How two Nobel Prizes about the circadian rhythm made me change my daily habits

Topic: Weekly and daily routines for optimal health and productivity in order to maximize your amount of life time fun

Nobel relevance: A series of Nobel Prizes has shed light on the adverse effects on metabolism (diabetes), heart disease, and cancer, that living out of synch with your circadian rhythm can have.

Summary: I have the luxury to schedule my days exactly how I like. Homeostatic and hedonistic tendencies could thus easily derail my long term capacity for joy and meaning (actually the same thing, as I explained here). It’s a good thing then that I let myself be inspired by science when I organize my days and weeks to get the most out of my time without limiting myself unnecessarily.

Conclusion: This is my way, but how do you organize your time in order to leave room for spontaneity while minimizing procrastination and time waste?

Book tip: Healthy routines are great, but breaking habits is a special kind of good. Explore that concept in Ludvig Sunström’s book Breaking Out Of Homeostasis (foreword by me here, and our podcast episode in Swedish about BOOH here).

On my way back home after a workout session (slightly hungover) — it’s dark but I have already had my two sessions of light therapy for the day

Tip #2: Sigma Nutrition Radio #209 on sleep

Tip #3: my recent short article on sleep


A steady daily drum beat of habits

…ensures a great quality of life, as well as top health and productivity

My weekly routine consists of lifting weights 4 days a week between 2-4 p.m., rounded off by a short sprint on the tread mill. The other three days I walk (5-10km/day with my dog — every day of course) and run (a couple of 5km runs a week).

Weekly schedule
Monday work, workout
Tuesday Think tank, long reading
Wednesday work, workout
Thursday work, workout
Friday Buffer
Saturday Free, experiences
Sunday work, workout

 

My daily routine is built around being in bed for 8 hours, between around 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., then walking an hour outside with my dog, then coffee around 9* while doing intellectual work (reading and writing) for about 4 hours, before having my first meal of the day and walking the dog again. Those 4 hours of “work” are scheduled on my Biological Prime Time for brain work. Fasting means I’ve got both more time and energy to do creative work. One possible explanation is that pre-historic man needed to become more active in order to find food after a period of fasting.

My 4-hour work day is more than enough to move my ten-twenty main projects forward.

* long story by me on coffee and adenosine here, and one on how to time your coffee intake and why here

Daily schedule
23-07:00 Bed
07:30-08:30 Dog walk = sun therapy
08:30-12:30 4 hours of writing, creative work, no meetings; my Bio Prime Time
12:30-13 Food (first meal), pre workout
13-13:45 Dog walk = sun therapy, still light in Sweden even in winter time
14-16:30 Lifting weights 4 days a week (running or whatever the other days)
17-18 Shower, food
18:00-19:30 1-2 hours of writing, creative work, scheduling
19:30-20:30 Dog walk
20:30-23 Last meal, downshifting, conversation, books, movies. Phone off at 21.

My workouts are not scheduled for optimal recovery (since I would need to go to the gym early in the morning for that, and I just can’t fit that comfortably into my sleep, dog walks and brain work schedule — something had to give).

Instead, pumping iron takes place in the afternoon, when my body temperature peaks, and I’m the most ready for peak physical performance (e.g., benchpressing 315 lbs, as I did in October 2017)

My early evenings are spent cooking and eating dinner with my girlfriend, then doing one extra hour of computer time around 6-8 p.m. I use that time for  finishing up, tying loose ends together and preparing for the next session and then I take the dog out one final time.

The last few hours (9-11 p.m.) before going to bed, we typically just relax and downshift together, sometimes just talking, sometimes watching a movie, TV-series or YouTube videos (book reviews, cosmology shows, philosophy lectures and so on — emphatically not cute cat videos and similar wastes of time — you can find examples of what I like here under YouTube Channels)


Take-aways from my daily schedule:

  • I sleep around 8 hours every night — this is the ultimate foundation for everything human
  • I don’t have coffee first thing in the morning; I wait at least an hour, usually two, between waking up and having my first cup. I’ve written an article before about why (less addiction, better effect) — also in line with taking care of my sleep first and foremost.
  • I fast (almost) every day between around 9 p.m. the day before and 1 p.m., i.e. 16 hours. (yes, I’m back to that schedule, thanks to re-shuffling my daily schedule, not least my workouts). TIP: consult Martin Berkhan at Leangains about the benefits of fasting (also supported by the latest Nobel Prize winner — Swedes should listen to these 19 minutes by Vetandets Värld about the circadian rhythm)
  • I am outside for 2×1 hours around 8 a.m. and 1.p.m. – not counting when going for runs or spending my “free” days outside – which gives me a healthy exposure to sunlight every day (good for Vitamin-D, for synching the circadian rhythm, for general well-being and more)
  • I do something physically exertive every day
  • I keep my phone in flight mode between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m.

Take-aways from my weekly schedule

Two of my non-lifting days are scheduled for respectively “LONG READING” (Tuesdays) and “EXPLORING” (Saturdays). The third one, Friday, is marked as a “BUFFER” day for catching up, for partying, for doing more or less whatever I feel like (as if I didn’t do that on all the other days).

On my three non-workout days I want exposure to new people, new ideas and new experiences. On my workout days I want to exhaust my body as well as move all my ongoing projects forward.


Final words

I’m not saying you should copy my schedule.

I’m not even saying you should make a schedule at all.

What I am saying, however, is that you could benefit from at least checking what your current de facto schedule actually looks like — and if you’re getting the things done you aim to get done in the allotted slots – if not, perhaps you should do some reshuffling.

When doing, do. When not doing, do not.


P.S. Order Ludvig’s book Breaking Out Of Homeostasis on Amazon before Christmas 2017 and get it for 9.99 USD

P.P.S. Don’t forget to write a review, no matter how short. Why? Why not? Share!


Relevant Nobel Prizes:

Nobel Prize 2017: Circadian rhythm

Nobel Prize 2016: Autophagy

Nobel Prize 2015: DNA repair

 

Forget the sunscreen song and focus on sleeping

Topic: the importance of sleep, not a bug but a feature

Length: short (3 minutes?)

Style: a friendly neighborhood spider reminder

Conclusion: Sleep forms the basis of the sleep-nutrition-physical health pyramid of power that’s a prerequisite for long term satisfaction and meaning of life, a.k.a. the Curiosity-Pattern recognition-Creativity-Perspective-Prediction-Procreation word cloud of True Purpose.

Bonus: my old article on how to cure Restless Legs Syndrome, a.k.a. Willis-Ekbom’s Disease (link to article)


What’s more important?

Food?

Freedom?

Health?

Love?

 

-Nope

 

It’s sleep


I recently wrote (link) about the meaning of life being perspective — a good enough perspective to learn, to appreciate, to experience and gain even more perspective, in order to predict, plan and procreate for an ever more comprehensive perspective, and so on.

I followed up (link) with a practical tip on how to gain that perspective through alternating exertion and recuperation.

Today, I’m taking the final step down Maslow’s hierarchy of needs — all the way down to sleeping.


If I could offer you only one tip for the future,

sunscreen sleep would be it


Do you sleep too little?

-The answer is probably yes, and you already know why:

  • You look at screens all day, from within minutes of waking up to within minutes of going to bed.
  • You sit all day. Indoors.
  • You eat processed food.
  • You drink more coffee and alcohol than you should, not to mention too late in the day (or night)

How would you know if you sleep too little?

That’s pretty easy:

  • Do you need an alarm to wake up?
  • Do you need coffee to wake up?

If so, you sleep too little.


What are some of the immediate dangers?

(see my previous articles below for more details)

Well, the worst side-effect of sleep deprivation is that it tends to lead you into behavior that will make you sleep even less. For example, it might make you drink more coffee and alcohol not to mention trying other kinds of medication. Most people also work out less and eat more junk when sleep-deprived, which both adversely affects the length and quality of sleep.

You’ll do just fine without, e.g., food for several weeks, but you’ll most likely go crazy or even die from sleep deprivation long before starving to death. That’s however not what I’m getting at. It’s more subtle and goes straight from the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy to the very top.

If you sleep enough, you’ll be more energetic, more creative, more ready and able to learn new things, better prepared to appreciate and assimilate new perspectives and so on. Enough sleep is the basis for every part of the Meaning Of Life word cloud:

Sure, the odd all-nighter here and there can actually add to your perspective, but going weeks on end with less than 6 hours a night isn’t good for anybody. And what’s it for anyway if you can’t appreciate the fruits of your labor due to being exhausted?

Aim for 8 hours of sleep per 24-hour cycle and make small changes in either direction until you find your optimum. Once you have no trouble falling asleep within 10 minutes of going to bed, and wake up well rested without an alarm you’re right on the money. Remember to hold off on the coffee for 1-2 hours after rising in the morning. Keep that schedule on weekends and vacations too if you can, and you’ll notice how your capacity for appreciation and innovation expands noticeably.


Conclusion: sleeping isn’t just for staying alive, it’s for living life

Sometimes it might seem as if we’re supposed to just barely take care of our physiological needs with 6 hours of sleep, polluted air, bleach-tasting tap water, junk food in the back of a car between job meetings, and so on, and still hope to reach peaks of self-actualization and transcendence. Good luck with that! What happens is everybody races to get “rich” while feeling like crap and just hoping it’ll be over soon.

NB: as little as one night of poor sleep lowers your immune defense system significantly. In addition sleep deficiency causes a stress response and inflammation that is thought to have a pathway to depression.

The key is to pay very good attention to the basics. Bliss is a side effect.

Sleep well and almost everything else lines up automatically, including better food and more energy for staying healthy. The triangle of power SLEEP-FOOD-BODY then acts as a force multiplier for your ability to LEARN, to be CREATIVE, to ADAPT, to stay CURIOUS, all of which are necessary, and probably enough as well, to become both HAPPY and SUCCESSFUL.

Again, sleep is not a bug, it’s a feature. It’s not something to take lightly and be done with as quickly as possibly. Instead, plan for sleep, enjoy it, take care of it as if it were a puppy or your baby.


Remember where you read this article (www.mikaelsyding.com), and tag a friend who sleeps too little.


Two of my previous articles on sleep

Why you should plan for sleep all day – and how

The 4-hour sleep schedule for highly effective and successful people

Why you should plan for sleep all day – and how

Length: short

Topic: how to structure your daily activities around sleep (manage and plan for sleep all day)

Executive summary: Sleeping is the holy grail, the fountain of youth. Sitting is to sleeping what the anti-Christ is to God; what sugar is to salmon.

People claim to know and understand how important sleeping is, but they do next to nothing more than pay lip service to the fact. This article tells you how you should start planning for next night’s sleep as soon as you get up (even before, really; no alarm)


Sleep is incredibly important

Sleeping too little affects your intelligence, concentration, memory, ability to learn and make decisions

full retard

So what?

Sleeping too little reduces the positive effects of working out (makes you less muscular, e.g.)

robot sprezzaturian

So what?

Sleeping too little increases the risk of diabetes, alzheimer’s, stroke, cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression etc.

butt of the joke

So what?

Sleeping too little hampers your will power and makes you hungrier, and more susceptible to hedonistic temptations (sugar, coffee, alcohol, TV, snacks). In short, you risk getting unhealthy and fat which make you sleep even worse. 

kju

So what?

Sleeping too little has adverse effects on your immune system

influenza

So what?

All of the above make it difficult to sleep, thus creating a vicious cycle, making you an increasingly fat, lazy, depressed and stupid, not to mention tired, version of yourself

So what?


You risk getting a cold if you sleep too little

Oh! My! God! Tell me what I should do.

sleep-better-2


Sleep enough

-start with the average need of 8 hours a night, wake up without an alarm and pay attention to how you feel. Then adjust from there.

Yes, yes, OK, but how?


Manage your sleep all day long

-This is where it gets really interesting

sleep-a

Take care of your sleep throughout the day:

  1. Eat right for your microbiome
    1. Your bacteria controls much of your behavior, immune system, sleep and hunger hormones etc., and your food governs the microbiome diversity
    2. Eat a varied and fiber rich diet of beans, leafy greens, fatty fish, nuts, fruits
  2. Manage your caffeine and alcohol intake
    1. Avoid caffeine much later than mid-day
    2. Don’t drink coffee too early in the morning
    3. use coffee for focus, not to force yourself awake when suffering from sleep deficit
    4. Alcohol ruins the quality of your sleep; don’t regularly drink alcohol close to bed time
  3. Expose yourself to sunlight, as much as possible during the day
    1. The circadian (=approximately a day) rhythm needs sunlight to function properly
      1. it’s also associated with early day DNA repair and the body’s daily battle against cancer
    2. Take walking meetings outside if possible
    3. Eat outside
  4. Avoid sitting
    1. Sitting is to sleeping what the anti-Christ is to God; what sugar is to salmon
    2. cardiovascular disease, neurological diseases, cognition, depression, etc. What sitting causes, sleep remedies 
  5. Lift weights, run and do mobility exercises
    1. Poor circulation, weak muscles, poor posture negatively affect your sleep, and can even cause Willis-Ekbom’s disease (restless legs – here is how to fix that by the way)
    2. Inactivity makes you apathetic but not sleepy
  6. Sleep enough
    1. Plan your day around sleep not the other way around; make room in your schedule for sleeping enough.
    2. …but refrain from taking too long naps during the day, if it affects your ability to sleep at night
    3. To really drive the point home, sleeping too little makes you mismanage points 1 to 5
      1. eating more sugar and bad fats; sleeping too little catalyzes “the munchies” through the same pathways as the use of cannabis
      2. drinking more coffee and alcohol
      3. staying inside (tired and apathetic and thus less prone to walk outside, less effective and consequently staying by the computer)
      4. sitting more
      5. skipping gym

sleep better


Here you’ll find an earlier post by me about sleep: 18 points to make you sleep better

And, if you’re Swedish, check out Styrkelabbet’s excellent podcast episode about sleep.

 


Summary

Start with your sleep requirements.

Then plan everything else around that, such as where to live (commute), what to eat and drink, work and meeting habits, screen time, choice of furniture, outdoor exercise routines.

Don’t turn sleep on its head, making it a mere residual of work, play and gluttony

my bitches

sleeping


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