The unsung hero of male self-improvement is sleep. A lack of sleep, or “sleep debt,” will retard your progress in weightlifting, womanizing, and just about any other worthwhile pursuit you could care to name. The authors of Sugar, Sleep and Survival, a popular treatment of the latest sleep research: “Not enough sleep makes you fat, hungry, impotent, hypertensive, and cancerous, with a bad heart.” Well then. In the interest of avoiding this parade of horribles, here are ten more facts you didn’t know about sleep. Many of these are culled from Sugar, Sleep and Survival (an excellent read.) The rest are from various scientific studies.
1. Night owls are less healthy
People who stay up late and sleep late, even if they get adequate sleep, exhibit a marked increase in psychopathology, i.e. mental disorders. Early birds, or morning types, also tend to have healthier lifestyles.
2. Night owls are smarter
Friend of the manosphere Satoshi Kanazawa examined ethnographies of hunter-gatherer groups, and found that nocturnal activities were relatively rare in these societies. Since smart people are more likely to behave evolutionary novel ways, he theorized that higher IQ individuals were more likely to be night owls. A longitudinal study of American adolescents proved him right.
3. Peak performance comes two hours after waking
A cross-cultural study of 2.4 million (!) users of social media showed that people post the most positive messages on twitter around two hours after waking. Since a positive mood is important for “physical and emotional well-being, working memory, creativity, decision-making, and immune response” it’s probably best to schedule difficult tasks around this time.
4. Night owls are more politically radical
This one made me laugh. A 1988 study of 200 paid volunteers showed that political radicalism and anxiety were both positively correlated with staying up late. The general habit of 2am manosphere blog posts is now totally understandable.
5. You probably need more sleep than you thought
Long days signal to your body that it’s late summertime. In the late summer, mammals begin to store fat for the winter. Humans “develop diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and severe depression on anything less than 9.5 hours of sleep a night for at least seven months out of the year.” Yes, you read that right. Nine and a half folks.
6. Sleep deprivation makes you crave carbohydrates
If you’ve tried any of the diet recommendations promulgated by ROK and other sites, you know how bad the carbohydrate cravings are in week two of paleo. Sleep will help you through to the week three promised land.
7. Computer screens are the enemy of sleep
When it’s time to sleep, your body produces a hormone called melatonin. While all forms of artificial light damage melatonin production, the blue light of your computer screen or plasma television has a particularly large negative impact. Staying off the web in the hours before bed is a smart move.
8. Showering before bed helps you fall asleep
When you sleep, blood flows from the abdomen into your extremities, bringing down your overall body temperature. The water evaporating from your skin after a shower mimics this effect, leading to drowsiness. You can also mimic the heat flow to your extremities by placing a hot water bottle at your feet.
9. Cooler ambient air temperature makes falling asleep easier
The same mechanism in fact number eight is at work here.
10. Sleep makes you more attractive
Sleep debt causes your cortisol levels to rise. Cortisol levels are a primary determinant in male facial symmetry and oxidative stress, both of which are profoundly correlated with perceived attractiveness.