TV Sleep Tip

I wanted to share this tip I developed regarding watching TV at night and falling asleep. Some of us like to watch TV at the end of the day to relax before bed. But what relaxes us can also stimulate us just enough to keep us from going to bed. We stay up too late and cut our sleep short.

I solved this problem several years ago.

30-60 minutes before you want to go to sleep, change the programming to something that meets all these rules:

  1. Something you’ve already seen before. Rewatching an old Family Guy or Star Trek episode is relaxing, but because you’ve already seen it before, it isn’t novel. There are no consequences to quitting midway through an episode. You know what will happen. You can go to sleep easier.
  2. The show must not have commercials. Commercials are novel and often play at a higher volume than the program.
  3. If it is a comedy, pick something without a laugh track. If it is a drama, pick something without explosions, gunfire or yelling.
  4. Never pick a competition show, be it cooking or sports.
  5. Already know what you are going to watch when “last call” for TV arrives. Have the shows ready to go on Hulu or Netflix. YouTube is not recommended because there are too many distractions of recommended viewing as well as comments to read.

I have seen every episode of Family Guy, American Dad, Cleveland Show, King of the Hill, and Futurama multiple times. Well, let me say that I’ve seen the first half of each of those episodes multiple times. Usually, I fall asleep halfway into an episode. They are like sleeping pills.


Frequent Blood Donations and Injury Recovery

I’m currently reading Beyond Training by Ben Greenfield and although I don’t think I’m the target audience for the book (endurance athletes) or agree with a lot of what he writes, I did land on a gem of an idea.

Ben writes about how endurance athletes can deplete their iron levels through high levels of training and this could cause injuries or slow their recovery. A quick search confirms all this information, as well as the fact athletes, require more iron than the general population. I’m no longer an endurance athlete, so why should I care?

With a few exceptions, I’ve been donating a pint of blood every 8 weeks for 9 years. In the past year, I have either hit the lowest iron level possible to donate or I’ve been turned away for being just under. In my quest to get my 5-gallon pin for the state of Washington, I have been “studying for the test”, by eating sunflower seeds and orange juice for a few days prior, just to bump up my iron levels for the test.

Note that my iron levels are not low. They are just a bit too low to donate. About two years ago the iron level required to donate was increased here in Seattle. Not to help the recipient of the blood, but so the person donating is still healthy after donating a pint.

I started actively donating blood not only to help others but to help myself. Now, I may have pushed it too far. As of now, I’m going to reduce my blood donations from 6.5 a year to 2. I’ll also make more of an effort to pair iron-rich foods with Vitamin C rich foods. If bumping up my iron levels helps me recover faster, that would be great. It is worth a try.

Has anyone had experience with increasing iron levels to increase recovery times or reduce injuries?


Finding Fitness Focus

Whenever I take on too many fitness goals, I lose focus. It is much easier to direct energy in one direction than several. When my primary goal was losing weight or doing knee rehab, I made progress. However, in the last two months, I’ve stalled. The reason is I’m trying too many things.

My current fitness goals:

Increase muscle

Back in August, I got excited about increasing muscle via higher training volumes. During the past 5 years, I have been going through the motions at the gym as I deal with a knee issue. Now that my knee is 80-90% better, I want to recapture the gains I had earned when my knee was 100%.

Increasing volume has been a challenge, as I’ve developed golfer’s elbow which was likely a result of adding too many pull-ups to my routine. High volume has been interrupted.

Cardio Rediscovered

Then the cardio story caught my eye. I’ve been gradually adding some elliptical work with success.

Winter Bodybuilder Diet

Last winter, I was able to stay lean following a peasant diet (higher carb), but now that I’m leaner I know I’ll need a more bodybuilder diet (higher protein) to maintain. So far, I’m doing fine here, but this will be my first winter following a higher protein diet. I think I’ll be fine here, but I do need to be aware of holiday temptations and the reduced-activity I have with shorter days.

Fasting Mimicking Diet

July was the last month that I attempted a 5-day Fasting Mimicking Diet. I made 4 days. I needed to solve for heat before I tried the FMD again. And I did that recently. I joined a gym with a sauna. As I type this post, I am on Day 3 of an FMD and I feel much better thanks to the daily sauna visits.

Nagging Pains

As I mentioned above, I developed a case of Golfer’s Elbow from pull-ups that is taking a long time to heal. I got a lot of advice recently and the consensus is to let it heal and don’t perform any lifts that might aggravate it.

My left knee never gets to 100% healed. I’ll get 90% fine and then it will drop back to 70%. This is putting a brake on the leg workouts I’d like to do.

I Need a Plan

As much as I would love to use the winter months to get jacked on high volume lifting, my elbow and knee are not going to allow that at this time. Maybe not all winter.

Cardio is fine and I will ease into it, but it doesn’t capture the motivation that gaining muscle and getting lean do.

I’ll probably just stay in this holding pattern for another month or two and see what happens. It really sucks that my motivation far exceeds my recovery rate.


Photo by Stefan Cosma