The time change pretty hit me hard this year. I’ve noticed that as I age I value my sleep more and more. When I was in my 20s and 30s I use to be able to get by on about 6 hours of sleep each night. Now if I don’t get at least 8 hours I pay for it. What’s the deal? Is this just part of getting older?
What’s one lost hour of sleep when getting over the hump of daylight savings time? It might not seem like much, but as I’ve noted before, time changes wreak a special havoc over everything from traffic accidents to workman’s comp filings. (Add the stock market and heart attack rates to this inspiring picture.) Truth be told, however, many of us were delinquent long before the recent changeover. Maybe the switch was simply the last straw in a long term bout of sleep deprivation. Anyone? (You know who you are.) We know we feel like hell warmed over when we make a habit of skipping out on zzzzs. We justify it, minimize it, though, by telling ourselves that it can’t be so bad if caffeine and a shower can cure us before we walk out the door in the morning. Some latest research says different. When we do without solid sleep, we decrease our ability to process even moderate levels of oxidative stress – the arch enemy of the Primal Blueprint of course. The impact, as observed by Oregon State University researchers, leads to faster aging and measurable neurological decline.
Most people are at least cursorily familiar with the concept of the circadian rhythm. For those who aren’t, the circadian rhythm refers to our internal, approximately 24-hour cycle of biochemical, physiological, and behavioral processes. Every living thing, from fungus to bacteria to plant to animal, has a circadian rhythm. External cues called zeitgebers (what a great word, huh?) help synchronize or alter our rhythms; they include temperature, nutrition, meal timing, social interactions pharmacological interventions (medicines, drugs), and, most prominently, the light/dark cycle of the earth.
If you ask people whether “falling back” or “springing forward” hits them hardest, most will say spring. (I’m in this camp also.) I’ll admit that I love the extra hour of sleep in fall but dread the reverse a few months later. Switching the clock (in either direction) can leave you feeling oddly displaced, like you’re never where you’re supposed to be at any given time. The world is going about its business in the usual routine, but something feels off. For some people, sleep is the area hardest hit and the last thing to finally adjust. I get emails pretty frequently about sleep. For some readers, it’s the final frontier in their Primal conversion. Not surprisingly, time changes (both fall and spring) seem to inspire more emails on this front. To summarize the batch, a lot of people feel thrown for a couple of weeks and struggle somewhat to keep their energy up while they transition their sleep schedules.
College students and healthy lifestyle. On the one hand it seems like the ultimate contradiction. Pizza boxes, Red Bull cans, Doritos bags, beer bottles, Captain Crunch at every cafeteria meal. They’re as much a cultural vision of college as John Belushi’s sweatshirt. If there were a Primal no man’s land, you’d think the residential campus experience would at least be a top contender. Nonetheless, college needn’t be the physical wasteland it’s made out to be. And, let’s be honest: most students do not really live/eat/drink this way. As many students exercise regularly and eat decently as send their bodies through the wringer during their college careers. Nonetheless, campus living is its own kind of existence, and it presents its own challenges for maintaining a Primal routine. Not surprisingly, I get emails from college readers asking for tips on how to live a healthy lifestyle. Here’s one:
Last week we took on the eternal “no time” excuse in our “No Better Time than the Present” post, and we were thrilled by the response. Readers offered their own efficiency strategies as well as continuing challenges for fitting in all their Primal goals. Busy. Hectic. Maybe a few moments of frantic thrown in there. It seems most of us fit into this category these days – some voluntarily, some not so much. Life just won’t slow down. In response we’re always looking to get more done in less time.
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