Performance expert: ‘More sleep, less junk’

An advocate for topflight human performance praised sleep and counseled avoidance of lifestyle detractors during his Carson City presentation Thursday night.

Speaking at Sierra Nevada Forums in the Brewery Arts Center Performance Hall, John Underwood of Pure Performance warned about sugar, alcohol, poor diet, stress, a sedentary life, overuse of technology, youth mood medications and illegal drugs from marijuana to heroin. He said such things result in neural fatigue, performance plummets and people face problems.

“If your brain is tired, your body takes a huge hit,” said Underwood, founder and director of Pure Performance, who has spread his gospel of good condition to elites in the military and athletic worlds. He was brought in by not only Sierra Nevada Forums, but Partnership Carson City, and he credited Kathy Bartosz of the partnership as a 16-year colleague who has helped in his work. Bartosz opened the forum with brief remarks. Underwood said the brain is key.

“We know that the brain is the most important thing for great athletic performance,” said the performance guru, who has worked with Navy SEALS, Olympians and professional athletes. But it isn’t just athletics that prompt his message.

He said children today are the smartest generation in history, but also have the poorest diet, the least physical activity, too much stress, lack common sense and overindulge in technology.

Underwood said, basically, there’s nothing wrong with kids except the chemistry of their brains. He also had a message for adults in the packed performance hall: What they model is what youngsters pick up on and emulate.

He said people get an average of six hours and 40 minutes of sleep nightly, but the body and brain need more to replenish. “Human beings need eight hours,” he said.

He said 26 percent of Americans, or 57 million people, have mental health problems. He said 46 million kids are on mood meds and projected this would add to future mental health disorders.

Regarding the sedentary lifestyle of many Americans to which he kept returning, Underwood said the only way to combat it is increased activity and decreased intake. He said diets of too much sugar, fat, salt and the like are an increasing problem as people age. He said males in 1960 were 166 pounds, but by 1990 reached 189 and in 2014 hit 201.

About then he trotted out a message to athletes he clearly meant for everyone to ponder: “It’s not just what you are willing to give to be successful; it’s what you are willing to give up.”


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment