Under the Covers with Matt Cooper & Fabrice Gautier
We're talking with some of the best for guidance on overall health and wellbeing. Read what Fabrice Gautier, aka the NBA's body whisperer and a physiotherapist and osteopath, and Matt Cooper, a nutrition consultant and trainer, can share based on their wealth of experience with some of the world's top athletes.
How did your passion for health, wellness, and performance begin?
Cooper: I always joke mesearch began as research. In helping solve my own health, fitness and performance problems I found that others naturally asked me for advice. I quickly realized I was passionate about helping people in this way and chose to go down this path for life.Gautier: I strongly believe it started simply with my family and upbringing coming from two athletes parents...my dad, soccer, and my mother, volleyball. I was always a pitch or gym rat. Very quickly I chose basketball and fell in love with the sport. I wanted to play in the NBA so I was always trying to try to get an edge in training nutrition and recovery.
Back then, there wasn’t as much content available. I remember reading sports and fitness, which was talking about lifting and sports. Little by little I figured that it would be an amazing plan B to become a physical therapist would the NBA not work (wise lol). The other aspect of it and I realize that now my grandparents being from Burgundy also developed a taste for natural food growing in their garden.
In your opinion, what role does sleep play in optimizing your health?Cooper: Sleep is one of the main pillars someone has to take care of in order to be healthy. We all have to have at least a minimum effective dose of interventions with regards to diet, sleep, exercise, stress management/allostatic load, community, light exposure, lifestyle design, as well as managing the other high level environmental inputs (e.g. EMF’s, toxic load +). WAFF helps take care of a few of these, including helping generate deep sleep, reducing the physiological effects of stress, and sensory perceptions of stress with the Max model. The WAFF Minis also help us tick a few key aspects of the exercise box, too.
What do you consider to be the biggest barriers to healthy sleep?Cooper: The biggest barriers to healthy sleep are lifestyle design (or not choosing to make time for it), a hyper-aroused brain, an inflammatory/excitatory diet that can disrupt our ability to relax, blue light, and stress load. Changing time zones on the road can also be a factor for some of the pro athletes I work with, as well.
Gautier: Nowadays I think it is un natural light and screens as well as food intake before sleep. I also believe that everyone is a little bit different, but the basics remain the same in order to tap in deep and rem sleep.
How can sleeping with bedding that contain plastic, synthetic materials, or chemicals disrupt your health?
Gautier: It is very well known that they are hormone disrupters and that it is very hard to get away from those micro plastics. I have a funny story about that — once I went back in Burgundy where my grandparents’ mattress is probably 50 years old made of horse hairs (not the 50k ones but the ones they use to manufacture before the whole plastic synthetic wave), the poor thing had no form being so old but I had one of the best recovering night sleep of my life.
"It is very well known that [synthetics] are hormone disrupters and that it is very hard to get away from those micro plastics."
The holiday season is notorious for being the busiest time of year. Do you have any advice or best practices for prioritizing your health & wellness during this time?Cooper: There are a lot of smaller ways to take this, but the bigger picture advice I tend to give is to not punt your entire regimen just because plan A doesn’t work out. Adhering to 65% of your healthy habits is quite a bit better than 0.
"Adhering to 65% of your healthy habits is quite a bit better than 0."
Gautier: Busy season or not…put down the phone at least 2 hours before [bed], light meal at least 3 hours before. I strongly believe digestion of a heavy meal will reduce the quality of your sleep.
I personally don’t drink water after 6 pm…I hate to get up to go to the bathroom…cool room and light dimmer and a good book as well as a warm shower and 15 minutes in the Waff Max with the Baloo weighted blanket (I always find the blanket helps me especially to recover from jet lag).
Do you use a weighted blanket in your own wellness routines? If so, we’d love to hear how you use it and any comments about weighted blankets in general.Cooper: I tend to recommend weighted blankets to my clients with anxiety whom have a lot of trouble sitting still. In our culture of hyperarousal and busyness, many folks don’t feel safe just idling and being from a neurological standpoint. Weighted blankets help ground us in this sense. The WAFF Max is also meant to help people become less stressed, heady and dissociated while also empowering them to reintegrate with their body from a felt sensory perspective. Combining both the WAFF Max with weighted blankets can be quite a potent combo for stress release.
Gautier: Yes, I do especially the first few nights after travel. I just really like that deep pressure that it gives and that feeling of being hugged by it. It almost make you feel really safe to fall asleep, so it take it to also an unconscious emotional level of reassurance that can be associated with sleep (at least for me).
Then the science explains it also with the fact that pressure touch stimulates serotonin in the body, which helps with sleep. Every little details count.
Do you have a list of bedtime "do's" and "don'ts" that you can share with us?
Cooper: I recommend people most nights try to go to bed with about 8 and a half hours on the clock to account for the time it takes to fall asleep. Do your best to wake up and go to bed at the same time most nights. Definitely include some milk and raw honey before bed to help promote a relaxatory state at the neurological level. I usually recommend people lay in a WAFF Max for 5-20 minutes before bed for promotion of relaxing brain waves that nourishes deep sleep. Getting plenty of sunlight—especially morning and evening light to set our photoreceptors for wake/sleep cycles is important. Having a lamp with amber bulbs is important and blue light settings on your phone help, too. Blue blocker glasses are a good idea if you happen to be watching screens or turning on some lights that are more blue spectrum dominant when at home. Unplugging your WiFi and devices within several feet of the bed may help, as well. Same thing with putting your phone across the room.As far as don’ts…avoid blue light as best you can unless you’re out at night on occasion, don’t be on your phone or using devices right up until bedtime, and simply don’t shortchange your sleep.
What are some simple resolutions for health (or sleep) that everyone can strive for in 2023?
Cooper: The bigger picture is just about managing your environment. Health isn’t just exercise or diet or sleep—it’s about getting a lot of small flags to point in the right direction in an alchemical capacity. As far as sleep and stress specifically, don’t live an overscheduled life, make time for mindfulness, and take care of your sleep hygiene.
"Health isn’t just exercise or diet or sleep—it’s about getting a lot of small flags to point in the right direction in an alchemical capacity."
Gautier: Drop the phone
Matt Cooper is a nutrition consultant and trainer who works with athletes and individuals alike. He operates in the Southern California area as well as online. He is also a researcher and voice in the health & performance space.
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Fabrice Gautier is a physical therapist and osteopath to the French national team of basketball since 2009, and professional athletes, owner of LA Main Physical Therapy since 2003 in Los Angeles.