Jeff Brown: “Environment”

Environment. I can’t stress enough how important it is to invest in a proper mattress, especially if you are at an above-average weight. Getting a good night’s sleep has so many physical, emotional, and mental benefits. Yet with all of the distractions that demand our attention, going to sleep on time and getting enough rest […]

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Environment. I can’t stress enough how important it is to invest in a proper mattress, especially if you are at an above-average weight.

Getting a good night’s sleep has so many physical, emotional, and mental benefits. Yet with all of the distractions that demand our attention, going to sleep on time and getting enough rest has become extremely elusive to many of us. Why is sleep so important and how can we make it a priority?

In this interview series called “Sleep: Why You Should Make Getting A Good Night’s Sleep A Major Priority In Your Life, And How You Can Make That Happen” we are talking to medical and wellness professionals, sleep specialists, and business leaders who sell sleep accessories to share insights from their knowledge and experience about how to make getting a good night’s sleep a priority in your life.

As part of this interview series, we had the pleasure to interview Jeff Brown.

Jeff Brown is a working leader who personally builds key relationships, both internal and external, and fosters trust to capture and deliver profitable revenue. Working in senior sales, marketing, and operations roles for multimillion-dollar global brands and privately held middle market companies, Jeff knows what truly drives sales growth, product conversions and value — and it is not in short term decision making or tactical thinking. As the current President of Big Fig Mattress, Jeff has extensive experience in global branded organizations such as Newell Rubbermaid, Pergo, Oatey and Barrette and has been successful in building a culture of overcoming and winning. He has experience in every phase of the market, finding success regardless of external factors, and has delivered value in every type of situation.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to ‘get to know you’. Can you tell us a bit about your background and your backstory?

After graduating with a B.S in political science with a concentration in finance from Virginia Tech, I got my start and learned to thrive in global branded organizations like Newell Rubbermaid, Pergo, Oatey and Barrette, and grew to specialize in coordinating sales, marketing, and operations functions for multimillion-dollar global brands and privately held middle-market companies, working to drive sales growth, product conversions, and value through understanding long-term drivers, connecting with customers and delivering on commitments.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this particular career path?

I had worked in large and small organizations; private, public, and family-owned and had developed nearly every sales channel there was to develop from Big Box to Specialty Retail to hybrid direct and brick and mortar models — all except a pure direct to consumer (DTC) model. Big Fig had everything that I was looking for: a channel I had not worked in, a unique niche model that was growing, and an entrepreneurial approach to the market. I could not pass up this opportunity!

Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the sleep and wellness fields? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?

As the President of Big Fig Mattress, the world’s first mattress company devoted specifically to the plus size demographic, I have a keen knowledge of how a person needs to be supported by their mattress to achieve their best night’s sleep.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

As a young marketer, I was given a copy of Daniel Goleman’s book “Emotional Intelligence” and after seeing how incredibly bright and talented people had their careers side-tracked because they made poor emotionally charged choices and decisions, it struck me that knowing if something needed to be said, whetherI needed to say it, and whether I needed to say it right then made all the difference in how people approached me, problem solved with me, and ultimatelytrusted in me. It still does today!

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

My father was a career enlisted soldier, a Sergeant Major in the Army, and had a saying that he attributed to General George S. Patton, but is originally quoted by Thomas Paine — “Lead, Follow, or Get Out of The Way” — also often quoted by Lee Iacocca and others. Growing up a military brat, I heard it almost daily and as my career started, I found it so relevant to business. Make decisions; move, take action or decide not to take action — but do something, even if it’s wrong!

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Let’s start with the basics. How much sleep should an adult get? Is there a difference between people who are young, middle-aged, or elderly?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average amount of sleep depends on the individual’s age. Adults, in particular, should aim to get at least seven hours of sleep per night. What we believe at Big Fig is that anyone can sleep for an extended amount of time, but it’s the quality of their sleep that matters. Comfort, temperature; these are a few factors that can interrupt a person’s sleep flow, which could disrupt concentration, weaken the immune system, and in some cases, increase the risks of certain diseases. The plus-size community can be more susceptible to these issues as most traditional mattresses do not accommodate their body types, so we’ve created a solution to help them sleep better.

Is the amount of hours the main criteria, or the time that you go to bed? For example, if there was a hypothetical choice between getting to bed at 10PM and getting up at 4AM, for a total of 6 hours, or going to bed at 2AM and getting up at 10AM for a total of 8 hours, is one a better choice for your health? Can you explain?

While the amount of time is more important than the hour on the clock, the most important aspect– above all else — is the quality of the sleep that you’re getting. Sleep is the body’s opportunity to recuperate, and to best ensure the body gets the maximum restorative benefits, the spine should be aligned in a supported neutral position.

As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for our readers. Let’s imagine a hypothetical 35 year old adult who was not getting enough sleep. After working diligently at it for 6 months he or she began to sleep well and got the requisite hours of sleep. How will this person’s life improve? Can you help articulate some of the benefits this person will see after starting to get enough sleep? Can you explain?

Sleep is still somewhat of a mystery to scientists as experts understand that humans need it, but they don’t truly understand its function, even today. What science does tell us though is without it, every aspect of an individual’s biological makeup will suffer; physically, emotionally, and mentally. For someone who overcomes years of sleep deprivation, they will likely experience improvements in the central nervous system, specifically pertaining to heightened levels of growth hormones that repair cells, all while working to decrease high levels of stress. In addition, consistent sleep elevates our mood and helps us on our feet — literally. Mobility plays an important role in how well-rested we are; the benefits to a good night’s sleep are endless and crucial to an individual’s general wellbeing.

Many things provide benefits but they aren’t necessarily a priority. Should we make getting a good night’s sleep a major priority in our life? Can you explain what you mean?

Truthfully, sleep is one of the major components of living a long, healthy, and happy life. The notion of “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is a dangerous mantra to follow. Sleep manages most areas of our lives and without proper rest, our bodies begin to break down, with long-term effects such as memory loss, heart disease, and diabetes. As the plus-size community, in particular, can be at a higher risk for certain ailments, following a healthy and proper sleep schedule is imperative, as well as ensuring they have the proper mattress and set-up to fit their personal lifestyle.

The truth is that most of us know that it’s important to get better sleep. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives? How should we remove those obstacles?

The first issue is lifestyle; whether we spend too much time on our phones at night, or we allow our work schedules to get the better of us, most Americans do not even attempt to fall asleep until almost midnight. Changing habits and turning the TV off earlier or passing on the daily nightcap is the first step to improving sleep. The second problem many adults face is the inability to fall asleep due to outside influences such as stress. Ever watch the time pass because you’re nervous about an upcoming presentation? Or perhaps you had an argument with a loved one that hinders your ability to fall asleep. We’ve all faced issues that keep us up at night, the solution is tending to them. If someone regularly deals with anxiety or depression, exercise, meditation, and therapy are great practices to implement that will strongly improve sleep habits with time. Lastly, and perhaps the most important factor, is the environment. A strong, sturdy mattress is essential to a well-rested night, one in which that caters to a broader audience that fits the needs of every individual.

Do you think getting “good sleep” is more difficult today than it was in the past?

Because of the research that’s been conducted on sleep and the body, we have come to understand how to best support the body, ensuring spine neutrality which is essential to achieve that elusive “good night’s sleep.” More importantly, we’ve come to understand that mattresses are not a size fits all — and that those of a heavier weight have different support needs — ones that will never be met by a standard mattress. This is where Big Fig has stepped in to provide this highly tailored sleep experience for the plus-size demographic. Because we have built this mattress to address the specific issues faced by larger bodies, we hope to spread awareness that a good night’s sleep is achievable — at any size and shape.

Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share “5 things you need to know to get the sleep you need and wake up refreshed and energized”? If you can, kindly share a story or example for each.

  1. Environment. I can’t stress enough how important it is to invest in a proper mattress, especially if you are at an above-average weight. Many of our clients have reported the tremendous impact upgrading their mattress has had on their sleep, as well as on their physical and mental health. In addition to comfort, ensure your bedroom space is one that fits your style. Sleep at a temperature that is comfortable to you, close the shades and be sure to turn off TV, phones, and laptops at least two hours before you plan to fall asleep.
  2. Set a schedule…and stick to it. The best way to train your body into falling asleep quickly, and staying asleep soundly through the night, is to create a schedule that is realistic and sticking to it. Consistency is key, and yes that means weekends and days off as well. Try to go to sleep at the same time every night and set an alarm to wake up the same time every morning. Once you put these habits into place, you’ll understand the importance of sticking to a sleep plan and will reap the benefits in no time.
  3. Make healthy choices. In addition to quality sleep, our bodies need nourishment in many other ways as well. Daily exercise, meditation, and healthy eating are a few other factors that can improve sleep patterns. Make sure you are also properly hydrated throughout the day and try to eliminate sweets and caffeine, especially in the late afternoon and at night.
  4. Stay away from those sneaky afternoon naps. While a quick 15-minute nap could help rejuvenate our bodies, especially if we had trouble sleeping the night before, be sure to strictly limit how long you nap for. A nap over 20 minutes can propel us into REM sleep, making it difficult to wake up, and possibly even harder to fall asleep when it’s time for bed.
  5. Ask for help. If all else fails, be sure to speak to a doctor about your sleep struggles. Sleep disorders are common and treatable, don’t wait any longer on depriving yourself of something your body desperately needs. In most cases, small changes as the ones mentioned can improve habits, but sometimes a health professional needs to assess the situation and help design a more concrete plan to improve sleep habits. Don’t wait until it’s too late, your body will thank you later.

What would you advise someone who wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep?

Unfortunately, research by the Sleep Foundation has shown that increased sleeplessness, overeating, weight gain, and a slowing metabolism can all be connected to increased production of the hormones Leptin and ghrelin which spike when a person isn’t getting an adequate amount of sleep. To put it simply, not getting enough sleep can create a snowball effect with other health issues.

The easiest way to stop the cycle is to ensure you’re sleeping through the night — a change could be a matter of upgrading a sagging mattress to one that will support your body.

What are your thoughts about taking a nap during the day? Is that a good idea, or can it affect the ability to sleep well at night?

While many have been able to sneak a nap while working from home during the pandemic, it’s better to work toward restorative sleep during the evening hours, rather than to depend on a nap as a crutch. Investing in a quality mattress tailored for your specific body type is the key in getting rid of that crutch and kicking the midday nap habit for good.

Wonderful. We are nearly done. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Visit and check us out on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

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