Author Topic: How to apply Hormesis to Sleep  (Read 10394 times)

Offline Soylent Red

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Re: How to apply Hormesis to Sleep
« Reply #15 on: May 12, 2011, 07:42:58 AM »
This is true - I suppose my point relates more to agricultural societies. Even more so in times of feudalism when so many struggled to survive and pay tax.

Soylent,

I'm sure that they worked more some times and less others. If they were building or moving, then that would consist of more work. But if everything was all set, then there would be no more work than the effort involved in getting food. In an ecosystem which humans have not tempered with severely (where contemporary hunter-gatherers live), food tended to be easy to come by. Think about the plains bison. Various accounts before overfishing say that during migration catching fish was so easy you could do it with your hands. Tubers and fruits are both easy to come by when they are in season. Etc.

Offline thomas_seay

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Re: How to apply Hormesis to Sleep
« Reply #16 on: May 12, 2011, 08:15:23 AM »
Hunter-Gatherers were nomadic, no permanent housing.  I used to have this idea (probably subtly drilled into my head during elementary school) that the move to agriculture was highly advantageous.  I don't think that anymore.  Please read this short essay by Jared Diamond, http://www.ditext.com/diamond/mistake.html about why agriculture was such a disaster for humans.

Offline Todd Becker

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Re: How to apply Hormesis to Sleep
« Reply #17 on: May 28, 2011, 10:06:01 PM »
Do you think it is possible to apply hormesis towards sleeping better?

I like your idea of trying to become better at sleeping.....However, I'm not sure if hormesis can really work for this. Hormesis is basically adaptation to moderate stress. I know from my personal experience that being stressed in any way is the worst way to try to sleep.

I have two alternative proposals for you. First, I know that I sleep best when I am either really tired or sleep deprived. However, that does not seem sustainable in the long term and definably also not something that traditional societies did.

This topic really interests me, Thomas and Shadowfoot.  Besides your raising it here, I've heard the same question from several others.

I've heard two suggestions from others that make a lot of sense.  They both relate to your suggestion, Shadowfoot of the stressors of being either really tired or sleep deprived.  But I think they utilize these "stressors" in a very specific and focused way that I think may be quite sustainable.

The first suggestion comes from Seth Roberts' experiments with standing.  He first found that the more time he spent standing, the better he slept.  But he found it impractical to stand for the length of time needed to be effective, so he developed a modified protocol of "standing on one leg".  At first, this sounds hilariously odd, but Seth found that only 8 minutes of standing on one is enough to improve his sleep!

http://quantifiedself.com/2011/03/effect-of-one-legged-standing-on-sleep/

The second suggestion comes from Derek Haswell and Ben Rubin.  Ben started a company named Zeo, that makes a cool sleep monitor that I've been using for about a month. Derek works with Zeo as well.  I share with Ben and Derek an interest in hormesis and self-monitoring.  I met with both of them this week and Derek brought up what I thought was an ingenious application of hormesis to overcoming insomnia.  It's a technique called sleep restriction therapy:

http://www.sleepdex.org/restriction.htm
http://geronj.oxfordjournals.org/content/46/1/P1.short
http://www.smrv-journal.com/article/S1087-0792(01)90246-1/abstract

The therapy consists of initially restricting the hours of sleep to a very defined, late window of time.  So if your bedtime is normally, say 10 p.m. and you wake at 6 am. (after sleeping poorly, i.e. with delayed onset of sleep or frequent waking), you delay your bedtime a few hours, say until midnight, but still set your alarm and wake at  6 a.m. If that doesn't do the trick, you keep delaying your bedtime gradually and shortening your sleep until you finally get a good sleep.  If you are tired or drowsy during the day, you just cope with that.  But once you are able to sleep through the night, you gradually start going to bed again earlier until your sleep normalizes and you are also well rested during the day.

Studies suggest that sleep restriction therapy is quite effective.  And it is an almost perfect example of hormesis -- applying a stress or stimulus that is opposite in direction to the ultimate outcome you are seeking.  The body responds with an adaptation to the stimulus -- in this case normalized sleep.  And as with any good application of hormesis, drugs and artificial remedies are avoided, while the organism itself adapts to become more functional.

I also recommend the Zeo sleep monitor.  You wear a comfortable headband with a monitor that transmits your brainwaves to an "alarm clock" that records your sleep state (waking, light sleep, REM or deep sleep).  You can analyze your sleep patterns on a PC or iPhone and compare your sleep behavior over time or with norms for your age and gender.  Just like blood glucose monitoring, it is a great ajunct to self-experimentation.  I may blog about what I'm finding in the future once my thinking congeals a bit.

So trying standing on one leg or going to bed later!

Todd
 
« Last Edit: May 28, 2011, 10:09:45 PM by Todd Becker »

Offline Todd Becker

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Re: How to apply Hormesis to Sleep
« Reply #18 on: June 26, 2011, 12:58:36 PM »
To follow on my previous comments, I've added a post to my blog about Sleep Restriction Therapy to treat insomnia.  There is a YouTube video that chronicles one person's success -- those of you with sleep issues may find it to be of interest.

Offline shadowfoot

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Re: How to apply Hormesis to Sleep
« Reply #19 on: June 27, 2011, 05:15:09 AM »
Todd,

I was a little bit skeptical when you first posited this theory, but I think it was simply that I did not fully understand the protocol. Your blog post does a very good job of explaining it. I like the video too. I will forward this to a friend I know who might benefit. Honestly Todd, you are way ahead of the curve bringing all this research together in an accessible format. Thank you.

Offline Patrea

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Re: How to apply Hormesis to Sleep
« Reply #20 on: June 29, 2011, 11:58:20 PM »
Great post Todd and excellent information, including the video. It certainly works for me. I would only add that I have a cold shower immediately prior to bed as lowering body temperature seems to help the process.