For all the unchecked randomness in this world, there are at least some things you can count on. The sun always rises and it always gets dark, and that’s something life – all life – has learned to rely on. Our internal clocks, known as circadian rhythms, tend to match up with this established external cycle. In essentially all known forms of life, from the earliest cells and bacteria to plants and mammals, the circadian rhythm is characterized by a period of around 24 hours.
You might recall a previous MDA series on how blue light can affect our circadian rhythms, and what we can do to maintain normal, natural levels and timing of blue light exposure. Long story short – it turns out that our exposure to blue light is akin to exposure to daylight, and getting too much – or too little – at the wrong times can disrupt our natural circadian rhythm and affect the quality of our sleep by changing when melatonin is secreted in our bodies. In other words, blue light is a major human zeitgeber (the ten-dollar word of the day); an exogenous cue that synchronizes our internal clock. But it’s not just light that affects our circadian rhythms.
Dust mites are everywhere. They are true survivors, able to make it in virtually all climates and at any altitude. They thrive, however, in our homes, especially bedrooms, enjoying the humidity generated by all the breathing, perspiring, and drooling we do at night and feeding on all the skin flakes we produce. For these tiny creatures, we’re living, breathing humidifier-refrigerator-landlords who charge extremely competitive rates. Why wouldn’t they infest us?
In the last couple weeks we’ve taken a look at sleep posture, how to improve it, and modern bedding. Today we’ll take a closer look at your mattress, investigating what may be lurking inside and what you can do about it.
The massive, California king body-molding Tempurpedic mattress that can balance a glass of Cab even as the red-faced TV pitchman hops up and down on it on his way to the next infarction, is a recent invention. Our ancestors were not hauling these massive things from kill site to kill site. They made do with mats, or piles of leaves, or animal skins, or even just the bare ground, and they – by and large – managed to avoid the musculoskeletal disorders that plague modern sedentary man. Should we follow suit, ditching our sumptuous sleeping setups for something more Spartan? Are health benefits conferred by slumbering on something Grok would recognize? Or put another way, are our beloved pillow-topped mattresses doing more harm than good?
Yesterday, I posited that it’s not so much the bedding that matters in making for rejuvenating, nourishing sleep, but rather our sleeping position/posture. Man is the supreme adaptor, having proven himself capable of surviving in just about any natural environment, no matter the climate, topography, and available selection of edibles – and our bedding is no different. Of course, there is a limit to our adaptability. We couldn’t survive in the Antarctic or get a good night’s sleep in a mud pit. Thriving in the current food environment is definitely doable, but, as you well know, it takes a lot of effort to make it work. Luckily, we aren’t dealing with hydrogenated mattresses or high-fructose pillows, so the bedding situation isn’t so dire.
You can keep it pretty simple, in fact: if you’re getting good, pain-free sleep already, hacking isn’t necessary. Just keep doing what you’re doing and keep the bed you’ve got. (Keep reading, though.)
Since you’ve gone Primal all sorts of strange questions pop into your head. And since you’ve gone Primal life has definitely changed. You wore Vibrams to your last shareholder meeting. The idea of skipping two, or heck, three consecutive meals, seems perfectly reasonable, and your idea of a frozen treat is that local, pastured lamb you’ve got sitting in your chest freezer, deconstructed. You’re even toying with the idea of ditching shampoo. Sheesh. To outsiders, you’re that weird caveman guy who eats steak for lunch and keeps a jar of coconut oil at his desk and thinks he’s living in the Paleolithic, but really, you’re just someone who’s discovered that keeping an ear, an eye, and a foot in our ancestral past makes living in the present that much more fulfilling – and healthy.
But how far do you go? What about sleeping? (Here come those questions…) Should we care how and upon what type of bedding Grok slumbered?
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