182 Boost Productivity with High Performance Sleep with Tanessa Shears

 Boost Productivity with High Performance Sleep, time management, organization, productivity


Have you ever wondered how to optimize your sleep for maximum energy and productivity? Tanessa Shears joins the podcast today and she is a health consultant and biohacking expert who specializes in helping people optimize their brain and body performance.

She is passionate about helping people increase productivity and reduce overwhelm through high performance sleep and wearable tech. Through this, Tanessa discovered the importance of high performance sleep and that getting the right quantity of deep and dream sleep was essential for physical and mental restoration. She also realized that her sleep patterns and productivity varied depending on her cycle.

Tanessa now uses wearable tech to track her sleep and experiments to figure out how to get the most out of her day. She has learned that sometimes it's not about working more but optimizing how her brain works.

In this episode, you will learn the following:
1. What is biohacking and how can it help optimize the way our brain and body work
2. How can we use wearable tech to get a return on our health investment
3. What are the tips and tricks to getting high-performance sleep

You can connect with Tanessa on Instagram @tanessashears or listen to her podcast The Becoming Limitless at tanessashears.com/podcast.


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Okay, I have to say, like, perfect transparency here. I hear biohacking and I always get a little bit of an eye roll because I think we're going to get into really crazy stuff. But I am here to tell you that Tanessa Shears has a much more pragmatic, real-life, realistic way of really thinking about how to bring in biohacking into our lives to ultimately increase productivity. I'm really excited for you all who meet here. And the conversation today is really going to be focused around sleep, one of my most favorite things to do and some ways to improve it and then some ways to actually really understand how we can test and tweak and then come back and make sure that we do what she calls closing the loop. So I can't wait for you to meet her. Let's go ahead and get started. Welcome to the Work + Life Harmony podcast. I'm your host, Megan Sumrell. I'm the creator of the top program and top planner, teaching all things time management, organization and productivity for women. I'm also a mom and wife, and just like you juggling hashtag all the things while running multiple businesses and a family, guess what? You don't have to feel constantly overwhelmed, exhausted and stressed out. There is another way. When you have the right systems and tools to plan and manage your time, you can live a life of harmony. This is your show to learn from me and other amazing women how to master your time, planning and organization, to skyrocket your productivity so you can have Work + Life Harmony. If you're ready to stop feeling overwhelmed, this is the show for you. And if you're new here, I'd love to get you started with my Work + Life Harmony assessment. All you have to do is DM me on Instagram @MeganSumrell with the word Harmony and my team will send it right over.

All right, everyone, welcome back to Work + Life Harmony. I have an amazing guest. We were just talking like, I'm so excited to jump in and geek out. So I have Tanessa Shears here with me today and I will let you introduce yourself in a minute. But to just set the stage Tanessa is all about biohacking, high performance, getting out of overwhelm, like so many of the things that we are passionate I am passionate about, I know all of our listeners are, but I've never really dug into true biohacking tech, all of that. So why don't you go ahead and introduce yourself and then we're going to start our conversation and really start talking about sleep as an aid and productivity. I'm really excited about it.

Yeah. So my name is Tanessa Shears. I am a health consultant and I do primarily work with six and seven figure entrepreneurs to help them optimize the way their brain and their body works with biohacking and wearable tech. We're going to get into a bit about what that is. But the whole purpose of it is if our brain is working optimally and we don't have that brain fog, and we don't need a couple of cups of coffee to get our day kick started and we can use our brain at its capacity, how much more we can get done in the given time we give ourselves. It's not about working more hours because our brain is clear. It's like if I have 4 hours to sit down and get something done, can I get it done in four or can I get it done in three? And the way I like to do that is with something called Biohacking. Now, I'm going to give you a warning. Don't go Google Biohacking because there are.

Multiple we already did before we jumped on today. And that's what I was like. There are so many different flavors of this out there.

I feel I love that word for your right flavors because you can Google it and you're like, well, you have one ends of the spectrum where there are stem cell reinjections and all kinds of therapies with lights and you can stick red lights up your nose and all the kinds of things. That's not where we're going today. The way I love to do Biohacking is meeting you where you're at with your health, but then doing it in a way which we're constantly looking at return on investment. So in general, Biohacking is essentially doing experiments with your own health and then watching for the result. So I find with a lot of regular health habits, like we're on the internet and we're like, that girl said do 10,000 steps. This guy said I should eat like this. Okay, we're not really watching if it works for us. So with Biohacking, I use wearable tech like Fitbits and aura rings and stuff like that to see if I am getting a return on my investment. Meaning if I turn my phone off an hour before sleep instead of scrolling Instagram up to bed, do I wake up feeling better? And is there data to support that? So it's essentially experimenting on your own health with the whole goal to be clear thinking longevity, better health, overall, better mood.

And well-being, I love that. And why I think this is such a great topic is and why I know I was so aligned with having you on the show. We were talking about how you go on the Internet and you say, oh, this person says do this, that, and the other. And for those of you listening who've been through my master your morning training, it's the same principle of, yeah, you don't go on the internet and read someone else's morning routine and then go, oh well then that's going to be mine, right? And that's my whole philosophy on finding your morning routine as well as it's based on your personality type, your specific home situation, and then you try it out and then you look at the results and say did this produce what I wanted? And if not, well, then now we know we need to go back and maybe tweaks and stuff. So let's talk a little bit about sleep, which is probably one of my most favorite things to do in the world. I wish I could be awake to enjoy it more, if that makes sense. But I know one of the things that's kind of your zone of genius is how to create an extra hour every single day with high performance sleep. So first of all, what is high performance sleep? And then second, creating the extra hour? Are you meaning that we're actually waking up earlier and sleeping less or able to get more out of our day?

Yeah. So I think if we look at like the idea of being productive or productivity and we start there, it's not about cramming excessive amount of things into a day just to get it done, it's like what result can I get in an output of time? And so I'm thinking like okay. And I remember this. The whole reason I got into this was when I had my first daughter. I remember sitting down to try to write a newsletter and being like so foggy that I couldn't get anything out. And I'm like, this is taking forever, right? I was like how much time am I wasting staring at the street or waiting for my brain to boot up or getting in gear for the day? And we don't recognize, I think, how much time we lose due to our brain not being at peak capacity. And you asked the question like what a heck is high performance sleep? Well, our brain is actually generating different phases of sleep. And the two we can get into today are primarily deep sleep and dream sleep, which is known as REM or rapid eye movement sleep. They both have very different responsibilities and we need to be getting the right quantity of them so that we are showing up the next day with a brain that is ready to take on the day. So just to give you kind of a brief idea, like, deep sleep is what happens primarily at the beginning of the night when we fall asleep, you get the first three to 4 hours, we soak up the most deep sleep and that is responsible for physical body and brain recovery. So think of things like if you had a workout during the day, this is when you actually benefit from your workout and recover. If you did a lot of thinking and decision making, this is literally when your brain gets physically refreshed, your spinal fluid gets around, your brain washes off any metabolites during the day. This is when you really physically restore yourself. Now, when you dream at the other end of the night, this is when you get that mental restoration. So if you've ever noticed that you are super creative, or you're good at problem solving, or you find that you feel really cool as a cucumber that day, or you find you're having a good time communicating, you feel like it's flowing. You're getting the other person's vibe. You're reading their facial expressions. Well, that is actually a hallmark of getting really good dream sleep. So those days when you're feeling a little more irritated than usual and you're short tempered and you're feeling patient, you're more likely to go to instant gratification. Probably just didn't get enough REM sleep. So this is where we dig into high performance sleep is, did we get enough of these?

Interesting. Now, I've had some other guests on the show to dive into cycle syncing in terms of like, creativity and all of that. Do you see a relationship of REM versus deep sleep with cycles as well for women?

Yes. Sleep is impacted by our cycles so much to the point where one of the coaching points with my clients is always like, okay, here's the flow, no pun intended, meaning like half of day one, you're going to find that your sleep is going to start picking up, meaning you're going to start having more consolidated sleep. You're going to be able to sleep longer. You're not going to wake up hot during the night and during about day one all the way through to day 14. This is when you are getting your highest quality sleep. Those are those days you wake up and you're like, I feel really good. But after ovulation through to the end of your cycle, the hormone progesterone changes a lot. And so that really messes with what we call our biomarkers of time. So our body's ability to regulate its temperature to be able to stay deep in sleep. And so we often find that you're waking up a lot more. Your cortisol is naturally higher, so you're more stressed out and you're overheating, which is making it harder to stay asleep. So I always like to allow for just a little extra time in bed and just know that that is going to be a time where sleep is a little more disrupted just naturally.

Because I always feel like I get personal coaching when I have guests like you on the show. Hypothetically speaking, if you were in a stage of life that is riddled with hot flashes and irregularity and night sweats, hypothetically speaking, of course, any thoughts around that with sleep and improvements for that?

Yeah, well, it can't quite relate, but I'm eight months postpartum right now, so.

My hormone okay, you're in the throes of all the fluctuations.

Yeah, I'm still honestly having hot flashes at night, so I can very much relate to that. So one of the things that I would like to do is know that there has to be a lot of breathable materials around me because there's nothing that will exacerbate overheating in the night like being under a fleece blanket. Or something that doesn't breathe. So the first thing I check is anything to do with PJs and blankets and stuff like that, organic cottons, organic silks if you can, something breathable. And now the other thing I always like to check and it's a funny question that we don't think about is I like to ask like are we wearing socks at night? Because a lot of women are super cold when we go to sleep and then we sweat during the night. Now, here's something I thought was so cool. There is something that the skin on your forehead, the skin on your palms and the skin on the bottom of your feet have in common. They don't have hair on them. It's called glamorous skin. They are responsible for temperature regulation more than any other skin. So have you ever noticed if you overheating at night, what's the first thing you do? You throw a foot socks and then you take your foot out. Right, because exposing that skin to cold air will cool you faster than anything else. So by wearing socks to bed when you're cold at the beginning it basically guarantees that you will not be able to temperature regulate. So that's just the other thing. And then the last point I'll make on that is do a bedroom temperature check. Like ideally anywhere between 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit is your ideal sleeping temperature. Now, I know if you're used to sleeping at 70 it might seem cold, but when you start sleeping really well but those are just some tips that can help mitigate that that I definitely use myself and have recommended.

I love that. And it's funny, I always do the 1ft stick out but now it is very cool to know the why. All right, so with the back to creating an extra hour every day, what is the thought process behind this on how our sleep kind of creates that extra hour?

Yeah, so part of that comes from the idea that when our brains work faster, we get through stuff quickly. So let us just say that we planned a six hour or we have 6 hours worth of work to do and that is how much time we give ourselves to do it. Our brains, if they are feeling foggy, will take the full 6 hours, if not longer. And we all know that experience of over planning by accident and not accounting for what stage of our cycle we're in or if we're going to naturally need a little more rest. But we get to the end of that day and all that stuff gets bumped off our to do list and what we end up doing. I have a lot of clients that experience this. After the kids will go to bed, they'll plug back in just to get a little more done. Because they're like if I do this then I can finally catch up. But that's a myth.

We never catch up right.

If you're ambitious, you are always going to have something fun or new, even if it's planning a vacation. I have clients that are like no, but I wanted to stay up till midnight and plan a vacation. So what ends up happening is that brain fog bumps stuff off of your to do list. And we're now doing it ten, 3011 at night and we're cutting into an hour of sleep, telling ourselves that that is more productive time. But if you cut into an hour of sleep, what happens is it directly not only takes from productivity the next day by slowing you down, but you're not going to get as good as sleep. So everything else in your day, everything else is harder.

Yeah. I feel like what you're saying here will give me almost better answers when people will ask how I manage to get as much done and how little I work. My work day is about four and a half hours and now it's only four days a week. My daughter's not school on Fridays, so Fridays I only get about two and a half hours. And it is true, obviously, I'm a planning expert. I do plan and manage my time well. But there is another underlying piece, which is I prioritize sleep. I go to bed early, 8 hours minimum. And I know that that plays into my ability to, when I sit down, work very hyper productively. It's not about tricks or whatever, it's my brain is ready to roll.

Right. Even if you sit down on the weekend and plan your week out, even if you allow for extra time and all of that stuff, your planning is only good as your brain can operate. Yes.

And I'll even tell people when you plan, you need to be in a good place mentally when you sit down to create your plan. Because if you're exhausted when you're creating it, it reflects itself in your plan. If you're stressed out, your plan shows that whereas if you are rested, having a relaxed day, you're not anxious or worried about anything, you create much more realistic plans as well because you're bringing that energy to it. Now, we were chatting before the show about wearable technology because I know that this is something you are a fan of and how it AIDS with biohacking. Let's talk first about what are the different types of wearable tech that you see as a good tool and then what you use different ones for.

Yes. The two main categories of wearables right now seem to be the rings and the watches. I find that in general, like, what I recommend with my clients is just a basic fitbit luxe and the reason I like that for most beginners is just because it has as much information as you might need. Meaning I find with the aura ring. I love it because this is my job and I also teach my clients how to read everything. So it makes sense. But I find a lot of data, like, unless you know what to do with your breathing rate and how your heart rate changes during the night and what your skin temperature is, unless you know what to do with that information, it does get very overwhelming. And sometimes people will be like, what do I even do with all of this? And they'll just end up not looking. And on the other hand, the Fitbit is really great. It's a great start place. It gives you most of what you need, especially if you're just looking at, hey, I want to monitor my sleep and I just kind of want to see and I mean, I wear both a Fitbit and an oral ring. And I can tell you with the new algorithm obtained on the aura ring, they are very comparable in terms of what the outputs are for sleep. So in terms of accuracy, I actually find them pretty similar. What I find the problem with some of these trackers are, like we said, is we leave what we call an open loop. Meaning you wake up, you go through your day, you look at the other day, how many steps did I do? Okay, cool. So you go to sleep and then you wake up the next day. Okay, cool. How many steps did I do? And it's just like, what is this information for? It's so I always like to this concept of closing the loop, meaning like, okay, am I actually using this information? Meaning like, let's just use steps per day. Because it's a really easy one to understand. If I'm getting 2000 steps per day and I want to move more, I need 3000 steps per day and I'm going to check at the end of the day and if it worked, great and if it didn't, oh my gosh, what am I going to do to get an extra thousand steps in a day? And how can I break that down into 250 step chunks, right? So we start looking at it like that and closing the loop and knowing what to do with the data. Now, the one reason that I really love this wearable tech is because I love to export it. I'm a really big Google Sheet nerd.

Oh my God, give me a spreadsheet, man.

It's good. Yes, from both devices. I export everything and upload it onto Google Sheets and get some good conditional formatting in there. And what I love to see is trends going back to that whole cycle syncing idea we were talking about earlier is I can see months of data at a time instead of this one off random data that I don't know what to do with. And you can start to see, oh, my quality of sleep is better on days one to 14 of my cycle and it changes after that. Or you can start to see interesting on the weekends, my quality of sleep sucks. Well, maybe it's because I'm going to sleep later and waking up later, or maybe I had alcohol. And you're starting to get to tie it together by looking at trends over time instead of one piece of evidence.

And do most wearable tech have the ability to do that to export data out?

As far as I know, apple Watch, you have to pair it with a third party app that you have to pay for to export it as you need. But Fitbit and or Ring do export it in a way that you can then copy it over to a Sheet or Excel file.

Okay, so let's talk cost on these because I've had all three over the course of my life. I've done Apple Watch. I've done Fitbit. Although not in a while. I've done the aura ring. So I think the Aura ring is around, what, $400?

299 US. And then they do I think it's 699 a month membership fee.

I think they give you six months for free and then not anymore. Not anymore. Okay.

That's kind of actually why I veered away from recommending Aura Ring just because of the subscription act as your data.

Well, price went down because it didn't used to be 299. So I think that's how they've used to cost more. So maybe they've lowered the price and done that. And then the Fitbit, the one that you're talking about, what's the price range on that?

Typically, honestly, on Amazon, they'll fluctuate. They'll get as cheap as $85 and up to $100. And there's no required membership at this point, right? Which kind of makes it a really good entry point. You get everything you need. Yes.

I feel like that is now. I was very honest with you, so I know I'm not throwing you under the bus by saying this, but I do think it's important to talk about. So, as I mentioned, I've done, like, way back when I did a Fitbit, but I didn't love it. But this was like, years ago before. It is what it is now. I ended up getting an Apple Watch as a gift and then ended up purchasing an Aura Ring to try and really help with navigating menopause sleep and all of that. I eventually found, and I know some of it probably was user, not knowing all the interpretation, but, I mean, I did dig into really understanding the data. I don't wear any technology at all, ever. One with the Apple Watch was even though I had all the notifications off, this is just a personal thing for me. I found myself starting to get a little obsessive on tracking the rings and the closing of the rings and the exercise, and I was like, I need to step away because I'm going to get overly psychotic about this. And then just reading more and more about any kind of electrical currents on our body, near our body, all of that I just finally went, you know what? So I still have my ring, it's tucked away in a drawer. But I've always wondered will I go back to it? Will I not? What can you talk to on that point? On just having that electricity of any form, batteries, whatever kind of on 24/7?

Yeah, I do think there is a fair point to that. I mean, I'm the one who shuts off the WiFi in my house at night and Bluetooth off phone is on airplane mode. There is nothing plugged in and charging anywhere in my bedroom while I sleep at night, including phones. I hear you on that. And the nice thing about the aura ring as well as it can go on airplane mode. Sorry. So there is validity to that, especially if we know that there is a lot of information created when we are attached to batteries or not grounding. There's an Instagram account, they are based out of Texas, but they are called The Pink Bee. And I've seen a couple of reels that they have shared but what they do is they measure the voltage when you're holding different items. And one of them has that.

He went and bought one of those and is now like walking around our houses, we're doing things and starting yes.

I've learned so much from their reels, but one of the ones that I thought was fantastic was showing holding a cell phone while it was charging and the amount of amplification charging.

Interesting, right?

So I do think there is a fair point to that. So if that was a concern, what I might recommend is looking at, okay, if I want to be able to access the data and understand this thing, how can I get what I need and then get out?

Meaning maybe I do this for a month or six weeks or something and then step away and then bring it back if there's something else I want to tweak and learn from or something.

And then the alternative step down from that is you can also just wear it to sleep as opposed to wearing it all day long. So these are different kinds of stepwise why I like using these devices, at least from an awareness point of view. It's kind of like sometimes we're unaware of what we're eating until we write it down and we're like I realize I snack so much, so it does give that. And one of the things that I do find with a lot of people is they'll say to me know my sleep is fine, can we do something like exercise? Can we talk about my food? I find that that is a conversation and I'm always like let's just wait until we see the data comes back. And nine times out of ten, most people are getting less than 7 hours of sleep at night. Because what they're interpreting as I'm getting 7 hours of sleep per night is I'm spending 7 hours in bed. I look at a lot of data from a lot of clients and the average client is awake between about an hour and ten to an hour and 20 minutes every night. And this includes falling asleep. Waking up between sleep cycles when you have to wake up either like you said, hot flash or go to the washroom or kids wake you up and then you wake up in the morning, we don't just turn our brains on and turn them off, right? So when we start to look at that and we're in bed from eleven to six and we're telling ourselves, I'm getting 7 hours of sleep per night, but you're actually getting six or less. And this is why our brains aren't working, despite sometimes we think we're getting good sleep. So these devices to me, really allow us to kind of hold a mirror up to our behavior and be like, oh well, no wonder I feel so tired. I was confusing the opportunity I gave myself to sleep with how much time I'm actually asleep. So if you don't have a device, just take the average if it's an hour a week every night, would you be getting as much sleep as you think you're getting? And could that be why you feel so foggy during the day?

Interesting. Have you found anything with the data? I'm one of those people that drives like my husband or my sisters when I travel with them. Crazy because literally my head hits the pillow and I'm done. I am snoring in two minutes or less. I've been that way my whole life. Is there anything you found on why some people are more wired that way where others are not?

So what you're talking about is called sleep latency. It's how long our brains take to wind right down.

And that was one thing. The order ring was telling me, like, it wasn't good that I fell asleep so fast. I mean, guys, I go to bed at 09:00 at night, my lights off at 915. So I mean, I really am going to bed early and going to sleep early, but I fall asleep like that.

Yeah. So in general, the recommended, according to the National Sleep Institute, amount of time it should take your brain to fall asleep is between five and 15 minutes, 20 max. If it's taking you longer than 20, it likely indicates there wasn't a proper wind down in place or there was too much cortisol in your system, you ate too close to bed, something like that. If you're falling asleep in less than five minutes, it usually means that you're carrying a bit of a sleep debt or you're exhausted. So the easy question to ask ourselves is do I wake up with an alarm clock? And if we need an alarm clock to wake up in the morning, it likely means we're not getting as much sleep as we need. So. What that can mean is if we're waking up at a certain time, we go throughout our day and we hit the pillow and we're passed out at night, that just might mean that we are so tired that our brain can't take the full five minutes to fall asleep. I think it really is situational-dependent because I get that notification on my aura ring, but it's usually when I fall asleep reading. And I don't know that that's the.

Same as I have found where it said I'm sleeping and I'm not when I'm reading because I'm so in a.
Relaxed state, for sure.

I hadn't thought about that.

Well, that's what I would just look at. And so much there is data and then there is experience. And you just ask yourself, like, do I feel well rested? Do I feel clear and sharp and focused? And do I feel like I could use more sleep? And a really other good test is, on the weekend, does your sleep pattern change? Meaning if you get an extra half hour to hour of sleep on the weekend, it likely means, like we said, there's a little bit of a sleep deck carried during the week, and then you just get to experiment. You get to say, okay, so if this is the hypothesis, how can I try and change this for one week and then see if I feel differently? And now that I've had both experiences of my normal sleep schedule and a little bit more, is there anything different? If not, you go back to what's worked before, and if there is, you get to decide whether or not you want to keep it.

Very cool, very interesting. It has me thinking about maybe doing a little test run back with my aura ring. Again, this has been so helpful, a lot to think about. And I know you have free training that's available for folks as well.

Yeah, that's three secrets or three biohacking secrets to optimize your sleep and boost your energy. Perfect. I was like, what are the three things that I teach over and over again that make the biggest difference with our clarity and our energy so that we can get that extra hour back in our time? And it's a really simple three-part video training, nice and short. Everything is super actionable so that you can start taking action right away.

Okay, perfect. And guys, we have that in the show notes, so make sure you go grab that. Especially for all my mom's friends out there. Every minute of that sleep can make.

A difference in our day.

And so if we can get really good quality sleep, truly, it's life-changing. Thank you so much for being here today. I learned so much and given me a lot to think about, so we appreciate it.

Yes, thank you so much for having me.

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