An Alarm Clock is Unnecessary

I took the step of not setting my alarm at all this week. It was successful. I didn’t oversleep at all and was up earlier than I would have been in the past. There were a couple of overcast mornings and I’ve noticed that the darkness causes me to sleep past the usual 6:40 first wake up, but not to completely oversleep. It’s interesting how much the natural light effects my wake-ups.

I’m probably not swearing off my alarm altogether. On days when I have something really important to do at a specific time in the morning, I’ll set my alarm for the latest possible time I could get up and still make it on time.  But for the most part, I’m going without. I get up earlier, feel more refreshed, and even feel better for the entire day.



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My Alarm Clock is Making Me Sleep More

iPhone alarm set for 8:00 am. I now wake up before this.

I hate sleep.

I mean, I enjoy sleep itself. It feels good. But I hate the fact that I have to sleep. My life is short and I wish I could just be awake for the whole thing.

For most of my adult life I’ve experimented, with varying levels of seriousness, with different sleeping patterns in an effort to maximize my restfulness and minimize my total hours asleep. For the most part nothing has worked well.

Having a child that also hates sleep has made finding a balance of sleep/awake time even more difficult. Up until about a month ago, there was very little pattern or intentionality to my sleep schedule because her sleep schedule was so random. Now that she is sleeping more regularly, I’m back to trying to figure out how I can sleep less.

Up until about 4 days ago, I had been on a schedule of laying down in bed about 10:00 or 10:30 pm and reading until I could no longer keep my eyes open, usually sometime around 12. My alarm would always be set for 6:40 because around 7 hours of sleep seems like a reasonable amount to me. Sometimes I’d wake up before the alarm (usually within a minute or two) or the alarm would go off, and since I don’t really need to be to work until 8:30 or 9, I’d hit snooze and/or go back to sleep. This would happen over and over again until I could finally muster the willpower to get out of bed, or until I absolutely had to get up in order to make it to work at a reasonable time. This pattern would result in me getting out of bed sometime between 7:50 and 8:15.

A realization about my alarm clock.

A few days ago, while laying in bed in some state of half awakeness between alarm buzzes, I realized that my alarm was probably actually just making me sleep later.
Anytime I woke up before the alarm, I felt like going back to sleep until the alarm went off; like I had allotted that time for sleep so I’d better use it. The worst part was that waking up after each 9 minute iPhone snooze got harder each time (I have a hypothesis on this, but I’ll save it).

I took this realization and decided to try something. Monday I set my alarm to what I think is the absolute latest time I want to get out of bed, 8:00 am. Guess what, I’ve gotten up earlier than normal and felt better than normal.

My New Thought Process.

I now wake up before my alarm naturally, about 6:40. Since I know I if I fall back into a deep sleep I’m not getting up until the alarm goes off at 8, I usually close my eyes and fade in and out of light sleep for about 30 minutes, and then get out of bed a little after 7. It’s really working great.

Another upside of this strategy.

If I am really tired and don’t wake up naturally, I’ll only sleep til 8, but it will be uninterrupted sleep. It seems this is much better from a total rest perspective than getting up every 9 minutes between 6:40 and 8:00.

My next step is to go without an alarm.

My hypothesis is that the more costly I make falling back asleep after I wake up initially, the less likely I will be to fall back asleep. Thus, not setting an alarm at all may get me out of bed immediately after I wake up the first time (hopefully at 6:40). I’m going to try this next week.

What is your wakeup strategy? Please share in the comments.

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Gaming the Low-Carb System? My review of The Carbohydrate Addicts Diet

I written at least a few posts discussing the science behind why low-carb diets are effective for weight loss. Essentially, it is about the control of insulin through the control of blood sugar. Recently a copy of The Carbohydrate Addicts Diet  by Dr. Rachael Heller and Dr. Richard Heller  (A skinny married couple writing a diet book: cute)  caught my eye when I was looking at the books at my local Goodwill.( I generally look at the diet books to see if there are any cheap copies of Protien Power that I can buy and give to people.)

Anyway, I read the book and thought I would provide a short summary and a quasi-review.

The diet suggested in the book recommends 2 low-carb meals per day and one “reward” meal per day. Essentially, you can eat as many carbohydrates (in any form) as you want as long as they are consumed in a one hour block each day. The other 23 hours: almost 0 carbs. The theory here is that by limiting blood sugar, and thus insulin response, 23 hours per day, a person is able to take advantage of the weight loss effects afforded by a standard low-carb diet but is still able to enjoy the carb-rich foods they crave.

The book also discusses the effect blood sugar (and eating foods that raise it) has on appetite. It is the authors’ belief that the 23-hour-per-day-low-carb diet is effective in controlling appetite, as well.

I found the thought process behind this book to be quite interesting. I do believe that eating carbs only 1-hour per day is better than eating them all day. It would be really interesting to see some rigorous studies testing this diet against a more traditional low-carb diet.

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Science and Big Business Interact to Create Obesity?

Chances are you or your parents are on a medication to control cholesterol. I’ve expressed my thoughts on high cholesterol in the past. From all of the information I’ve read, watched and heard, it is my belief that the world would be better off without statins.

I found and watched this video this weekend  (via Fat Head Blog, the blog by the creator of the Fat Head). In the video, Dr. David Diamond does a pretty good job explaining why cholesterol isn’t really a risk factor for heart disease, why saturated fat isn’t bad for us and why sugar is. I recommend watching the entire video. But, if you aren’t up for that kind of time investment, the second half is the best.

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A Review of “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead”

Netflix’s recommendation engine is on to the fact that I’m interested in nutrition and diet. It recently recommended Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead
 Since I took the time to watch it, I thought I would also take the time to write about some of my thoughts about it.

Quick summary: A man documents a 90 60 day juice fast that only includes plant products. Unsurprisingly, he loses lots of weight and feels a lot better.

First of all, I really like the idea of the movie. It falls right in line with the type of self-experimentation that I partake in with The Hugluk Experiments. The gentleman in this movie sets out on to document a 90 day juice fast. While this is a much more extreme experiment than eating low-carb for 90 days, I could relate to many of this gentleman’s struggles. Specifically, the social pressures involved with going on an extreme diet and the temptation foods like pizza afford.

As you might imagine, I don’t agree at all with the diet that this guy is promoting. Juice? Seriously? I found it very interesting that he referenced the diets of our hunter-gather ancestors and contrasted them with our modern diets and then proceeded to pursue a diet that wouldn’t be even a little bit realistic for a hunter-gather. It turns out making juice is from kale is a bit labor intensive when you don’t have a $400 stainless steael machine. Also, in much of North America, none of the foods he juiced would have been available 6 (or more) months of the year.

It also occurred to me that extreme lifestyle changes may be, in many ways, easier to maintain than incremental ones. A drastic change seems more likely to shake up all of a person’s habits. Extreme dietary changes can also result in immediate and drastic physical changes. These changes probably make it more likely that you will stick to some form of the diet and/or lifestyle change.

Anyway, I recommend checking out the movie. It was interesting and entertaining. I don’t, however, recommend doing a juice fast. I do recommend eating more real foods. More meat, more vegetables and more berries. If it strikes your fancy, I also recommend doing something extreme. It’s not only fun, it can also provide results.


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Half-Marathon Video

Check out the video of my half-marathon experience. If you’re bored of all of the running, feel free to skip to watch the final interview.

The Hugluk Half-Marathon from Luke Huggett on Vimeo.


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Worst 2 hours and 10 minutes of my life?

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know that I survived yesterday’s half marathon.

It wasn’t actually the worst 2 hours and 10 minutes of my life. The last 30 minutes, however, were the worst 30 minutes of my life. My calves were cramping, my feet ached, my hip-flexors and groin were on fire, and  my heart was beating out of my chest.

I was able to overcome the pain, and finish the the entire half-marathon with no walking (other than two short stretches while waiting to cross the street). Even though I didn’t meet my goal of finishing in under two hours, I’m quite pleased with the accomplishment. I literally did nothing to prepare for the run, yet I was able to finish with a somewhat respectable time. To put my performance into perspective, the average time at Grandma’s Half-Marathon two weeks ago was 2:06.

As you can imagine, I’m in rough shape today. The simple act of getting out of bed this morning was all but impossible. All movement below my belly button is excruciating. Going up and down stairs is literally more painful than the run itself.

I’m currently working on editing the video from the run. My goal is to have it up by tomorrow. I think you’ll find at least some of it entertaining.

The link below shows the route. The timing/speeds are a little off as my phone was in Alex’s backpack, but you can at least see the route.

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