How To Sleep Like A Professional!
Updated: Aug 20
Physical Performance Specialist, Kurtis Rayfield, shares keys to finding a balance between top physical performance and all of the elements from our daily lives that contribute to our personal wellbeing.
Amazing things happen to your body while you sleep. Not only do you get to have dreams and wake up feeling rejuvenated, but rest and recovery are absolutely essential for any kind of personal improvement. During the recovery period, our bodies are given time to repair and strengthen themselves in between long days of physical and psychological stress. Body tissues are repaired, muscles are replenished, and minds are given a chance to rest and restart.
In addition to rest and recovery, there are also many other aspects of our day-to-day lives that contribute to our physical state and wellbeing. There are the obvious things such as nutrition and exercise, but there are also things you do every day that can be affecting you without you even realizing it. How often you are looking at screens, what you eat before you go to bed, how often and how far you are traveling, the temperature and darkness of the room you are sleeping in, how often you are going outside, and so much more all contribute to your overall health.
I recently had the chance to chat with Physical Performance Specialist Kurtis Rayfield, who has worked with teams including the Oklahoma City Thunder, Chicago Bulls, and Golden State Warriors. I am very excited to share some of his insights, and how we can implement his advice into our daily lives. Kurtis has built his career around working with elite athletes, and he values taking a holistic approach, achieving fitness goals by balancing our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. “By using a holistic approach, we can discover how to function to the best of our ability throughout the entire day and avoid burnout.”
From childhood, Kurtis has always been passionate about fitness. Helping to train professional athletes was the realization of his dream. Pro athletes live in an extraordinarily demanding and competitive world. Yes, they make a lot of money. And where there is a lot of money, there is competition. It is rare to get a pro sports contract. Think of all the people from elementary school up to college and development teams whom aspired to be a pro athlete. Then, for those few that achieve their childhood dream, they are constantly chased and hunted by other aspiring athletes who want their contract. Not to mention the challenge and worries surrounding being able to outperform others, in practice and during games. So, the demands are physical, but also emotional.
We are all a little bit of an athlete inside. In our own lives the need for physical and emotional performance can be seen in our daily goals. Did we run out of time in the day to complete everything? Did we slow down due to a lack of energy? Did we get frustrated, or stressed? Maybe anxiety came in to play? These are all elements that affect our performance. By making a few key changes, we can all realize more energy and better balance.
Kurtis’ successes have been based upon helping professional athletes increase their ability to produce more energy, recover faster, and perform at a higher level. This requires peak life balance. While there is no “one size fits all” approach to elite performance, there are a few tips that the rest of us can to help us perform better in our day and feel better about ourselves and our successes.
Here are his recommendations on how to increase your physical and emotional performance success that you can easily implement:
1. Create new habits to create positive change
Most of us have daily routines, and what we include in those routines are often times transformed into habits. It is up to us to make sure we are creating healthy habits that will benefit us long term. Habits should be simple and consistent with an accountability structure implemented. Change does not have to happen all at once. Maybe start with just changing 10%. You’d be surprised how much of a difference it makes. The goal is to make the most amount of change with the least amount of effort.
2. Exercise daily
There are endless benefits to regular exercise including improving your mood and cognitive thinking skills, reducing risk of heart disease, weight loss, strengthening of bones and muscles, improving sleep of course, and the list goes on! The recommended amount of exercise is 150 minutes per week. Try and start slowly. Don’t go out of the gate too fast. The key is finding an activity you enjoy. Once you do that, you will be surprised how fast the time goes by and you realize the positive results you are after.
3. Sleep and recovery are essential for any athlete at any level
Having a pre-sleep routine is like practicing for a game. It sets the tone for your personal recovery. Sleep is a time your mind processes the day’s events and your muscles recover from exertion. Take time creating your sleep sanctuary. When you make thoughtful decisions creating your sleep environment you help yourself live a higher performance lifestyle. With a restorative night’s sleep, you will have faster reaction times, more energy, and superior cognitive thinking capabilities. It might not get you a professional sports contract, but it will help you live a happier and more successful life.
You do not need to be a professional athlete to benefit from this advice! As Kurtis explains, “The average person can benefit from change if they are willing to put the work in, and start small. No one is perfect – not even pro basketball players! There is always room for improvement and these tips help you start making small drops in the bucket.”
What’s Kurtis’ favorite sleep product? “The sunrise clock. Since I try to recreate a cave-like sleep environment, gradually waking up with the sunrise clock helps me to feel more alert as if I am being awoken naturally.”
Meet Kurtis Rayfield, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, M.A. in Kinesiology
Kurtis Rayfield is an accomplished physical performance specialist known for his commitment to empowering athletes with the right tools to realize their physical and mental fitness goals. His holistic fitness plans go beyond strength and conditioning, by helping educate, evaluate and incorporate all aspects of one’s life choices and how they work together and build off each other. Harnessing this synergy is what has earned him much recognition and success in his career working with elite athletes to boost and sustain the momentum needed to elevate athletic performance. Kurtis’ experience working with athletes in private, collegiate, and professional settings includes, Stanford University, University of Wisconsin, and University of Pittsburgh. He also has worked with high-profile elite athletes on teams such as the Oklahoma City Thunder, Chicago Bulls, and Golden State Warriors developing and implementing the physical performance programs for the players, as well as providing nutritional guidance. He is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, Level 1 Sports Performance Coach with USA Weightlifting, Reflexive Performance Reset® Level 1, and Functional Movement Screen Certified – Level 1 & 2. Kurtis has a bachelor’s degree in exercise and sports science from University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, his master’s degree in exercise physiology from San José State University, and is currently working towards his Doctor of Physical Therapy at University of Wisconsin – Madison.
Photos courtesy of Kurtis Rayfield
About Inventive Sleep, Inc.
Inventive Sleep is dedicated to helping people realize their dreams and goals starting with a great night’s sleep. Its founder, Sleep Products Innovator Tracy Laskowski Miller, is one of the most engaging and creative sleep wellness product inventors in the industry today. She is known for her unique perspective on sleep materials research to create and help people find their favorite bedding products. With more than two million sold since 2006, her engaging brands and sleep solutions are in homes and hotels across the country. The company is a leader in designing, inventing and marketing innovative combinations of comfort and technology to create sleep products and brands including sheets, pillows, comforters, blankets and mattress pads. For more information visit www.inventivesleep.com Sleep Tonight. Create Tomorrow.™