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The Primal Blueprint for Busy People – Part 1: Sleep and Stress

Last week we took on the eternal “no time” excuse in our “No Better Time than the Present [1]” 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.

In truth, we’ve done “on the run” posts before with tips on “Primal Pronto” food [2] and exercise [3], and they’ve been among our most popular. Last week’s comments got us thinking then, why not expand the field? Here’s the first (or third actually) in a series that will put the PB into hyperdrive. Quick, cut to the chase, on the button, effective strategies for living all the PB laws – conveniently constructed with a hectic life in mind. Although the Primal Blueprint [4] is itself designed for efficiency – the most bang for your buck and power for your hour, we all find ourselves in particularly tight circumstances now and then. Work picks up the pace. We add another child to the family. We take on another job or a big volunteer position. We take care of an ailing family member or friend. Real life hits us with a one-two punch that can send us reeling – and send us back to the drawing board to fit in taking care of ourselves.

Inherent in the “on the run” discussion are questions surrounding time management, personal priorities and obligation overload. Sometimes an honest look at our schedules can be revealing. How much time do we spend on “must-see” T.V.? Can we condense errands during the week? How about reasonably handing off responsibilities or chores? A few nips and tucks in the schedule book can open time slots we never dreamed we’d have. Furthermore, logical overlapping (i.e. multi-tasking) can free up additional blocks in the day. We do our best to balance responsibilities against the clock and peel away what obligations we can. In doing so, simple revisions reveal that we actually have ample time for all our health goals. Nonetheless, for the days when we’ve exhausted time management strategies, there are plenty of ways to make the PB work for you.

As mentioned, we’ve covered Primal “pronto” food and workouts. Next in the lineup – lifestyle issues that get to the very heart of hectic living itself – sleep and stress. Sure, good food and lots of activity, you’ll find, go a long way in both of these areas. Eating right gets you off the blood sugar rollercoaster. Exercising gets you out of the sluggish stupor. However, even the most hardcore among us can still hit the wall when nighttime falls or the daily tensions mount. Look no more! PB stress and sleep strategies (15 minutes or less) for the busiest of Primal people….


We’d all love to get our recommended 8-9 hours of shut eye every night, but the reality is for many of us that we’re not fully in control of our own schedules. We work the swing shift and then have family duties that cause us to fit in what sleep hours we can. Parenting duties keep us up into the night. A long commute means getting up earlier than we should. If we simply can’t get the recommended hours in, we’re left with essentially two approaches to the sleep question: supplementing our sleep with other rest periods and maximizing the sleep we can get.

What about those of us who conscientiously devote our eight hours to rest but then hit the roadblock once our head hits the pillow? Just as our bodies slip into the soothing comfort of cool sheets, our minds suddenly spring awake and won’t turn off. The hours become a scramble of thoughts as you lay there turning over conversations, project schedules, financial anxieties, parenting questions, relationship issues, etc. (Turns out it’s hard to check your busy person’s energy at the bedroom door.) Unconsciousness quickly seems like an unattainable splendor. When your mind won’t observe bedtime, what can you do?


The words we attach to stress tell oodles about our varying attitudes. We “manage” our stress – actively attempt to organize it, contain and mold it as if it’s a force to be led. We wear ourselves out in an ironic battle for psychic balance. On the other hand, we look for stress relief, a dodge, an escape, a stepping in of some elusive outside force that lifts the psychic weight. It seems we’re either white-knuckling our attempt to beat back stress with a stick or passively hoping to be saved from it. What are some realistic, time efficient ideas for genuinely revising our relationship with stress: restoring our sense of agency while realigning our perception of what we can (or should) control? Settling into this kind of personal homeostasis takes time and practice, but there are indeed short steps you can take every day along that path.

It’s just the tip of the iceberg, folks. We’ll turn it over to you now to fill in your thoughts. What do you do to unwind for stress or sleep? Thanks for your comments.