Wake up and get some sleep!
Our genes hold the history of our species. Our genes tell us what we require for health, according to how our species evolved. As much as our genes tell us that winter is a time to survive until the fruits of summer again, it’s also a time to use our consciousness to observe and make changes to improve our lives.
Welcome 2011! The best year ever! A time for observations, changes, and resolutions. New Year, New YOU!
Most of the changes people want to make consist of exercising more or eating healthier.
Have you wondered how more sleep or using less artificial light might affect your health?
You already know that in winter, you are meant to sleep whenever it is dark out in order to survive the struggles of the season (Part I). You also know how lack of sleep and too much artificial light in the winter negatively affects vital hormones for health such as melatonin, cortisol, and insulin (Part II).
In 2011, what should you do about it?
It’s time to make changes for a healthier you. With your health as a foundation, happiness can be built in every other area of your life: body, mind, and spirit.
After all, the only time to change anything … is now.
Questions and Answers
In Part I, we asked some questions. Let’s focus on one in particular …
What if the only cure to disease is to “live right”?
Yes, you can take statins to lower your blood pressure. This won’t make you healthier.
You can take anti-inflammatories for your back or joint pain. This won’t fix what caused the pain in the first place.
You can wait until your health is bad enough to need even more medications, drugs, or surgery, or until disease snowballs into a terminal illness such as cancer or degeneration.
If it’s lack of sleep that’s causing your pain, disease, and suffering, more sleep is the only cure.
Unfortunately, life’s requirements and artificial lights aren’t going anywhere.
How can you “live right” in today’s technologically entrenched society?
Minimum Effective Dosage
In the The 4-Hour Body, Tim Ferriss writes about the Minimum Effective Dosage or “MED.”
This is the minimum amount of change required to achieve results.
Realizing we’re all living in 2011 and not in our ancestor’s hunter-gatherer environments, there’s a MED to tricking our bodies to believe we’re still living in the cave, which will allow the expression of health.
Forget your meds (as in pharmaceutical). Here are your MEDs.
Our genes require … 9.5 hours of sleep in total darkness 7 months out of the yea
Your MED today … go to sleep as close to dusk and wake up as close to dawn as you can. Get us as much sleep as possible without letting your relationships suffer or getting fired from your job.
Following the cycle of seasons, Wiley and Formby (Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival) recommend these tips in the fall:
- Beginning in September, start going to bed earlier in increments.
- Turn off the TV at 9 PM.
- Wake up as close to dawn as possible.
Several prestigious fitness coaches and health practitioners around the country throw this quote around: “An hour of sleep before midnight is equal to two after midnight.”
Now you know why.
Our genes require … 14 hours of total darkness 7 months out of the year.
Your MED today … going to bed earlier accounts for much of the darkness you need. Cover up the green or red glow of your alarm clock with tape or a towel (Yes, you need complete darkness!). Close the blinds and make sure no light is radiating into the room. If there is light, consider putting up heavy drapes that completely block light.
Once the sun sets, use as minimal light as possible. Use lamps with heavy shades or the light dimmer to keep lights low.
Ever tried reading by candle light like in the olden days? It’s magical.
Computers and Television
Our genes require … sunlight when the sun is out.
Your MED today … Unfortunately, people spend more time today in front of the screen than the sun. If the television or computer emitted Vitamin D like the sun did, there’d be significantly less vitamin D deficiencies and the resultant cancers, osteoporosis, and hip fractures.
Remember that blue and green light from these devices fries the pineal gland that is responsible for producing melatonin.
Get off the computer or television as early as possible. Wiley and Formby recommend before 9 PM. At least an hour or two before bed is a safe bet.
And take that television out of your bedroom! The bedroom is meant for sleep and sex, nothing else.
Our genes require … a cave. Cooler temperatures when sleeping.
Your MED today … we overheat our houses in the winter and overcool them in the summer.
Keep the temperature of your room somewhere between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit. Use heavier covers or the body of a loved one to keep you warm.
An observation … As mammals, dogs require nurturing. Nurturing includes heat, love, and somewhere soft to lie. Ever see Where the Wild Things Are
and wonder why the Wild Things sleep in a pile? Just saying.
Our genes require … the paleolithic diet.
Your MED today … no, bread and pasta do not grow on trees. It’s not healty to eat meat or farm-raised fish full of chemicals and fed food from the bread and pasta tree either.
Luckily, there’s the “paleolithic diet,” the only “diet” you’ll ever need. Animals, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Simple.
Wiley and Formby add these tips:
- Eat protein at every meal. No protein … no neurotransmitters … no immune function. Protein will also keep you “full” and is metabolically expensive, so you burn more.
- Fats are essential. No fats … no hormones … cancer! Stick to healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil for dressing, or coconut oil, regular olive oil, ghee, or unprocessed butter for cooking.
- In summer, eat as many real carbs (fruits, vegetables, some beans) as you want. In the winter, minimize carb consumption, preferably to under 45 grams daily.
- Buy fresh meat daily. Old food oxidizes.
- Carbohydrates are pure energy, not structural materials like protein and fats (hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters). Therefore, carbohydrates are the only macronutrient not necessary in your diet.
Rest assured, any research that attempts to prove meat is an unhealthy food uses meat from animals that were raised on bread and corn.
Our genes require … days filled with standing, movement, proper nutrition, social activities, and energy-filled activities.
Your MED today … include days filled with sitting, lack of movement, nutrition out of boxes, pseudo-social activities (ie. Facebook, e-mail, Twitter), and energy-deficient activities. There are many ways we deviate from our genetics that cause the lack of sleep so many experience.
Some tips for trouble sleeping:
- Read a book, preferably a fictional one to avoid mind consumption, as long as needed before bed.
- Spend time with family members socializing or discussing life’s questions. Any social time is time away from technology, and is warranted.
Wiley and Formby recommend these supplements (Disclaimer: While I usually never recommend changes I haven’t tried personally, supplements do have a place. If you’re neglecting to consume something today that your genes require, a natural product that has no known side effects can be helpful to bring your body back in balance. Please consult with a healthcare professional if you’re interested):
- 200 mg of alphalipoic acid with 20 mg evening primrose daily reverses insulin resistance.
- 2500 mg B5 burns fat faster once you reach ketosis, so will l-carnitine.
- 400 micrograms selenium rejuvenates T cells.
- 150 mg zinc morning and afternoon blocks prolactin at the pituitary to reset appetite control.
- Kava kava or tyrosine before bed will make you sleepy.
- 2,000-3,000 mg of L-glutamine to reline gut with friendly bacteria.
Tim Ferriss recommends celery with almond butter directly before bed to decrease cortisol levels through food consumption. It’s worth a try.
Wake Up and Get Some Sleep
You know you don’t sleep enough.
Try these changes here. See how your body thanks you.
You deserve it, and so does your family and friends who like seeing you with energy in your heart and a smile on your face.
Just so you know I’m not the only one talking about light exposure and sleep, here is a post from Dr. Mercola that came out today.
Many thanks to Billy Gregson for teaching me how to write so that you understand me.
- Ferriss, Timothy. The 4-hour Body: an Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman. New York: Crown Archetype, 2010.
- Wiley, T. S., and Bent Formby. Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival. New York: Pocket, 2000.