Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Plan for Addressing High Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure is called the silent killer because one can have a high blood pressure and lead a pretty normal life, it doesn't have great warning signs.  For this reason, everyone should have their blood pressure checked regularly.  Most grocery stores now offer a little station you can sit, relax and get it read.  Try to do it at the same time of day every time.  Don't do it after strenuous workout out or with caffeine in your system.

Blood pressure is the measure of systolic pressure and diastolic pressure.  Systolic is how much pressure it takes to pump the blood when the heart muscle contracts.  Diastolic is how much pressure is present when the heart is relaxed.  Generally speaking 120/80 is considered normal.  130/90 is prehypertensive and 140/100 or higher is Hypertensive.

Hypertension can lead to a lot of different issue so it's very important to get this addressed.  One is essentially asked the heart to work harder all the time.  This can lead to a heart attack.  You are pushing it harder through vessels, the vessels essentially are not as pliable.  This can lead to strokes or aneurisms.  Other organs are also at risk.  One that is commonly damaged with uncontrolled HBP is the kidneys.  The kidneys filter the blood through lots of small arteries that lead to the nephron.  These arteries can became narrow, harden and weaken.  This becomes a negative feedback loop and this will cause an increase in BP as well.

1. Start getting a few relaxing walks in per day.  Then shoot for a minimum of 20 minutes.  Heart rate should be elevated but you should be able to hold a conversation without losing breath.

1a.  Once walking has been established, start going slightly more brisk walk for a goal of 30 minutes. Stairs make an excellent choice for training the bigger leg muscles.  Biking is excellent low impact choice.  Weights can be beneficial, just don't hold the breath.  The ultimate goal is 150 min of exercise a week.  It takes 1-3 months to drop systolic pressure up to 10 points.  It only lasts for as long as exercise stays apart of your daily life.

2. Work your grip strength.  This has been shown to be a really cool exercise with proven results.  It was discovered by fighter pilots in the 60's.  Those that gripped the control the strongest pumped more blood to the brain and passed out less during high G forces.   Find a gripper that you can grip that you would consider medium in difficulty.  You want to be able to hold the grip in the closed position for 5 seconds. Relax for 10 seconds.  Get as many reps as you can for 2 minutes.  Repeat the other hand.  It has been shown to drop the diastolic by up to 15 points.  (quite large)  It seems to work because it makes the walls of the carotid artery and other blood vessels more pliable.

3.  Electrolyte balance.  I would recommend getting blood work done to see your potassium and sodium balance.  The standard advice of lowering sodium is not a given.  It is known now that it is the balance of sodium/potasium that is crucial to heart health.  Most sodium isn't from table salt added to food but is snuck in prepackaged foods.  Most potassium comes from fresh fruits and vegetables, so the advice of cut out food that comes in a box or package and eat more fruits and vegetable is good advice.

4.  Drink lots of water, hydrate like it's medicine.  Dehydration can raise high blood pressure.  Your body will hold onto sodium more.  If you find you are never thirsty for your bodyweight, perhaps upping your protein will be of value.  Shooting for a minimum of 1/2 your bodyweight in ounces.

5.  Maximize Nitric Oxide.   NO is a key signaling molecule throughout the body.  It is produced by the endothelial cells in the arteries and acts to relax the arterial walls.  It is produced when we exercise.  (Step 1)  It is only available for a few seconds after it is produced, so we are constantly making it.  Exercise/Food/Supplement for Nitric oxide production.

6.  Supplement.  Garlic and Other Nitric Oxide supplements.  Garlic has a strong backing as a viable option for reducing HBP up to 10%.  Not eating it raw but supplementing it.  You need the allicin in the garlic.  It seems to work by stimulating the production of NO.  Some companies are making specific NO supplements.  I'm currently testing out the APEX Nitric Oxide and will report on it in a few months.

7.  Add specific foods to your diet.  The amino acids L- arginine and L-citruline are crucial in the formation of Nitric Oxide.   Turkey and pumpkin seeds are two of the highest suggest sources of arginine.  Walnuts are an excellent source for arginine and has been studied on its own to lower blood pressure.  Watermelon, cucumber and other melons are great sources of citruline.   Beets are being studied a ton lately for its high level of nitrate.  Seems to be enough research to suggest adding them to the diet will be of benefit.   Beet, Watermelon, cucumber, walnut, honey (a little research for HBP) sounds like a nice NO shake to me!

7.  Be around animals.  Going to zoos or being around dogs, petting dogs.  It seems odd, but they have measured BP in zoos and it's lower.  Then have measured it petting dogs and it's lower.  We are meant to be around animals in my opinion.

8.  Volunteer.  People that volunteer tend to have a LBP then those that don't.  Feel good perhaps?  I'd bet volunteering at an animal shelter would be quite beneficial for BP.

9.  Become a Nasal Breather.  By breathing through the nose you are able to capture more Nitric Oxide with each breath from the sinus cavities.   Breathing through the mouth doesn't do this.  It takes dedicated practice and it can be used as almost a meditative practice.  Which coincidentally, also has been shown to lower blood pressure.  Taking a few minutes a few times a day and practice nasal breathing.  I think walking is a great place to do this.  It keeps the walk at an aerobic level and you get to practice only inhaling through the nose.

10. Drink less alcohol and don't smoke.  The uptake of one glass for women and 2 for men seem to raise the blood pressure slightly.  Smoking is just bad for everything related to health.  

All of these options will have individual results.  Not one by itself will probably bring you down into the normal range, but all of them combined and working them into your lifestyle will go a big way  into helping control them and perhaps need less medication or perhaps get off or not get on any.  Always have a way to monitor your blood pressure if you are on a medication and start to implement these lifestyle changes as it will hopefully require different dosages.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Random Spring Review Thoughts

A lot of thinking has been going on in this head of mind the last few months.  The old saying is if want to know what you think, write it out.

I'm excited to continue to learn more and more about reading and interpreting blood work.  From a personal curiosity for my own health questions to taking the Apex Mastering Functional Blood Chemistry and a bunch of books in between.  It's been an exciting chance to delve back into pure learning mode.  I've already started to work with a few patients on the lifestyle, food and supplementation strategies to start changing their health.

One of the most fun and aha moments I have is when two somewhat separate events/ideas cross over and you are able to see the connection.  I've been on a year long mission to understand the aspects of breathing and performance.  It started a few years ago in taking the PRI courses and realizing the importance of the diaphragm.  It escalated with Wim Hoff and continues with some more of the acute training affects with books like "The Oxygen Advantage," by Patrick McKeown.  Delving into the Buteyko breathing and hearing the CO2 and breath hold techniques from Kasper van der Meulen for increasing athletic ability.

From this information you learn how Co2 can have an effect on something called the Anion Gap.  Anion Gap is the difference in the measurement of cations Sodium/potassium (+) and the anions Chloride and bicarbonate (-) in your body.   Learning about the importance of the anion gap from the blood work perspective and having functional medicine say that brain injuries have a much harder time healing when the gap is 22 or larger.  For the healthy, you would want to be under 15.  With simple strategies to decrease this from breath holding and from nutrition/supplementation.

Young practitioners or students, start your day and finish your day with patients that you truly love working with.  It can change the whole outlook of your day or the next day, when you start and finish with someone that is truly fun to work with.  If you have ever been the first or last patient of mine...congrats...haha.

I was asked what are the biggest changes in my thought patterns for strength and conditioning I've had in the last few years.
1.  Aerobic training is highly beneficial when you are not an aerobic athlete and it has immediate effects on your health and isn't a downfall for pure strength.  Smart programming can keep your "gains."  Alex Viada from the Hybrid Athlete was the first to start to change my thinking.  I do recommend his eBook.  Biggest takeaway for me, I recover faster from training and from things like the common cold.
2.  Maximal strength isn't worth chasing at the expense of other strength choices.  I just don't see the payoff anymore in sports unless you are a powerlifter/oly lifter.  For track/field, field sports, health/performance I'm not seeing the carryover after a certain amount of strength.  Which leads to #3.
3.  Learning to integrate movements is more important.  Coordination. Isometrics.
4.  Hypertrophy as you age is important.  Don't knock machines or single joint activities.  Bodybuilding has a place.  My former self would have said they are useless.
5.  Abdominal work should have a direct place.  Deadlifts and squats are not enough.

I've been playing around with a few things in terms of nutrition and products the last 4-5 months.  I gave the nose pieces from Turbine a very fair go.  My wife said the sleep ones didn't help my snoring.  Fail on that.  The yellow performance ones,  I didn't notice an improvement in performance with a stated 38% increase in air flow.  Anyone that has been on a bike understands the term snot rocket.  With these in, it's impossible to do.  So you lose the 10 dollars nose piece.  Not worth it for me.

This has been my preride/ride/post ride combo.



I really enjoy the Organo Gold mushroom coffee before I ride.  It gets a bad rap for being MLM, but I  like it before riding and definitely with traveling.   UCAN is just legit.  Developed for people that have diabetes,  this is an outstanding product that has trickled down into the endurance world.  It's built for sustained energy and stable blood glucose levels.  I haven't bonked, just sustained energy.  No stomach issues.  The craziest thing post ride is normally I'd finish a big ride and have the appetite to crush a whole pizza, now I finish and I'm not famished.  Caloric intake after a big exertion is just normal.  

The hard thing about business is knowing when to spend money and when to just wait and figuring out which leads to growth and what and when to invest in the business.  They don't teach that in school.  Sometimes decisions are just as weird as I need two more parking spots.  Not something your thinking about studying for board exams.  

Health>Time>Money:  This has been an ongoing debate for sometime on Facebook with a friend of mine.  Which 3 do you value most.  The thinking is that if you had money you could have all the time in the world, but this just states you value time the most.  If you value time more then health, well you could be to sick to actually enjoy it.  If your sick you could be forced out of work, money.  Time is meaningless.  If your healthy, you have the ability to still enjoy everything.  So take the time and money and invest in your health.  By default you create time and money.  

Had my first DNA tests done.  Was pleasantly surprised how accurate it really seemed to be.  I was pretty much 70% fast twitch 30% slow twitch and advised me into sports like American football and weight lifting.  I'm glad I figured that out when I was like 10. haha.

Some more of the interesting was the lack of folic acid and poor absorption of B vitamins.  The B vitamins I had figured out in the last few months from blood work.  An interesting aside was that I lack a certain variant that helps you process alcohol.  (Bummer as I like craft beer and live in Beer City USA.)

I started to read stuff that has nothing to do with health, training or business again.  It always surprises me why I get out of that habit as I enjoy it so much.  It makes you wonder what else you forget to do for enjoyment simply because it doesn't fit into your work or practical column.  




Thursday, March 30, 2017

Book Review and Thoughts: Secret Life of Fat

The Secret Life of Fat is a book by Sylvia Tara.  Reading this book gave me a new understanding of this organ, yes organ, just like your liver.  It is much more then the blubber we think of when we pinch that inch.  It also gave me more empathy of the plight of someone that is "constantly" trying to lose weight.  Essentially, the body is rigged to prevent you from winning, and when you do think you won and let your guard down, it strikes again.  Fat is smart.  It can think.  Think about that for a bit.  I took copious amount of notes but I'll go through and highlight some important ones with recommendations on lifestyle to try to keep fat working for you instead of becoming a health risk. 

There are three types of fat.  White fat, brown fat, and beige fat.  White fat is what we usually think of, the stuff we are always trying to get rid of.  Brown fat is fairly new discovery in the last 10 or so years.  Brown fat actually raises metabolism and burns white fat.  Beige fat can become white or brown.  This will be influence by our environment and stressors.  Think exercise.

Here is an example of the FAT LOOP that we see all to often.  
1.  We eat to much
2.  Fat cells grow until they are overcrowded
3.  Send out signals to immune cells to send macrophages to engulf the fat cells. 
4.  Inflammation/chronic
5.  Fat no longer responds well to insulin
6.  Pancreas has to produce more insulin
7.  The loop of constantly needing more insulin as cells become more insulin resistant.
8.  Cells are not getting the sugar and fats from our blood and are starved for nutrients.
9.  This makes us hungrier.
10.  We eat more.  The loop starts again.

fruits-that-burn-fat.jpg

There are different types of white fat.  Subcutaneous (close to the surface)  Think of jiggly fat.  Visceral fat.  Deep and close to the organs.  Ever pat a beer belly and it's hard, that is visceral fat and that is dangerous.  It emits more hormones and cytokines (inflammations) and is correlated with diabetes, heart disease and even dementia.

The hormones to know. Adiponectin, this sensitizes the bodies response to insulin.  Guides sugar/fat out of our bloodstream and into subcutaneous fat.  It removes toxic lipids called ceramides.  We can increase adiponectin with vigorous exercise.  Leptin is a hormone that makes us feel full, it inhibits hunger.  Ghrelin is it's opposite, Ghrelin will make you feel hungry.  Lack of sleep produces a bad combo of low Leptin and high Ghrelin.  

How Your Set Up To Lose
You have lost fat, it's now harder to keep it off then someone that has never gained weight.  Losing weight makes you more responsive to food and less able to control intake.  It appears this doesn't go away.  The hormone levels appear to alter bodies that have lost weight to be hungrier then before they had lost weight.  Not only that, but the metabolism was lowered at the reduced fat.  You can see why it's called "yo-yo dieting."  What you ate to lose weight, will eventually become enough to make you gain that weight back.

The danger of this cycle is that often the subcutaneous fat that is lost comes back as visceral fat.  In liposuction, most ended up regaining the same percentage of fat, but in different areas with more visceral fat and with less healthy fat.  The one way this was stopped is when after liposuction the individual took up exercise.

Onto some of the craziness.  Virus can potentially be causing obesity.  The virus AD-36 has been shown to crossover from chicken to chicken.  Studies have confirmed this.  From an ethics stand point you can't really reproduce this in people.  One lead researcher in this believes 30% of all obese individuals have this virus in them.  (He states there is no cure at the moment, but what you eat and how you exercise is still up to you, you just may have to work harder)

Your gut biome is insanely important with fat gain.  Lean individuals have a more diverse gut bacteria.  In fact, as you lose fat you lose bacteria called Firmicutes and gain Bacteroidetes.   The gut bacteria influence the fat storage in a few ways.  The microbes have enzymes we don't carry and can thus digest parts of the plants that our own digestive system can't.  Ultimately, the bacteria change digestion in two ways, improving the ability of the gut to absorb food and increasing the amount of sugar extracted.  

When fat mice were given the gut flora of lean mice, they got lean.  When lean mice were given the fat mice gut flora they got fat. 

Genes influence our resting metabolism, fat percentage, abdominal visceral fat, triglycerides and cholesterol.  So it's not just lazy or lack of effort for weight gain.  This can take some stress away, but it doesn't mean losing fat can't be done and shouldn't be a goal.  Because, the trump card, is vigorous exercise.  It has shown to erase genetic variables.  If you are an individual that genes are against, it means you may not get a cheat day or cheat meal.  You will have to be more diligent.  We all know that guy that eats McDonalds and has a 6 pack without doing much.  The opposite is also true.  Accept it and move on.  

Women tend to store more fat then men in every culture across the world.  They also tend to have what is called a better compensating pattern after exercise then men.  This means that men in general underestimate what was burned and eat less to return to caloric neutral.  Women tend to do this better so they estimate what to eat more close to what they burned.  They think this is a biological pattern to ensure health.  

Fat cells have receptors for hormones.  As we age, we are producing less hormones that tell us to burn fat, so we tend to gain fat.  At the same time we produce more hormones such as cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone correlated with abdominal fat.  Can you see another cycle?  


WHAT TO DO
The old saying in rehab is that the most likely injury is the one you already have had.  It's kind of a weak way of saying don't get hurt.  In fat loss, the best way is to not allow yourself to gain that extra 15 pounds, because there are metabolic consequences that come from this.  Now onto real advice.

1.  Shift the mindset from, I'll lose this 20 pounds and resume normal life, to I'm going to change my lifestyle and lose weight in the process.  The yo-yo weight gain will happen if you don't.  I've already told you this can lead to more dangerous fat levels.  In fact, I wouldn't start the process without this commitment.  

2.  Improve sleep.  Get this capstone in place.  You are fighting an uphill battle as it is, why push the stone up the hill in the process.  

3.  Weight loss has to come through nutrition.  Don't add exercise into the equation until you got the nutrition dialed in.  You should be able to lose weight without exercise.  Don't move to exercise until the nutrition is in place.  

4.  Nutrition should be focused on the gut biome.  Changes there will have bigger implications.  Soluble fibre is big.  Get 6-8 fist sized vegetables every day. 

5.  Vigorous exercise is now added.  30min 5x a week is a minimum.  In the book, this was defined by 4-6mph of running.  Biking at 12-14 miles per hour.  Lifting weights.  If you ran 20 miles a week at age 30, it will most likely take about 30 miles a week at age 40 to maintain that same metabolism.  

Genetics plays a huge role.  In the end, you are still in control of the process.  The process may be harder or easier, but it's still our each individual choice
.



Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Create The Environment For Success

"Environment is the invisible hand that shapes behavior. Creative manipulation is an underrated tool in affecting rate of skill acquisition."
Coach Stu McMillan

One of the things I've kept in the back of my head was the comment that you may think you have always known something when you hear it, because it seems like common sense, but yet it's actually a new concept for yourself when you stop to think about it. 

This was a light bulb moment when I saw the above quote by my friend, Stu McMillan, head sprint/power coach at Altis. Part of me has felt like I've always known it and have stumbled upon some success with using this method, but I believe it was with out fully realizing it.

Essentially, manipulate your environment to create an outcome that you desire. I'm looking at it more from a lifestyle design and therapy lens then sprinting or athletic technique, but principles stay the same.


I was trying to incorporate more aerobic work this winter. I came into the spring far behind my goals last year. This winter I got a trainer to ride at night after I put my kids to bed. I used it. When I left it up with bike attached I used it more. It became even easier to just head to the basement and jump on. Very little set up now. I was shaping a new behavior. A time, a place and a reminder to shape the acquisition that I wanted, aerobic fitness.

Often times, runners and bikers become quad dominate and lose hip strength. This can lead to the development of knee or hip pain. One of the goals is to introduce the athlete to new exercises that they incorporate several times a day. My favorite type of exercise is one where failure is helpful, the brain is challenged, the outcome (hip strength) will happen if effort is applied and doing the movement keeps the strong (overpowering) muscles out of the equation without the athlete having to "think about it." Just try. The outcome will happen. The exercise is the environment for the new behavior. I often have them do some rolling exercise that proceeds the training. I do believe this has some value in tension modulation and some core muscle stimulation, but I also want that physical reminder. I see the roller or ball. I remember to do it.

For people that stand at a desk or work at a counter. Having a 6" stool/block to rest a foot on will change how much fatigue will be in their low back. A simple environmental instrument to change how you move.

There have been books written about the subject that cover in more depth this topic, but I always read/perceived that it was just taking away temptation. I realize now, removing the temptation is environmental manipulation. Removing food you don't want to eat from your home, eliminates the late night temptation. Placing a remote control in a closet or room usually means less TV watching.

Look around and pay attention. It can be a negative influence. Try to see how the environment is being programmed to manipulate or influence your actions, behaviors and thoughts. There are specialists that are hired by stores and retail to show certain colors, certain music, what's eye level, were the lights are, all to manipulate your actions/thoughts without you realizing it. Did you know the color red tends to get you to buy more, whether in person or online.

Take a survey of what you want to accomplish. Brainstorm some simple ideas and then create simple changes to the environment that you live to accomplish the behaviors that you want. Use the invisible hand of environmental manipulation to your benefit.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Homemade Gada Mace

Last month I was doing some more reading on circular strength training.  Often we train in just one plane of motion.  For example, a deadlift is primarily a sagittal plane movement.  Circular strength involves moving an object in a rotational pattern.

A deadlift done well centrate joints and allow you to have synced up the musculoskeletal system.  My theory from what I've been reading is that rotational should do that for joints, such as the shoulder that have plenty of movement.  This is why doing something like a rotational squat can be very therapeutic.

I had purchased a 20lb mace from Onnit last year.  For me, it was to heavy and short for my strength. After reading more on the history of the Gada, developed it appears first in India, 48" seems to be the best option.  You can buy a Gada for about 55 dollars.  I actually thought it would be fun to try to make my own and let my oldest daughter help.  Total cost was a little under 15 dollars.  It probably took under 20 min to put together and I let the concrete harden for 3 days.  It turned out pretty well.  Very smooth feeling at around 10lbs.  






Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Weekend in Toronto: Back to the Basics

A few weekends ago I had the pleasure of driving to Toronto to take part and learn at the first Functional Range Assessment course.   FR is a system of techniques and training, the assessment course is designed to tie them together and allow the practitioner clear cut guidelines in what direction to take an athlete or patient.

The best thing about the FR is the science driven teaching, and the teaching is top notch.  They are the most well taught seminar series I've ever taken (and I take a lot of seminars) and it shows in the caliber of attendees.  That for me has become just as important as the seminar taught, the quality of the attendees.  I've found I soak in just as much great info from the people attending as from the presenters when the material being presented is top notch.

I found the weekend to be an unexpected blending of one message that was penetrating my thick skull.  Get better at the basics.  A simple thing like measuring/checking joint angles, "Can your joint move like a human joint should?"


It is often stated that when something is basic and true, you think you have known it for ever when you hear it.  When you stop and think about it though, you realized, no you didn't.  It seems obvious at the moment, but sadly it was not.

"If your mobility training doesn't cost you anything, it won't give you anything either.  Mobility training shouldn't be easy."  Michael Ranfone

I am always amazed when I hear Dre or Mike teach at any of the FR seminars that this stuff wasn't what I dropped big $$$ to learn in chiropractic school.  For example, vision, hearing and articular capsules are the 3 senses that can bypass the CNS and go directly to the brain (Motor Cortex).   That is just one example of the nuggets of knowledge that you can gleam.   We have doctors that check our eyes and our ears, why not our articular capsules.  This is also why doing your CARS (controlled articular rotations) are such a big deal every day.  #everydamnday

The undercurrent when FR wasn't going on was also, for me, about the basics. A book by Ben House called Still Standing, was recommended to me by a friend.  Synchronicity is a very cool thing, as I had just started reading Dr. House's work online.  I read it that night (quick read that I recommend) that had to deal with lifestyle and blood work.  Blood work and what you can learn from it, has been a new interest of mine.  It further stoked my fascination with blood work and lifestyle changes that can influence it.

How many times did your parents tell you to chew your food.  The book recommends 30x just to start to get a reset on your digestion.  Something so simple, but yet can impact your health.  I'm always done first, when it comes to eating.   When I literally started counting my chews, I realized I wanted to swallow my food on number 3.

It also brought to light mindless eating, whether looking at my phone or my computer, I always reverted to old habits.  Chewing 30x brought you to the present.  Mindfulness.

Eat 10 fist sized servings of vegetables every day.  Again, how many times did you hear, eat your vegetables from your parents.  How many of us do this?  Basics.  Health.

During some of the break out hands on sessions, I was able to pick @danajohnflows brain about all the different 90/90 hip positions to increase tension and build internal hip rotation.  It was the subtle changes of positions that allowed the stretch or tension to go from non existent to high.  Something you wouldn't see in a video.  It was a basic stretch until a slight variation made it not.  That was the weekend in a nutshell for me.  Taking the basics, getting better at them,  owning them, mastering them.

The weekend was a great learning environment, FR always is.  You can't help but get better.  Amazing lectures, hands on that you can immediately use with your athletes and patients, and awesome attendees that increase the learning environment.



Sunday, January 1, 2017

A New Years Resolution That Everyone Can Use: More Sleep

It is exactly the time of year where people make resolutions to enhance the New Year.  Most resolutions are designed to be health enhancing.  Lose weight, get fit (whatever that means) save money, these all seem to be high on peoples list.  One thing you don't here often when asked for new years resolution is get more sleep.  


Sleep may be the most important keystone in your quest to build a healthy lifestyle.  The more we learn about the science of sleep the more we realize its importance.  Last years research showed that sleep is like taking out the garbage and clearing the waste from our brain.  Not sleeping and clearing out these wastes has been linked to neurological disease such as Alzheimer's.  Sleep has been shown to physically have links to obesity and diabetes.  

It is estimated that people are sleeping 1-2 hours less per night then the same population group in 1950.  That is quite a lot of sleep.  Perhaps it just isn't nutrition that is making us fat as a country, perhaps it is lack of sleep.  

Sleep:  The Myth of 8 Hours, the Power of Naps, and the New Plan to Recharge Your Body and Brain by Nick Littlehales,  was one of the last books I read in 2016.  It's a quick easy read with some solid practical points.   Nick was one of the original sleep performance coaches who started helping Manchester United Football in the early 90's.  Since then he has gone on to help teams like Team SKY that won the Tour De France recently.  The following are some of the key take home points that I thought were worth sharing.  He calls this his R90 program.  


Think of sleep as 90min cycles.  You want to accrue 90 min cycles.  Learn what works for you.  Most people will need a minimum of 4 cycles or 6 hours.  I personally do best with 5 cycles or 7.5 hours.  Now multiply this number by 7 (days in the week)  So my perfect would be 35 cycles.  So a great week according to R90 would be 30-35 cycles.  Forget the I had a bad nights sleep mindset, think of it as a long term health mindset.  I met my cyclic needs this week.  

Now there are several categories of people that will struggle with this.  Parents of young ones come to mind, first and foremost.  In his book he outlines naps called controlled recovery periods.  Done right a 20 min CRP can equal a cycle.  

The Pre and Post bed routines are critical.  Light plays an enormous roll in this time period.  These are also 90 min.  Try to get sunlight on your eyes as soon as you can.  If you live in places that won't see the sun for like 3 months like me (lol) he suggests a blue light alarm that mimics a sunrise.  Avoiding stressful email/computers/blue light before bed.  He suggests mindless task of work that needs to get done anyway.  Picking up your house.  Folding clothes.  Get things ready for the next day.  It was interesting to note that for me I realized I had instinctively found 90 min to be the minimum time I wanted to have from wake up till I left the house for work or appointment.  

Using some Psychology with this one, he thinks people sleep best with the non dominate arm down and in the fetal position facing out.  So if your right handed you sleep on the left shoulder looking away from your partner or bed.  

His ideal sleep environment was actually married couples sleep in separate beds.  Probably not practical, but I remember my grandparents who were born in the 10's had this type of set up when I was very young.  Perhaps another clue on why we sleep less today.  The next best option is the biggest bed you can possibly make work for the bedroom.  Spend money on the mattress not on the frame.  You should be able to lay on your back without crossing your legs to determine if it's the right softness.  You shouldn't need the use of a pillow but it's fine if you like one.  

The room is completely black.  No TV.  No smart phone, it is kept in another room.  Temperature around 68F. 

Do everything in your power to figure sleep out without the use of sleeping pills.  A 2012 study linked the use of sleeping pills to an increase mortality and cancer.   Those verse a placebo gained only 22 minutes.  Not worth it.  

The science of sleep and how it affects our physiology is truly an amazing and important reality.  It is indeed the cornerstone of health.  Don't kid yourself on not needing it.  Losing weight, gaining muscle, feeling better, thinking clearer, staying healthy both body and brain all rely on sleep, so if any of those were in your new years resolutions, pick sleep and perhaps you can achieve them all.