittest where they would fit in meals when they could, and sleep when their crazy travel schedule allowed them to.  He compared it to the way athletes train today and said that he had zero access to the coaches that these young athletes have now. Athletes today are bigger, stronger, faster and are like machines, and they have to be because the competition is fierce. There are 20 people who can do exactly the same things as these athletes, so they need a competitive advantage, a way to step out and set themselves apart from the rest. Athletes today need to work at insanely higher levels than he was used to and live their sport every single day. Sleep is one of the many tools they use to do this.

If you want to dive deeper into all of the ways that a deficit of sleep impacts health and longevity, I highly recommend buying Dr. Creado’s book and following his work. You can find him on Instagram or YouTube @peaksleepperformance or his website  The good news is that we can all modify and improve our sleep routines for improvements that can have an immediate impact on our overall health, results and future.


TIP 1: Adopting the Mindset of an Elite Athlete

An elite athlete, who has made significant sacrifices with their training schedules, and life, would most likely never choose sugar, alcohol or foods they know are bad for their body, the night before a big game. They just know better, and we can all learn from the lifestyle and work ethic of an elite athlete to take our results to the next level.  Rick Miller reminded me that athletes today are taking this to the next level, and often doing it on their own. They know what they must do, and they are sticking to their plan.

Not at all the way things were 20 years ago, where athletes often flew by the seat of their pants.  Jeremy Roenick, a former professional ice hockey player said that he once “played 36 holes of golf with basketball legend Michael Jordan, who drank maybe 10 beers, and then went on to play for the Chicago Bulls that night…against the Cleveland Cavaliers, where Jordan put up 44 points to help the Bulls win by 24 points.”[vi] There’s always the exception to the rule, but the research is clear that over the long term, alcohol will impact your sleep, not help it, since it’s a depressant to the nervous system, and will more likely cause fragmented sleep. It might have worked out ok for Michael Jordan back in those days, but not today, with the high level of competition in pro sports.

Dr. Creado talked about the fact that reaction time is reduced by 300%[vii] with one night of sleep deprivation, that not only translates over to the impact on the athlete,  but think about the impact on sleep deprived medical professionals, or the facts that there are over 38,000 fatal auto accidents/year in this country[viii]  where Dr. Creado ties in the fact that “with one night of sleep deprivation of less that 4 hours of sleep, it’s like drinking 4-5 alcoholic beverages and is literally the same as if you were drunk.”[ix]

Implement this tip into your daily life: and think how could you improve your results by watching what you put into your body the night or even few days before an important presentation?  Think about how a good night’s sleep a week before something important (modeling the way athletes treat a big sports game) and notice how it can impact our results. We all know this. If we haven’t slept well, and we get into the car and drive, we know we are not as focused. When we work on our sleep, all areas of our life improve.

TIP 2: Empower Change with Fear: Understand Exactly How Sleep Impacts the Brain

By now, we’ve all heard that it’s bad for our brain to read our phones before we go to sleep because it disrupts our natural circadian rhythm (a 24-hour internal clock that runs in the background of your brain defining our sleep/wake cycle)[x] and keeps us awake. I even heard this go a step further when I heard Dr. Satchin Panda (a researcher in circadian rhythm) talk about the fact that even going to a brightly lit store a few hours before bedtime is a bad idea, since that bright blue light from LED lighting can negatively impact your sleep.[xi]  Your circadian rhythm works best when you have developed regular sleep habits, like going to sleep and waking up the same time every day (including weekends) and limiting your exposure to these bright blue LED lights that can disrupt our biological clock by suppressing the production of melatonin (the hormone that regulates our sleep cycle).

Dr. Creado found a trick to encouraging his younger patients to turn off their devices at night by teaching them how their brains work. He taught one young patient that “if he was sleep deprived, the hippocampus, (the area of the brain responsible for new memories and learning) functioning drops by 40% and that kind of impact could have a detrimental impact on his choice of his career and sport. It could also limit his ability to become physically fit.”[xii] The young man didn’t want his phone use to ruin his future dreams and plans, so he made the habit change needed.  But what about you?

Implement this tip into your daily life: and think about your use of the phone before you sleep. I can see how this strategy could help students who need to maximize new learning and their ability to remember what they are studying), especially if they are trying to get into a certain school, and their entire future is on the line, but would it motivate you to make a change here?

When I first started to learn more about brain health, I remember reading about the importance of shutting my phone off at night, to limit the amount of radiation coming from the phone, especially if it was next to my bed, and the importance of using the “night shift” feature that produces a dimmer light at night. While the research remains elusive if cell phones are really bad for us, and that “public health data shows no exposure to radio frequency energy from cell phones and health problems”[xiii] I still take notice when health experts I am studying talk about the fact that they do not sleep with electronic devices in their room at all.  It really made me think when I heard Dave Asprey, the founder of talking about the fact he wears blue light blocking glasses when he is using technology at night.[xiv]

TIP 3: Your Sleep Routine: Create regular “wake and out of bed times” that are consistent on a daily basis.

Create a bed time routine that takes into consideration a good bed (mattresses replaced every 7-10 years), with a room temperature in the mid-60s (F) or 16-19 degrees (C) and keeping lifestyle choices in mind like avoiding strenuous exercise four hours before bed time, and being aware of foods can disrupt sleep

Chapters 9, 10 and 11 of Dr. Creado’s book are dedicated to sleep performance habits and tips and I could spend the next couple of days writing about. Pick one or two new habits that you would like to implement like

    Choose your going to sleep/wake up time and stick to it.Decide how you will calm your mind before sleep (read/meditation).Block out lights in your room that might be keeping you awake or use a sleep mask so lights are blocked.Creado dedicates Ch 12 to sleep disorder supplements and it’s worthwhile reading up on his sleep promoting strategies and supplements.

When I speak with Dr. Creado for our next episode, I will go much deeper into the science behind sleep, the supplements he recommends, and more details on sleep strategies.

Just to review, there is a clear case that improving our sleep is not only important for sports performance, or for elite athletes, but work and brain performance as well.  There were 12 powerful statistics that caught my attention when reading Dr. Creado’s Peak Sleep Performance for Athletes, and that “60% of people with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) experience long-term difficulties with sleep” (p54) and that concussions cause sleep problems. Knowing how important sleep is for athletes, why wouldn’t we all want to optimize our sleep for improved performance? With the brain in mind, there are 3 thought provoking strategies to think about:

    Adopting the Mindset of an Elite Athlete: We can all learn from the lifestyle and work ethic of an elite athlete to take our results to the next level.Empower Change with Fear: Understanding Exactly How Sleep Impacts the Brain: I’m not sure which one of the many statistics would make enough of an impact on you to change with your sleep habits, but once you find it, here’s your answer to sticking to the change you want to create.Your Sleep Routine: Pick one or two new strategies to implement to improve your sleep and log your results. With time, you should notice an improvement in areas that go far beyond your health and daily results.

Let me know if you learned anything new with this episode that dives deep into self-regulation and sleep. I hope that you have found something helpful here to help you to create some sort of routine in these times of chaos and uncertainty. I know that we all create energy that goes out into the world, and my hopes are that these ideas help you to keep moving with positivity. Everything that we are all doing now, matters in the larger scheme of things. If we can create a solid framework now, then when more challenge or uncertainty comes our way, we will be prepared for it. Using these strategies will help you to keep those energy reservoirs high, so that when challenges hit you, you will be able to get back on track, with more resilience.

Stay well and see you with our next episode.


4 Ways to Naturally Improve Your Circadian Rhythm  by Thea Lund Dec.1, 2020 



[ii] Dr. Shane Creado’s Peak Sleep Performance for Athletes: The Cutting-Edge Sleep Science That Will Guarantee a Competitive Advantage (March 15, 2020)


[iv] Dr. Shane Creado’s Peak Sleep Performance for Athletes: Page 21

[v] Neuroscience Meets SEL Podcast EPISODE #38 with Todd Woodcroft on “The Daily Grind in the NHL”

[vi] Dr. Shane Creado’s Peak Sleep Performance for Athletes: The Cutting-Edge Sleep Science That Will Guarantee a Competitive Advantage (March 15, 2020) Page 7

[vii]Dr. Shane Creado The Link Between Sleep and Daytime Performance


[ix] Dr. Shane Creado The Link Between Sleep and Daytime Performance

[x] What is Circadian Rhythm?

[xi] Bulletproof Radio Podcast with Dave Asprey

[xii] Dr. Shane Creado’s Peak Sleep Performance for Athletes: Page 9


[xiv] Dave Asprey on Blue Light Glasses