Sleep Action with Shawn Stevenson – Podcast Episode #110

Sleep expert Shawn Stevenson helps kick off a new season of Move Your DNA with Katy Bowman, delivering three great tips you can use to improve your sleep life. Katy offers three tips of her own for better sleep. And Tricia Salcido of Dynamic Collective member Soft Star Shoes shares a little of the minimal shoe company’s history and current mission.

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00:02:44 –  Reader question – Where to live for a movement rich life – Jump to section

00:09:44 –   Meet Shawn Stevenson – Jump to section

00:19:47 –   Shawn’s 3 action items for better sleep – Jump to section

00:23:45 –  Get some sunlight hacks – Jump to section

00:31:09 –   Katy’s movement and sleep action items – Jump to section

00:39:24 –   Meet Tricia of SoftStar Shoes – Jump to section



Find more Katy Bowman

The City Moves You podcast episode

Find Your Region’s Walkability Score

Katy’s Instagram Book Club Post

Shawn Stevenson The Model Health Show website


The Dynamic Collective

Venn Design


My Mayu

Soft Star Shoes



Sign up for Katy’s newsletter at

Access all previous Move Your DNA podcasts via your podcast provider of choice (Stitcher, iTunes, Libsyn, or Soundcloud).


Hello! I’m Katy Bowman, and this is the Move Your DNA podcast. I’m a biomechanist and the author of Move Your DNA and seven other books on movement. On this show, we talk about how movement works on the cellular level, how to move more—and to move more of you—and how movement works in the world, also known as Movement Ecology. All bodies are welcome here—are you ready to get moving?


KATY: September is here, which always feels like the true new year to me. The time of year to get out your Trapper Keeper and pencil bag. All thing things I love about school except the desk, of course. And speaking of new beginnings, we are about to start a new series over here on the Move Your DNA podcast. A new series focused on helping you take action, easily.

You know my goal is to get more people moving more, and moving more of their parts. And lately, I have found a new urgency in my mission. And I’ve been reading a lot, and thinking hard, and after a summer of hiking, exploring, foraging, harvesting, swimming, and deep diving, I feel renewed. We talk a lot about ideas on this podcast, and we probably always will – but over the next few months, I’m more interested in activating those ideas. So, I’m gonna be inviting a variety of guests to join me and bring along their top three action items. And of course, I’ll always provide a few of my own.

So here’s the thing: I’ve been thinking about how and where movement fits into life for a long time, and my guests in this series have been thinking about their work for a long time. And their work, whether they think of it this way or not, has a backbone of movement to it. So I want to connect the dots between solutions to – well I guess to stack them, if you will.

In a few moments we’re gonna be joined by one of my favorite people, Shawn Stevenson, to talk sleep. And when I was thinking about this show, I was thinking about what are all the things that all the peoples do: sleep, poop, eat – and could I frame a series around these areas that we all have in common to think about the way they relate to the movements that we are or not doing or the way we’ve shaped our environment, if you will. So that’s what you’re gonna find here. I’m gonna try to pick out the themes that we’re all working through together.

But before I do that, after a summer off of answering Q&A, the Move Your DNA mailbag is full. So here’s what I’m gonna answer today:

Dear Katy,

I wanted to reach out for feedback on how to choose a home location that encourages a movement rich lifestyle. Are there any resources in which you address this dilemma? Considering that the environment shapes how we move this isn’t a trivial decision and we are looking for information that can help us decide between walkable towns with small lots and less forest access versus rural areas with big lots, forest access but that are car transport dependent. So, thanks for any information you can provide!

KATY: So I picked this question because I just got done teaching a 2-day Pregnancy and Movement Ecology course and this was something that came up during the discussion there as well. So one of the things that I had to offer right away was the idea of a walkability rating. So a walkability rating – we’ve talked about it in a previous podcast. I think it’s How a City Moves you and Mobility Justice. You can usually find a walkability rating if you’re buying homes. Many realtors will have walkability ratings. You can find cities walkability scores. There’s a website. I can’t remember what it is but if you follow us on Instagram, there was a post that went up I think September 6, a book club post talking about our book for July which was The Last Great Walk. And there was a discussion on walkability. Because, like you said, walkability can mean the classic sense in a city that you can walk to do your errands, but what we were discussing is, is walking just the steps that you’re taking that you can get something done while you’re doing it or is there a natural element where, because if walking through nature over the very terrain is also part of this nutrient walking, if you can’t get all of it, how do you pick which you’re getting? Which I think is really what your question is. If we broke it down you’re asking how do I have walkability. Which I think is mostly gonna be a term that relates back to how well can you get your chores done. And then there’s nature time. And of course, I find walking through nature time to be separate than just walkability and just nature time. So I think in the end the way that you’re gonna make that decision – again that decision, I don’t know that there’s a right answer. I don’t know if there’s a tool that will help you pick. It’s probably going to boil down to frequency. For us, we live in a highly walkable area. But the areas that I can walk on the most to do my chores, you know, to get to schools and it’s not just our school but to get to friend’s schools, is mostly going to be pavement. We have lots of – we live in a lovely rural area but I don’t think it’s rural in the way that most people think about it where there’s no sidewalks, that you have to drive for 20 minutes to get to a store. So I find this to be kind of close to a city. I can be in our city center on a paved road in a handful of minutes. If I’m on a bike I can be downtown in 15 minutes. By walk, maybe 30. But when we do our nature time, we are going to be in a car often to get to it. So the way that I’ve set it up is, for me, it’s more important for me, since I’m in what I would call regular daily life like most of you are where I’m on my computer, I’m grocery shopping, I’m post officing shipping, I need to get to my office, my studio. Because I do that more regularly, being able to do that on foot means that we’re gonna see lots of on foot movement through the 9 to 5. Those classic bits of the day. But we’re close enough to nature time, I could go on a four or six-hour hike but the chances of me doing that, kind of again, that Monday through Friday work time are very slow. So I’ve opted for lots of in city walking with nature time weekends, days off, vacations and when we can arrange it even weekday or camping is still 20-45 minutes, sometimes some of the backpacking that we do is a couple hours away. But it’s still there. But if you had the ability to just be out in nature for the bulk of the day then you could go to that bigger space. But then again, people who live in those rural settings will send in emails saying “I live in a completely rural area. I can’t walk to do chores.” And I feel like chores are gonna be the more abundant element of most people’s lives. If you have that small bit of nature outside your yard, I think that you can set it up to get that dose of what feels like more outdoor living just by making a small fire pit that you can sit and cook outside. I have found cooking outside during the 9 to 5 regular work day, non-vacation, non-summer, non-holiday, that element of our personal landscape, which is just in our backyard, which is just bricks in a square. We’ve put a grill on top of it. That is what makes me feel like I have a very nature rich life. Like I can get out, I can cook outside, chop outside. And that doesn’t require a forest nearby. Again, that can be done still, I think, within that city center. So I don’t know how to steer you one way or another. I think that’s a personal decision. But that’s how I think about it. I think about what am I doing most of the hours on a regular day. How can I make that more movement rich? And bonus if those epic hikes, the days out in nature are still only an hour away. I think that that would be great for me. So hopefully that answers your question. That was the first time I’ve gotten a “where to move” question versus a “how to move” question. But, I get it, they’re all related. And if there are any of you out there who have a movement related question on your mind you can send it to me at and then stay tuned. Maybe I will answer your question in an upcoming episode.

So this podcast it’s still brought to you by the Dynamic Collective, I’m happy to say. The Dynamic Collective is made up of My Mayu, Soft Star Shoes, UnShoes, Earth Runners, and Venn Design. And these are all small companies whose values are aligned with my own. I use their products. I believe in them and I’m glad to have their support for this podcast. And later on we’ll learn more about Soft Star Shoes and I will be sure to ask where they find the elves who make their shoes. And probably some other questions too.

But I am excited to kick off this Move Your DNA in Action series. And you can tell it’s a series about taking action because I just said kicking it off, not just getting it started. So you see? We’re moving more already. I am starting this series with a conversation and some action items about a part of life that might not immediately come to mind when you think “active”, and that is sleep.

My guest today is Shawn Stevenson, the author of the international bestselling book Sleep Smarter and creator of The Model Health Show which is featured as the #1 Health podcast on iTunes with millions of listener downloads each year. A graduate of The University of Missouri – St. Louis, Shawn studied business, biology, and kinesiology, all subjects I love, and went on to be the founder of Advanced Integrative Health Alliance, a company that provides wellness services for individuals and organizations across the globe.

And he is also one of my most favorite people in the podcast/health and wellness realm and I’ve been on his show multiple times but today he’s my guest, today, on Move Your DNA. Shawn, thank you for coming on!

SHAWN: It’s my pleasure. So happy!

KATY: The tables have turned.

SHAWN: The tables have turned, yes. You were definitely one of my all-time favorite guests. We’ve done, you know, 300 episodes and I’ve only had like 3 or 4 people on multiple times and you’re one of those special few.

KATY: Yeah. I really enjoy talking with you. You’re just, you’re nice. And you’re whip-smart. And you just, I don’t know, you’re the full package.

SHAWN: I like that.

KATY: Yeah. It’s an honor to know you. You know a lot of things in the wellness realm. Nutrition, exercise. But we’re gonna talk about sleep today because you wrote a book on sleep. So what I’m most curious about is why out of all this stuff you know did you choose to write a book on sleep?

SHAWN: That’s a great question. And it’s so great because I can talk to you about these things and you know a little bit more than the average person because my agent was trying to nudge… well the agent I actually ended up firing… tried to nudge me away from it. “You really need to do a book on nutrition.” I’m a nutritionist, you know?

KATY: Yeah.

SHAWN: And he was like, “you know we could crush it.” And this and that. But this message is what’s most important right now in this human timeline. A book that’s really focused on sleep wellness because there are many books that touch on the subject. You know, make sure you get your eight hours or whatever. But it wasn’t a master class on it. It’s something that was very practical. I’m very much about how can we actually apply this to our lives. I’m a big student of – I like to know a lot of stuff for sure.

KATY: Yeah

SHAWN: But what matter does it make if people can’t use it. So for me, the catalyst was, in my clinical practice having folks coming in back to back day after day. And we saw some great results in many things. You know, folks coming in struggling with weight loss for years or issues with their blood pressure. We had somewhere around a 79-80% – 80% reversal rate for folks with Type II diabetes. Getting them off their metformin and insulin and all that stuff. And many times just within a matter of weeks we could do that. So it was, in essence, kind of like we could do it in our sleep, ironically.

KATY: Yeah.

SHAWN: But that other percent of people, 20-25% of people, would really bother me. Because it’s just like “are they lying to me?” “Why are they not doing their program?” Whatever. But it didn’t have to do with nutrition because often times they were eating a relatively good diet we could get them on. And it wasn’t about exercise. A lot of these folks were actually exercising sometimes too much. It took me about 5 years in practice before I started asking people about their sleep. And it just literally… I could smack myself. Because it just wasn’t on my radar. I was sleeping good so I didn’t think about it. But years prior sleep was my biggest struggle personally. When I was dealing with my own health issues and I was taking medications to sleep and all this stuff. But once I got my sleep in order, I just totally forgot about it. And so to put a bow on the story in how this came to be a book, once I started listening to people and hearing their stories, and you know this, people don’t like to change that much. Right?

KATY: True.

SHAWN: They want to get a result but … so I had to find things that people could do to improve their sleep quality without turning their lives upside down. People would come in and they’re telling me “I sleep 3 or 4 hours a night” or “I do shift work” or whatever it is and I went into the research and I was blown away at the things I was finding out. And I was shocked that people didn’t know this. This wasn’t front page news. Like the time of day that you exercise can improve your sleep quality. And the relationship between what’s going on with our tech devices and all this stuff. So I started putting these things into people’s lives and the results were crazy. Finally, the weight would come off. Finally, their blood sugar would normalize. Finally, their blood pressure would get back in check. And on and on and on. And ultimately I wrote it as a blog post and then I turned it into a podcast – couple of podcast episodes. And they ended up being in my top 10. And then I turned it into a book. Self-published initially. We sold – it was getting close to 15,000 copies very quickly. And then all of a sudden these publishers were like fighting – literally got into a bidding war to get the book. And so it became an international bestseller. Still one of the top 10 health books on Audible. It’s in 20 different countries now. It’s absolutely crazy. But it’s a message that really needs to be heard right now.

KATY: Well I have a little bookshelf in my house and a lot of people are always flowing through. And a lot of my health books disappear. I call it a loose lending library. But your book is consistently missing. My mom has hijacked it and friends have hijacked it. And it’s really, it’s an easy read. And I love books. As you know I like to read them, I like to write them. But I was in a bookstore over the weekend in Orange County in the Barnes and Noble in the Health section. And your book was there. And it was the only book on sleep. And it’s so interesting if you think of a bookstore as kind of showing what’s important to a culture…

SHAWN: Right.

KATY: The health section is very small. And then of the health section itself, it’s mostly diet and exercise. Diet is the biggest one. Exercise or movement is teeny tiny. And then there was one book on sleep. And when I originally was thinking about this series that I was going to do I was like, “I want to focus on the everybody poops type perspective.” What are the things that all humans do?

SHAWN: Right.

KATY: Because there are some defining things. And sleep is one of them. So we’re starting with sleep. And of course, not everyone sleeps the same amount. But everyone needs to sleep. It’s part of our kind of the human condition. And you were talking about perspective of weight loss which is a lot of people would not tie…

SHAWN: Right.

KATY: …their sleep to their diet. But earlier this summer I was reading a book by Dr. Hanscom called “Back in Control”. And he’s a spinal surgeon. The subtitle of the book is “A surgeon’s roadmap out of chronic pain.” And I was trying to find the exact quote but it, too, is in my lending library and probably next to your book on one of my friend’s shelves. There was a quote that said, “I would not recommend that anyone get spinal surgery for pain until they’ve dealt with sleep.” And I was just like … that’s huge.

SHAWN: Right.

KATY: It’s huge to say that the musculoskeletal disorder that you are perceiving could, in fact, be heightened or even created by how you feel when you’ve had years or decades worth of poor rest and replenishment. And you have kids, young kids, and I have young kids. And it’s so easy to recognize in them meltdowns, the way they perceive what’s going on when they’re not rested. And it’s so hard to see in ourselves. Why do you think that is?

SHAWN: Right. It’s so fascinating. And like you said, just seeing my book being the only book there on this subject it just speaks to … the reality is this: is sleep is not really a sexy topic. You know? And when we’re thinking about transforming our bodies or improving our health, it’s very unique because we have this attitude as a culture that if I’m going to get something I have to do something. And so that also shies a lot of people away from taking action to change their diet, or to change their movement practices because I have to do something. So the concept that you can get something for nothing, in essence, is very difficult for us to wrap our minds around. And we get so much benefit metabolically. Even when you talked a little bit earlier about healing from conditions. It’s utterly fascinating. And so I think that that’s really the issue: is that in our culture where we believe that we have to do something in order to get something and sleep is free.

KATY: Yeah. You have to monetize sleep. You have to pay per hour of sleep that you get then it would get more value.

SHAWN: Exactly. Exactly. If you had to pay for this sleep then you would do it, you know? And that’s really what it is, I think, at the core of our culture. It’s not a sexy topic because it’s not flashy. Like, you just lay your butt down…

KATY: (laughs)

SHAWN: … you go into these different stages, you know? And it’s also something that’s not very marketable. There’s not going to be the next flashy sleep diet or the next flashy sleep workout. It’s just sleep. But I think that that was my gift, in that is creating it in such a way that it did become attractive.

KATY: Yeah.

SHAWN: It became so many ah-ha moments and it’s like, “Of course this makes sense. Of course, I want to do that.”

KATY: Right.

SHAWN: Making it sexy in a way. Making sleep something that is very attractive for us.

KATY: Ok, so you talked about action items. What are your three things our listeners can take action on now or in the near future to improve the sleeping part of their life?

SHAWN: Therapy question. I’m gonna have to caveat this. There’s 21 clinically proven strategies in our book.

KATY: Okay.

SHAWN: So it’s difficult to pick three since especially tying it to what you do and just us associating in a more intelligent way with nature, I’m gonna utilize this one first. And it’s gonna be so “Captain Obvious” for people but most people are not doing this. Aren’t doing this proactively or consciously. And so that would be getting access to sunlight. So I say this repeatedly that a great night of sleep starts the moment that you wake up in the morning. And this is because getting access to sunlight… So first of all, one of the interesting things that happen when we get exposure to sunlight is our body increases its production of serotonin. And so this is like the opening act. It’s like a catalyst. Because it’s like a building block for melatonin which we associate with sleep. And so increasing your production of serotonin sets the stage. And also, this one’s really interesting, again, there’s so much data out there but a lot of folks just don’t – are not aware of this. In the journal “Innovations and Clinical Neuroscience”, they found that there’s a special bonus when you get access to sunlight. In that, they found that folks had what we call now clinically cortisol reset. Where their cortisol levels do increase when you are exposed to sunlight, which is a natural response. But they found that test subjects who got inadequate sun exposure in the morning had significantly decreased cortisol later in the day, so in the evening. Clinically we call people tired and wired. Where their cortisol would be too high in the evening, and too low in the morning, making it difficult to get out of bed. This, in essence, helps to reset that rhythm. Because your body, whether we understand this or not, we are heavily connected to nature. And so when the lights go down on the planet, it’s supposed to be the same way for us. But we can insulate ourselves. Humans, we can hide out from nature. We’ll try to. And so it’s always constantly looking to find it’s rhythm. And so getting access to sunlight in the morning will in fact help. And here’s why. Let me give this really quick nugget. Cortisol and melatonin have a little bit of inverse relationship. So if your cortisol is too high in the evening, you’re not going to be producing melatonin adequately. And vice versa. If we can get melatonin high, cortisol is gonna tend to be low. And this is why that exposure to sunlight is such a great thing for us to strive to do. Now, with that said, how do we do it? What’s the best amount. Researchers say specifically sunlight between 8 am and 10 am is ideal. All right? There’s something about that rising sun that helps to set that rhythm.

KATY: Mmm.

SHAWN: If that doesn’t work for you though, that doesn’t mean don’t go outside and get sunlight.

KATY: I missed the window. I missed my 8-10 window. So that’s it.

SHAWN: That’s another thing too. Specifically windows like literal windows.

KATY: Mm-hmm.

SHAWN: Even just having natural light coming into the room can help to set the circadian timing system. Ideally, you want to get natural sunlight on your skin directly, not through windows, by the way. That’s not necessarily healthy because of UVA and UVB. The UVB what helps us to produce vitamin d, it’s sort of blocked by windows. Which is kind of weird.

KATY: Yeah.

SHAWN: So don’t just sit there and get cooked by sunlight coming through your window. So if you are in a situation where changes of seasons and that kind of thing, still come on, get outside and get a little bit of sunlight if you can at all possible. And also there are little hacks that you can do. You know there are light boxes that folks can get, these visors and various things that have some clinical data showing that they help to reverse things like seasonal affective disorder. You can use those to your advantage but the very best thing is at least getting sunlight coming in through windows.

KATY: We sleep without any window coverings because I rise with the sun just naturally. But I have posted pictures of it on Instagram and people have said, well where I live there’s so much night lighting around that at nighttime when they have the windows uncovered it’s like full blazing light. So a lightbox – I wonder if you could timer a lightbox. You know what I mean? To like kind of start coming on in the morning. So everyone will have to be creative about their own situations. Ok, that was one right?

SHAWN: That’s right. That’s right.

KATY: Ok, what’s two?

SHAWN: You know, I think this would be a good pivot – the other end of that spectrum as you said, having the windows open but a lot of folks dealing with what we’re calling light pollution now. With street lights and folks cars coming up and down the street or your neighbor’s porch light or whatever the case might be. What we want to do, ideally, to improve our sleep quality and not have to turn our world upside down is to improve the quality of sleep that you are getting now. Not necessarily sleeping more but sleeping better.

KATY: Okay.

SHAWN: So to do that, first to produce adequate melatonin we have to have two conditions met: Number 1, we need a dark cycle. We need to be in darkness. If light exposure causes us to produce cortisol, artificial light specifically. Not moonlight, starlight, that kind of thing. The lux and the luminance of those – humans have evolved with that. It’s very very small compared to even a weak light bulb. Okay. So keep that in mind. So we’re not talking about blocking out natural light. If you can, like for me I’m looking out on my backyard. There is no light. There’s a forest back here and we a lot of times have our curtains open. And so that’s not an issue. If you do live in a setting right now where you are dealing with this artificial light coming into your room, get some blackout curtains. All right? A lot of folks, they experience better sleep, ironically, when they travel. Because they might go to a hotel and they’ve got these blackout curtains. And so for me, that was the number one thing that improved my sleep quality was when I got some blackout curtains when I lived in a more kind of suburban area. And man, it was like a coma. I hadn’t slept like that in a very long time in my own house.

KATY: Yeah.

SHAWN: And so that’s pretty simple. Get your room, create a sleep sanctuary. Get it nice and dark and cool as well. I guess that can be a pivot to number 3 if that’s cool.

KATY: Do it.

SHAWN: All right so number 3 is, the human body goes through this process. It’s called thermoregulation. And so it’s always, I was taught in school that the human body should be 98.6 degrees. It’s just totally ridiculous. Because your temperature changes and modulates throughout the day based on what you’re doing, the time of day. It’s always in flux. You know… if you’re working out your body temperature is gonna go up. And that’s ok. Now, with that said, there’s a natural drop in your core body temperature at night to help facilitate sleep. And from what I’ve discovered it’s that it’s really correlated with as your core body temperature goes down, you know you get those signals in your environment. Turn down the lights, get a little bit darker, is to release certain reparative enzymes and sleep-related hormones, anabolic hormones that coincide with that drop in your core temperature. So check this out. Let me see if I can actually pull it up and tell you exactly what it is. All right, this is really cool. So, there was a study that was done and this was on insomniacs. So this is actual people with clinical sleep problems. They’re having very very difficult time sleeping. And so what they did was, they fitted these test subjects with cooling caps. And so what it did was run circulating cool water around their head and this was just a one-degree change. Okay? And so here’s what happened. They have these insomniacs and they have folks – the control group – who don’t have insomnia. And so here’s what happened when they wore the cooling caps. They fell asleep faster than people without sleep disorders. Just by cooling their temperature by one degree. And it took – so that was 13 minutes to fall asleep compared to 16 on average for the “healthy group”. And also the patients that were diagnosed with insomnia ended up sleeping for 89 percent of the time which is literally the same as folks who don’t have insomnia. This was effective for 75% of the people and the rate that that’s effective versus taking Ambien or whatever it’s out of this world by simply cooling the person off. And so that’s what I want people to do. Create a sleep sanctuary. Make sure that it’s relatively dark. Don’t worry about natural light from outside, that’s fine. But internal artificial light and external artificial light. And if you can, if it’s kind of a, you can open the window. There’s cool air that can come in or if you have a thermostat and you can drop the temperature down. We know how it feels to try to sleep when we’re hot. It sucks.

KATY: Yeah.

SHAWN: It’s kind of gross. It doesn’t feel good. And so if you can get it a little bit cooler. The experts say somewhere between 62 and 68 degrees is ideal. And people, it’s gonna depend on the person. Some people are gonna get freaked out by that. And we were just talking before the show about Kelly Starrett. And he mentioned you by the way when we talked last. And he’s the one who told me about the Chilipad. So he said that this was revolutionary for him. Because he’s a hot running fella, right?

KATY: Yeah.

SHAWN: And his wife, not so much. Like they would probably get into it because of him wanting to have it cooler. So the Chili Pad was something he could lay on his side of the bed and cool him off. And he’s like it transformed his life. And so, you gotta find those things that work for you and work for your, if you have a significant other. So for my wife, she’s from Kenya. She doesn’t really mess around with the cold. But we tested it. And she did find that she, in fact, slept better when it was cooler. For her, though it was the getting out of bed in the morning part.

KATY: Right.

SHAWN: So what I do is I get up first and I go and turn the thermostat up. Simple fix.

KATY: Nice compromise.

SHAWN: There you go. So there’s three strategies, simple things. Getting it cool and dark and also making sure we get adequate sun exposure in the morning.

KATY: That’s so interesting because I think that when people are trying to solve problems, pain problems, health problems, sleep problems, that the underlying assumption is that there’s a problem with you rather than…these are all environmental things. Right? Like everything you just suggested is about not the person but just altering the environment so that you can have the natural response of just sleeping better.

SHAWN: Yeah. It’s fascinating. So fascinating.

KATY: It’s just different. Like we get a lot of “what’s wrong with me? I’m not working. I need to fix it.” And when you take medication and a lot of time for sleep, you haven’t changed anything about the environment but you’re trying to change something about yourself and sometimes it’s just blocking out the windows and then throwing them open with the rising sun and maybe popping outside for a little bit. Okay. That’s amazing.

And so I’m trying to match three tips for the sleep expert’s sleep tips or whatever expert I have on. I don’t know that much about sleep except I like it when I can get it. But my action items are usually more movement related and so I’m gonna just dump three of them out and then Shawn you can give me your opinions on these as well.

SHAWN: Okay.

KATY: So people have asked a lot about, so they’re different than the people coming to you for I can’t sleep. These aren’t necessarily about not sleeping full stop, but they’re about noticing the way that they feel in their body after they sleep. For example, waking up with a stiff back or a stiff neck. So one of the things that I have talked about a lot and have written about is, really maybe checking your pillow height. Because remember it’s single repetitive positioning all night long. And so we all culturally just have something propping our head forward to the rest of our body and that I recommend that over time you just take a pillow and then the easiest way is to remove stuffing out of it or you just swap it with things smaller and smaller over time. Maybe ramp up a couple of shoulder and neck stretches. And then over time, you’ll notice that you wake up more mobile because you’re not fixing your body in one… basically it’s like a forward head position a lot of times. And that’s what people notice. So that’s one of my recommendations for people who wake up with stiff necks, is to do it. Again, over time. For me, it was 18 months. So that’s what I mean by over time. Not like over a week. Not over a month. But over a year and a half. The other thing is, you know you were talking about monetizing sleep, there’s actually a huge industry around sleep. And that’s with mattresses. What kind of mattress is it, right?

SHAWN: Right.

KATY: Is it a soft mattress? Or a firm mattress. You can see the range of experts recommend opposing things all across the board. But in the end, when I teach movement I teach natural movement. One of the movements that I think we’re missing naturally are pressure related movements. So that’s, you know if you do, you go up onto a bar with your arm, you climb a tree with your arm. That bar kind of smooshes your arm – those are pressure deformation motions. So when you lie on the floor every night, or if you lie on the floor right now, you’ll find that it’s usually uncomfortable when you get started. But if you’ve ever taken a yoga class or a stretching class by the time you get to that Savasana stable position it’s much more comfortable because you’ve kind of mobilized all of your parts. And so I do recommend for those people who are stiff when they get out of bed is one you can shift to a more supportive bed or eventually transition to something like a futon or we sleep on the ground here. Which is kind of similar to camping. If you lie on the floor though, if you don’t want to give up your mattress, but you take 15 minutes to kind of prep your body for rolling out – it might be easier to fall asleep that way if you kind of basically done a little self-massage. Right? There’s a difference between a massage therapist and lying on the floor, but ultimately it’s still pressure application. So if you just got out and stretched on the floor, put your arms over your head, roll on one side, and the other side. It’s almost like you’re tenderizing your body for sleep. So that you don’t have to get into bed for the first 30 minutes and then you can’t really do that in a soft mushy bed. And then you start fretting that you’re not gonna fall asleep and then you start getting into the mental space of “why can’t I sleep?” which, for me, keeps me awake. And then, finally, I have a timer on my wifi. Just a Radio Shack, $8.99 timer, which clicks it off. And I do that not for the electromagnetic environment. It’s actually to boot us off our computers if we’re still on too late. It kind of like removes the option…


KATY: It’s like a nice external personal trainer. It’s like Shawn in your house going, “Shouldn’t you be in bed by now? It’s too late.” And we set it earlier in the winter. And we’ve decided ahead of time. We’d like it to be off by 8:30 or 9. And then we just find that we’re so lazy that we don’t need to override it and turn it back on. Just that little reminder of we choose to turn it off by nine, boots us off and gets us into bed earlier. So those are some of my strategies.

SHAWN: Oh my goodness. I love those. And I have that time too because of you. And I’m doing it more so for that kind of electric weird net and

KATY: Sure.

SHAWN: … we still don’t really understand…

KATY: Correct.

SHAWN: …all the stuff going on with it but you know? Might as well. If I’m gonna be asleep anyway.

KATY: Why not?

SHAWN: And so also, I do have it in my mind. For ours, I think it’s set at like 10:30. So for us, it’s just like even if I’m up if we happen to be hanging out, watching a movie, just doing something random, because I tend to be off my tech a little bit earlier. It just still lets me know, “bro, you wanna feel good tomorrow, so, you’re gonna end this up at 10:30 anyways.” And so I love that and also just talking about the culture with mattresses is very very interesting. I’ve already shared this but the biggest mattress company in the world reached out to me when Sleep Smarter first came out and they were wanting to endorse the book and it’s got tens of thousands of copies they wanted to get for training for employees and all this stuff. And it’s just like, I don’t think you guys actually read this chapter.

KATY: (laughs)

SHAWN: It kind of went in about the whole mattress industry. Because this is one of the – it’s so interesting to see the high incidents of things like sudden infant death syndrome and all these things because these oft gassy mattresses and the transmission of various chemicals and things like that. And I don’t want to get into any kind of rant on that but I put the data in the book and I had to put it in in good consciousness once I found out about it.

KATY: Yeah.

SHAWN: And the mattress resiliency. And people on average, we don’t think about getting a new mattress unless there’s a problem for a lot of folks. And that mattress wearing down in very specific areas, specifically your hips, that’s probably leading to a lot of back problems for people. It’s probably the biggest cause, in my opinion, is our mattress. And how we’re spending – we’re spending so many hours in this state and like you said not getting those correct pressure inputs. And so one of the things that I do encourage people to do that have a hard time … We’re very good at going from zero to 100. We’re very good at that. But going from 100 to zero and relaxing? That can be very difficult today. And so having a movement practice at the end of the day to hit some of those pressure points and so we talk about – Kelly and I talked about the ball smashing.

KATY: Mm-hmm.

SHAWN: Where you take the ball – princess ball – and kind of work around in your gut region and that’s one thing. Because you’ve got the vagus nerve and all that stuff there. But laying on the floor, like you mentioned, outside of the discomfort that some folks might experience, it’s just like you kind of start to relax just immediately when you start laying down on the floor. You know, it’s hitting those points. So I love that tip, which I never thought about. Because I actually tend to do it. I kind of lay on the floor in my living room before I go to bed. Which I do have a mattress, and it just feels good.

KATY: Yeah.

SHAWN: It’s kind of a natural transition. So I love those.

KATY: It is. Like all the fascia work and the ball rolling, getting on the floor is like the lowest level of that. Because there’s not a lot of – there’s nothing being pushed into your body crevices. So if you lie on the floor, and then roll over, lie on your stomach, get on your fetal position, roll over to the fetal position on the left, roll back and forth on your spine, up and back a few times, roll on your stomach so you’re totally prone arms spread out like you’re doing a reverse snow angel, lay on your back and do a snow angel that way. And consider that your kind of, like I said, just body tenderizing routine. See how that works with everybody’s sleep. But Shawn I want to thank you so much for helping me kick off this season of Move Your DNA. You can find out more about Shawn at and you can find his book Sleep Smarter anywhere books are sold. I can vouch it is in Orange County/Tustin. I saw it last week.

SHAWN: Awesome.

KATY: Thank you, Shawn, so much for coming on.

SHAWN: Totally my pleasure. Thank you for having me.

KATY: So Shawn’s mission is to help you improve your sleep and mine is to help you move more and move more of your parts. I am endlessly inspired by people who are on a mission and that includes the companies that make up our Dynamic Collective. And we love to have their support.

But I wanted to go a little bit beyond sponsorship for our podcast, and I wanted to give everyone listening a sense of what it can be like to turn a mission into a final product. I write books, but our Dynamic Collective companies, they make stuff. And I am not a maker with my hands. So makers blow my mind and I’m curious about how and why they do it. And you might be too. So, wonder no more. Tricia Salcido owns Soft Star Shoes. And I would like to welcome you to Move Your DNA!

TRICIA: Thanks, Katy! I’m happy to be here.

KATY: So how did Soft Star get started / how did you come to make shoes?

TRICIA: Well, Soft Star actually started predates me. It started in ’85 with Tim Oliver who was a high school shop teacher. And realizing as a young teacher he just really didn’t like teaching. And started looking for crafts that he could make for his family. His wife was working at a farmer’s market with a woman who was making little baby moccasins and they were completely charmed and decided to make a go of it and start Soft Star shoes making baby shoes. I came to the picture in 2005, also looking to kind of have my own thing – my own business. I knew I wanted to have a business where we did manufacturing and indoor product making and making things because I love the satisfaction that comes from making product. I have a background in engineering and consulting and really service industries are more what my skills are suited for but I just felt this tug in my heart to want to make something. It makes me feel good at the end of the day when you have something to hold and is tangible. I stumbled upon Soft Star a bit by accident. I had a one-year-old daughter and was walking through town and saw a little barn and kind of poked my head inside and there were elves in there making baby shoes. And it was interesting because at that point I was already starting the journey of looking at different businesses and I walked into that workshop and I just had this instant love and deep down knowledge that this was it. This was really clicking and it was a beautiful product. It was a healthy product. It’s something I wanted for my child the second I saw it. And when you had it in your hands then, you know, then you were lost. Because it’s just beautiful product. So that’s how I personally came to Soft Star. But a lot of the elves who work here are what I would call classic makers. The people who are actually sewing and cutting and stamping the shoes out every day tend to be people who take a deep satisfaction in using their hands. It’s a very different person from what we hire, for example, for someone to be on the phone and helping customers who are emailing in questions about sizing or fit. That there’s a very different type of person. There’s just a deep joy and satisfaction that makers have when they’re using their hands – and pride in their craft. That’s really important.

KATY: I love that. There’s a – I think she’s a neuroscientist that I’ve been trying to getting on the show and she has a book about hand work. And as an alleviator of certain brain states. I think one of them being depression. Where handwork seems to be something that many people, if not all of us, require. So I’ll see if I can get her on the show sometime. Because I’m not a hand … I haven’t been a hand worker. But I’ve had a chance to come to your shop and work on my own pair of shoes through a very lovely opportunity. And I have found it, like you said, deeply satisfying considering what the makers are doing. What are some of the challenges of making shoes in the way that you do specifically?

TRICIA: Well certainly the biggest challenge that we face is just, because we use our hands so much on small shoes, is ergonomic issues. So staying healthy in terms of your bones and your movement. So we do a lot of rotating throughout the day and cross-training so that everyone can move a lot during the day and not do the same task over and over. So that’s probably our biggest challenge from making the shoes. And the other is, of course, when you have to make say 100 shoes in a day, how do you keep a firm grasp on owning that pride of ownership of is different when you are at home and you’re making one perfect perfect pair that you might have thought about for 3 weeks. Right?

KATY: Yeah.

TRICIA: Today you’re coming in and making 100 beautiful pairs but how do you keep that pride? And that means slowing things down so that we don’t have any concerns about the quality of what we’re making. And whenever someone starts to worry about that, then we know we need to slow down and breathe.

KATY: Right.

TRICIA: And that’s hard to do. And right now it’s back to school season. And everyone – the weather starts to get school and something snaps in everyone’s head and says “we need shoes”. So it’s a lot of requests for our shoes yesterday. I guess that’s another big struggle we have. Many of our customers when they come to us the first time, they really don’t have a connection with the fact that we’re actually making it for them.

KATY: Right.

TRICIA: And so they order their shoes and they really do expect it to be in their mailbox tomorrow or the next day. And then call. As much as we try an have that up front and try to connect them with that experience, that no we’re actually making this for you. It’s going to take a few days. That is a constant struggle I’d say from a communication perspective and a relationship perspective.

KATY: Yeah.

TRICIA: And once our customers do understand that it’s a more enriching opportunity for them as well to learn more about the products that they’re buying and feel more connected to what they’re using and wearing. Because shoes are awesome. I mean our feet are such amazing bones and muscles. And they do so much work for us each day. And we take them for granted a lot, unfortunately. But when you’re partnering with your foot, so to say, with a shoe that really meets its needs and then on top of it you have this appreciation of the thought and the quality and care that went in to helping you make that healthy decision, it just feels great from the end user perspective too.

KATY: You know there’s this term of “slow fashion” and I would say that you definitely fit into that in being handmade and taking time because they’re just people, sitting there. And you’re obviously setting up a workspace that allows them to tend to their own needs at the same time. But it’s almost like, like there needs to be a continuum of slow fashion. What is slow fashion that is not only about buying clothes, clothing, that meets better the needs of the people making it? But clothing that meets your needs better for the person that is wearing them. I’ve been searching for that term. And it’s kind of like – it’s what I consider dynamic clothes. Pairing the slow movement with clothes that don’t disrupt your movement in the way that traditional shoes do. So you think on that term and I’ll think on that term and maybe we’ll come up with something.

TRICIA: (laughs)

KATY: Do you have a mission statement? Does Soft Star have a mission statement?

TRICIA: We do! But now you’ve put me on the spot and I’ve never been a good joke teller or someone who can just retrieve things quickly but our mission statement definitely is around three things: one is health and having health from both the physical perspective but then also from a spiritual perspective internally here in the workshop. Having joy and finding love in what we’re doing is important. So our families are welcome here in the workspace. We put a lot of effort into trying to make it a beautiful space for people to feel good and keep it fun. And then the third part of our value statement is around sustainability in the environment. So obviously that’s important in the materials we choose that they are as low chemical used as possible. That the companies we source from are from countries that have good labor relations with their workers. Because tanning leather can be done well and it can be done really nasty. So we have a big commitment to sourcing really only the highest quality leathers and soling that we can. And around that too, I don’t think a lot of people realize how much our skin absorbs chemicals. And particularly your feet or your hands can absorb whatever is in the material that is surrounding them. So that’s an important part for us. But even from how we do our processes and conserve lights and conserve water, that’s an important part of our culture here.

KATY: Yeah.

TRICIA: … is trying to walk lightly in whatever we do and what we make.

KATY: When I went there even your parking lot is the new porous asphalt or gravel to allow the soil that you’re built upon to get what it needs versus more… I was like wow. I really appreciate your space, your product, working with you. So what would you most want people to know about soft star if there was one thing?

TRICIA: Oh, that it’s great to have a space where we can make beautiful things that also marries with health. It’s been a very – it’s a satisfying place to come and visit and learn more and hang out and work at. But we really do love what we do and we love helping people feel better. Feel stronger.

KATY: I ordered a pair of shoes, like I do, from you a while back and I got a note from one of your elves. A personal note that said that my work, I’m not sure exactly what it was, was why they were an elf now. And that now they got to help make my shoes. And they thought that that was an amazing way to come around the circle. And I just thought wow! I’ve never – I’m used to, now, notes from elves when I order shoes from you but to have a personalized note from an elf who knew me I thought was pretty great. And I feel like that sums up the culture of your company. It’s very circular. It’s that ecology. It just has that really round, huggy feeling to me. So thank you for all that you do.

Tricia Salsedo owns Soft Star Shoes and you can find out more about them at Thanks for coming on Tricia!

TRICIA: Thanks, Katy.


KATY: Ok that is it for Move Your DNA this time. More action items coming your way this fall. If you want to revisit the ones from this episode you should know that we provide a transcript of each of our podcast episodes so if there’s something you missed in one of our podcasts or you want to refer back to our action items list you can find them at Click on podcast transcripts.

On behalf of everyone at Move Your DNA and Nutritious Movement. Thank you for listening. We appreciate your support. Until next time, move it or lose it!

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VOICEOVER: This has been Move Your DNA with Katy Bowman, a podcast about movement. Hopefully, you find the general information in this podcast informative and helpful, but it is not intended to replace medical advice and should not be used as such.

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