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Day 2 Day Realtime
Tuesday
Mar062012

Bedtime Alarm


Day 33/30
In Bed Time = 6hrs 4min 52sec

One of the most difficult things about the Rip Van Winkle Experiment has been having the will power to turn off the world and go to bed. To know when and how to say, “Yup, I’m done”. It’s especially difficult when you may have chores that honestly need doing, a la the ubiquitous dirty dishes, laundry, extra work, bills, hungry cats, ect. (jk about the cats)

Based on the my experience of the past thirty days I've found it remarkably difficult to do this so much that I've only been able to successfully comply with the Rip Van Winkle Experiment on two occasions. Clearly there is something that is not connecting. This experiment is a testament to all the benefits that come about from a full nights sleep. But even knowing that I haven’t been compliant. I’ve written about this difficulty before in the Needs vs Wants, Super Bowl FAIL, and Slack’n Daily Observations. Clearly it isn’t enough to be able to display simple will power, I need a hack to get to sleep.

I reached out to the penultimate authority on sleep and everything paleo lifestyle, Rob Wolff.

My outreach:

@robbwolf any tips on how to actually get to bed on time. I've been working it for 30days and been failing miserably.

Robb’s Response:

@cubesapien Set a timer, when it goes off, TV, computer go off, lights dim, you hit the sack with a book.

So to that effect, I introduce to you e.ggtimer.com. This is the perfect background timer for offering that little extra umph to get off the computer (my major problem) and into bed. Also useful for an at work reminder to take a break.

Monday
Mar052012

Red Light, Blue Light, No Light

Day 32/30
In Bed Time = 5hrs 3min 46sec

Light pollution can completely disrupt the biological processes needed for an effective, efficient night's sleep. The primary effect of light exposure on the circadian cycle is the disruption of certain hormones. In particular, the hormone melatonin. A previous Daily Observation in the Rip Van Winkle Experiment took a look at the use of artificial melatonin.

The bottom line is that ANY light while you sleep will prevent the release of melatonin into the blood stream. You need to be sleeping in a dark, pitch black room. The first step is to turn off the lights, pull the curtains closed around the windows, and even obscure the light from alarm clocks.

Looking deeper into the light exposure minutia, there are specific wavelengths (colors) of light that prevent the release of melatonin and accompanying chemicals into the system. Blue light has been shown to increase the alertness of office workers. This effect is directly related to how the circadian cycle responds to daylight conditions, NOT releasing melatonin since the body believes it to still be daytime. Conversely, red light does not inspire the same biological response. Many people that have critical night time jobs have realized this already, such as military pilots and firemen.

Take Away:

  • The best sleep requires darkness
  • Turn off lights, close blinds/drapes
  • Blue light prevents the release of melatonin (yes smart phones/comp, you are blue light)
  • Red light does not effect hormonal release


Source: Mark’s Daily Apple

 

Friday
Mar022012

Hulking Out on Testosterone

 Hulking OutDay 31/30
In Bed Time = 6hrs 4min 58sec

In a previous post, the effect sleep has on Human Growth Hormone was discussed. It turns out that not only is HGH effected by sleep but so is Testosterone. Testosterone or “T” is fundamental to male and female health. However, it is generally identified more with the XY chromosome holders because in large amounts it promotes the masculine traits of the species. A recent article from Science Daily features some interesting research showing the effects lack of sleep has on male testosterone levels.

First,  it’s important to understand that male testosterone levels will decrease by about 1 to 2% per year after men have reached their reproductive peak (usually in the 20s). The study mentioned used ten test subjects in relatively good health and with a mean age of 24 years. The subjects were put through a discovery protocol of the following regimen.

For the study, they spent three nights in the laboratory sleeping for up to ten hours, and then eight nights sleeping less than five hours. Their blood was sampled every 15 to 30 minutes for 24 hours during the last day of the ten-hour sleep phase and the last day of the five-hour sleep phase.

It was seen that the testosterone levels of these brave sleepers dropped by 10% - 30% when they were only allowed less than five hours of sleep. This decrease in the amount of testosterone available to these men is hugely significant. The effects of the poor sleep lead to a loss of vigor, decreased quality of life (lethargic), reduced strength, loss of muscle and bone density, and reduced interest and performance in the bedroom.

Looking at a wider view of this problem, we can understand that not getting enough sleep can be dire to mental and physical health.Less than five hours of sleep a night is pretty extreme, but how many people could this loss of testosterone affect? The article clarifies that up to 15% of the working population in America gets less than 5 hours of sleep a night. I was one of these people somehow subsisting on 4.5hrs a night!

So gentlemen get some sleep and women get your guys some sleep. Increase your Testosterone!

If you are curious about your testosterone level, there are a number of tests available that can be preformed at home. Here is one that you can take at home and mail in to the laboratory.

Thursday
Mar012012

Hypnic Twitch

 

Day 30/30
In Bed Time= 6hrs 37min 24sec

I’ve noticed an unusual pattern when I’m falling asleep. At some point, as I’m beginning to lose consciousness, some part of my body will twitch. And twitch hard. It could be a foot, a hand, a leg, or an arm but almost regardless one part of my anatomy will convulsively twitch. And I have no control over it. Sometimes it’s a cute, simple, little movement, but I have seen myself throw a mouse across a desk and if I’m laying in close proximity to another person I’ve even smacked them completely involuntarily.

So the question begs, is this a disease? Am I sick, just cursed, or completely normal? Using a little bit of Google magic, the answer is a “twitch” away. According to Kaitlyn Syring, of The University Daily Kansan, the jerks experienced while falling asleep are pretty common.

60 to 70 percent of Americans experience this jerking motion.

The actual mechanism for this behavior isn’t well understood, although the symptoms have been highly documented and studied. It has been suggested that the jerks experienced while falling asleep, technically known as hypnagogic jerks, occur as the body is relaxing. The brain, still prepared to encounter the stimulus of the day, interprets this as a falling sensation and atomically sends signals to the limbs to jerk and attempt to prevent the perceived fall from happening.

Kaitlyn Syring identifies some of the supposed causes for hypnic jerks that have seen to make them more prevalent.

  • Anxiety/Emotional Stress
  • Caffeine
  • Strenuous Activities

There is no cure for this condition, as it is not fully understood, only observed. But some suggestions can be made. To reduce the occurrence of hypnic twitching get 8 hrs of sleep a night (sound familiar?), avoid caffeine in the evening, create a ritual that will allow you to relax and get into the mindset of sleeping, and have a set time to go to bed and get up in the morning.

Wednesday
Feb292012

Binaural Beats

Day 29/30
In Bed Time = 4hrs 43 min 20 sec

The problem a lot of people have with trying to get full night's of sleep is that they are unable to relax, they can’t turn their brain off. This is problematic behavior that has plagued insomniacs. We’ve already mentioned the benefits of Magnesium supplements at calming down the body and promoting sleep. But we can go further and affect the brain itself.

Binaural Beats take advantage of a unique phenomena that has been observed when exposing both ears to different auditory frequencies. This phenomena is called the frequency following response, meaning that as the ears pick up certain frequencies that coincide with natural brain wave frequencies or frequencies that the brain is capable of producing, the brain will begin to track into that frequency pattern. The brain wave frequencies are achieved by sending slightly eschewed frequencies to each ear. For example, the left ear may get 300Hz while the right gets 320Hz providing the brain with a 20Hz binaural beat. Generally 5.0Hz is used for thinking related tasks while the slower 1.5Hz is created for rest and calming effects. Headphones are required to listen to Binaural Beats as each ear piece is given a unique frequency.

The even more interesting part of this phenomena is what is observed to occur to the listener while they are being exposed to this binaural beat. States of rapid memory gain, easy focus, and deep relaxation have been observed in listeners. It is important to bear in mind that any kind of neurological or physiological effect is prone to placebo effects and personal biases.

From my experience listening to binaural beats, I’ve observed a difference in how I think while listening to the noise. Usually, I’ll implement this technology to get into a focused state if I’m working on a project that requires focus. The interesting part of my experience is after removing the binaural beat, the world feels off kilter as I get snapped back into a normal experience. In my opinion, the observation of this negative experience rules out a placebo effect, but make up your own mind.

Binaural beats are also highly effective at creating a calm state of relaxation. This will aid in the listeners ability to drift of to sleep and actually get the rest that is so vital to healthy living. It is possible to find samples of binaural beats on youtube.  There are also applications available on the iOS platform that mix the frequencies of interest with calming ambient sounds that can change the beats into something that is enjoyable to listen to.

Binaural Beat Recommendations

AmbiScience - iOS(free) & Android(free)

Pzizz - iOS (5.99) & Android (4.99)