Power outage power cut electricity off the grid paleo network 2-min

The suprising things a long power cut taught me

Last Monday was really rainy and windy, so I wasn’t that surprised on Tuesday when I woke up to find we had no power. Other than missing a morning cup of tea and breakfast, I wasn’t that bothered and assumed by the time I got home in the evening, normal service would be resumed.

Power outage power cut electricity off the grid paleo network 2-min

Well during Tuesday, the storm continued. On reflection I shouldn’t have driven. With traffic lights out, multiple roads closed due to fallen trees and flooding, it was not a fun day to be out on the roads. That evening the power still wasn’t back on, but luckily I managed to find some matches and candles by the light of my phone.

As I’ve written about before, I’m a chronic night owl. Even if I go to bed early, I’m just not tired – I can lie there for hours, willing sleep to come. I’ve tried everything. For months I’ve been waking up early to an alarm, the theory being I’ll eventually be so tired, I’ll have to start getting sleepy at an earlier time. I stopped using my computer in the evenings. I turn off all but some dim side lights in the evenings. So I assumed on Tuesday, the unusual feeling of deep sleepiness at 7:30pm was due to the stressful driving conditions. But on Wednesday night, still with no power, I spent the evening reading by candle light – and was hit by the unusual feeling of tiredness at a similar time. And the next day – and the next. By the end of the week – after just a few days, I was waking up before my alarm. This never happens.

Finally power returned late on Saturday night – and I’ve still not turned my tv on. I’ve realised it had become a habit turning the tv on, I wasn’t putting it on because there was something special I wanted to watch, but because that’s just what I did in the evening. I haven’t missed it at all – and I wonder how much part this has played in my new sleep pattern? I’m not sure if it’s the light, or the stimulation – or perhaps both, but tv and artificial light have clearly not been helping my sleep pattern.

I’ve realised how much I really, really appreciate my washing machine, hot water, oven and fridge/ freezer – but the other things – perhaps I need to do without.


Are you a severe night owl LSPD late sleep phase disorder insomnia

Are you an extreme night owl?

In my quest to understand more about my slow metabolism, I’ve been looking more and more at my circadian rhythms.

I’ve always been a night owl and tend to come alive late at night becoming super productive and creative, when everyone else is asleep. When I’ve worked long hours in the city – and had to get up early, I would often try to go to bed at a sensible time. But I’d just lie in bed feeling wide awake and frustrated that sleep didn’t come. Until much, much later.

When you Google struggling to sleep, you come up with lots of hits for insomnia. Insomnia didn’t quite feel right, but what else could it be? Insomniacs often wake up in the middle of the night and struggle to get back to sleep. Once I’m asleep, I don’t wake up until my sleep is abruptly ended by an alarm, or I have the rare luxury of waking up naturally.

I noticed when I wasn’t working, and was able to follow my natural routine, I’d eventually feel tired in the early hours of the morning, and wake up around 11:34am. When I say around, I mean precisely. Every single day. So I was getting a decent 8 or so hours sleep. It just wasn’t at a socially acceptable time. Doesn’t sound so much like insomnia.

Are you a severe night owl LSPD late sleep phase disorder insomnia

It has a name?

After researching this further, I eventually found out about other people who sleep like this too. And it has a name: Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder (DSPD – but most definitely not to be confused with the other DSPD – Dangerous and Severe Personality Disorder). DSPD is exactly what I have been experiencing. A complete shift of the socially acceptable sleeping time several hours to the right. Core body temperature, hormones, alertness, energy levels – all happening at the “wrong” time.

Jetlag reset

I recently travelling halfway round the world from Australia to the UK. I had expected to be able to use jetlag to my advantage and “reset” my sleep times. The first few days it all went to plan, I’d be unable to fight off the tiredness by 8pm – and would be wide awake by 5am. But, after just a few days I fell back into my middle of the night to 11:34am routine. After researching DSPD, this seems to be the same issue across the board. Changing time zones is not a fix.

Curing DSPS?

It’s all quite gloomy on most sites, as many people believe there is no cure. They suggest getting a job to fit in with your natural sleeping times, rather than trying to work a conventional job with a 6am alarm call. The most common “cure” recommends you force yourself to stay up for an extra hour or two each night, with the idea being that after a few weeks you could stop adding on the time when you get to your preferred new bedtime, perhaps 10pm? But that seems like a bit of a hard core solution. In the middle of that transition you’d be sleeping over the entire daylight hours. That can’t be good!?

My solution

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been trying out my own method of solving this – and I’ve made some really good progress.

The answer seems to be in Circadian Rhythms. We get our cues from daylight as to what time of day it is, and crucially the early morning sun is completely different to late afternoon sun. There is far more blue light in the mornings, which I simply never got to see. Also at night, all the artificial street lights come on, TV’s, computer screens, smartphone – and we’re bathed in artificial blue light signalling to our brain that it’s morning and we should be at the peak of our alertness!

So it was clear to me that I needed to get natural sunlight as early as possible in the mornings. As soon as I wake up, I now head straight outside, barefoot, and walk for about an hour. I’ve also stopped wearing sunglasses, to make sure I’m getting as much natural light in as I possibly can, particularly in the first half of the day. After sunset, I try to reduce artificial blue light as much as I can.

Whilst I’m not at conventional sleeping hours yet, I am definitely slowly shifting my times to the left.  I’m starting to feel sleepy earlier and waking up naturally quite a lot earlier too. The biggest improvement has been my energy levels. I feel so much more alert and energetic during the morning and daytime. I’m also feeling a lot warmer during the day, which I think is a good indication that I may be on the track to normalising my circadian rhythm.

I’m never going to be an “Early Bird” naturally waking up at 5:30am everyday, weekend or weekday. But I hope to be able to shift my sleep and waking hours to something far more reasonable – and in turn increase my daytime metabolic rate and energy levels.

I’d love to hear more about your natural sleeping patterns in the comments, below. Are you a severe night owl (DSPD) too? Do you just live with it, or have you had any success in changing it? Any nuggets of information you have on circadian rhythms – I’d really like to hear!

Is your bed bad for your health mattress paleo natural-min

Is Your Bed Bad For Your Health?

Sometimes the simple things that we use in our everyday routine are things that we don’t think twice about – but can be very dangerous. Even more frustrating, when you follow an otherwise health Paleo lifestyle. Have you ever given any thought to the mattress that’s beneath you as you sleep each night?

Mattresses are often made with ployurethane foam (petroleum based material that emits formaldehyde), formalize (which is linked to asthma and lung cancer), and boric acid (roach killer). Formaldehyde is highly toxic and classified as a probable carcinogen. If you have a mattress like this, when you go to bed at night, you are lying in these chemicals. Mattress companies often claim that they have the best mattress – and they mainly focus on comfort. You will see several commercials advertising that their mattress will adjust to your back and help you get a better night sleep, but they never really mention just how clean and non toxic their mattress is, do they?

In 2005 a memory foam mattress was sent in to be inspected and the lab was able to find 61 different chemicals used in the mattress. Comfort doesn’t mean anything if you are lying in a pile of dangerous chemicals.

Is your bed bad for your health mattress paleo natural-min

What are some of the things that these harmful chemicals can cause?

It has been reported that a toxic mattress can cause respiratory problems, reproductive toxicity, allergies, asthma, SIDS, and many more complications. It’s scary to think that going to bed could be a dangerous activity!

Why would companies add these chemicals? They add them because they are flame retardants. In the 60’s, governments insisted that mattresses had to include flame retardants – and they had to pass flammability tests. It wasn’t such a huge problem when they first passed the law, but now companies are using more and more dangerous chemicals. Arlene Blum, a biophysical chemist stated “Instead of adding new fire retardant chemicals that may ultimately be shown to cause health problems, we should be asking whether we need to use these chemicals or if there are other ways to achieve equivalent fire safety.”

The mattresses that are being made today, especially some of the popular memory foam mattresses are considered to be more dangerous than the ones that were made within the past 50 years.

So what can you do about you mattress?

There are some companies that make organic natural mattresses. Before purchasing a mattress you want to triple check what exactly is in it. Some companies claim that they have a natural organic mattress – but are not willing to back it up. Companies have slowly started to realise the dangers that their mattresses are causing and are changing the chemicals that they are putting in mattresses – but this is not happening fast enough.

You are far better off getting a safe organic mattress. There are companies that sell mattresses that are completely natural and toxin free. Organic wool has natural fire resistant properties and it has been successfully used to pass flammability tests.
When you lie down to sleep at night the last thing you need to worry about is if it is safe or not. Night time is when you need to relax both mentally and physically. Don’t let your mattress ruin your health!

What type of mattress do you sleep on? Will you buy an organic mattress when you replace yours?

Paleo Diet Primal Grounding Earthing Barefoot Health Nature Connect-min

Grounding: When Did You Last Connect?

Have you heard of grounding, or earthing? Perhaps you already do it – maybe without even realising? It might sound a bit new age and made up, but the more I’ve read about it – and tried it – the more sense it makes.

Earthing is where you allow you your body to be in direct contact with the Earth. You can do this by walking around barefoot, sitting outside outside on the lawn or the sand, or sleeping under the stars (in direct contact with the Earth). Advocates of grounding recommended you do it for at least 30 minutes a day for optimal benefits.

So many people wake up in a high rise house, put their shoes on, drive to work, sit at a desk all day in an insulated office block, drive home – and repeat. Even exercise is often exclusively done indoors in a gym. How many people go weeks without any direct contact to the Earth? Our ancestors walked barefoot and slept on the ground – very different.

The idea behind grounding, is that the Earth has a negative charge. When a person, with an excessive negative charge, walks around in contact with the Earth, the excess of electrons will supposedly be absorbed by the Earth’s surface. By balancing out your body chemistry using the earth, the idea is that you will feel more relaxed and at ease – and with improved sleep.

There are (of course!) lots of companies who have jumped on the grounding/ earthing bandwagon to produce artificial products to mimic the effects of earthing. You can get a grounding mat to put under your desk at work, or earthing sheets, to have the same effect as sleeping on the ground. However, with it being so easy to connect to the Earth naturally, why fake it? The only exception to man made products, that I would put in this category is barefoot shoes. Barefoot shoes like Vibram Five Fingers (VFF’s) are a great way to safely walk around, without worrying about stepping in something you shouldn’t.

Paleo Diet Primal Grounding Earthing Barefoot Health Nature Connect-min

It doesn’t have to be a huge thing to schedule in your day. Find ways to incorporate earthing with what you already do in your daily life. If you enjoy walking, then walk along the beach barefoot. If you write on a daily basis or read, then just change your environment and enjoy doing those activities while sitting on grass. If you just want some time to relax in your day go outside and enjoy nature for a while.

Whether or not you agree with the science behind earthing – you have to agree walking around barefooted in cool grass feels great?

There are several benefits of earthing/grounding that you won’t discover until you get outdoors and take your shoes off!

Do you regularly connect with the Earth? Does it make you feel better? Please share your experiences in the comments below!

sleeping pills tablets awake paleo diet health wake up-min

Sleep! Wake Up!

Tired and lacking in energy during the day – then wide awake at night?  I wonder how many people opt to take a pill for that?

sleeping pills tablets awake paleo diet health wake up-min

It struck me as completely ridiculous, when I saw how many sleeping tablets and “stay awake” (anti sleeping?) pills I saw in the pharmacy recently.  They’re even stocked right next to each other (though thankfully they didn’t have a “buy sleeping pills, get caffeine pills free” offer).  I can’t help but think relying on pharmaceuticals to enable your body to rest and repair – and then again to enable you to function during the day is a recipe for disaster.  As well as the start of a chain of reliance on drugs to sleep – and then wake up.

Where the tiredness after lunch is a result of a huge sugar crash (thanks to a refined carb-heavy lunch), surely adding caffeine pills into the mix is only going to make things a whole lot worse?

I also wonder how restorative a sleeping pill induced sleep is compared to a natural sleep?

When people struggle to sleep and stay awake at appropriate times, this is surely a clear sign that behavioural changes are needed (change of diet to Paleo, getting up earlier, reducing stress and exercising perhaps?).  Behavioural changes aren’t a quick thing, but surely they are a better long-term plan than taking one pill to counter act the other pill!

What do you think?  Would you take a pill to sleep, then a pill to wake up?

Sleeping on the Floor paleo diet natural health no bed hammock back mattress-min

Sleeping on the Floor?

The more I learn and think about evolutionary health, the more links I find with every aspect of my life.

Since I went from more of a Primal diet, to a strict Paleo diet, my previous sleep problems appear to have completely vanished.  I’m now tired in the evenings, fall asleep quickly without even noticing, sleep soundly all night – and wake up before my alarm.  This change in sleep has made it very clear what an essential role sleep plays to overall health and well-being.  I’m quite convinced that even with a perfect Paleo diet and a great fitness regime, without good sleep it would be impossible to attain optimal health.

This has got me thinking about where and how I sleep.  I suspect like you, I sleep on a bed with a big mattress and pillows.  This must be very far removed from how our ancestors slept for millions of years!

I’ve found some great resources on sleeping that suggest the body is under strain being upright all day, and therefore needs the resistance of a hard service to enable gravity to help realign and reshape the body.  This makes a lot of sense.  Even a relatively hard mattress won’t have enough resistance to enable your bones to realign – where as the ground clearly would.  It makes sense that when sunk into a mattress the lungs are not in the same position and have a reduced area – resulting in less oxygen, which is crucial, especially in enabling the body to relax and repair overnight.

I also wonder about the effect on the body’s temperature regulation, of sleeping on a mattress and under covers.  Is this another detrimental effect of sleeping on a mattress?

Sleeping on the Floor paleo diet natural health no bed hammock back mattress-min

Every time I’ve been camping and have slept with just a thin foam layer between myself and the ground, I have had a fantastic sleep – but I’ve also woken up very stiff and sore the next morning.  Perhaps the discomfort is due to being used to a soft mattress and will reduce after a few days?  Perhaps a bit of discomfort is not a bad thing?  As with camping, I also slept very well when I travelled to Japan sleeping on hard futons on the floor; again this was not comfortable, but resulted in very rejuvenating sleeps.

Sleep posture also appears to be an important factor to consider, something I’ve not given much thought to in the past.

I’m therefore planning to conduct a sleep experiment, of at least a week, where I will sleep on the floor each night.  I can then compare how I feel each morning, how well rested I am and how my fitness is affected (for example, if it would promote better posture and alignment, I’d expect this to show in my gym sessions).

Have you ever slept on the floor in the interests of your health, or is this a step too far?  I’d love to hear your comments on all things sleep related!