Shawn Stevenson on Learning & Developing Model Health

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“A good night's sleep starts the moment that you wake up in the morning.”
— Shawn Stevenson

Greetings, SuperFriends!

On to today’s show: My guest today is Shawn Stevenson, the bestselling author behind the book Sleep Smarter, and the top-rated podcaster behind The Model Health Show. Through his background in biology and kinesiology, he went on to found the Advanced Integrative Health Alliance, which has broad him into the limelight and given him the opportunity to impact hundreds of thousands of people – if not more – through his lectures and works.

In today’s episode, we’re going to hear how his journey began with reversing a chronic and incurable spinal condition despite the opinions of the entire medical profession. We’re going to learn about the most impactful health, nutrition, exercise, and sleep tips from the master. We’re going to dive into how my guest has become one of the fastest learners in the business – and his method for dramatically accelerating his learning. On top of all of that, we get some powerful tips that are going to totally change your sleep and fitness game…

As always, please share your thoughts with me on Twitter @gosuperhuman, and if you haven’t already, please remember to leave us a review on iTunes or Stitcher.

This episode is brought to you by the all new SuperLearner Academy!

This episode is brought to you by the all new SuperLearner Academy! Try a free trial of our exclusive masterclasses today and support the show!

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Shawn's incredible story of how a freak injury lead to the discovery of a potentially life-shattering disease
  • What is the “nocebo” effect, and how can it negatively affect us?
  • Shawn's downward spiral into abysmal health – and how he turned it all around despite what the doctors said
  • What turned Shawn off from nutrition and pre-med
  • How Shawn regenerated his tissue, dramatically transforming his health (and his life)
  • Why is degenerative spine disorder so common now – and how can you avoid or overcome it?
  • How sleep played such an important role in Shawn's recovery
  • How has Shawn learned so much so fast? What is his learning methodology?
  • Who are Shawn’s role models in the industry?
  • The extreme dangers of estrogen dominance, birth control, and more
  • How has Shawn Stevenson’s book done so incredibly well, even before it’s release?
  • How has Shawn seen an 89% reversal rate of Type II diabetes?!
  • What can you do during the day to improve our sleep the following night?
  • What's the relationship between exercise timing and sleep quality? When should you exercise?
  • What are Shawn Stevenson's views on the proper diet & nutrition?

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Favorite Quotes from Shawn Stevenson:

“Nobody stopped to ask… ‘how did a 15 year old kids's hip break – just from running?!'”
“This story doesn't all suck!”
“My nutrition teacher… he was clearly beyond out of shape. He would be clinically obese. And it wasn't his fault, necessarily; he was doing the things that he was teaching.”
“Your body actually requires movement to heal itself.”
“Food isn't just food; it's information.”
“If you're not sleeping, you are physiologically not healing… Because just being awake is catabolic.”
“This is why I love your show, man! It's because of these types of questions.”
“…It wasn't about being great at learning a bunch of stuff. It was becoming great at learning itself. Becoming great at the learning process.”
”We often think that our body is shaped by, like, exercise. But in fact, our environment shapes our body.”
“You never truly know something until you've done it yourself.”
“I love lettuce. Lettuce is cool! We're, like, besties, right? But at the same time…”
“You always have the opportunity to improve. Every single day is, in many ways, a clean slate.”
“Seek to be somebody who is a life-long learner.”

Transcript:

Introduction: Welcome to the Becoming SuperHuman Podcast. Where we interview extraordinary people to bring you the skills and strategies to overcome the impossible. And now here's your host, Jonathan Levi.

Jonathan Levi: Brooding, SuperFriends. And welcome to this week's show. Before we get started. I want to read you guys an awesome review that came in this week that totally made my day. The title is a real inspiration and it comes from DC guy, 84. He says listening to Jonathan's podcasts have really inspired me to forge ahead in my journey to improve my learning comprehension and memory.

This is the only podcast I subscribe to and find the content very meaningful and relevant. I'm just a few episodes in. But I'm hooked and can't wait to learn more in the episodes to come DC guy. I really, really appreciate that so much. You can't imagine how much it brightens my day and how much it improves the overall ranking of the show and just.

It makes everything better. So thank you so much. And for the rest of you guys listening, if you want to hear your review, read on the air, just leave one, leave one on iTunes, leave one on Stitcher, and I will make sure to read it out on to today's show. My guest today is the best-selling author behind the book sleep smarter, but he's also a top rated podcaster behind the model health show.

Now through his background in biology and kinesiology, he actually went on to found the advanced integrative health Alliance, which has really brought him into the limelight in the past few years. And it's given him the opportunity to impact hundreds of thousands, or as I learned out. On the podcast, millions of people's lives all through his lectures and his works.

He's just an incredible guy. In today's episode, we're actually going to hear his journey and how it all began with reversing a chronic and incurable spinal condition. Despite by the way, the opinions of the entire medical profession, we're actually going to learn about the most impactful health and nutrition and exercise and sleep tips from the master himself, from someone who's.

Definitely put in the 10,000 hours, we're going to dive into how my guest has become one of the fastest learners in the business and his method for dramatically accelerating his learning. By the way, if you do enjoy the tidbits on learning and want to learn as fast as today's guest. I want to let you know that this episode is of course sponsored by the become a super learner masterclass, where you can find tons of interviews like this and a comprehensive eight hour course on everything there is to know about accelerating your learning, improving your memory.

And tripling your reading speed. So to check that out and to get a very exciting discount for listeners of this podcast, only all you have to do is visit J L e.vi/learn or check out the show notes for this episode. And now without further ado, I am very excited to present to you. My hero. Shawn Stevenson,

Mr. Shawn Stevenson. Welcome to the show. My friend. I'm so excited to have you. I have to admit it. Wasn't easy to get you. We had to work at it for a little while. There. 

Shawn Stevenson: Hey, man. They say good things. Come to those who wait, I'm just now getting some people who helped to manage me a little bit better, man.

But I appreciate you connecting with me, man. I'm really loving your brand. And even what we're going to be talking about today, I think is just fantastic, man. I really love what you're doing. Thank you kindly. 

Jonathan Levi: That's a huge compliment coming from you. John, tell us a little bit about yourself. I mean, I had the privilege of listening to a couple of your podcast episodes in preparation, and I think I discovered you years ago on a podcast episode, three years ago, you started podcasting and now I feel like I'm always hearing your name.

I feel like it's always being tossed around. You're up there with the greats. Tell us your story and how this whole journey came about.

Shawn Stevenson: Should they? Wow. Well, first of all, I mean, that's just a great compliment in and of itself too. You know, it's kind of surreal for me that when I started this venture that, you know, I had all these people that.

I looked up to and that I aspire to make the impact that they're making. And now, yeah, many of them are good friends of mine and I'm reaching a lot of people it's just mind blowing, but this kind of started for me getting into the health field itself through my own desperation, you know, and this is a. A consistent story for a lot of people doing great work.

But my story was a little bit unique because this happened when I was really young, you know, I was 15 years old when I first saw the big warning sign of what was to come. And it's kind of interesting because my son is actually at school today and he has practice and it's spring sports season. So it would be track season, but he plays baseball, but it was during track season.

And I was just doing phenomenal, man. Like the football season had passed. I ran a four or five 40 yard dash before the season. And so I was really ready to get, and I'm 15 at the time I do, and I'm really ready to get into the track season and see what I could do. And when I was doing a time trial with my coach and long story short, I was doing a 200 meter time trial, just me running by myself and my hip broke.

You're kidding me. No, I'm just running. And my hip broke and at the time I didn't know that it was my hip. I thought I pulled a muscle or something and I was limping and I eventually went and got a scan done and the iliac crest. So like the top of my hip bone just kind of broke off. It was often space, you know, it was so strange.

And so I went through the normal standard of care, which is ultrasound. INSEAD's STEM. Stay off the leg, you know, so they gave me some crutches. I got to get out of class early, which was awesome. And take the elevator at school. But other than that, man, nobody stopped to ask how did a 15 year old kids hit break?

Right? Just from running. Okay. This is usually reserved for people who are much older and also a lot of people have this misconception and don't realize people when they get older, they don't fall and break their hip. They tend to break their hip then fall. Oh really? Yeah. That's kind of what happened to me.

My hip just broke from running and then, you know, of course my life as a kind of a metaphor. Fell down, you know, I didn't physically fall at that point, but I could have, you know, I could have, and it happens to a lot of people, but again, when they're much older, so fast forward the story, when I'm 20 years old, I finally get diagnosed with degenerative bone disease and degenerative disc disease.

So the disc in between the vertebrae in my spine were just rapidly deteriorating. And my physician at the time told me that. Basically, I had the spine of an 80 year old person when I was 20. And, you know, I asked him, so, okay, how do we fix this? You know, what do we do? And he just looked at me kind of with despair and just kind of pity.

And he said that there's nothing we can do about this. This is just something you're going to have to live with. And. A lot of the things that I talk about, of course, in my show, you know, we've talked about the placebo effect and all the clinical data to back that up. But also there's something called the no CBO effect.

And this is giving somebody a negative injunction from an authority figure. And it's so deeply ingrained in our subconscious that we believe him deeply. We believe those people. And especially if they have a white lab coat on, you know, there's this big mental connection to the fact that. They are the ones that can heal me.

And so I believed him and my life began to despise oral down very quickly. After that point. Over the course of the next two and a half years, I gained about 50 pounds. I was in chronic pain man. Like I had to take all these different medications. I was fitted with this back brace. I was in college at the time.

So I ended up dropping all these classes. You know, I started with 15 hour credit load, ended up with three at the end of the semester. You know, it was very embarrassing being an athlete. Who's now basically. Just man. I mean, it's even hard to talk about. It was just kind of laid out there on the floor, sitting on my couch in my little college apartment, playing video games by myself, you know, was really kind of a depressing situation, but I was still trying to do normal things.

You know, I still go out with my friends, you know, still had different girls that I was dating, but it was just not the same life. Wasn't the same anymore. So this story changes. It just kind of wrap the story up the story. Doesn't all suck. It was when I was 22 and a half at this point. And the half is important, you know, especially when you're young.

So I was 22 years old and just kind of revelation happened after I saw this was the fourth position that I had seen to see if there was something that can be done. Then he told me the same story. I'm sorry. And at that point it was just either I'm going to give up or I'm going to do something about it.

And they were well-meaning physicians. I put all my faith in them that they were going to help me. And they weren't thinking about me when I wasn't there. I had to live with that. I had to live every moment in my own body. And I didn't know a thing about my body or how it worked. I didn't know anything.

And so I made a decision that I was going to transform my health and my body. I made a decision that I was going to get, well, no matter what anybody said to me and that's, what's so powerful and really what I want people always walk away with is that most people never actually do that, man. And you know, this it's more like, well, I hope this works.

Or, you know, I'll give this a try. Or just wishful thinking, you know, I wish that something would get better instead of truly deciding that this is what's going to happen. Come what may I'm getting to this point. Oh. And so with that kind of. Transformation in my thinking, it led to the transformation and what I would see in my life.

So when I initially went to school, I went pre-med and you didn't have to take a nutrition class, but it was just something on the track. That was an option. So I took a nutrition class and I was so just turned off by it, man. And which is so funny because I'm in love with it today. But my nutrition teacher, he was clearly beyond, out of shape.

He would be clinically obese and it wasn't his. Fault necessarily he was doing the things that he was teaching. So it's just like, they didn't really make sense because for me, I attributed nutrition to fitness, not help, you know, I didn't make the health connection yet. And so I was like, he can't what, you know.

So I stopped going to that class in my college career. I don't know if I shared this very many times, but I actually got a C in that class and I did. You know, phenomenal pretty much A's in the rest of my classes, but I got to see a nutrition. Right. And I just was so disinterested in health overall, and I was only going to pre-med just so I can quote, be a doctor because it sounds good, but it was disturbing, man.

You know, so many of the upperclassmen were just obsessed with diagnosis and always finding problems with themselves. And it really kind of. Just scared me, gave me the creeps. So when I made this transformation in my thinking, I was like, I'm not going to look at disease. I'm going to look at everything that contributes to human health.

And that really opened up the story for me and just kind of led to this whole transformation physically, which we could talk about today. So over the course of the next six weeks, just to wrap this up, I lost 28 pounds. The pain I'd been experiencing for the past two and a half years, every day that I had to medicate and even asleep at night tossing and turning and the pain was gone.

And when I finally got a scan done, nine months later, I'd regenerated the tissue that they said was impossible. I lost about three fourths of an inch in my height. I gained half an inch in height and my physician at the time, the last doctor that I had, he just said, you know, he's scratching his chin.

He's like, whatever you're doing, keep doing it. I haven't seen this before. It was really. Very simple scientific process in order to regenerate your tissues. It's just not commonly known, especially when you're not taught the right thing. And so that's what happened, man. That was kind of the story that led to me changing my course of study back to biology, kinesiology, speaking all over the place, starting to show writing a bestselling book.

It was really recovering from my own health challenge. And any of the parts you want to talk about of how I did it, we can talk about, or how did you do it?

Jonathan Levi: We'll start right there. 

Shawn Stevenson: Wow. Okay. So it was really simple, man, being. A young college guy is kind of like the low hanging fruit is exercise. And that's something that I had neglected to do because one of our physicians told me, like, they just said, be careful wear this bag, braise, bedrest, each doctor, I would see automatically they would put me on bedrest.

First thing. It's just like I've been on bed rest, but what can I do? And it's a very important fundamental kind of foundational understanding that your body actually requires movement in order to heal itself. Right? This is why physical therapy is so important in the healing process for people recovering from everything from a broken bone to.

Some type of paralysis, you know, actually being able to recover and get better from traumatic things to very small things. You need to move your body because your muscles and your tissues were atrophy. If you're not using them, it's very simple understanding, but I wasn't doing it. So I started to exercise again, go figure.

And that led to a lot more mobility, a lot more feelings of. Accomplishment and hope, you know, and there's a lot of research that I even, you know, I share my show a lot regarding exercise and depression and how remarkable it is for that. And so that was one piece. The second piece, the other low-hanging fruit was I stopped eating fast food again, go figure.

And at the time I'm on the college diet hardcore man, like I was. Eating McDonald's breakfast. Like every day, if I get to school in time, you know, we had this underground is called the no-show at my school and it's just all this like chicken tenders and fries. Like every day I'm eating this stuff. And then pizza, you know, as much as humanly possible, I was eating pizza.

And so notice you didn't hear me say not a single vegetable, maybe pizza sauce, but that was about it, man. So it's no wonder my body was deficient in all of these. Minerals and trace minerals that are required in order to regenerate my tissues. And so I simply started eating comparable things, you know, instead of eating a fast food burger and fries, I was going to whole foods.

And this was, you know, 15 years ago. Almost right now. And so they were brand new here in my city of St. Louis in the Midwest. And so I'm shopping. There's like barely anybody in the store, it's all this stuff, you know? And it's just, you know, so it's getting grass fed beef and like sprouted buns and like organic oven fries.

A lot of broccoli broccoli's is like the only vegetable I'd eat at the time until I started to juice. Like I was juicing. Eventually, and then we're making smoothies and throwing all this stuff in there to get that stuff into my body because my palette wasn't set for those things. So I started to change what my DNA is doing because food isn't just food is information.

And so it literally started to change what my cellular output was looking like. And so those were two foundational things. And the third thing was really three parts to this. And by the way, and just for those who are interested, because they're always tons of people listening, who are dealing with degenerative disc disease, whenever I do any shows.

And it's because it's so common now, but now it's commonly known. You can do something about it. So the tissues for your back, ask the question, what are my disc actually made of. Ask yourself that question. And then what you're going to find. If you study it's sulfur bearing amino acids, collagen vitamin C's incredibly important for regenerating tissues.

And most importantly, the most important nutrient is actually water. Your discs in your spine are they're actually nonvascular. So what does that mean? Water doesn't get there directly, basically is through a process of remote diffusion that it eventually makes its way into hydrating. Those discs. So, what that means essentially is that your disc are generally like the last place to get hydration when you drink a glass of water.

So you need to make sure that you're super hydrating your system every day with high quality, you know, structured water. And we could do a whole show just talking about that because it's critical to rehydrating those disks in your back. All right. So those are two things. Nutrition movement. Third part was sleep.

Man. If you're not sleeping, you are physiologically, not healing. You're not changing because just being awake is catabolic in sleep. Especially in deep non REM sleep is the most anabolic stage of human can be. And this is when you're releasing the majority of repairative enzymes. Anabolic hormones, repairative hormones to make you better.

And so not only was I not active, but I wasn't healing him from the small things that I was doing in my life. I was just chronically in this tragic train wreck every day. And so once I started to change the way I was eating the movement and just changing my lifestyle during the day, it actually helped me to sleep better at night.

So I finally was able to sleep without medication. I was able to sleep without pain, and once my sleep got dialed in, Oh my goodness. It's like, The flood Gates opened like a miracle happened and I felt so amazing so quickly. So those were the three things, man. And I mean, there's obviously a lot more to do with that, but nutrition, right.

Nutrition, right. Movement and recovery, real high-quality sleep was what did it for me. 

Jonathan Levi: It's so incredible. And it sounds so elementary and yet. You know, I want to dive into this idea because my background's in accelerated learning. And it's clear to me from your story that you are a very, very fast learner or you have some techniques for learning because you go to all these doctors, people who it's their job.

To stay up to date, it's their job to understand health. And yet you are able to learn something about your health that they clearly did not yet know after years of medical school. I mean, they didn't know the basics. Like did they ever ask you about your diet? Did they ever ask you about your sleep?

Right. So walk me through this learning process. I mean, today, and I want to point out to my audience. You're considered one of the experts on sleep. I mean, you just published a book. I've heard you on tons of podcasts, talking about sleep. How do you go about learning these things and how have you learned so much on such broad topics from sleep to nutrition to fitness?

Shawn Stevenson: Oh man, this is why I love your show ban it's because of these type of questions and one of the great secrets is it. Wasn't about being great ad. Learning a bunch of stuff. It was becoming great at learning itself, becoming great at the learning process. So I became a great learner and one of the most foundational, simple, again, very simple principles is if there is an intention behind what you're doing, what you're trying to learn, getting very clear on that.

And so I was very passionate about. This particular subject matter. So automatically when you're passionate and connected and you have an intention about learning something, your ability to digest and assimilate and make that information a part of you goes up exponentially. So the first thing. Is in the, you know, this is tying to that greater purpose with the learning process.

And so many kids right now, I'm talking about millions upon millions of kids, right at this very moment are being force fed information that they have no inherent connection to. Like, it just does not matter. And it will never matter in their life, you know? So it becomes this just rote memorization process, you know, and there's like, I got to take this in.

I'm going to throw it back up and then I'm just going to forget about it forever, just for the sake of a test. And so is getting connected to the passion and intention behind it. And if we could do that with learning when the child is in calculus or when they're in world history, find that connection of this real thing and make it matter.

That's what the greatest teachers do. So that's number one is just tapping into that passion and intention for learning. The second thing is, and this is maybe you've talked about this one other time ever, man. Wow. Is after regaining my own health, as you know, this is so absurd for me to even say this man, but like, My show, man, we were about to cross 4 million listener downloads.

Wow. Congratulate next month. Thank you, man. And this was, most of that was just in the past year, you know? And so this impact and reach over 200 countries, I didn't even know there were 200 countries. It's like all of these people are tapped in and just with my clinical practice, working with thousands of people in a one-on-one context.

It's been this very interesting and powerful experience, but I had to get great at learning to be able to teach. Right. So this is where it got taken to a whole nother level. And this is a big secret. So this is what I do whenever I'm reading something or I'm listening to a lecture or anything like that.

I'm a big fan of auditory learning. I'm thinking about how I can teach this always as I'm learning, I'm thinking, how can I explain this to someone else? So if you're learning, going through that process, instead of just like, I need to learn this myself, you think about how can I teach this? How can I. Make this incredibly understandable to somebody else, because I do that with very complex health and medical literature.

And it's because I'm using the strategy, the simple mental technique of how can I teach this as I'm learning. So that's kind of my two things, man. I hope that that was helpful, man. 

Jonathan Levi: I feel like you cheated. And it took our course because those are two of the most powerful things that we teach in this course.

One is, you know, those kids being forced fed. Yeah. We teach them how to hack the system and say, you know what, sometimes you're going to have to read legal precedents. How do you hack the brain and hack the process to say, I'm going to get passionate about this. I'm going to get animated about this. I'm going to enjoy this.

Maybe I'm going to disagree with the author and that's going to get me excited. So the one point about passion is definitely a huge part of the accelerated learning. And then, you know, I always tell students like, why do I have a 2.0 version of my course, because. In the process of teaching tens of thousands of people, even through video, I've learned so much more about this stuff.

So it's true. What they say, you know, something taught is something twice learned. Yes. Love them. And so Shawn, wow. 4 million downloads, that's incredible. 150 episodes. Can you tell us on the vein of learning, what are two or three of the most powerful things that you've learned from your guests? 

Shawn Stevenson: Oh man.

That's a really, really tough thing, man. Uh, I'm just gonna defer to some of the smartest people that I've ever talked to. Definitely, uh, Dr. Kelly star red is up there. 

Jonathan Levi: Um, I'm so  jealous, so jealous. He's not taking interviews anymore. 

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. So that's my guy, man. I actually cited him a couple of times in my book and I just, I think it was maybe last week I was chatting with him.

I was doing this article for men's health magazine. Just being able to lean on people like that and ask their opinion is, I mean, you can't buy that. It's just no prior. And so in the conversation with him, It really brought me clarity on how much, and I already knew that, but it's a different layer of how everything is interconnected with our body.

When, how our body temperature heavily influences our sleep, how our energy and our perception of reality impacts what's going on with our muscle tissue, things like that. So Dr. Kelly star that comes right up, but the lesson would be from, uh, Katie Bowman. Who's also kind of in that same vein and. The big lesson here is that we often think that our body is shaped by like exercise, but in fact, our environment shapes our body.

Our environment, literally shapes our body. We become well-equipped for whatever environmental influences we have. And the great example is like the fins dropping over on the, uh, orcas, you know, also the killer whale in captivity and their fins drop over, you know, and it's because they're constantly swimming in a circle.

It's all they can do. And so they have this physiological. Environmental adaption that takes place. And so humans, we adapt to our environment. So we become, like, we are amazing at sitting in chairs is so like, if that was a competition, so many people be world-class at it, but the thing is, our body becomes adapt to it.

So when you actually stand up from that, for most of us, we think that we're sitting down and we stand up and we're straightened out. That's not what's going on. Your muscles and tissues have actually conformed to that chair. You know, especially the amount of hours that people spend sitting and so we've become change.

And so somebody might think that their neck pain is a result of something else, you know, or their knee pain or a slipped disc in their back, whatever it is, but it's actually come from how your environment is shaping your body, you know? So that was a really important takeaway. So that's one, one other one.

Oh, wow. The thing that actually came up for me was just a profound statement from Dr. Sarah Godfried and she's New York times bestselling author of the hormone cure, the hormone reset diet. She actually wrote the forward for my new book for sleep smarter. And when she made this statement and she's just probably the biggest expert in women's hormones, on the planet, man, in her communication of that also let me couple it with that.

And when she talked about. Just destructive nature of our society right now with estrogen dominance and so much exposure to this hyper estrogen world. And this is not a male female issue because men and women, we both have testosterone. We both have estrogen. It's just the ratios. And so, you know, in our world today and I'm looking outside and it's actually beautiful today.

It's a light rain happening. I basically live in the forest. Now I live in the woods, got deers and whatnot in the backyard, but we're just 20 minutes from the mall. It's no big deal. It's no big deal. But the air that we're all breathing, unless you know, you are getting outside of that a little bit is just loaded with.

Estrogenic compounds. You know, if you're eating conventional foods, you know, the pesticides herbicides rodenticides, those compounds are literally created to disrupt the reproductive system of the past. Right. So. They're either going to be neurogenic or estrogenic. And these Xeno estrogens compile themselves, they move up the food chain.

So as you know, the animal eats the food and then you eat the animal, that kind of thing. It bioaccumulates hinder tissue. So right hearing from her on that really changed my thinking and being more aware. But one of the greatest things, and this was the first thing that popped in my mind was a statement.

She said about birth control pills. And I didn't always get to talk about this on the show, but bottom line, she said that that was the most disruptive thing she's ever seen in clinical practice. Harvard trained MIT trained physician here, guys she's ever seen. Be so disruptive for the female body was birth control pills.

Wow. So that's what she said, man. And I'm not saying people just go jump off birth control pills. You know, like if you're doing it and you don't have baby, be careful, you know, but there are many other methods that aren't so harmful to female physiology and we've just kind of accepted. And this is the greatest lesson I really took away.

The fact that we so blindly accept things that are just kind of. Common culture, common things in our culture like, Oh yeah, we'll just, you know, a girl who's 13 years old and not even having sex yet. And they just say, I'll just take these birth control pills. That'll help to normalize your period. You know, cause maybe she's having some PMs, you know, or some I'm strong cramps and things like that.

We just do this stuff. So haphazardly. And so it's really about us being more aware and questioning everything. So that's the big takeaway, our environment shapes our body and question everything. 

Jonathan Levi: Those are brilliant, brilliant points. I'm so impressed that you had those just right off the top of your head.

You mentioned Shawn, the sleep smarter book that's coming out. And I want to talk about that because your book is crushing it. And at the time of this recording, it's not even out yet, which is crazy. You've got like 160 rave reviews on Amazon editorial reviews from some of the biggest names in self-help.

It'll be out by the time this episode comes out. But wow. Tell us a little bit about what. You're teaching in this book on sleep that is so revolutionary and that so many people have gone nuts for even before the release of the book. 

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. Well, my publisher is amazing, you know, it's Rodale and they are just.

Monsters in the world of wellness, you know, with men's health magazine, women's health magazine, just kind of household names. So many New York times bestsellers like weed belly and things like that. My friend Pedram Shojai the urban monk is one of their latest ones. So this amazing team was able to get books into the hands of the right people.

But the best form of marketing is a great product, you know, because none of these amazing people had to say a word about this book, but it was that transformative, even for them. I just received a message yesterday. And it was from a woman she's literally a double doctor. She's an MD and PhD. And she sent this amazing email, just thanking me because she saw her health declined greatly, and she turned the corner in her life.

And she's now like, Doing an Ironman. And like just how this sleep smarter has impacted her life and helped her to, you know, recover faster, to show a better in her competitions to be sharper with her patients, to help her patients to recover faster as well. And so these amazing messages have just kind of funneled in and there yet.

So a lot of them are there already, but when this comes out, the book will have dropped. There's going to be many, many more. And the reason that it's so profound and powerful is first of all, there's never been a book like this. That solely focuses on sleep as that. Foundational pillar to transforming your health, your body, your brain, even the success in your life, the relationships in your life.

There's never been anything like this and putting it all together was so second nature because of just seeing people in my clinic coming in, we had upwards of about 89% reversal rate for type two diabetes and related symptoms. We can't say, you know, Oh, somebody's cured. We're not going to use the C word, but they no longer have those symptoms, their blood sugars normalize.

You could say that they're no longer diabetic. And so 89% success rate. And it was phenomenal. And it was actually, we got to a point where it was so easy as absurd, but the mechanics are simple, but it's helping people with the psychology and just being able to do the stuff. So seeing that kind of success.

But then there's always that category, you know, that 10% of people that wouldn't get the result, you know, for some other issues, it might be 20, 25%. And even though we see all these amazing stories is amazing success with so many people and how this brand. Has been built in the first place was through that, but it was always like, I would go to bed sometimes and be concerned about that.

He's got a thorn in my side, like, what is wrong? Like, why are these other people not getting the result? And so after some deeper introspection, personally, and some testing, and I start to get more inquisitive with my patients and asking deeper questions, like, okay, so what's going on in your relationships?

How's your relationship with your spouse? You know, what's going on there? You guys like just little general questions asking about their work life, you know, what's going on with their work? Do they enjoy their work and then asking about sleep? And when I asked that question, it blew my mind. I had no idea that we even had to talk about this.

And so I'd find out people are asleep and sometimes they're not sleeping at all on some occasions, you know, like for days at a time, sometimes they're grabbing maybe four hours of sleep, one day six, the next they try and make up for on the weekend. I was just all struck with what I heard. And so. Bottom line after we would get people sleep dialed in.

It's like, again, sort of what happened with me. The flood Gates would open and all of a sudden they would get the results and oftentimes even better, faster than people who had already achieved those things, you know? So sleep was kind of that missing component. Sleep seems to be the force multiplier.

Jonathan Levi: Like if you're missing the sleep component, it seems that nothing else you do is going to work. No amount of exercise, no amount of diet, but if you have it, it seems to accelerate and exacerbate all of your other efforts. 

Shawn Stevenson: You got it. Exactly, man. You know, I just recently came across a study and. It was just so surprised.

It's a major university study, double blind, all that kind of stuff. You know, like all the fruits and berries or nuts and bolts of the studies, you know, it was really well done study and they had individuals to complete an exercise program and they monitor their results, but they sleep deprive them through the first phase.

And so they were getting less than five hours of sleep a night. After that phase of the test and they had them to redo and kind of do everything that they were doing before, but this time getting adequate sleep. So over eight hours a night, and I'm not a big fan or stickler about the number of hours more, the quality, but the bottom line is, is they lost 55% more body fat when they changed their sleep, right.

55% more body fat just from sleeping. So that kind of information is contained in the book, why it works, like what happened in the body got get it. Cause some people are just like, I got it, boom. I gotta get my sleep to get these results. But some other people like how in the world that had happened and I'm one of those people.

So I actually break down how the body actually changes. And why do you get so much advantage when you're getting high quality sleep? So that's detailed in the book, but most importantly, This book is so rich on strategies and tips for instantaneously improving your sleep. And one of the big things, and I know you guys hear it here first, right?

But you're going to hear this throughout our society, and it's going to become a part of our lexicon. I promise you this. And it's this statement that a good night's sleep starts, the moment that you wake up in the morning. Okay. A good night's sleep starts the moment that you wake up in the morning. And so there are things clinically proven.

That you do throughout your day. That's going to pay off big dividends when you lay your head down at night. And so the book is just loaded with those strategies. There's 21 strategies. And within those, all these different power tips of things to experiment and try this, try this. Oh, those two things are tough.

Try this one. You know, there's so many different strategies for that. Some of them have become popular culture. Some of them are going to be very surprising for people. But bottom line is they all work for a large database of people. 

Jonathan Levi: Brilliant. So I want to ask you a question on, I don't expect you to give away 21 strategies here, but I do want to ask you, you know, we talked with Dr. Kirk Parsley, we've talked with Nick little Hills on the show. These are sleep experts. Who've really told us a lot about the bedtime routine. The sleep hygiene, getting your sleep environment to be cold and dark and all that stuff. Tell us about a technique throughout the day. I mean, I don't think we've learned anything on the show about, you know, first thing, when you wake up in the morning, how are you going to set yourself up for success?

The following night of sleep? 

Shawn Stevenson: Great. Great. Okay. So first of all, we have to understand that people who listen to this are in the, in the know yes, they were in the, like a percent of a percent of people who actually know this stuff, because I'm telling you, man, I'm shocked. I just did a bunch of interviews for the New York post for.

Dr Oz magazine. And so these editors are around health information all the time. And some of these basic things you just mentioned about sleeping in a cooler environment and or the impact that our devices have on our sleep, they just didn't know about. Yeah, it's shocking. Yeah, it's crazy. Right. And so one of the things that I like to bring to the forefront again is super I'm about the low-hanging fruit first.

For a lot of buzz again, exercise, we attribute that to being in shape. We attribute that to better health, probably more so than anything else, because it's so proactive. It tends to be hard psychologically. Like, you know, for a lot of people, it's something that's hard, you gotta work hard. And so we can buy into that in our culture where it's just like, you can't get anything.

If you're not doing something which sleep ironically, you get more than anything for doing nothing. So anyways, exercise. How can you utilize exercise to sleep better? Well, automatically what we tend to think. And I actually have a kid's book that I read my son before bed. And part of the sleeping process is they do exercise right before they go to sleep.

And ironically, you can actually fall asleep faster from exhaustion. If you beat yourself down and go to sleep at night, really, but the quality of your sleep. Is radically sacrificed because your core body temperature is elevated. Cortisol is skyrocketed, and it's not that it's a bad thing. Exercise is great.

It's a hormetic stressor. You can get better from the exercise if you repair properly. All right. So, and cortisol, here's the big takeaway, cortisol and melatonin have an inverse relationship. So that means basically when cortisol is up, melatonin is down in the basement when melatonin is up, cortisol is down.

So if you're working out late at night and elevating your cortisol level, It's going to take quite a bit of time, you know, several hours for your body to process and break down the metabolic waste from. All of the physiological changes that happen from the elevated cortisol. All right. So melatonin is not going to get to do his thing.

And melatonin is really the get good sleep hormone. It's the hormone that is so conducive or creates the environment for anabolic development. And if you're not secreting optimal melatonin, this is where people get into that situation where I'm getting eight hours of sleep per night, but I'm waking up and I'm still exhausted.

I'm still tired throughout the day is because your sleep quality sucks. It's not because. You're not getting time on the mattress. And what we've done is created a system where people can get six hours of sleep, you know, six hours of sleeping, smarter and feel incredible vitality versus people getting what I call cheap sleep.

Right. And so here's what we do with exercise. And this was Appalachian state university published this study. They broke exercises into three groups. Group exercise at 7:00 AM in the morning. Grew be exercise at 1:00 PM in group C exercise at 7:00 PM at night, they found the morning, exercisers spent far more time in deep sleep.

Non-REM sleep up to 75%. And more in deep sleep. Okay. And they had 25% decrease in their blood pressure, which that translates over to getting it more into the parasympathetic rest and digest system system and turning off the sympathetic fight or flight system, which is going to help you sleep. And they had more normalized sleep cycles.

Okay. The morning exercisers slept better in every single account. Wow. So the tip here is. Get some exercise in, in the morning. It's really that simple. You know, when you get up in the morning, do some kind of physical activity, it doesn't mean that you have to do a full workout. You got to hit the gym, none of that stuff, but your DNA, like your genes expect you.

Our lineage has evolved to do activity in the morning. Humans are not nocturnal animals. And for people that will be like, well, you know, I don't know there's some night owls or whatever. You're literally not an owl. You know, first of all, you're a person. And second of all, you know, real talk, our senses are not adapted to being like, if shirt up, we take somebody who says that I'm a night owl and I'm a night person and we drop you into the rainforest.

Right. You know, in South America at night, I guarantee you it's much more likely that you're going to end up being somebody's dinner. All right, because we don't have the census to be able to see here, any of that stuff in that environment. Now, let me take a step back and say there's clinical proof of people who.

Are much more creative. People tend to be night owls. Even our GPA for some people is elevated in some studies, not saying that people aren't smart and crushing it and doing great things who tend to do their work at night, but it's just understanding we are more so designed and it becomes like a habitual.

We're very good at adapting to our environment. Again, like I mentioned, so. Just get up and do some exercise in the morning because it's going to help to set your normal cortisol rhythm to help elevate your cortisol. So it's high in the morning and drops in the evening. That's kind of how it works. 

Jonathan Levi: Yeah.

So I'm going to do some bargaining here because that was bad news for me and my seven o'clock wind down CrossFit. Do you think the benefit is from doing the exercise in the morning or from abstaining from the exercise in the evening? I have a fear that it's the 

Shawn Stevenson: latter. So when's the last time you did it?

Jonathan Levi: Well,  I mean, so I typically you work out at 7:00 PM just to kind of wind down and I'm wondering, you said, you know, cortisol and melatonin are inversely. So I think it's not the benefit of exercise in the morning. It's the replacing the exercise in the evening or taking exercise earlier up in the day, that's going to give you the benefit, right?

Shawn Stevenson: Yes. Okay. So now I understand your question. So you don't have to replace it. Like you could still do your evening, which I would imagine you're not going to bed at like nine o'clock obviously. Right? Right. So you tend to turn in into what time? In 12? Yeah, about 1130. Okay. So from that workout, that's actually plenty of time.

For your body to process and be able to get into the proper conditions. Your core body temperature can come down, pretty get optimal sleep. And for some people here, like, is it 1130 late? No, not necessarily. It's there's certain window. It's called this money a time window. According to the research and humans get the most optimal sleep.

The greatest secretion of human growth hormone are repaired of enzymes. During the hours of between 10:00 PM and 2:00 AM. Okay. If you can even get a couple of hours in that window, it can essentially give you twice as much benefit. All right. So that's one thing. So just do some activity in the morning though.

And this could be a five minute jumping on a mini trampoline. Like that's what I did this morning to move the lymphatic system. It could be a Tabata Tabata takes four minutes. Just go for a power walk, just throw on a podcast and just go for a walk. Just do some body weight stuff. It doesn't have to be a full workout.

It can be if your time to work out in the morning. And so for some people they know like who already sleep great, who work on the morning? They know that that's very helpful, but there are many other things because you could even do this thing. And then, you know, be up on Instagram and watching Netflix until one o'clock in the morning and wonder why your sleep messed up.

You know? So it's not like this is the end all be all, but it's very important. It's one of those things that stack conditions in your favor to make sure you're getting great sleep. 

Jonathan Levi: I love that. That's good. And it's good news for me because, you know, I use exercises kind of a wind down at the end of the day, a little bit of social, you know, as with any CrossFit workout, it's a social aspect.

It's seeing your friends at the gym, stuff like that after a hard day's work, but it sounds like as long as you get in some physical activity in the morning, you're still going to reap a lot of those benefits. 

Shawn Stevenson: Exactly. Exactly. Even that part, what you just said is so, so much more valuable getting that community in that time is when you're going to get a nice burst of endorphins, of serotonin, of oxytocin from the group, all of those things, actually.

And I talk about these in the book as well. In chapter nine of the book, those hormone compounds clinically proven. To improve your sleep quality, then some things just Trump, everything else. So it's really about finding that happy balance for yourself and nobody is the same. So it's just, again, for me, it's helping people to stack conditions in their favor, not changing or taking away things that are super valuable and that they love to do.

We just find a way to make it. 

Jonathan Levi: Shawn, I want to ask you. You've done so much research on sleep so much research on fitness and nutrition, kind of a short form answer, I guess. But what are the kind of dietary guidelines that you advise for people and what kind of exercise are you recommending to people?

Are you recommending weightlifting? Are you recommending paleo? Tell us a little bit about your opinions on that.

Shawn Stevenson: Oh my goodness, man. That's a big question, right? Question, but I'll keep it simple. I feel it just from my experience over the years. Um, man, this is just so amazing, man. I've seen so much in, in my young years, you know, and one of the greatest tools, I truly feel that you never truly know something until you've done it yourself, you know?

And so I've experimented with so many different diets for sometimes years at a time, you know, like. I did raw foods for a couple of years. Like there was no wiggle room. I didn't sneak and eat some popcorn or something. You know, like I was full on. I did that. I did paleo. I did the Mediterranean. I did the gluten-free.

I did the Atkins. I did so many different things, experimenting with all of them, full force wholeheartedly to see what will happen, incredible when checking out the results and how I perform, how I look and how I feel. And of course, you know, eventually evolving to the point of being able to look at blood work and looking at hormones and stuff like that.

And so today I can stand here and say, one of the things that's made me reach so many people in a deep way is there's no dogma anymore. I feel that every single diet is valid, every single diet can help somebody in some way. And some people might hear a lot about the sad diet, the standard American diet.

Well, I mean, for some people it's getting through the day, you know, it's like there is some kind of value there because I guarantee you, you know, there are millions of kids who are starving. If you could just get them. Or even a fast food burger is going to help them to get there, you know, get to another day.

And I don't mean to get bleak, but it's just, it's the reality, you know, everything has value. That's not the best. We're talking about survival and not thriving. But when we do shift the conversation to what is optimal for human physiology, it's just paying attention to. Evolutionary biology. You know, what are the things that humans have been consuming the longest?

What do we have the most story traditions about? And our medicines that's really what's left out of the equation here. I think paleo is a fantastic framework to start with. However, there's this really important point of. What about plant medicines? What about healing? What about those things that really help to support human physiology at the next level?

So I kind of look to the paleo framework is a great general template for people, but then I'm a very big fan of traditional Chinese medicine and looking at what's going on there with urbalism 10 years ago, I was ordering goji berries from Benton school of medicine, you know, before they were like everywhere, just to find out what those things do.

And so having that component of what are the medicines that have been out of our system, even if you're eating a great paleo diet, let me give you a great example, lettuce, right? Everybody knows about lettuce to in salads, you put it on your tacos. You can make lettuce wraps, but. Real lettuce, indigenous kind of traditional route of lettuce.

Wild lettuce has been genetically manipulated over years to be much bigger and less bitter wild lettuce is actually a narcotic, right. Yes. So this is something that those medicines, those compounds, those alkaloids have been bred out of them. And so it's resulted in something that is much different from what the human species has been consuming.

And not saying people just running around eating wild lettuce. I'm not saying that, but we're eating something different. So it's like ask again, questions. What is this really? Is this banana? Is this something that we've been eating for a long time? Cause it's not. It's not the same thing. So how close can we get it to what we were consuming?

Have those things that have like lettuce. I love lettuce. Lettuce is cool. We're like besties, right? But at the same time, what are some things that can fill those gaps? Because there are things that were here at one point that are no longer here. And this is where I look to understanding about some of these different herbs and the different supplements that are out there.

So I hope that makes sense. 

Jonathan Levi: That makes total sense, man. I know we're running towards the end here. I want to give you an opportunity before I ask the last question. How can people find this book? Uh, we're going to link it up in the show notes, but how can people find you, your blog, your stuff, everything.

How do they 

Shawn Stevenson: How do they get in touch? All right, man. So this is publishing after March 15th, right after? Yes. Yes. Yeah. So you guys, everybody listening, you can actually go to your local bookstore and pick up a copy of sleep smarter. If there is the few bars and noble locations that might be sold out, just request the book.

Of course you can pick it up on amazon.com, Barnes and noble.com. Anywhere that you buy books, you can pick up the book there, or we've got a couple of bonuses at sleep, smarter book.com. If you want to grab the book that way as well. So either way, grab a copy, get a copy for. The people that you care about, especially if you are in an intimate relationship, make sure you get two copies.

I promise you just thanked me later. I think we later it's going to bring a lot more health and vitality to that relationship as just something we've seen also with our test groups as well. So yeah, you can pick up the book in any of those locations. And also most people know me from my show, which is called the model.

Health show the model health show. So right where you're listening to this amazing podcast, you can look up our show, check us out. We've got some absolutely mind blowing episodes. And what tends to happen is, you know, people kind of get tuned in and they just go back and listen to everything. There's so much there.

So much rich information. So. Uh, you can check me out there. Or my home online is@themodelhealthshow.com and you can also find sleep smarter there. 

Jonathan Levi: Well, fantastic. And we'll link everything up for people, make it convenient in the show notes on our site. Shawn, if people take away one lesson from this episode and they carry it with them for the rest of their lives, what do you want that lesson to be?

Shawn Stevenson: I would say that. You always have the opportunity to get better. You always have the opportunity to improve every single day is in many ways a clean slate. We can change our perception. We can change our attitude. We can change our health. We can change essentially anything about us and there's always room and opportunity for us to improve in one area or another.

So. Seek to be somebody who is a lifelong learner seek to be a learner, seek to be somebody who continues to make themselves better. I think that that's going to tie intimately to continued happiness and fulfillment in your life as well. So that's what I would say. Incredible. 

Jonathan Levi: Shawn. You're my hero, man. I'm so inspired by you.

I'm so glad we finally got to connect and just thank you. Thank you so much for taking the time and speaking to our audience today. I know they've enjoyed it as much as I have. 

Shawn Stevenson: Hey, man, I've got the biggest smile on my face. I appreciate that so much. And I receive it, man. Thank you so much. And thank you so much for inviting me a pleasure.

Jonathan Levi: Let's do it again soon, Shawn, you have a great day. 

Shawn Stevenson: You too, man? Take care. 

Jonathan Levi: All right Superfriends, that's it for this week's episode, we hope you really, really enjoyed it and learn a ton of applicable stuff that can help you go out there and overcome the impossible.

If so, please do us a favor and leave us a review on iTunes or Stitcher, or however you found this podcast. In addition to that, we are. Always looking for great guest posts on the blog or awesome guests right here on the podcast. So if you know somebody or you are somebody, or you have thought of somebody who would be a great fit for the show or for our blog, please reach out to us either on Twitter or by email our email is info@becomingasuperhuman.com. Thanks so much. 

Closing: Thanks for tuning in to the Becoming Superhuman Podcast. For more great skills and strategies, or for links to any of the resources mentioned in this episode, visit www.becomingasuperhuman.com/podcast. We'll see you next time.

 

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23 Comments

  1. Luiz
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  2. Shivaditya Purohit
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  3. Rob
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    Great interview with Dr. Greg Wells! He mentioned a doctor from Colorado around the 42:30 point of the podcast, discussing turmeric and black pepper. I couldn’t make out the doctor’s name. Can you provide me with his full name and maybe his website or contact info. Interested in his products.

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    Rob

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The Basics of Total Personal Transformation W/ Stephan Spencer