Wayfinder 89 / The Sleep Issue

As I get older, sleep seems to become a greater concern. Now that I'm in my mid-fifties I awake 1-2 times each evening to hit the restroom. Apparently the technical term is Nocturia. If I'm in a cold environment, like out camping, that number can swell. For the most-part, I still feel fairly well rested throughout the week when home, but out on adventures I tend to slowly fall behind on my necessary sleep hours.

Certainly sleep is important, I've felt the dramatic effects of chronic insomnia and wouldn't wish that on anyone. But, maybe putting too much attention on it exacerbates the issue. Be aware of your sleep patterns, but perhaps hundreds of dollars in supplements and data collection isn't providing a solution, but causing more problems.

Sleep and adventures: We're still searching for a better sleep solution for our multi-day bikepacking and trail running adventures. Often we'll break up our nights, doing one or two nights camping, then get a hotel room to catch up on sleep so we can adventure better for the remainder of the trip—and not get short with one another. :) Point being, do what you need to do be successful. Don't "tough it out" if it makes the experience miserable. — Paul

Wayfinder is our bimonthly newsletter with insights that help you adventure better, stay curious, and age awesome(ly).

Being sleep deprived has become such a norm in today’s society that we often brush it off as an unavoidable part of our lives. Studies show that 31 percent of the Canadian and American population is sleep deprived.

Sleep deprivation can lead to an inability to accurately detect between threatening and non-threatening stimuli. This failed detection is thought to be the basis for many anxiety disorders. Basically, we more easily fall into fight-or-flight mode when we don't get enough Zzz's, then fear and panic ensues. Bottom line, get your 8+ hours to ensure living better.

Being sleep-deprived will force us to always play it safe — to avoid potential losses and never take any risks. In other words, it may cause us to miss out on all the amazing opportunities that we’re presented with. All because of some falsely generated sense of fear; a fear that is, quite literally, “in our heads”.

A study shows people who have very irregular sleep patterns may have a higher risk of dementia than those who have more regular sleep patterns. This according to new research recently published in Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study only shows a connection, it does not show that sleep irregularity causes dementia. And, sleep regularity is defined as a consistent pattern of going to sleep and waking at the same time each day, not the amount of sleep you get each night.

"Sleep health recommendations often focus on getting the recommended amount of sleep, which is seven to nine hours a night, but there is less emphasis on maintaining regular sleep schedules," said study author Matthew Paul Pase, PhD of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

5 Laws of Sleep for Athletes
Takeaway → You don't need to get high-tech, keep a paper sleep log. Nap wisely. Routine is priority when it comes to sleep—stay consistent. Avoid using sedatives, like melatonin.

Using Sleep Tracking To Make Performance Gains
Takeaway → A counter-argument for the value of sleep tracking devices from Wahoo. They, however, suggest 9-10 hours of sleep as the recommendation for athletes, while the above article references 7-8 hours as the ideal target.

Once we have the metrics to understand “what” is going on, we can then implement strategies to practice or “train” ourselves into better sleep.

Can carbs interfere with your sleep?
Takeaway → As one might suspect, simple carbs can cause sleep disruption while complex carbs, such as those coming from nuts and vegetables may help promote better sleep cycles. However, it seems variables are too hard to control in these tests to make any definitive conclusions.

Wellness tip

New Year, New Perspective. If you’re needing a new perspective on things, try literally switching things up this New Year. Inversions, any pose that brings your heart above your head, obviously bring a new viewpoint to your physical surroundings but can encourage that mental shift, too. Can you try looking at a life decision in a new way? Or problem-solve whatever’s been eating at you from a different angle?

Among other positive benefits, inversions change and boost lymphatic flow which can clear toxins, reduce inflammation and help our immune function. If you’re looking to improve your sleep, like Paul, gentler inverted poses like legs-up-the-wall, shoulderstand (try using the wall for support) or even child’s pose can help calm your nervous system at bedtime. The familiar down dog pose or a wide-legged forward fold are simple inversions to practice any time of day (keeping knees bent is always perfectly acceptable, it’s not about flexibility).

Headstand or shoulderstand may sound intimidating, but using the wall for help, or asking a friend to assist can make them accessible and playful. If you have zero experience with any of this, have high blood pressure or eye disease (or any neck/back problems) please opt for a simple down dog or legs-up-the-wall, and/or consult a physician.  — Susan

Quote to ponder

If you look for the truth outside yourself, it gets farther and farther away. — Tung-Shan Liang-Chieh