Find your inner caveman.
One of the hottest nutrition trends right now is the Paleo Diet, which is all about channeling your inner caveman, by eating what our ancient cave-dwelling forefathers did back in the Paleolithic Age--organic meat, vegetables and water--and avoiding any and all dairy, alcohol, grains, beans, processed oils, and refined sugar. The living-like-a-caveman craze is now going one step further with folks not only eating, but also sleeping like our cave ancestors. It’s Ben Franklin’s “early to bed, early to rise” adage on steroids.
Experts claim that cavemen had two sleep cycles, referred to as a “first sleep” and “second sleep.” which lasted about four hours each, with a two-to-three-hour interim period of rest for activities like talking, drawing, or having sex. Additionally, there was an early afternoon nap of anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. This academic research is based on studies of hunter-gatherer tribes like the !Kung of Botswana and the Efe of Zaire by academics like Carol Worthman, Director of the Laboratory for Comparative Human Biology and Professor of Anthropology at Atlanta’s Emory University. Worthman’s research asserts that forager groups that currently live like the Paleo Caveman sleep when they want. “Sleep is a very fluid state,” according to Worthman in Discover magazine. “They sleep when they feel like it--during the day, in the evening, in the dead of night.”
Marianne van Dijk, a Dutch journalist living in Amsterdam, decided last year to live a full year as a Cavewoman. She abandoned hot showers, makeup, even her shoes. Her experience can be found at whataboutwilma.com. “Sleeping in a Paleolithic way, I thought that I should be sleeping when it’s dark and getting up when it’s light,” van Dijk said. “I noticed that when I sleep when it gets dark, I feel much more rested. I also sometimes take naps as well.”
The Mayo Clinic claims that adults should get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night, and school-age children, anywhere from 9-11 hours. Sleeping less has short-term effects of decreased performance and alertness, memory and cognitive impairment, and poorer quality of life, and long-term effects of high blood pressure, heart attacks, obesity, and stroke.
The overall value of living a Caveman lifestyle, according to Brandon Allen, a Texas pharmacist by day and writer of livingthecavemanway.com by night is to “encourage people to be more active in their everyday lives. This includes getting outdoors and out of all the artificial environments--man-made light, air (purifiers, A/C, heat) and man-made noises. Regaining the way of the caveman will help us be healthier. It will help prevent chronic disease, improve mental capacity, and lead to a leaner body to boot.”