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The Health Stack: with Nik Sharma

October 05, 2020 -
Posted by Matteo Franceschetti
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Health is based on three pillars: sleep, nutrition and fitness. I chat with some of the most interesting people I know to discover more about their Health Stacks: the behaviors and products they use to stay healthy and fit.

Recently, I had a chat with Nik Sharma on Zoom. Nik is the CEO of Sharma Brands, a growth equity firm for CPG brands who want to maintain a presence in the modern mediascape. In this interview, he shares his healthy rituals, mental health tips, and more.

What matters most to me in health and wellbeing

Taking care of myself is really important to me. Especially with the pandemic, I've started to focus a lot more on it, whether it be my mental health or physical health. My sleep quality has been especially important these days.

It was probably in May or June when I realized that I was just ordering Postmates most nights and staying up late working. Our business picked up a lot, which meant that I was just working a lot more and I wasn't taking care of my health. At some point, I just stopped exercising when we were in the lockdown and my overall productivity started decreasing. And then at a certain point, I said to myself, "All right, I’ve got to start focusing on sleep, dialing in my nutrition, and make sure I'm actually exercising.” There was a clear shift that helped me realize I could work twice as fast when I had proper sleep and was taking care of my body.

The things I prioritize to stay healthy

I focus on making sure to sleep at least eight hours each night. When I sleep eight hours or more, I’m twice as productive. I am so into sleep that if I did not sleep well the night before, I postpone meetings the following day - as I did with you last week. There is no point in working when you are tired and your mind is not at its best.

Also, I have to make sure that I'm working out for at least 30 to 45 minutes a day.

The products I use

I'll usually put Hydrant, which is an electrolyte powder, in my water. It helps jumpstart my morning. I also drink Taika coffee.

For tracking my metabolic health, I use Levels. I think it was really eye-opening because, for example, I learned that my body just doesn't react well at all to eating steak or beef, but it's totally fine with chicken. All these years, I've been eating steak whenever there's the opportunity, but I realize it's probably not the best thing for my body, whereas my friend can have a steak and he's completely fine.

In terms of sleep, I use the Pod, a flat sheet, a Buffy comforter, and a weighted blanket. It needs to be cold for me to sleep and then the blankets over me trap the heat inside. My Smart Temp settings on the Pod are -7, -6, -4, and 5.

The apps I use

I use the Eight Sleep app. I'm glued to looking at the numbers there to see how well I’m recovering. I also use Variis for exercising. I have the at-home Soulcycle bike, so I’ve been using Variis for my Soulcycle classes.

The newest addition to my health stack

I’ve been focusing more on sleep quality. When I was a kid, I would sleep in on Saturday, and it felt great. Then, during the weekdays, I wouldn't focus on sleep at all. But this year when I started focusing on sleep, I completely noticed a massive shift in how I felt.

Now, I even tell my team that if they don’t get enough sleep, they might as well just cancel their morning meetings with me. You don't work as fast when you don't get sufficient sleep. I just ask them, what's the point of working at 50% of your maximum potential? You could just take another hour or two in the morning to sleep more and then come back and work at 200%.

I've also started taking CBD via tincture in the evenings - it just helps me decompress. Taking CBD after my work day ends creates a fine line between finishing the day and just enjoying the evening. A lot of times my brain is still going once I’m done working, so the CBD helps me mellow out.

I’ve also been trying to better maintain my mental health. I try to Facetime a friend every day in the evening.

The health product I would build

I’d build an integration between Levels and Eight Sleep so that you could more easily see the interaction between sleep and metabolic health. In addition, I’d also probably build something involving the brain, especially around memory or mental fitness tracking.

My number one hack for peak performance

Sleep. 100% sleep. Eight hours is good. With nine hours of sleep, I'm on fire.

My morning routine

I wake up using the vibrate function on my Pod Pro. I don't even use an alarm clock anymore. That's the greatest part. There's nothing that beeps in the morning, which is amazing. Before, something screaming at me in the morning would often put me in a bad mood as I started my day. I wake up around 7:00 or 7:30 AM, brush my teeth, make a bottle of Hydrant water and chug that. I'll usually drink coffee next. I don't really eat breakfast. Then, I’ll check emails, Slack messages, and texts, just to make sure there's nothing burning that happened overnight. I bought a SoulCycle bike, so I'll usually do a quick workout in the morning. Then, I jump in the shower before I sit at my desk and get to work.

My night time routine

I recently realized that if I train in the evening or at nighttime, my brain is just way too fired up to go to sleep, so I don’t do that anymore. There were times, pre-pandemic, where I would go to Rumble at like 5:30 PM or 6:30 PM and there was just no way I could fall asleep at night. Now I like to get my workout done ideally before 1:00 PM.

For dinner, I'll usually bake a chicken breast with some seasoning. I'll bake it for around 25 minutes and then I'll cut it up and put it on a piece of naan bread with some pizza sauce and goat cheese, and basically make a fake pizza for dinner. That's a perfect 10 according to my Levels and it fills me up and I never feel bloated after.

Around 9:30 PM, I start getting ready for bed. A lot of times I'll just take a quick shower, get into my sweatpants, brush my teeth, and put some face cream on. If I have a late day and I am still going at 9:00 or 9:30PM and I'm not tired yet, I'll usually pop melatonin. Otherwise, I can usually fall asleep.

How much sleep I get

I usually get eight hours a day of sleep, but my goal is nine. I’ve noticed that alcohol usually affects the quality of my sleep. Last night, I drank tequila while watching the Lakers game. I slept nine-and-a-half hours and I still don't feel like I got a full night’s sleep. Alcohol makes a huge difference. When I don't drink alcohol and get a full night’s sleep, that's the perfect combination.

What keeps me up at night

When I go to sleep at night, I have to distract myself from work thoughts. I’ll use TikTok or I'll put on a show that you just don't need to think too deeply about to understand, like The Office. If I do that, it’s pretty easy for me to just fall asleep.

Then, there are times where I wake up at like 4 AM, 4:30 AM or even around 6AM and I think, " I have to sleep for another hour. Otherwise, I'm going to have a bad day." That's when my work thoughts just start piling in, I’ll start thinking, "I have to send this message to this person” or, "did I tell this person about this? I’ve got to check that email" It's tough for me sometimes to get out of those thoughts and get back to sleep.

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