Science in Action: Why Did I Sleep So Well? (part 8)

My recent experience suggests that if I stand on one foot until it becomes slightly difficult about four times/day I will sleep much better. Two days ago I measured how long those four bouts of one-foot standing actually were: 6.2 (left foot), 4.3 (right), 4.8 (left), and 5.2 (right) minutes. The median is 5.0 minutes. When I started doing this, about two weeks ago, each bout was about 2 minutes.

It doesn’t seem to matter when I do them. Now I do two in the morning and two in the evening. Fits perfectly with a subway commute. You’ll want to be forced to stand.

In the evening I have a pleasant sense of anticipation: I will fall asleep and wake up feeling really good. I have never before felt this way. I have slept this well before, when I stood 9 or 10 hours/day. The sheer difficulty and all-consumingness of doing that, I now realize, got in the way of anticipating the benefits.

Something else curious is that one-foot standing leaves no mark — I can’t tell at 3 pm how many bouts I’ve done so far just by noticing how I feel. Unlike water or calorie consumption: If I don’t drink anything I’ll get thirsty. If I don’t eat anything I’ll get hungry. But if I don’t get enough of this particular byproduct of exercise I’ll never notice.

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

  1. Great post! It would be really interesting if you were able to do an optimization curve by alternating shorter and longer periods of standing and seeing where your returns-for-effort peaked. That curve might shift as it is possible that the trigger for the sleep mechanism is from the musculature and requires a certain level of challenge to be set off. The time necessary to induce the deeper-sleep response may increase as you become better at it or develop stronger legs from the process. Very interesting experiment and results.

  2. It would be really helpful if in a future blog post you could explain what you mean by standing on one foot? Ie. are you holding support with your hand from a bar in the subway, are you holding the other foot with your hand behind you, are you balancing on just one foot, etc.

    I guess this is what’s usually called isotonic excercise?

  3. Toni H, I’ve done it two ways: 1. A quadraceps yoga-like stretch. Pulling my other leg back behind me. 2. No stretch at all. The two feet remain close together except one is bearing all the weight.

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