We caught up with Can-i Wellness ambassador and coach to star athletes, Justin Roethlingshoefer, during MLB spring training in Clearwater, Florida. Justin was invited to spring training to give a workshop entitled, “Sleep and the MLB Season” where he surprised MLB players with complimentary samples of Can-i Sleep oral spray.
Justin is a former NHL and NCAA Performance coach who centers his performance-enhancing programs on a holistically integrated approach to health and performance. His core philosophy is that performance is realized when health is optimized – and that means an integrated approach to physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. He is the co-founder of Own It Coaching, a multiple seven-figure coaching company, that applies this health and performance philosophy to clients ranging from NHL stars, to Fortune 500 executives to entrepreneurs looking to take that next step and level up.
We asked Justin about all things high performance, sleep, and how to avoid that dreaded grogginess from melatonin supplements.
- Tell us about the sports teams you and your organization work with and how you’re supporting their performance.
We work one-on-one with about 150 athlete clients from the five major leagues. Additionally we consult with about 25 different organizations from Major League Baseball to the NFL, to the NBA to The National Hockey League. And then on the NCAA side, there are about 45 different teams that we’re working with to create a holistically integrated model and provide the education for not just the athletes, but for the staff as well.
A lot of times when we come into sports teams, we see they have such a large support group including nutritionists, sports scientists, strength conditioning coaches, player development coaches and sometimes there’s this disintegration in terms of how everything fits together. Players hear little bits and pieces from different people, but what we do is provide a very holistic and integrated way of doing things.
- Tell us more about the work you’re doing with MLB players at spring training.
At spring training in Clearwater, Florida, we worked with the Philadelphia Phillies and Detroit Tigers, and also had some conversations with the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox. One morning, we had the entire Philadelphia Phillies organization present including coaches, staff, and players and we really dug into how sleep impacts their performance and how sleep is the ultimate performance enhancer.
When you think about a baseball season, there’s 162 games between three different time zones and these players literally only have one, maybe two days off a month. Sleep, rest, and recovery is of the utmost importance. I can’t tell you how well received the message has been. It’s been so encouraging just to see this thirst for knowledge and thirst for application. A lot of these guys have certain methodologies or certain action steps that they’ve been putting into place, but all of a sudden light bulb moments start happening around the room as they’re like, “‘Oh, that’s why this is happening.” Or, “Oh, this is why I’m not able to fully see everything come to fruition.”
We then start implementing some very personalized and customized plans for these guys, especially when they’re on the road. The tactics applied will change whether they’re traveling east or west, whether they’re playing at home or away or whether they’re playing an evening or afternoon game.
When we link sleep to their performance on the field, we now make this something that matters to them and that they can take full ownership of. Unfortunately, the world has told us that in order to be a professional athlete, you have to be tired all the time. You have to feel like it’s a grind all the time. But in actuality, we can create a more predictable sense of energy and more predictable sense of recovery just by using data and truly customized programming. Based on data, we build something that’s built for the specific person based off of what’s happening with a person’s cellular micronutrient dysfunction, epigenetics, the body’s requirements and how the body is recovering from the stress that you’re placing on it. In this way, our programming is very purposeful and intentional.
- What are some common mistakes you see athletes making when it comes to sleep?
Some common mistakes consist of:
- Staying up late on their phones
- Coming out of games and popping melatonin right away
- Using nicotine and caffeine too late into the night that ultimately keeps them up later
- Traveling without a plan for when and how they’ll adjust to time zones
- Not having a plan for game day versus non-game days
There are also issues of room temperatures not being cold enough for ideal sleep, light exposure because their drapes aren’t fully closed. These are very simple things to adjust that quite frankly, they’re not even thinking about.
- What’s the most important piece of advice you give athletes with respect to sleep?
The number one piece of advice I give is to personalize. Whether you’re an elite athlete or not, you can’t necessarily do what other players or friends are doing. Maybe the player across the room has a health issue or vitamin deficiency that isn’t the case for you. Different lifestyles, whether you’re single, have a family, live in a one-bedroom apartment or a house will all require different approaches when it comes to getting optimal sleep.
When players know that a plan is built specifically for them, when they know that it’s something that’s been carefully thought out, it really makes a big impact in empowering them to take ownership over that. And then it no longer becomes something that’s being forced down their throat but something that they can really latch on to.
- MLB players on three teams now have samples of, Can-i Sleep oral spray. What sort of feedback have you been hearing?
A lot of these players have never heard of GABA before, which is a key ingredient in Can-i Sleep. One of the first things I ask is, “What’s the problem you see when you take melatonin?” And the answer I almost always get is related to morning grogginess. Melatonin is the only hormone that you can get at a grocery store and just grab off the shelf and put into your body. But we know that when you’re taking hormones, it immediately puts you into this differentiation state. It’s really, really important to know that when we are taking a supplement, it impacts our body. It’s not just something we’re randomly taking.
There are a whole bunch of processes that happen to create melatonin in the body from serotonin to dopamine to tryptophan, that are ultimately being realized when melatonin is finally released. And so if we just go right to the top of the pyramid and consume large amounts of melatonin through a supplement, none of those other processes happen and the melatonin that’s sitting in the body, actually binds to the brain receptors and doesn’t allow cortisol to rise in the morning. This is why taking straight melatonin can make you groggy when you wake up. Although Can-i Sleep has a small amount of melatonin, it also has GABA which is a base level product that helps stimulate natural melatonin production in the body.
All of a sudden these guys can fall asleep quick, they can fall asleep faster, they can fall asleep more immediately, which is a big result of increased recovery and increased performance. Ultimately, when they take Can-i Sleep, they wake up without that hangover in the morning that they would typically be feeling from just taking pure melatonin.
- How do the rest of us non-athletes take advantage of some of the suggestions that you and your organization are providing to the pros?
The world has told us that to be a business owner, you have to be exhausted all the time. To be a mom or a dad you have to have high levels of anxiety. To be in a marriage or relationship, you have to give up these feelings of energy and vitality. But these are a bunch of lies. When we come back to the human experience and understand that if we can look after ourselves including getting more sleep and acting in a more purposeful and intentional way with respect to hydration, nutrition, sleep, exercise, environment, mindset, self-care, immune function, and when we can get very specific as to what the individual needs, you can realize a new sense of normal and a new sense of what is actually feels like to feel great.
They say about 90% of people have no idea what it feels like to feel great. Most of us are operating at about 50 – 60% of our true capacities. When we can start to align ourselves based on what we need, based on what our bodies are communicating to us, based on what our bodies are requiring, we can actually tap into something that makes us feel great every single day and realize a new sense of impact that we were ultimately meant to reach.
Health is not just an athlete thing that we need to make sure is optimized, but it’s a human thing. And if we can maximize the human experience, we can ultimately help people live better, be more fulfilled and make a bigger impact by having this deeper level of longevity and health. It’s only when health is optimized, that your performance and outcomes can truly be realized.
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