Sleep is your friend.
And it’s a friend I’m willing to bet you don’t see enough of.
Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar and Survival is one of the most influential books in my nutritional and lifestyle philosophy. The gist is that we are designed to live in sync with nature and her seasonal shifts.
Think about it. In nature the season would dictate what food was available (see the Seasonal Food Calendar blog entry). The season would also dictate how much daylight there was, how much sleep we got and hence our activity levels.
Summer would mean lots of light for finding a mate (so that the child would be born in spring and hence miss the winter hardship) and lots of carbs for putting on fat ready for winter. Winter would spell a lack of carbs and less daylight. Less daylight and colder temperatures would mean less carbs, more sleep and leaning out ready for spring/summer again.
Where We’re Going Wrong
What happens today is that Carbs are available all year round in devasatingly refined forms, light bulbs mean that WE control daylight and our sleep patterns completely out of kilter with the season.
This is not good.
As far as our bodies are concerned it’s permanent summer!! Long days of light mean we crave Carbs – is it any wonder?! Our bodies are trying to fatten us up for winter!
If you look at the chart above, the blue line is the changing number of hours of daylight throughout the year.
There’s a pretty dramatic shift from 8 hours mid-Winter to 16+ hours mid-Summer.
The Solution (More Than Just Sky+)
The upshot of this is that from mid-September to mid-April, you should be getting ATLEAST 9-10 hours sleep per night and eating a low-carb diet. As summer rolls around, stay up late and increase carbs.
9-10 hours sounds like a lot, but in reality it’s going to be at 10pm and getting up at 7am – not that unreasonable.
If you’re worried about missing stuff on TV, get SKY+. If you’re just channel surfing, then go to bed – or read a book (late night reading will make you sleepy, trust me)
Oh yeah, and that should be in a PITCH BLACK room with any blinking, flashing clocks or lights covered. This will ensure your body releases the right hormones to optimise recovery and health.
Sooner or later, we’ll discuss a little more how to optimise sleep itself, but for now, go black out your windows and get some shut-eye