Odds and Ends Before the Big Trip

Photo by: ex.libris

Sleep Experiments to Continue

As discussed in the post Sleep Your Way to Better Physical and Mental Performance, I have been focusing on getting better quality sleep.  For two weeks in June and the entire month of July, I was taking melatonin before bed and keeping notes on my ability to fall asleep and the overall quality of sleep.  I started with a 1 mg dose and eventually increased the dose to 2 mg.  For the first four weeks, the melatonin did its job.  It made me drowsy and helped me sleep soundly through the night (6-8 hours).

The real take away from this part of the experiment was how much better I felt during the day and when exercising (both in the gym with weights and during TKD).  With improved sleep came gains in work performance, strength, and an elevated mood.  Without a doubt, improved sleep helped with physical and mental recovery.

Unfortunately, during the last two weeks of July, I noticed that the melatonin was not having the same impact.  My sleep pattern was returning to waking up earlier than I wanted (around 0400-0430) and then not being able to get back to sleep.  I did not want to continue to up the dose of melatonin, although as discussed in the previous post, Mike Mahler reports positive results with 5 mg before bed.

After reading Seth Roberts’ paper: Self Experimentation as a Source of New Ideas, I have decided to try pushing breakfast back from 0630 to 0900. Pushing breakfast back is designed to help reduce early awakening, by recalibrating the anticipatory activity of the body related to eating.  With a regularly scheduled 0630 breakfast, well before that time, the body starts to activate processes in anticipation of the meal.  Activation of the body in anticipation of the meal may be one cause of early awakening.  Thus, by pushing breakfast back, I hope to recalibrate the anticipatory activation phase, such that it allows me to sleep longer more often.

Pushing breakfast back, actually dovetails nicely with the recommendation from the Gracie Diet, (see Confessions of a Food Faddist) to start the morning with a glass of water.  Now, I have a glass of water upon rising and a cup of green tea a little later.  Breakfast is much later at 0900.

Unfortunately, with my upcoming trip criss-crossing time zones, I expect that whatever recalibration I have accomplished will be ruined.  Although, I will be continuing with this experiment, I don’t expect to have anything significant to report for some time.

Increased consumption

I doubt its having an impact on the economy, but I have consciously increased my portion sizes and have been adding pea protein to my smoothies.  The increased portions should help add some weight, while the protein may help with recovery.  I have never had much luck with protein supplements helping to add muscle, but this time my focus will be a little different.  If the protein helps with muscle recovery, then I should be able to continue to progress in the weight room, which in turn should result in strength and muscle gains.

While traveling, I may pick up some protein along the way to keep my consumption up.  I can’t see going through security with a big bag of powder in my suitcase, so will buy it locally.  I got this idea from JC’s recent post, The Vacation Diet: How To Maintain Your Weight While Traveling.

on to phase III

Progress continues in the gym.

Phase I: Focused on introducing Alex to the weight room and basic weight training exercises.  We worked on balance, lots of repetitions, and proper form for squat, press, bench press, and dead lift.

We just finished Phase II: Which was a variation of the Starting Strength program.  You can see from the workouts that we had an A and B day split and were in the gym three days a week (swim meets broke up the pattern for a couple of weekends, but we were pretty consistent).  On A day’s we were doing: 3×5 squats; 3×5 bench; 1×5 dead lift; and 1×5 barbell glute bridges.  For B day’s, we were doing: 3×5 squats; 3×5 press; 3×5 rows; and 3×5 barbell glute bridges.  We followed each workout with a glass of chocolate milk.  At this point, Alex is comfortable with the exercises and is making steady gains with the weight.

During the vacation, the plan is to take it easy, recover, and eat.  We will do some body weight exercises and barefoot sprints to maintain conditioning and strength, but for the most part, this will be a two week break, before starting Phase III.  With Phase III, we will stick with the Starting Strength protocol, but now turn our focus to making gains both in weight lifted and number of reps completed.

Readership Continues to Grow

The blog recently surpassed 22,000 total page views.  No delusions, some web pages have that kind of traffic per month, others per day, but the reality for SEE is that traffic has tripled since last year.  Like the Little Engine that Could, SEE continues to gather steam.  I am extremely grateful for all of the support, encouragement, and comments that readers and other bloggers continue to provide.  You are definitely keeping me motivated.  OK, that’s it for now…Time to get packing!

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4 responses to “Odds and Ends Before the Big Trip

  1. Sleep is a tricky thing. Everyone is so busy that they develop bad sleeping habits. I know I have. I get minimal hours in to be functional, but I know that my recovery will be affected after a strenuous or challenging workout. I try to catch up during the weekend. Again, my bad sleep habits – I stay up much too late.
    I need to break out of this, be more disciplined and better to myself. Nice read, Adam.

    • Like you, I tend to make up my sleep deficit on weekends. Not ideal. I wish someone would make naps mandatory during the week too. For me sleep deficits occur gradually. So, I did not recognize the impact on performance, until I noticed how much better I performed with a solid night’s sleep…the difference was impressive enough, that I have been really motivated on this point for the last two months. So, will keep experimenting and reporting results.

  2. Unfortunately I have recently noticed even my 1 cup of coffee a day disrupts my sleep. I have cut back to about 3-4 cups per week but I love it too much to stop altogether. Might try the melatonin on my coffee days.

    Good onya re your site hits! There’s lots of useful stuff here.

    • Thanks Anna, its been quite the adventure, but lots of cool people are stopping by now! I’ve been drinking a cup of tea in the morning (I can’t handle coffee). So far no noticeable negative effect on sleep.

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