168: Phil Galfond, Pro Poker Player, Coach, & Entrepreneur., This Legendary High-Stakes Poker Player Prioritizes Sleep For Performance - Here’s How!


Phil Galfond is a high-stakes poker pro, coach, and entrepreneur. He’s spent more than half of his 20 year poker career teaching others to elevate their games, and he only recently began creating content for the masses that isn’t behind a paywall.

In this episode, we discuss:

😴 Sleep Tracking and Insights: Phil's 5-Year Journey with Sleep Tracking

😴 How Phil Maximizes His Performance

😴 Transform Your Sleep Environment: Insider Tips from a Poker Pro

😴 Game-Changing Sleep Strategies You Need to Know

😴 What can we learn from Phil’s sleep-night habits

😴 And more!


🧠 If you “Can’t Turn Your Brain Off” at night…


🧘 Need help meditating /HRV?! Check out my new favorite tool that you literally hold in your hand and feel it breathe with you, like a baby bird 🐤 Moonbird  Code: SLEEPISASKILL

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🚴 The Biohacker’s Bike — Need a no-excuses, 5-minute workout (!) that's exceptionally effective for managing glucose levels and building sleep pressure—outperforming others in its category for quick fitness results?! The Carol Bike has become my go-to. Code: SLEEPISASKILL **$100 OFF


Website: philgalfond.com (Subscribe to Phil’s Newsletter!)

The information contained in this podcast, our website, newsletter, and the resources available for download are not intended to be medical or health advice and shall not be understood or construed as such. The information contained on these platforms is not a substitute for medical or health advice from a professional who is aware of the facts and circumstances of your individual situation.

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Welcome to the sleep as a skill podcast. My name is Mollie Eastman. I am the founder of sleep as a skill, a company that optimizes sleep through technology, accountability, and behavioral change. As an ex sleep sufferer turned sleep course creator, I am on a mission to transform the way the world thinks about sleep.

sleep. Each week I'll be interviewing world class experts ranging from researchers, doctors, innovators, and thought leaders to give actionable tips and strategies that you can implement to become a more skillful sleeper. Ultimately, I believe that living a circadian aligned lifestyle is going to be one of the biggest trends in wellness.

And I'm committed to keeping you up to date on all the things that you can do today. To transform your circadian health and by extension, allowing you to sleep and live better than ever before.

Welcome to another episode of the Sleep is a Skill podcast, where we dive deep into the world of sleep and how to optimize it for peak performance and just for life in general. I'm your host, Mollie Eastman. And if you've been here with us before, you know that I've worked with many poker players over the years to enhance their sleep and overall wellbeing.

Well, today we have an incredibly special guest and friend joining in. Phil Falfond, a renowned poker player and coach will be exploring the fascinating intersection of sleep and poker, discussing how the demands of the game impact sleep patterns and sharing insights on how to achieve better rest despite the high stakes, high stress nature of professional poker.

A little additional background on Phil. He is a high stakes poker pro. coach and entrepreneur. He spent more than half of his 20 year poker career teaching others to evaluate their games, and he only recently began creating content for the masses that isn't behind a paywall. I know you're going to really enjoy this episode, so let's jump in.

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And welcome to the Sleep is a Skill podcast. This is a bit of a special segment, if you will, or episode. And I am delighted to have the infamous Phil Galfond on the podcast. Thank you so much for taking the time to be here. It's a huge, huge honor.  

Kind of you to say, uh, you're very welcome. I'm happy to be here.

Well, you know, this particular episode, I think might have Certainly will be geared towards poker, none other than poker and how we can be thinking about sleep and poker. And a lot of people that have been listening in know that I'm often mentioning some of the work that we will tend to do with poker players and some of the specific and unique things that might come up for them.

And I'm really excited to have someone of your caliber to share about how you're thinking about sleep and as you're working with other players and, you know, just have been in this world for so long, maybe the evolving. ways that you're prioritizing sleep or thinking about it. And so we might as well just kind of start at the beginning of one, how did you find yourself in the role that you're in now?

And how does that relate to sleep?

How did I find myself here? I, I mean, I started playing poker, um,  20 years ago,  uh, or like playing seriously 20 years ago, uh, while I was in college and  have been doing it ever since. And, uh, you know, in the last  11, 12 years, I've, I've. I've run businesses as well as playing poker.

I've coached poker. And so I do a lot of things. And I actually think, um, you didn't ask this question. But, um,  one of the most interesting things to me about sleep, uh, or my most interesting learnings, I think,  Have come to me as a poker player because  when I look at like my life running a business compared to my life playing poker and specifically the kind of poker that I like to play which is  Very fast paced and intense  it becomes so obvious to me when my cognition is slightly off when I'm playing poker and it's funny because I know a lot of You know, a lot of entrepreneurs optimize their lives and awesome as, as, and I think I'm, I'm all for it.

Um, but when I find myself running a business, like  if I've had a bad night of sleep and or I'm not performing well for other reasons, like I, I can do fine, you know, I can have like a, a very good day still. Um, if I'm playing high stake poker against a great player. And I'm a little bit off.  I'm losing money.

I'm burning money. Um, because just the difference between not being able to access, you know, that top 10, 15 percent of my brain power, um, is kind of catastrophic. And so being a poker player has made me so much more aware of of yeah, basically cognition and then the difference between an A day and a B day.

Um, and you know, what sleep has to do with that.

Ah, so well said. I couldn't agree more. And to that point, given that this has been this 20 year or so journey for you thus far, I'm wondering if you can kind of walk us through what has exactly the evolution of that look like, like that take, was that kind of hard earned knowledge?

Has it always been like that? What have you seen for yourself there and kind of the emerging role of the importance of sleep for you?

It's kind of interesting because the landscape of poker has changed as well as has my age.  And so I think, you know, being 22  and playing in games where  And nobody knew what they were doing to put it, I mean, like that's an oversimplification, but  you know, back then I would play,  I'd be playing six tables of online poker while watching TV and like messaging seven of my friends.

And like, I, I wasn't,  first of all, you didn't have to have as high level of strategy. And second of all, I didn't have as high level of strategy. So even if I were focused more, um, there weren't all the layers of things to think about. Yeah. Yeah.  Um, so I didn't think about sleep back then, and I, and had I, I mean, I'm sure it would have made a difference, but not, not as big of a difference, not nearly as big of a difference, both being that the games were  required to lower the level of skill, um, and therefore cognition, and, you know, there's definitely something to be said for being 22 versus,  Nearly 40.

Oh, exactly. Well, and to that point, I'm wondering, as far as kind of keeping track often, one of the things that I really love working with poker players is often they are so astute at spotting patterns and numbers people commonly. And if that is the case, I've seen many of them really take to tracking their sleep.

Certainly in recent years, as it's become more in vogue. And I'm just curious, have you been someone that's been kind of logging your sleep either almost just mentally or tracking it over the years and seen potentially a difference of course as we age and maybe the less able to rebound in the same way as we used to be able to?

Yeah, I would say I think I've been tracking my sleep with an aura ring for, I want to say, five years. Hmm. And so I haven't noticed a big dip, uh, you know, between, I guess that's 34 and 39. Yeah. Um, a big difference there. Uh, one of my biggest findings, so there was a period where I was playing these, uh, for those who are not familiar with poker, these heads up matches, which are one on one matches where I'm playing the same person for three months at a time, three, four days a week.

For like six hours a day, um, sometimes a little bit less. And, uh, it's very intense. You have a decision every  three seconds, um, over that period of time. And so it's, it, and you're playing against somebody good. You're not playing against an idiot. So, um, it's super intense. And so I started creating what I would call, and this, I didn't do this in a very organized way, but is it, or not as organized as it sounds, but I created a performance tracking log.

So a spreadsheet where I kind of put everything that I could think of that might impact my performance. And then after every session, I, I mean, I put in my results, but those are subject to variance. And I would grade myself on, um, in three categories of play. Um, when I called, um,  focus, which is what it sounds like.

Uh, discipline.  Which, um, I'm trying to think how to translate for non poker players, but it's essentially like doing the things that you know you should do and not, um, uh, anyway, and then, uh, power, which,  uh, is essentially  being able to execute fearlessly, as the way I put it simply. And so I grade myself on these things and then create a combined score, which was  very complex algorithm of two times focus plus one times each of the other one divided by four.

Um. And there were only two things that  there were very clear patterns, um, in terms of how they impacted my performance. Um, and  I guess the first was sleep. Um, worst quality sleep impacted my performance very clearly. Uh, the other was actually using my brain before I played that day. So  what I learned was if I wake up and I took a work meeting, Even like a one hour work meeting where it wasn't like intense, um, that correlated with worst performance.

If I studied poker the morning of, that correlated with worst performance for me. And so, um, in a way it was very freeing to know that, okay,  my job, like starting from night time until I, you know, play the next day. It's to get good sleep  and to not use my brain in the morning, which was really nice.

Well, and that's so interesting too, because actually this is coming up a lot in my life and we were chatting before we even hit record of some of the needs to create space in our lives to be able to perform at a high level.

And I think just about all of us can probably innately whatever career profession we might be in the ability to provide enough of that almost recovery time or downtime so that when we are called to perform that we can fully be present and not be bringing half capacity or reduced capacity. Very wise.

And of course, I love the sleep emphasis. Reaching to the choir on that one. So that was something that became quickly obvious to you while you were doing this kind of tracking?

Yeah. Yeah. You know, there's so much, I think I, I did it for less than two months, uh, the tracking. And so with that much data, there's going to be a lot of noise.

And I was tracking things like, um, I was tracking what I ate. I was tracking my exercise,  any other miscellaneous notes and nothing else, you know, there was no, but nothing else stood out, but those two were Quite clear.

Okay, so good. And now, so you've kind of created, you created that way of really manually tracking those things and keeping that awareness alive.

And then as far as the more recent years of tracking with Aura, have there been any surprising things that have come out that you've seen for yourself with the Aura Ring?

I guess my answer, nothing very surprising. No, I mean, I had, before I got one, I had talked to, um,  friends who were using it and heard the, you know, uh, Big meal before bed is going to be  worse for your HRV and things like and so  things kind of.

Worked as I expected them to more or less. I know for  for different people Like I have one friend who  has a drink every night And whether he does or not doesn't actually have a big impact for him if I have a drink it it wrecks me  But other than that, yeah, I feel like my results have been somewhat predictable based on  the literature


And with that, have you seen for yourself it impacting any of your behaviors? Almost kind of like underscoring or is it one of those things where it's just no nice to kind of passively have that log in the background and you're still kind of proceeding as usual?

So I've made changes kind of with it, but it has been less of a like, it's been less of a, okay, I see this data.

It's correlated with this. I'm going to make this change. I think just both kind of happened. I started tracking at a time when I became more conscious about sleep. And so I made the changes at the same time. Um,  And really, I think the only times that something stands out to me is when I notice that  things are going poorly for a while, and I notice, okay, hold on, I'm under a lot of stress right now, uh, or sometimes I can kind of see before I notice that I'm sick, that I'm getting sick, uh, things like that.

Which is a bit of a superpower in and of itself. Is that something you've also seen for yourself? If, well, I can check in with you. I don't know if you're having to travel much for different tournaments or what have you, or do you feel like it's, you're not having to have too much travel in the mix of that?

I don't have too much travel, yeah.

Okay, fantastic. So now dealing with that. And so then how about I'm curious to given you already kind of shared of some of the things that you've seen shift in kind of the landscape of poker over the years being a part of this for over 20 something years. Have you also seen not only in your own world, but at poker at large that more people are putting emphasis into kind of cognitive enhancement, this overall sense of well being and prioritizing of that versus sort of more of a casual air of, you know, Maybe have a drink while you're playing and a whole different way of relating to poker.

Yeah, I mean, there's definitely, within poker, certainly there's been a trend towards optimizing your life, uh, your health. And, I mean, I've seen the same and I'm sure you've witnessed it too.  Elsewhere in the world, um, as it's become a bigger topic, I actually think it's still, uh,  quite undervalued.


Um, even among people who, I, my personal belief is just, um, the difference in what we're capable of  at, at full capacity of cognition,  uh, compared to just, you know, uh, well, I don't know what to call an average, an average day for most people.

Um, I think it's massive. And I think that, you know, if you are in a position where,  Your  results, you know, it depends what your, your goals are, but let's just to make it simple. Your, let's say financial results, um, are heavily predicated are, are very variable. So for example, a poker player, uh, a business owner, um,  somebody who has kind of full control over, you know, what they put in is going to be.

What they get out, uh, or  correlates with what they get out rather than, let's say, um, a salaried employee who obviously over time can can can grow. Um, but it's not as it's not as 1 to 1. Um, I just think it's massive. I think that you can perform and create. things that are so much better when,  when you can use your brain, use your full brain.

A hundred percent. And speaking of that, I'm curious, given your own personal experience and then working with other players to support their performance, do you have kind of any, or have you discovered for yourself or carved out any kind of generalized guidance or ways of thinking around at what point do you kind of maybe throw in the towel or stop playing when say you are finding, okay, I am.

Just not bringing my A game, I did not sleep well the night before. Do you have any sort of ways of managing that, or is it just kind of by feel? What do you think about that?

So my opinion is that it's important to have guardrails, rules, in play. Because what ends up happening,  because there are so many variables, right?

There's, okay, I didn't sleep great. How, how badly did I sleep? And then is, how good is the quality of the game that I'm playing in? How likely is it to be there the next day or the next week? Um. There are all these things that factor in, and the fact of the matter is that when you're  in a,  in a poor state of, you haven't slept well, um, you're not thinking as clearly, you are,  Your emotions are not as well regulated.

You're playing a poker session for eight hours. You're eight hours in, the game seems pretty good, you're losing. That is not the state,  even, even if you're a smart person who is pretty objective in the way they look at things, it's just not the state that you want to be making big decisions in. And so I always say, you know, make your decisions when you're sitting comfortably at home, well rested, about what that version of you is going to do, um, in that situation.

And so I, I always advocate for Uh, rules around, uh, either a set total session length, uh, stop losses for a certain amount of money, uh, and, or breaks periodically and checking in with yourself. Because  I just feel like all of those rules, you know, maybe one out of 10 times, you  They force you to quit a game that you should have kept playing in, but more often than not, they're going to protect you from yourself.

So true. Oh my goodness. Yeah. We hear that a lot with people kind of struggling with, okay, I'm tired. I know I didn't sleep so well. and making those calls. But I think that's so wise to kind of create those rules for yourself. The other thing I'm curious about, too, is that often when we're speaking to people of how to manage even the logistics of poker, especially if there's a lot of variability, and for some players, it almost lands as if they're shift workers in a lot of ways, where certain shifts are at totally different times of the day.

day and night and what have you, have you found for yourself any kind of rules of thumb or ways that you are managing that level of variability? I'm not the best person to ask about this now because what's happened, I mean in the last, so I became a father five years ago and since then my my sleep schedule has been pretty consistent.

He kind of forced me to have a consistent sleep because he's waking up every day at 5 30. Um, and so before then was kind of before I, I focused too much on sleep. And so, I, I haven't actually experienced the, the way that I, like, I, I schedule my poker to fit within my workday, like my 9 to 5. Um, which not everybody has the luxury of doing.

Yeah. Uh, and I work with a lot of poker players who don't have the luxury of doing that, or I mean, they could, but they're sacrificing a lot of money to do so because the games are much better, more plentiful, uh, generally late at night. And, uh, so I can't really say, speaking from my own experience,  what I, what, what seems to work for them is, um,  to have some kind of  consistency within the, you know, like a consistent later schedule.

And that involves sometimes  sacrifice, leaving a game that is good,  Because you're playing five days a week and you're going to sacrifice a little bit of that first day for your other four days to, to go better. Um, I think that's important. One thing that I've,  because I've had so much success, uh, like from, from my experiment, finding out like the, okay, when I, from the time I wake up to the time I start playing.

My brain is off. Um, a lot of people don't  don't get that luxury because they wake up at quote unquote normal ish hour. Like, let's say 10 a. m, which is not normal for everybody, but still morning for poker players. That's early. Um, but then they don't play until 6 p. m. for them. I don't know. They they've experimented with kind of like some kind of reset, whether it's a nap or, um, like some kind of N S.

D. R. And then kind of like a couple hours before they play and then kind of treating that as their new morning. Um, it seems to be working kind of well, small sample.  

Yeah, no, so well said. And actually to that point and kind of the routines and rituals, any call outs around what we call chronopharmacology.

So the timing of our drugs. And I know you mentioned, it sounds like alcohol is not as much in the picture and anything with. caffeine, nootropics, anything that you've found to be helpful for yourself or other people you work with that can help support both performance and potentially sleep?

I quit caffeine four years ago and I like it a lot better.

I found for me, I think probably I metabolize caffeine slowly, um, and I just find that I sleep better. You know, even having a cat like stopping at 9 a. m., it's still, I think, impacted my sleep a little bit and what I've noticed in me personally is,  um, I mean, I wake up with pretty good energy without, without coffee now, and the biggest difference for me, and it was really my wife noticing, um, was just,  she's like, you You don't complain anymore about being really tired because when I was on caffeine, you know, I'd have like, you know I'd work for whatever seven hours and then it'd be 5 p.m Or something and I'd be exhausted and just like so low and I would whine about it Yeah, and once I Athena it just like the low lows Uh, went away for me, the, let me think,  for me,  um,  the only supplement in my tracking also the only supplement that's to me, and I think probably a lot of them do things, but the only one that was noticeable to me was, uh, L tyrosine, is that how you pronounce it?


Okay. Amazing. How long have you been using that?  

Three years and I don't use it every, I think there is a little bit of an effect. I mean, this is all anecdotal for me and I'm sure that there actually are, there's data out there that I don't know about, but I find this a little bit similar to caffeine and that  if I'm using it for a couple of days and then I stopped the next day, I'm more like less focused.

So I use it  when I need it. If like I have a, whether I'm, I'm playing poker in an intense way, or I'll use it on days where I have like.  seven hours free that I'm just going to do like deep work. I'm like, okay, today's the day. But when I have like a series of calls, I, I won't.

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So interesting. And for anyone listening that maybe is inspired by the giving up of caffeine but needs additional information. One book, Caffeine Blues, it's kind of an oldie but a goodie is really helpful for one place to go to just hear a lot of because you know, we hear a lot about how Great caffeine can be for focus and there's a lot of moneyed interest to push the kind of paradigm of caffeine for focus and cognition and yet there is a whole world of research and accounts around how it can have a lot of other concerns and problems and certainly in the realm of sleep.

So I so appreciate that. I, I also share we had um, peak brain on the podcast who actually worked with one of our mutual friends, Lacey, ages ago. And so they did QEG mappings of my brain and did mappings while I was caffeinated and not caffeinated. And just as a fun anecdotal share during that, the caffeinated brain had a paradoxical response for me, and it actually made me a bit more ADHD like, so shiny object syndrome, which is not great.

So some of the recommendations for them was to, if you are going to have caffeine to balance it out with L theanine, or maybe more of kind of matchas or teas that might come along with it, having L theanine content in there. So, So I appreciate the look that you've taken and then the commitment to actually stick with it.

'cause often we'll hear people say, oh, I experiment with lowering caffeine, or cycle it in and out, but it's not every day we hear people fully giving it up.

Yeah. I get I, and actually before I gave it up and like the two years before I gave it, gave it up. Um, actually Lacey's husband recommended l-theanine, uh, with, with the coffee.

Um, coincidentally. And, and I found that to be helpful, um, when I was. doing caffeine. Yeah.

Ah, so fantastic. Good. Okay. Well, I'm thinking we might be able to also parse out some information too from how you're managing your own sleep nowadays. And like you said, things have changed and as a dad and certain things have evolved.

So how you are today, maybe it's different from how it was. So we can see what can we learn from how you're managing things. And our first question that we ask everyone is what does your nightly sleep routine look like right now?

Okay, so I want to, um, this is kind of, this is part really, partially, partially related to the question, but before I got into any knowledge, learning from people like you, the, but I knew I wanted to improve my sleep.

The biggest thing I did was just let myself kind of accept the importance of it and give myself a long window to sleep. So I,  I give myself, um,  I try to give myself like between  how many hours, like nine and a half to 10 hours in bed. Like I get, try to be in bed by 8 30 and, uh, I wake up at six. So I don't always fall asleep right away, but  I'm just like, I, I could be,  giving myself one to two fewer hours and quote unquote getting more done, but I don't think it's worth it.

I love this. Okay. So often people might refer to this in different phraseology, but some people will say your bed opportunity, your sleep opportunity. So you're giving yourself ample opportunity. What does that usually carve out for you? Is it take you, is it kind of like, okay, so then that way I can wind down, maybe read, relax, or there's certain things, or do you aim to go right to sleep?

And then how does that look?

I try to go right to sleep. So my routine. Uh, it's probably not Molly approved, but, um,  it, uh, it involves, uh, watching poker video every night to go to sleep.  

It's like, yeah,

so on my phone, I found that my, I struggle with racing thoughts. Um, and so if I'm, if I'm not doing anything, then  I think too much.

If I watch something that is like,  a tv show, I want to know how it ends. Um, but if I watch a poker video that is like enough to keep my attention, but you know, it's kind of boring, there's no, there's no story arc,  um, then I can drift off and, and oftentimes will, um, somewhat quickly. The other thing that I will sometimes do if I'm struggling to sleep, or actually the thing that has helped me the most when I've woken up at night and not.

And able to get back to sleep is like a yoga nidra for sleep meditation. Yeah, that's one of the only things I found that that helps me fairly consistently get back to sleep. Um, but yeah, my sleep routine is,  is basically that I would like it if we  had less light in our life the evening,  but I don't have.

I don't know. I mean, most people, like, even you have to, like, force Blake to, against his will to do something about it. It's tough to get. I mean, I have a wife and son, and  I don't know. It's tough. I would like there to be a little less light at night, but I don't have too much else that I  Did I do? Oh, I try, I try to not drink a lot of fluids before bed.

Totally. Oh my goodness. Well, a couple things to say about that. It's interesting what you mentioned about the watching of poker before bed because this is, believe it or not, in the world of sleep, it's a bit of a hot topic of is it problematic or not to potentially watch various types of screens. So utilizing screens before bed and there is one argument that it maybe is not as damning or or damaging and for some people actually supportive like what you were speaking to and I can relate to this certainly of the ability to be distracted or watch certain other things that just take our mind off of the nonsense that our mind can go to.

It's left to its own devices. There is one school of thought of certainly, especially if we are mindfully choosing the content by which we're watching, that And, you know, so it's not creating like a big massive cortisol spike or stress response or too weak promoting. And as you pointed to, it sounds like you're checking the boxes on a lot of favorable, um, components and maybe even the length of time.

Like it's not as if you're dying to watch this whole, you know, video or what have you. So there's a lot of things that could be workable about that. And then for some that might, if anyone's concerned about like the light, are you using any blue blockers or what's your thought?

No, well, but my phone, I do the red light, you know, three clicks.

I love it.

But no, I'm not doing blue blockers. And actually, I was thinking about it today. Actually, I was, I was watching, um, well, I walked out in the living room. My wife's watching, I think it's Triton high roller poker series right now. And, and I saw Phil Ivey. Uh, he's playing at the final table and he's got red.

I've never seen anybody at the poker table do that. And I didn't think of him as, I guess he has been working on optimization. For those who don't know, he's like,  yeah, the, the guy. Um, and that made me think, you know what? Yeah. If, if Phil Ivey can do it on, on TV, then I, I could just, I could do it in my house.

So I, I, Yeah,

this stuff makes me so happy. Uh, Blake and I were just at a comedy show just the other night actually with one of our mutual friends with Ellen and her other half and it was one that we were watching which was T. J. Miller, comedian, and who happened to be wearing not only blue blockers as a comedian, which you don't often see, and an aura ring.

Which just literally made my night. Yeah.  The more we can see this kind of infiltrate, one of the things that then I want to see for poker is how can we make this more circadian aligned some of the game times and even just recreationally, but I digress. It would be, I know it's a bit of a, uh,  right now.

Almost right. Can we make it almost like Thanksgiving, you know, how you start Thanksgiving at like 1pm or something? Can we do that? You know, just instead of the 7pm poker games or what have you. So I love this about your evening routine and then the potential around possibilities and the awareness of, okay, could I make my evening environment potentially even a little bit darker, maybe a little bit more red or what have you.

I was so happy when Blake finally When he was traveling recently and he packed a little red motion lights and it was just like, oh, hallelujah, that's finally, um, infected him. So bringing in the red light piece for yourself is a possibility and maybe even the blue blockers and what have you. Sounds great.

Did we miss anything in your evening routine?


Perfect. So then on the flip side, your morning routine, what might we see there? You're giving yourself ample sleep opportunity. Um, and then around six ish, if I recall, you're waking up. What do we see in the morning?

So there's a difference between when I'm doing well and when I'm not doing well.

Um, and I'm mostly, I'm doing well more than half the time. So when I'm doing well, um, I get up exactly at six. Uh, if, I mean, I have an alarm set at six. So I, I get up at six if I'm not already up. Um,  In order to stay consistent, um, and then I will spend  a half hour, um, I mean, essentially journaling outside, um,  and, but that's the entirety of my morning routine and when I'm not doing well, which is either because I'm,  I'm like letting myself sleep in, I mean, not more than an hour, but letting yourself sleep in, uh, or the,  or I'm either you know, feel like I have to get to something too soon to do that or the weather is not good.

Um, then sometimes I do skip the, the first part, but that, that's, that's the kind of the whole of my  goal morning routine. I'm at, you know, 60%.

I love that morning routine. Well, that's, uh, also checking a lot of boxes for me with the getting the morning light. Sounds like it's rather consistent, you know, with the, we all have a little bit of those swings, but sounds like not too much of a swing most of the time.

And then the mindfulness piece, so the journaling, all of that sounds great. And actually, as you were speaking, one thing that I realized that I want to make sure I check on with you because I've had so many poker players struggle with this and just curious if over the years you've found anything for this in the event.

I know it sounds like you've really designed your life to work in with your poker works in with your lifestyle, but have you found for yourself certain times where you come back later in the evening? And you're regretting any of the game that you were just playing before, or so some of your results, or maybe it was a great result.

Maybe things turned out fantastic, but either way, you're overly alert. Is there anything that you have found for yourself? Because that seems to be the million dollar question that I get from so many poker players of how to turn off their brain after that has been the case.

Not a healthy way. No, no,  the way is, uh, is, uh, is watching TV and binge eating.

So, um,  I haven't figured out a healthy way, um, to do that. I don't, but I mean,  the, the ones that come to mind are going to be the ones that come to like some kind of mindfulness practice.  Um,  but I haven't, I haven't effectively figured that out or cracked out for myself.

Yeah, one thing I'm experimenting with for some players is, I don't know if I spoke to you about this or not, but the Somni, did we discuss that?

It uses, um, transcranial electric stimulation. So that one's sort of exciting. So it has, uh, so Dr. Matthew Walker, why we sleep is on the science advisor for that company and still new ish as far as the company is concerned, but the modality has been around for quite some time. So, But the thinking is that it can really, uh, support the speed by which we're falling asleep and then help staying asleep.

So that's been one thing we're testing with, but I hear you, it's just such a challenging thing and sometimes it might take some of these other habits to get the result we're looking for. Okay, great. Alright, so we went over your evening routine, your morning routine, and then what might we see? see on your nightstand or maybe proverbial nightstand, you know, so what's in your environment, ambience, any call outs to be aware of,

you know, I've really struggled with, um, I've bought like, so because I'm watching a video and I sleep next to my wife, I have headphones and I've, I've bought like the, there are some for sleep, like just like not nothing fancy, but the ones that are like, don't stick out and they always, I don't know, I don't like them.

So I, I, I am wearing like  these headphones, which are kind of uncomfortable to sleep in. Um,  and so I think I need to improve upon that, but these are on my nightstand. Um,  the, let's see, uh,  we have a white noise machine.  Um,  And yeah, that's, uh, there's a,  I mean, it's pretty dark in our, in our bathroom, which we leave the door open, there's a red light, nightlight, uh, but it's not very bright.

And, um, yeah, nothing really else, uh, of note. It's like  68.  Um, and there my wife has like a heated blanket because she gets so

cold. Oh no, Farah, come on, I gotta bring her on here. Yeah,

she's happy that it's cold later, but she has to start, she can't handle getting into a cold bed.

Oh, well that is actually a really good point.

So, um, we've seen that we had eight sleep on the podcast and they were speaking to creating a, um, kind of banana shape, if you will, temperature oscillation throughout the course of the night. So getting into, to her point, like a warm bed and then having it kind of dynamically drop throughout the course of the night so it can facilitate deep sleep and then getting into, you know, those stages of REM and then warming up to wake up in the morning, essentially.

So she's doing the first 10%. Yeah,

so she's doing the next 10%.

No, I'm not doing anything. We actually, I had um, not eight. What was the one?

Oh, chili. Yes.

Yeah. Yeah, so I had one of those a while ago, and she just couldn't stand how ugly it was, like, sticking out from the side of the bed. So one day I came in and it was gone.

Oh, I got the boot! I bet she would like the 8, especially with  some of, it's just very soft. Sleek and well made and lots of exciting kind of things on horizon for what's coming. They already just released a new one. So I wonder that might be Farrah approved potentially and have that nice warm piece for her too.

Yeah, that'd be great. Does the eight have like a Because it was like the chunky external pieces.

Yeah. And the tubes that lead up.

Exactly. So it still has the tubes, but you don't see the, it's very sleek profile. And it's thoughtfully designed as far as it's this nice kind of black pod, but not overly masculine, not over, you know, just kind of sleek almost.

And it just seems to be more of a low profile. nice looking experience. And then certainly on the bed, it doesn't feel like any of, because depending on which types of topper you have been using before, some of them when you're on them, it can just, you feel it. Whereas this just molds into the rest of the bed nicely.

One other thing that came to mind that's not on my nightstand, but I, I feel is an important part of sleep and wake for me is that, um, I have an automation on my iPhone that puts it on airplane mode at nine.  And so  I get lost in like social media and I wake up and I don't have messages.  So I find that.

Please share. So how, um, are you setting up that automation? Are you doing that with any sort of app or for anyone that wants to bring just,

um, Shortcuts. So basically you create a shortcut that just says go to airplane mode and then you go to like automations and you say at 9 p. m. turn on this shortcut and that's that's all it is pretty simple.

How are you having the self control to then not turn it off? Oh shoot. I forgot to check X. What is that?

I do well at night. I think  probably one out of 10 mornings when I'm feeling really tired and I don't feel like getting out of bed. I could just see if I have stayed early.  

Okay. So, but that's great that the evenings you have seemed to just set that up as a routine come on because we have a lot of, I just spoke to someone today, kind of just signed up as a new client and that was one of their major frustrations was kind of what's been referred to as revenge bedtime procrastination.

Fancy piece of words for just, you know, procrastinating on our own opportunity to sleep. So it sounds like you're not struggling with that, which is great.

Yeah, no, and I, I also, I mean, I, I also have the automation to like turn it back on at 1030 AM so that I just don't have to consciously do it. And I find that helpful.

I also just think in general. When I find myself  procrastinating bedtime and or staying in bed too long, um, it's usually because I'm not excited about what I'm doing. And I think taking a look at  if that's something you can solve for, um, because it's or like take it as like a trigger to be like, Oh, do am I not excited about what I'm doing?

Either this week or tomorrow or in general, am I not enjoying my life in the morning and, and restructuring your life around, around that if you can, because,  you know, if you're not getting, if you're struggling to go to bed and struggling to get out of bed, um, yeah, I've often found that that's, that's why, and it's actually like the root causes.

doing stuff you enjoy.  

So good. See, now this is one of the reasons when I first met you, however long, a few years back, I was always struck by your wisdom. And I feel like that's such a wise take on a very common struggle for so many people. And so at its core, maybe, you know, it can be elements of structures and systems, but sometimes it also takes that maybe it's both taking that psychology as well.

And really being real with ourselves. I love that. So wise.  

Well, thank you. Cause yeah, sometimes we're like, we want to optimize. So we set up all these systems. We're like, okay, I'm going to wake up. I'm going to take a cold shower. I'm going to work out for an hour. And then I'm going to end like, yes, these are great things to have in part of your team.

But I think I was just having a conversation an hour and a half ago, um, with Tommy Angelo. I don't know if he's poker.

Sure. Yeah.

Poker Yoda. And, um, he, and we were talking about how. We all feel like we should be able to snap our fingers like, okay, yeah, getting up and working out and doing cold plunge and doing this, like, of course I can do that.

I should be able to do that every day. Why, why can't I do that? Okay. I'm just going to do that every day. And then,  you know, being disappointed that we don't have the discipline, uh, to stick with it. Um, and I think further, like we're talking about now, not only do you not have the discipline to stick with it, but you're stressing about it the night before it makes you get worse sleep because you're staying up cause you're dreading it.

You don't get out of bed cause you're dreading it. Um, And then what he said, I really liked, which was, um, and I wrote it down. Hold on.

Oh,  I love it.

You know, he said,  you know, it, who we are in this moment  is not capable of that, doing that and sticking with it.  

Um, and

it feels like you should be able to just like, cause of course, like I can physically work out for an hour.

I can get in a cold plunge. Um, but. If you're not sticking with it,  it means right now you're not equipped to. And it doesn't mean you never will be equipped to, but it does mean you can't just expect yourself to flip a switch and just start doing it and sticking with it. And so it's  kind of, uh, I liked what that conversation led to was the idea of, you know, building towards becoming that person over time and creating environments around you that That support the habits that you want, but not putting so much pressure on yourself and expecting yourself to be able to do something that, like those practices are there to support you and, and, um, kind of  make you like better mentally, um, and physically.

And if instead you're  hitting and missing them and you're stressing about it, it's actually doing the opposite. And so it would be better not to start that practice if you're not, if you're not really capable of having it make your life better.

I love that. That really resonates because, um, just recently I started using James Clear's app.

I don't know if you've seen his new app, Adams. Um, so it's,  it's great. I'm a big fan of it just because it's so simple and it's kind of owed to his atomic habit, wildly successful atomic habits book of if you want to start anything starting really, really small. And so I started using that app for the fact that I was starting to get off my game with the amount of times I was getting myself to the gym and I was using my travel schedule that I was talking to you about as my excuse.

Oh well, you know, I was traveling and so now my routine is out. And so one of the nice things, kind of the verbiage that they use on that app, and you know, any of this could, it's all related to exactly what you're pointing to, of kind of giving yourself, almost like providing a vote towards the type of person you want to become.

And each time you do that, even if it's very small. So my commitment is literally to get to the gym for 15 minutes, which is ridiculous. But the 15 minutes then once you're there half the time, it's like, okay, well now I'm here and you stay longer, but you get to celebrate after the 15 minutes. And then now I've got this whole tally of amount of times I've been there.

So whatever it is for each person kind of shifting that identity and I love what you're saying that the person right now that we are might not be capable of the end goal, but it's a journey. Love it. So wise. Okay, so I think we've covered a lot of the fundamentals of what your sleep is looking like. But the last question is so far as it relates to poker, just, you know, sleep in general.

Over the years, where you're at right now, what would you say has made the biggest change to your sleep game or said another way, biggest aha moment in managing your own sleep?

Honestly, I think the biggest, I'm going to answer the two different answers to those two questions. Perfect. I think the biggest change for me was actually just, I forget what you called it, but sleep opportunity, giving myself the time.

Um, I think that was the biggest change. I think my biggest aha. was, um,  I think the first time I heard it was you. Um, but I've heard elsewhere too, is just the consistent wake time kind of being the,  like the first domino  that sets you up to, to succeed.

Oh my goodness. Well, I'm so grateful to be rolled up into that and I could not agree more.

Just say provides such a level of anchoring for this really important habit. And it when you anchor with that one thing often a lot of these other things fall into place because then you're much more likely to be get getting sleepy at around your consistent bedtime and we can never quite force our bedtime to or you know time to fall asleep immediately.

But if we set the parameters, then often we find ourselves having it kind of work. So I love that. And I just so appreciate the emphasis by which you're putting on sleep in this kind of world that previously maybe sleep might have not been as much on the forefront, I'd imagine, maybe when we're first, you know, years back, but today to have people like yourself taking a stand for it is so fantastic.

Anything we left out on this topic of sleep and poker or beyond?

Oh, I mean, I, I, we got to a lot of good stuff. I guess I, Just want to reiterate it's so important to like look at all of the the different things that  could be causing the lack of sleep So I talked about the  I talked about the not enjoying what you're waking up in the morning doing the  I have so in addition to like the airplane mode I have Opal it's an app that blocks whatever apps you want.

So I block I block X Basically, always. I don't know. I should probably just not have it on my phone because it's blocked all day every day. But but in case of emergency, it's there. Um,  but yeah, I think if you look back,  there are certain things that are kind of the enemy of your it's not gonna be the same for everybody.

Um, but certain things that that are one of some of the bigger enemies of Mhm.  your sleep and or your whole routine and productivity. And, uh, it's, it's not just about doing the good things, but recognizing the bad things and building strategies to, to mitigate them.  

Love it. So well said. And I'm sure for people listening, they are going to want to know how they can continue to be a part of all your wise words.

Where are the places that they should go to follow you be a part of your world?

Now, I think the best place would be, um, just my website, philgalfon. com, where you can get on, uh, get, get signed up for my newsletter, subscribe to my newsletter, um, and then YouTube, um, youtube. com at philgalfon. I will say both of those places, you know, a lot of the stuff is pretty poker centric, um, with bits and pieces of, uh, of this other stuff mixed in.

Um, but if you're into that, then, uh, then those are where you could find me.

Fantastic. No, we so appreciate that and it's so great to have poker players really taking on this area of sleep and we're seeing it more and more and we've got lots of people across the globe depending on different ways that they're playing poker, whether online tournament, cash game, and having more voices like this is very important.

So thank you. Thank you, thank you for taking the time and so appreciate it. And more to come.

You're very welcome. Thanks for having me, Mollie.

Thank you.  You've been listening to the sleep as a skill podcast, the top podcast for people who want to take their sleep skills to the next level. Every Monday, I send out the sleep obsessions newsletter, which aims to be one of the most obsessive newsletters on the planet.

Fun fact, I've never missed a Monday for over five years and counting. And it contains everything that you need to know in the fascinating world of sleep. Head on over to sleep as a skill. com forward slash newsletter to sign up.


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