Science in Action: Why Did I Sleep So Well? (part 5)

I have been sleeping much better than usual. Sharp easy-to-notice improvement. After the first time this happened I made a list of 9 possible reasons (lifestyle changes that might have been responsible). I later added one I’d overlooked: standing on one foot to exhaustion a few times.

Yesterday I stood on one foot to exhaustion four times, twice in the morning and twice in the evening. It took about three minutes each time (12 minutes total). Didn’t make any of the nine other candidate changes. And I slept much better than usual. So it is beginning to look like just that one factor is responsible. The one I almost forgot but also the one that seemed most plausible after i remembered it.


8 Replies to “Science in Action: Why Did I Sleep So Well? (part 5)”

  1. Seth,

    Are you talking about just standing on one foot or tiptoeing on one foot ? 3 minutes seems to be a small number to get exhausted, or am I missing something ?



  2. I usually spend most of my day sitting in front of a computer and don’t sleep as well as I’d like (though not terribly). Yesterday, inspired by this series of posts, I raised my computer 18 inches and worked for several hours standing in front of my desk. I slept very well last night and plan to stand for several hours today as well.

    I also found that standing helps fight drowsiness, so I plan to stand while doing some of my more boring research work.

  3. And what are you doing with the other foot? Holding it slightly off the ground? Bent up behind you? Pressed against the other leg (as in yoga’s tree pose)? Extended in front of you?

  4. Igor, I just stand on one foot. No moving around. Maybe 3 minutes isn’t long, I don’t know. I do know that in any yoga class I am the worst student.

    Philip, by “exhausted” I mean my leg starts to hurt and to continue would be more than slightly uncomfortable. Nothing to do with balance.

    Curious, while I’m doing this I’m holding my other foot bent up behind me. Because I found that many hours of standing produced similar effects, I discount the stretching aspect of my pose. My previous research (standing many hours) involved no stretching.

  5. I think this works! I’ve got a Wii fit that I hadn’t been using much lately and decided to do 30 minutes of the ‘stand on one leg’ exercises they had (~3 yoga poses, ~3 ‘strength’ exercises) and I ended up waking up about 1.5 hours earlier and feeling pretty good (although the day’s not over yet). Obviously it’ll need more trials/comparisons with other exercises, etc. but it’s a promising find.

    Seth, you mentioned during your omega-3 posts that you used balancing on one leg as a test–were there any sleep differences while you were running those tests?

    Anyway, be curious to here if others get the same result. The wii fit does seem like a decent platform for self experimentation since you get a score and logs of how long you did each exercise for.

  6. When I did my balancing tests (standing on one leg) my sleep did not noticeably improve. I don’t make anything of this because I would typically balance for 5 seconds or so perhaps 30 times with substantial rest between bouts. Whereas now I am standing 3 minutes or so at one time, that is, with no rest (and doing this 4 times/day = 12 minutes total/day). Old way: not stressful at all. New way: very stressful. I’m sure you need stress to get the effect (if there is one) because I got no sleep benefit from standing until I got up to 8 hours or more per day.

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