12-days-diabetes-hpi

The 12 Days of Diabetes from the Health Performance Institute!

Click here to view the event on our Facebook page.

Continue on to learn more about it.



Starting December 12 and finishing December 23, we will host a FB Live video each day. The videos will be short – 3-5 minutes – and will discuss some of the things type 2 diabetics struggle with on a daily basis. A few of the scheduled topics include discussions about food and hunger, the good news and bad news surrounding type 2 diabetes, how what you have been told about exercise is probably wrong and a lot more. See the image for a list of all 12 topics.



In each of the videos, we will discuss the topic and tell you what to do so you can improve your condition.

Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition. It’s expensive and debilitating and we don’t seem to be making progress in treating the condition. If you are serious about improving your health and making real progress in controlling your diabetes, the 12 Days of Diabetes from us is what you need.

Please join us. Everything is free and there are no strings attached. Please tag all of your friends, family members, co-workers and anyone else you think should hear this information!

Click here to view this event on Facebook. When there, scroll through and click “Going” for all 12 days of Diabetes. While the first live video is scheduled for noon on December 12, we will be hosting the live video each day at a different time, depending on scheduling. So click “Going” to stay updated on the next video times!

4-things-type-2-diabetics-must-do

4 Things Type 2 Diabetics Must Do To Improve Insulin Sensitivity!

Recently, Brian hosted a live video on the HPI Facebook page.

He discussed why it is important for type 2 diabetics to do more than just take medication to control their blood sugar. Specifically, he covered four different things that must be done to improve insulin resistance. He also discussed why it is important these things are done.

Those in attendance received some free gifts. Click here to get them.

sugar consumption increase 8200%

Would you like to know why our chronic disease problem is so bad? Look no further than this!

The USDA recently published “U.S. Trends in Food Availability and a Dietary Assessment of Loss-Adjusted Food Availability, 1970-2014.”

This long-worded and cumbersome title means the report was trying to answer this question: “What kind of changes in food consumption can we see over the specified period of time?” In this case, that specified period of time would be 1970 to 2014.

For a little history: The late 60’s and early 70’s was when the low-fat message started hitting Americans. The USDA published the first dietary guidelines about this time, asking Americans to eat less fat, saturated fat and red meat.

Guess what? Americans, for the most part, followed suit.

There was essentially no change in protein consumption overall – a 1% change in 40 years. Not significant. However, chicken consumption increased significantly – more than doubling during the time period. Since chicken doubled and the overall amount was essentially unchanged, this means red meat consumption went down. As instructed.

Similarly, there were decreases in saturated fat consumption and increases in poly-unsaturated fat consumption (think soybean oil).

But at what cost?

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Between 1970 and 2014, the amount of HFCS consumption increased by 8,212%, going from 0.5 pounds per person per year to 45.5 pounds. This means the average American is consuming nearly 1 pound of HFCS per week!

Grain-Based Products

Wheat and corn-based products also increased in consumption, with wheat based products increasing by 31% and corn-based products increasing by 23%.

While wheat and corn-based products look and taste different than sweets, they act the same once they reach the digestive system. In other words, bread and sugar act the same.

Look Mom, It’s a Chronic Disease Carnival!

Replacing some meat products and lowering fat consumption led to an increase in sugar and processed food consumption.

Processed foods are devoid and any nutritional value. This leaves the body hungry, craving nutrition. But people continue eating processed foods. This starts a viscous cycle.

It starts with slightly, but chronically, elevated blood sugar because insulin starts losing its ability to function efficiently. It manifests itself as pre-diabetes, high blood pressure or problems with cholesterol. Then, usually, type 2 diabetes.

Over time, a person’s health continues to deteriorate because we give them medication to change a number and do nothing to fix the problem. Chronically elevated levels of insulin and fluctuating levels of blood sugar is toxic to all tissue in the body.

This leads to increased risk for kidney problems, vision problems, liver problems, neurological problems, etc…

The shift to this dietary approach means we have chronic diseases popping up all over the place, as if we were in a field of PEZ Dispensers.

How do we fix this problem?

It’s a two-pronged approach.

First, we need a shift from quantity of calories to quality of calories.

Earlier I mentioned that people continue eating processed food when hungry. Why do they do this? Part of it is convenience. But another important part is the thought that we can eat whatever we want, as long as we eat less. This justifies eating for convenience because it’s only the amount of calories consumed that is important.

But if forgets a serious issue: If the body is craving nutrition and we never feed it quality food, we will always be hungry. Remember, foods of convenience are devoid of nutritional value. They are just calories.

So we need more focus on quality of calories. This does not imply that calories are unimportant. It only means the quality of calories is more important. Stated another way: 1,000 calories from a grilled steak salad with vegetables and an olive oil, is not the same as 1,000 calories from Twinkies and Pepsi. Our digestive system is not the same as a bomb calorimeter.

Second, we need to focus on treating these individuals once they become diagnosed. Currently, we only managing their condition by prescribing medication to change a number. This does nothing to fix the problem. If it did, the possibility of getting off medication at some point would exist. It doesn’t (unless they take it upon themselves to do something).

Dietary policy led us here and it can lead us out

If we simply make a change in dietary policy as mentioned above, we would eliminate many of the chronic conditions anticipated in the future. We need to do this sooner rather than later. Current incidence and prevalence data for obesity and these chronic conditions suggest a tidal wave hitting our heatlhcare system soon.

That’s how we get out of this mess!

Thank you!

About Brian Sekula

Brian Sekula, PhD, is the founder and CEO of the Health Performance Institute, where they work with employers, their employees and individuals to alleviate the burden of chronic conditions by preventing diagnoses or helping individuals get off their medications. They do this by focusing on fixing the problem, rather than trying to reduce a number that is a symptom of the problem.

It took 2 minutes to piss me off

That’s it – 2 minutes.

After a great weekend and time spent on Sunday prepping for Monday, I was ready.

Around 5:30am, this is sitting at the top of my inbox.

And what did I do?

I read the article.

And that’s what started this whole thing.

It’s like I’m screaming in a vacuum!

The article goes into detail how the state of California has been caught off guard by the soaring rates of amputations in type 2 diabetics.

On an almost daily basis, I repeat myself. “There is a tidal wave coming.” “If you think it’s bad now, wait 10 years.” “Over half the population is at risk.”

All of this happens because we do a terrible job – from a health, medical and wellness perspective – of treating the condition. We do a great job of managing the condition, but that has essentially zero impact. So statistics like this will continue and states will be “surprised.”

Managing blood sugar does nothing to improve the condition or reduce risk!

But I repeat myself.

A few of the reasons given for the rise in amputations: No clear cause (seriously, this was a response it was even in the byline of the article!); new medications; too aggressive surgeons; and the list goes on. No one blamed diabetes or how it is managed. It’s almost like they don’t know. Maybe I am screaming in a vacuum.

For those interested, here is the article.

All emotions in one!

It’s frustrating, maddening, overwhelming and sad all at the same time.

It really doesn’t have to be this way.

Some of you know and some of you don’t. For those that don’t, you know now.

This is my mom.

This pic was taken about 2 months before her last bout of pneumonia, which was listed as her official cause of death.

She had type 2 diabetes. Did her best to control blood sugar with medication, just like every other type 2 diabetic. It didn’t seem to help, as she had kidney problems, neurological problems and more. The neurological problems led to chronic pain in her foot. Her leg had to be amputated below the knee. This pic was a few weeks after that surgery.

I’m telling you this because it doesn’t have to be this way!

She loved me. She was proud of me. But she didn’t listen to me. She thought, like millions of others, that her doctor knew best. As it turns out, not really.

She had Stage 4 or 5 CKD (depending on who answered the question). CKD is chronic kidney disease. Her kidneys weren’t working. So her body filled with fluid and dumped it into the lungs – that’s pneumonia.

Officially, she died from pneumonia.

In reality, it was type 2 diabetes. It’s what caused the kidney problems to begin with. It’s what caused the neurological pain to begin with.

It’s also why amputations in California are skyrocketing and “professionals” don’t seem to know why.

At times, it’s like an uphill battle

I get up daily to help type 2 diabetics. At times it’s like an uphill battle.

Type 2 diabetics are stressed enough as it is and stuff like this scares the hell out of them. They don’t want this. But they have nowhere to turn for helpful advice.

Everything they are told is counterproductive to improving their health. When it comes to food, they are told to eat fewer calories. This doesn’t help because they will try to follow the recommendations but their metabolic condition is so jacked up, they will end up being hungry. Then they will give into temptation. Making matters worse, they will be blamed for not having enough willpower to follow the recommendations.

They are told to burn calories with exercise.

“What should I do?” The patient asks. “Exercise” is the response. What kind of prescription is this? It’s nothing. It’s more important for type 2 diabetics to burn calories in a certain way, rather than just burning calories.

No one, it seems, is telling them the right things to do.

That’s why it feels like an uphill battle at times.

You need a plan

You can’t just wake up one day and decide to make changes. You need a plan. We have a bunch of free stuff on our Facebook page to help you get started in creating your own plan. See this post.

If all of the free stuff helps you, awesome! Your job is to tell us how well it helped you and to direct more people to that free stuff!

If you need more help, check out our type 2 diabetes coaching program – this one starts the week of October 2, 2017. The focus of this coaching program is to help you develop your plan so you can improve your condition. It focuses on food and exercise.

And, finally, if you are an employer, you have a problem with type 2 diabetes whether you know it or not. If you are self-insured (or self-funded) you need to address it. Programs you get from your consultant, broker, TPA or anywhere else, will have no impact. They are extensions of what I discuss above. If you would like to see how The Academy may help, fill out this contact form or send us an email. Happy to see if we can help.

PS. If you are an employer that already knows you have a problem with type 2 diabetes and are serious about addressing it, it’s a good idea to contact us quickly. We have a special going on until Monday, October 2, 2017.

The article I read this morning that set all of this in motion bothered me so much, I had to do a live video to get some things off my chest.

Implanting sponges in fat tissue?

Implanting sponges in fat tissue?

Things are getting crazy!

This report suggests that implanting sponges into the fat tissue of type 2 diabetics may be a helpful process, as a previous study showed positive results in rats.

You can read the article in its entirety at the link above, but I do have issues with a few of the statements. These are highlighted below.

Here is the main quote from early on in the article:

“The team found that 3 weeks after receiving polymer sponge implants in their fatty abdomens, obese mice with type 2 diabetes fed on a high-fat diet gained less weight and had lower levels of blood sugar than untreated equivalent mice.”

This outcome is what provides them “promise” of it being helpful to humans in the future.

A couple of nit-picky points on this:

  • A high-fat diet in “research talk” for mice is typically a higher fat rat chow, with most fat calories coming from some processed, poly-unsaturated fat like soybean oil.
  • They gained less weight? They had lower levels of blood sugar? Is this confirmation that elevated blood sugar leads to weight gain?

This can be confusing because the experts tell us that chronically elevated blood sugar is not associated with fat gain. But this statement seems to contradict that.

Type 2 diabetics are lazy or stupid (maybe both)

Here is one statement in the article, which clearly shows medical professionals (practitioners and researchers) have no clue how to treat or think of type 2 diabetics:

As yet there is no cure for diabetes, and current treatments depend heavily on patients’ ability to manage them. Thus, researchers are keen to discover ways to manage diabetes that do not need patients to perform daily tasks.

Come on!

Let’s look at the first part of this statement. “As yet, there is no cure for diabetes.” Of course there isn’t! As I constantly say, the approach to treating type 2 diabetics is a misnomer. It should be more appropriately called condition management. The problem is insulin resistance and the target for treatment is blood sugar. It’s as if we don’t even know what the hell we are doing.

The second part of this statement is also infuriating. “…researchers are keen to discover ways to manage diabetes that do not need patients to perform daily tasks.” It’s as if researchers think diabetics are incapable of performing a simple finger stick.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand there is a huge secondary market for strips on places like eBay. But why would a type 2 diabetic endlessly stick their finger when they are constantly told that their diabetes can’t be cured and all they have to do is take their medicine?

Yay…

Excuse me while I don’t celebrate!

the team found that compared with non-implanted mice, the PLG-implanted mice had 60 percent raised levels of glucose transporter type 4, which is a protein that helps to transport sugar from the blood into muscle cells.

So these sponges, implanted into the fat tissue, increased Glut4 levels? When this happens, your body is better at moving glucose from the blood into the muscle tissue. Do you know what else does that? Exercise! Do you know what else does that? Proper sleep! Exercise and sleep do it by improving insulin resistance. Unfortunately, these sponges have zero impact on insulin resistance.

With a zero impact on insulin resistance, these sponges will have no effect on the incidence or prevalence of type 2 diabetes. In the end, all it means is that the pool of type 2 diabetics gets larger and the costs continue to increase.

Why Bother?

What is the point? Why would anyone or why should anyone expose themselves to an implant like this if the outcome doesn’t change? Their condition will not be eliminated; it won’t even be improved. Why should or would anyone do this?

It’s just more of the same and until the target is changed, little will be done to stem the tidal wave.

Maybe we should all hope that Warren Buffett sees the light and starts putting pressure on the American Medical Association.

In the meantime, we will be here, helping diabetics improve their condition. We do that better than anyone because we understand that insulin resistance is the problem, which allows us to fix the problem.

 


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Your organization needs a type 2 diabetes strategy. Here’s why.


 

Type 2 diabetes is a significant burden on our healthcare system and likely worse than current estimates. Despite this, the real issue is what will happen in the next 10, 15 or 20 years.

There are at least three reasons for concern.

1. Current population estimates are wrong.

Recently published research would suggest that screening with fasting blood glucose is inadequate – significantly under-reporting actual numbers. For example, research using HbA1c as a screening tool showed that more than 50% of the adult population has some form of diabetes – diagnosed type 2 diabetic, prediabetic or undiagnosed. This means if you use fasting blood glucose as the primary measure for screening, you’re only getting part of the picture from your employee population.

This is an easy issue to fix and I discuss it below.

2. Long-term, it is the most expensive condition to treat.

While medications for some diseases and conditions receive headlines for high cost – hepatitis and cancer, for example. Costs for type 2 diabetes medications receive little press. This lack of coverage doesn’t mean treatment is inexpensive, as anyone who knows the cost of insulin understands.

Without getting into a discussion of why certain prescription drugs receive media attention and others do not, drugs for hepatitis and cancer are taken for a short time – usually no longer than 24 months. By comparison, type 2 diabetics can take insulin and other medications for years, even decades. These costs add up. And as the condition deteriorates and co-morbidities increase, additional medication and more expensive treatment options are needed.

A recent study looked at the long-term costs of more than 100 conditions over more than 10 years. Type 2 diabetes was the most expensive condition to have and treat, even more expensive than cancer.

3. Treatment protocols keep people diabetic

Current guidelines target a symptom of the condition rather than the cause. While there is mention of weight loss, exercise and diet, the primary method of treatment involves medication to control blood sugar. This is problematic for two reasons: 1) Individuals become dependent on medication to control their blood sugar; and, 2) It implies that elevated blood sugar is the problem.

Elevated blood sugar is a symptom, insulin resistance is the cause. Since diabetics are taking medication for a symptom of the problem, the cause of the problem doesn’t get better. In fact, it gets worse over time. This means type 2 diabetics will eventually need additional medication and will also further increase their risk for co-morbidities.

With this as our approach to treatment, there is little hope to eliminate the condition once a person has been diagnosed. They get stuck in our healthcare system. And since almost no one is eliminating the condition, the percentage of people with type 2 diabetes only grows.

Looking down the road

This is why there is a tidal wave on the horizon and it forms the crux of why every organization needs to implement a type 2 diabetes strategy. If we continue in this manner, things will be exponentially worse in a few short years. Since diabetes is already the most expensive condition to have and treat, this does not bode well.

So it is important we all do something and here is what you can do.

Commit to a type 2 diabetes strategy

Your organization can have a significant impact by implementing three steps.

Step 1. More appropriate screening

Earlier I mentioned that population estimates are wrong. You can get accurate population estimates within your organization by making a small change. Measure HbA1c (or simply A1c) in your annual HRA or biometric screenings.

HbA1c provides information on blood sugar control over the previous 2-3 months, which is a better indicator of diabetes risk than fasting blood glucose. Request this test from your provider. The same blood test used to measure fasting glucose can be used, so there is zero impact on your employee population.

If your provider is unable or doesn’t want to do this, contact me. I will help you find someone that can. If there is additional cost, the benefits of having accurate information outweigh the additional costs.

Step 2. Find providers with proven results

Do this specifically as it relates to type 2 diabetes. You should be able to find providers that can work with your existing wellness offerings. General programs that offer health/phone coaching usually don’t meet the standard of proven results for type 2 diabetes. Their message tends to be directed at the masses, which is not helpful or productive for type 2 diabetics. This step is important since, as noted above, more than 50% of adults have some form of type 2 diabetes.

There will likely be additional cost for this but a program with proven results will pay for itself. For example, if you have 100 type 2 diabetics using insulin in your organization, the cost for insulin alone is about $500,000 per year! When you consider other medications, lost productivity, time at the doctor’s office, etc., actual costs are higher. A good provider should be able to cut this in half or even eliminate it completely. If you save more than $500,000 per year, their costs are almost irrelevant.

Step 3. Everyone wants the same thing

At HPI, our most important corporate mission is to eliminate type 2 diabetes in the US population by the year 2020. You can help us achieve this, because all business leaders want the same thing – happy, healthy and productive employees. Guess what? Your employees want to be happy, healthy and productive too.

However, those needing our help (and yours) the most, don’t get too excited about the standard “wellness” offerings. Why? Because it is too generic and not focused on them. Besides, they’ve heard the message before.

So what to do?

Leadership by example is often used, but it is appropriate in this case. From the top of your organization, implementing a strategy for type 2 diabetes needs to be important. And when you implement steps 1 and 2 above, the importance message filters down. We see it all the time in our work.

When you do this correctly, it is easy to see, feel and measure.

We are here to help!

By now, I hope you realize that implementing a strategy for type 2 diabetes is important. Done properly, it will help your organization and your employees. The proverbial win-win. However, if you do nothing, all the negatives mentioned above will be exponentially worse.

I also understand the prospect of this can be a bit overwhelming. So we are here to help. If you have questions about anything within this article or need additional information on implementing any of these steps, let me know. Send me an email. Message me on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn or comment below and I will help.

Since this is an important message, please share with your colleagues, co-workers and leadership within your organization.

Thank you!

3 Snacks for Type 2 Diabetics

3 Snacks Type 2 Diabetics need to keep with them at ALL times!

No blood sugar impact snacks

Most type 2 diabetics struggle with controlling their blood sugar. Since almost all foods seem to raise their blood sugar, they also tend to stress out over what kind of snacks they can eat.

But since they also get hungry, this is a problem. So…what to eat?

Listed below are three different snacks you should have on “your person” at all times. Under most circumstances, they have a zero to minimal impact on your blood sugar, which means you should be able to eat them without worry (at least regarding your blood sugar).

Nuts

Nuts are high in fat, good fiber, vitamins and minerals. While they vary slightly – from one variety to another – in nutrient content, they are all high in fat, which means they will have minimal impact on your blood sugar. Additionally, the fat, vitamin and mineral content will help keep you full (or sated) until your next meal.

They are pretty hardy and travel well, making them an excellent snack choice for just about anyone, but type 2 diabetics in particular.

Eat them raw (our preference) or roasted. Just don’t eat them loaded with sugar or syrup or covered in chocolate (but you already knew that).

And if you happen to be allergic to nuts, seeds are good too. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds do essentially the same things!

Beef Jerky

Another snack high in protein and fat – the combination you need to keep your blood sugar from spiking.

Our preference: Buy it from a meat market or butcher shop (or make it yourself) so you know that it has been minimally processed. Another tip: If you buy from the store, check the label and look at the sugar content. Many types of beef jerky sold at the store have a lot of added sugar. Try to keep it below 5 grams of sugar per serving.

Best bet: Sugar free beef jerky.

A Boiled Egg

This is the least hardy of our recommendations but unless you have to leave these snacks in your car and it’s hot outside, you don’t really have to worry about the boiled egg.

Eggs are a great source of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals and an excellent source of protein.

Our recommendation: Always keep a dozen boiled eggs in the refrigerator. They are great snacks at any time!

Stay away from those…

Those little packets of 100 calorie snacks should be avoided by most people, especially type 2 diabetics. They are little more than sugar-spiking food products. It does not matter that they contain only 100 calories. It matters that they consist of some type of flour and sugar, both of which spike your blood sugar. Who thinks it’s better to eat a 100 calorie pack of cookies over one triple-double-stuffed Oreo cookie, which is also 100 calories?

That is insane

These snacks help you better control your blood sugar

While the 100 calorie snack packs are insane, these three snacks are not. Eat them when hungry. Your blood sugar will thank you!

If you liked these tips and would like more, sign up for our email newsletter below.

As a bonus, there are 3 gifts from the HPI Diabetes Academy included!

Glycemic Control for Patients With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus



Controlling blood sugar is not enough!

A recently published article confirms what many other articles have shown:

For type 2 diabetics, controlling blood sugar does not reduce the risk of complications.

Link to Abstract

A pull-quote from the conclusion in the abstract:

“Discordance exists between the research evidence and academic and clinical policy statements about the value of tight glycemic control to reduce micro- and macrovascular complications.”

In other words, what type 2 diabetic patients are being told about controlling their blood sugar and it reducing their risk for kidney disorders, vision problems or pain-related issues, is not consistent with the research.

In fact…

“This evidence reported no significant impact of tight glycemic control on the risk of dialysis/transplantation/renal death, blindness or neuropathy. …however, most published statements and guidelines unequivocally endorsed” the benefits.

So we have a conundrum…

Not really. There are at least three issues here

One off blood tests indicate nothing

When we visit the doctor and have a fasting blood sugar test done, it indicates almost nothing regarding blood sugar control. A step in the right direction would be to monitor blood sugar control with regular A1c tests.

Wholly invested in controlling blood sugar

Everything we do regarding treatment of type 2 diabetes and/or prediabetes (a terrible term) is geared to control blood sugar – we’ve built the entire industry around it. Whether it be the medication, a fasting blood sugar test, or “official statements” from AHA, CDC, NIH or the ADA, it’s all about controlling blood sugar and reducing risk.

This leads to zero positive impact on the cause of type 2 diabetes – insulin resistance.

Maybe type 2 diabetes really is an insidious condition

It is quite possible that insulin resistance and blood sugar dysregulation are more complicated than we currently think and/or know.

It is amusing, telling and disturbing when a complicated concept is taken to a point where it is too simple – simple beyond reason.

But…if the risk for these complications in type 2 diabetics is higher, it means those without type 2 diabetes have a lower risk. So it plays some role – maybe we don’t really understand if the risk is causative or associative. But the risk is there.

So what should you do?

First, understand and come to grips with the fact that artificially controlling your blood sugar (in other words, through medication) is not enough. In spite of what your healthcare professional(s) tell you, the evidence simply does not support it.

Second, take steps to improve insulin sensitivity, which will decrease insulin resistance. Some of these steps include the right diet, proper exercise and ensuring enough sleep (I recently hosted a live webinar on these very topics. If you’d like to view it, enter your name and email address below).

If you can improve insulin sensitivity, you make progress on naturally controlling blood sugar – as opposed to artificially. The more consistent you are, the more your insulin sensitivity improves. The more it improves, the more your body starts acting like someone who doesn’t have type 2 diabetes.

In the long run, and as noted above, this reduces your risk.

View the Webinar

Enter your name and email address below to view the webinar on improving insulin sensitivity mentioned above.

6 hours of Mozart!

One of the many recommendations we have for managing stress is through background music. Here is a favorite from our Classical Music Playlist on Youtube.

Start the video, find a volume for background music that suits you and just let it go. It’s 6+ hours, so it will go almost a full work-day. At 15+ million views, a lot of people are doing just that.

You can work to this, you can study to this and you can probably even fall asleep to this (we don’t recommend that at work).

And see…you just thought YouTube was for watching people do stupid stuff.

Enjoy and if you have a favorite classical music video, share in the comments below. We’ll add it to our playlist!

A note on our classical music playlist. If/When you search “Classical Music” at YouTube, you will get over 1 million hits. That’s a lot! Our playlist contains only 7 videos, but it is more than 25 hours of music. Plus, we tried to pick videos with excellent sound quality and longer than 1 hour. Just like this one!

 



Sleep patterns in the absence of electricity

The focus of our discussion in the Sleep Module is to improve sleep quality so that we are well-rested. Most of “How to do this” is targeted at the last 1-2 hours before going to bed, what we refer to as transition time. While there are several aspects to this, particularly with what we have at our disposal, a major part of what we discuss is light exposure.

So we were glad to see this: A recent study in Current Biology looked at sleep patterns of three pre-industrial societies, one each in Tanzania, Namibia and Bolivia. Some key observations include the following:

  • The groups lived absent of electricity – no lights or external temperature controlling systems. So they were exposed to seasonal variations in weather, temperature and sunlight. Perfect groups for studying sleep patterns!
  • Not a single person had a BMI greater than 30. Not one. Obesity was non-existent!
  • On average, the three groups spent 7.0-8.5 hours in bed with 6-7 of those hours spent sleeping. So for the most part, they don’t sleep through the night.
  • Two of the three groups lived far enough south of the equator to experience significant changes in darkness and light exposure depending on the season. During the time of year when darkness was longer, these groups slept, on average, nearly one hour longer than when days were shorter.
  • They don’t take naps! Sensors used to determine whether they were awake or asleep recorded 10 naps over 574 days. Additionally, all of these were during the summer, when days were longer. This could be related to shorter nights and tiredness or maybe a rest period during the hottest times of the summer days. But one nap every two months doesn’t show much of a pattern.
  • Less than 3% have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep (1.5% for the former and 2.5% for the latter). This is very different than industrialized societies, where it can be as high as 30%.

As we discuss in our seminars, the transition time is important. It prepares our body to fall asleep and enter a normal sleep pattern throughout the night. Given the statistics on sleep deprivation and the fact that so many are tired all the time, it’s safe to say that most of us don’t do a good job of “transitioning” our body for sleep.

Takeways and things at our disposal.

There were a lot of important observations in this study, but a couple stand out. The first is that obesity is non-existent!

While there are certainly differences in physical activity, given that their primary mode of transportation is on foot. Other “things” are probably more important. For example, the absence of electricity means no lights, which means no TV, cell phone, tablet, computer or even lights. When it is dark and they are tired, they go to sleep. In industrialized societies, when it is dark and people are tired, they have cake, chips, ice cream, etc… at their disposal. So they plop on the sofa, eat and stare at the TV or other technology device. This light exposure (and snacking) is not a good mix for our transition time.

Another important observation: For the most part, they don’t sleep throughout the night! In every seminar we do on sleep, we are guaranteed to get a question like this:

I wake up and sometimes don’t fall back asleep for 15, 30, 45 minutes or even an hour. Why?

The conventional wisdom is that we are supposed to fall asleep and stay asleep. This is clearly not the case, as shown in this study (and countless others). But it is apparent, based on how frequently we get this question, the message isn’t being conveyed. So as health professionals, we need to do a better job of letting people know this is normal. And this is important. When you make a statement like this and ask why, there is clearly some concern. Concern leads to worry, worry leads to stress and stress makes it harder to fall back asleep.

So we clearly need to do a better job at letting people know, that for the most part, this is a normal occurrence.

2 things to do right now and improve your sleep transition time!

Sleep better tonight by:

  • Start limiting your exposure to light about one hour before bed time. Turn off the bright lights and turn on softer ones so you you can see. This includes the television and all of your electronic gadgets. If you can’t do without your computer, download this and install it on your computer. It blocks the most offensive lights.
  • If you think you are hungry and not tired, think again. And if you are hungry, eat a little something that is not processed (In other words, skip the stuff mentioned earlier).

Overall, sleep is important to your health – a lack of quality sleep is associated with nearly every chronic condition you can imagine. The fact that obesity was non-existent in these groups provides further support. To improve your health, you must sleep better. To sleep better, you need to be better during the transition time. These two tips will help you do that.

After a few days of better sleep, you won’t believe how good you feel.