I’m now sure it’s the one-legged standing that’s improving my sleep. The new way of seeing faces in the morning doesn’t seem to matter. In case you want to try this, I’ve found that if I just raise one foot slightly I can stand one-legged much longer (about twice as long) than if I stand one-legged and pull the other foot behind me (stretching my leg muscles). I think this means the stretching pose is twice as effective per minute as the non-stretching pose; it produces the same effect in half the time.
It’s only been a few weeks, but my legs are already much stronger. Walking long distances (such as 4 miles) is easier and so is standing for long periods of time. My notions about exercise are changing, too. Before this, I thought of exercise having three types:
1. Strength. Exercise a muscle, it gets stronger. Benefits: stronger muscles can do more, look better.
2. Flexibility. Improved by stretching, e.g., yoga. Benefit: less chance of injury.
3. Aerobic. The Cooper idea. Improved by running, swimming, etc. Benefit: apparently reduces risk of heart attacks, perhaps reduces risk of other diseases. (Some people do it to lose weight, of course.) To measure aerobic fitness, The Cooper Institute stress-tested executives and found that those with better stress-test scores had lower mortality in the following years. Stress-test fitness was a better predictor of mortality than obesity — some people were “fit but fat”.
The one-legged standing seems to be a whole new category:
4. Soporific. When you stress a leg muscle a lot, presumably one or more chemicals are released that both (a) cause the muscle to grow (the well-known effect of exercise) and (b) cause you to sleep more deeply at night (the effect that interests me). In contrast to Types 1-3, there’s no need for the concept of fitness here because you don’t slowly go up and down in a measure of effectiveness (i.e., become more or less fit). Rather each day you are high or low on this measure, and the next day you start fresh. In contrast to Types 1-3, where the benefits accrue slowly (over weeks and months), the benefits are obvious the next morning (you feel better-rested) and the next day (you’re less tired). In contrast to Types 1-3, there is no connection with athletics (such as Olympic events). Conventional exercise is integral-like: It’s the sum over days that matters. Whereas this exercise is derivative-like: The benefits derive from doing a little more today than you did on previous days. The psychology is different, too. The benefits are so large relative to the cost that there’s no motivation problem. Deciding to do it is about as hard as deciding to pick up a $!0 bill. Deciding to do conventional exercise is a lot harder.