Tools and Tips for Better Sleep (#267)

In this episode of the podcast, I focus on a topic that has been a lifelong personal struggle: sleep.

I’ve found that if you prioritize sleep — and recovery, in general — it magnifies everything else in your life, from your emotional health to physical training. To help you take better care of your mind and body, I’ve gathered some of the best advice from multiple guests about rest and regeneration.

This episode includes tips and recommendations from:

  • Strength coach Charles Poliquin
  • Obstacle course racer Amelia Boone
  • Comedian Mike Birbiglia
  • Dr. Peter Attia


You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#267: Tools and Tips for Better Sleep

Want to hear another episode of featuring multiple guests and their best tips? In this episode, we explore the best morning routines with Jocko Willink, Seth Godin, Jamie Foxx, and Scott Adams (stream below or right-click here to download):

#253: Morning Routines and Strategies

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

  • Connect with Charles Poliquin: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

  • Connect with Amelia Boone:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

  • Connect with Mike Birbiglia:

Website | Twitter | Facebook

  • Connect with Peter Attia:

The Eating Academy | Twitter

Show Notes

  • My struggles with insomnia and techniques that have helped. [06:03]
  • Charles Poliquin talks about supplements and routines he uses for improving sleep. [10:18]
  • Amelia Boone pushes her body to the absolute limits. Here’s how she makes the most of her downtime with rest, routine, and nutrition. [19:01]
  • Mike Birbiglia’s nightly rituals, and how he deals with his own serious sleepwalking disorder. [34:47]
  • What endurance athlete and researcher Dr. Peter Attia knows about the science of recovery, metabolic syndrome, and synthetic ketones. [42:44]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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49 Replies to “Tools and Tips for Better Sleep (#267)”

  1. Well these are all great tips one thing that you really need to consider is getting Comfort tested to make sure that you are sleeping on the correct mattress and Sleep System. If you are not comfortable you will not get a proper night’s sleep.

  2. Hi, I’ve been listening to your podcast for a while and I think there are a few things you could do to improve the overall audio quality. Mainly using a de-Esser and de-mouth clicker. Trying not to be picky but sometimes these are quite noticeable. I’d be happy to point you in the direction of some good plugins.

  3. The article you wrote regarding sleep was extremely informative. As a career firefighter, we routinely face sleep deprevation and can’t balance waking up at the fire station with getting a good night’s rest in our homes. Thanks for sharing.

    -Jason (Life Blogger)

    [Moderator: blog URL removed.]

  4. Unrelated to this podcast (my apologies) but I have been looking into heavy metals that are prevalent in tea (camellia sinensis), most tea from China supposedly being the worst. I know you like pu-erh tea (& I think you go there to source it yourself). Could you share how one can get hold of safe pu-erh tea? Thank you.

  5. I am the one who can easily fall asleep but has troubles to stay asleep through the night.. following all the tips and tricks, going to bed at 10 but then I wake up around 2 or 3 am and can’t fall asleep for 1-2 hours 🙁

    Well, at least I read books 🙂

  6. Hi Tim

    Can you get Chris Froome on your interview? He’s won the Tour de France multiple times and is very much about hacks and small incremental changes to get incredible gains. Its now his off season so a good time to grab him.



  7. Hey Tim. That’s very interesting and am listening to this podcast as I type. For me I would like to reduce my sleep and deepen it so I can spend more time being awake and productive. Those tips I saw before with chase such as the chili pad would be a nice idea. The vinegar mixture however is something I’m willing to try right away tonight.

    Love yur podcasts and blog!

    Yours truly,


  8. Hi Tim, I wanted to share this success story with you regarding my college-age son.

    My son went off to college last year and had a rough first semester adjusting to everything new. He came home during holiday break and began to read my copy of tools of titans. He asked if he could take it back to school with him and I said, sure. He rushed a fraternity that semester and found solace (and survival tips!) in reading the book. He came home over the summer and had completed most of the book, with lots of Post-it’s and highlighted portions and basically the book was well used. He continued to get up every day with an alarm and spend quiet time reading the book throughout the summer. Then he started reading books from some of the top performers featured in the book. My son has become a changed person. Just setting an alarm to get up in the summer and read books was something out of the ordinary for him. He started watching YouTube videos about nutrition from some of the people featured in the book and changed his diet and got off of Adderall. He just called us last night and told us that he was unanimously voted as the next president elect for the fraternity, as a sophomore. Couldn’t be more proud of my Titan boy. (Imagine if you only had read this book your first year of college! I now give it and recommended as a gift for kids going off to college .) Thank you so much, Tim, for putting this book out there and for all that you do to inspire:)

  9. These tips are super effective. I personally recommend watching 1-2 comedy episodes on TV, laptop or mobile device (remember to turn on your blue light filter all on the mobile and use Flux for PC), 30 minutes before going to bed. You should also drinking some green tea while at it, and self massage your scalp. These three combined will completely knock you out, guaranteed.

  10. Hi Tim – long time fan (first time commenter!) on your last podcast, you mentioned that one of the things you are most interested in are the “darker” times or shadow periods that your interviewees have experienced, as opposed to only focusing on the observable and commended achievements.

    I want to help turn this into a real idea – recently battled through a mental health issue – and the key to my recovery was to destigmatize the disorder by learning that other brilliant, accomplished, and fantastic (women) had gone through something similar and come out the other side stronger!

    I have been thinking deeply about how to connect with other people on something like this and it seems like you are interested in the same idea – would love to help you put some muscle behind this if its possible!

  11. Hi, I have a love hate relationship with this podcast I love Tim but not really all of his guests. So I was just thinking not to listen to him for awhile and then this one came up and I had to listen because I just listened to a book “sleep smarter” 21 strategies by Shawn Stevenson. And it really put me in the mindset of sleeping better for better health. And I am now always looking to get better and better sleep to be more productive. And I just love sleep 😊

      1. Yeah I am kinda becoming obsessed with better sleep. But Tim seems to have other info on how to destress but I have been thinking about listening to Shawns podcast maybe I should. I really want to get better sleep I never feel rested no matter how much I sleep. 4 hours or 10. It just sucks.

      2. Ugh. Sounds awful!! I got the Yin reserve supp I heard about in Tim’s podcast from Charles Poliquin. So I’m hoping that will help

      3. Sorry I am not good with computers how do I change my posts to say my name instead of my business when I post it all seems automatic. And I promise I don’t like to spam.

  12. Hi Tim,

    I too have seen how getting ample sleep recharges you for every aspect of your life.

    On the flip side, when I don’t get enough sleep – or solid sleep – all goes to custard.

    Last night was a perfect example.

    Due to an unforeseen circumstance, I went for my 10 mile run way too late, didn’t get back to the apartment until 7:20 PM, and my sleep schedule instantly was shifted. I felt jacked up, wide awake, through midnight, when usually this feel wears off at say 10 PM, and I can pass out my 11 PM, tops.

    Up until 2:15 AM, I passed out and woke at 8 PMish. 6 hours does not cut it for me.

    I am a bit flagging energy-wise and feel irritable. Not a good recipe. May be time for a nap.

    But virtually every night I get my 8 hours of sleep or more. Solid sleep too.

    My morning routine helps a ton. 20 minutes of yoga followed my 20 minutes of meditation and 30 seconds in the icy cold shower. Brilliant practice for managing my energy, for all it to flow, for recharging, for diving into my day from a space of power, not force, and for feeling nice and tired at night.

    Ditto for my 15 minutes of pre-bed yoga; really opens up the body and mind, which helps me coast off into LaLa land.

    Thanks for sharing Tim.


  13. Bummer my reply wasn’t published. I thought it would be most helpful and acceptable to the Tim Ferriss group?!?! Perhaps it’s a tech issue.

  14. My take on Four Hour Body was that sleep is not measurable. It’s not a booming market like toys for “sleeping”; No pun intended. I have one definition of sleep: dework. I say let sleep be the dog lying on the floor, adorable, not depressing. Write down your dreams, they aren’t real, but they matter, at least according to the end of the Book The Circle.. “Write drunk, edit sober” – Hemingway

  15. Sorry Tim I feel this missed the mark a little. 20% sleep content, 80% ‘other’

    Love your work, but know you’d value criticism over fan boys

  16. I thought this was disappointing. I was really looking forward to getting something out of it, but the only advice I heard was Tim mentioned something he takes at the start (I think Lithium?) and Poliquin mentioned magnesium. I didn’t hear any sleep-specific advice from anyone else! Or did I miss it?

    1. I agree with jrwalkie and Matt Frear, this was disappointing. There was no sleep advice offered by Dr. Attia or Amelia Boone, only by Poliquin and Birbigilia. The Poliquin segment could’ve been edited down to just his suggestion to use magnesuim threonate and theanine, and also yin reserve.

  17. Dear Tim, check out a new and insightful article by the NYT Magazine about John McPhee called “The Mind of John McPhee”:

    I also have input for your podcast: Could you interview somebody who struggles with a chronic autoimmune disease, deals with it very good and became successfull in his or her respective field? I have Crohn’s Disease and would love to hear an interview like that on your podcast.

    All the best – Chris from Germany (a big fan of your podcast since more than two years)

  18. Hi Tim,

    I have just got back from a week’s break where I have been reading Tools of Titans and listening to your podcasts dumped onto my diddy little mp3 player.

    Absolutely love your work and huge respect for how you have got out there and done it despite your admission of bouts of depression and fear of water.

    Keep up the insanely good work, I’m definitely gonna take it as a call to action and bash in with my goals and projects

    Peace and Love


  19. Hi Tim – love 5-bullet Fridays and your blog. In a recent 5-bullet, you mentioned something about Fit Father Project to help guys over 40 improve their Dad-bods. i can’t find the post. Can you resend a link please? Thanks!

  20. Tim, Fairly new listener to your podcast and have really enjoyed it so far. I am a college basketball coach and would love to hear you get a top collegiate coach on the show. Talking to them about the industry and tactics to motivate 18 to 20 year olds is a very difficult thing. I think it could be very informative and interesting with all the new cheating allegations that have came about recently.

  21. Thanks Tim for another great podcast!

    Here is a question for you…

    Would you ever consider doing a show on perimenopause. Okay, okay I know its a bit strange to ask this of you but hear me out.

    I don’t know how many of your listeners are women but there has got to be quite a few, and we will all have to go through this time that has been described as “hell” by some while others breeze through it. It would be an absolute joy to get in to the minds of researchers or others who have really dove into this subject.

    From my point of view you are the perfect man for the job.

    I dont know about other women but how the hell are supposed to be Titans or mini titans even when our whole world gets turned upside down in our forties. Some of us,myself included, have just summoned up the courage to deal with whatever was holding us back in our lives and WHAM!

    I have researched and read as much as I could and the take away is pretty much “take some pills and be on your way”, or even better they recommend eating healthy, exercising and getting enough sleep. There has got to be a ketogenic diet type solution by some fierce women or men who have found other solutions to it out there that we just dont have access to???

    It affects sleep, mood, motivation, memory and of course our physical bodies are deeply affected. Also consider the fact that for most of our lives we have gone through this every month, its ingrained in us.

    My question is: what is really going on in our bodies, precisely, and what has and has not worked to allevyor reduce those symptoms other than mainstream advice that you would get if you had diabetes or hypertension too.

    There has got to be different tools to use for this.

  22. Hey, Tim.

    Thank you for another great podcast helping the few of us out there with similar problems.

    I have been trying to fix sleep, exercise and so forth for several years without any luck I always managed to fail after a short time.

    Two things changed it and removed “all” the problems I have ever had with sleep. Changing from a somewhat healthy carbohydrate diet to a slow-carb diet, and then getting out of bed at the same time every day no matter what. Since it will make me tired and bring me early to bed the days I really need it.

    One thing alone didn’t fix the issue, but these two together makes me fall asleep in less than 15 minutes, almost every night successfully for 6 months.

    Keep up the great work

  23. I was suffered from sleep problem couple of months ago and it make me very disappointed. I woke up for whole night and thoughts about things which not exists in reality. I am glad to see your tips for batter sleep and I will definitely follow your guidelines too. I am good in sleep now but need improvement.

  24. You have tools and tips for getting to sleep and better sleep in this episode, but do you have any tools and tips for waking? I have no problem with the former, but a terrible time with the latter.

  25. Hey Ferriss listeners,

    Listening to this podcast I was interested in what Charles Poloquin mentioned about varying the EPA/DHA ratio relative to what outcome you are after…

    In particular, I was interested in noting the ratio he mentioned for reducing inflammation. He mentioned 6:1, but it that EPA:DHA or DHA:EPA?

    Can anyone help me out on this one?

    Thanks in advance,


  26. This episode was a nice reminder to go back to the Charles Polliquin episode.

    Curious Tim, and fans, many of us strivers are probably teeth grinders, that affliction seductively known as bruxism. A dentist when I was young told me “don’t worry, it’s just your personality type, you’ll probably always teeth-grind!”. Over the years, I’ve noticed that many many people refer to their nightguards. And, surely, stopping this significantly improves sleep quality. I have heard hypnosis mentioned once, does anyone have any experience of this?

  27. Your comment about your stomach lining coming out of your ass made me laugh out loud, in my car, while I was being written up for a speeding ticket. I was in tears. It was that kind of hysterical laughter that so rarely happens! So thank you!!

  28. Good morning Mr Ferriss,

    I was watching your TED speach from the EG conference and I was interested in your method of learning languages, could you please guide me throught it or tell me wich of your books could help me to improve my language learning?

    Thank you so much for you time and attention

  29. This seems like an episode that lacked any real effort in creating. It’s supposed theme is not actually prevalent in much of the discussion… some whole segments have nothing to do with sleep and are just cut-and-pasted irrelevant chunks of audio that, while potentially interesting on their own, don’t belong in an episode that’s supposed to be about sleep.

    I’m normally a fan, but this episode seems hacked together and was a poor use of my time.

  30. Thanks for that podcast Tim! I really loved it.

    While listening to it, I realized how lucky I was and took for granted my ability to sleep and recover well without any special technique except avoiding screen and intense activity before sleeping.

  31. A good sleep is a perfect start for a good day! I’m amazed at how many people don’t sleep good and don’t want to change anything regarding that matter – after all we spend nearly 1/3 of our lifetime sleeping so this should be considered as something vital to anyone’s well being. From my experience, things just seem better and there is a lot let stress durning the day if I had a good sleep. This particular podcast episode resonates with me as I have been looking lately for advice and tips on getting better sleep, so thank you Tim and keep up the good work.

  32. This is great, Tim. I really appreciate all the tips you’ve given in this I’d really love to see more interviews on you channel on this topic. I also really liked what your guest said about not doing things he wasn’t completely proud of. It really spoke to me. I’d love to hear from Dr. Rachna Patel [Moderator: link removed.] and see what kind of input she could have on how to overcome insomnia. Are there plans to to do more interviews on this topic?

    1. I can’t fall asleep it’s usually because I can’t stop thinking. So I don’t. I shift from thinking using words to thinking using only images. About 80% of the time sleep soon follows.

  33. Tim – have your come across this dystopian novel about what happens due to lack of sleep…

    Nod by Adrian Barnes []

  34. Hi, I have ben following your podcast since long. I have problem that I want to share. I fell very tired day long and I fell sleepy. But, as I go to sleep in bed I can’t sleep and I stay awake till late night. Can I get some advice on it!!

  35. Dear Tim, here at the University of Chicago is the foundation of sleep research. In our series, the Day Tomorrow Began, we covered the pinnacle of sleep research discoveries, including REM Sleep and Circadian rhythm. We spoke with leading sleep scientists from UChicago and Harvard.

    If you’re interested in revisiting this personal topic, we would love to provide you with access to leading sleep medical professionals steeped in the scientific research of one of the most fascinating aspects of human biology.