How to Maximize Recovery, Performance and Resilience with Kristen Holmes

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My life's passion and mission is blending modern science with ancient wisdom to empower women's health and healing.

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Kristen Holmes shares insights on topics like alcohol’s impact on sleep, the effects of sleep debt on cognitive function, and the importance of feeling safe in sexual relationships.

In this episode, Dr. Stephanie delves into the fascinating world of recovery optimization. Dr. Stephanie is joined by the incredible Kristin Holmes, the VP of Performance Science at Whoop, who boasts an impressive athletic and academic background. Together, they explore various aspects of recovery, from heart rate variability (HRV) to the influence of light, sleep patterns, and even menstrual implications on metabolism. Kristen touches on insulin resistance and the science behind it, offering valuable insights for listeners of all ages. This engaging conversation is a must-listen for anyone seeking to recover like a boss and maximize their human potential.


As Vice President of Performance Science, Principal Scientist at WHOOP, Kristen drives thought leadership by engaging with industry-leading researchers and partners to better understand individual and team biometric and performance data across high-stakes verticals to drive product innovation, strategy, and coaching.

Kristen blends her academic and applied background in athletics, coaching, performance technology, psychology, and exercise physiology to drive research, partnership, and product development initiatives to strengthen WHOOP as a leader in Human Performance.

Kristen was a 3x All American, 2x Big 10 Athlete of the year at the University of Iowa, competing in both Field Hockey and Basketball, and a 2021 University of Iowa Hall of Fame Inductee. 7-year member of the U.S. National Field Hockey Team and one of the most successful coaches in Ivy League history, having won 12 league titles in 13 seasons and a National Championship at Princeton University. 

Kristen has an MIT Sloan Artificial Intelligence Certificate, M.A. Psychology, and Sports Performance, B.A., Political Science, University of Iowa, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Queensland. Kristen serves as a Science Advisor to Levels Health, Science Advisor to Arena Labs, Advisor to Evolve Leadership, a Performance Ambassador to Liminal Collective, and sits on the Tactical Leadership Board of Sports Innovation Lab.

Links in episode:

The Whoop podcast
Carol Dweck’s growth mindset
Sean Achor’s work on happiness
Dr. Ken Wright’s work on sleep
Alcohol’s Effect on Sleep, Recovery and Performance
IG post about HRV

Episode Overview:

0:00:00 Maximizing Circadian Alignment and Health Basics
0:05:14 The Importance of Recovery for Fitness and Performance
0:09:03 Components of Recovery: Sleep and Training
0:14:36 The Paradox of Seeking Strength while Avoiding Discomfort
0:20:47 HRV and Age: Decline and Factors
0:24:10 Age and Sympathetic Dominance in HRV
0:30:32 The Importance of Aligning with Natural Light-Dark Cycles
0:33:08 The Importance of Maintaining a Consistent Sleep-wake Schedule
0:37:01 Exercise and food as levers to offset irregular sleep-wake schedules
0:41:21 The Role of Light in Influencing Sleep Patterns (including in teenagers)
0:45:15 The Vicious Cycle of Fragmented Sleep and Blue Light Exposure
0:45:39 The Impact of Cortisol on Sleep Quality
0:49:57 The Relationship Between Sleep Deprivation and Diabetes Risk
0:54:33 Adjusting Eating Window for Better Metabolic Health
0:57:40 Strategies to Mitigate Negative Effects of Poor Sleep
1:02:30 Sleep Extension and Nap for Sleep Deprivation during Events
1:06:12 Alcohol Consumption and its Effects on Sleep
1:13:29 The Effect of Prosecco on Sleep Quality
1:13:39 Alcohol’s Impact on Detoxification and Sleep
1:17:38 Sleep Debt’s Impact on Psychological Safety and Relationships
1:20:49 The Timing of Sex for Better Sleep
1:22:00 Sex as a Sleep Promoting Behavior
1:25:16 The Evolving Dynamics of Sex and Sleep
1:29:01 Sleep: A Foundation for Health and Vitality

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