The popular story of how low-carb diets work goes something like this: Reducing your carbohydrate...
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...Tell Me More
“Today, instead of experiencing a mellow and graceful transition to sleepiness during the evening hours, our exposure to artificial light after sunset kicks off a chain reaction of adverse hormonal events. Artificial light and digital stimulation after dark suppress the release of melatonin, the hormone that makes us feel sleepy in the evening (a process known as dim light melatonin onset, or DLMO). In tandem, we experience a spike in the primary stress hormone cortisol. Initially, cortisol floods the bloodstream with glucose, giving us a ‘second wind’ to stay awake and finish our emails or Netflix series binge.”
For anyone who’s experienced it, the frustration can be miserable. The countless tossing and turning, the minutes that tick by (turning into hours), and you STILL haven’t gotten a modicum of decent sleep. No matter how hard you try to ignore it, that urge to constantly move or stretch your legs just won’t let up.
Restless legs syndrome (RLS), aka Willis-Ekbom disease, affects a decent chunk of the population: thought estimates vary wildly, this 2017 representative survey places its prevalence between 5.7 and 12.3% of the population. That’s up to around 40 million people in the U.S. alone who go to bed every night knowing they’ll likely be kept awake for hours with that unrelenting, restless sensation.
Over the course of a day’s hike or in a sudden wonderstruck moment, many of us have felt the edges of our selves dissolve into the wild that surrounds us. We become unconsciously “of” our environments. Shedding the insular, constraining cages of our everyday hyperrationality—the mental chatter, the rigid expectations, and inevitable tension and failures that accompany them—identities and desires evaporate into the senses. For a time, we become raw awareness. The heightening of the senses alone can feel like a kind of animalistic thrill.
There are many reasons to be thankful for the cushy existence modernity affords us. War and other extenuating circumstances aside, you probably don’t fear for your life on a daily basis. You have clean water to drink. Food is widely available, and it’s affordable. You survived infancy, childhood, and adolescence, which is quite special on a historical scale.
But there are downsides. Food has gone industrial. We increasingly live our lives in the digital realm and ignore the physical. Perhaps the most recent change relative to that shift has been the physical neutering of our kids. This has happened more broadly across all ages as countries shift away from manual labor toward more of an information economy, but it’s become incredibly pronounced in the generation coming up. At least when I grew up kids still wandered the streets in search of adventure, testing themselves out physically, undergoing mental and physical challenges, breaking bones and straining muscles, and learning about movement from the best teacher of all—hands on experience. Now? The lucky ones will get gymnastics or martial arts or dance training a couple days a week. But most languish indoors, prevented from the kind of free-form exploratory play human children have enjoyed for thousands of generations.
Last week’s Q&A about cultivating wildness was a lot of fun, but there were some questions I didn’t get to in the original post. Today, I’m going to answer some more. From stirring stories of a father and son pursuing and living their dream after experiencing extreme tragedy to how to go barefoot more safely to the balance between creativity, progress, and Primal values to accepting the reality (and beauty) of having work to do to the value of sun exposure in winter to circadian entrainment. In short, we’re covering a ton of ground today.
Last month, you asked a ton of great questions in the comment section of my post on reclaiming your wildness and being less civilized, covering everything from rock climbing to role playing games, grappling to kung fu, walking meditation to grounding. For today’s post, I’m answering as many of them as I can.
Let’s get right to the questions.