Functional life coach Lee Chambers of Essentialise explains why sleep is so fundamental to everything we do and how you can maximise the quality of your sleep.
Lee Chambers of Essentialise
LinkedIn: Lee Chambers
YouTube: Lee Chambers
Having spent the last 10 years working in a variety of fields, including local government, a corporate organisation, and in elite sports, Lee has now brought his experience and qualifications with the aim to impact the wellbeing of thousands of individuals and businesses through organisational wellbeing advancement, while looking to promote conscious and purpose lead leadership internally.
Lee has qualifications in Performance Nutrition, Environmental Psychology and Advanced Sleep Consultancy, and he delivers multi-disciplinary workshops focused on improving performance and productivity through increasing employee wellbeing. This is an issue very close to his heart, as after losing the ability to walk in 2014 due to chronic illness, he has battled back to achieve a positive health outcome, and is now on the pathway to become medication free.
He also presents the Health and Wellbeing show on Ribble FM Radio, and speaks in educational establishments about his varied career path, health challenges and having a resilient mindset.
Based in Preston in the north of the UK, Lee is currently working with business owners and employee teams to create culture change, wellbeing strategies and champions. He is a father of two, coaches a disability football team, and enjoys eating good food with good friends. He is currently writing his first book, “How To Conquer Anything”, which will be released in November 2020.
What you’ll learn in this episode
- The importance of amplifying strengths rather than fixing weaknesses
- Why it’s worth experimenting with finding what you want to do
- The five factors which affect our energy levels
- How sleep is the fundamental driver for performance, and what effects sleep deprivation can have
- Why you should stop drinking caffeine after around 2pm
- How to work out how much sleep you need and so what time you should go to bed
- What determines the quality of your sleep and how things like alcohol affect it
- Why you’re likely to feel sleepy in the afternoon and what you can do about it
- Why you shouldn’t sleep with your phone on by your bed
Resources mentioned in this episode
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To see the resources recommended by all our guests, visit the Resources page.
Episode 50: How to sleep better - with Lee Chambers of Essentialise
Jeremy Cline 0:00
It's time to wake up to sleep. Most of us have been sleep deprived for too long. And in this episode, we're going to find out why that's a really bad idea and what you can do about it. I'm Jeremy Cline, and this is Change Work Life.
Jeremy Cline 0:28
Hello, and welcome to the Change Work Life podcast where we're all about beating the Sunday evening blues and enjoying Mondays again. So the focus of today's interview is really all about managing energy levels, which is something that I think a lot of people really struggle with. So I'm delighted to be joined by Lee Chambers of Centralised Life Coaching. Lee is an environmental psychologist, a wellbeing trainer and a functional lifestyle coach. So Lee, welcome to the podcast.
Lee Chambers 0:56
Thank you, Jeremy. Pleasure to be on today.
Jeremy Cline 0:58
So I've just listed some of the things that you do - environmental psychologist, wellbeing trainer and functional lifestyle coach, and I've no real idea what most of those mean. So go into a bit more detail, and yeah, tell us a bit about what it is that you do.
Lee Chambers 1:10
Yes. To expand on that, environmental psychology is when we look at the behaviours and interactions with our environment. For me, I do a lot of work around workplace environments and working from home environments and how we can design those to be more productive to boost our well being and to ensure that we have less environmental stress. So to look at it from that perspective involves making sure that the noise levels, ventilation, lighting, density and design are all based and work off an evidential basis and environmental preference to make sure that you can go into work and come out of work as well and as energising as you went in. Now there are other fields that looked at nature, our interactions with nature and how nature makes us behave and also how we can have more pro environmental behaviour and how one person can believe in climate change and incredibly worried about the future, and another person can believe it doesn't exist at all. From that perspective, I work within companies as a wellbeing trainer. So I bring wellbeing awareness by running workshops, coaching employees, doing environmental psychology assessments, also doing health data assessments and looking at the wider picture of how interconnected our environment plus the responsibility we take for our nutrition, our sleep and our movement, and how, as companies and employees, we can forge that together to make our companies and ourselves happier, healthier, more motivated, more engaged, more innovative. And as a life coach, I take a very similar approach - I use that with individuals, entrepreneurs, small business owners to really define exactly what you want. What your purpose is, what things you will enjoy, what you really want your legacy to be when you pass and then look at ways we can boost your energy so that on that journey that you now align to, where you know, which makes you want to climb, you have more vitality to get up that mountain. And we also then take you through a process of looking at finding where your hidden strengths lie, what weaknesses have you got, but the truth is, so many times that we look, try and fix our weaknesses - and actually, we should be amplifying our strengths and the areas where we bring the most value. And then finally, looking at what holds us back - the beliefs we hold, the negative thoughts that we have, and just helping people to understand the psychology behind why we think, feel our emotions and have certain behaviours. When we go that bit deeper to realise that many of the beliefs that hold us back and habits that don't serve us, we can have the power to rewire those and change those and actually install more positive beliefs and more positive habits that incrementally make us that little bit better every day. And it's those small changes that compound together to make a real lasting change and amplify and push us on to get much closer towards our potential, which in so many ways is unknowable until we start chasing it.
Jeremy Cline 4:16
How did you get into this, because you started out is sort of in a corporate job, didn't you?
Lee Chambers 4:21
Yes, I've always had an entrepreneurial spirit from a young age. I never really knew how to hone and define that. So I actually went to study International Business Psychology at university. And that was useful because I had lots of different units covering lots of different areas. I've always had a real desire to understand lots of different elements and then bring them together in an integrative way, because so much of our life is integrated and yet we spend so much time looking at things in isolation. So there was a real pleasure in doing units on politics, on history and geography, on language and on business and psychology all together in one degree, which in so many ways then put me in a place right to think, what did I really want to do. And there's two kind of things that really stood out. I really enjoyed helping people. And I've a real appreciation for statistics, patterns and processes. So putting them together I was like, probably the best job for me were to be a financial advisor, so I could help people manage their money, therefore their financial wellbeing will be better and they would have the income to go and forge their own path and live the life that they wanted to on their own terms. So for me, that was a way to help people fulfil their dreams, build the passions. So I managed to get myself on to a graduate scheme with a national bank, and I was well on the way. I thought, right this is the path for me. It definitely aligns with what I want to do. And unfortunately I actually graduated in 2007. So six months later, I found myself with my financial advisor qualification not being funded because of the credit crunch and I was like, Whoa, I have to fund these myself, I'm not paid that much, it seems a bit unfair. But then I'd seen people above me gradually start to pack the desks. And I really had that acuity that Okay, so maybe I shouldn't complain - at least I've still got a job and a week later that wasn't the case. So in so many ways before going on the process, and finding that I might not have enjoyed that job in 10 years down the line in a more senior position, I actually found out in six months that maybe I should go and forge my own path and do something different myself.
Jeremy Cline 6:27
Was the path that you forged then essentially what you're doing now or have you been through a few iterations on the way,
Lee Chambers 6:33
Like for so many people, you don't always have the emotional intelligence and the guidance to dig deep to find what you want. I almost went through - a bit like a scientist - a whole period of experimentation to find what I wanted to do. So I set up a video game business from my parents bedroom after moving back to reduce my overheads. And that took off and very quickly made me a significant amount of income. But I went back and worked in local government working on efficiency management, because in some ways I wanted to keep working and have that identity of someone who would still get up and have that rigid structure of a job nine to five. But also I felt that the social elements have actually going into work were beneficial. And in some ways, working in local government was nowhere near as stressful as working in corporate organisations. They actually allowed me the capacity to spend two hours before, a dinner hour, two hours after work building my business at the same time. So I did those together in tandem for three years, which really in some ways, looking back could've easily given the job up. But the job actually gave me certain things while I was going - as well as the stability, I managed to buy my first house after the first year of running the business and working at the council. And that kind of looking back shows me exactly how much money I was making. But at the same time, I then decided to take the austerity redundancy from the council, because I did actually feel there was a point where I was here working, and the business was giving me so much income, that I was actually withholding a job from someone who would really need it. I still wanted to go and work and make a difference. So I went and got a job with a work programme provider, helping unemployed people back into work, and that really ignited my passion because I met people who, you know, they felt like society had done them not well - they'd been made redundant and were struggling to reskill or find where they wanted to be. And I worked with them over a number of weeks to increase their confidence, to really help them identify where they wanted to go and work and what industry or job would align with them, and then help them with their interview skills, their CV, help them communicate their skills, their passion. They would want to get back into work to employers and I'd go to employers and prime them and see what positions they had, and look at the whole spectrum and see I can help these people fulfil the desires. And that really gives me, it gives me great, great fulfilment and great happiness inside as I got them from where they were to where they wanted to be.
Jeremy Cline 9:10
So was that your jumping off point to doing what you do now?
Lee Chambers 9:14
Yeah, so it really put a lot of the framework behind that. And then I spent six months in elite sports after doing a number of qualifications that led me to that. And that then, again, gave me a different worldview. All of a sudden, I was surrounded by the most privileged in society. And I was surrounded by the highest levels of experimentation, cutting edge science and performance. But at the same time, I saw that and saw how much money and time was been spent with very, very small performance gains for elite people, which was fascinating. But I also saw and thought if this money was spent on those people I've just been helping back into work, it could make an absolutely massive difference to millions of people across the country. And that made me think that yeah, it's absolutely great being here, but you feel that slight disparity, and that was when unfortunately I became ill and lost the ability to walk, and that really did change my worldview entirely.
Jeremy Cline 10:07
So now you've dropped that bombshell, are you prepared to give a little more detail as to what happened and how you got through it?
Lee Chambers 10:14
Oh certainly. I'd just turned 29 and was there making a list of things - what should I do before I'm 30 and have to be sensible. And my son was 18 months old, and 2013 had been a really big year because me and my wife had bought our first house, and we'd got married, just had our son, went on a cruise and our life was pretty merry. And then all of a sudden, one Friday, my wrist locked in place. And I was like, Ah, this isn't great, but I'm sure I've just used the computer too much this week, and I'll just rest it. And then on Sunday after a meal with friends, came back and my knee locked in place, and then I was like, okay, maybe this is quite serious. So I hobbled to the doctor's on Monday, got some corticosteroids and they hoped the swelling would go down but I needed to go back if it got worse. And then on Tuesday, my shoulder started to rise up to my ear and on Wednesday morning, my other knee started to swell and my mother in law came around and told me to stop being stupid and get to hospital. So she dragged me off to A&E, got taken straight through, and that really started the process of a long, long journey, finding that I had a chronic disease. So my immune system attacks the connective tissue in my joints and that started, all of a sudden, left me laying in a hospital bed and immobile, unable to move, not able to shower myself, struggling to feed myself. And all of a sudden, I'd gone from fully independent to being completely dependent on people in less than a week. And it was a massive shock at the time. And after that initial shock came off, I then started to feel the frustration bear. I've looked after myself, I'm only 29, and then after that came the grief - all of a sudden, I was like, I'm not going to be able to walk again. I'm not going to be able to do exercise, not going to be able to run round. I am a man. I'm a young man, my physicality means quite a lot to me. But in the second week, I started to turn that round. Because in so many ways, when you're stuck in a hospital bed, you have a lot of time to reflect, an awful lot of time to sink a bit deeper into your mind and realise what's actually there. And I realised I'd been walking around the earth for 29 years, and never once felt grateful for it, never felt grateful for my ability. And then I realised, wait a minute, I'm gonna step back a little bit from that and realise I've now got people looking after me, caring for me, helping me shower, doing things for me that I can't do for myself. I've not been grateful for them either. Not as grateful as I should have been. And then I kind of jumped up in a helicopter and looked at it from a top level view. I thought, I've grown up in a first world country, I've had free education, free health care. I've had lots of opportunities, worked in lots of different industries, the freedom to start my own business, always had food, always had shelter. Why should I be being grumpy about being ill? I'm gonna take ownership of it, be accountable, and I'm gonna start recovering and I'm gonna be proactive with that. I'm gonna attack this disease as much as it's attacking me, and that really started me on a pathway. I came out of hospital after a month. And then all of a sudden, my daughter was born. I was like, by the time she's walking, I'm going to be walking as well. I'm going to be running around my garden with my children. I'm not going to just sit here and take my medication and hope that it's going to be all right. So that really started, I went into walking rehab, and then into intensive physio, some mornings were incredibly difficult. I was in pain, I was stiff, but I'd decided, I'd cut off all the interruptions, I was gonna walk again. So that real burning desire meant that on those mornings, I had that mindset, I'm gonna push on, I'm going to be resilient. I'm going to keep going. When I have a bit of a setback, I'm just going to take it that this is how it is and keep moving forward. It's so important to have that momentum when you're trying to recover. And I just really went through that process and after 11 months, I walked a mile unaided and then a week later, my daughter started walking and I just knew if I can do that then I can help other people to push on as well. If I can get back on my feet, when people thought that maybe I'd struggle that just shows just how much of it is in the mind. But also, if you've got a real power of why, and the willpower to push on, and you decide that your identity is going to be something you will take action together in so many ways that really fuels what I do today.
Jeremy Cline 14:22
So let's talk a little bit more about some of the things that you talk about. And you've mentioned your work with elite athletes. And you've also mentioned how energy levels are a key part of performance and how you know, if we manage our energy levels, and we keep them up at the right times that just feel more positive, more able to do things, all that sort of thing. So I guess when it comes to managing energy, the things that kind of occurred to me as being relevant to that are things like what you eat, the food you consume, the exercise you take, health and how much that kind of thing, sleep how long you sleep for the quality of your sleep - I'm guessing that mindfulness by which I mean your your state of mind is going to affect your energy levels. One I hadn't thought of until you mentioned it is environment but I guess yeah, also what your working environment or your home environment is like will also affect your energy levels. Are there any other factors that I've missed that should be taken into account when thinking about this?
Lee Chambers 15:24
I think really you highlighted the five there that are big and in so many ways our physiology, so our nutrition, our sleep, our movement - vital. And when we're looking at the bigger picture, it's easy to focus in just on the exercise. Actually, it's how much we move around that, so if you draw exercise as a little circle, your movement is like the bigger circle around it. And it's about building in those opportunities to move within our days, because strangely the more that we move - and we're not talking about exercise that puts you on your back because you're so tired, just making progress and moving with our bodies - is absolutely massive when it comes to our energy, and it does give us a mood boost and also protects us from stress. But yeah, definitely you're looking at the mental elements in the environment. People don't realise the amount of environmental stress we get from say the clutter in our houses. Just imagine how you feel when you have an argument with someone and you suddenly feel incredibly drained, that conflict. When you ruminate on your failures, and you keep going over these things, and don't feel energised to do things when you have that kind of negative mental frame. I think what I've come to learn is from my perspective, I spent a lot of time optimising my sleep, nutrition and movement. So I could come off my medication because it's very fatiguing, having a disease which actively attacks your body and also being on medication that dampens your immune system so it doesn't. So I've had to be very, very mindful of trying to keep my energy levels, to the point now where I actually have an acuity where I can pretty much tell you how much battery I have left, because that's something I can almost equate it to. When you manage it every day, you actually become really, really aware of where you're at and when you're about to run out. So I'll kind of expand on that a little bit into something that I believe your listeners can take some value from. I used to think that all these things were important and as important as each other, but the more I've gone into the science, the more I've tested and experimented, the more I've gone into research and evidence, I've become really aware that sleep is the fundamental driver of health and performance. And if your sleep isn't there in the right quantity and quality for you then trying to perform at an optimal level and have an optimal level of energy simply not achievable. So to break that down a bit further, sleep affects every biological and neurological process in our bodies. So if we don't sleep well for us, we all of a sudden have our hormones, ghrelin and leptin, out of sync. And that makes us make poor food choices, makes us not feel full when we eat and pushes us towards sugary foods that spike our blood sugar level. It affects our cortisol making it raised, meaning we're more stressed and less resilient to challenges. That also then leads us to fall into more conflict because our emotional regulation is poor and our attention and focus is diminished, and therefore we make more mistakes, we're less able to focus on our tasks, we're less able to go and exercise because we don't feel like doing it. We attach to our feelings more. We also see things from a more negative perspective where we've not slept. And I think the best example to give people is of the toddler who's not had his nap, and the parents who are like oh, we're really sorry he's playing up, he's not had his nap. And yet we're exactly the same as adults when we're walking around the world underslept. We are like a petulant little toddler, throwing our toys out of the pram, moaning, crying, and generally thinking that the world isn't a fair place. And in so many ways, there's that every day feeling, but there's the long term effects of not sleeping. And it ravages our energy and our health and our ability to live closer to our potential. So if you sleep for say four hours a night and you get your blood tested the next day, you will be pre diabetic. It has that much impact on your insulin sensitivity and control. When the clocks go back from GMT to BST and back again, on the day we lose an hour, heart attacks, strokes, car accidents, workplace conflict, all go through the roof - the stats go much, much higher when an hour's taken away. Surprise, surprise, when you add an hour, they all go down. And that's one big science experiment that's played on billions of people across the world that wouldn't be able to be carried out in a lab in the same way. No one wants to go and do sleep studies. So another one they did was they took a group, had them sleep for four hours, another group had them sleep eight hours. They then purposely infected him with rhinovirus. And what happened is almost everyone who slept eight hours, only 2% went on to be ill, whereas the group that slept for four hours, 68% of them became unwell. And that just shows how much white blood cells and your whole immune system relies on sleep to rest and recover. It's very, very energy intensive to fight off all the things that come into your body on a regular basis, all the infections. So if you don't sleep and recover, your immunity is destroyed. And we don't really think about these things when we decide we're going to have a late night, entertainment before our purpose. And in so many ways we've got to kind of look at the bigger picture. Do you want happier relationships where you're not losing patience with your kids and snapping at your partner? Where at work, everyone's happy, everyone slept. So they're doing their jobs right, there's not the mistakes, there's not the conflict. And suddenly, you can control what you eat easier. So you put better things into your body, which make you feel better. You feel more likely to go on a walk and hit that fresh air and let the wind blow against your face and get out of that the environments are stressful and into environments that are regenerative. And it spreads. You're out on the road, you don't feel raging at that traffic light or that person who cut you up as much. You're aware, you're mindful, you're there, you're engaged, you're actually like, well, I'm just going to get there a minute late - it's not the end of the world. Whereas when you're under slept, you fly off into a rage and suddenly your behaviour is incredibly irrational, and you actually see things really negative. So in so many ways, we need to look to optimise our sleep environments, our sleep routine, and put curfews in for things that affect sleep. So for example, when we fall asleep, our body temperature - core body temperature - drops by a few degrees, and that signals our body to drop into sleep. And that requires a certain element of different or neuropeptides and transmitters, such as melatonin, serotonin to fall into a certain alignment, and we have adenosine, which signals to our body that we're tired. Now, adenosine, most people haven't heard of it, but caffeine most people will have. What caffeine does is it mimics adenosine and goes and fills its receptors up, stopping adenosine going into the receptors to tell our body we're tired. So caffeine doesn't give you energy. It just stops your body telling itself it's tired. So because caffeine has a half life of about six hours, we need to actually think that consuming caffeine say past two o'clock in the afternoon, not really optimal for sleep because half of it will still be there at eight.
Jeremy Cline 22:48
I'd certainly like to come on to this and other tips that people can take away for improving their sleep, but I'd just like to go to a couple of perhaps more fundamental points first, which is quantity and quality. And I was going to first ask you, how do people work out what is their optimum amount of sleep time? Because to me that does that depend on quality of sleep? And do people need to - it's not enough just to say, yeah, eight hours is my optimum, it's got to be eight hours of the right kind of sleep, or is the first thing, perhaps the easy thing to kind of work out roughly how much sleep you need before you focus on how you make sure you get the right quality?
Lee Chambers 23:30
Yeah, I mean, that's a good question. And what we've got to remember is, at it's heart, sleep has only been explored as a science since 1940. So in all terms, you look at medicine, surgery, they go back to ancient Greek times, and medicine is a old wiry guru, and sleep is like a baby in scientific terms. But the kind of prescription of eight hours sleep, it's a very fluffy guideline based on the fact that adenosine is about two to one hours. So for every two hours you're awake you need one hours recovery. So eight hours is just just a guideline. For most people, though it's quite a good guideline. Before the light bulb was invented, adults slept for 10 hours a night on average. By the time the TV was invented, that was down to eight hours. Today with smartphones, it's 6.7 hours. So that is a massive shift. We're suddenly sleeping only two thirds of what we did 200 years ago, and yet physiologically, we've not changed in the slightest bit. But to really kind of take how you should sleep - we all have a defined amount of sleep that we need. Some people it's slightly less, some people it's slightly more. It does change as we go through our lives and the time that we need to sleep, we all have a sleep chronotype so the circadian rhythms in ourselves are all individual. Some people will be early birds, some people are night owls, some people in the middle and that's biologically built in so that we only had about a window of four hours that we were prey in the night before we had light, before we had a house to keep us safe from the sabre-toothed tigers. But in the bigger scheme of things, for actionable advice, most people have a socially defined wake up time for education, for work, to drop the kids off at school. It's best to track back from that and start experimenting with what time you go off to bed. Start to see how that affects the time that you wake up. We should really look at making sure that we get an amount of sleep quality that allows us to fit the cycles in that we need, then we can start to look at how much we can get out of those cycles to make the quality higher. But really, it does involve a bit of experimentation - we're all very different. If we can optimise our sleep environments, we'll get to sleep quicker. So we need it to be dark. We need it to be cooler at the temperature that works for you. If it's too hot, our bodies struggle to drop that core temperature down and we spend more time regulating our temperature at night which can wake us up. We also need to just consider that some of us sleep better with a little bit of you know background noise where some people need dead silence. It's really about digging in and thinking, if you eat a big meal too close to bed, all of a sudden, you're not going to feel very comfortable as all that blood and all the energy goes down to digest that food, which then keeps your core body temperature higher as well. Alcohol affects your sleep cycles, so it might make you fall asleep quicker but it also causes distortion of your sleeping rhythm, which then means you have less sleep quality, even if you sleep for as long as you would do if you hadn't had a drink. So again, it's about putting them all together, those small changes. And in so many ways, a really simple thing for people to do is just to ask themselves, sleep is vital - and yet so often, it's the first thing we take a bit of time from. Instead of waking up to an alarm in the morning being violated, something that's out of our choice being the first thing that we experience - just take the meaning of the word alarm, not a good word. Very, very negative. Actually set an alarm in the evening to tell you it's time to go to bed. Pull your bedtime forward 5, 10 minutes and it'll make a difference. Pull it forward an hour, start experimenting, seeing what works for you. I've experimented and been able to come off medication because I've optimised my sleep to the point where I now get up and go to sleep at the same time almost every night. That consistency then almost trains your cells to get more consistent sleep. And my cycles have now shrunk slightly because I'm so consistent, and actually I need a little bit less than I did before.
Jeremy Cline 27:33
What I like is that you've recognised that people generally can't control their the time that they get up because as you said, that is largely imposed on us by society. Unless you're in a fortunate position where you can pretty much control your own schedule, then chances are you are going to have to get up in order to go to work, get the kids to school, whatever it might be. You mentioned quality of sleep, and I'm interested to know what that means and what sort of thing - you mentioned alcohol and food, but how you can kind of improve the quality of your sleep. But can we first maybe touch on briefly what it actually means because I actually had one of these apps, I didn't know how effective it was where you know, you put it by your bedside, it's on your phone, you set it going, and then in the morning, it tells you what your quality of sleep is. As I said, no idea how accurate it was. But there's quite a wide variation in nights where I kind of thought I've slept for pretty much the same length of time, I mean, what's the sort of quality of sleep - so what is quality of sleep? What defines it?
Lee Chambers 28:32
It's challenging because a lot of these apps tend to use an algorithmic approach that's not specialised to you. So sleep quality really is defined by the consistency of the amount of time you spend in different sleep stages, and different sleep stages do different things. So we have our stage four sleep, otherwise known as end REM, and that is heavily weighted towards our early hours sleeping, and the real power in that is it's very much a physiological recovery. So it's recovering our body's processes. It's been evolutionarily designed that way to ensure that if we get short night's sleep, our bodies don't fail. So we tend to fall into that quite quickly. And that's where if you get disruption - and this is one big thing to highlight - is that if you use sleeping pills, that puts you into a pharmacological state of sleep, that almost eradicates stage four, so you're causing untold damage to your physical recovery, and you're not actually asleep. So you've come in and out of cycles and you know, the average cycle is 90 minutes and yet some people's are squashed, some people's are extended, but you want to try and get the cycles across the length of the night. If you're add those 90 minute cycles together, you get seven and a half hours, which is where the kind of eight hours sleep comes in, as an average. Take into account the fact that some people's cycles spread a little bit longer. But then later in the night you find yourself in more REM sleep, which we all know for dreaming and for sleepwalking and fluttering of eyes. And really in that stage, we're actually cognitively quite active. We're moving our memories around, we are making sure that we put stuff in our short-term and our long term. We're transitioning, and it's that initial phase earlier in the night is where you're cleaning your brain, and almost in that second half of the night, your brain's organising itself like a filing cabinet so it's ready to go the next day. And if you can imagine if you only have the first bit where you body's refreshed, brain's all over the place - and if your first bit is really problematic, then you're not going to feel physically great. And it's about trying to get those eight hours, or seven and a half or six to the point where you've got your cycles and that's the quality. So if you keep flitting between cycles, the quality is less. What happens when you drink alcohol is you can't cycle in an efficient way. So you end up dropping out of cycles for longer periods when you need to actually have that consistency. And that will reduce your sleep score on an app because it's seeing that inconsistency. All you actually have to remember is even at this point in time, sleep technology is very, very new. There's lots of data, but not much application on that data. And really it's just to be used as an experiment to give you a rough idea. And that kind of element of sleep quality, it does make a difference, but not as much as quantity in the longer term. You need to get your stages. Once you ensure that you've got consistent with your stages, it then about trying to make those stages give you more.
Jeremy Cline 31:40
I think you may already have just answered the question, but in terms of these sort of 90 minute give or take cycles, if say you know that just whatever the circumstances are that you're going to have a later night than you would otherwise do and your wakeup time has got to be the same time, is it better to aim to be within one of these sort of 90 minute cycles, or is it better to get as much as you can? So I mean, is it better to say aim for six hours sleep? Or is it better to aim for seven hours sleep say?
Lee Chambers 32:11
It's definitely a really viable question. Because what you would imagine is you would then fit into a cycle and hopefully wake up at your determined wake up time, at the top of one of the cycles when you're in REM sleep, and wake up less groggy overall. In principle, if it works like clockwork, then that will be the case, but then that relies on the fact that you're going to go to sleep and fall into sleep straightaway. And sometimes it works effectively. But you need to almost realise that if you lose a whole state, you're going to feel that in that you'll have a sleep debt of one stage of sleep. Now you have the ability to gradually claw that depth back by having a nap the following day, for example - and claw some of that sleep debt back, but it's when you continually have that debt all the time. You can't sleep back what you've lost, it's just about making sure you adjust. I use a clock that lights up gradually, and I use that during the winter to help me gradually start to wake up. Our skin has light sensors in. So it does start to actually sense that dawn is coming. And you can use that to make sure your cycles are in sync. But I think a big thing for people to take into account is the consistency which helps your cycles become consistent. And we're all going to have a night off and a night where we go out at night, where we don't get in bed for the right time. I always suggest you get to bed when you're ready and try to get to sleep. But there's a point where we can try and over-optimise it for cycles. And as far as from a scientific point of view and from my understanding, studies and experience, it's always going to be quantity over quality until you've got an incredible level of consistency.
Jeremy Cline 33:52
You mentioned naps there. The afternoon dip when there's that point in the afternoon where you can feel your eyes closing and it's it's worst when - well, I've had it when I've been like in an afternoon meeting or training session and I'm kind of like I cannot do anything about this, I really hope no one notices - I mean, is there really much you can do about it? I know that things like what you've had for lunch maybe has an effect. So you know, if you're had a carb heavy lunch or something, then that's more likely to kind of set you off. But I mean, are there any things that you can do to minimise or even avoid that sort of lunch, post-lunchtime dip?
Lee Chambers 34:29
Yeah, I mean, it's really challenging because we're polyphasic creatures. We're actually designed to sleep twice like every other creature on the planet. So we've actually got a built in naptime. Effectively what is now known as siesta in southern Europe came from the Romans - sexta - which means the six hour, which is the nap for an hour, because they knew we were polyphasic creatures and we're actually designed to sleep twice. But now that is socially removed - you go to nursery you go to school, you go to work - you don't have the capacity to have that afternoon nap that we're actually designed to have. So that's why we have that real fall off. And for me with clients, again, many people can't nap, you're socially defined to be at work or at school. So in many ways what it comes down to is trying to navigate your lifestyle, and you mentioned food, and again, if we spike our blood sugar it's going to drop. And when our blood sugar drops, it just amplifies that feeling of tiredness. But also generally speaking on our dinner hour, we have some flexibility. Get outside and get your senses stimulated, get your blood flowing, go walking, try and access some natural habitats. They tend to regenerate us, give us more energy for the afternoon. It's just about in so many ways, making sure that we don't sit there being sedentary, because that just almost signals to our body that you're still - why don't we just go to sleep? And if we build in a buffer for that by making sure that we eat well, making sure that we move, and we get out, we get the sunlight in our eyes - that's another problem with being stuck in an office, is that we're designed to have the sunlight shine into our pupils, regulate our serotonin production and tell us what time of day is, depending on how bright lumens from the sun are. And in an office, you don't generally see that - you've just got some strip lights. And they operate a very low lumen level and a not particularly nice wavelength to our minds. And in so many ways, that's why it's so vital to get outside because then when the sunlight shines in your eyes, it's telling you it's still the middle of the day and that really fuels you on. It gets your cells running and it's about kind of working in those rhythms as well. So if we spend all morning just working towards burnout, we're going to fall off at dinner. We have 90 minutes sleep cycles, we have ultradian rhythms, which are like little circadian rhythms in our cells, and run between 60 to 90 minutes. So if we honour them by working in our cycles, but then taking 15 minutes between them just to rest, disconnect from work to disconnect from the constant stimulation, that not only allows us to become more restful and then reconnect to work to our next task, but also makes it easier to switch between taks and to switch off at night when we go to sleep. So strangely, your working style can actually affect how easily you fall asleep at night, and how easily disconnect from work when you leave, and go back to relax, restore and spend quality time with your family. So in so many ways, we don't have control over when we're at work, but we do have more control over how we schedule it. We can actually work really deeply, try to not be disturbed, which is sometimes really difficult in an office environment, and trying to get our jobs done and leave small periods and gaps in between where we can just go for a walk around the office, we can go and make a brew, we can go to the toilet and just get out of that work environment. So we have a diverse range of environments, which still keeps us with a level of input that stops us from switching off which is why that warm meeting room makes you feel like he just wants to slap your head on the table and have a quick 15 minutes!
Jeremy Cline 38:06
Lee, I'm sure we only touched the surface on this. If people want to dive in to into this topic or any other topics on which we've talked about, do you have any resources or just something that's helped you can refer people to?
Lee Chambers 38:20
Yeah, I mean, there's lots of great books and obviously great blogs out there now. And I think one of the really big books that I took a lot of a lot of personal elements from and really helped me was the Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod and that book, it's solidified my own morning routine. And it just amplified the fact that we're so many of us in jobs where we're defined times, we have our morning and our evening to shape for our own development, and to actually spend in our own worlds developing ourselves being reflective, finding ways to fit meditation and small exercise sessions, reading, listening to positive things, reflecting, visualising, affirming, and just working in our own little world where we're free of inputs from other people. And again, a big thing that I take is not to have your phone by your bed, not for it to be the last thing that you look at and the first thing that you look at in the morning. Even mobile phone companies research themselves shows that if you sleep with your phone by the side of your bed, you sleep less, and it's less quality, and it takes longer to get off - which is crazy thinking that that's a product that they sell, but they're so confident in the products they can actually do honest research about the problems that it causes.
Jeremy Cline 39:34
Where can people find you if they want to find out a bit more about you or get in touch?
Lee Chambers 39:38
The best places to look would be Leechambers.org, essentialize.co.uk and I'm on Twitter @Essentialize.
Jeremy Cline 39:47
Brilliant. I will link to all of those in the show notes. Lee, I think we are going to have you come back to talk more about some of these topics. But in the meantime, thank you so much for your time.
Lee Chambers 39:57
It's been a privilege Jeremy, thank you for having me on.
Jeremy Cline 40:00
One of the really important points that Lee highlighted in this interview was how sleep gets lost. We take it for granted, and we're willing to let it go. It's like, Well, okay, so I'm going to sleep for a little bit less night. Well, nevermind, it happens. And everything that Lee was saying just tells me that that's got to be the wrong way of looking at it, that really we should be - to the extent we can - treasuring our sleep and making sure that we do get the right amount of sleep, the right type of sleep as best we can. I mentioned in the interview with Lee how we are constrained by society's norms for want of a better phrase. We're expected to be places at certain times and if our natural bodily rhythm is actually to get up at 10 o'clock in the morning, chances are we can't really do that because we've got places to be, but Lee had the great suggestion of Well, okay, accept that and just work backwards from it. Experiment, work out how much sleep is right for you and when as a result, your bedtime should be. It's a pretty simple idea, but probably one that not a lot of people actually put into practice. There was a lot of useful, really important stuff in there. And it would be great if you could share it actually. If you go to the show notes page, which is at changeworklife.com/50, where you'll find the usual links to the resources mentioned and Lee's contact details, there's also a couple of buttons there so you can share this episode to your community on Facebook or on Twitter, and it would be great if this is something that you think other people should know then do please share this episode. The other way you can help people find this episode is by leaving a review on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts from. They really do make a difference. So if you have a minute just to leave a review, it would mean the world to me. In next week's episode, we're going to talk about what it means to build a personal brand. What is it? Should we be doing it? Why should we be doing it. It's gonna be really interesting. So stick around and I can't wait to see you then. Cheers. Bye
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