Sunday, March 7, 2010
Today, a subject I rarely, if ever, see touched upon by the Paleo- and Primal Bloggers. Naps. For the past few years, I have become an increasingly large fan of napping. I've gone through a few periods where my work and workout schedules didn't permit the commonly endorsed 8-straight plan but left me a nice bit of time sometime in the 2-6 p.m. hours to get some shuteye. I found myself feeling more alert, energetic, with better digestion and emotional contentment when I made up for a missing a couple of hours overnight with 35-50 minutes in the afternoon. Several anthropological accounts I've read talk about so-called Stone-Age peoples napping a few times during the day while getting a very sub-8 hours of shuteye over night.
I'm certainly not condoning one of the extreme polyphasic sleep regimens that suggests you take a 20 minute nap 6 times a day and forgo all other sleep. I have heard both claims of success with those and hilarious stories of extreme failures, but nothing in our evolutionary history suggests this is ideal or optimal.
The bottom line, however, is that sleep is one of the most important and most overlooked factors of our health and well-being. Whether you feel better from sleeping all night and being awake for 15 or 16 hours straight, or prefer to supplement a shorter overnight-sleep with a few naps (which I do condone trying), neglecting your body's need for sleep results in what I believe to be a total state of disaster for your body. Studies show that lack of sleep leads to weight gain and impaired cognition, among other problems. Let me put it this way, you're way better off skipping a few hours at the gym than skipping a few hours of sleep.
On another topic, I've recently moved and have told many that I'm looking for a standing-height desk to work at (I think I remember Richard Nicolay posting about using an adjustable-height work bench) so I'm not sitting down any time I'm at the computer. Here comes the science.
One final note. Arteriosclerosis a/k/a atherosclerosis is almost always alleged as the work of saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet. As he so often does, Peter at Hyperlipid presents a theory that makes better sense of the data (and that I had to do a lot of dictionary work to understand, but I got the gist).
Hope that wasn't too wordy for you. I am trying to keep bringing up interesting topics, but I can always use more comments and suggestions to let me know how I'm doing and what else you'd like me to look into or discuss my experiences with.