Monday, July 31, 2017


I was talking with Pavi last month and she was sharing about an Ayurvedic master named Shunyaji who runs a world-renowned Institute in the Bay Area. In one of the courses where she trains students to teach Ayurveda, she started the first class by saying: You are going to learn a lot of things in this course and cover topics in great depth. You may not remember most and practice even less. But if you forget everything else I say, remember these two things and practice them for a lifetime of good health:
  1. Get enough sleep and sleep on time
  2. Avoid snacking
I found it fascinating that a teacher steeped so deeply in this ancient science began her course and essentialized the teachings into these two points.

Pavi and I talked more about the impact of good sleep and it inspired me to commit to sleeping on time and in greater quantity. Ayurveda says that the body gets peak rest during 11am-3am, so sleeping by 10:30pm is important. I was normally sleeping between 11-12am, and it would be a significant shift to get to bed by 10:30. But I told Pavi my goal would be to at least get to bed before 11pm regularly.

I have been putting it into practice for about a month and, though I'm still not there yet consistently, am finding it really beneficial. I'm not sure if it's directly caused by sleeping early, but I feel more at ease, less anxious in my day-to-day. I have been dealing with anxiety in the mornings and stress throughout the day for a couple years now so this has been a welcome change.

Earlier sleep means a bigger change in my routine, most notably it means I have to exercise in the mornings rather than evenings. Since I was sleeping earlier, I have been waking up earlier so this became a possibility. Morning workouts has been a happy side effect of the sleep shift and I've been really loving it. It's forced me to go to the gym less, so less heavy weight workouts but I've anyway been trying to move more towards flexibility and mobility through yoga and gymnastics-style training (after listening to an incredible interview with the former US Gymnastics coach Chris Sommer). Shifting away from the gym has brought in more variety in exercise as well, I rotate between 7-minute workout (from Nimo), 8-minute abs (from Hash), the Bear (a routine with dumbbell I learned from Denny, a 70+ year-old personal trainer I met in Florida that's built like a tank), pushups, kettlebell, etc. I do wind sprints on the riverfront instead of on the treadmill, which is better for the knees and probably for the body.

The sleep change causing ripple effects on the rest of life reminds me of an interview Naval Ravikant gave where he said the simple decision to work out every morning changed his whole life, because it meant he had to go to sleep early, which meant he couldn't stay out late, which meant he stopped drinking because he stopped going out with friends at night to bars. Stopping drinking in turn had many other positive mental and physical benefits. It's all connected and one discipline you bring in can have a positive ripple effect across many aspects of life. 

I started keeping a sleep log to track my sleep and motivate the behavior change, so far so good!

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