Science in Action: Why Did I Sleep So Well? (part 8)

My recent experience suggests that if I stand on one foot until it becomes slightly difficult about four times/day I will sleep much better. Two days ago I measured how long those four bouts of one-foot standing actually were: 6.2 (left foot), 4.3 (right), 4.8 (left), and 5.2 (right) minutes. The median is 5.0 minutes. When I started doing this, about two weeks ago, each bout was about 2 minutes.

It doesn’t seem to matter when I do them. Now I do two in the morning and two in the evening. Fits perfectly with a subway commute. You’ll want to be forced to stand.

In the evening I have a pleasant sense of anticipation: I will fall asleep and wake up feeling really good. I have never before felt this way. I have slept this well before, when I stood 9 or 10 hours/day. The sheer difficulty and all-consumingness of doing that, I now realize, got in the way of anticipating the benefits.

Something else curious is that one-foot standing leaves no mark — I can’t tell at 3 pm how many bouts I’ve done so far just by noticing how I feel. Unlike water or calorie consumption: If I don’t drink anything I’ll get thirsty. If I don’t eat anything I’ll get hungry. But if I don’t get enough of this particular byproduct of exercise I’ll never notice.

7 Responses to “Science in Action: Why Did I Sleep So Well? (part 8)”

  1. MT Says:

    Great post! It would be really interesting if you were able to do an optimization curve by alternating shorter and longer periods of standing and seeing where your returns-for-effort peaked. That curve might shift as it is possible that the trigger for the sleep mechanism is from the musculature and requires a certain level of challenge to be set off. The time necessary to induce the deeper-sleep response may increase as you become better at it or develop stronger legs from the process. Very interesting experiment and results.

  2. seth Says:

    Thanks, MT. yes, that is what I plan to do soon, vary the “dose” (number of bouts, length of bouts) and see how my sleep changes.

  3. Mike Kenny Says:

    this ultramarathon runner cut his sleep down to four hours to make time for running. i wonder if he can do this because of all the time he spends on his feet:

  4. Kjtten Says:

    That’s it, I’m trying it. I so rarely wake up feeling Good and Well-Rested.

  5. Toni H Says:

    It would be really helpful if in a future blog post you could explain what you mean by standing on one foot? Ie. are you holding support with your hand from a bar in the subway, are you holding the other foot with your hand behind you, are you balancing on just one foot, etc.

    I guess this is what’s usually called isotonic excercise?

  6. seth Says:

    Toni H, I’ve done it two ways: 1. A quadraceps yoga-like stretch. Pulling my other leg back behind me. 2. No stretch at all. The two feet remain close together except one is bearing all the weight.

  7. Seth’s blog » Blog Archive » Why Did I Sleep So Well? directory Says:

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