Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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Category: Sleep

How to Get Fitter, Faster and Stronger with Quality Sleep

Ah, sleep. We all know how much we need it, mostly because when we don’t get enough, the world takes on a different, more negative hue. Lights seem brighter and sounds more vivid, and not in a good way. Perpetual fogginess clouds our thoughts, slurs our words, and prevents us from focusing on anything but the coffee pot timer. And then there’s the sleep deprivation research corroborating our experiences and explaining in lurid detail just how vital sleep is for our health. I’ve done my part in bringing this information to you, focusing for the most part on the metabolic health benefits of getting sufficient quality time with everyone’s sweet slumbery mistress. I’ve linked to articles discussing the links between poor sleep and ill liver health, disrupted metabolic function, and cancer. If you’re a regular reader of MDA, you’re probably aware of all this. Bad sleep can make you fat, sick, and prone to serious degenerative diseases.

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Dear Mark: ApoE4, Red Eye Recovery, TEDx Paleo Debunking, and Cough Drops

It’s Monday, which means it’s time for another edition of Dear Mark. This week, I’m covering four reader questions. First up is a really tricky one: ApoE4, the ancestral allele that’s classically associated with a host of maladies, like cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s. What’s the deal with it? We don’t have any concrete answers (yet), but I give my take on it. Next, I tell a reader who’s flying to Chile for vacation how I recover from travel-related sleep disturbances and realign my circadian rhythm. After that, I cover another paleo debunking that’s actually not much of a debunking, this time a TEDx video from Christina Warriner. And finally, I explore the eternal question of Halls cough drops, including whether or not any natural alternatives exist.

Let’s go.

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Dear Mark: Bad Sleep Tips, Cold Extremities, and Sweet Feed

In today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’ll be covering a trio of topics. First is a parent with a problem common to members of her species: enforced sleeplessness. She wants, nay, needs, help with amelioration of the situation. Normally, I’d say “get more sleep,” but the point is that getting adequate sleep isn’t always a choice. Next, I discuss some potential causes of, and strategies for, chronically cold extremities. Luckily for the reader, strategies for fixing cold extremities can be as enjoyable as eating more food, using more salt, and breathing more mindfully. Finally, I allay a reader’s concern with the “sweet feed” being used to supplement the mostly-grass-and-hay diet of the cows he hopes to eat.

Let’s go.

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10 Ways to Make Your Workplace Healthier and More Productive

For the most part, we all got into this Primal stuff to improve our own health and that of those close to us. Maybe we’re hoping to avoid the diabetes and heart disease that got our loved ones. Maybe we’re trying to lose a few pounds. Maybe we want to know what it’s like to walk ten miles without getting out of breath or having to coax our creaky joints out of their torpor. Whatever the motivation, we’re in this to make ourselves healthier and happier.

That’s how it starts. Once you reach your goals or even just begin to make headway, you notice everyone around you, especially the ones with visible health issues. It’s not that you’re looking down at them or that you’re superior in some way. You feel lucky enough to be privy to a secret is all, and you’d like to share what you know with the people around you – even strangers – who appear to be hurting unnecessarily. And your co-workers are no exception. Ah, co-workers. Many of us see these people more than our own spouses or children. We essentially live with them for eight hours a day. We learn their foibles, their habits, their quirks. In the best workplaces, our coworkers become a kind of family to us, and what do we do with family?

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Co-Sleeping: How to Do It Safely

Last week, I broached the topic of co-sleeping. The reception was almost unanimously positive, with plenty of you chiming in with your own c0-sleeping success stories. Before you toss the crib, however, realize that co-sleeping isn’t as simple as flopping down in bed with your baby and drifting off to sleep. Co-sleeping is a healthy, effective, and arguably “natural” way to raise independent children, but it must be done safely. Remember those studies I cited last week where co-sleeping was associated with infant deaths? Yeah, when co-sleeping is done poorly or incorrectly or unsafely, it becomes an effective way to harm children. Sadly, most parents no longer have access to the “village,” that treasure trove of knowledge full of parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and infinite cousins with parenting advice for days, so we read books, and articles, and magazines, and blogs for tips and knowledge. These aren’t the same, sure, but they are helpful in their own way. Certainly better than left to fend for ourselves.

So, how does one co-sleep safely?

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Dear Mark: Acrylamide, Sprint Alternatives, Gynoid Fat, and Adult Bed Sharing

In this week’s edition of Dear Mark, I’ll be covering three wide-ranging topics. First is acrylamide, the french fry toxin, the coffee carcinogen, the rat destroyer. It appears in almost every starchy item cooked or roasted at high heat, and it’s classified as a carcinogen. What do we do about it? Do we even have to worry about it? Next up are sprint alternatives for the person who loves to runny really fast every once in awhile but has a herniated disk that becomes aggravated shortly after said sprint. Sprinting is an important, beneficial activity, so long as you can do it pain and injury free, so I try to come up with a few worthy options. Then, I offer some advice to a man with gynoid – or lower body/hip/thigh – fat, most of which hinge on my suspicion that he’s low in free testosterone. Finally, I discuss the benefits – and drawbacks – of co-sleeping with your adult partner.

Let’s go:

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Co-Sleeping: The Risks and the Benefits

Co-sleeping, bed sharing, or whatever else you want to call it – is an abomination of a behavior that no self-respecting mammal engages in. If you don’t believe me, consider how other mammals handle their kids. You know the old can and string phones we used to make as kids? New chimpanzee parents will string a vine between two empty coconut shell halves, placing one half in the baby chimp’s nest in the next tree over and the other half in the parents’ nest, allowing them to monitor the baby’s cries and activity during the night. If the baby wakes up, they’ll swing on over to the other tree and produce a hairy teat until the little chimp quiets down. Then it’s back to bed. The first thing female voles do after giving birth is dig a separate hole in the ground where the infants will sleep. Same with gophers. Kangaroos are famous for their pouches, which for years researchers assumed the mothers used to keep their infants safe, with easy access to the nipples. But in actuality, the kangaroo pouch is used to store shrubs, grasses, various other edible plants, and boxing gloves, as well as cover up their breasts (kangaroos are incredibly shy and modest creatures).

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16 Things You Should Have Never Stopped Doing

As children, we live closer to our instincts. Yes, there’s the humorous and rather unfortunate side to this – like the time you ate an entire bag of Twizzlers and threw up all over your great-aunt’s carpet. In addition to the plethora of bad decisions (as if adults don’t make those too), however, there’s the extravagant daring and that amazing, irrepressible exuberance.

As adults, we might know better than to gorge on dye #40, but we’re tripped up by other things. We become distanced, detached from our instincts. The responsibilities, the schedule, the expectations surrounding our culture’s take on maturity can cast us out of the land of exuberance. It’s like we get gradually diverted to a boring Interstate stretch after traveling the scenic route. The road is efficient, utilitarian and might have nicer rest stops, but it often feels like a major letdown. What does it take to find our way back to the panoramas? What are the things we never should’ve stopped doing in the first place? I hope you add your own to the list. Let me throw out a few I’ve been thinking of today.

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Dear Mark: Seaweed Supplements, BMI and Mortality, and Sleep Versus Exercise

In today’s Dear Mark I discuss my favorite seaweed supplement, kelp granules, which aren’t really a supplement in the classic sense, but more of a food that you can treat as a supplement. Next, I give my thoughts on the latest study to suggest that an overweight BMI confers the lowest mortality risk in people. Finally, I handle a question from a parent currently trying to juggle sleep with exercise who wonders which to choose. It’s a tough question, to be sure, but I give my best attempt at a helpful, realistic answer.

Let’s get to it:

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7 Ways You Might Be Inadvertently Sabotaging a Good Night’s Sleep

Sleep is the cousin of death, wise men have said. Strange thought it may seem, though, avoiding this sometimes annoyingly-insistent-that-you-hang-out cousin will actually bring you closer to an early death. It’s not a pleasant thing to consider, but it’s the truth; bad sleep is associated strongly with early mortality, being overweight, having metabolic syndrome, and getting cancer. I’ve said it, your doctor says it, and anyone who’s ever had a bad night’s sleep and felt like death the next day will say it: sleep is absolutely essential to happiness, health, and longevity. On the positive side, there’s nothing quite so pleasurable as a good night’s sleep, from the initial application of one’s head to the pillow, to the insanely vivid dream-visions that descend upon you in the midst of it, to the peerless happiness and boundless energy you feel upon waking. Sleep’s the best, so you want to get it, and get it good.

You know it, of course. I harp on it enough. And chances are, you’re doing your part to get good sleep. But what if you can’t? What if sleep is bad, or inadequate, or unfulfilling? What might be causing it? Let’s find out.

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