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Sleep 101 - By Luke Taylor, Founder of Taylored Health & Performance

Sleep 101 - By Luke Taylor, Founder of Taylored Health & Performance

I'm Luke Taylor, co-owner of Taylored Health and Performance and Taylored Technologies, alongside my life/business partner Rachel Kelly.

Mitchells Nutrition has got me onboard to speak about the importance of sleep, science of sleep, and self-care strategies to optimise sleep...

Tell us a bit about the Taylored way, and your why behind your offerings?

Between the hub, leading clinical diagnostics, immersive 5-star retreats, and the new Taylored Life Podcast, we offer a holistic approach to health that focuses on four key pillars: mindset, lifestyle, nutrition, and movement. Through this philosophy, we help individuals make meaningful changes to their lives that promote better outcomes for their long-term health.

Our approach is grounded in the belief that the road to vibrant wellbeing shouldn’t be confusing or lonely. We focus on imparting simple, actionable, and sustainable tools and strategies that can positively shift the health trajectory and promote better outcomes for all. 

You both prioritise sleep as an essential daily practice for health and performance, has it always been a pillar for you?

We used to live by the phrase “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”. Both A-type personalities, we believed that sacrificing sleep for work and socialising was a necessary part of life. These habits eventually caught up on us… leading to chronic fatigue, pain, belly discomfort, gas, and other health issues that we now know were due to our lack of sleep and associated hustle. 

Looking back, we don't regret the fun we had, but we now know the toll this took on our health and how counterintuitive this was to our performance and productivity. 

We now promote the powerful 80/20 rule: if you prioritise your sleep 80% of the time, you will still have plenty of time for work, play, and socialising. 

"It's important to enjoy life, but it's also important to prioritise your health." - Luke

Can you briefly explain the sleep-wake cycle?

The sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm) is a 24-hour internal clock that regulates when we feel alert and when we feel sleepy. It is controlled by a part of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, which receives signals from our eyes that help synchronize our body's rhythms with the natural light-dark cycle. This cycle is essential to promote deep restoration of our minds and bodies during sleep, ensuring abundant energy throughout the day. 

Sleep architecture refers to the organisation of different sleep stages that occur during a typical night's sleep. 

There are two main types of sleep:  
1. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep
2. Non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. NREM sleep is further divided into three stages.  

The sleep cycle typically begins with NREM sleep, progresses through each of the three stages, and then moves into REM sleep. This cycle repeats throughout the night, with the amount of time spent in each stage varying depending on the individual and other factors. Each stage is as important as the next, as they all play a key role in supporting optimum health.


How would you classify a good nights' sleep? 

Sleep Consistency: Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day (or within an hour on either side of your normal time) is the quickest way to entrain your sleep-wake cycle. This means sticking to a schedule even on weekends.
    Sleep Efficiency: This means ensuring that the time you spend asleep is valuable with minimal disruptions and great sleep architecture. Ideally, 20-25% of your total sleep time is REM and 13-23% in deep sleep. A healthy sleep latency (time taken to fall asleep) is around 10-20 minutes. If unable to resolve and optimise on your own, we highly suggest seeking a specialist to address the root cause. 
      Sleep Duration: Quality is more important than quantity, but getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night is critical for true restoration. Especially so if mental/physical demands are high in your daily life. There are outliers who can function well on less sleep, but this is extremely rare and estimated to be present in only about 0.5-3% of the population. We often see clients who think they can get by with less than 8 hours of sleep, but once we optimise their lifestyle to prioritise better and longer sleep, they quickly realise they were leading a suboptimal life with limited energy and capacity.

      We believe in the powerful insights that Oura, the market’s leading sleep tracker, can offer. 
      "Remember, good sleep is not a luxury, it's a necessity for optimal health and performance. Prioritize it and you'll see significant improvements in your overall wellbeing." - Luke


      We tend to think of sleep as helping us feel rested and having energy for the day, but why is sleep really so important for both our brain and body?

      Sleep is crucial for our physical and mental well-being, affecting memory, emotional regulation, and energy levels. Unfortunately, sleep is often neglected, and sleep deprivation (less than 6 hours of sleep during the night) can contribute to health problems like obesity, diabetes, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease, and mental health issues.

      Because this is a multi-faceted area of health, we devoted an entire podcast episode on it (which to be frank, still didn’t do it justice). You can dig deeper into this question by watching/listening to this episode.

      What are some of the common sleep challenges you see in your work with clients (and/or yourselves in the past) and how do they impact daily life and general health?

      Sleep issues often contribute to our client’s symptoms. We often find people struggle to stay asleep, especially waking up in the 'twilight hours' of 2-3am. 

      Most go to bed late, often with a glass of wine or a late-night snack prior to that. The pattern continues with many people relying on an alarm clock to wake early in the morning, and throughout the day, they experience energy roller coasters and reach for sugar-laden foods or coffee to keep them going. By the time they get home, they turn to comfort foods/drinks while they cook dinner, extending their night with dopamine hits from social media, YouTube or Netflix. They often wonder why they are always exhausted and struggle with weight management, aches and pains, or brain fog.

      "When people come to us with these issues, we remind them that quick fixes are not how real health works. They have been experiencing these issues for years, and it will take time to unwind it all." - Luke

      What factors and/or habits do you consider to be most disruptive to restorative sleep patterns?

      There are often at least three ways people sabotage their sleep: 

      1. Technology use and blue light (e.g. screen-based or digital devices and lights around the house): Electric light has been around for only 0.074% of our evolutionary history, yet it has become an inseparable part of our lives. However, our bodies are negatively impacted by it. The blue light that devices and lights around the house emit can confuse our sleep and wake cycle, leading to an environment that conflicts with our body's need to wind down. Devices are designed to trigger our dopamine system, which can inhibit the correct neurochemistry for sleep, leading to mindless scrolling. Even with night mode on, blue light still shines through. 

      2.  Working too late: This is a simple one. Working or participating in any highly emotional or intellectual task will shift neurochemistry towards thinking instead of winding down for sleep. There is nothing worse than lying in bed thinking about what you did or didn’t get done, unable to fall asleep.

        3. Eating too close to sleep: If you're hungry before bed, increasing your protein intake may help you feel fuller for longer and improve your sleep. Try adding Collagen or Bone Broth to dinner dishes such as meat patties, spaghetti bolognese, or pasta sauce. You can also incorporate it into your morning oats or lunch smoothie. We enjoy Mitchells Bone Broth Powder in a hot drink or sprinkled on as a seasoning. Glycine, found in high quantities in bone broth, may also help you sleep better. However, substances like caffeine and alcohol can negatively impact sleep quality and should be avoided before bed. 

      "Real health is slow health, we are not machines. Sadly sleep doesn't turn on like a switch so we need to gradually downregulate our systems to lull ourselves into sleep." - Luke


      If you were to give 2 tips we could all be doing to improve our sleep quality what would they be?

      1. 'Taylored 3, 2, 1 Sleep Principle' is a simple framework to ensure you set yourself up for a good night's sleep: 3 hours prior to bedtime, stop eating any food or snacks, 2 hours prior to bedtime, stop working (or any highly emotional or intellectual (thinking) tasks), 1 hour prior to bedtime, no artificial lights or screens (life hack…get blue light-blocking glasses, if you can't escape those devices for any particular reason).

      2. Pick one focus point at a time and build upon the habit as it becomes well-established, and this will ensure long-term sustainable change.

      To learn more from Luke and Taylored Health and performance you can follow their work over at instagram at @tayloredhealthnz, website, and podcast Taylored Life Podcast (Learn more on their sleep episode here).

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