Going Full Caveman: Sleeping on the Floor

Many compare the paleo diet to cavemen, citing that food around less than 1,000 years gets us away from our caveman roots. While there is truth to this, especially as it relates to processed foods, another area we seem to forget about is sleep. To any of you paleo thumpers out there, how many of you sleep on the floor?

That Lovely Cave Floor

I seriously doubt many paleo dieters have considered it, but sleeping on the floor has many benefits that we do not get from lying in a bed. A short list I’ve compiled of health benefits include:

  • Improved circulation
  • Corrected posture
  • Pain prevention in back and neck
  • Reduction of scoliosis

Additionally, you sleep lighter and get out of bed easier in the morning. This leads to improved performance early morning and you can get a quick jump on your time management skills. There are other non-health benefits as well:

  • Significantly more space
  • Large amount of money saved – mattresses are $$$!
  • No more confusion about sleep numbers
  • Minimalist lifestyle

I have been sleeping on the floor now for two weeks. The reasons for this are not solely wellness driven, at least not at the outset. I am living as one of four people in a 1-bedroom apartment. Considering we are not allowed to have more than two people residing there, anything outside of our bunk bed is conspicuous. I had an air mattress that was easily inflated and deflated daily, although it quickly broke. Instead of purchasing some type of temporary bed I transitioned to the floor, which another roommate had been doing all semester.

Although I cannot feel things like improved circulation or scoliosis reduction, I can certainly attest to the light feeling I have each morning. There was no pain after a few days and the strangest thing is my mind seems to think of the floor as a bed now. Just as I used to like that “curling up” feeling of getting into my bed, so too do I get that “comfort feeling” when crawling into my space on the floor.

The only thing I use for padding is my yoga mat, which is essentially like putting a layer of toilet paper on the floor. It does very little except to make the floor a bit softer.

Not All Positive

Just as with my eating habits, this too gets some strange reactions out of people. I’m not going for any sort of “wow” factor, although that generally happens when a friend tells a new acquaintance about my wellness behaviors. It can be a bit polarizing, and although I don’t think anyone would avoid me on principle of wellness extremism alone, I don’t think it always comes off positively.

Additionally, sex is not really possible without some type of furniture. As I do not have a bed, will not be using my roommates’ (come on show some respect!), and we have no other furniture in the apartment, I’m not really sure how to solve this conundrum. I could always head to the girls’ place, but that would assume I currently have someone in my life right now. I do not. But should something pick up I will have to report back. I’m chuckling just thinking about how that conversation would go.

Back Problems

The medical community does not know why some people experience back problems. For many, this is a chronic issue that is not easily solvable. Although it’s perhaps a bit brash to blame it unilaterally on mattresses without any scientific evidence, I would not be surprised if that wasn’t the leading cause. Sure, everyone sits hunched over at a desk all day, but without the ability to reset your back at night, when will that occur?

From what I can garner online, posture and alignment when lying on a hard surface are fixed and put in their place. In such a sleeping arrangement, our body is supported by our bones. However, on a mattress we sink into the mattress and we are generally supported by soft tissue. This leads to lesser circulation and imperfect alignment of our spine.

Mattresses have been around for a long time and almost everyone has one, so you can’t say they cause back problems in everyone, because not everyone has back issues. However, just as some people do not get cancer despite many decades of smoking cigarettes, so too do some people get back problems from their mattress.

Intuitively it seems like it could be the opposite. Wouldn’t we want a soft place to lay down and sleep for the evening? Unfortunately this is not the case. I wrote about the body’s general antifragility in my last post and it seems to apply to most areas of our anatomy. I think this applies just as much to exercise as it does to the surface you sleep on.

Conclusion

Just as with all I’ve learned about eating well, I’m glad I found this too. Sleeping on the floor has many perks and I look forward to my posture improving over time.

Ultimately, I would encourage you to try it. Give it a week – no half assing it – and regardless of any discomfort you feel (so long as you can bear it), try to see how you feel by Day 7. I would be willing to bet this would improve your life, even if marginally.

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My Omaha Pilgrimage: An Interesting Weekend

How I Started This Post Last Sunday (Before a Busy Week Hit)

Let me start off by saying that I’m still not caught up on sleep: I’m mad at myself. It’s just poor choices, one after another, and I feel like most normal people right now. With how I’m eating, I should be on another level, but hey, just as they are eating meats, dairy, and heavy starches, I’m not sleeping well. I can fix myself up easier & faster than they can.

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I missed my flight this morning. I looked at my flight from Omaha into Memphis, and then the flight from Memphis to Indianapolis and got the times wrong. I thought my 2nd flight was my first one, so while I was ready for a 1:10 PM flight, my flight from Omaha actually left at 11:25 AM. It was from being super sleep deprived and zombie-like in my attention to detail. Oh well. The Delta attendant set up 2 new flights for me free of charge. The world is smiling on me today.

Real-Time Now (Sorry Guys, A Long Post Since It’s Been Awhile)

Okay, so you can see how disappointed with myself I was when I didn’t sleep much last week. It really is a huge drag on the rest of your day, and although I know most people don’t eat as I do, I feel that same drag whenever I eat the Standard American Diet (SAD). On those nights when you get 2-4 hours of sleep, you now know how I feel when I eat steak and potatoes.

On Friday I graduated college, having taken my last final at 8 AM. I wore the most ridiculous gangster jumpsuit to the exam to celebrate and finished first in the room as usual. I was in a hurry to get to the airport shuttle and I only just barely made it. Fortunately, I had packed a salad from a local grocery co-op and ate it at the airport right next to a McDonald’s. The expressions I got from a few people on what I was eating were pretty interesting; most people don’t expect a male at my age to eat like this. (My gangster outfit below with me on the right, back 4 years ago):

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Omaha was an amazing time. I woke up at 4:15 AM the next morning to make it to the meeting by 5 AM, which allowed me to be one of the first in the doors. I brought 2 red bell peppers and a few apples to eat outside the door, which attracted a bunch of attention from my investing friends. They went so far as to start a betting pool on what I might bring with me to eat next year (jokingly of course).  Once inside, we had a great view of the entire executive management team and of course, Warren Buffett & Charlie Munger.

I was hungry before it all started and there wasn’t a single thing to eat. They had a bunch of free packaged pastries- which made me sick to look at- coffee (which I decided to grab even though not healthy), and bottled waters. The concessions were serving pizza, hot dogs, etc. (typical stadium food), and I asked a guy if they had any fruits or vegetables. He told me he saw a patch of grass outside and that would be my best bet. With my lack of sleep coupled with being in a hurry (meeting was about to start) I simply walked away without acknowledging his joke. I’m usually not so cold, but I don’t do well when sleep deprived. But he’s absolutely right. They didn’t serve anything remotely resembling food and it was tough to find anything. I ended up going across the street to a Starbuck’s and grabbed a bunch of fruit, despite trying to generally avoid sugar.

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Speaking of sugar, Warren and Charlie each downed 3-4 Cokes throughout the 8-hour meeting, as well as a few boxes of See’s Candies (one of their companies). It has become a tradition and they enjoy the sugar rush, but it hurts me to think what they’re doing to their bodies. Warren’s diet consists of burgers and fries, steak, and Dairy Queen, among other things. He eats like a child and loves every minute of it, but I seriously doubt his body does. Even when questioned about it, they joked that it leads to the best mental performance for quick analytical thinking; I would challenge them on this 100%. I feel better mentally when eating like this than I ever have in many ways: increased mental clarity, more energy through the day, and a “high on life” feeling that doesn’t go away. Prolonged exposure to sugar has too many side effects for my mental clarity, not to mention the toll on the rest of my body.

Enough about Warren and Charlie- just some thoughts I had from being around them all day last Saturday. It truly was a great day though.

On my way home, I flew through Minneapolis, MN, and let me say one thing- if you’re vegan or even vegetarian, good luck. Seriously. The lack of actual food was atrocious. I walked about half the airport before realizing I had to suck it up and pay a premium $13 for a simple salad that costs $3-4 to make. McDonald’s and Ben & Jerry’s had much cheaper food, but I won’t ever sacrifice health for money. I’d rather be poor than eat SAD.

A Very Busy Week With No Responsibilities

After Omaha, there was no school at all. Along with many of my senior friends, I celebrated in a number of ways, much of which is outside the scope of this blog. But I put health on the sidelines for this week when it came to drinking and sleeping. I felt pretty lousy all week because of it- no surprise there!- and it just reinforced how much I desire to be healthy in the future. But it was nice to enjoy the college lifestyle one last time.

One of my best friends had his birthday mid-week and I cooked for about 20 people. Unfortunately, only about 5 people ate. This was mainly terrible planning but it still sucked- I wanted to do something nice for him and I didn’t feel as if many people really appreciated it. Everyone was gearing up to drink and didn’t want food. They did like the hummus I made though- I’m getting better at perfecting it! I made Gypsy Stew for everyone, and the recipe is as follows:

Cooking Time: 0.5-2 hours (depending on amount of vegetables used)

  • 1 Jar of Indian Curry Sauce (I used Madras, next time am looking to try Tikki Masala or Vindaloo)
  • 2 Sweet Potatoes chopped into bite size pieces
  • Any and all Chopped Vegetables You Want (I used Kale, Spinach, Sweet Peppers, Cucumbers, Zucchini, Broccoli, Jalapeños & Habaneros, Carrots, Tomatoes, and probably others as well)

Directions:

  • Boil potatoes in water until soft (this is discretionary for how long, if you want the potatoes to turn into the sauce then boil until very soft; I prefer them to be a part of the dish rather than the sauce, so I only boil for 10 minutes or so)
  • Add potatoes to curry sauce in a pan, turn on Medium Heat.
  • Add all chopped vegetables to pan. It will all cook down into a stew, stir regularly.

And that’s about it! I’ve made it a few times now. I’d recommend playing around with adding vegetables at different times so that some are crunchy and others are soft. You want to make sure all vegetables are bite sized so that it’s easy to eat (think about it like you’re making a salad). I’d also recommend playing around with how long you cook the sweet potatoes. But beyond that, it’s quite simple. I like mine spicy, but this could easily be mild.

The dish was a big hit with the 3 AM crowd- all the drunk kids that came through after the bars. I think that’s saying something, especially considering we were next door to a popular pizza place. But not enough people were hungry when I served it around 8:30 PM. I can say it’s my favorite cooked meal I’ve made, although it is cooked. Keep in mind: you’re destroying the enzymes in the vegetables when you cook them, as well as some nutrients. The pH miracle likes about 70-80% of your vegetable intake (which also supposed to be about 70-80% of your diet) to be raw, so I only eat a fully cooked meal like this once every few days.

A Farewell To RJ, College, and Heading Home

RJ and I said goodbye to each other a few days ago and it may be awhile before we see each other again. Every time I hear one of his songs in my iTunes it brings him to mind; it really is too bad we didn’t spend more time together in school. After I got sick last year, he took me under his wing by letting me live at the house he bought, and then later with health. He’s one of those few role models I’ll ever have in person. Most come from books for me, so that’s saying something. He means a lot to me. Its sucks to see him go. (Picture of RJ below).

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College was easier to say goodbye to than RJ. I’ve been waiting since day 1 to move on to the real world and I’ve been preparing for it nonstop. I have my friends from IU, sure, but the few I want to stay in touch with will be rather easy to (since there’s only 4-6 of them!). The education itself, well… I don’t want to get myself into trouble through an online forum. Ask me in person and I’ll tell you. But let’s just say I’m glad it’s over.

I’m now in the car with my family, who graciously drove out to pick me up and celebrate my graduation. We stopped at Wendy’s on the way home and I ordered a salad. Surprisingly enough, it wasn’t bad! I’ll never go there on my own, but if I had to I’d honestly say I would eat there. So props to them. The greens were fresh, tomatoes in decent shape, candied nuts weren’t healthy but tasted good, and I used as little dressing as I could. But it was still real food!

This upcoming week I’ll be cooking every single night for my family. I missed my mom’s birthday back in April and today is her Anniversary with my dad, so I figured I’d cook dinner all week to take the burden off her shoulders. I’ll also be cooking my extremely healthy diet, so it will be interesting to see how they take to it. I won’t be cooking tonight, but starting tomorrow you will be seeing pictures and recipes for what I make. It should get interesting. Stay posted.