I’ve long been a confirmed member of the 6 hours or less sleep club which I hadn’t thought was a big deal until my recent dive into healthy lifestyles. I was looking into ways to get rid of the last of the fat around my middle when I started to bump into the role of cortisol in fat deposition around your waist. Cortisol is a hormone that is released in response to stress. Unfortunately your body sees amounts of caffeine in excess of about 300 mg as a stress, as it also does for inadequate amounts of sleep.
I found the video below entertaining and also a little alarming, particularly this
‘subjects who slept just six hours a night for 14 days had the cognitive wherewithal of someone with a .1% blood alcohol level. That’s legally drunk.’
Starting by measuring what my normal night was using an UP24 band I then experimented to find ways to get me closer to 7 hours of sleep a night. Here are some of the things that seem to have an impact for me.
Get some exercise – who hasn’t had the experience of seeing parents running their kids around in the hope that they will get tired out and sleep that night? It works for adults too? Implementing a regular exercise routine can really help stablise sleeping patterns. Just make sure that you’re not exercising just before bed. The elevation in body temperature can potentially be counter productive.
Chill out – I’ve found that I need the temperature to be below 72F and ideally around 70F for me to be able to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Cut back on the stimulants – Avoid doing things before bed that wind you up, no coffee, exercise or things such as high intensity video games.
Eliminate screen time – the ever present screen – iPhone, iPad, laptop etc. inhibits melatonin production which makes it harder to fall asleep. Turn off the screens 30 – 60 minutes before bed
Review your plan for the following day – an hour or so is a good time to do a brain dump of all the ideas that a swirling around and to clarify next actions for them. This is also a good time to review your schedule for the next day to make sure that you have everything that you need for the day and to determine what is a must do for the day.
While we often know that we should do something we often don’t because there’s not enough pain involved. There’s no compelling reason for change. Tim Ferris relates a story in the Four Hour Body about the moment Chad Fowler realized a need for and committed to his transformation. That it happened on the street in the Harjuku district of Tokyo gave rise to the name. Here’s how Tim Ferris describes it:
So the harajuku moment refers to very specifically a story by Chad Fowler or related to Chad Fowler. So here’s a case study in the book, kicks ass in every possible way. Professionally, he’s a computer programmer, runs a number of very famous conferences in the tech world and he was in Japan shopping for clothing with a number of friends and he was very overweight and he and one other person ended up sitting on the sidewalk and he said, “Yeah. It doesn’t matter what I buy anyway so I’m not going to look good at it”. And there’s this awkward mood of silence like, “Wow, I really just say that?” And he realized that that at point in time, how painful it was to be overweight. And that was his harajuku moment.
I had my own moment similar to that described above in December of last year. For the first time in a long time I saw the person that I had physically become rather than the mental image of who I was. That was enough to kick start the process of change for me.
What if you had an equally compelling reason that guided all of your actions, that pulled you through life? What we’re talking about here is knowing what your purpose is, what you stand for. Have you ever stopped to think about that? Or is it already clear for you?
Forgive me if I’m in danger of beating this horse to death but my recent weight-loss success has made me wonder if the same approach that I used for weight loss could be used to affect transformation in other parts or my life – personal finance and creativity/photography being just two areas of interest.
In many ways losing weight was easy – Tim Ferris had done much of the heavy lifting for me already. Tim Ferris is the author of the ‘Four Hour’ Series of books – Four hour work week, four hour body, four hour chef. The titles are super cheesy and I must admit that I read the four hour work week with a high level of skepticism. Certainly for someone like me it’s hard to imagine how I could engineer to work remotely, managers after all serve the people that report into them and so to do that job effectively you need to be available to help with whatever’s going on. In any case, Ferris’s books are case studies in learning. How to subvert the established way of doing things and get maximal results for minimal amounts of effort. Once you cut through to this central idea his books get much more interesting.
My weight loss started with the slow carb diet that Ferris describes in detail in his book Four Hour Body and which is described briefly here. I had to make some changes to make this work for me – breakfast for me has to be a quick and easy affair even the quick breakfast wasn’t fast enough and microwaved spinach made me gag. I ended up with convenience foods for breakfast (a protein shake from Biotrust) and lunch (Cliff Protein Builder Bars) and then real food for dinner. I then took the same basic diet and applied Barry Sears Zone Diet to it – 40% carbs, 30% Fats, 30% protein. This involved weighing and measuring everything that I ate to make sure I was ‘in the zone’. Finally I began a strength, metabolic conditioning and mobility program that has me moving 6 days a week.
So here’s what I did:
* Followed a template that had been previously shown to work
* Experimented with the template to find something that worked for me
* Made small changes to my behavior, worked with them for two weeks and then incorporated additional changes for the next two weeks
* Measured my progress in as many ways as I possibly could
* Engaged accountability partners that supported, cajoled and encouraged me
While there aren’t easy to follow templates for everything that I want to work on there is a remarkable amount of information available making it possible to build case studies in the way that Tim Ferris has done for whatever you’re interested in. As I continue to explore this I’ll be sure to post more here.
In the meantime – What are you working on? What transformation would you like to make but are stuck with? Have you made a successful transformation? Did you use the steps outlined above? Something different? Any key practices to share? I’d love to hear about it.