Author Topic: How to apply Hormesis to Sleep  (Read 10269 times)

Offline thomas_seay

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How to apply Hormesis to Sleep
« on: May 02, 2011, 11:19:51 AM »
Sleep has been my "Achilles' heel" throughout my adult life.  Usually "sleep hygiene" is recommended.  You know.  Drink caffeine early in the day, if at all.  Sleep in a cool room, in COMPLETE darkness.  Go to bed at a regular time and get up at the same time, even on weekends.  However, it would appear that our ancestors did not sleep under such pristine conditions.  Check out this interesting article http://www.sciencenews.org/sn_arc99/9_25_99/bob2.htm

"Adult sleepers in traditional societies recline on skins, mats, wooden platforms, the ground, or just about anything except a thick, springy mattress. Pillows or head supports are rare, and people doze in whatever they happen to be wearing. Virtually no one, including children, keeps a regular bedtime. "

Do you think it is possible to apply hormesis towards sleeping better?  Or do you think that as adults our habits are too solidified and that any experiments in this direction would only harm sleep?  Is pitch black truly optimal or should we only eliminate blue light?  As children we were all a little afraid of being in complete darkness.  Usually we were comforted by some light in the room...also a little noise was welcome.  Maybe sleeping outside on the ground now and then would be a good idea.  One could wear "blue-blocking" sunglasses (the kind used by people with macular degeneration) to keep out street light.  

Offline shadowfoot

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Re: How to apply Hormesis to Sleep
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2011, 05:13:26 AM »
I like your idea of trying to become better at sleeping. It appears as though we truly are quite bad at it -- we need darkness, silence, etc and still don't sleep well. 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. The other angle, which makes the most sense to me, is body state. I haven't really done much research in this area, so maybe someone else can add in specifics, but certain hormone imbalances of catacolamines, cortisol, seratonin, etc would certainly lead to trouble sleeping and getting those back in their proper amounts would solve any issues.

Another angle is light. I know that traditional societies often woke in the night and slept in the day, but possibly maintaining a natural rhythm of light and dark (not using many electric lights) can help the body "reset."

In regards to sleeping on less than comfortable surfaces, I have done that quite a few times in the past and it really just takes a little bit of adaptation. After a few nights you don't really notice any more.


Offline aelephant

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Re: How to apply Hormesis to Sleep
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2011, 04:11:54 AM »
What problems do you have sleeping?

Offline thomas_seay

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Re: How to apply Hormesis to Sleep
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2011, 03:28:32 PM »
What problems do you have sleeping?

I usually have no problems falling asleep. However, I do wake up in the middle of the night and find it difficult to fall back to sleep.  This leaves me tired and foggy-headed the following day. 

Offline shadowfoot

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Re: How to apply Hormesis to Sleep
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2011, 04:23:31 AM »
There is evidence that traditional societies, i.e. those without electricity, commonly slept in two phases during the night with an hour or two of wakefulness in between. Check out this article http://www.livescience.com/12891-natural-sleep.html. I hope it helps.

Offline thomas_seay

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Re: How to apply Hormesis to Sleep
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2011, 06:03:26 AM »
Shadow, I am aware of that type of bi-phasic sleep.  In fact, I commonly get up for an hour or so each night and just "hang out".  My "first sleep" is good, but my "second sleep" is not.  I wake up very often feeling unrested.

Offline aelephant

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Re: How to apply Hormesis to Sleep
« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2011, 06:31:30 AM »
I would try not to force it and see what happens.

Do you have work or a hobby you could work on in the morning hours so that they aren't "wasted"? I'd try just getting up after the first sleep and acting as if you were done for the night. If you get tired later on, you sleep. If not, you stay up until it is time to get up. The worst thing that happens to me when I'm sleep deprived is that I sleep better the next day. Might be worth a shot.

Offline thomas_seay

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Re: How to apply Hormesis to Sleep
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2011, 08:18:22 AM »
Aelephant, your suggestion may be worth a shot.  I get up after my first sleep with the intention of going back to bed.  Even though I try not to get anxious about going back to sleep, I probably am on some level.  So maybe if I just got up and did something interesting (rather than focusing on getting back to sleep), I would eventually get really tired and fall back to sleep.

Here's a question.  Usually I sit in the dark in the interval between first and second sleep.  If I turn on lights to do something am I going to disrupt melatonin?  Maybe I should do it in candlelight.  What do you think?

Offline shadowfoot

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Re: How to apply Hormesis to Sleep
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2011, 08:48:48 AM »
Blue light could easily disrupt melatonin and cause your body to think that it is really morning. In that case, you will never get back to bed. So probably using only a weak light, or a candle, or installing f.lux on your computer (what I use) is the best bet.

Offline Soylent Red

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Re: How to apply Hormesis to Sleep
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2011, 10:23:02 AM »
I would argue that the lifestyle of people in these 'traditional' societies was radically different from our own. For example, the 8 hour working day - this is a luxury that people struggling to survive didn't have.

Looking back to when I was in the cadets, or more recently when I was at the gym training for 2 hours a day after a 10 hour working day.. I would sleep like a stone through the night. In contrast, back when I was just starting out at university and did very little all day, everyday - I experienced very disturbed sleep. I would say our ability to sleep in less than perfect situations is determined by how active we are in the day - unless you have a condition like insomnia..


Offline thomas_seay

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Re: How to apply Hormesis to Sleep
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2011, 04:32:36 PM »
Shadowfoot, I have a pair of those sunglasses that block out blue light (the same type that are worn by people suffering from macular degeneration).  I am not sure that F.lux blocks out all blue light.  In any case, these glasses have that covered.  Now I just need to come up with an activity.  Reading seems like it would just stir my mind up too much and would prevent me from sleeping.

Have you ever watched how babies get to sleep?  They usually throw a fit and start crying.  In other words, maybe instead of trying to calm myself down, I should work myself into a paroxysm.  That sounds like a properly hormetic approach!

Offline shadowfoot

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Re: How to apply Hormesis to Sleep
« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2011, 05:33:26 PM »
Hahahaha! That sounds like a wonderful method.

You are correct in saying that f.lux doesn't block all blue light. The program I have on my computer allows me to change how much blue or red light I want. That way I can turn it down to almost completely red if I so desire. However, when I do that it means that my monitor can no longer displays color, just red and shades of red to black.

I suppose it depends on what you are reading. If its some thrilling novel, then that might be a problem. But if its some thick classic that seems to go on forever without anything actually happening, then maybe that might help.

Offline thomas_seay

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Re: How to apply Hormesis to Sleep
« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2011, 08:53:36 AM »
I would argue that the lifestyle of people in these 'traditional' societies was radically different from our own. For example, the 8 hour working day - this is a luxury that people struggling to survive didn't have.

Explain.  Hunter-Gatherers actually work on average about 3 hours a day.  I guess when you use the word "traditional" you mean agricultural societies.



Offline Soylent Red

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Re: How to apply Hormesis to Sleep
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2011, 06:51:14 AM »
Explain.  Hunter-Gatherers actually work on average about 3 hours a day.  I guess when you use the word "traditional" you mean agricultural societies.

I guess my idea applies more to agricultural societies - but even for hunter gatherers.. Three hours? Really? Is that including all life sustaining activities? Such as building and maintaining shelter, for example. I mean - if something serious goes wrong with my accommodation I mostly just throw money at someone or something to make it go away. It doesn't represent any real application of physical effort. Whereas in their case..

It's an interesting question though.

Offline shadowfoot

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Re: How to apply Hormesis to Sleep
« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2011, 07:38:39 AM »
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.