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How to Sleep for Peak Mental Performance with Shane Creado

Dr. Shane Creado is a double board-certified sleep doctor and sports and integrative psychiatrist. He works not only on the treatment of sleep disorders, but also on perfecting and optimizing sleep, thereby boosting sports performance and workplace productivity. He is on the board for the International Society for Sports Psychiatry, and works with the USOPC (US Olympic and Paralympic Committee), NBA Players Association, PGA tour Europe and Amen Clinics. In addition to working with individual patients, he consults with sports teams to design team-specific and athlete-specific sleep guidelines and strategies off-season, in-season and pre-season, to boost performance.

He provides ‘Sleep Retreats’ to organizations/companies, which involve education on sleep and performance, screening for sleep disorders, and specific strategies to improve sleep and performance.He is the author of Peak Sleep Performance: The Cutting-Edge Sleep Science That Will Guarantee A Competitive Advantage, which debuted #1 in Sports Medicine on Amazon in March 2020. This book equips the reader with the sleep strategies of the greatest athletes in the world, so that you can boost your brain health and performance in all aspects of life.  He is also a contributing author to 5 principal books in Sports Psychiatry.

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How do you sleep for peak learning performance?

When it comes to sleep, trying harder isn’t likely to yield positive results. Trying wakes the brain up, where sleep is the most vulnerable thing you can do and requires a different approach.

Our guest today has been an instrumental resource in my own sleep journey, and I’m thrilled to talk to Dr. Shane Creado about perfecting your sleep mode. He’s a board-certified psychiatrist and medical doctor focusing on sleep.

Dr. Creado is also the author of the best-selling book, Peak Sleep Performance for Athletes: The Cutting-Edge Sleep Science that Will Guarantee a Competitive Advantage.

Listen in as Dr. Creado shares his insights and instructions on how to have fun with sleep and allow yourself to enjoy the time leading into sleep in a meaningful way.

If you’ve struggled with how to find your optimal sleep mode, this episode is for you.

*** Do you want to stay up to date with every new episode and get my brand new Kwik Brain Accelerator Program? Go to www.KwikBrain.com/podcast to get instant access. ***

" Improving your sleep is free; it’s completely modifiable, within your control, and you can learn how to use it as a performance enhancing tool."

Dr. Shane Creado

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  • Every twenty-four hours, you get a mini vacation.
  • It’s important to bring a sense of fun and enjoyment into the time leading up to sleep.
  • Many people have a lot of anxiety towards sleep, whether it’s insomnia or simply higher levels of stress, making them wake up multiple times a night.
  • When you try at something, your brain becomes alert. Trying too hard to go to sleep does the same thing. The harder you try to sleep, the harder it is to fall asleep.
  • It’s important to shift your perspective regarding sleep so you can fall asleep faster, stay asleep, and overall get higher quality sleep.
  • There’s a difference between getting a good night’s sleep and really optimizing sleep performance.
  • It’s not solely about how much sleep you’re getting.
  • Quantity is important, but so is quality.
  • Disrupted sleep is not good sleep. If you have pain, anxiety, sleep apnea, insomnia, anything that disrupts your sleep means you’re going to wake up feeling miserable.
  • There’s a third piece to the sleep puzzle, which is the timing of sleep. Knowing and understanding your circadian rhythms is important.
  • It’s impossible to catch up on sleep over the weekend.
  • We call it social jet lag because every weekend you’re essentially switching time zones, only to go back on Monday.
  • Trying to catch up actually ends up being terrible for your sleep.
  • If you have less than adequate sleep, poor quality sleep, or your timing is all over the place, it’s going to have a profound impact on your brain health, as well as your whole body health.


  • Sleep loss has a direct impact on the brain. SPECT imaging at Amen Clinics shows that chronic sleep problems look very similar to a concussed brain and chronic alcohol use.
  • The areas involved in sleep loss are the frontal lobes, the temporal lobes, and the parietal lobes, primarily.
  • Frontal lobes help your reaction times, your planning, concentration, sustained attention, and executive functioning.
  • That’s where you learn how you manipulate concepts to apply them practically.
  • This is also where your rational thinking occurs and where you suppress impulsive thoughts.
  • When your frontal lobes aren’t working properly, you’re going to have slower processing speeds, slower learning, and slower retention.
  • You’re also going to struggle with multi-tasking, planning, prioritizing, and organizing, just to name a few.
  • This can be debilitating when you’re trying to go to school, or be a parent, or be productive in your job.
  • In the US, sleep loss is a major contributing factor to all sorts of ailments, including being directly related to the top five causes of mortality.
  • 69% of high school students do not get adequate sleep. This loss of sleep is associated with lower GPA and increased drop-out rates.
  • The temporal lobes are your learning centers.
  • They help regulate your emotional pendulum as well as language and word retention.
  • This makes it a double whammy when it comes to sleep loss.
  • Your processing, concentration, and rational brain don’t work so you get quickly overwhelmed, frustrated, and give up more easily.
  • In addition, these information centers aren’t working properly to retain information.
  • Matthew Walker at UC Berkeley found that people with even one night of sleep loss have the learning centers in their temporal lobe drop by 40%.


  • No matter where you are with your sleep, you can probably improve it.
  • Even if you aren’t struggling with a sleep problem, you might not be getting optimal sleep.
  • Stanford University found that when they extend an athlete’s sleep by thirty minutes, their performance improves. Basketball accuracy improved by over 9%, tennis hitting accuracy increased by 4.2%, sprint times improved, reaction time improved.
  • NASA has done studies on strategic napping. A twenty-six-minute nap has shown to boost learning by 54% and performance by 34%.
  • Strategic napping involves being in sync with your total sleep needs and your natural circadian rhythms.
  • The first thing is to know the difference between being tired and being sleepy.
  • Tiredness is what you would feel after running a marathon. You’re tired. But you’re not sleepy.
  • Athlete’s experience this after a game. They’re exhausted, but their endorphins are surging, and their adrenaline is through the roof.
  • No matter how tired you are, you won’t be able to sleep unless you are sleepy.
  • Trust yourself over anything else, including fitness trackers.
  • Fitness trackers aren’t perfect.
  • Rather than trusting an estimated calculation of sleep, learning how much sleep you actually need in order to be refreshed in the morning.


  • You can figure out how much sleep you need for your brain today.
  • If you have a serious underlying sleep disorder, chronic pain, a noisy snoring/sleeping partner, or other factors like a pet that jumps up and down, you’ll have to address those first.
  • Start with what time you start feeling sleepy and get into bed. In the morning, calculate how much sleep you got.
  • Most adults need between six to nine hours of sleep.
  • Elite athletes need closer to ten to twelve hours of sleep.
  • Teenagers generally need around nine hours of sleep.
  • Now, set a fixed wake up time.
  • Take the hours you slept to wake up refreshed and count backwards from your wake-up time. That’s your target sleep time.
  • To fine tune your sleep time, remember one sleep cycle is ninety minutes. So 7 ½ hours of sleep is five sleep cycles.
  • Count your sleep time in terms of sleep cycles to figure out what works best for you. Lock in a steady wake time. It should be the same time all seven days of the week.
  • If your wake time is 7:30am, and you need 7 ½ hours of sleep, then your sleeping time should begin at 12am.
  • That doesn’t mean you to go to bed at midnight.
  • Your winding down routine needs to begin at 11pm.
  • Your brain is not a lightbulb, you can’t just switch it off.
  • Have a calming routine.
  • Take a warm shower. Brush your teeth. Meditate. Write down your to-do list so you don’t think about that while in bed.
  • When you feel sleepy, get into bed.
  • Knowing yourself is just as important when it comes to napping.
  • There are studies looking at 20, 25, 26, 30 minute naps.
  • They all have good benefits. It just depends on your sleep cycle.
  • For example, if you stay out late Saturday night and have a sleep deficit, you’ll need to nap to make up that difference.
  • Most people can do strategic napping.
  • Aim for 25 to 30 minutes.
  • If you go into 45 or 60-minute naps, you’re forcing your brain to wake up out of a deeper stage of sleep.
  • This means you’ll likely wake up groggy, slow, and lethargic.
  • However, 25 – 30 minutes is a lighter stage of sleep, so you’ll wake up feeling alert and refreshed.
  • In certain situation, such as before major professional exams or competitions, you can do a caffeine nap.
  • Ingest caffeine before you take your nap, set your alarm, and take your nap.
  • Whether you sleep or not, you’ll still get rest and wake up alert because your brain is recharged.
  • Sleep is a recovery tool, a recharging tool.
  • There’s a science and an art to sleep. Learning how to optimize sleep through different modalities can give you a boost and an advantage in life.
  • A study out of New Zealand found when they compared quality of sleep to nutrition and exercise, sleep came out on top. All three go hand in hand, but sleep is vital and necessary to quality brain and body health.
  • Improving sleep is free. You’re born with sleep and can modify it because it’s complete within your control.
  • Be sure to check out the unedited, extended episode on YouTube, here.


  • Take a screenshot of this episode, tag us on social media (@peaksleepperformance & @JimKwik), and share your favorite sleep advice or give one sleep tip.
  • I’ll be reposting my favorites and will gift a copy of Dr. Creado’s book to two lucky listeners.
  • Get your copy of Peak Sleep Performance for Athletes: The Cutting-Edge Sleep Science that Will Guarantee a Competitive Advantage, here.
  • Get more information and visit Dr. Creado, here.

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